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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys, this is my first post here! Thought I'd share the first notes on my first proper build (ie not using any pre-formed backgrounds, I have done planted ones before on cocofibre etc.). I decided to convert this old aquarium which was a FREEEBIE! :D
I started by getting glass pieces for the roof cut size allowing for the vent etc. I am trying a silicone bead hinge between the door and the fixed parts around the vent at the back! This seems to work for now, but the real test will be when it's in actual use! We shall see!
I then got the water feature set up and running. This is going to be water running down a piece of bog wood, then forms a shallow stream to the front of the viv. The waterfall is a ZooMed kit with a pipe going into the back of the bogwood and the wires run up the cable riser (PVC pipe). I drilled a hole further into a natural rot hole/cavity to run the water out of.





I eventually settled on using expanding foam covered in Elastopur with a ecoearth and Xaxim granules mix. I used masking tape all over the place for the Elastopur work (over wood and glass which you actually want to remain clean!)
A few lessons learnt:
1) Elastopur is a lot denser than I thought..Get yourselves proper latex gloves and a solid stirring spoon to mix it all in. The plastic stirrer and paint brush were useless!
2) If you're going to use Elastopur, don't bother with the fine work on the background carving!! What a waste of time that was..
3) do NOT put in the Leca balls when doing this work..with hindsight, that was a stupid idea. I was just trying to figure out the depths, look etc, but as such a pain getting bits of foam out of the Leca...

Used some 2 component foam foam from Dartfrog.co.uk and some Polyfilla (polyurethane foam brand here in the UK) stuff too.



Decided where to put the wood pieces and stone shelf. Oh, the "press it into the foam as it's drying" bit did NOT wrk for me at all! Next time, SILICONE IT IN PLACE FIRST!



As I say, I sort of enjoyed the carving, but because I didn't now how dense the mix would end up, I did a fair bit of fine tuning on the carving..will not bother again, though I guess other coverings which end up thinner would benefit from finer work. Had to make the best of how the foam ended up to form "shelves" etc. (not used it before so didn't know how to think far enough ahead, though I thought muddy shelves would look OK..)
Next the Elastopur which I have just "finished" today! I will need to do some fine work around the wood parts when they go in finally, but I might silicone in those and use a bit of silicone with substrate pushed in to cover any left over white!





So..will give it about 48hrs then will try and fit in the wood and stone shelf. the just 2 weeks to stand (sigh... )
After that, Leca going back in (now that it's actually needed), substrate, leaf litter and plants.

As to what's going in, not sure if to move over the D. tinc Patricia or the black&blue D. auratus yet.

Enjoy and do make any comments which will be gratefully taken on board!!
 
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Your off to a great start. The background looks great and I like the waterfall Idea. Keep in mind though waterfalls can be more of a hassle then a feature as the frogs will not use them and they take up frogs hopin space, they also can become hard work in the future ( from personal experiences). Any idea's on what plants your were thinking of? What size tank? and for the frogs both would do great in that viv. Good luck and welcome to DB
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks! 60x35cm base and 45cm tall.
Not being much of a botanist I try and keep the plants simple.. I've got a couple of brom pups from others in my vivs, will be getting some more Ficus pumila. I originally was a bit dissapointed by that Ficus but I obviously got a rubbish plant in that one case only, because all the others I've used since have done very well and started creeping along floor and up sides very nicely.

Yeah,it's the first water feature of any real size I've used, but it will flow into a gravel bed forming a shallow channel, it will never bee more than 1-2cm deep and only I figure 2x10cm max surface area. Also my D.auratus seemed to like hunting around the edge of the other small pool I created (she's a real fan of the sitting-duck flies on the surface! HEHE). My thinking in choosing that piece of wood was that if it the water fall doesn't work/pump breaks, then I'll just have a nice bit of wood which looks like a root-base in the corner and I'll stuff some epiweb/cocfibres to clog the hole.
 

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Ficus pumila is my favorite vinning plants it will make your viv look awsome especially if you have more then one specie which will bring out your frogs colors. My vittatus also eat flies off the water, only the flies are in the film cans
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
How many cans of Elastopur did you use?
And since it's so dense, did you just use your hands?
I used the entire can and I probably could have done with maybe 25% more on top of that..the last layers were WAFER THIN! :rolleyes: And good thing I had that space where the wood is going in or I would have had to order another can.
I used a metal spoon first the slap it on, then sprinkled more substrate on top of the resin and pushed down with latex gloves (DO USE PROPER GLOVES!) on my hands.. It was kind of like adding flour to a "tacky" dough mix to stop your fingers sticking. I hope this hasn't overdone the substrate to resin ratio, but was just not getting it to smooth out otherwise. The first bit I did on just before Xmas (short side) is now pretty solid. I had to take a sharp hobby knife to the bits were I accidentally filled the stone shelf support in to remove enough to slide the stone back in. It's a little rubbery still but giving it another week at least before I panick I guess! Also I can barely see ANY Xaxim despite having mixed in maybe a litre of it?! I seems to dissappear into the elastopur and only the ecosoil is really showing at all.
I have now used black silicone to stick the small wood and stone in on the short side and pressed a tiny amount of substrate on top to hide any visible black bits. It's getting there..finally! :cool:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
It wasn't ridicolously quick-drying, but I only mixed about a cup full at a time, especially at the start. So I got a flower pot (no drainage holes) mixed it to the suggested ratio which for this type of Elastopur was 1:6.5 (try measruing 6.5! I hope I got it right) and then chucked in substrate. I then worked for maybe 5-10minutes (suggested drying time was 45minutes) with each cup load, so no need to rush it. I did the side wall in I think 3 batches and then got a little bolder when doing the back wall, and did it in about 4 batches? But I was working outdoors (a must anyway for this stuff) and it was pretty chilly and humid so guess it slowed the drying time considerably! I also had it flat so the back of the pane I was working on was on a horizontal surface which speeded up what I could do with the handling/moulding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Nope, though I have found a female for my male tinc Patricia, so she's settling in in a temp set up. The tank is still in wiating stage because I had it outside to dry and it was too cold, so was taking ages. Could still smell elastopur last week. I have now got it inside for a couple of weeks hoping it will cure more quickly. I hope to finish the roof this weekend if it has finished curing, then its in with the plants! Plus side is that I have had time for the cuttings of the plants I wanted to root in small containers where I could look after then more easily!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Ok, so the Elastopur had NOT :mad: set and showed no intention of doing so! I had to tear the whole viv out and start from scratch!
Once I got it torn out, I could check it in more detail and some parts where it was about 2cm thick turned out to be still really gummy and sticky at the back where it was up against the foam. So, I suppose I mixed it badly? Got the proportions of the two components wrong when mixing it up in smaller batches perhaps... :(
Anyway, I guess this ends this post now? I will be starting over as I managed to save the nice pieces of wood and stone! Oh and the pump and pipe! This time it's going to be cork bark, silicone and moss! Then I'll let the plants go nuts over it! Having just been to see another member of Dendroworld Forum's set ups, where there is virtually no solid background made up of synthetic materials, just cork, wood and plants going wild, I've got to say I am very interested in doing something similar!
To be honest, it wasn't looking as good as I had hoped it would turn out anyway and the background had ended up taking quite a nit of floor space! So out with the new and in with the newer! :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Right, so did quite a bit on this yesterday and today. The mantra was (other than the indispensable silicone) NO MORE SYNTHETIC MATERIALS. This is just a kneejerk reaction, and may well try the Elastopur again...someday...

New version of the background: cork patchwork with moss jammed into gaps. £10 worth of cork bark pieces from local pet shop oven-baked the hacked up. In any large gaps I spread some silicone and pushed xaxim granules in (loads left from cut offs of another viv I just did). I've left two "proper" plant pockets but there are other gaps where creeping of Panama fig can get a hold. The waterfeature is much as before, with cable rising in a hidden piece of "L" profile with cocopanel siliconed over in left hand corner.
End of yesterday:



Today's additions and mock up of planting and further decor. Not sure yet which large plant to go with. I prefer the large striped brom to be fair, but slight problem with massive flower head..ahem..maybe I can gently pursuade it to bend under roof?!
2 lots of Pothos, 2 wandering jew, panama fig are going in.





Another day or so to properly let the silicone dry, then I'll finish the planting over HydroLeca, and finish the glass frame around the mesh vent. Living hinge also holding up well!

Also, gratuitous shot of another south-american resident I've had for 10 years now! "Bonita" the BRB.

 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Wooo! Done! I got caught up in getting this finished and didn't take any more progress pictures (luckily for all). Only changes is that I put the pump in a margarine tub with a vent cut in the side (with sponges inside as a sort of filter). It's also sort of accessible by moving the piece of wood and taking the tub's lid off.
The stream is pretty shallow (just under 1" at the deepest). Let's see how the tincs like is. Male is in for now and a really nice female is finishing her quaranteen soon and will join him.
Thanks all for reading!

 
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Quick update on this project..3 months on! The pair of tinc Patricias have settled very well and have done some courting around the main bromeliad though not actually laid anything yet!
The plants are good but had to remove one borm to make access to the pump housing easier if needed. The waterfeature is often 'used' as a hunting spot. The male especially seems to like sitting in the running part, though I rarely have the stream actually running to save some electricity!

View of the pair:


Overview:
 
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