Hi, I'm Troy McClure! You may remember from such films as "The Greatest Story Ever Hula-ed" and "They Came To Burgle Carnegy Hall." Today I'm going to start a tutorial/experiment on moss walls. The other night in the chat room, Momotaro, Oqsy, and I were discussing the best way to improve on Oqsy's moss wall. A nice thick moss wall is something I've always wanted to do for one of my tanks, but I was never satisfied with any of the designs people were offering. Some of them used bulky suction cups, other had rigid meshes with holes that seemed far to large. So, I put all the power of my brain to work...sorta....
My goal is to create a lush wall of java moss on either side of my 10gal. This was inspired partly by Shalu's 10gal tank. I'll leave the back alone since it'll be hidden by other plants. I may try other mosses in the future, but since I have about a metric ton of java moss in my 85gal, I figured I should put it to good use.
The first step was to get the materials from a local crafts store. I picked up a few dark green, rigid plastic meshes used for cross-stiching. They're only ~$0.39 each, so grab a few extra for future projects. Next was the magnets. My original idea was to find some plastic-coated magnetic strips that were strong enough to hold through both the plastic mesh and the glass. The only magnetic strips I found were $0.99, but they were also weak and had an adhesive on the back. I would guess these would be great for making things to attach to your refrigerator, but in any case, they wouldn't do. At the bottom of the aisle shelf was a small package of of "Power Magnets." Power Magnets? I picked up the front package and noticed behind it was an already opened one, so I took the magnets out for closer inspection. All I can say is, watch your fingers! They may only be 5/8" in diameter, but these little buggers are extra strong and will snap together instantly. To boot, they had a warning label on the back and a website (www.craftsetc.com
). That sealed it for me. I picked up a package of 10 tiny super magnets for $3.00. Next on the list was a squeeze tube of 100% silicone and super glue. I ended up with DAP 100% silicone rubber sealant, clear, the stuff in the blue tube made for windows and doors. I also picked up a tube of Krazy Glue. We already had plenty of nylon window screening in the garage, so I'm not sure how much this costs, though it can't be much.
Here is an overview of my design:
The bottom of the unit is actually on the left side of the picture, as noted above. These will be set down into the gravel by about an inch and I have adhered the nylon window screening to the ridig mesh with 100% silicone so they don't pull apart. This should also help with placing the moss between the screens.
Here is a close-up of the nylon window screening that I've chosen:
After talking to Shalu and a few others about the moss wall design, I decided this was the best material for the front screen. Keep in mind that new growth on the moss starts out very very small, so getting through the holes in the screen is no problem.
A close-up of the power magnet encased in silicone:
I wasn't sure how the metal in the magnets or the Krazy Glue would react with the water, so I took the safe rount and coated them in silicone.
Assembly is really easy:
Cut the rigid plastic mesh to the size you want then cut out an equally sized piece of the nylon window screening. Next, figure out where you want to put the magnets. I chose to put them on the inside (the side facing into the tank) of the rigid mesh so that it would hold the wall flush up against the glass. This will prevent anything from getting behind the wall and becoming trapped. I attached the magnets to the four corners (at the bottom I placed them so they'll be above the substrate line) with Krazy Glue. Be careful with this stuff and DO NOT USE ANYTHING METAL around the magnets. They'll pull right off and then you'll have a super glue mess. Let the super glue dry for a while, then encapsulate the magnets in silicone. This is a little tricky, so I would suggest doing the inside (top) of the magnets first, letting is cure for a couple hours, then doing the backside. Once these are cured enough to handle, attach the nylon screening to the bottom of the plastic mesh with the silicone. You don't have to use a ton of it, just a thin even layer worked fine.
That's about it for now. The silicone is not completely cured yet, so over the weekend or early next week I'll place the moss inside, close it up, and install it into my tank!