Making Refugium out of Clay - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-20-2014, 02:04 AM Thread Starter
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Making Refugium out of Clay

Hello! Since I wanted to make a refugium for my 32 gallon goldie tank and I am kind of tight on budget, I thought about making them in clay. I want to grow some bog plants like lucky bamboo in it to reduce nitrate. I joined a local art club that allow me to use their clay unlimitedly. The idea is that the sump will sit in between the aquarium and the wall, and there are only 5 inches so it is kind of tight. The dimension will be 24"x19"x5". I will fill it with gravel and grow lucky bamboo out of it. Will that work? I am kind of concerned about the clay breaking under the pressure since there are no supports on the side. Again, this goes behind the tank so I don't care what it look like. How thick should the clay be? Should I glaze the inside of the sump? How thick should the clay be so it won't break?

Help is appreciated!
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 12:24 AM
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I don't know much about pottery/clay, but I imagine it could be done. Maybe some of the more experienced art club members could offer you some tips/advice if you explain what you are trying to do.

Otherwise, I imagine the most difficult part would be getting the container built and fired without it cracking or warping.

What do you want the refugium for? Do you just want an extra reservoir for more water volume, or are you primarily looking for some place to grow emersed plants?

I'd look around for something you could repurpose, or maybe even build something out of PVC - you could use a bunch of 3-4" verticle pipe sections, alternately connected at the top and bottom, with T's at the top uncovered for plants to grow out of. Or maybe just a short length of gutter. Or maybe one of those military 5-gallon water jugs, they might be able to fit in that gap, and you could just cut open the top to grow things out of...
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 12:26 AM Thread Starter
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I want to use it as a refugium for blackworms and also growing emerged plants to decrease the nitrate in my goldie tank. I want it to look good so I don't know if PVC pipe will work.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 12:35 AM
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Didn't ancient civilizations used to use giant clay pots to carry stuff around in?

You should be fine. this will be a cool idea


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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 02:12 PM
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I don't know what your design would be so I can't comment but you need a kiln to fire earth clay.

If you're making a sump, a 10G tank will costs $10. I'm not sure how clay is cheaper than that or even a plastic tub from walmart.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 07:07 PM
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This is a fun idea! You should check in with a pottery forum for information on how to safely pull this off. I imagine there are handy algorithms for determining minimum pot thickness for a given volume.

If this project ends up being too much of a fuss, a cheap sump can be constructed using a plastic rubbermaid container.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 08:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mistergreen View Post
I don't know what your design would be so I can't comment but you need a kiln to fire earth clay.

If you're making a sump, a 10G tank will costs $10. I'm not sure how clay is cheaper than that or even a plastic tub from walmart.
OP mentioned he'll have an unlimited supply of clay, I assume that said clay is free.

In terms of nice looking, mistergreen has a point, a 10G tank would still look nice since it's not super expensive.

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-23-2014, 09:09 PM
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Oh, I missed the unlimited clay part. You'd need to make it as thick as a good pot or vase. You can glaze to make it super water proof but make sure the glaze doesn't have heavy metals in it because that's poisonous to the plants, inverts, and fish.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-25-2014, 03:54 PM
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Sounds like a plastic container or 10 gal wouldn't work too well given OP's space constraints. (5" wide)

It has been a while since I've done much ceramic work, (and by no means am I an expert) but I would think it could be done, especially since that won't actually hold much volume given those dimensions. You'd want to glaze the inside to waterproof it, and make sure the joints of your sections are well connected, as that'd be your weak points. Also, trying to really create straight walls at those dimensions could be difficult (maybe make the slabs you want and connect then after they have dried some), as the weight of the clay will cause it to warp/droop as it dries. Also, don't make it too thick or it can explode in the kiln, but you shouldn't have to even get close to that thick, as it'd have to be over an inch thick to be a risk, and you probably don't need to be thicker than 1/2". I'm sure your pretty club can help you with the details.

Last edited by DumpyDuck; 09-25-2014 at 03:56 PM.
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