A lot of progress has happened since the last update. Drilling for the bulkheads was top of the list with 1-1/4" holes to accept 1/2" bulkheads.
Two in the bottom (one for a drain, the other for a canister filter) and one return high up on the back left for a dripping branch. After that it was time to apply a coat of pond armor. Here is where the first of my mistakes happened. I ended up having a lot of epoxy spill outside the viv and basically ended up using the roller to spread it around. I ended up coating a lot of the front and top. This ultimately didn't negatively affect anything but it wasn't planned. I just kinda made it up as I went since at this point I was a little frantic to get good coverage with the limited working time I had with the pond armor (about 20 minutes).
Once this dried I applied the fiberglass and this is where I REALLY made a mistake. The directions call for 1.5 oz chopped strand fiberglass in the corners for strength. I decided to put it all over the bottom of the vivarium. This is how fiberglass on wood boats are built and I figured I would emulate this. It... didn't go well.
Here is how the fiberglass looked when I cut it to size and laid it out:
When I went to roll pond armor on the fiberglass a LOT of strands of fiberglass came up and basically made a giant mess.
Its hard to make it out in the pictures but trust me, it was a hot mess.
Anyway what I should have done is just put the fiberglass in the corners and frankly used regular woven fiberglass instead of the chopped strand. The chopped strand stuff is stronger then woven and would work great if I was building an aquarium or water tank, but I'm building a vivarium, I just don't need that extra strength and its much harder to work with. This step basically caused me problems for the rest of the build. I also messed it up because what I should have done is put down some pond armor, stick the fiberglass to that and then walk away letting it dry. Come back once the fiberglass was firmly attached and coated the outside. Instead my idea was to saturate the fiberglass so it went through and adhered to the underside. It sorta worked, but also sorta didn't.
The solution was essentially to be extra wasteful with the pond armor and just coat everything with the stuff at super thick levels. I needed to buy an extra kit when I should have been able to do the whole viv with just the one. After that was complete I water tested the tank:
By this point I had 3 to 6 coats of pond armor on though and could begin painting. I first primed the outside with 2 rattle cans of killz primer.
Ran out on the bottom but I think its good enough given the paint I'm using.
Then started rolling out the paint:
Once painted I could begin applying silicone to parts that needed it. I used silicone on the bulkheads since the bottom and sides was not perfectly smooth and then applied it to the sides for the glass and the door tracks. Ome of the trickier parts is applying mesh to the vents. The mesh must be small enough to keep in fruit flies but big enough to let in good air flow. Regular window screen is too large and fruit flies can walk right through the stuff. I tried using 20x20 mesh but it was too big when I tested it with a nearly spent fruit fly culture (older cultures produce smaller flies). 30x30 stainless steel mesh was perfect. I cut it so it was a little oversized for each vent hole and then applied a bead of silicone around the edge. I put the mesh on top of this and then clamped it in place using some wood that was wrapped in blue painters tape (the silicone doesn't stick to the tape). Here is how it looked all clamped up:
Once the silicone was dry I moved the entire thing into the house so The Wife could have a look at it and frankly grow accustom to its size and figure out the location.
Once she was happy I moved it back out to my shop for the final steps. The background!
One of the interesting oddities between aquariums and vivariums is that almost all vivariums have a background installed and these backgrounds are also almost always DIY. There are many different types of backgrounds each with their pros and cons. Last tank I made I did a titebond 3 method background. For this tank I have decided to do a "cracked cork mosaic" background. Basically I used pieces of cork bark to cover 95% of the back wall, then in the cracks between the cork I stuff in rehydrated sphagnum moss. The result is a background that tend to look pretty good and also have the advantage of growing plants pretty well since all surfaces are natural ones. Moss and epiphytes can grow on either the sphagnum or cork and stay hydrated if you have good access to misters.
The biggest problem I face with my previous tank is getting adequate water to the background. The misters in the front reach the back.. but only barely. I have resorted to hand misting lot of my background plants in that tank. In this tank I decided to solve that by having 3 misting holes in the front of the tank, AND 3 additional misting holes in the back of the tank. Hopefully this will result in a background that is far more hydrated.
Anyway this is how the tank looked with the cork siliconed in place:
For cork I called and placed an order with Maryland Cork and had them ship me 20 lbs of 'thin flats'. The whole thing cost me 110 dollars shipped and after it was done I still had a lot left over:
For silicone I used DAP General Purpose since GE Silicone 1 has gone and changed their formula adding mold inhibitors:
And that brings me up to current! Next step I will need to bring the vivarium back into the house, add strips of silicone to the doors to fill in gaps to keep flies out, and complete the background. Meanwhile I have in another thread been figuring out the light. I will post that here as well once I place my order and start to get things in.