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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey all new to Planted Tank Forums and was drawn in because of an intrest in starting up a planted tank...saw the Terrarium/Vivarium room and thought I would throw this journal of my current setup that I am working on...i've posted this journal in other forum's, so if you have seen it before that is why...

THE SKELETON

I had a 30gal tank that was currently housing two aquatic turtles that I had rescued from some horrible conditions...decided they needed some more swimming room and being inspired by the "turtle pool" down at the baltimore aquarium I decided to build a vivarium around the tank...the vivarium was originally going to house the turtles again but as construction went along i soon found out that there was not going to be enough room so i switched gears, put them in another tank and decided to add a planted tank in the 30 gal to give it more of a natural apperance...welding a stand to custom fit the tank i extend the heigth of the tank by another 36". I then took 3/8" Lexan and attached it to the extended part of the tank and welded its seams together...I also cut a strip and angled it on a jointer to go around the entire rim of the actual tank so that water would not slip down behind it off the Lexan...





THE PLUMBING

...I know through several fish forum's that I am apart of that there is a big controversy over the use of Under Gravel Filters (UGF) but being a fan of them I decided to install one in my tank to help combat the extra waste that will accumilate at the bottom of the tank so I wont have to syphon every other day. I modified the vents on the UGF so that I could attach 1/2" PVC fittings onto them and then plumbed them into a pump that would pump the water up and out of the tank and into a sump that will be located underneath the viv...I also installed another PVC fitting in the left hand corner of the tank for return of water over a waterfall...





(*NOTE*: Since these pictures were taken I changed the plumbing design and plumbed the pump OUTSIDE the tank for easier access for maintenance)

I havent made this setup permenant yet because I am yet unsure if this is the route I want to take...i'm thinking about installing the pump outside of the tank to make pump maintenance easier...i'm also going to install flow meters on the pvc going to the sump and out of the sump so I can easily keep an eye on any blockages that may happen...I know a lot of people say not to use 2 seperate pumps on a sump but for this setup to work with the UGF I need 2 and am going to take my chances...might even install a in-line UV light and some float switch's to help combat the case of a serious problem (one pump shutting off while the other is still running)...lets keep our fingers crossed!!

THE LAND AREA

I found this piece of driftwood down by the bay and instantly knew it belongs in my tank...cutting it to size and sanding a flat to it, i screwed a long piece of Lexan to the back of it...then clamping it to the back of the extended tank i welded into the corner...







THE WATERFALL

...I came up with the idea of vacuum forming a base for one of a material called Kydex. This is the same material that is used to make Samsonite luggage so i knew it could take the abuse...my first step was in creating a mold out of wood...taking varying thickness sizes of plywood i constuctued a mold for a stream that would end in a waterfall...







Making a miniture bulkhead out of some PVC fittings from the local Depot, i attached it to the part and mounted it to the back of another piece of driftwood so that it would look as if the stream was coming out from underneath the log...This being my base, i filled in underneath the plastic with GS and then began building up the surrounding areas with more GS, rocks and driftwood to complete the natural look of the stream and fall...







In the second picture you can see the other land area i created...the idea is to make these land areas jut out over the top of the tank to make them look like an area of a washed out stream bank...

Finally got all the slate siliconed down to the stream...I had to break out the round file and actually file a couple pieces of the slate to get them exatcly in the area that i wanted them but I think it turned out pretty well...then i cut and sanded the GS into a more natural looking scene...



Then I added the Sahara Tan grout that I got from HD...i left it a little thicker then the directions called for so it would clump better on the vertical area's of the GS that I had



I attached a irrigation system hose diverter to the top of the plexiglass...a pump from the sump will pump water up to this and it will divert that water to 9 1/8" hoses...these hoses will be attached to various pieces of driftwood that will be attached to the background...I added another piece of driftwood and more GS to finish up the gap between the two land areas...this last piece of driftwood had some nice "valley's" in it so i took the dremel and connected some of them...i added a hole at the top of it and am going to insert one of my dripper hoses into so i can get a small stream running through it...i then think im going to shave down some of the foam below it to create a mini creek that will also flow into the tank...no a fast stream but something moist that i could get some cool moss to grow on...Note also in the second picture the piece of driftwood i added underneath the stream...this will hide part of the AHS 2x36w ballast i have coming...these lights will be hidden from view but will give me the required light to have a successful planted aquatic tank as well







I only get to work on this a little bit every day so it has taken a while but i will keep updates coming as soon as i can...Comments/Feedback appreciated...
 

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Great start- what are you planning on keeping in there? It's always great to watch these highlyl customized systems progress, so keep us updated! I've never seen grout used in the place of silicone- how easy was it to apply, and do you know if it has any advantages? Keep it up!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
At this point i dont know if going with the grout has any advantages/disadvantages...(hopefully not any disadvantages)...i just liked the wide range of colors to choose from...im not really planning on keeping any live creatures in it...maybe a few tetras but that is the extent...just needed something "green and growing" around to get me through these long depressing winter months...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
30 Gal/Extended Costruction Journal Pictures*UPDATED 3/22*

Got quite a lot done today...the GS was finished drying so i was able to finish shaping the smaller stream with my larger rocks...I love the ability to be able to shape and sand the GS to get the rocks in just the right look and am looking forward to experimenting more with it in the future...I was then able to apply the Sahara Tan grout to the remaining unfinished foam...in stream #2, i added a bit of sand from an outside sandbag after the grout had dried a bit...i then tamped it down a little with my finger and i think that it gave it a great look...





I know it doesnt look like much now but the pictures really dont do it justice...(i'm not great with a camera)...I still need to clean up some of the rocks and wood and then once the plants are in i think it will look very realistic...there are also a couple spots that i couldn't get the grout to stick to because of that little thing call gravity...I'm going to touch these spots up when I lay the setup on its back to apply the GS and coco fiber to the background...

...A couple things/tips i found out while working with the grout that i will change differently...1) I'm thinking I may and try to protect the rocks that I want exposed next time with some type of petroleum (sp?) jelly; not so much to protect it from the big chunks of grout but the tan residue that it leaves behind...its almost impossible to remove after it dries...I'm hoping that after the grout dries i can just wipe away the Pet. Jelly and the rocks will be clean...(2)...leaving the grout a little dry is great for getting it to stick to most vertical surfaces; however, I found that when applying in around rocks and objects it looks more natural to add a bit of water to it because it allows the grout to flow around the object...this technique was quite helpful when creating stream #2 because the grout sort of slid down the ravine I had carved out....

Comments good or bad would be much appreciated...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well I searched the land far and wide and could not find any 4" pots that I wanted at H Depot or Lowes...even went to seveal dollar stores and crafts stores and they didnt have any small enough...Local Nurseries wanted too much and once I got done paying shipping for some on the internet they would be some expensive pots...i got to scrounging around the shop and ran across some 4" acrylic pipe and got the idea to make my own...

I wanted these bigger planters because i want to have one side of my viv look like a tree with branches coming out of the walls...i then want to add several planters above these branches to add some Schleffra plants to...once these plants grow out a bit i think it will give the branches the look of a canopy of a tree...then i can add different ephiytes (sp?) to the branches...



Here is one of the planters i came up with just as an experiment...i think they may work...





I like this design because it allows me to angle the pot the way i need them so they can fit inbetween the branches...i added a tube to the bottom of the cylinder to help with drainage...i was a little worried that once the Schleffra grows in the bottom plants wont get as much water from my misters...to fix this problem i think i might route the drainage tubes into the planting pots below them so the water drains into them and then out and so on down the line...

Let me know what you think...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Here are some more updates...





I have since attached my custom pots with drainage tubes left extra long...I then foamed in around the pots and the branches

I still wanted some more plants on my background so i went to the dollar store and bought some cheap curlers...they have ample drainage through them and their various sizes allow you to put them in places that normal pots would not fit...i am still in the process of adding them...





Here are some pictures of some of the Schleffera's that I went out and bought...they are just temporarily placed in there right now so i could get a better picture of how they would look...
 

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Hey studdlygoof, did you form the Great Stuff to the shape you want, wait for it to dry and then apply the tan grout on top of the dried Great Stuff?

Could you also MIX the tan coloring into the Great Stuff, so that you can have the tan color Great Stuff????

Am I making any sense?? I am just wondering if I could just mix colored sand or that tan coloring directly into the Great Stuff, as to eliminate one step.......

Your set up is looking great :hihi:
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I wouldnt go that route for the fact that the GS is an expanding foam...it would expand further then the grout and you would have gaps and cracks all over the place...cement takes a couple days to cure fully and even sometimes month's to be 100%...i just dont think it would work, but hey...part of DIY is experimenting
 

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I am confused... ok, what did YOU do?

I didn't mean mix grout and Great Stuff! I know that is all bad, I meant, mixing Great Stuff, with colored sand or some kind of coloring, so that I wouldn't have to paint the dried Great Stuff or whatever...

Sorry, I am confused :0(
 

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I put on the GS and then after it dried put on the grout

Ookie :0)
When are you going to finish? I can't wait to see it all set up :biggrin:
 

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I am confused... ok, what did YOU do?

I didn't mean mix grout and Great Stuff! I know that is all bad, I meant, mixing Great Stuff, with colored sand or some kind of coloring, so that I wouldn't have to paint the dried Great Stuff or whatever...

Sorry, I am confused :0(
Great stuff is also VERY smooth and plasticky (good discription? LOL) So covering it helps it to be easier to walk/climb/hop/skip/jump on.

tank is very interesting, I want to see how it turns out.

-Andrew
 

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Great stuff is also VERY smooth and plasticky (good discription? LOL) So covering it helps it to be easier to walk/climb/hop/skip/jump on.

tank is very interesting, I want to see how it turns out.

-Andrew
Ohh.... I have a can of it, but I know that once I open it, it is pretty much only good for that day, so I have to carefully plan so I don't waste a bunch...

I was thinking to add sand and branches, twigs and leaves and coco fiber to the Great Stuff while it is still wet, to make it "chunky".

Is it white or yellow when it hardens?

I just want to get it as close to looking like mudslide/ dirt/ brown as possible, you knowhatimean??? :hihi:

EDIT: This man tried it, but with some Italian brand foam....

http://www.acquariforum.com/cgi-bin/magazine/viewnews.cgi?id=EEyAkFyFlElFueRujp&tmpl=
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I have used the same can of GS for touch-ups here for about a week so dont worry about it drying up too quickly...it usually seals itself with the little-bit that comes out in the end...

Take your time...i know you are excited to get your background and tank up and running but if you take your time i feel that you will be pleased more with the outcome...I arranged different patterns with the driftwood and stared at it for days before i felt i got it right where i wanted it

my GS dried more on the "white-ish" side...though i have seen some in other forums that are more "yellow-ish"

Good Luck...questions are good...let us know how its coming along
 

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i CAN'T WAIT to see this thing finished! WOW!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
PLANTED TANK BACKGROUND

I wanted a semi permenant background for the planted tank that sits underneath the viv, this way if I have any problems with the hard plumbing *knock on wood* it wont be as difficult to take it out.

I started off by making a plexiglass base that fit around the back of the aquarium and the plumbing.



Then taking stainless steel screws I attached the various pieces of driftwood I had selected to the background. I also inserted some into the foam planters that I had carved to ensure that they stayed in place



Taking more GS, I foamed in the space around the driftwood, sloping down near the bottom to mimic a side of an erroded stream bank



After all the GS has dried i'm going to grout it all with the same Sahara Tan grout that I had used for my land features...i also believe i am going to sprinkle some sand over it and use some concrete dyes to paint on shadows to give it a more realistic and 3D look...

Here's a look at it with the top on...

 

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I have used the same can of GS for touch-ups here for about a week so dont worry about it drying up too quickly...it usually seals itself with the little-bit that comes out in the end...

Take your time...i know you are excited to get your background and tank up and running but if you take your time i feel that you will be pleased more with the outcome...I arranged different patterns with the driftwood and stared at it for days before i felt i got it right where i wanted it

my GS dried more on the "white-ish" side...though i have seen some in other forums that are more "yellow-ish"

Good Luck...questions are good...let us know how its coming along
Thanks for the advice, Stud!!!

This will be fun :hihi:

Where the hell are you building this thing?!?!

http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e105/Studdlygoof/Vivarium/WilliamsburgMaritimeMuseum169.jpg
 
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