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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So several weeks ago I was looking around and decided to build my own caves. The natural look was ok, but since this tank is mainly for my sons viewing pleasure, I wanted to do something a bit different.

What I started with was a large bag of black glass "vase stones". The small dime size ones that you sometimes see in betta tanks. I also got some irregular shaped iridescent blue stones. I chose black aquarium silicone so it would blend with the rocks. As I went I checked each rock, threw out any that were broken and a few that had a sharp point.

First layer. I pre-measured the area I was going to put it in, for height and width. The bottom layer of stones at this point has no silicone, the second layer is what holds it together. I had to wait about 20 minutes between every two layers for the silicone to set enough so the rocks would stop sliding. they still had a little movement but not enough to collapse.


After I got the height I wanted for the bottom layer I cut a section of clear plastic mesh and held it down with another layer of stones. I also ended up covering the silicone tube with saran wrap because I kept getting small leaks and it was getting all over the place.



After another 20+ minutes I turned the entire thing over. I added a thick layer of silicone across the bottom layer of stones. I wanted to try and make this to where there wouldn't be a lot of debris catching in between the stones. It also helps support the bottom layer as they were moving more than I wanted.

I coated the entire mesh with a thick layer of silicone. I did the entire mesh before adding the stones because my first attempt still had places you could see the mesh. I also coated the entire inside of the cave with silicone, again to avoid debris catching and causing issues.



Top "lookout". I forgot to take pictures in between these two, but I waited about 45 minutes before flipping the cave back. After flipping I did a full layer of stones across the top, then slowly built up the top cave. I also made a center pillar for the bottom cave, so now its turned into a tunnel. I built it seperately then silicone it on. This is also added support for the lookout up top. I used a piece of the same plastic mesh just to support the top cave as it hardened (the rocks kept slipping, the mesh was removed after it settled. I also started adding the blue irregular stones into the nooks and crevices. I wanted them scattered.


Finally done. It is 9 inches wide, 4 inches deep, and about 7 inches tall. The silicone is supposed to cure for 48 hours but im planning on giving it a week before I actually put it into the tank.


Its not in the tank yet so I can still make some adjustments. There isn't any rocks loose, or falling, I've already tested them. I also plan on soaking it in a bucket first to wash off any dust/debris that it will get from sitting on my living room coffee table. What do you think?
 

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That looks like it took a ridiculous amount of effort, but the end result turned out pretty nice.

Just wondering (if you happen to do more of these), would building around a 'mold' of some sort help at all? Like stuff a bunch of dirt/sand in a plastic bag and form it into a lump the approximate size/shape you want, and then build up the stones outside of it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I tried that initially but it ended up being easier just to wait between layers, they started sliding too much and collapsing backwards away from the mold. If i had used something like hot glue it probably would have been done faster. With those colored stones it juat didnt look right. The black silicone blended almost perfectly with the stones. I think for any future build i wont use such tiny stones lol.
 

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ah, I hadn't noticed the black silicone (which is probably the point...) - good job with that.

But, yeah, probably too much work for me, but It looks really nice, so good job.
 
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