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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Alright, I decided to start a new thread for this tanks build.

Fauna: 5 red spotted newts, feeder guppies

Flora: hygro compacta, anubias nana, anubias lancelota, anubias hastifolia, dwarf sagg, crypt lutea, anarchis

29 gallon standard
DIY background using the Greatstuff, styrofoam, and drylok method.
Eheim canister filter
non heated
Playsand substrate, root tabs, ecocomplete and laterite bottom layer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I started off with carving the sides and background out of 2" styrofoam. I carved out areas for planters on each side and then secured them with GS. After trimming the GS, I made several small ledges for spanish moss and other dirt accents using the titebond II method. After getting some great advice from slowfoot (a trusted breeder of RSN) I slanted my sides and background much thinner on the bottoms to make more water space for the newts to swim.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Step 2 was to carve the body of the land area. I wanted the land area to help create a river bank look. I wanted potted plants to give the littoral feel in this tank as well as some planters for emmersed hygro, and riparium plants. After more good advice, I have decided to increase the water level and shrink the amount of riparium habitat. I have learned from many eroded experiments that bottom structures under or near the waters edge will almost always flatten out over time. For this reason, you can see depressions that help maintain the shape of this land area.

This carve took a great deal of time and effort. There are three 2 inch pieces siliconed together and a 1 inch piece to boot on the right hand side. You can see several pots for plants within the newt island
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I am making small dividers to hide and protect the intake and outflow of the eheim. The outflow is on the right and will come down to an elbow attached to pex piping. The egg crate is to create a faux rock that will hide everything completely, decrease water agitation for the newts, and stop them from crawling behind the piping. The other block on the left is to keep sand from entering the filter intake. The intake slides down into a sponge that is cut to fit perfectly in that spot. This leaves no room for newts to hide or get hurt back there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Changes are being made to increase the water depth, make it more of a planted tank than a riparium, and add the mangrove look at the banks of a river. I want to add a root system that will be attached to the background and weave around the newt island.

I decided to attach the island to the background with great stuff and begin the building of roots using grout, drylock, nylon rope, thread, greatstuff, and styrofoam.

Other than some carving I did tonight, this is where I stand. Any comments, concerns, questions, and especially suggestions are always welcomed!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
how will you be keeping the background and pieces attached to the tank? silicone?
Silicone will hold it nicely..............gives a nasty issue with diatoms in a planted tank for quite some time with all those silicates. Oh well, I'll hope for the best.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Nice build! I agree with soothing very creative
Thanks guys! I got some more carving done today and hope to really make some head way by the weekend. It has certainly changed in the last couple of days. I just keep having ideas and keep carving. Havin' fun with the root idea!

thanks again
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Absolutely terrific creativity! I'm really following this thread closely.
Thanks a bunch. I'm hopin it turns out nicely. I need a low maintenance tank on this one. I'm not sure how thats going to work out. I have hard water up here and the water stains are a constant nightmare. I plan on having very little water movement at the surface and dont want to use an air stone if I can help it. I've never had a planted palud like that.

I am also not heating the water so I need some plants that can handle the cooler water. I dont want to be stuck with just elodea. I would love some frogbit but I dont know if it can be trained to live in the cooler water? I have some time to figure all that out as I wont be ready to move the newts for at least 4 weeks. Any thoughts / advice??
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I've decided now after playing with a few different methods, that I like the greatstuff and drylock with rope for creating vines / root systems on this 29 gal scale. I once made some large mangrove roots by carving styrofoam and that worked nicely; but this has been much easier for making that curved look of roots growing across a rock structure.

I am a bit afraid of having too much of a harry potter look in my foam "tree roots". whaddya think? any advice??
 

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any pics?
I was going to say that some times with silicone it is a pain to deal with inevitably a piece or two falls off and there is no way to fix it...any way i say this i have built a bunch but never with the spray foam thing hich gave me an idea... what about using magnets? can you use those rare earth magents covered with foam to keep in place?
 

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For cold water plants there are lots of options. In my newt tanks I use java fern, Anubias, crypts, vals, wisteria, and java moss (also duckweed, but that's more of a pest). These have all gotten down into the 50s without any issues.

Just one more tip: when you attach the background to your tank make sure each and every possible crack is filled. Newts aren't like fish and they will find any tiny space to squeeze themselves into.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
any pics?
I was going to say that some times with silicone it is a pain to deal with inevitably a piece or two falls off and there is no way to fix it...any way i say this i have built a bunch but never with the spray foam thing hich gave me an idea... what about using magnets? can you use those rare earth magents covered with foam to keep in place?

Great idea...I have some and they are pretty spendy. I use them in my classroom to teach. The silicone method has worked well in the past and is pretty cheap. I think I am going to try the magnets with some other pieces and not the background. It would work great for root systems that I want to remove for cleaning and maintenence......great idea! thanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
For cold water plants there are lots of options. In my newt tanks I use java fern, Anubias, crypts, vals, wisteria, and java moss (also duckweed, but that's more of a pest). These have all gotten down into the 50s without any issues.

Just one more tip: when you attach the background to your tank make sure each and every possible crack is filled. Newts aren't like fish and they will find any tiny space to squeeze themselves into.

I will ahve all the cracks sealed up.thanks for the reminder! They never stop exploring and thats why I have designed the intake and out flow the way I have. Glad to hear that all those palnts can acclimate well in cooler water. 50's !!!! I wasnt palnnign on keeping it that cold. Is that the temp range for breeding behavior mimicing their native lower 48 homes????
 

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ironically today a large cave i had siliconed in my tank with a diy background popped off and floated up.... i guess i just jinxed myself... looking forward to seeing the final result
 
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