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Hi, I'm Troy McClure! You may remember from such films as "The Greatest Story Ever Hula-ed" and "They Came To Burgle Carnegy Hall." Today I'm going to start a tutorial/experiment on moss walls. The other night in the chat room, Momotaro, Oqsy, and I were discussing the best way to improve on Oqsy's moss wall. A nice thick moss wall is something I've always wanted to do for one of my tanks, but I was never satisfied with any of the designs people were offering. Some of them used bulky suction cups, other had rigid meshes with holes that seemed far to large. So, I put all the power of my brain to work...sorta....

My goal is to create a lush wall of java moss on either side of my 10gal. This was inspired partly by Shalu's 10gal tank. I'll leave the back alone since it'll be hidden by other plants. I may try other mosses in the future, but since I have about a metric ton of java moss in my 85gal, I figured I should put it to good use.

The first step was to get the materials from a local crafts store. I picked up a few dark green, rigid plastic meshes used for cross-stiching. They're only ~$0.39 each, so grab a few extra for future projects. Next was the magnets. My original idea was to find some plastic-coated magnetic strips that were strong enough to hold through both the plastic mesh and the glass. The only magnetic strips I found were $0.99, but they were also weak and had an adhesive on the back. I would guess these would be great for making things to attach to your refrigerator, but in any case, they wouldn't do. At the bottom of the aisle shelf was a small package of of "Power Magnets." Power Magnets? I picked up the front package and noticed behind it was an already opened one, so I took the magnets out for closer inspection. All I can say is, watch your fingers! They may only be 5/8" in diameter, but these little buggers are extra strong and will snap together instantly. To boot, they had a warning label on the back and a website (www.craftsetc.com). That sealed it for me. I picked up a package of 10 tiny super magnets for $3.00. Next on the list was a squeeze tube of 100% silicone and super glue. I ended up with DAP 100% silicone rubber sealant, clear, the stuff in the blue tube made for windows and doors. I also picked up a tube of Krazy Glue. We already had plenty of nylon window screening in the garage, so I'm not sure how much this costs, though it can't be much.

Here is an overview of my design:

The bottom of the unit is actually on the left side of the picture, as noted above. These will be set down into the gravel by about an inch and I have adhered the nylon window screening to the ridig mesh with 100% silicone so they don't pull apart. This should also help with placing the moss between the screens.

Here is a close-up of the nylon window screening that I've chosen:

After talking to Shalu and a few others about the moss wall design, I decided this was the best material for the front screen. Keep in mind that new growth on the moss starts out very very small, so getting through the holes in the screen is no problem.

A close-up of the power magnet encased in silicone:

I wasn't sure how the metal in the magnets or the Krazy Glue would react with the water, so I took the safe rount and coated them in silicone.

Assembly is really easy:
Cut the rigid plastic mesh to the size you want then cut out an equally sized piece of the nylon window screening. Next, figure out where you want to put the magnets. I chose to put them on the inside (the side facing into the tank) of the rigid mesh so that it would hold the wall flush up against the glass. This will prevent anything from getting behind the wall and becoming trapped. I attached the magnets to the four corners (at the bottom I placed them so they'll be above the substrate line) with Krazy Glue. Be careful with this stuff and DO NOT USE ANYTHING METAL around the magnets. They'll pull right off and then you'll have a super glue mess. Let the super glue dry for a while, then encapsulate the magnets in silicone. This is a little tricky, so I would suggest doing the inside (top) of the magnets first, letting is cure for a couple hours, then doing the backside. Once these are cured enough to handle, attach the nylon screening to the bottom of the plastic mesh with the silicone. You don't have to use a ton of it, just a thin even layer worked fine.

That's about it for now. The silicone is not completely cured yet, so over the weekend or early next week I'll place the moss inside, close it up, and install it into my tank!
 

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Looks good as far, Troy. The rigid back seems like a good idea, I used the screen mesh for both sides and did kill a neon tetra that got trapped there( Shrimps are usually not a problem, they have legs but fish can get trapped).

How are you going to close the two meshes on top? I suggest don't make the combination permanent, because once in a while you might want to take it apart and start over, for example, to try a different moss. Another reason, the moss in between does not get much light, it could separate from the moss outside, although it has not happened to me yet.

The magnet seems only slightly smaller than the suction cups I got from HD. With suction cups, I simply cut holes in the meshes slightly smaller than the cup and squeeze the suction cup in, so taking it apart is very easy. Those things are hidden once the moss grow in, so it makes little difference. ok, the drawback of suction cup is still the gap it leaves between the back mesh and the glass I mentioned initially.
 

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Looks great...cant wait to see it fill in. I might have to try this with my small 2.5g shrimp tank

Also just a FYI I used to use crazy glue all the time for my reef tank..its great when attaching frags to rocks to let them grow out.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Haha...I love how everybody calls me Troy. I have a female friend that always calls me Hugh. Anyways....

Sha - I plan on holding the two pieces together with either cotton thread or fishing line, most likely the fishing line. I don't want it to be permanent by any means because I'm thinking about doing one side with java moss and one side with Christmas moss. Whichever I like best, I'll duplicate to the other side.

So Krazy Glue is ok to use by itself in the aquarium? It's not so much that I wanted to encapsulate the glue with silicone, but I wasn't sure how the metal magnets would react with the water.
 

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The ridged back and magnets are good ideas. I just tied two pieces of craft mesh together with fishing string and suction cupped them to the glass. Btw you can get black craft mesh at Michael's.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I have black mesh, white, light green, grey, brown...They were cheap so I just grabbed a bunch. With the darkness of the window screening, it makes the green mesh look like a really dark green. I'm going to place one of these in the tank tomorrow...more pictures to come.
 

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How cool.

Being a girl, I'm not so good at this...um why do you need both the window mesh and the green grid? Why not just attach the rigid one to the wall?

:confused: Figs
 

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figgy said:
How cool.

Being a girl, I'm not so good at this... Figs
Hey now. Thats a sick and old stereotype. Time to euthanize it. Dont blame yourself for not knowing something just because your a girl. Anyone could not know why. Its a valid question.
Sorry about this rant but it slightly offended me.... maybe offended isint the word to use. hmmm. anyway its you as an individual person that does not understand this. Many people might not. Your gender has nothing to do with understanding the reasons for rigid plastic vs nylon mesh.
 

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salamastre: nice link... taught me something about attaching moss to driftwood :) i always piled the moss on, and then wrapped with thread. never considered wrapping the thread with moss, and then winding it around the object... much better.

"troy": I've tucked a few of those wild pieces of moss from my wall back in, and trimmed it all within 3 mm of the mesh to let it grow out more evenly. with just a few days, I can tell this will be much fuller than my last attempt. Now I just need to up my lighting so the moss hangs down instead of reeeeaaching for the light.

Oqsy
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Salamastre,
Nice link. I've always placed moss onto the wood then held it in place with thread, but tomorrow I might try it this new way.

Figs,
Ditto what Ska said. I'll try to explain the two materials as best I can, but I might be blowing smoke. I would use just the nylon screening as the scaffold, except it has no structure. I would use just the rigid mesh except the holes are too big. My thoughts were that the rigid mesh would offer stability and structure to the wall while the smaller holes of the screening would create bushier growth. They're just thoughts. They might work, they might not. This is an experiement for me as well.
 

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Troy McClure said:
Sha - I plan on holding the two pieces together with either cotton thread or fishing line, most likely the fishing line. I don't want it to be permanent by any means because I'm thinking about doing one side with java moss and one side with Christmas moss. Whichever I like best, I'll duplicate to the other side.
Troy/Erik,
I really like the idea. I've been wanting to do a moss wall. This seems like a great way to do it. Here are my questions and ideas:

How will you "attach" the magnets on the back side? I know that they will just snap into place, but my worry is they will likely scratch glass or acrylic. Would it be a good idea to cover them somehow? I think by super glueing any kind of cloth to the flat side of the magnet it would allow it to move accross the glass without scratching it.

What are the dimensions of the rigid "cross stitching" pieces? Are you attaching the two pieces at the center also? My thought here is that in the center of the wall the two matterials will be pushed apart by the growing moss, causing a bulge in the final wall.

I haven't used either (any) type of moss in an aquarium. From what I have gathered many people on this thread don't like to use Java Moss. A lot of this seems to be because it is so "common." are there other issues with it? does it grow to slow or to fast?

Thanks again for the thread. I really look forward to your progress!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Here's how I went about the java moss wall. First, here's everything I used. The grid, java moss, monofilament line, scissors, tweezers, and a small spray bottle filled with water to keep the moss from drying out while I worked on it. I probably didn't need the spray bottle since it didn't take more than 5 minutes to put this thing together.


After trying to get what I felt was pretty good coverage over the whole surface, I used a few feet of the monofilament line weaved in and out of the wall to close it up. Keep the line tight to keep the screening against the mesh, but not so tight that it bends the mesh. There was no really pattern to where I went in and out on the grids. I went down one side, across the bottom, then zigzagged through the middle and finished across the top.


The knot on the backside of the grid pulling the two ends of the monofilament line together.


I need to pick up another package of those magnets, hence I'm using my FloatMag to hold the back magnets, but you can see how I've been able to keep the moss wall completely flush against the glass. This is exactly what I wanted.


In hindsight, the bottom didn't go as far below the substrate line as I has thought. It's not a big deal since most of that bottom gap will be covered by other plants and the moss will eventually creep down that way.


Next will be the xmass moss wall on the opposite side, but the moss won't arrive for a few days. I might also cover the filter intake pipe in moss ala-Shalu since the light blue of the XP1 filter really sticks out. So for now...we wait!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Safado -
Thanks for the kind words.

With the thickness of the glass, the rigid mesh, and the silicone, these don't "snap" together anymore. There shouldn't be a problem using these with acrylic, however I usually err on the side of caution. These small magnets work very very well for a 10gal, however the larger ones may be needed for larger tanks with thicker glass/acrylic.

Also, I've used java moss on this first wall simply because I have a ton of it floating in the 85gal. I'll be getting some xmas moss early this coming week and will make the other side's moss wall out of that. Whichever I like best, I'll duplicate it on the other side. My guess is that the xmas moss will turn out the best. I don't know of any other issues with java moss. It's just a moss with a slightly different color and structure from the others. While slow, it seems to grow well in my tanks, which is just fine with me.
 

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I have done something very similar in my 10gal. Instead of the window screening, I used a double layer of the plastic grid from WM. I used clear (sort of transparent) grid, which doesn't really matter, black or green or what, it will be covered up soon enough. Instead of suckers or magnets, I cut it to the size of the back, and pushed it a little into the substrate and underneath the tank rim.

First attempt with Java moss worked, but the way Java moss grows it wasn't too nice. So I took it out and replaced it with Christmas moss, which looked much better and is easier to keep neat. Java moss needs a haircut weekly...

After a while I got bored with the solid green background (it went against the "Mountainscape" theme...) and I took it out. I left some moss in the back, and by now I have my solid green Christmas moss wall back, without any support... I just trim it and it stays in place, held by some Windelov ferns that grow in front of it.

The pic in my sig doesn't represent how it looks currently... need to update some day :fish:
 
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