Thursday, April 26, 2012

First Test

After the paint and silicone dried, I hooked up the filter and gave my waterfall a first try.  It works great! For now, the rocks are floating, but once I get the epoxy on, I will attach them to the tank with silicone and they will be stationary. 



After three coats of cement I decided to go ahead and paint.  I went to Tokyu Hands to get some acrylic paints.  One of the employees recommended 'Tamiya' brand. I used black, white, brown, and flat green to get the results seen in the picture.  I'm pretty happy with how the rock turned out.
I used black silicone in all of the holes and the water tank at the top of the waterfall.  I am also going to coat everything below the waterline with eboxy.  I think it should be waterproof.  

The 100 yen shop had a bunch of epiphytes so I bought some.  They should work well on the bark I'll be adding.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Second and Third

Here are pictures of the second and third coats of concrete.  After the second coat, I connected the pieces together using expanding foam sealant.  I also created some extra holes in the rock for plants.  After the foam dried I cut it and put on a first coat of concrete.  When the foam dries, it has a hard, shiny outer later.  The concrete doesn't stick to it very well, so I would advise cutting all of it off so the concrete can bond better with the soft foam underneath.
I think it came out pretty cool.  Once it's all together it should look very nice.  Two concerns are that waterfall portion will create a pretty dark cave area that won't get much light.  But that may actually be a good thing. 
My other concern is whether or not all of the materials I've used are going to be safe for any animals I put in the tank.  I've done a lot of research about what products to use, but of course, I can't find most of them here in Tokyo.  I'll find out eventually.  But it's a lot of work gone to waste if they turn out toxic!

I'll put up a post later listing all of the products I used. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

First Coat

Last night we mixed up our "underwater concrete" bought from the local home center. I don't know exactly how it is different from a regular concrete, but I figured it is probably what I need for this project.

We mixed it very thin and then painted it on with brushes. I scrubbed the outside of the styrofoam bricks with a wire brush first in the hope that it would allow the concrete to bond better. We'll see. The blue foam seemed to absorb the cement mixture which will probably allow for a stronger bond. I'm slightly worried about cracking. Should be ok.

We're going to wait two days to let it dry completely and then put on the second coat.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Paludarium Start

I've decided to make a paludarium since I will most likely be in this apartment for several years. I kept one in college that I loved but eventually had to get rid of. At the time, I didn't know the word 'paludarium,' but had devised the set up on my own, using a tupperware to separate the land portion from the water. I had three tree frogs, a house gecko, an anole, a firebelly toad, and three fire-belly newts living in that vivarium, with seemingly none of the problems generally associated with mixing species: in over a year, none of my animals died (except for one that escaped, found its way into my roommate's underwear drawer, and dried out). Wish I still had pictures (Here are pics of other people's projects.)

Deciding to do some research on waterfall construction, I discovered that people all over the place are making professional quality paludariums that look just like the setups I've always loved seeing at zoos. So I've decided to make my own.

I'm not sure the gallon measurement of this (Probably about 29?) tank, but I got a good deal on it on Rakuten: 4000 yen. It measures 60 cm x 30 cm x 45 cm high. Using insulation foam and some styrofoam bricks I found at the local home center, I've constructed the basic outline of my rock work. Because the 'bricks' already have holes cut in them, I'm hoping that this will allow me to easily plant things and keep them separated from the water portion.
I've constructed the waterfall portion on out insulation foam. It's pretty easy to work with. I've been cutting it with a cheap soldering iron. As seen in the picture, there is a shallow trough along the top ridge of the waterfall. I've opened a small hole along the back wall where the hose from my filter will continual empty its water. I've then cut ridges all down the front of the rock face, so hopefully, the water will flow down in several places. I want to get moss growing in some of the crevices, and hopefully it will look very cool.
Along the walls I've placed cork bark which will eventually be fastened into place using expanding foam sealant. I plan to use the silicone / coco fiber technique on the rest of the open portions seen in this picture.
Now that I have shaped the foam into rock-like shapes, my next step is to put several layers of waterproof concrete on them, which I will then have to cure for about a month, leeching out all of the lye so it doesn't cause havoc with the ph levels of the water.
More to come after!

Saturday, April 14, 2012