Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How to build a proper aquarium, paludarium, vivarium.

So recently I got out my old fish tank from yesteryear and started looking for a great new way to set it up. Every sense a biology class in 8th grade i wanted to set up a cool fish tank.

This blog will document my progress and aid anyone else who wants to achieve greatness. When i started my tank i was interested in doing it a low cost, creative, and safe for what ever creatures might live in the tank. So if your looking for a guide on what is needed how to build this is the place.

Lets start with discussing the materials.

The above is exactly what i purchased to build my tank. I have a 30 gallon tank. I purchased:
1 clear acrylic sheet
2 12oz great stuff
2 9.8oz brown Silicone
Peat moss

The first thing you want to do is get out a piece of paper and scratch out a few ideas. The biggest thing to keep in mind is creating a hiding place for the pump and filter. I did not take any photos of just the acrylic sheets in place, but you can see where they are placed on the image  below.  After drawing the basic idea on paper. you need to be able to visualize the product from the ground up. this can be kinda tricky because we see fall from top to bottom and naturally we want to build from the top down creating the flow of water as it falls. but it is more realistic to build from the bottom up. A major element of my tank was having multiple pools and view able ponds. My design called fore three distinct pools. one small one in the top right a medium sized pool on the right. and the biggest body of water in the middle. Arcyllic gave me a thin waterproof membrane could be put in place and create a pool and still maintain visibility.

After you have the idea in place. I cut my arcyllic sheets with a jig saw. On my first build i used a hot glue gun and tacked the shelves in placed. The second time i used small pieces of clear tape to temporally hold it.

Once the shelves are in place you can open the great stuff. Great stuff is a great tool when building a organic looking surface. I start on the  bottom lowest corner and work my way out and up. The trick when working with great stuff is applying it evenly and slowly. I try and keep it about 1/8 of an inch thick. When you get a little heavy with the stuff it has a tendency to shrink back down during the drying phase. on my tank i spend an hour or more putting great stuff in. don't rush it. On my first build i over did it in a few places where i thought it would need extra strength but it ended up shrinking away from the edges creating problems. I let mine cure overnight in the house and out of direct sunlight. sunlight i noticed has a tendency to yellow the foam. I also found a few interesting branches off a tree in the yard and added them to the foam to that they stay in place. the is the time to add bits of wood to the wall and get creative. I have also see people add cups and planting pots into the back ground to later hold plants. I did not feel like i had room in mine to do so. but i plan on putting plants on the big center shelf.

This is currently where i am at. Once i have more time i will add the silicone and peat moss/ sand combination. stay tuned for more updates.

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