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Canada Day Weekend Build! : Clay Background Method
So first off let me say something serious.....Goodbye GS Foam, I will not miss you. Now let’s take a moment of silence to remember....................... K that is enough.
Sooooo Long weekend has hit and it got me motivated to try something “new”, at least for us at Vivarium Forums. I did a clay background if you haven’t guessed already.
First off, here is the clay I used, its “special” lol. Got it from Wal-Mart and each 11kg box was 5-6$. I’m pretty sure they come larger but I didn’t bring a pickup truck and this stuff is heavy! I dumped about 7kgs into a large bucket and filled it with water 2” above the surface of clay and let it sit overnight.
Once I mixed the clay as best I could I began taking chunks out and mixing my substrate into it. I did the mixing by eye, I did not measure, and made softball sixed mixtures at a time due to it being very thick and difficult to mix a lot at a time. I used about one full handful of clay, 1 handful of peat moss, and ½ handfuls of eco earth substrate and mulched sphagnum.
MMMMM....Sphagnum smoothie anyone???
Then I needed to kneed kneed kneed until no grey clay flakes were visible...This is what I ended up with...Pure gold imo, and it costs less then any other BG method I’ve tried so far!!!
Then I threw the ball in another large bucket and continued making small batches until my arms looked like Popeye’s. Now that the mixture was finished, I started my false bottom....
Here is my “typical” egg crate false bottom. I started by cutting out all the separate pieces, then zip-tying them together. The 2nd picture from above shows the ¾” gap I left on each side and front from the glass to the FB.
I then wrapped the entire “box” like a Christmas present in a weed control landscape fabric, and then added the 2 pieces of egg crate to form the false “back”. Like all FBs done this way, it will allow me to access my pump if it becomes clogged or fails.
Here is my pump setup. I have various different diameter hoses fit snugly together to graduate down to a 1/4" OD hose from the provided 3/8” ID output. I then used a “Quick Connect T” to give myself 2 outputs of water to snake through my BG. This is also super handy if the pump fails. If it does, then all I have to do is unclip the quick connect and replace the pump while keeping all my water lines intact.
Now that the false bottom was completed, it was time to head inside......
There isn’t much explanation to be done here, the pictures do most of the talking.
1st I added the drainage rocks around my FB.
Then I began to add the clay mixture straight onto the glass and egg crate. Added a few doodads...And voila! Here is my progress as of tonight.
Oh dear, look how barren my brand new racking system is ....Oh well, guess I gotta build more tanks to fill it in!
I still need to make more of the clay mixture since I ran out tonight. I will be adding to the background to hide the square shape from my pump access box. I will also be adding another piece of driftwood to go ½ ways across the viv ending in the water feature. It will act as the stream, and will be using the 2nd water hose that is currently unconnected. I havent found the perfect piece just yet, but my local aquarium shop should have gotten in a fresh shipment today.
Hope you guys/gals are enjoying this build, I know I havent had more fun then this thus far! Stay tuned!
Actually I dont take credit for this idea at all. People at DendroForums have been doing it for a while and I thought I would give it a go...I just so happens I did a search all over our forums and no one has done it before
Beck/Klown: The peat moss is what makes it so dark. I used the other addtions to give it "spots" and inconsistencies. It just requires a LOT of kneeding to get ride of all the grey clay spots. Im not using anything to help preserve it. As far as I can tell as of right now, as long as it isnt soaking wet or has water running over it constantly, it will stay in tact. I left a little clump submerged in a water dish and it became slimy and started to flake. My background this morning in holding together perfect however, and hasnt started to slime over, or crack anywhere. This is more of a practice/experimental build. Next will be a background made from Clacium Bentonite. Im testing so see which clay background will hold together best under very wet conditions.
Both of my water outputs do not come in contact with the clay background so I wont have anything to worry about. The clay can easily handle a daily misting. The good thing about it, is that the base of Broms can be stuck directly into the background. Also by using peatmoss and sphagnum, random moss growth also occurs on a regular basis.
Im not exactly sure, some sort of mantella, or preferably darts. Depends if I can get in on a group buy in my city, if I can find a local breeder, or if any of the pet stores will bring them in from Ontario.
...You are a vive builder after my own heart. I love experimenting with new techniques. Now, I totally wish I had some cat litter that I could use here at the house. I don't think the hubby will let me go buy any... Anywho, I'd like to see some shots maybe with the flash on. Maybe a closeup from the front, too. It's definitely an interesting technique. Do you have any links to the threads that inspired you?
Organic builds are the newest trend with Dendrobates, the idea of the clay is first, its organic and the theory is to allow the microfuana to absorb the organics mainly as calcium and trace minerals,in turn give the Dendrobates better nutrition. I gotta admit , I wish I had seen these ideas in a functional settings sooner.
It is very fast from start to finish (cat litter method) Some are a lengthy process involving many steps of mixing to slow the release and break down of the clay.
The thing that most people seem to have a problem understanding is that the idea is to Not Let The Clay Dry. Dry will flake and break down and defeat the idea. Many folks have been running drip walls for years on clay based backgrounds and substrates with good results.
I am on the edge of committing my gigantic exoterra to this same process, .. I would very much like to hear more from you on your experiences Grimm.
1.1.4 D. Azureus
1.1.1 D. Leucomelas
1.3.5 D. Imitator
0.1.0 D. Cit Tinctorius