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48g Bowfront Vivarium Construction Journal

This is a quick construction journal of my cousins new 48 gallon bowfront viv. I plan to have a rock waterfall, a foam background, a false bottom, and a pond.

First I applied silicon to the back and sides where the foam is going. It helps the foam stick to the glass and blocks the white foam from outside view.

[Image: ChicosViv008.jpg]

Lots of thought has gone into this setup so far. I have decided where to put the waterfall/pond area and where to keep the land area. So I cut the plastic egg crate to size and cut some pvc pipe to hold the false bottom up above water level about a half inch. I also boxed out a corner with eggcrate and covered it with screen for a spot to access the pumps later if needed. Silicon was used to hold the pipe spacers to the glass bottom.

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In this picture you see the false bottom in place and a little beach area I constructed with the eggcrate. I will be siliconing some rocks to this area.
You can also notice some pvc pipe cut on the pond side, this is to support the rock that will be used for the waterfall. It is a quite heavy rock! So the foam alone will not support it. When I set the rock in place it sits on these 2 posts so the foam will just be holding it in place..

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Now you see the rock waterfall and the tubing is in the great stuff foam. Now this is just the first layer of foam and I did it with the tank vertical so I can get the rock just how I want it. One can of red Great Stuff used so far. It was a challenge to apply the foam with the tank standing up.

[Image: ChicosViv020.jpg]

After waiting 24 hours and the first layer of foam is dry, I then laid the tank on its back and added 2nd can of foam with some small peices of drift wood stuck in there. You can see in this picture at the bottom I used silicon to glue some gravel and some bigger river rocks to block the view to under the false bottom. Who wants to see pvc pipes and eggcrate? Well I know your not gonna see much down there, it should always be very dark under the substrate.

[Image: ChicosViv027.jpg]

Now I have added another can of foam and a few more small pieces of driftwood. I also made a support for the cover of the access to the water pumps. I wrapped it in plastic and stuck it into the foam while it was still tacky. I will be able to remove the cover from the foam after the foam dries and the cover will not sink in the back corner- as I have had that problem in a previous viv.

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Now this pic shows the tank on its back while im glueing the forest bed to the foam.

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And the finished background.

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Here I used a razor blade to cut the excess silicone and peel it off the glass. I planned to cover the whole side in foam, but I had a change in design. First I cut along the foam edge, then scraped all the uneeded silicone.

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This pic shows the pebbles I glued to the beach area with silicone. It also shows the bigger rocks I glued to the land edge to hold in the substrate.

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While applying the foam, I took advantage of this spot behind the rock used for the waterfall. It was just big enough for a 4 inch pot. I foamed around the pot, this will make a good spot for what ever low growing plant we choose to put here.

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This is the first time I added water since the start of construction. The waterfall has a nice flow with the 2 pumps. There is a bit of a splash which keeps the glass wet, also keeps half of the false bottom wet.

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This is it so far, Im waiting for some bromeliads and other plants from Black Jungle.. Also ordered some Leca substrate.

Please comment. And enjoy!


EDIT p2 for updated pics 5/16/06

[Image: Frank4.jpg] [Image: frank1.jpg]

Very nice!

What exactly is the "forest bed" that you glued onto the foam and how did you glue it?

Thanks, Travis!

Forest bed is available at most pet stores. It may also be called Eco-earth, or dried coco bedding. It looks like a dried out brick of dirt, but you soak it in water as the instructions say and it swells up nice. Let it dry all the way before attempting to "glue" it.. Use Silicone 2 GE brand. It comes in many colors, I used black(your gonna use a lot to get it right). -Available at Home Depot. Do a little at a time so it doesnt start to dry before applying the dried coco bed.

Good luck


[Image: Frank4.jpg] [Image: frank1.jpg]

Thanks Frank!

I am wanting to do the same concept with a 20g Long.

What type of lighting are you running?

Right now regular fluorescent lighting is being used. a 36 inch 20w bulb(eclipse came with the bowfront glass), but Im going to upgrade to compact fluorescent from soon because the 20watts isnt enough for this 48gallon tank. I think we decided to go with 2x96w-to keep the broms and moss well lighted.


[Image: Frank4.jpg] [Image: frank1.jpg]

Is this the same as forest bed? ... y_Code=SUB

Travis Wrote:Is this the same as forest bed? ... y_Code=SUB

yes Big Grin

[Image: Frank4.jpg] [Image: frank1.jpg]

looks really good. I like how uneven the background is. Much better than most beginner's vivs.

Thanks Dane. Smile

I look forward to meeting you at the meeting next week(8 days)!

Couple newer pictures:
[Image: ChicosViv085.jpg]

[Image: ChicosViv132.jpg]

[Image: ChicosViv158.jpg]

[Image: ChicosViv123.jpg]

Enjoy 8)


[Image: Frank4.jpg] [Image: frank1.jpg]

Looking at your construction raised a question; you buried a 4 inch pot above the water feature for planting, yet I see broms all over the background. What is anchoring your broms; are they in pots; is there soil beneath the roots?

As of now, toothpics are stuck in the foam holding the broms up. The roots havnt grown enough to anchor themselves yet. Once they do, Ill remove the toothpics. (the smaller ones are holding themselves up,I just shuved the stolen into holes in the background.)
I use 2 toothpics per brom.. and kinda make a V to hold them. Im curious if the broms will anchor themselves to the foam/forest bed background. I know it would have been better to mount them with the roots against wood. Ive read it takes anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months for the broms to grow roots and anchor themselves.
They are epiphetic(airplants) broms, therefore need no soil on the roots.
Im no plant expert, so these methods are "experiments" .. So far everything is still alive.
Good luck

[Image: Frank4.jpg] [Image: frank1.jpg]

Is the eco earth stuck to the foam or did you re-apply silicone over the foam to stick the eco earth. Thanks!

Great cage by the way.

Yep, used silicone to stick the dirt.... I have tried just putting the dirt in the foam while the foam was wet and sticky, with poor results.

[Image: Frank4.jpg] [Image: frank1.jpg]

Thank's for warning me ahead of time! Im atempting to construct a background like you did, I have my initial layer of black silicone on the glass as of now. Hopefully it will turn out okay!

hey ya'll,

watch out! GE just started adding "bioseal" to the silicone. if the tube you have says it contains bioseal, DO NOT USE IT. after some hunting around i've found a DAP which is rated as 'food safe' and comes in black.

Mack.. There was a big scare of this you mentioned around 2 months ago on DB.. I remember one member doing some research and found that GE has always used bioseal in their silicon2,, just started using it as a marketing ploy and therefore it is now advertised on the bottle..
Just to be safe tho... lol I bought up a stock of the tubes without the bioseal.


[Image: Frank4.jpg] [Image: frank1.jpg]

thanks frank,

i feel really silly for having just 'bought up' the stock at my home depot "without" bioseal. i guess i'm going to return it and get the DAP food grade online.

The Silicone II product has always had "bio-seal". The new label is marketing, but the formula hasn't changed. Take that for what it is worth...

yep, we've been using "bio-seal" all this time with no ill effects.....

[Image: Frank4.jpg] [Image: frank1.jpg]

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I visited with Chico tonight and brought my camera. None of the leucs were out, it was bedtime allready, but got some updated pics of the vivarium-over 5 months of growing.
We have some random sprouties.. must have came from the moss.
A couple broms are pupping, and one tillandsia is flowering.
The aquatic plants are doing great, theyre growing high above the water.

So far-A happy vivarium 8)

[Image: Frank4.jpg] [Image: frank1.jpg]

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