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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Earthdate: 11.22.08
Subject: Betta get Started

yes, cruddy puns :p

This tank is approximately 4 gallons and I expect this will take me some time to complete. For one, what am I going to do with 50 pounds of cement? Build a wall I suppose.

I plan on actually constructing this directly in the aquarium. This aquarium is on its last legs and it has fractured in the back which is why I am going this route.

For starters; I am going to carve the back and side walls to look like.. something.. primus knows what. I would like to get small bits of twisty wood and whatnot to stick into the walls to make it look sort of like roots of trees and basically a rocky wall of a river bank or something of that nature.

I would like to a close approximation of a biotope. It won't be accurate, but it will be fun. Hopefully for the fish, Kaon, too.


Kaon

I am using pink foam to carve, being a warhammer geek, I have this kicking around. I need to pick up some aquarium safe silicon, to glue the foam to the back when ready and glue the "rocks " onto each other to create the backdrop.


looks like crap, but hopefully it'll work for me.

My plan is this: The rocks will be cement, maybe with a pigment. The back wall, with the branches and things will be a hypatufa blend. (peat, sand & cement). I will soak the tank for a couple weeks to get the PH down and stable before Kaon enters his home. To be honest, my plan might take a couple months to get going.

So the steps I see in future is:

1.build "stage"
2.soak, drain, soak, drain....
3.drain, brush moss bits over hypatufa surfaces, cover and let humidity go nuts and pray to the powers that be that the moss starts to cover said surfaces well. May be good time to attach moss to roots as well.
4.Fill with water, plant and again wait.
5.Add Kaon.

Materials I am looking for:

1.that red coloured wood stuff, which is rather branchy. I feel this may suit my purposes.
2.Red or black flourite. Not sure which one would be most suitable, I suspect red.
3.Black water extract or
4.almond leaves
5.cement
6.advice, suggestions in general help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Earthdate: 11.22.08
Subject: I need silly cone.

I been working on this a bit this morning. I really need silicone so I can get the rock pile back area put together so I can chew it apart and work with the backdrop easier.

I haven't started much on the right hand corner of the tank. That is my, "equipment" area and I need to work something out that I can hide the equipment. This is a tiny tank so there is not much room. I am not putting in a filter, as I will be doing water changes by hand once or twice a week.

I am strongly considering an under tank heater, is I go with the idea I am considering to put the tank on a raised stand where the underside can be easily accessed.

Chewing out the wall, I need to get bits of wood for is. Prehaps I will go hunting today.


More details on rock face. May change, likely will. (flat areas are "mud" with roots sticking out.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Earthdate: 11.22.08
Subject: Thinking out loud.



Quick shot of how it should look. I am drying wood again that I had soaking. I have a piece that should do what I want it to do and as long as I find a couple more rootletts, things should look the way I want it to.

This is not glued yet. The rocks are simply pinned to where I want them so I can make marks and think about where I want things to go and how I want them to look. Now I am seeing some things that could cause me issues. Thank you pinning for making me see what will give me a hard time. I can easily solve this problem now. Rocks will have to be done layer by layer. I can cement them all at the same time, but I will have to glue them to their spots afterward. This is so I can seal it well at the bottom when I glue it down. I think I will get a sheet of that sticky plastic stuff people use in kitchen cupboards so I can keep the bottom of my tank relatively clean.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Earthdate: 11.26.08
Subject: Feeling a little green

Oh boy is this ever green. I might be looking around for something that can help mute the colour. I already added powdered activated charcoal to the mix to dumb it down. Perhaps once I get the grey cement, I can blend the green with the grey and the black charcoal to get something less...alien looking. I don't mind doing say, 7 layers to get the effect I want, just this level of lime is kinda frightening. Oooooh, I gots me an ugly tank!!!!

Stage two I suppose. I have a tube of silly cone. This is great. I can go about doing a few things I want to do first off. That is gluing down the foam rocks to the walls and carving them in a bit more. I did that and quite happy with how it is thus far.

I am considering getting a small air powered sponge/charcoal filter to fit in the back. This might require some rethink on the wood, but likely not. I do want to some how blend the filter into the background, if by making it perma or some how removable. I need to get the filter so I can plan that bit. As it stands now, I think I can silly cone the back wall in as soon as I start making the other rocks luminous green.

When I get the basic layer or two of cement down, I can perma glue the green rocks down, seal their edges, then build up the next layer of rock. I know what I am doing even if it is not coming out well on "paper".

I can't show Kaon this because it's his Christmas present. Although, I don't think he'll get to be in it until sometime after January. I don't think red flourite will work....probably safer with black >.>


Let the drinking begin.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I will be trimming the edges a bit more and it is sticking out a bit. We shall see what I do. I got a few ideas swirling around my insane mind :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Kaon is in a quarter gallon "cubical" on my desk but we seem to have a good relationship. I don't have children, nore do I want any, so I give all my maternal care to my creatures.

edit: Amazing tank you made. I am impressed! My mum works with stained glass :p I could pester her for glass, methinks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Earthdate: 11.28.08
Subject: Sanded fingers..ow

Okay, I am almost out of my rock cement, I am hoping to get a couple other colours from my mother to add some ochre and grey to the situation. Not that I haven't already added grey. But I am not sure how well the carbon black will stay in the stones. I mixed the ground up charcoal with th e cement then flicked it on with a toothbrush. I don't care at this point. I just want it to look lesss lime

I took three pics. One of the corner area, one of it face on and one of it with the driftwood just loosely fitted. Once the wood was in, it looked that much better to me. I just need to find some root-like bits so I can put them in to the back wall.

I want to coat the back wall in moss, the side walls in moss. I will also be painting a wee stripe of black onto the front of the tank because, well I think the ends look a little tacky. If I had black silly cone I'd have used it.

Just visualise a betta, moss, java ferns, crypts in a yellow tinted water with oak or almond leaves on the bottom. I think I am gonna go red gravel.


Corner area. Walls are more or less blended to the rocks in the forground. It should look better once I get the grey cement to cover in the pink areas and make it look sort of uniform.


See the scratches in the glass? I had this tank since I was about 14 years old...geez, that is an old tank >.>


The driftwood sort of makes it POP. I am pleased with it thus far.

As for my fingers... I recommend you don't cement bare handed... you'll sand your skin off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
its gonna be a while before kaon gets to go into it. I need to cure and then try to get the moss to grab the walls. but once that is set, I think we'll be in business.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Wonderful sunny day, I decided to go looking for rooty driftwood at the lake. I found exactly what I wanted and more.


Looking rooty. I need to strip the bark off some bits yet. Fun and games

dry run. nothing is glued in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
I don't have grey cement yet, but when I get it, I plan on brushing over the rocks so that they're grey with green showing through. I want to get some pigments, ochre and brown, are preffered to use for the "mud" areas.

I am wanting to work the stone into the wood a bit, I am gluing it into place and I will try to get the background to fit the wood a bit better.

if you look at the rim of the tank, you can see the green reflection going on.

I removed the upper right corner bit of wood, the one that is standing up. I probably will put a willow in there, inspired by something ugly :p I will try to prune the willow to keep it small and managable. We shall see how things go. I go agree the rocks are still a bit luminous, but we will get that dumbed down more.

I am a rock collector... I have enough green rocks kicking around. Some are pretty shocking. :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
Ghengis:
I will keep it in mind. I really want to get some smooth cement, the current stuff I was using was way too course/green.

It's called constructive crit guys, not dissing. And "artist" needs this sort of feed back. Its good.

Zer0zax:
I am "mudding" it so that the wood is covered in areas. I do not have much intention of moving stuff around. The piece of willow is very small. it will take time to grow roots, but I chose one that I could train myself.

speaking of training. I taught kaon to jump at a toy. When he does that, I give him some food. What a silly and cute fish!
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 · (Edited)
Kaon: Not in his tank. Just in his temp home.

I think I stressed him out just a little by moving him to the Photo table. I wanted to try to get a couple nice pics, but the vase, being round, just won't show him clearly enough. However, I think I got a nice face shot and a nice shiney scale shot.

He's doing really well, very lively, very happy, eats F.D. Bloodworm, sea scallops, bits of peas carrots and corn, and will jump at some of his toys to get a treat.

He flares at my finger tip, my school ring, Starscream and his reflection in the mirror. He's happy and I am won over by bettas.

his water is peat tea stained.


Such a sad looking face.


Such a pretty colour.

Video of Kaon jumping for a plastic pepper (treat involved)

 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·


we shall see how tihs turns out. It's being recoated then the rocks withll be repainted as well shortly with grey cement. Hopefully I can get it detailed nicely... *crosses fingers*

looks like wet mud. I think that is closer to natural than luminous greeen.

I put glass over the top to keep the humiditiy in so it doesn't dry too rapidly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
Earthdate: 12.06.08
Subject: Mucking around

I got cement, or rather concrete (had to sift out the rocks and bigger sand) and a pigment to work with. FINALLY it is really starting to take shape. The pictures that follow, the cement is still quite damp, so it appears darker, however, I do hope that this colour returns once the tank is under water.

I need one more thing before I can finish this and that is Silicon again. My last tube was pretty much used up and it exploded.

The brown pigment, when mixed with the cement gets a most perfect mud colour. I have brushed the whole thing over with tinted cement then painted the rocks with regular cement, then brushed it off with a tooth brush. Once things are more solid, I will brush the rooties off again with the tooth brush.

Still, I am requiring a coating of hypatufa. That is a mix of peat, cement, courser sand and pigment. That I hope will give me a more "muddy" bank look around the rocks as well as a better surface for moss to adhere to. I have intention of having moss growing on all "mud:" surfaces. You folk said green was too green, well, you were right. Some green still shows, I will cover it as time goes along. I need a couple more coats of cement, probably this evening. Some silicone and then touch up spots with cement or hypatufa and then I think I can go to the leeching/curing stage.

As you can see in the following pictures, I am grouting around the roots. This is to make the roots look as if they belong. Some need to be re-glued to the bottom glass, but that will come toward the end. The biggest roots are still removable for now. If they weren't it would be hell to get in and about them.





The photos are dark. I will try to get more taken this evening.
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
Earthdate: 12.06.08
Subject: Mudding

I added the hyper-tufa mix to the walls in between the stones and around the roots. Again the big roots are not glued in. I have to wait a day or two until the hyper-tufa has solidified enough.

The scratches in the glass have really come to light, but that is because the cement has "grouted" it. I hope that the vinegar solution and a scrubby will clean them out. Perhaps I put too much effort into a low grade ancient tank, but really, this is a learning experience and to test it out on an old tank is better than mucking up a new one.

The hyper-tufa is as follows:

1 part cement
1.5 parts peat moss
1 part heavy grit sand.
Enough brown cement pigment to get it to look like wet mud.
Water until its thick and mud-like.

I am aiming for an appearance of mud. I want the tank to look like some flood has taken place and eroded away some of the soil to expose roots and rocks. And indentation in a small stream wall. You get the idea? Perhaps a story will come forth when I am completed and ready to put the betta in; that day is still a very long way away.

Personally, I think the texture of the wall is idea for what I want. Now the question is, will it hold up when I fill the tank? Heh, will the water not seep out that crack in the back... if that is the case, I will have to fill the water up part way and grow plants up the wall instead. I hope that doesn't happen.

I added a couple more rooties to the back wall, they appear almost white in comparison to the others. I will get a toothbrush to the rooties tomorrow. I just need it all to firm up some. The peat in the mud mix will take a few days to dry out fully. So, I have to be patient, which I can tell I am in somewhat short supply of. I am SO jazzed.

I may go out and splurge on a new java fern for this tank The ones I have in my main tank are so tiny. I also want to purchase a couple plants of Mondo grass or some other terrestrial plant. Yep yep, I got ideas going :D

Anyway, the pic below is the stage I am at now. I will keep you posted.

 
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