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I've been having a hard time finding the type of rocks to match what I already have in the tank. I want to create a background that will coverup as much of the background as I can.

I've looked at the DIY foam and the Acquaterra backgrounds, but I'm thinking this would be easier, less costly and quicker to install one that is finished before it goes into the tank. I really don't have a place to move my fish untill silicone cures and cement is out of the question.

So, has anyone ever worked with ceramic clay for aquarium decoration (rocks)? If It could be fashioned to look like the existing rocks and I can then create a background that will fit into my tank opening. Also, I want it to be thin enough so that I'm not taking up so much water volume.

I have seen the cheap "No Fishing" ceramic decorations for sale but does anyone know if I made my own, had it painted and fired (no glaze) would it cause a problem for the fish and/or effect the water? Would the paint used by people to create ceramic pieces be ok or should I try something more suited for the aquarium?
 

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I've often wondered this same thing. I have a friend who does alot of sculpting and I keep meaning to ask her if this is something that she would be willing to do.

I don't have proof, but I can't see why it wouldn't work. I would suspect that if you used acrylic water based paint you should have no problems.
 

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ooooooh.. Now I am very intrigued...... :popcorn:

Post if you get any further news on this or plan to start yourself... I always thought about DIY, but I live in an apartment, and I don't have the space, time, money, and patience for the curing and coating and double soaking, and the days and days...

If this turns out to be easier and faster, I'd be interested in doing it myself...

Keep us posted!!
 

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That epoxy sounds cool.... my only concern with all this is exposed paint and curious mbuna nibbling... In the case of ceramic, I gather the glaze would solve my issue, but in other cases, such as this epoxy, would there be a coat of resin or "glaze" over the painted surface?
 

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you actually don't have to glaze the ceramic if you don't want to. If the clay is non toxic and dinnerware safe. I always see those ceramic tank decorations and they aren't even fully glazed if you take a look at the bottom. Only the outside is usually glazed, plus most are hollow so water comes in contact with the inside (bare) ceramic.

I wonder what they use to color and paint the popular poly-resin tank ornaments, you can find at Petco and Petsmart. I've been looking at the Back to Nature models, and it looks like they might be made of poly-resin or plastic too.

I plan to make a mold out of the ceramic background I'm going to be working on, then mess with poly-resins and such later. But I'm still going to need to color the ceramic background I make...I'm just leary about the glazes and color availibility and such.
 

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According to the information available online concerning Apoxie products:

"Both Apoxie® Sculpt, and FIXIT® are UV resistant, waterproof, weather proof, and incredibly durable. Apoxie® Clay is very strong, but the others are superior in this regard. FIXIT® is also very resistant to fuels. We soaked cured cubes of Apoxie® Sculpt and FIXIT® in nitro-methane (radio control car fuel), and after a day the Apoxie® Sculpt was slightly softened, but the FIXIT appeared unaffected, and was still impossible to scratch with a fingernail.

The best part about Aves products is that they are non-toxic, non-flammable, user friendly, and non-hazardous synthetic clays..."

(I'm not associated with the company, but I'm a definite fan of its products. :thumb: )
 

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I bought the Apoxie Sculpt, nicco, but I haven't gotten to play with it yet. Soon!...

And I liked your idea to use real rock to impress detail into the clay, by the way. :thumb: Do you have a thought on what to coat the rock with to keep the clay from adhering?
 

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niccomau said:
I was thinking maybe saranwrap? I know they use vegitable oil for molds and such, so I might try that. Maybe just wetting down the rock will help?
**** i think we all have that kickin around. gl
 

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I talked to the Apoxie Sculpt people. They were super nice and talked to me for 20 minutes. She said with Apoxie Sculpt you can just spray a light layer of the cooking spray Pam and make impressions/molds that way. I am probably going buy both Apoxie Sculpt and the Critter Clay and see what I like best :thumb: I'm going to take a day trip through Morgan Territory and Black Diamond Mines to collect some rocks and made try to take a couple of molds from rock faces in the area, so I'll see how it turns out.
 

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It might be worth some time to think about scale when looking for rocks to model. I found in model railroading, things that were nice when in nature were grossly over sized when viewed closeup. I would think looking at a tank wall might be the same. I lean toward the smaller sizes for rockwork rather than only a few larger items. Perhaps just my viewpoint?
 

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I would do it like so:

Make up a desired wall of rocks on a flat surface......

Cover them in a thin sheet of clay and make the edges slightly down turned towards the floor.

Leave to set hard.... This is now your mould which includes the rock indentations...

Now pour the liquid clay into the back of this mould and leave to cure. Decorate etc...

This is how they do the body sculpting to get the skin effect & I dont see why it wont work :thumb:

Dan
 

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I always thought when looking at the back to nature backgrounds that the bigger scale rock faces made the tank look much larger. I'm looking at it from the point of view that I will be able to get much more in the way of size and realism using real rock molds. If it's too large you could just mold a part of it or cut the molded rock in pieces, and using the clay for molding the pieces seamlessly together and removing stop gaps in the face. I was also playing with the idea of tanking a couple of molding and scuplting classes to refresh and learn so new techniques. Maybe I could take some large mold of a verticle rock face aswell.
 
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