View Full Version : Molded backgrounds and live plants...I'm a Nub

11th June 2010, 22:20
Hello All!

I'm Beth, I'm new to the forums and new to the world of caudata's. The most experience I've had in the past involved rescuing tiger salamanders out of my window well and being sad in the morning when I saw they crawled out of the ice cream bucket I left open on the deck for them.

I have experience with ball pythons, bearded dragons, corn snakes, and leopard geckos, but Newts and Salamanders are new to me. I'm an animal enthusiast through and through with cats, dogs, rodents and things in aquariums. the last frontier for me would be to design and build a really fun and natural looking vivarium (I know there are many different names for how much or little water is in the tank and which plants that change the Latin name. for simplicity I stick with vivarium).

Here is what I need help with. What building materials do you use, and which mosses do you use to cover said material?

I've heard if "Great Stuff" obviously to be used with a mesh, form underneath, a pump system for water features ect. I've also read that great stuff can warp and shrink under high humidity or when underwater. I've heard gorilla glue is better, but I think I'm missing how people get the gorilla glue to mold.

Plant wise I hear Java Moss is a monster and will cover anything. Seems like a good thing, but I heard it needs trimming (which I'm not opposed to). I'm not really looking for ideas of other plants that grow tall and look nice yet. I'm truly interested in what plants you use to cover the ground.

I'm sure people will have different ideas for different set ups, so for starters I'll say I'm looking for a mostly ground set up, with a trickle of water running through it to a very small pond (4in X 4in) I know it's not a caudata, but I'd like to get something like a poison dart frog or a brightly colored colored, even if it's just the belly, newt of salamander.

Thank you all in advanced for your help. I like to be a well informed pet owner. and all the help I can get only makes me more well informed.

Beth T.

18th July 2010, 03:20
You would get a sheet of foam and spray it with the great stuff. After it cures and dries you can then cut it and basically do what ever it takes to totally trash it. Then use Drylock to paint over the foam mixed with a concrete dye to add color.

I just posted in regards to this but if you look on Cichlid/fish forums you will find lots of great ideas you can utilize.

Here is a pic I posted before of one of my Terrariums I have done just that way. I used planters and caulked them in place before finishing with the great stuff so I can plant some plants to the background.
Just be patient and use your head and it will work out great.
I used local moss found outside but its best to do it in the more cooler seasons like the beginning of spring so it can acclimate to the temps.

Also, Black Jungle has great tips on making waterfalls or streams.

I stay away from them these days. they get to maintenance oriented for me.

26th April 2011, 02:42
I'm right there with you on this one!

Has any one ever used Styrofoam and Great Stuff?

and what are everyones preferences for shading these DIY projects?

26th April 2011, 14:10
My first sentence in my previous post will answer your first question;).

As far as shading I find that its best to first coat it a few times with a satin or matte black Krylon Fusion spray paint. Then add your base color to some drylock. You can create different levels of brightness/darkness by the amount of concrete dye you use for even more pop but I usually don't do that. I just mix it to the color level I want and I brush with light strokes from top down till I make my way across the BG ( DONT GO UP THE BG!!! ). If you brush upwards it will throw off the shaded look. I let it dry and determine if I will need more coats and any fine detailing in troublesome spots.

30th July 2011, 18:24
Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't concrete dye be detrimental to newt/salamander health? I'v heard that it messes up the PH balance in a tank.

30th July 2011, 18:35
Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't concrete dye be detrimental to newt/salamander health? I'v heard that it messes up the PH balance in a tank.