Habitat - Indoor :: Tucks New But Temporary Home - Build Thread

Turtle tank setups and other indoor configurations.

Post Posted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:51 am   Tucks New But Temporary Home - Build Thread

I'm kind of late in creating this build thread because the new tank set up is almost complete. I am just waiting on getting my new heater and I'm finally done...until next year. I want to use this thread to possibly make my turt's habitat even better, as well as share what I've learned. My project started with a desire to build a better basking dock. The one I had was way too small for my fast growing Tuck, and I couldn't find one for that was large enough for an adult male turtle. I decided to do some research...I looked throughout this website and decided to build my own that would reside inside the tank. Next I found some wonderful ideas for basking areas at instructables.com, however most of them were not suitable for a semi-aquatic environment. The one I found most promising included a structure built for a lizard, made out of styrofoam and covered with grout. There was one build however, where a guy commented on the lizard guys thread who was a zoo keeper himself. He started talking about hydraulic cement, noting that at his zoo they built entire structures out of it. Me not knowing anything at all about the potential toxicity of grout or hydraulic cement, did a little more reading and a light came on.
Last edited by Mr. Tuck on Mon Dec 05, 2011 5:15 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Post Posted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 2:06 am   Re: Tucks New But Temporary Home - Build Thread

I took a trip to Petco to get my Tuck some feeder fish for his monthly snack, and I took a better look at their turtle tank.
01.jpg

I decided that I could build something that could be light by using the styrofoam, and solid by coating it with the hydraulic cement. I had no idea how I would have to seal it, but the very next day, I bought a huge block of styrofoam and got to carving.
02.jpg


I drew a basic outline and used a hand saw and sandpaper to complete the carving. It was by far the messiest part of the entire build. I was finding bits of styrofoam all over the house for days.
03.jpg
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Post Posted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 2:30 am   Re: Tucks New But Temporary Home - Build Thread

Finished with the carving. I wanted it long enough for an adult RES or two to have dry space to move around, with no sharp or jagged edges. Its approximately 18.5" along the back wall of the tank, and 13" wide along the right side wall.
04.jpg


Due to the shape of styrofoam (I actually had two large blocks $10 X2 from a local Atlanta hobby store) I was going to have to build a base for the platform as a separate piece that I would have to attach later, which I would eventually do using aquarium silicone. I decided to coat the entire thing with hydraulic cement. I chose it because of its ability to hold up under water and because it was relatively safe to use around animals. Note: all cement will leach chemicals in to water and I do NOT recommend using it without some type of water potable sealant. I solved that problem later.
DSCN1688.jpg

At first I gouged grooves into the wet cement as a help give the turtle some traction. After I applied the sealant, I realized I would need to change it.
05.jpg
Last edited by Mr. Tuck on Mon Dec 05, 2011 11:48 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Post Posted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 2:44 am   Re: Tucks New But Temporary Home - Build Thread

Here's an awesome closeup of the cement drying on the base. :) Actually, I'm just showing the thickness of the cement I applied.
05b.jpg


This is the the dock and base after I finished applying the cement.
07.jpg


Hydraulic cement dries very quickly, so you have to move fast. I wore gloves and the appropriate face mask. Cement dust contains carcinogens, so don't ever use it. :o This is where the project was put on hold for a month as I allow the cement time to cure.
Last edited by Mr. Tuck on Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Posted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 3:11 am   Re: Tucks New But Temporary Home - Build Thread

In the mean time I found a two part epoxy resin sold and manufactured by a company called Florak. You cant buy the product in stores and must be bougt directly from them. It is guaranteed 100% safe for use in water potable applications...not sure if I said that right. It dries harder than cement and is 100% waterproof. You can find out more about their epoxy waterproofer here.
07b.jpg

This is a picture (taken two weeks after the epoxy cured) of the platform after I applied the product. Trying not to leave permanent finger prints on that bad boy was nearly impossible. I did a second coating on the ramp area a day later and I added some regular aquarium gravel to the epoxy in order to give extra traction.
09.jpg

I set the project aside for another 2 weeks or so, to give the epoxy time to fully cure. In the mean time I scoured through these threads and started asking questions. It was time to think more about the rest of the tank. (At this point I had not even purchased the tank.) Extra thanks to Steve and VeipaCray for all of your advice. I had already spent way too much on just the dock, so I had to do the rest on a budget. I decided to go with a 40B tank, because it just looked larger than the 55g which was the only other tank available to me within my budget. A year from now, Tuck will go in his 75g permanent home.
Last edited by Mr. Tuck on Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:24 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Post Posted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 3:43 am   Re: Tucks New But Temporary Home - Build Thread

After much thought, I decided to go with an Aquatop CF400 filter. Its rated for 125 gallons, which is more than enough for my 40B tank. I bought a Zoo Med combo dome for the lamp, but realized after the fact I would have to buy...or build in my case... a lamp stand for it. At the hobby shop where I bought the stryofoam, I noticed that they also sold plastic plants eerily similar to ones sold at pet stores, but at a fraction of the price. I bought a "grass" matt, cut it up into sections and used silicone to adhere them to large stones, and in turn I siliconed the stones to the base of the tank under the dock. I purchased a fake driftwood log for some additional points of interest, and thats where I am today. I'm still waiting on are my Jager TruTemp Heater to arrive, however, the water temperature is currently at 76F and I think Tuck will still be fine when I put him in tomorrow night.

Below is a pic of me installing the dock to the tank with Locktite's aquarium silicone and a few more pictures:
08.jpg

011.jpg

012.jpg
Last edited by Mr. Tuck on Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Posted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 3:54 am   Re: Tucks New But Temporary Home - Build Thread

Here's an upclose of my rock-grass. ($3+rocks stolen from my wife :roll: )
014.jpg


This is the lamp stand I built out of pvc and a clamp I scavenged from a thrift store desk lamp. ($8 total)
015.jpg
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Post Posted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:03 am   Re: Tucks New But Temporary Home - Build Thread

I had to make a slight modification to the stand in order to get the tubing out the back of it.
016.jpg


Here I decided to be cool and cut some holes through the new screen cover to allow the tubing from the filter through.
013.jpg

DSCN1685.jpg


This is where my build stands for now. I still need to buy a background, and I'm still waiting on the heater. Tuck gets to go in his new tank tomorrow, but its still a work in progress. Oh, the stand was free, I found it outside besides a dumpster, and outside of a few scratches, it is in perfect condition. Feel free to offer any thoughts you may have.
Last edited by Mr. Tuck on Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:26 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Post Posted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:10 am   Re: Tucks New But Temporary Home - Build Thread

It looks very nice. It's a very creative DIY too. I guess my only question is did you use any sort of PVC cement for the lamp stand?
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Post Posted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:23 am   Re: Tucks New But Temporary Home - Build Thread

Uh...whats PVC cement? ...and I'm not kidding. I seriously have no idea. I just used what was left of the neck of the old lamp...threaded it through the PVC, and I used some Amazing Goop to attach the PVC at the base to the clamp. If I play with the stand too much, it tends to get a little wobbly, then I have to detach it and tighten a screw inside the clamp itself to stabilize it again. How do you use PVC cement?

Since i'm an opportunist, here's a pic of my GFCI adapter outlet:
DSCN1686.jpg

Safety first!
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Post Posted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:32 am   Re: Tucks New But Temporary Home - Build Thread

It's to permanently bond the PVC fittings together.
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Post Posted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:44 am   Re: Tucks New But Temporary Home - Build Thread

I will absolutely be buying some, but I'm still working on the height of the lamp because the temp of the basking area may be running a bit high. I just switched from a 75w bulb to a 100w because it was too cool....then again, my wife loves to keep the house temp at nearly 90F anyways. Heh, I may not even need a heat lamp...might need to get tuck a mini-ac unit. Ok, I'm a bit sleepy. Thanks for the heads up Steve.
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Post Posted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:34 pm   Re: Tucks New But Temporary Home - Build Thread

Excellent build thread. Thanks for sharing. I think the research you did will lead to more than a few new basking platforms for our :mrgreen: friends.

The PVC cement (available at any hardware store) has an applicator on the cap. The underside of the cap has a little ball/brush thingy attached to it.
you'll want to buy two things. A small jar of PVC cleaner (oatey yellow can) and a small jar of the all-purpose cement (red can). You aren't using this for water flow so you can skip the primer (purple can).

Use the cleaner first to remove any of the printing or junk from the pipe. Then the cement...

If you've never worked with PVC cement... practice on a scrap first. Once you apply the cement to one of the pieces....twist and push the next piece into place.
You''ll have about 4-5 seconds to work with the PVC. It's very very very fast and there's no undoing it if you glued it properly.
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Post Posted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:30 pm   Re: Tucks New But Temporary Home - Build Thread

Thanks for the info. I have another concern though...last night while I was playing around with the tank, I noticed a subtle sulfur/eggy smell to the water. The filter has been running for about 36 hours. Right now, the only thing in the filter is the floss and carbon. The epoxy waterproofer is safe and stable and I've been wondering where the smell could be coming from. The silicone? Any ideas? I added a link to the waterproofer in my above post.
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Post Posted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 2:56 pm   Re: Tucks New But Temporary Home - Build Thread

The silicone smells like vinegar when it's curing. The epoxy when fully cured probably isn't going to smell and is safe.

Is there any chemical reaction between the silicone and the epoxy resin?

The carbon in the filter should remove any odor from the water.

I'd let the system run for another day or so and see if the smell dissipates.

Have you used this filter before? Wondering if it's a new filter if there's any odor coming from any plastic residue or oils from the plastic of the filter???
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