DIY ROCK BACKGROUND AND ROCKS
I finally had time to get into doing some tank decoration again so I am making a rock background and pile of rocks to be used (hopefully) as a den by my Chilean Rose Tarantula who comes from the Atacama Desert. So her tank won't be very exciting so this will have to serve as some sort of visual interest.
I have not tried this technique before so we'll see what happens
You will need:
Pink Panther insulation foam get the 2" thick sheets
Xacto extendable utility knife
Pre-mixed Floor Patch cement stuff 1 qt
Cheap Chip Brush
dixie cup with cool tap water
Colored sand from the craft store ask for "Scenic Sand" (TM)
Gorilla Glue or elmers
Some of the supplies:
Firstly cut a sheet that fits the tank leave a bit of elbow room on the sides and top
Start carving non-symetrical block out of the foam and plucking out shapes, I made all this texture, this is not necessary oh well live and learn!
Keep a broom and shop vac handy you'll be needing it!
So the best place to cover the background with grout is obviously the kitchen counter...
This is the first pass, and is why you need the plastic gloves. Just dip some fingers into the grout and smear it over all the bumps and work it into the crevices don't bother smoothing it just get it on there. Add some blobs here and there to add visual interest and depth.
That step didn't look so hot but after one pass with the paintbrush and cool water looky here:
Even better with a second pass with more water and the paintbrush...
Now while the grout is wet sprinkle the darkest colored sand in the deepest crevices and the lighter colors overtop
Be liberal with the sand, you want as much as possible to embed itself into the wet surface of the grout. Now set it aside and DO NOT TOUCH IT for 8 hours.
Since this is a desert tank I wanted to buy a pile of stones "hide" for my tarantula to burrow under and make a den in. And they had a neat one at Petco but when I saw it was nearly $30 I said screw that I'll make one so here's my DIY foam rock pile:
Cut the chunks asymmetrically I only cut a score line on the foam and snap it so it breaks irregularly. Use the White Elmers Glue or Gorilla Glue to hold the foam pieces together. Let dry overnight if using gorilla glue.
Now frost the whole foam hide with the grout (wear your gloves!)
The first pass with the water
Second pass with the water
Sand has been added
I decided I wanted just a a bit of red coloration to the rock so added some rust brown/red sand, did the same to the background
I blew off most of the red sand, so there's just a hint of pigment. Not a wise idea to have blown it off all over the counter...
Here's the finished back not too detailed but it will be underground anyway...
The finished top:
Well I hope this was fun for you to see and maybe gives you some ideas. I am waiting for the pieces to harden so I can shake off the excess and and see what they will look like put inside the tank. I'll put up an update when that happens.
****USING GROUT WITH WATER FEATURES
If you want to use this grout stuff in vivariums with water features/frogs/fish/etc you have to soak the hardened pieces in vinegar and water until the PH becomes neutral supposedly 1-2 weeks changing the solution every other day. It would probably be worth it to buy a Ph tester to test a pure water soak's PH level overnight before putting it in with your darts or tetras.
In my case there will almost never be water in this spiders tank outside the water dish so there is no worries about soil PH being altered from these (no plants) so I can use it as soon as the substrate dries out. This spider hates wet soil - but loves playing in her water dish...