• You are viewing the forum as a Guest, please login (you can use your Facebook, Twitter, Google or Microsoft account to login) or register using this link: Log in or Sign Up
  • You can now follow UKAPS on Instagram.

How to create a muddied river bank . . .

Wookii

Member
Joined
13 Nov 2019
Messages
1,717
Location
Nottingham
Bit of a random one this, but I've recently been admiring some amazing looking biotope tanks, and I'm wondering how they go about creating a full height vertical 'bank' against an aquarium pane. Some examples that I posted in another thread recently:

ational-Park-North-Queensland-Australia-1-1024x410.jpg

the_dry_season_Mount_Zaomu_Foshan_China_1-1024x410.jpg


I would guess at maybe something like lava rock, somehow mortared together with some sort of clay perhaps? Though I can't imagine how clay wouldn't just turn to mush eventually in the water, or cause havoc with the water parameters.

I can't seem to find any instructional guides or 'in-progress' construction images anywhere on the net . . . so if anyone knows how they do it? . . .
 
Last edited:

mort

Member
Joined
15 Nov 2015
Messages
1,531
I've considered this a few times and although I haven't researched the subject the best idea or way I had was to just attach a network of roots to some sort of solid structure. I think lava rock would work well for that covered by a fabric layer and then covered in roots. I'm thinking along the same lines as how they make terrarium backgrounds but you'd need to consider how long it would work under water. Sticking sand or a similar to a membrane with silicon might prolong the life before its covered in the roots.

I think you could also just hack off a lot of roots growing into a river from an alder but that probably would be sustainable. You could also get a similar look on a smaller scale with a vigorous emersed fern, like a maidenhair, which has a similar root structure.

Cool idea though.
 

Wookii

Member
Thread starter
Joined
13 Nov 2019
Messages
1,717
Location
Nottingham
That was my thinking too @mort - there is a none degradable product for terrariums called Epiweb IIs:


But I can imagine it might be too obvious underwater.

I think construction from lava rock using traditional methods might work, but you’d need a way to fill in the gaps and smooth the surface a bit, in a seamless way. It would need some sort of adhesive that you could mix with finely crushed lava rock and mould in by hand. Then as you say, detail with loads of roots and wood etc
 

ScareCrow

Member
Joined
28 Jan 2019
Messages
153
Location
South west
I also really liked the look of those biotopes, so thanks for posting them. I've not tried it but I wonder if expanding foam, covered with silicone and then press coir fiber, branches etc into it would work. SerpaDesign uses this technique in a lot of his builds.
 

mort

Member
Joined
15 Nov 2015
Messages
1,531
I also really liked the look of those biotopes, so thanks for posting them. I've not tried it but I wonder if expanding foam, covered with silicone and then press coir fiber, branches etc into it would work. SerpaDesign uses this technique in a lot of his builds.

That's may general thinking when I mentioned terrarium type background but I don't think coir would hold up very long underwater. I think wookii's idea of building a more stable base with crushed lava rock might hold up longer.
You could probably modify one of the realistic 3d backgrounds with heavy roots but those biotope guys and girls really have some skills.
 

Simmo

Member
Joined
11 Dec 2020
Messages
133
Location
Scotland
I wonder if you could make a glassfibre shape and then colour it brown and then stick your roots, small rocks etc to it. Need some creative talent to pull it off! Or make a shape and take a glassfibre mould of it and then fill with resin , expanding foam...hmmm great project!
 

Garuf

Member
Joined
30 Oct 2007
Messages
5,005
Location
Copenhagen
There's a guy who I featured in a GEAMS a long long time ago who did one as a full tutorial and it was done with expanding foam, polystyrene plates and then a clay mud pushed into silicone, then details glued on, then more texture etc added with more silicon much like how terrarium folks do their tanks, in the bare areas back to nature back grounds were cut up and used. Heather has long been regarded as the "best" root structure for the fine detail work but I honestly suspect anything hard will work just fine, apple twigs, hawthorn etc I have had no issues with. Given how high and mighty the Biotope guys can get about their tanks, I'm always surprised by how much "fake" material they use and how a biotope can be a whole continent but that's neither here nor there.
 

Wookii

Member
Thread starter
Joined
13 Nov 2019
Messages
1,717
Location
Nottingham
I wonder if you could make a glassfibre shape and then colour it brown and then stick your roots, small rocks etc to it. Need some creative talent to pull it off! Or make a shape and take a glassfibre mould of it and then fill with resin , expanding foam...hmmm great project!

Its a good idea, but I wonder how easy it will be to create something natural looking from fibre glass.

I don’t think I’d have the necessary talent for that.
 

Wookii

Member
Thread starter
Joined
13 Nov 2019
Messages
1,717
Location
Nottingham
There's a guy who I featured in a GEAMS a long long time ago who did one as a full tutorial and it was done with expanding foam, polystyrene plates and then a clay mud pushed into silicone, then details glued on, then more texture etc added with more silicon much like how terrarium folks do their tanks, in the bare areas back to nature back grounds were cut up and used. Heather has long been regarded as the "best" root structure for the fine detail work but I honestly suspect anything hard will work just fine, apple twigs, hawthorn etc I have had no issues with. Given how high and mighty the Biotope guys can get about their tanks, I'm always surprised by how much "fake" material they use and how a biotope can be a whole continent but that's neither here nor there.

Thanks @Garuf - excuse my ignorance but what is GEAMS?

I think I might need to experiment with some crush lava rock mixed with silicone, and see how it looks.
 

Garuf

Member
Joined
30 Oct 2007
Messages
5,005
Location
Copenhagen
It'll look like a dry stone wall I'd imagine, the reason for the foam is the ease of shaping and it's very easy to work with and light.

Geams is/was an inspiration thread I used to run when I was very online, it stands for get excited and make something.
 

Onoma1

Member
Joined
12 Aug 2018
Messages
474
Location
Rochdale
The other approach would be to use Epiweb which is then covered with hygrolon. Epiweb will give you the bulk and can be shaped (but is coarse) and epiweb will give you an fabric that wicks water and is relatively fine.

EpiWeb - A Better Xaxim!

An alternative I considered was carved polystyrene, painted and then attach plants.
 

Wookii

Member
Thread starter
Joined
13 Nov 2019
Messages
1,717
Location
Nottingham
The other approach would be to use Epiweb which is then covered with hygrolon. Epiweb will give you the bulk and can be shaped (but is coarse) and epiweb will give you an fabric that wicks water and is relatively fine.

EpiWeb - A Better Xaxim!

An alternative I considered was carved polystyrene, painted and then attach plants.

Thank @Onoma1 - I hadn’t heard of Hygrolon. I guess the trick is making it look natural enough. Not sure I could pull that off! This pic shows a way to do it with PU foam:

B2067702-2E5E-4AC2-8038-BBE850154CEF.jpeg
 

Wookii

Member
Thread starter
Joined
13 Nov 2019
Messages
1,717
Location
Nottingham
Yes expanding poly foam, shaped and decorated with hardwood saw dust and epoxy .... I have done loads of similar things just like that.
you can see how I made some tree stumps here..... Paludarium In the making.

Thats excellent @foxfish it looked really good. What epoxy did you use - some slow setting stuff presumably? Would it be safe fully submerged, and with livestock? I assume I you could press lava rock dust and particles into it instead of wood dust?
 

foxfish

Member
Joined
11 Oct 2009
Messages
4,689
Location
Guernsey
You can do what every you want, I am sure lots of new effects are just waiting to be discovered !
I have found useing several coats of slightly different colour saw dust and of different grades will give a very realistic ground appearance . Equally important is how it mixes with the epoxy and makes a easy paintable textured coating.
Epoxy is very safe once cured but it is not cheap especially in small quantiles.
However be warned that Epoxy needs to be mixed carefully and accurately this is extremely important if you want good results!
The type of epoxy you need is slow setting although there are options for faster setting products, even fast set epoxy will take a few hours to set and 24 to properly harden.
We are not talking about epoxy you get in a tube but a low viscosity resin.
Good quality resin is around £35 a litre ...
 

Attachments

  • 9EB1F669-0D28-475F-A3A1-588F63822C4E.jpeg
    9EB1F669-0D28-475F-A3A1-588F63822C4E.jpeg
    149.3 KB · Views: 29
Last edited:

ForestDave

Member
Joined
12 Nov 2020
Messages
215
Location
Forest of Dean
I used Jesmonite, (waterbased fiberglass resin), over a base of Polystyrene and spray foam on a 6 foot tank years ago. It's great stuff and it was still rock hard after 5 years or so in the tank, (You paint it with a waterbased sealer). I did feel the water trapped at the back behind the poly did become a bit stagnant and smelly though, It also was a nightmare trying to get the stuff out of the tank when I disbanded. In the end I just scrapped the lot as I couldn't get it out, I was meant to be moving house though and ran out of time.
This mould making site might be worth a look,
You are being redirected...
I'm not sure if many of the products are of use but they have excellent how to videos which could maybe help with some elements of making authentic realistic backgrounds/additions to a tank. If not, then it's the best place to find out how to make zombie fingers! :D
 

ForestDave

Member
Joined
12 Nov 2020
Messages
215
Location
Forest of Dean
This stuff could possibly be useful in making a mud bank.
Varaform Heavy per sheet

You could cut a few formers out of plastic 16mm square fascia board screwed together with stainless screws to make a framework and then cable tie the mesh onto them, working away with a heat gun and a few tools to form the surface into the look you want. It says water resistant so it would need a coat of epoxy or sealer to protect it. This protective layer could be coloured to match your substrate to make sure it wasn't seen through the roots/plants. After that you could attach a layer of Epiweb to the surface and back fill with maybe a mix of lava rock and AS. That way the plants could properly root through the Epiweb and the Varaform into vertical substrate.
I've never used Varaform so you'd need to have a good chat with the suppliers.
 

zozo

Member
Joined
16 Apr 2015
Messages
7,715
Location
Netherlands
Blocks from styrofoam also can be used, can be shaped with a wirecutter and or a small flame torch...Then as mentioned above coated with Epoxy or liquid rubber products and sprinkle natural materials into it before it's cured, peat litter, sand, loam etc. Then glued into place to the glass with sealant...

Techniques used are known from the terrarium/paludarium/riparium hobby these should all be pet safe as well.

 
Last edited:

Wookii

Member
Thread starter
Joined
13 Nov 2019
Messages
1,717
Location
Nottingham
I used Jesmonite, (waterbased fiberglass resin), over a base of Polystyrene and spray foam on a 6 foot tank years ago. It's great stuff and it was still rock hard after 5 years or so in the tank, (You paint it with a waterbased sealer). I did feel the water trapped at the back behind the poly did become a bit stagnant and smelly though, It also was a nightmare trying to get the stuff out of the tank when I disbanded. In the end I just scrapped the lot as I couldn't get it out, I was meant to be moving house though and ran out of time.
This mould making site might be worth a look,
You are being redirected...
I'm not sure if many of the products are of use but they have excellent how to videos which could maybe help with some elements of making authentic realistic backgrounds/additions to a tank. If not, then it's the best place to find out how to make zombie fingers! :D

Thanks @ForestDave - useful stuff there. Again though, I’m just concerned as to whether I’d be able to creat something that looks natural with my own relatively low skill levels.

I’ve also been wondering about the trapped layer at the rear fouling up. I wondered, if I do attempt this, whether I make the fake river bank on a sheet of Perspex, and then once complete mount it to the side of the tank with a very thin continuous bead of silicone, say about an inch in from all four edges. The idea being it won’t let water in behind most of it, and I should be able to slit the silicone and release the Perspex sheet whenever I decide to redo the tank.

Thanks for that link - going to have to remember about the “Ultimate Wound Kit” for the kids at Halloween! 😂
 

Wookii

Member
Thread starter
Joined
13 Nov 2019
Messages
1,717
Location
Nottingham
Blocks from styrofoam also can be used, can be shaped with a wirecutter and or a small flame torch...Then as mentioned above coated with Epoxy or liquid rubber products and sprinkle natural materials into it before it's cured, peat litter, sand, loam etc. Then glued into place to the glass with sealant...

Techniques used are known from the terrarium/paludarium/riparium hobby these should all be pet safe as well.


Thanks @zozo - that kit in the first link looks good. Do you think the same material used for Terrarium’s will be fine being completely submerged for several years in an aquarium?
 
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
Epiphyte Where to start to create this style of scape? Aquascaping 23

Similar threads

Top