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RE: Cork Tiles

Alex asked:

"So far the only cork tiles (floor and wall tiles) I have found have a
polyrethane binder to hold the cork together.  Is this the type of cork
tiles that are used as backgrounds or are there natural cork tiles without
the poly binder?  What binder is used?  Would the polyrethane binder be
bad for the fish/plants?"

Mmmm.... good question. The tiles I used were NOT designed for use on a
floor, they are meant for use as wall decoration only. I would guess that
more binders and plastics would be needed in something meant to be walked

For possible reference, the tiles I used were made in Portugal (I guess this
is because that's where the trees the cork bark comes from grows) and was
packaged and sold by Boone International, Inc.; 229 N. Sherman Ave., Corona,
CA 91720. They give a toll free number for U.S. and Canadian customers -
800-359-1230 ext. 123. The tiles appear to be raw pieces of cork which were
mixed with some sort of glue and then compressed into a block. After the
glue cured, they sliced off the "tiles". The surface has no obvious glue or
plastic - its just cork.

This stuff hasn't swollen or shown any disintegration in my tank now that it
is wet and there was no problem with water chemistry changes other than the
leaching of tannins from the bark (easily controlled with regular water
changes). The leaching of tannins becomes less of a problem over time.

I bought mine at Canadian Tire but they should be readily available thru
places like WalMart or a home improvements type store pretty much anywhere.

"I may use cork bark instead because it is all natural."

You can buy large pieces of natural cork in most places that sell reptile
supplies. I picked up several very large pieces which are sold by a company
called T-REX Products, Inc.; Chula Vista, CA 91911 (www.t-rexproducts.com).
It is sold as "Nature's Cork" and is 100% natural. Some cork like this
_might_ be treated to prevent parasites (when used for reptiles) - I'd stay
away from that.

But you are right if you are thinking that the totally natural bark looks
good - it can look VERY good, especially when combined and overlaying a back
wall of cork tiles. Very easy to pin plants like Java Fern to.

One hint is to spend some time either with a file and some sandpaper or a
Dremel moto-tool to eliminate any sharp cut edges - make them look kind of
softened and weather beaten for a more "natural look in the tank.

James Purchase