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Re: Making a rock wall

> Anybody got any experience to share in building a steep rock wall in a
> paludarium?  Specifically how to keep the rocks from collapsing?

I have built several palladiums now. In all of them I have used
natural rock that I have picked up on my property which I have then
glued together and to the aquarium glass using GE silicone GE012A
which comes in 10.1 fl oz tubes for a caulking gun. In places where
the silicone won't be seen I use just the silicone. Where it will be
seen I mix the silicone with sand to create a putty and then use that
to put together the rocks.

I work very slowly, a rock or two a day, much like doing bonsai :) so
by the time the tank is done all the possibly toxic chemicals are
done outgassing. Do work in a well ventilated space at it is stinky
and I would suggest wearing rubber gloves. I have had no problems
with fish, plant, reptile or invert deaths in any of the tanks so the
silicone seems to work fine. Prior to using it I did toxicity tests
with a number of species (brine shrimp, daphnia, guppies) to test it.

The trick of mixing the silicone with sand (blasting/play sand) works
very well and produces a very attractive, cuttable, finished product
that looks like dirt.

The biggest secret I find in making the palladiums is patience.
It takes me about five months to get one 'going' from a bare glass
tank to a beautiful slice of forest in a box filled with plants,
rocks, fish, animals, insects, etc.

One interesting note, the natural filtering capacity of the palladium
is significantly higher (will carry a much larger bioload) than the
same size tank filled with water and a good filter. I think that
this is due to the large amount of plant life, aquatic and terrestial,
the large amount of water movement, and the large amount of surface
area within the tank. Balancing the species mix of course is also
very important...