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Strand 07-25-2011 06:36 PM

DIY Rock Cave
Yes we have all seen these before. But I thought I would try my hand at it.

After looking around at various ones online I didn't really like any of them.

Like this:

You can see the PVC in this one. I hate that.

So for my first attempt I went to Lowes and bought a few things.

PVC Y and some GE silicone:

I was kicking around the idea of putting an LED bubbler into the cave so I drilled some holes:

I ended up not doing that on this one. Although I still think it would be pretty cool to do. Need bigger PVC for that project.

This next step I found out was unnecessary. I smeared silicone all over the pipe and poured sand onto it.

1. The sand doesn't really stick. I found out you have to grind the sand and silicone together to make a paste then apply it.

2. I should have just glued on the rocks then filled the gaps with the sand/silicone paste. Which I did also.

Anyways here is a crappy cell phone shot of the pipe:

The girlfriend was PISSED about the sand and rock chunks everywhere. Haha

I bought some black slate to bust up and form the cave with:

Then just start gluing.

This took some time. Some of the pieces were kinda balancing in place until the silicone dried.

I hide the shape of the PVC by gluing rocks around and hanging off the front of the entrances. I also glued the sand paste to the inside to hide the white.

Being a dummy I didn't take any pics of the finished product before placing in the tank and I'm having a hard time getting any good shots of it in the tank because of the lighting. I finally had the girlfriend hold up my AK with the the bright LED weapon light to get some pictures. Haha

Here is a bad full tank shot:

I'm thinking about adding a bit of wood to the next one and growing Javo Fern or Jave Moss on it.

Anyways... What do you think? What have you done?

zof 07-25-2011 06:43 PM

looks pretty good, my own attempt got as far as just putting pieces of pvc together, got pissed trying to put rocks on them and gave up, I would be just a little cautious to make sure there were no sharp edges on the broken slate, other then that it looks good.

Strand 07-25-2011 06:46 PM

No sharp edges and I broke off the sharp tips. Made sure everything was dull.

The rocks aren't that big of a pain to put on. Some of the heavier ones I had to brace and let the silicone dry overnight. The whole process took a week or so.

Bust it back out and give it another shot. :)

redchigh 07-26-2011 01:59 PM

Another easy way is ti use acrylic paint, (Like Krylon H20 or Krylon Fusion) and spray several light coats on. Let dry and cure (3-5 days). Go into your yard and dig a hole, remove a little soil. Let it get dry and crumbly.

Spray again with the Krylon, this time quite heavy, and while it's drying cover it in the powdered soil for a couple hours.

(Sand would also work, but gravel would be too heavy.)

When it's dry,gently pull it out, and let it dry some more until 'cured', a few days, a week is best.

After this time, you can submerge it in a bucket and swish it around. The dirt will fall off in clumps. I might get around to showing you a cave I made out of styrofoam... No pics at the moment.

Strand 07-26-2011 02:16 PM

Ah I was wondering about paint. That would have been great for the inside.

jimtuc 07-26-2011 06:09 PM

what kind of siulicone did you use? i started a smilar project but the silicone was not making it cost effective!

jimtuc 07-26-2011 06:38 PM

the project i started involves vinyl gutters and lava rock. You start out cutting the gutter into (3)4 ft pieces.<mine is for a 75 gal. tank> then drill a pair of 2 inch holes evry 6 in or so. divide the holes with a piece of rubber like the kind you would use around a garden. then ziplock the pcs. together. after that you would silicon the lava rock onto it. i am just a 1/4 way thru gluing the rock on and i'm out of silicone. $10 a tube for the kind i found! I have to find some cheaper r i have to return the 1 unoped bag of lava rock and just buy a premade decoration!

Strand 07-26-2011 06:51 PM

3rd picture down in the first post. ^

Go to Lowes/Home Depot and get GE 100% Silicone I clear.

Post up pics of your project if you get a chance!

badxgillen 07-27-2011 12:23 AM

so how were you applying the sand and silicone paste.gloved hands?

Strand 07-28-2011 04:45 PM

Nope with my bare fingers. Keep some paper towels handy.

For filling a certain spot I would apply a dab of silicone and then cover it with sand and rub it in. I kept putting more sand if any silicone would leak through. You have to kinda experiment with it and you will get the feel for it. Dump the excess sand of and see if you are happy with the results/placement.

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