Starting out, position your pump in place and attach the vivarium waterfall tubing. You may wish to use a piece of PVC pipe (1 1/4” works well) as a way of getting the pump cord through the background without being permanently foamed into place. Position any wood, pots, and the fake rocks how you’d like them to appear, then foam them into place. The foam should be applied in thin layers. Allow several days for drying between foam applications.
After the foam has dried, it’s time to sculpt it with a knife. A serrated steak or break knife works well. Hack away at the foam, exposing the roughly textured subsurface. Silicone will easily adhere to this surface.
After the foam is trimmed and any waste pieces disposed of, it’s time to apply silicone! Make sure to wear gloves, and only use 100% silicone that’s safe for aquaria. Silicones sold at home improvement stores are typically not animal safe. Many contain arsenic as a mold inhibitor. Josh’s Frogs carries 100% animal safe silicone on our website in black and clear. For background use, go with black silicone. Using a caulk gun, apply silicone to a small, approximately 8 inch by 8 inch area. Then, while the silicone is still wet, press dry cocofiber or peat moss into it. Repeat until the entire background is covered. Allow to dry for several days, until no silicone smell remains.
After everything has dried, it’s time to add substrates and plant! Set up the Pond Wall foam to define your water feature, then fill the tank with substrate. The Pond Wall may need to be siliconed in place, or held in place with wood or rock.
Add in false bottom so that it is 1” higher than your pump is tall, followed by substrate divider and ABG mix.
Plant your plants – a Josh’s Frogs Plant Kit makes plant selection easy. Larger and vining plants should go towards the back, while lower growing plants should be planted towards the front. Plant epiphytes on the background, using a big of ABG and the foamed in net pots.
Add some springtails and isopods, then top off the ABG with sphagnum moss and leaf litter. Mist the tank down well, then add r/o or distilled water to the water section until the water covers your pump. Plug in the pump, and you’re good to go!
Zach is the Curator of Fauna, he leads the entire animal operation here at Josh’s Frogs. He also answers all customer questions about animals. You may see him on the road at one of our trade shows. When Zach goes home he maintains over 40 vivaria of his own, and he's been caring for reptiles for over 25 years! Zach has his Bachelor's of Science in Biology from MSU.