Expanding foam

garyfla_gw(10 Florida)November 7, 2004

Hi

Have recently been reading a lot of negative feedback

on the use of this material in terrariums and aquariums.

Some say it is toxic and deflates over time and will disintegrate when exposed to water. On a SW list there are now around 50 replies including the manufacturer who say not to use it in this application. Anyone have any experience with this?? My present setup dates from Feb.

of this year and so far have had no problems at all.

Anyone have any experience with this "stuff" say over 2 years?? Thanks

Gary

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bihai(zone 9)

Oh please tell me now before I set mine up, bought the foam last week to start the project.....

    Bookmark   November 7, 2004 at 8:52AM
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calla_lady(Z8b N. Calif)

Very curious here too - just cleaned out my tank yesterday, assembled materials and was getting ready to foam.....

    Bookmark   November 7, 2004 at 3:18PM
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bihai(zone 9)

I posted a query about this on the watergardening forum I frequent (not GW), I know that there are some folks on there who have used the foam to seal in outdoor pond waterfalls and other pond applications, these would get every bit as much water exposure as a terrarium not to mention exposure to heat/cold stress and the outdoor elements...much more rigorous than a terrarium, will repost anything pertinent I troll up.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2004 at 7:57AM
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bihai(zone 9)

These are the observations and replies I have had so far from the watergardening forum.

#1 re: potential toxicity to animals: The product is very porous and can release dust like particles if clawed or gnawed. These particles could be hazardous to animals of inhaled or eaten

#2 re: breaking down over time: it WILL break down over time if exposed to sunlight because it is not UV stabilized. Will get crumbly and dusty over a number of years of exposure to UV. It it is painted or covered from direct light its supposed to be okay.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2004 at 8:08AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Bihai
That is similar to the general thread on the SW forum
Those people are using the stuff in reef setups Got one reply from a man who has had it in his tank for almost 8 years. has had no problems at all including encrusting corals,crabs and boring animals.!! He did put 5 coats of
acrylic paint on it during the initial setup.
I suspect the manufacturer is saying no to be on the safe side.They admited no experience in this application.
I recently used a bunch of it to make rockwork for a Rift lake setup and it looks great!! Let the paint dry for 3 days and then filled the tank for another week and then refilled. i tested for pH KH and ammonia and all were negative.
IMO it seems safe especially in a terrarium though i might be hesitant with animals that might chew on it.
Are you going to send pix of your setup??
gary

    Bookmark   November 8, 2004 at 11:24AM
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bihai(zone 9)

Latest testimonial...

Someone used it to seal in a waterfall in an outdoor pond which was in full sun, but did not paint or otherwise treat it, said after 2 months water started seeping in. They had to cover over the foam with silicone. Since that is what the sites I have seen (like Black Jungle) recommend doing anyway (painting over the foam with silicone) that would make sense.

Gary, if I can ever get going on this project I will take photos!! I bought some aliflor today, plan to use a combo of aliflor, wine corks that we have been saving for a year or more, and perhaps some perlite for the drainage layer. I have a few things I want to experiment with in a terrarium, one is my variegated phal orchid which I cannot seem to treat exactly corectly in my greenhouse, so this should be fun!!

I have had to spend the last 2 days cleaning out the garage to get to the 55 gal aquarium I want to use...and to make the garage into a winter skateboard arena for me and my daughter for this winter! We're gonna practise our skating.

The info from the guy with the reef tank is very encouraging...if it can withsand submersion in salt water it can withstand almost anything...the tank I am using was a reef tank that had issues and got itself disassembled.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2004 at 12:06PM
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sahoyaref(Alberta z3a)

Good to have all this info! I guess only time will tell, but I'm sure it would be safe in a terrarium. I can't see an animal eating it, because frogs and lizards don't really chew everything like hamsters do. Besides, it will probably eventually be covered in moss and other plants.

Bihai: why buy aliflor for a drainage layer? That stuff isn't exactly cheap, and it would be better used as a substrate. Why not a false bottom? Don't want a water feature?

    Bookmark   November 8, 2004 at 4:31PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Bihai
I'd go ahead and use it in your setup. I think the good points far outweigh the bad. One word of caution lol.Be sure and wear disposable gloves!! It is incedibly sticky when it first comes out of the can, Took a week to get it off my fingernails.lol It's also possible to get the stuff in black rather than the sickly yellow but guess it wouldn't matter if it's painted anyway.
Good luck with your setup.
Gary

    Bookmark   November 10, 2004 at 1:01AM
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bihai(zone 9)

I started it already. It seems to work well. I applied the cork bark to the back of the aquarium, now am working on the sides and tubing placement for a little pond. So far so good. When I was coating the exposed foam with the black silicone, the silicone didn't come out dark enough to cover the yellow color, so I used it like glue to attach a layer of sphagnum moss over the foam, seems to have worked really well so far.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2004 at 6:36AM
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kel_bel22

Hi
Im trying to find a website I visited a while ago, it explains how to set up a vivarium from start to finish, using expanding foam as a background, acrylic paint, plants etc. Its by a guy, and I remember the background was black, and it had photos of every step. A long shot I know, but any help is much appreciated.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2004 at 5:12AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Hi
If you find that site be sure and tell us. Always can use more info.
gary

    Bookmark   November 22, 2004 at 6:27AM
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bihai(zone 9)

The only one I have seen is the Vivarium set up at the Black Jungle site. That is the one I used step by step

    Bookmark   November 22, 2004 at 7:12AM
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sahoyaref(Alberta z3a)

I believe Homer made a site like that. Check the link below. Is that it? If not, try taking a look at www.poison-frogs.com. He's built a HUGE viv, and has photos with step-by-step journalling.

Here is a link that might be useful: Homer's page

    Bookmark   November 22, 2004 at 3:17PM
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CAMBYSES(6 / PA)

I was wondering what silicone everyone is using to "paint" the foam with? I have looked all over the local lowes and home depot and I can only find the tubes of silicone but I couldnt imagine painting that stuff on. I think that would take quite some time and money. any info would be great

    Bookmark   November 29, 2004 at 10:56AM
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sahoyaref(Alberta z3a)

It's black silicone made by GE. I can't remember if it's type 1 or type 2, but it's NOT the one for bathrooms and such. That silicone contains arsenic to ward off mildew, and it can be toxic. Aquarium stores should also sell it. It comes in tubes like caulk, and can be applied with a caulking gun, or you can just cut the tube open and smear it around with your fingers. (That's what I do). The tube is white and purple. It's not that expensive, and a little goes a long way, but it's not that cheap, either. I wouldn't use it if you have a very large area to cover. It's not time-consuming though.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2004 at 5:35PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Cambyses
I used acrylic paint Used a brand called "Patio Paint",made to paint outdoor statuary. I've used this in both SW and FW both emerged and submerged. Holds for years.
You can get it at craft stores or Walmart where it's much cheaper,Comes in many colors ,even metallics. I was concerned that it might not hold on the foam that has water continuously running over it. Has been holding since Feb.
Only problem has been that you can't paint the foam in the corners and of course it shows through the side glass I think this is the purpose that the Black Jungle "site used
silicone for.
Several SW people have told me they used the foam covered with marine epoxy but I think this would be overkill in an a
terrarium.
Gary

    Bookmark   November 29, 2004 at 6:34PM
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CAMBYSES(6 / PA)

thank you guys for the responses, I was thinking of using a rustoleum product called "stone creations" to create the rock effect of the stryo and the expanding foam as well as some of the plastic work I have. I dont know if it is toxic but I thought if I sealed it with silicone or an epoxy that it wouldnt effect anything. Am I correct in thinking this?
Thanks again
Robert

    Bookmark   November 30, 2004 at 11:36AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Robert
I'm not familiar with that product.Is that a type of paint?? What type of effect are you trying to do.?? I thought the foam with acrylic paint was the ideal solution
until i started reading some negative feedback.
Have recently found some sites that deal with using these materials to replicate natural materials without the drawbacks. Some of the more interesting are professional zoo display setups They seem to be way out os scale and budget for the average hobbyist but some could be applied to even very small setups.
If your interested I'll get the web addys for you.
Gary

    Bookmark   December 1, 2004 at 5:09AM
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CAMBYSES(6 / PA)

Gary, After applying some of this Spray paint I decided against it. I used real rocks because I only needed 3 rocks to create the waterfall, so the weight issue wasnt all that bad. thank you again for your responses. I finished up the paludarium last night and I will post pics today in the gallery
Robert

    Bookmark   December 1, 2004 at 11:24AM
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ooojen(z4MN)

You folks have already covered the issue pretty thoroughly, but I'll throw my two cents in, too. I sculpted a "waterfall/pond" feature ~2.5'x1.5'x1.5') out of Styrofoam for my big tank. I filled in gaps and glued pieces together with expanding foam, and then coated the works in concrete. It stayed wet for a couple years with no breakdown problems.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2004 at 4:01PM
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sahoyaref(Alberta z3a)

And the concrete hasn't raised the pH of the water significantly? Something tells me you answered this in another post, but I don't remember. . .

    Bookmark   December 1, 2004 at 4:27PM
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kel_bel22

Ok, I want to use the expanding foam, But I want to set up a drip wall in amongst it. Can I use the fibre for hanging baskets and attach it to the foam, if I plan to run a drip wall down it? (I cant remember what the fibre stuff is called, sorry). Can it handle being constantly wet? Also, Im in australia and I cant find any acrylic paint thats safe to use for frogs and in aquariums. I want to paint the foam before I attach the fibre background.Anyone know of a brand? ARGH! Please help!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2004 at 8:46PM
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Persistence

Well, I have used the foam in my outdoor pond and in a year ir has been fine. i do not expect it to be waterproof. I also have used patio paint over foam and concrete in my viviarium and it works very well and has water flowing over it constantly. I don't know any application in which people leave the foam exposed directly to the light. It seems to be covered with something.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2004 at 11:34PM
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kel_bel22

Sorry, actually I meant can the fibre stuff handle being constantly wet, not the foam (my silly sentences). Ive heard that the patio paint is toxic to frogs, particularly due to the fumes. I want to paint the foam. I thought Id do it with concrete instead of paint, cause Im having trouble getting a safe paint. Then I thought Id silicone the fibre onto the wall, but the aquarium silicone says it doesnt adhere to concrete! Anyone had any experience with this?

    Bookmark   December 4, 2004 at 12:26AM
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kel_bel22

Yay! I finally found the site that tells you exactly how to set up an awesome viv using expanding foam.... you probably all know it already but check it out under the 4' Tall open front display terr

Here is a link that might be useful: black jungle

    Bookmark   December 4, 2004 at 12:53AM
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sahoyaref(Alberta z3a)

I believe the fibre you are referring to is coir, coconut husk fibre. Yes, it can handle being constantly wet, for about a year or two. It has been known to just completely fall apart after that point. A much longer-lasting (but less environmentally friendly) option is treefern root panels. If you use lots and lots of silicone, I believe that the coir holds together longer.
As for paints, all acrylic paints are non-toxic. And why are you worried about the fumes? You're not going to be painting the foam while the frogs are in there, and once the paint has cured, it doesn't give off fumes anymore. Also, acrylics don't really give off fumes. That's oil paints that do that (and the 'acrylics' used for painting houses, but that's not what you want). Just use any artist's acrylics. Brands: Windsor & Newton, Grumbacher (Galeria), Steven's, Crayola. . . =) If you do use acrylics instead of patio paint, you will want to seal it after it's all dry. Acrylics can turn liquid again with water running over them (they're water-based), and that would be bad! So seal everything with a water-proof sealant, and you won't have to worry. If you can't find one that's non-toxic when cured, try painting a thin layer of Marine Goop (it's a super-strong, non-toxic glue that dries clear) over everything. Do that outside though, because that stuff sure is toxic! You do NOT want to breathe those fumes in! Totally harmless when cured though. Wait. . . why do you want to paint the foam if you're going to cover it with coir? If you're worried that the foam will show through, it probably won't. Just make sure you use black silicone to attach the coir, and everything will be fine. Never use clear silicone. It dries white, and is pretty obvious, especially when wet.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2004 at 2:58AM
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kel_bel22

Hey everyone.. just another question regarding the expanding foam - I was going to attach coco fibre to the foam for my background. I figure silicone is the best to use as it will act as a glue and seal the foam, but do I need to use aquarium safe silicone? Im housing frogs in my tank too and I know they are super sensitive to chemicals. I cant get black aquarium silicone anywhere in australia (yes - we're out in the sticks). Has anyone had any trouble using normal black silicone??

    Bookmark   December 21, 2004 at 6:12AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Hi
Can't really answer your question as I've never kept frogs
but have used the GE 100 percent silicone for many years in aquariums. Supposedly there is algacide in the "Kitchen and Bath "type while the others don;t have this ingredient.
I would use the typeII rather than I as it;s a much longer lasting adhesive,
gary

    Bookmark   December 21, 2004 at 7:38AM
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sahoyaref(Alberta z3a)

Yes, you must use non-toxic silicone, NOT the kind of silicone for bathrooms. It is the GE type II, as Gary said. If you have any aquarium stores near you, they really should have it. Or perhaps you could order some from an online fish store.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2004 at 11:38AM
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viv_guy(z9 CA)

Great Stuff is bad. as per the HMDS on this product, when in contact with water it polymerizes - breaks down leaching a resin, and also breaking down structurally.

Use Beckett brand waterfall foam sealant. it's built for fish, ponds, and is black. i've used it to build over 40 vivariums for clients and not one tank has ever had issues with collapse or fatigue.

if you email me, i'll send photos.

Beckett Corporarion states it's 100% fish safe, Great Stuff won't. besides, gs was designed for home and wall use, Beckett designed theirs for ponds, waterfalls and such.
you can call them at 972.871.8000 if you like.

I am just trying to express my concern. i know black jungle has that tank made of it, but check the tank in another year. when GS is in contact with water it breaks down. i know many folks that have seen it happen, and a few that haven't but i won't risk the health of my pets just to save a buck...IMO

    Bookmark   December 31, 2004 at 4:34AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Hi
Thanks for the info,I've been doiing a lot of checking
and can't find a difference between the formulas except for the addition of a coloring agent.Much like "Aquarium" silicone as opposed to "General " silicone." lol. I always thought 100 percent means composed entirely of one ingredient.
I've been using the "Great stuff" in my own setup since last Feb. and have had no negative effects. I coated it with acrylic paint. I recently setup a "rift lake" aquarium using the "stuff" for rockwork. Used marine epoxy paint to cover it and to adjust the colors. Looks great and so far no problems. I guess time will tell.
Thanks again for the info.
gary

    Bookmark   December 31, 2004 at 7:02AM
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mhouston

What is the easiest way to create a dessert terrarium in a 10 gallon tank out of foam for bearded dragons not just the easiest but the cheapest for a 14 year old. Any help would be appreciated :)

Sincerly,

Michael Houston

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 1:23AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Hi
Think for that small a setup I'd go with either the reptile carpet(easiest to clean) or some m'play sand". A couple of natural rocks should be enough or maybe some driftwood since they like to climb. The X foam would take up too much room.. There's lots of info on the web for setups for this animal
The tank that I started this post with is still running
though been converted from a paludarium back to an aquarium. Still no issues, though if I were to do it again
I'd form the sections outside the tank.paint and then either silicone to the glass or to real rocks . The only real issue has been bouyancy.
Good luck with your dragon!!! gary

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 4:32AM
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mhouston

Thanks but right now he has to be on paper because of him being a baby but no harm in starting it in a different tank that i will eventually move him into, just had one die on me but full health gaurantee helps so got a new one, hopefully this one will last longer and turn amazing colors. I will end up moving my snake (Sonoran Desert kingsnake) into a 125 gallon, and the bearded into a 55 gallon it will be a fun little project trying to get everything like i want it. Oh a good branch if you live in desert with cacti the dead cholla cacti it works and looks awesome in tanks i sanded mine down before using it.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 8:15PM
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