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Thread: Help Making a DIY Background in an Acrylic Vivarium

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    Question Help Making a DIY Background in an Acrylic Vivarium

    Hi Everyone,

    I'm in the process of planning+building a DIY vivarium for a crested gecko. The vivarium will be (L*W*H") 12*24*31" and made out of acrylic (plexiglass.) I want to build a DIY background using GreatStuff and Silicone covered in substrate, but am worried that it wont be compatible with the acrylic.

    My biggest concern is that over time, the silicone will peel from the acrylic and leave the great stuff exposed on the sides on the vivarium. I am also worried that the GreatStuff and Silicone will take an exceptional amount of time to cure, and then be impossible to trim/shape/remove from the acrylic without scratching it significantly.

    If anyone has any suggestions, I would greatly appreciate them, as my current plan includes sanding the areas of the acrylic where the Greatstuff will be applied, and being extra vigilant with my silicone application.

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    I don't think the silicone will peel off...actually I think it might melt into the plastic as it cures. In which case it will either be nearly impossible to remove, or if it does come off you'll have an etched patch. I'm honestly not sure what the great stuff would do to plexi. It could be fine, or it could etch in too, or it may not grab (but I don't think that's likely). Also...you can press the substrate into the foam while it's fresh and wet and it will stick fairly well. You can also get the black "water fall" foam. It's expanding foam that's totally safe for aquatic animals (which are super sensitive to chemical stuff). I used it when I made my first background because it was safer than the other options I had at the time, and the color is good. Completely cured and dry it's more of a really dark grey. It's about 7-8 years old now, and the substrate I pressed into it has been slowly rubbing off in places, but because it's black, it still looks fine. Curing of the two in the cage shouldn't be a problem related to the cage being acrylic, more related to temperature, humidity, and air flow like any other type of cage. However, plexi will scratch and almost everything can scratch it. I'd say if you're making the cage from scratch, take a piece of extra plexi and do a little test on it to see what the ingredients do to it, and go from there. Just make sure you have good ventilation!!!

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    I know from building aquariums that silicone doesn't hold up on acrylic like it does on glass, but from what I know, there isn't any risk of melting, it's just likely the silicone wont hold and will peel off after some time.

    Good point about the great stuff though. I've read a few threads about people having no issue with it, but I'd hate to risk damaging the surface of the new vivarium. I'll definitely do a test with some spare acrylic!

    As for the waterfall foam, do you have any idea what it was called or where you purchased it? Canadian HomeDepots are notoriously bad as supplying things that are usually found in US stores! :')

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    There's Becket Waterfall Foam (which I think is the brand I used, mid grade pricing). Most of these would be over with pond supplies, not where the other foams are. Anjon makes a waterfall foam, Aquascape Pro professional waterfall foam (pricey though), Aquascape has a DIY hobby grade too, still fairly pricey. Easy Pro pond products has one(pricey). Little Giant Rockn' foam. And Great Stuff makes a "Pond and Stone" foam that's black and aquatic safe.

    The Great Stuff one may be with the rest of their types, which is probably in the paint department, or it may be over with pond supplies. It's probably the cheapest and you can probably find it in Canada. It will say "aquatic safe" on it, and should be black. But also check where the pond supplies are because they usually have one type of pond safe foam over there, if they carry pond building supplies, and it's in season. Some stores in areas of proper winter weather may pull stuff like pond supplies to make room for xmas and winter stuff, and put it back in the spring. Just something to be aware of.

    But totally test it on some scrap first!!

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