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Home made simulated Neothalma shells

10 years 7 months ago #28154 by Les
Thanks-I will do that.  Too bad I missed the swap then.  I had a 30g tank sitting in my garage empty in storage at that time and hadn't committed to getting back into activity until January 2010.  I am really enjoying it again.  I will keep you posted re: how I make out.  I was afraid of doing what I am doing.  I now have the 30g, a 55g and a29g in operation and am setting up a 15g and 40br.  With them in operation I think I have run out of space.
Les

tanks, tanks everywhere-and nary a tank to spare!!!

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10 years 7 months ago #28151 by Les
Thanks wilpir:  Doing this is more fun than work to me and I have more time than I need on my hands.  It might seem silly but so would spending $1000 to keep and breed little 2" long African fish in snail shells to someone who doesn't understand what makes us tick.  I don't think there is a Micheal's store within 50 miles of my house but when I am roaming about and come across one I will check for snail shells.  I checked for shells at the swap but only found conch shell in various condition and they just wouldn't look right to me.  So I will continue to look, and play at making my own similations-which may never work out.  In the meantime I am open to any and all inputs.

tanks, tanks everywhere-and nary a tank to spare!!!

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10 years 7 months ago #28144 by Les
thanks B.C.-The clay idea sounds interesting and gives me another idea.  Unfortunately the soil around where I live is very loamy with sand and coal and not much clay.  It is great for my garden drainage.  I might still utilize the ping-pong idea but as a core, molding clay or another material around it.  In foundries core materials are used to rough cast interior cavities.  They break down with heat but not until the cast material solidifies enough to hold shape.  So if the cellulose acetate breaks down after the outer shell is formed, that might be OK.  I will give this a lot more thought.

If a two-part epoxy is mixed and molded over the ball it can be drilled and polished around the opening with a Dremel.  I still like the sand texture on the outside.  Most pictures of shellies in Lake Tanganyika show the snail shells rather crusty and grainy like that.

Les

tanks, tanks everywhere-and nary a tank to spare!!!

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10 years 7 months ago #28141 by BCParker
The ping pong balls I have are made of celluloid.  They start to get soft and break down pretty fast under water and lights.

Polyurethane should last longer, but will still decompose eventually under any kind of UV light.

If you're not worried about using PVC then I wouldn't worry about using polyurethane. 


For glue I've always used the standard super glue- cyanoacrylate . Let it cure for a day before putting in the water.



I like the homemade shell idea but I think some type of clay would work better.  I've made small caves out of the standard grey clay that covers the Chicago area about 12" down.  I let them air dry then 'fire' them in the backyard fire pit. I get a nice pile of hot coals going, add the clay pieces, and blow until everything turns a nice bright orange/red.

It's not designer pottery, and the pieces do crack every once in a while, but it cures the clay enough that it holds up in water.   

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10 years 7 months ago #28139 by Les
I like to putter with things.  I also like my tanks as natural looking as possible. With the scarcity of empty snail shell (Neothalma), I have an idea: Ping-pongballs made to resemble the snail shells.  Are polyurethanes safe to use in aquariums?  I am thinking of drilling holes in the balls, coating them with something and rolling them in sand, which closely resembles snail shells in the "Lake".  The sand should be enough to weigh the balls down I would think.  If not polyurethane I could try it with epoxy or even though clear silicone but silicone shows very white in water.

Any suggestions i on what I might try as a coating?  It would be best to dry hard, I would think.

Thanks, Les

tanks, tanks everywhere-and nary a tank to spare!!!

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