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Using Clay

Discussion in 'Freshwater Equipment, Products, & DIY' started by Wycco, May 1, 2009.

  1. Wycco

    Wycco Eat more pine trees

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    I know Terracotta pots have been a long time staple of fishkeeping and considered (usually to be safe).

    What do you know about making your own clay caves/sculptures etc...?

    They have oven-bake clay- where you can fire in your own oven at 350F for an hour to harden (not as durable as normal terracotta- but what wear and tear will it get inside an aquarium?)

    Is that a safe clay to use?

    There is also regular terracotta clay- we have an art store down the road that fires artwork by kids and whatnot in a kiln - I might be able to get them to let me use their kiln (I'm sure for a fee).



    For wedding cakes- you can find at art stores moulds for pillars- can make some impressive "parthenonic" caves using them and some clay.
     
  2. Wycco

    Wycco Eat more pine trees

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    OK...

    The kind of clay you bake in your over is something called "Polymer Clay"- it's actually from a material standpoint closer to "PVC" as in PVC Pipes then it is Clay. Originally invented as an insulator and was discovered by accident to be able to be used as a modeling clay with a low- firing temperature.

    They have different chemical properties based on who makes them. The chemicals of concern are "plastisizers"- which public opinion is mixed on whether these are bad or not.

    I've e-mailed one company to ask about the toxicity of their product and whether they are suitible to use underwater/use in aquariums.

    These products are frequently marketed towards kids for crafts- so you'd hope they non-toxic. If anyone is interested I'll let you know if I hear back. If these turn out to be safe could be a fascinating easy new tool to use for making caves and aquarium decorations.
     
  3. Hebily

    Hebily My Tank \/

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    That would be pretty cool!
     
  4. paperdragon

    paperdragon AC Members

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    Polymer clay is not fish safe from what I've read. I have heard that epoxy clay is ok, but you'll want to check up on that too.
     
  5. Wycco

    Wycco Eat more pine trees

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    I've been doing some more research on this and found a lot of conflicting arguments.

    Some people say it is not safe BECAUSE of the plasticisers- however sculpty (brand) claim the plasticisers are all removed during curing.

    Most people who say it isn't safe say so because it is labeled as "not safe for food". However, the makers claim the reason it is not safe for food has nothing to do with it leaching chemicals but because it is porous and harbours bacteria. (like everything does in the aquarium).

    I've read numerous accounts of people who have used this in aquariums and measured the water chemistry day by day with no problems- and kept fish with no harmfull effect.


    It sounds like it is safe- and basically just turns into PVC when fired as long as you cure it properly- don't fire it at too high a temperature... and most of all... make sure it is properly cured.


    I will be doing more research though before using... it sounds viable.
     
  6. marinkafuschia

    marinkafuschia AC Members

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    this would definitely be cool to know! man I can think of such neat caves and hides I can make for my fish just on my own! and can you imagine how cheap it would be!?
     
  7. Wycco

    Wycco Eat more pine trees

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    One pack $1.79 at the first website I visited. (For 2oz)

    Lots of different colors and you can blend them.

    2lbs of white or 1.75lbs of "terracotta" is about $10.

    Not sure how much one 2oz pack could make- I guess depends on how thin you make the walls of your cave...
     
  8. paperdragon

    paperdragon AC Members

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    I just did a search, and found this excerpt from wetwebmedia:

    I guess two years without problems would suggest its safe. I'd like to find a bit more info, but I haven't come across anything else yet.

    Edit: A bit more searching and I found this:http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/diy/82228-trying-out-sculpey-caves.html
    This person's post seems to summarize the small bit of info I've been able to find on the clays.

    I use super sculpey quite a bit, so I could whip up something and test it out in a container of snails. I've been wanting to get into making aquarium decorations for a while now anyways.
     
    #8 paperdragon, May 1, 2009
    Last edited: May 1, 2009
  9. Wycco

    Wycco Eat more pine trees

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    Yes... this looks like it really might work... I'm off to Michaels to see if they have any... Not sure what I'm going to make for caves... I'll see what inspires me! ;)

    Thank you!
     
  10. paperdragon

    paperdragon AC Members

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    Just don't get original sculpey, I've had a lot of trouble with it crumbling. The super sculpey, however, is pretty sturdy. I had a 1" figurine I experimented with, and it took about 7 times bouncing it off the floor to finally break it.
     

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