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ARTICLE INFORMATION:
Author: Nischint Sohal  
Title: Fun With Silicone
Summary: As a follow up to the above article, Nischint details how he makes portable sheets of gravel for aquarium use. He has other ideas for crafting silicone.

Contact for editing purposes:
email:  Nischint at:  y2nis@yahoo.com

Date first published: June 2003
Publication: Original to Aquarticles 
Reprinted from Aquarticles:
November 2003: Ryedale Reporter, Ryedale Aquarist Society, England.
Jan/Feb. 2004: The Fishmonger, Vancouver Aquatic Hobbyist Club
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Nischint Sohal,
1/7, Kondivita Co-op Hsg. Society,
Mukundnagar, Andheri-Kurla Road,
Mumbai - 400 059
India.

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Fun with Silicone

by Nischint Sohal of Bombay, India
Aquarticles

I use a sheet of thermacole (or styrofoam, as I think it's known in the US) and apply a thin layer of silicone on it. Thin, mind you, not too thick and not too thin. Then sprinkle some sand/gravel on it and let it set. After a while, shake all free sand/gravel away, and inspect the thermacole sheet. If there are some empty spots, then apply a bit of silicone and attach single bits of sand/gravel. Once it's all set and done, let it dry/cure for 24 hours.

After that, you break the thermacole/styrofoam gently, making sure not to tear the silicone. Then peel off the thin silicone sheet with the sand/gravel attached to it. You can reuse the thermacole/styrofoam if you wish, but be very careful and gentle with the silicone sheet.

The end result? You can put this little sheet in your tank. Attach it to the back of your tank (as long as it's not too high), or the bed of the tank, and you have a sheet of gravel, which looks absolutely real and fantastic.

Applications?? Many, if you want a contrasting gravel look. Most of the times, if you use two types of gravel, to create layers or to create different gravel zones, you end up mixing the two types of gravel during cleaning. Which later might be a mess to clean. With this method, you just siphon off whatever waste you want, and you can even pick up the sheet and brush off waste from it.

You can arrange it however you want, but the main advantage of this method, over the traditional method of sticking the gravel on an acrylic/glass/plastic sheet, is its flexibility. You can cut corners, or shape it in whatever form you choose.

Cichlids digging into it?? No problem, just shove a rock on it, and they won't be able to move it. You can even attach plants using this method. It's also a great way to cover up any of your equipment.

The biggest USP of this method is that it's really cheap, fast and looks really good. I just did it to my tetra tank and it looks fantastic. I used reddish gravel, which contrasted beautifully with the golden sand that I have in the tank. Along with some bright and dark green plants, it looks absolutely beautiful.

Another thing that I did was take some marbles, and create a cone, like a pyramid, by siliconing the edges of the marbles that touched each other. Not only does it look beautiful while reflecting and refracting the light, but it also works as a sort of mini filter. Thanks to the water movement in the tank, waste gets into the marbled cone through the gaps in the marbles. All I do is lift up the cone, and shove the siphon in there to suck up all that gunk.

Of course, building caves with small rocks using silicone is easy. But if you have a big tank, then you can even create a small teepee out of the rocks and the silicone. Or make a huge bridge, using the ends as caves.

My next project? To make a small replica of a wrecked ship using rocks and silicone!!