Safe silicone to use on enclosures and aquariums

TalonAWD

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As many of you know I create custom Enclosure creations. In the construction of these enclosures there are building materials I use and of course it raises concern as to if these materials are safe for the tarantula for long term use. I have been asked many times whether its safe and figured I'll just post it in its own thread.
The main supplies mostly used for constructing these enclosures are two products...
1. Great Stuff Foam
2. Silicone.

Great Stuff Foam
Now Great stuff foam is a chemical that expands when sprayed. Its very sticky and will stick to anything and getting it off your hands proves to be a challenge. Sometimes it takes days to get it off. Once it dries, its non-toxic. Its great because after its dry, you can shape it easily with a blade, knife or just your fingernails by ripping chuncks off.

The one bad thing with this stuff is that it sensitive to light, mainly sunlight. It will turn brown and start to degrade over time.

To combat this little problem brings me to product #2.

Silicone
I use the silicone to completly cover and seal the foam. I also use it as an adheasive to hold the substrate for that natural landscape look. Since this is what the tarantula will be exposed to, it has to be safe.

Now Silicone can be bought just about anywhere and they all basically do the same thing. Its a type of adhesive that drys rubbery and is flexible. What we are concerned about is if its safe to use for aquariums and inhabitants.
Most silicone products found in hardware stores have a Mold inhibitor (called Bio-Seal in the past for GE Silicone II) mixed in with the silicone. These are geared for home projects. Mold/Mildew is ugly so having the resistance is important. There is always concerns for this chemical when it deals with aquariums.

GE Silicone II
This product I have used for years but recently they changed their formula. Its exactly the same product as before but they changed the ingredient that makes the rubber portion of the mix cure. Its geared to cure much quicker and now there is a lingering odor. Because it cures faster, the bond is sacrificed. I have not had any of my tarantulas die from using this product in the past. But I have had it seperate from the glass.

The recomended silicone to use for aquariums is of course, Aquarium Silicone. In my experience there are two products I know of that are excellent for aquarium use.
These are the links.
Dow Corning Aquarium Silicone

http://www.americanaquariumproducts.com/AquariumSilicone.html

Nu Flex 333 Aquarium Silicone

http://www.nucoinc.com/pdf/Silicone Sealants/333_TDS.pdf

These are perfectly safe and are made specifically for aquarium construction but the problem with these is the price. So I researched the main ingrediant behind these products and found it to be Acetoxy. This is the curing agent. Knowing that this is the agent used in pure aquarium silicone I set out to find a product that would meet my price range.

So I found this...

Silicones Unlimited SU5005 RTV Silicone

http://www.emisupply.com/catalog/su5005-food-grade-silicone-clear-103oz-case-p-7273.html

The main curing agant is Acetoxy and its a Food grade silicone. These are the product details.
Product Features:

One-part acetoxy silicone rubber sealant
Approved as a food Grade Silicone - NSF Standard 51, FDA and USDA approved
Will not crack or become brittle with age
Application temperature -35 to 140° F
Excellent Marine Silicone Adhesive
Excellent Unprimed adhesion to plastic, metal, synthetic rubber, Glass, Ceramics, porcelain, and more
Available in Clear, White, Black, Aluminum, Almond, Bronze (special colors available)
Service Temperature Range -80 to 400° F Constant and 500° F Intermittently
Automotive gasket and flange gasket material
For use with standard caulk gun
And the best part is the price. This silicone is the one I use now for all my Enclosure creations. There is no worries about harsh chemicals or the mold inhibitor.

Now does it smell? Yes. During the cring process, it releases a really strong vineger odor. So use in a well ventillated area cause it will knock you out. Cures in 24 hrs and achieves maximum strength in 7 days according to the label. Of course curing times may be different for varying thickness of silicone used. Shelf life is about a year just like all the other aquarium sealants so buy what you need or plan to use.

I hope this proves to be helpful in answering your concerns about the products used in the construction of custom enclosures. Building the enclosures can be alot of fun and very rewarding for you and your T's. Not to mention that for the right tarantula, a nicely decorated enclosure will make it like eye candy for when you show off your prized beauties.
 

jbm150

Arachnoprince
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Mar 18, 2009
Messages
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Gooood stuff here, thanks for all this. More contributions and possibly sticky-worthy?
 

JDeRosa

Arachnobaron
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Messages
502
Yes I did notice that the Silicone II used to not smell but now has a lingering odor.
So does this new stuff that you use have that problem?
 

Scoolman

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Messages
613
I have a question about enclosure cleaning and maintenance. If you develop an infestation of mites, springtails, or some other nuisance or parasite organism, would the entire creation have to be destroyed and rebuilt? Or would it be possible to empty out loose substrate and just leave the enclosure to dry out completely, and refill the sub?
 

TalonAWD

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
Jul 28, 2007
Messages
1,122
I have a question about enclosure cleaning and maintenance. If you develop an infestation of mites, springtails, or some other nuisance or parasite organism, would the entire creation have to be destroyed and rebuilt? Or would it be possible to empty out loose substrate and just leave the enclosure to dry out completely, and refill the sub?
Personally I vacuum the substrate if that was to happen and then replace with fresh substrate. To prevent that just don't keep the enclosure so wet. You never have to destroy the enclosure.
 

ksac3

Arachnosquire
Old Timer
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Jul 6, 2008
Messages
100
usually things that have a catalyst hardener (2 part adhesive or epoxy) drying times and vapors will be a problem.
only things like silicone and the like drying is a long process.
 

TalonAWD

Arachnoprince
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Jul 28, 2007
Messages
1,122
Yes I did notice that the Silicone II used to not smell but now has a lingering odor.
So does this new stuff that you use have that problem?
I noticed that I did not answer your question. On Enclosure creation #9 I used this product for the first time. Today i took a sniff and vinegar odor is almost non existant. Remember that the more silicone you use, the longer it will take to fully cure. Thats why I wait up to a month before housing my tarantula (its my preference and not entirely necessary). So far its been exactly 7 days today since I finished enclosure.

So this new silicone does not have the lingering odor problem.
 

nitekram

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Joined
Mar 20, 2015
Messages
2
Before you say this is an old thread...I know. I just wanted to tell @TalonAWD that I love his enclosures, and he can disregard my question on his youtube site, as I now have this page to use as a reference. I cannot wait to try this out. Thanks for posting your videos and giving me, and I hope other people, great ideas.
 

Blueandbluer

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Joined
Mar 17, 2015
Messages
362
Before you say this is an old thread...I know. I just wanted to tell @TalonAWD that I love his enclosures, and he can disregard my question on his youtube site, as I now have this page to use as a reference. I cannot wait to try this out. Thanks for posting your videos and giving me, and I hope other people, great ideas.
Actually I'm glad you resurrected this thread. Being new to the boards I hadn't seen this, and it answers questions I didn't know I had.
 

jaw6053

Arachnobaron
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Joined
Dec 1, 2019
Messages
469
As many of you know I create custom Enclosure creations. In the construction of these enclosures there are building materials I use and of course it raises concern as to if these materials are safe for the tarantula for long term use. I have been asked many times whether its safe and figured I'll just post it in its own thread.
The main supplies mostly used for constructing these enclosures are two products...
1. Great Stuff Foam
2. Silicone.

Great Stuff Foam
Now Great stuff foam is a chemical that expands when sprayed. Its very sticky and will stick to anything and getting it off your hands proves to be a challenge. Sometimes it takes days to get it off. Once it dries, its non-toxic. Its great because after its dry, you can shape it easily with a blade, knife or just your fingernails by ripping chuncks off.

The one bad thing with this stuff is that it sensitive to light, mainly sunlight. It will turn brown and start to degrade over time.

To combat this little problem brings me to product #2.

Silicone
I use the silicone to completly cover and seal the foam. I also use it as an adheasive to hold the substrate for that natural landscape look. Since this is what the tarantula will be exposed to, it has to be safe.

Now Silicone can be bought just about anywhere and they all basically do the same thing. Its a type of adhesive that drys rubbery and is flexible. What we are concerned about is if its safe to use for aquariums and inhabitants.
Most silicone products found in hardware stores have a Mold inhibitor (called Bio-Seal in the past for GE Silicone II) mixed in with the silicone. These are geared for home projects. Mold/Mildew is ugly so having the resistance is important. There is always concerns for this chemical when it deals with aquariums.

GE Silicone II
This product I have used for years but recently they changed their formula. Its exactly the same product as before but they changed the ingredient that makes the rubber portion of the mix cure. Its geared to cure much quicker and now there is a lingering odor. Because it cures faster, the bond is sacrificed. I have not had any of my tarantulas die from using this product in the past. But I have had it seperate from the glass.

The recomended silicone to use for aquariums is of course, Aquarium Silicone. In my experience there are two products I know of that are excellent for aquarium use.
These are the links.
Dow Corning Aquarium Silicone

http://www.americanaquariumproducts.com/AquariumSilicone.html

Nu Flex 333 Aquarium Silicone

http://www.nucoinc.com/pdf/Silicone Sealants/333_TDS.pdf

These are perfectly safe and are made specifically for aquarium construction but the problem with these is the price. So I researched the main ingrediant behind these products and found it to be Acetoxy. This is the curing agent. Knowing that this is the agent used in pure aquarium silicone I set out to find a product that would meet my price range.

So I found this...

Silicones Unlimited SU5005 RTV Silicone

http://www.emisupply.com/catalog/su5005-food-grade-silicone-clear-103oz-case-p-7273.html

The main curing agant is Acetoxy and its a Food grade silicone. These are the product details.


And the best part is the price. This silicone is the one I use now for all my Enclosure creations. There is no worries about harsh chemicals or the mold inhibitor.

Now does it smell? Yes. During the cring process, it releases a really strong vineger odor. So use in a well ventillated area cause it will knock you out. Cures in 24 hrs and achieves maximum strength in 7 days according to the label. Of course curing times may be different for varying thickness of silicone used. Shelf life is about a year just like all the other aquarium sealants so buy what you need or plan to use.

I hope this proves to be helpful in answering your concerns about the products used in the construction of custom enclosures. Building the enclosures can be alot of fun and very rewarding for you and your T's. Not to mention that for the right tarantula, a nicely decorated enclosure will make it like eye candy for when you show off your prized beauties.

Over the past 10 years I guess things have changed and the links above are dead. What is everyone using now for :

Cheap, safe SILICONE
Cheap, safe SPRAY FOAM


Regards,
Jim
 

Feral

Arachnobaron
Active Member
Joined
Oct 6, 2019
Messages
408
Over the past 10 years I guess things have changed and the links above are dead. What is everyone using now for :

Cheap, safe SILICONE
Cheap, safe SPRAY FOAM


Regards,
Jim
I can't speak on foam products, but I have a bit of knowledge and experience with silicone sealants and various adhesives from working with aquariums and I disagree with some of the points above.

First off, I must say I disagree with the previous poster; I don't think fungal inhibitors (mold and mildew) should ever be used in animal enclosures. If a thing is not safe for aquatic inverts and fish and amphibians, which it fungal inhibitors aren't, I would never use it with other inverts and reptiles. [edit- I would not use any product that says anything like "Kitchen & Bath" or "Tub & Tile" or "Window & Door", these all have fungal inhibitors.]

(Note near the end where I mention the difference between silicone sealant and silicone adhesive.)

We don't necessarily need to buy the more expensive silicone sealants labeled specifically "for aquarium use", especially the needlessly pricey ones at the pet store. If you know what to look for, you can save some money. You definitely want a silicone sealant that is specifically stated to be "100% silicone". That's gotta be on the label, along with being free of fungal inhibitors. There are generally two types of silicone sealants, based on the curing agent: there's acid cure (acetic acid/vinegar) like GE Silicone I, and ammonia cure like GE Silicone II (although there are obviously other brands). If you've used either kind, you may remember that each one has a distinctive smell (vinegar or ammonia) as it used, is curing, and continues to off-gas after curing. I would personally never use ammonia products near my fish, inverts, herps, etc. so I strongly recommend the acid cure type sealant. This is what I've always used successfully. I also recommend good ventilation and doubling the curing time in the directions, because these sealants continue is to off-gas for a while even after the recommended curing time is over. Let that baby air out really well!
[edit- The specific product I would use is GE Silicone I All Purpose. There may be equivalent products from other brands, but this is what I've always used for a sealant in aquariums and animal enclosures. This is also the product most commonly recommended among Aquarists, tried and true. I get it from any hardware store, or online.]

I should also add that there is a difference between silicone sealant and silicone adhesive. It's said that the aquarium-grade silicone adhesive specifically must be used for assembly to cement the panes of glass (or whatever material) together and then the silicone sealant is used to seal the inner seams. And that's what I've done; When I have entirely pulled apart aquariums, reassembled them, then resealed them, these two different products are what I have used. However, although I've seen people using the same silicone sealant for both purposes, assembling AND sealing (I can't comment on the durability of their enclosures!), I wouldn't do that myself.
For the silicone adhesive, I do go to the pet store and buy it there. There may be a cheaper hardware-store equivalent, but if there is I don't know it.

Also, cyanoacrylate super glues are entirely safe to use in aquariums once they're dry and gassed off a bit, as long as they are cyanoacrylate. I feel confident if I can use it with my delicate shrimp, it's probably good for all other inverts. Definitely safe for fish and amphibians and reptiles and mammals. But I've heard not to use it on styrofoam, as it reacts chemically (the styrofoam actually melts, it's crazy!) and produces who knows what chemicals or fumes that may be unsafe for animals (and us!). I've heard it's bad, but I'm not sure either way, so I avoid it. But yeah, otherwise safe as noted.

Have fun! New builds are so exciting!
 
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jaw6053

Arachnobaron
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Messages
469
I can't speak on foam products, but I have a bit of knowledge and experience with silicone sealants and various adhesives from working with aquariums and I disagree with some of the points above.

First off, I must say I disagree with the previous poster; I don't think fungal inhibitors (mold and mildew) should ever be used in animal enclosures. If a thing is not safe for aquatic inverts and fish and amphibians, which it fungal inhibitors aren't, I would never use it with other inverts and reptiles.

(Note near the end where I mention the difference between silicone sealant and silicone adhesive.)

We don't necessarily need to buy the more expensive silicone sealants labeled specifically "for aquarium use", especially the needlessly pricey ones at the pet store. If you know what to look for, you can save some money. You definitely want a silicone sealant that is specifically stated to be "100% silicone". That's gotta be on the label, along with being free of fungal inhibitors. There are generally two types of silicone sealants, based on the curing agent: there's acid cure (acetic acid/vinegar) like GE Silicone I, and ammonia cure like GE Silicone II (although there are obviously other brands). If you've used either kind, you may remember that each one has a distinctive smell (vinegar or ammonia) as it used, is curing, and continues to off-gas after curing. I would personally never use ammonia products near my fish, inverts, herps, etc. so I strongly recommend the acid cure type sealant. This is what I've always used successfully. I also recommend good ventilation and doubling the curing time in the directions, because these sealants continue is to off-gas for a while even after the recommended curing time is over. Let that baby air out really well!

I should also add that there is a difference between silicone sealant and silicone adhesive. It's said that the aquarium-grade silicone adhesive specifically must be used for assembly to cement the panes of glass (or whatever material) together and then the silicone sealant is used to seal the inner seams. And that's what I've done; When I have entirely pulled apart aquariums, reassembled them, then resealed them, these two different products are what I have used. However, although I've seen people using the same silicone sealant for both purposes, assembling AND sealing (I can't comment on the durability of their enclosures!), I wouldn't do that myself.
For the silicone adhesive, I do go to the pet store and buy it there. There may be a cheaper hardware-store equivalent, but if there is I don't know it.

Also, cyanoacrylate super glues are entirely safe to use in aquariums once they're dry and gassed off a bit, as long as they are cyanoacrylate. I feel confident if I can use it with my delicate shrimp, it's probably good for all other inverts. Definitely safe for fish and amphibians and reptiles and mammals. But I've heard not to use it on styrofoam, as it reacts chemically (the styrofoam actually melts, it's crazy!) and produces who knows what chemicals or fumes that may be unsafe for animals (and us!). I've heard it's bad, but I'm not sure either way, so I avoid it. But yeah, otherwise safe as noted.

Have fun! New builds are so exciting!

Just so we are clear and everyone has something to go off of, is this the brand you are recommending ?

https://www.amazon.com/GE-Silicone-Purpose-Caulk-GE012A/dp/B0000CBIH9

Thank you!!
 

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Feral

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Messages
408
Just so we are clear and everyone has something to go off of, is this the brand you are recommending ?

https://www.amazon.com/GE-Silicone-Purpose-Caulk-GE012A/dp/B0000CBIH9

Thank you!!
Yup, that's it. That's the one I've always used. The GE Slicone I All Purpose without fungal inhibitors. I know it comes in clear, it might also come in black. (Make sure it doesn't say anything like for kitchen/bath or tub/tile or window/door, those are the ones with fungal inhibitors. But that link is the right one, without inhibitors.) BUT... I don't ever remember the the cure time being 12 hours like that link states, I always remember it being 48h to cure fully for aquatic use, then giving it another 48h to finish off gassing. So that's what I'd do, even if my use wasn't aquatic, just to be sure. After those 4 days, I would doublecheck I'm not smelling vinegar any longer, then give it a good rinse before use. If you need it to be moisture tight, don't forget to do a leak test before use! That's a whole thing, let me know if you want to know how I do leak tests.

I just noticed on that Amazon link that there's people verifying they too use that product for aquariums in the Q&A section of that page. So there's that.

I hope you can find people with expanding foam experience. Anybody?
 

Pyroxian

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I have no direct personal experience with foam, but can tell you that New England herp recommends and includes "great stuff pond" foam in their kits. It is what I plan to use for my first foray into a custom background based on their use of the product and the results they show in their gallery.
 

jrh3

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Here is the silicone that I use for all of my enclosures that require silicone. My brother also uses it for his reef tanks and has never had an issue. A little more expensive but it is good stuff. They even offer black and clear.
2E4BAF43-B13D-4544-A507-2F4EC14111C2.jpeg 1B304783-64A4-47E3-83A0-04A107F5C304.jpeg
 

jaw6053

Arachnobaron
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G
Here is the silicone that I use for all of my enclosures that require silicone. My brother also uses it for his reef tanks and has never had an issue. A little more expensive but it is good stuff. They even offer black and clear.
View attachment 330749 View attachment 330750

Great, so far we have (2) different brands of silicone for people to use, now we just need some examples of SPRAY FOAM that is cheap and non-toxic that people are currently using successfully.
 

Feral

Arachnobaron
Active Member
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Messages
408
P.S. I remembered (finally, stupid fritzy lightbulb) the name of the aquarium-safe silicone sealant I used, it's called
MOMENTIVE RTV108.
Again, silicone sealant and silicone adhesive are two different things, not interchangeable when it comes to adhering the glass panes to each other. But yeahno, that's the adhesive brand/product I've used, in case that helps anyone. :D
 
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