A Guide on Cement for Formicarium Making
Post last updated：2020-10-20
- The cement need to have a grade of 42.5 N/R or above. Portland Cement is usually a good choice.
- Medias like sand, pearl powder, sandstone powder, etc.
- Sand: most basic media that prevent pure cement from cracking
- Pearl powder: Increase the smoothness for the suface of cement.
- Sandstone powder: Increase the strength of the cement.
- Fruit peels: Boiled in water and the resulted pulp can be used to remove peculiar smell of the cement, might be able to reduce harmful chemical elements.
- Ochre pigment: natural material that can change the color of cement without harming ants.
- A easy way to make the chambers is molding.
- Mix cement and medias.
- Pour into the mold with release agent on the surface.
- Vibrate until no more air bubble show up.
- After one day or so the cement should form its shape but still soft. (Keep it in temperature of 20C (70F) or above.)
- After two days it can be removed from the mold. spray water on the surface to keep the cement wet.
- Keep the cement wet until day 7 (at this time the strength is at 80%), it should reach maximum strength in 28 days.
- At this point its considered to be finished, but it is recommeneded to lower the ph level of the cement.
There are many ways to do so, use a combination of the follwing list.
- Soaking: soak the cement in water, water will absorb some alkali element released form the cement.
- Drenching: repeat the process of wetting the cement and drying it.
- Apple: after the cement is fully dried, wipe the surface of the cement with apple flesh to let the acid from apple to neutralize with alkali elements.
- Heated water: similar to soaking, but heat will increase the rate for the cement to release alkali elements.
- Pinching: use with soaking, when white alkali particles show up on the surface of cement, remove them by hand so they can release more at a faster rate.
These methods should be repeated for a long time ensure a suitable environment for the ants. Add water on the surface and use ph test slips to test the ph level until its 7-8.
The most important thing is to try and experiment with as many different mixtures as possible. Every different material added will have different good/bad results.
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