View Full Version : creating artificial roots/trees

12/08/2016, 08:34 AM
Michael Hoaster, hopefully you will see this post. I saw on your mangrove build (beautiful work btw) that you used Magic sculpt to build your mangrove roots. I'm interested in doing something similar, mostly to hold my mangrove trees in place as well as provide "roots" for the tank. I might also expand by putting roots along the back wall to give the macro algae something else to root to.
Anyhow, I was curious about a few things.

I noticed that you used metal wire as the skeleton. Were you concerned with saltwater getting to the metal, degrading it and leaching occurring. How did you/do you/prevent this?

I've never used Magic sculpt but I have used Apoxie sculpt. Do you know if they are basically the same thing? I'm assuming they are, based on ingredients and description but was hoping you might know.

Also, when you sculpted your roots, your end product looked very realistic. Did you do anything particular to create texture and color? I'd really love to know your technique if you don't mind. Thanks so much. P.s. if anyone else out there has experience with magic sculpt or the like, please, please chime in.

Michael Hoaster
12/09/2016, 01:13 PM
This sounds very cool!

I was a lot less concerned about leaching, etc. than all the naysayers that chimed in on that thread! I tried a couple of things, but ended up wrapping the wire and tin foil skeletons in…duct tape! Just another low tech, elegant solution, from yours truly. Also, I was careful to completely seal the whole shebang in the magic sculpt. It was a pretty thin skin of it, because I didn't want to run out and have to buy more. In the end, I had just enough to finish it. I was amazed how bomber tough they turned out.

Apoxie (Epoxie?) Sculpt sounds like the same thing. Is it a two part chemical cure? If so, same thing.

I'm very flattered you find it realistic. Thank you! As for texture, I was satisfied with clay texture just from my hands. I suppose you could take real wood and press a texture into it, before it hardens. I think I painted it with acrylic paint. Then sealed that with a clear coat. You'll have to refer to the thread, as I don't remember exactly what I used. It came out shiny, so I sanded it down just a bit so it wouldn't look so fake. One thing I did that I really liked was to paint it two-toned, to get some tide lines. If I were to do it again, I would paint it darker, like a brown-black. I think that would make it look more realistic. If you google mangrove roots and look at the images, you see a wide rang of colors-even orange!

If you haven't already, I'd recommend reading through the whole thread-it's not too long. Here's a link:


12/09/2016, 04:10 PM
Thank you. I wound up ordering magic sculp because it was significantly cheaper. I'm going to use the equivalent of friendly plastic for the skeleton. So hopefully it will be safe. I might order a small tub of different colored magic sculp to add some contrast. I don't want to paint it as I'm worried about the paint degrading and water safe acrylic, while safe, doesn't stay on very well. Although I might try it any how, just to see. I've painted rocks in the past until natural coralline took over and the corals have never been harmed, but then the paint is supposed to be safe enough to eat.

Michael Hoaster
12/09/2016, 06:38 PM
Cool beans. I think I remember coating the roots with fiberglass resin, from an auto parts store!

Keep us updated!