The cave is simply a bunch of rocks, glued together. Although it was designed originally for the hex tank it currently lives in the monitor aquarium.
I started by visiting a local creek and picking up a box full of rocks that looked "hard". In other words, I tried to avoid sandstone and limestone because I didn't want the rocks to affect the PH of my water. Once home I boiled these rocks in a big pot and scrubed them with a wire brush. Plan ahead here - what do you handle boiling-hot rocks with?
Next, I took a piece of acrylic large enough to hold the proposed cave and started stacking rocks. Whenever I found a rock that fit with its neighbors, I glued it in place with aquarium sealant. It was a lot like making a jigsaw puzzle and took several days to complete, totally dominating my dining room table during this time.
When I was done I drilled holes in the parts of the acrylic base not covered by rocks to aid the undergravel filter and so far it has worked great! There are gaps in the sides that the fish can swim through and it gives the Pl*co a place to hang out during the day.
After about 3 months in the water I removed the cave from the tank (in preparation for moving the tank itself) and discovered that it was falling apart! When the cave was new I could pick the entire assembly up by any single rock. When I took it out several of the rocks came loose. The silicone sealant lost its grip on the stone.
Ah, well... It's no secret that I never do anything right the first time...
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