75 gallon DIY background thingy.. small update 2/13 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 47 (permalink) Old 01-21-2015, 04:48 AM Thread Starter
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75 gallon DIY background thingy.. small update 2/13

Picked this 75 gallon at the dollar a gallon sale. Then I had a brainfart. I wanted a DIY background but wanted it to project into the tank (not just stick out from the back glass 5-6 inches like most do). The seams in most DIY are well hidden but i wanted to make sure I would only have one seam. So I got lucky. Floating boat docks have massive pieces of stryofoam under them. Good ole craigslist came through and someone was selling 8' x 4' x 3' ft pieces from a demolished one . I bought two. Thats not a typo... eight foot pieces.
So I whipped out my trusty dremel and carved, and carved... got yelled at by the wife and carved some more. Styrofoam is messy.
Then I got some pigment, some drylock and some vodka. I had two other half completed backgrounds I simply chunked in the dumpster. They weren't going a direction I liked. So the following pictures are my third, and completed attempt.
What remains is to silicon seal them to the glass. Repair and paint the one seam clearly visible in the pics ( the center divider prevents you from putting a whole piece in) and pic the plants. Thats where you guys come in.




Now everywhere you see the glass bottom. Im going to put MGOPM, or whatever its called. A thin layer on eco complete and capped with good ole kitty litter. Bonus: got permission to grab a bucket full of local river gravel, therefore should match the foam background well. Ill put it on top of the kitty litter.
The driftwood is where I need help. Its located on the golden ration line, But just left of the driftwood I need something to fill in that gap between the wood and the background. I think the wood could use some plants, but need input on what would look best.
That blue glove is located on the other golden ratio line. So my question is do you think this tank needs a second focal point or not. If so, im wide open to suggestions
Now the only plants i know for certain are going in are ludwigia on the far left and marsilea minuta in front of the driftwood. Im open to all other planting advice.

Next up, angle shot:






The angle shot shows the flow of the tank generally being back right corner to front left corner.

The top shot: this styrofoam was in the middle of a field. It had some natural weathering. Mother nature knows best, so I kept all the divets and holes intact.



98% of all those holes (all of them, not just the big ones) are natural. As you can see i have a powerhead tucked inside one of them. The water line will be high enough to half way fill those holes, so i need some circulation up there. Im gonna plant something ( suggestions?) in those holes to be a fry refuge. Its high up in the tank but wont get direct light. If needed I can move my 36" T5HO over to help grow out whatever I plant.

SIDE SHOT:





Obviously I got some cleaning to do (styrofoam dust everwhere), but before I went any further I wanted input from you fine folks. Here are the rest of the specs:

Sun Sun 304b 525 gph canister filter
2 aqueon 150 watt heaters
DIY CO2 (citric acid/baking soda) on DIY reactor ( yes im insane, but saving up for pressurized, so dont be too judgy)
48" Finnex planted plus (can add 2 bulb [39 watt each] 36" T5ho if needed)
2 power heads

SO there you have it. Its still early enough I can change stuff, id like to know what you think. Perhaps the driftwood is a mistake? Remove the entire foam thingy on the right? Whatever your suggestion, i am all ears.

Last edited by fish jihad; 02-14-2015 at 05:56 AM. Reason: insert image
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post #2 of 47 (permalink) Old 01-21-2015, 05:08 AM
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I think the structure on the left looks great. Not really sure about the one on the right. It seems a little oppressive? The Driftwood looks a little bit out of place but maybe would look better once you have gravel in there.
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post #3 of 47 (permalink) Old 01-21-2015, 06:02 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you imzadi. The original plan was to put alarge cypress stump where the driftwood is now located. However, i dont think i have the paint skills to do a realistic diy stryfoam cypress. Im hoping the plants around the driftwood will make it appear more natural. But im willing to try other pieces out.
I have mixed feelings about the piece on the right. It will work, but when you have a large piece of styrofoam and a dremel, you can make anything. Thats the problem, too many choices... i had paralysis by analysis and had to move forward.
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post #4 of 47 (permalink) Old 01-21-2015, 02:33 PM
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Don't know about the driftwood , at least that piece . Maybe instead of the wood , what about some taller plants near the back of the tank to fill the rear of the void between the 2 foam pieces , something like vallisinera , or possibly an amazon sword , if there's room . Nice score on the foam plus kudos for having the presence of mind to realize the possibility of making something from them .
Should look great once it's filled ,planted and aged a while.
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post #5 of 47 (permalink) Old 01-21-2015, 03:35 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks old guy. Thats two votes against the driftwood. I shall replace it with something else. I still have massive pieces of styrofoam left over. Just enough drylock to do an additional piece. I like your idea on the swords. But some kind of hardscape needs to be back there, if feels imcomplete leaving all that glass on the back wide open
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post #6 of 47 (permalink) Old 01-21-2015, 05:02 PM
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Nothing wrong with a piece of driftwood , just not that piece , it gets lost . There's guys on this forum who have done foam tree stumps and driftwood using a technique similar to what you've used . Try a search on 'foam driftwood'
for what's been done before . Maybe it'll work for you .
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post #7 of 47 (permalink) Old 01-21-2015, 11:05 PM Thread Starter
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thanks old dude. I have scoured the entire net for examples and seen many diy cypress.

Im already making another piece of foam hardscape, kind of an extension of the left side. I removed the piece on the right side. I should have a rough carving done by tommorow, and ill post pics for feedback.

Anyone have other ideas? now is the time while i have my sawzall, dremel and foam blocks out. I dont have alot of drylock left, so i gotta make this next draft count.

Last edited by fish jihad; 01-21-2015 at 11:06 PM. Reason: clarity
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post #8 of 47 (permalink) Old 01-22-2015, 04:02 AM
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Can you move the piece on the right to the back right corner and see what it looks like? I have a feeling it might look better if you had the entire back of the tank looking like a rock wall, either that or just take the piece on the right out. As it is, the scape seems like two different tanks almost.
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post #9 of 47 (permalink) Old 01-22-2015, 09:51 PM
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Completely agree with Imzadi.
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post #10 of 47 (permalink) Old 01-22-2015, 11:23 PM
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I like the cave like structure on the left hand side of the picture, the column like structure on the right side does not work in my opinion. I would add some of the rock work you made in the front of the cave to the right side and plant heavily.
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post #11 of 47 (permalink) Old 01-23-2015, 07:17 PM
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I like the job you did on both structures. They look interesting and natural, not an easy combination. I agree that the one on the right is too forward and in your face. The fix might be as easy as lopping off the rear 4-6" or so parallel to the tank back and pushing it against the back wall. The top of it seems to be blocking the spray bar, which is a separate issue. Also, where are you going to put the intakes?

The overhangs which give the cave-like feel will block light; the only place to grow higher light plants will be where you show the driftwood. I kind of like the sword idea, mainly because a big healthy sword is an awesome thing. Not sure how it will look with the cave feeling though...

Not sure how or if driftwood fits this composition. I kind of see this as a small niche with cave and I envision an uncluttered look to keep things from getting too dark.

Just a few thoughts...

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post #12 of 47 (permalink) Old 01-23-2015, 09:07 PM Thread Starter
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Hey tom.
The right side piece has been pulled out and am now 3/4 through with a different rock formation for the right side. It starts where the left side stops and slowly angles down, like a slope but with rocky outcrops.
The intakes is buried behind the back left corner. There is a large hole in the structure to allow water to the intake, its difficult to see because i painted the hole black.
I am aware im blocking alot of light with the over hang. I was willing to sacrifice plants for interesting hard scape. Truth be told my growing abilities are amatuer, hoping to get better with this 75 gallon.
In my new design nothing will block the spray bar. And i did try doing what you said and slide the right piece to the back glass ( after shaving down the backside). It still didnt look right so i scrapped it. My phone is on the fritz so i cant post pics now. But in a few hours i will snap a few of the new design ( still a rough draft)
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post #13 of 47 (permalink) Old 01-23-2015, 11:48 PM Thread Starter
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Here is the rough draft of the new layout








That piece floating is midair is a little misaligned, but im seriously considering keeping it in midair. The idea is there is structure behind this little slice of river, and that piece hints at it. Looks unnatural? Probably, but the right side looks incomplete without something up there. If anyone has an alternative, im all ears. Also, there is a tiny pillar under the piece on the front right side, thats just so it stays upright, ill take it out after the glue goes on

Last edited by fish jihad; 01-23-2015 at 11:51 PM. Reason: clarity
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post #14 of 47 (permalink) Old 01-25-2015, 02:36 AM
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You are making a cave, underground lake concept.

No driftwood.
Plants only at the mouth of the cave, and not too lush even there. Overhanging plants (house plants) from outside hanging over the opening in the roof of the cave.

Stock with Blind Cave Tetras.
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post #15 of 47 (permalink) Old 01-25-2015, 02:54 AM
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Your back ground thingy is incredible! Can not wait to see how it this tank progresses.
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