What 3D backgrounds have worked for you? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-24-2015, 02:37 AM Thread Starter
Planted Tank Guru
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Central Texas
Posts: 3,446
What 3D backgrounds have worked for you?

I'd like to build a 3D background for my 65g sunfish tank, something that looks like the side of a riverbed under an overhang. I've run into an issue, though: there are a LOT of recipes and opinions. Some people say to use styrofoam, some say it leaches chemicals over time. Some say not to bother coating grout, some say that'll kill your fish. Some say cure it for a week, some say five weeks, some say months.
So here's what I want to know: How did you make your 3D background, and how has it held up over time? I'm looking for something that I know will last years and won't slowly poison all my fish. I would prefer a background that can be varying thicknesses in spots, so that I can carve holes and alcoves and such into it for my fish to duck into. I'm not going for a rocky look, more of a muddy side-of-a-river look.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

My current project, a 65 gallon aquarium stocked with vernal pool fauna.
Betta132 is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-24-2015, 03:51 AM
Planted Member
 
PTrader: (4/100%)
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Milledgeville GA
Posts: 270
I've had a Styrofoam and drylock background set up for 4 plus year and haven't had a problem yet.
http://imgur.com/a/19d96


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.



To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

Standard 55 gallon club... We need one of those.
fishophile is offline  
post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-24-2015, 06:24 AM
Planted Tank Obsessed
 
PhysicsDude55's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 339
I used pink foam, and mortor (supposedly it sets quicker and adheres better).

Been going well for about 8 months now. I let it sit for a month to cure, and then another month submerged with often water changes before adding fish. Probably overkill. More details in my tank journal.



DIY Enthusiast


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
PhysicsDude55 is offline  
 
post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-24-2015, 04:44 PM
Planted Member
 
Bratmanxj's Avatar
 
PTrader: (1/100%)
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Munster, IN
Posts: 161
I've built a few. I started on a 29g to test ideas, using 1-1/2" foam glued and carved and covered in hydraulic cement. I used standard concrete pigments to die it redish-brown. It always looked "man-made" to me, but the ideas worked.

The second tank I did was my 75g. I went about it in a different fashion and took 3/4" foam, cut 4' long by 4" wide strips then used a hot-knife to cut into random 2" strips. I then glued and stacked to form what is best explained as a "sedimentatious wall" rock formation. Used a head gun to round of some edges and covered in hydraulic concrete. 3 coats of thin concrete with various tinting and highlighting, let cure for 2 weeks while misting with water and tarped. I then sprayed a water-based outdoor concrete sealant, my plecos would poop red dust in the 29g and I wanted make this tank a bit more stable.

The third tank is salt-curing as we speak, 72g bow-front that will be my buddies mBuna cichlid tank. 1" foam that he spent weeks carving vertical ledges and planter boxes.

I work with concrete regularly and wanted a more random look to the backgrounds I build. I don't spend a lot of time carving detail into my foam and I leave the texture up to chance. Prep the foam with a bonding agent. I use a kitchen sieve to pull out fibers or course aggregate then make a thin mortar mix using a 50/50 ratio of water and acrylic fortifier; "paint" on with a cheap brush. Proper moist curing is the biggest factor in success with concrete vs the latex concrete paint.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_0461.jpg
Views:	101
Size:	120.7 KB
ID:	451026  

Click image for larger version

Name:	background 2.jpeg
Views:	98
Size:	169.9 KB
ID:	451034  

Click image for larger version

Name:	2015-03-23 21.36.54.jpg
Views:	120
Size:	138.3 KB
ID:	451298  

Click image for larger version

Name:	2015-03-24 18.30.12.jpg
Views:	102
Size:	73.2 KB
ID:	451306  


Last edited by Bratmanxj; 03-24-2015 at 11:45 PM. Reason: Added photos
Bratmanxj is offline  
post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-24-2015, 09:40 PM
Planted Tank Guru
 
lochaber's Avatar
 
PTrader: (1/100%)
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Oakland, CA
Posts: 2,317
I don't have any tanks currently set up with this method, but I've done a few in the past.

I really like just using epoxy mixed with sand, and then coating the styrofoam with that. It's fairly easy to do, it cures in about a day, and I don't have to try painting or anything to get it to look like stone/dirt.
lochaber is offline  
post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-25-2015, 06:15 AM Thread Starter
Planted Tank Guru
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Central Texas
Posts: 3,446
What epoxy brands do you all use?
Is there anything that won't need weeks to cure before it's safe?


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

My current project, a 65 gallon aquarium stocked with vernal pool fauna.
Betta132 is offline  
post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-25-2015, 11:57 AM
Planted Member
 
Bratmanxj's Avatar
 
PTrader: (1/100%)
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Munster, IN
Posts: 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by Betta132 View Post
Is there anything that won't need weeks to cure before it's safe?
The background in my 29 was 3 day moist cure and 2 - 24 hour salt bath soaks. These can be made in short time, but I wasn't in a rush when building any of them.

If you want to go quickly you can use DryLok, a waterproofing latex paint for concrete and masonry. I've never used it as it goes on thin and shows the detail of the foam carving that that wasn't my objective on my designs. 2-3 days for the latex to dry and you should be good. You can tint it with standard concrete pigments.
Bratmanxj is offline  
post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-25-2015, 10:08 PM
Planted Tank Guru
 
lochaber's Avatar
 
PTrader: (1/100%)
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Oakland, CA
Posts: 2,317
I've used epoxy that I picked up at a plastic supplier, if you are doing something big, that might be the cheapest way to go.

I've also used the stuff that they sell in art stores, or in the varnish section of hardware stores. usually something like "pour-on" or "envirotex" - it's typically made for bar/desk/counter tops where they embed trinkets and stuff in the resin, and the box usually says something like "equal to 30/50/x coats of varnish"

I think all of the ones I've used had a complete cure time of a day, maybe two, and working time/pot life was typically somewhere around 20-30 minutes. It's been a while since I've worked with this, so I could be off by a bit...
lochaber is offline  
post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-26-2015, 08:42 AM Thread Starter
Planted Tank Guru
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Central Texas
Posts: 3,446
I'm doing the entire back and one short side of a 65g. Fairly large.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

My current project, a 65 gallon aquarium stocked with vernal pool fauna.
Betta132 is offline  
post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-26-2015, 06:07 PM
Planted Tank Enthusiast
 
vanish's Avatar
 
PTrader: (4/100%)
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Longmont, CO
Posts: 960
I used pink styrofoam covered in 4 or 5 layers of Drylok (with tints).

No cement, no epoxy. Been in the tank almost a year with no issues. Tank has a BN pleco which has not chewed through it and a Discus, so leaching hasn't been a prob.

Before Installation



After a few months.



To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
|
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
|
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
vanish is offline  
post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-29-2015, 04:25 PM
Algae Grower
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Idaho
Posts: 118
I've been thinking of trying this

http://www.monsterfishkeepers.com/fo...DIY-Background
PapHater is offline  
Reply

Tags
None

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the The Planted Tank Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in










Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode



Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome