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Discussion Starter #1
CLICK ON IMAGES FOR BIGGER PICTURES

Back-to-nature background is probably the most wanted item in aquarium hobby. African-cichlid keepers dream about those setups but the only thing which keeps them from buying one is unfortunately price. Price ranges anywhere from $200-$600. Can everyone afford this?, No. But there are ways to go around that huge 3-digit figure and make one of those backgrounds yourself. I made this small background for my 10 gallon Lake Tanganyika tank using items available in your local hardware stores.

Pink Styrofoam, which is a lot better then white Styrofoam, cuts nicer and it is easier to work around the shapes. Styrofoam should be available in any Home Depot for price of only 12$. Look for different thickness of this product. Thicker - better !!!. It depends what are you trying to achieve and what layout. I prefer to work with 2 layers. Use bottom layer as Main Layer, cut "3D" additions from second layer and add them on top of the Main Layer. You can work your way down to first layer and make shapes there as well. This will create more depth to this model.





To glue styrofoam I used GE RTV108 series silicone. There has been a lot of discussion on which silicone to use and which could be toxic to your fish. Here is the quote from GE company. I was able to find GE RTV108 in Grainger ($5)

"Aquarium manufacturers have used RTV108 in fresh and saltwater aquariums up to 20,000 gallons. The only product we recommend for aquarium use is RTV108. We appreciate your interest in GE Silicones. Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us."



West System Epoxy will probably be THE most expensive item in your project. I paid $40 for resin + hardener but both last me for entire project, 4 coats and I still had some left.



I purchased regular black dye from grocery store, mixed it with West System Epoxy and painted entire model. I noticed that epoxy had burning/melting effect on styrofoam and initially rough edges changed to nice and smooth shapes. I did 5 coats using dye + epoxy mix to securely cover entire model. To remove epoxy glaze, I sprinkled play sand over entire model. I repeated epoxy and sand step few times to achieve final effect and rock texture.





I soaked entire background in water for few days. I concluded that I didn't have enough epoxy cover b/c dye started to fade away. Fortunately I preferred after look of the "rocks".



More pictures of this setup are available on my website.
 

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Wow! That is an amazing background!!!! I'll definitely have to look into this. Thank you for the step by step info..it was very informative and very helpful.
 

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Very nice jay, great step by step photos. I'll have to try this when I have another tank that isn't already established.

Matt
 

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Discussion Starter #5
BigRed27 said:
Really looks beautiful. How about putting up some pictures later with fish enjoying your hard work.
Tank doesn't exist anymore and there was no fish in it :wink:
 

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That's too bad, what did you do with it? why did you decide to get rid of it?
 

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Where did you get the GE RTV Silicone, Jay? Is Grainger a place or a store or something? But, yea, I got a similar message back from GE Silicones when asking about just what kinds of silicone would be safe.

Michael,

We don't recommend any of our products for underwater submersion, but some
aquarium manufacturers do choose to use our products on glass to glass
aquariums. The products they use most often are RTV108 or IS808. These are
industrial grade products. Our consumer grade (this means they would be found
at Home Depot or a local hardware store) offset to these industrial grade
products is GE012A (Window and Door Silicone I).

Thank you,

Jane-marie Cintron

Technical Solutions Specialist

* [email protected]
<mailto: [email protected] >

( 800-255-8886

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great work.

I believe that you can obtain a better result if you dust the sand superficially aside from mixing it with the resin. you avoided that the resin is with that brightness.

Another thing... 5 coats???? :shock: if you put painting to the resin, you can see that pieces you have left without painting...

Normally I use cement to make backgrounds for tanganika tanks. it is simpler to use and more easy to obtain
 
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