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Old 11-11-2011, 06:00 PM   #1
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Aquarium Re-Vamp

Iíve never been happy with the design in my tank or shall I say my aquascape. Iíve always wanted the natural look, something that would mimic the natural environment for the majority of my fish. I did a lot of research on the web regarding do it yourself backgrounds and decided to start my own.


So here is my DIY project.


(Above) I order the Styrofoam online and I got a 48x24x4 thick piece which as you can see I started to pencil in the rough design on the picture on the left and on the right is a picture of the carving that I did with a hot knife I bought online. A hot knife is much easier to work with. It certainly is a lot cleaner.

Below is where I cut out holes for the filtration system and add ledges to the design




Here I am installing 4-6 inch dowels for added support due to the buoyancy of Styrofoam


Here are the components for the custom filtration system. I used the check valve from the filters and adapted them to the new design. I used schedule 40 PVC, which I had to modify some of the parts to get the depth of the 3d background. I sanded the face to prep it for painting, silicone the opening on the backing so that it has direct suction for the front grill and finally I used a cut piece of 3Ē PVC pipe to sleeve the components so that later I can seal it











Your feedback is welcomed. I have more pics but I am limited to the amount I can post. I'll post some more later
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Old 11-15-2011, 08:56 PM   #2
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this looks awsome keep upto date with pics i loved to see the finshed result
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Old 11-16-2011, 04:30 PM   #3
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Aquarium Re-Vamp part 2

Here are more components of the custom filtration system. These are actual parts for 3 Fluval 05 series canister filters. I will be running 3 filter 2 Fluval 305 series and 1 Fluval 205 series. The first two pictures show a clear sleeve which I used to join 2 intake tubes. The clear sleeve is 5/8 ID tubing I bought at Home Depot. The bottom pictures show the returns for the system which I also used a clear sleeve to join a piece of intake tube to give me the height I needed




Here is the back of the 3D background. I used the hot knife to cut channels into the back so that I can insert the custom filtrations and have a flat backing. First picture is of the intake, second the return line. I sealed it with silicone so that it was water tight. The bottom two pictures show the entire custom filtrating components installed and then sealed with Great Stuff that I also bought at Home Depot. I let this set up for a couple of days before I cut the back of the hardened Great Stuff.



These are wells that I am going to use to hide the air stones in the tank. I started with a piece of the 4Ē thick Styrofoam that I cut from the background. It was about 4Ēx4Ēx 6Ē tall. I started with a rectangle and I used the hot know to start shaping it round. It didnít come out perfectly round but itís close. The rest of the design is supposed to look like stone but you can tell me later if it looks like it. This is just the rough draft.


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Old 11-16-2011, 04:37 PM   #4
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Aquarium Re-Vamp part 3

Here is a sneak peak at what my layout will look like. The picture is of the whole background before I cut it up and the driftwood is just place for effect. I havenít cut it into the ledges yet.

If you can picture this looking like natural stone with driftwood and live plants then you see what I see



Here are some close up pictures of the cut I made to the rock ledges to make it look as if the driftwood broken through the edges



Here is the background cut into 3 sections so that it will fit into the 75 gallon tank that I have. Since it has a support brace in the center Iím forced to cut it into sections. Below are the pictures of the pieces with the first coat of Drylok. After reading tons of feedback, opinions and suggestions that I found on the web while doing my research for the project I decided not to use cement or epoxy but Drylok. It has a faster recoat time than the other products and I only have a two week wait according to the manufacturer before I can complete drown it in water.



Here is the second coat of Drylok. This coat I mix in grey paint dye to help me get the effect that I am looking for. All coats applied are thick coats. This grey is darker to help get the effect I need. The manufacturer recommends waiting 3 hours before applying the next coat but I waited 24 hrs between coats because it went on so thick. Better safe than sorry I always say



I'll post more later.
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Old 11-16-2011, 04:53 PM   #5
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This is seriously cool! I can't wait to see what it looks like when its done!
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Old 11-16-2011, 04:55 PM   #6
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Aquarium Re-Vamp part 4

As you can see the grey lightened up quite a bit when it dried 24 hours later. I had to mix a darker batch of paint to darken in the caves in the Styrofoam



Here are images of the next coat which was black. The dye I used was called lamp black which I donít know why because I had to use over 4 oz to 1 pint of Drylok. The pictures are close ups the caves. As you can see I didnít paint it solid I left a lot of the different colors that I painted before for effects.



Here is the final application of color. I mixed a lighter color of grey. I was trying to get the look of natural black slate. Iíve had some friends look at the pictures and they were taken aback by the final paint job. They all agreed it look like natural black slate but you know how friends are they may be trying to be nice.




Here is a picture of the entire setup outside the tank. The only thing missing are the plants but I hope this gives you a better idea of what the final tank will look like.

What do you all think? I welcome honest constructive feedback.


I'll be taking the day off on Thurday and Friday to work on this all day long and into the evening. My plan is to get this tank done and back up and running by Monday. All the final components have arrived including the live plants so I definitely need to get this done ASAP.
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Old 11-16-2011, 05:10 PM   #7
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This is beyond neat. You are so creative!
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Old 11-16-2011, 05:23 PM   #8
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i will be waiting to see the results!
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Old 11-16-2011, 05:46 PM   #9
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Thanks everyone. I can't wait to finish it either. Here is what it currently looks like which I am not really happy with as this does not resemble any natural habitat that I know.
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Old 11-21-2011, 02:26 PM   #10
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Aquarium Re-vamp part 5

Ok everyone. I broke down my 75gal tank this very long weekend I had. Here are 3 pictures of the background and driftwood installed in the tank.



I managed to fill the tank in the picture below and I place a spare filter to cycle the water so that I could take the ph readings to see if the Drylok would affect the ph. Intial tap water ph level was 8.2 pretty high. After cycling the water for 3 hours the ph jumped to 8.8, only a .6 jump. Not bad and definitely manageable.

The below pic of the tank cycling is after I flushed it out several time and got out all of the excess residue and debris.


While the tank was recycling the water I went inside to work on the filter setup. Here are pictures of the filters that will run the custom filtration that I incorporated into the 3D background install in the tank. Pictured as well is the Hydor 300 in line heater and the 2 TruAqua in line 10w UV Sterilizers. All electrical connections labeled and tapered so that there are no loose wires including the two 12v DC fans to help keep things cool.



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