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Old 02-08-2010, 09:52 AM   #1
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My New Tank Setup with DIY background

Here is a picture of my tank as it used to look (This was taken with a crappy camera phone:

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Here are two photos of my tank as it exists now. The first one is right after I added water to see how much the water clouded due to the sand, obviously I did a good job cleaning the sand as there was no clouding during this process. The second photo is of my new and hopefully improved tank with fish and decor added. It got a little cloudy at this point with all the bubbles and crap that came from transplanting some of the decor and the filter from the temporary tank that my fish were in. That "orange" line that goes through the middle was a mistake made when attempting to cement the two separate pieces together. I used too much cement color at this point and this is how it ended up. Oh well i made an attempt to hide most of it using my piece of drift wood as seen in the second picture.

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Edit: That is a Nemo decal on the outside of the tank. My mom put it on there one day and because I love the movie, I kept it.
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Old 02-08-2010, 10:18 AM   #2
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Your tank looks much more natural good job.
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Old 02-08-2010, 10:25 AM   #3
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Thank you thats what I was going for!
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Old 02-08-2010, 10:36 AM   #4
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nemo rocks dont worry about it.


Very nice do you have any tips you can lend or how you built this, the ones in the store seem to protrude out alot and well I know discus dont like that and its a narrow tank . how far does yours come out in the tank?


its very very nice and posted just in time, its the old mans discus tank and he wants to go get paper background and I am cringing.
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Old 02-08-2010, 10:53 AM   #5
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nemo rocks dont worry about it.


Very nice do you have any tips you can lend or how you built this, the ones in the store seem to protrude out alot and well I know discus dont like that and its a narrow tank . how far does yours come out in the tank?


its very very nice and posted just in time, its the old mans discus tank and he wants to go get paper background and I am cringing.
Thanks I appreciate it! Doing this was a lot of work as it was my first time ever attempting something like this. I followed the instruction of the user that posted this video on youtube:
YouTube - how to make a DIY aquarium background PLEASE RESPOND

I actually added my own variation to this as I made it protrude a little further out to make room for my HOB filter. I cut out a rectangular chamber in the back right of the background for the filter tube and added a plastic window mesh to prevent any fish or large debris from getting stuck back there. I made the cutout similar to what I saw in this video:
YouTube - DIY moonlight DIY background (a better look).wmv

It didn't actually take all that long to make although it did make a huge mess for me. I bought the polystyrene foam from Home Depot for $7 for a 8'x4' piece. I also bought GE Window and Door Silicone II 100% silicone adhesive and Concrete Resurfacer from Home Depot as well. The concrete was the most expensive as that ran about $20.

To answer your question, my background sticks out about 3 inches. It doesn't have to stick out that much as it really depends on the kind of filter your using and how hidden you want it to be. You could easily get away with it only protruding 2" or so. Since my tank was 18" deep, I could afford some protrusion and still leave about 15" for swimming space.

The main thing that took the longest time was getting the cement to stop raising the pH level. In the first video I linked to, the author says to do about 8-10 water changes. What he doesn't mention is how long he lets the water sit in the tank between water changes. It appears as if he instantly drains it as soon as it is done filling. This however will not let the cement leach its pH raising chemicals enough. I found that leaving it for a day or at most 2 days was enough time to let the cement leach. When I would go to change the water, the pH was usually at 9 or higher . After a while, it will take longer for the pH to rise indicating that the cement is starting to lose its leaching chemicals. To put it in perspective, I created this background around Thanksgiving, I just now put my fish in it. It STILL is leaching chemicals but it is at the point where it takes about 4 days to notice any change to the pH level. I figured that is enough time that it won't be a burden and I can just do a water change every four days or so.

So to summarize, this turned into a bigger project than I had anticipated. It is very rewarding but you have to weigh the pro's and con's and decide whether it is worth the effort. When it comes to my fish though, its well worth the effort!
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Old 02-08-2010, 11:12 AM   #6
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that is a 12" deep tank right? front to back not top to bottom.

I have a hang on overflow, so thats about the same as a HOB,

Id like to do it all with foam, id like to hollow out the back some and hide the return back there and have it come out of the foam with a piece of pvc or something hidden back there, to basically bring the return to the substrate level instead of up top.

the concrete might be a problem for me since I jsut tiled my basement floor and its below 32 outside. it wont set right. I get my concrete for nothing, a 5g bucket means nothing when my buddy stops by in his mixer.

It looks great, I will check out those videos and go from there, it looks really nice too, a little jealous, is it a 45g tank?
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Old 02-08-2010, 11:18 AM   #7
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that is a 12" deep tank right? front to back not top to bottom.

It looks great, I will check out those videos and go from there, it looks really nice too, a little jealous, is it a 45g tank?
Sorry I should have clarified. It is 19" wide (front to back) so that still leaves 16" for swimming space. It is a 50 gallon tank.
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Old 02-08-2010, 11:22 AM   #8
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Also, its kinda hard to see but I made some jagged cuts in the background for water to be sucked into the filter chamber. They are more noticeable in the first picture of the background in the tank.
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Old 02-08-2010, 01:03 PM   #9
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looks great
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Old 02-08-2010, 01:07 PM   #10
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looks great
Thanks!
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Old 02-08-2010, 01:09 PM   #11
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I like it. Looks great.
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Old 02-08-2010, 01:22 PM   #12
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I like it. Looks great.
Appreciate it!
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Old 02-08-2010, 03:36 PM   #13
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nice job look's good
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Old 02-08-2010, 03:54 PM   #14
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looks great. does the cement keep it from floating out?
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Old 02-08-2010, 04:07 PM   #15
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you have to silicone it to the back cabezon...

viper, how long did you end up soaking it before it stopped messing with the ph? seems like i remember you posting about that soon after i started mine a while back
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Old 02-08-2010, 04:26 PM   #16
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you have to silicone it to the back cabezon...

viper, how long did you end up soaking it before it stopped messing with the ph? seems like i remember you posting about that soon after i started mine a while back
Actually it still messes with the pH, it just takes longer to do so. What used to be like a day for the pH to start escalating now takes about 4 days. I started soaking it around Thanksgiving time, which shows how long it can take. It also depends on how much cement you use. I did four coats of cement, two of which were pretty thick so there is probably more cement in mine than most. I decided that I can put my fish in and just watch the pH levels carefully and do a water change when the levels start to rise.

Cabezon, you would not believe the buoyancy of the foam. Like a dummy I tried soaking it in a utility sink in my basement for a period of time. I tried to hold it under the water with my hands for like 10 mins at a time but literally my arms got tired after like 2 minutes. I'm actually surprised at the strength of the silicone. As soon as I put the background in the tank, I realized I had made a mistake and it took both my dad and I to pull the background from the glass. Bear in mind this was 10 seconds after applying the silicone and putting the background in the tank. If I ever need to take the background off for any reason, I will have to break it apart.
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Old 02-08-2010, 04:32 PM   #17
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you have to silicone it to the back cabezon...

viper, how long did you end up soaking it before it stopped messing with the ph? seems like i remember you posting about that soon after i started mine a while back
BTW, how did yours turn out?
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Old 02-09-2010, 01:12 AM   #18
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Here's a newer picture where the tank has cleared up a little bit. Not seen in the photo are my two plecos, one a common and the other a bristlenose. The common pleco is that dark mass under the root structure on the right side of the tank. The bristlenose hides inside of that structure so they both aren't visible.
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Old 02-09-2010, 01:28 AM   #19
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Nicely done!
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Old 02-09-2010, 08:19 AM   #20
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mine ended up going in the closet. things got hectic and i just didnt have a chance to finish it.. the foam is done, just needs the concrete
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