Making a DIY Background

Discussion in 'D.I.Y.' started by ismail, Nov 4, 2008.

  1. ismail
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    ismail Algae harvester

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    Hi
    If anyone is interested in making a "˜cement’ background for their tank, they may want to check out these two sites that I found useful: http://www.littleboxofbones.com/fishtan ... ild/ (Check the links at the bottom of that page, some are very good) and http://www.ninjakidsrock.co.za/ (local guys - I like their stuff).

    I am not much of a DIY guy, so I started this with some reluctance. The first step was to get some polystyrene. I bought a sheet from the local hardware store. This was cut to size (slightly smaller to allow for the cement). I used three pieces, instead of one long one; due to practical considerations (placement, handling, weight...)

    First a pic of the empty tank, then the polystyrene:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Next step was to make the "˜rocks’ to be stuck onto the background. These were stuck onto the board with silicone. Initially we used toothpicks to position them, and hold them in place. Once the pieces have been glued on, leave the sheets for at least 24hrs to dry well.
    [​IMG]

    Next step was to put on the cement.
    Regarding the cement; after some research I was reluctant to use ordinary cement, since I am interested in having soft water (Amazon setup), and I understood that ordinary cement causes the pH to rise.

    I settled on using coprox (http://www.coprox.com/masonry.htm)
    A quote from their site: "Once cured, Coprox Masonry Waterproofing is non-toxic and therefore not harmful to human, animal or plant life. The water must however, be allowed to age sufficiently or be treated chemically before use or before introducing fish or plants. Consult your local pet shop, swimming pool shop or water authority in this regard."
    It costs a bit more than ordinary cement, but is working well so far. The pH did rise, and after a 100% water change (two weeks), the pH is stable at around 7.2. I am waiting for a professional pH meter, so I can monitor the pH closely.
    Below are pics of the first quote of grey coprox:
    [​IMG]
    I actually re-did this piece, because I did not like the shapes.
    [​IMG]
    2nd quote was tan coprox:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Next post: incorporating a moss wall.

    Kind Regards
    Ismail
     
  2. ismail
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    ismail Algae harvester

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    I made a panel that will accommodate some plastic mesh for a "˜moss wall’. I cut some grooves in the side of the polystyrene strips before putting the coprox on. It can be seen in the centre of the last photo posted above.
    The completed moss wall is on the right hand side of the tank (last 3 pics below):
    For more info on a moss wall: http://www.aquamoss.net/How%20to%20crea ... 20wall.htm
    This is how the background looks in the tank:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I am having some concerns regarding the pH and hardness, although these have not gone too high. The pH stays around 7.2 (to be monitored and confirmed) and the GH / KH on my test strip is still 'acceptable'. (My planted tank using the same RO water registers much lower readings for all these params).

    The pros are: the background can look nice, it is relatively cheap and easy to make.

    Any ideas regarding the concerns I raised in the previous paragraph?

    The tank is still a 'work in progress', I am waiting for some equipment before I neaten the filter piping, and 'aquascape' a bit further.

    Thank you
    Kind Regards
    Ismail
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 11, 2014
  3. turando101
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    turando101 Algae harvester

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    I like!!!! This seems a lot easier than some of the DIY backgrounds I have seen! When you say the Coprox is more expensive what type of price are we talking and how much dit you use? Did you "paint" it on or how is it applied? And lastley did you just place the backgroun id the tank or did you silicon it?
    Thanks for sharing!
    KarelM
     
  4. wearsbunnyslippers
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    wearsbunnyslippers Administrator Staff Member

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    wow, nice job dood!
     
  5. ismail
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    ismail Algae harvester

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    Hi
    @ WBS - Thanks!
    @ KarelM - the coprox costs around R45 for a box (I think it was a one kg box), one requires about 3 quotes. In total I used 5 boxes. You just brush it on - let it dry well between quotes.
    I siliconed the background to the tank.
    As you go along, you will find it is quite easy to make the shapes - apply just the right amount of heat to the polystyrene without burning it, and it will melt (hairdyer or soldering iorn or candle), so the posiibilities really depend on your imagination. :)

    Kind Regards
    Ismail
     
  6. feathers
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    feathers Algae harvester

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    Really very nice and neat!
     
  7. neilh
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    neilh Algae harvester

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    Where did you buy Coprox from? Local builders warehouse?
     
  8. ismail
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    ismail Algae harvester

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    Hi
    I got it from our local Mica.
    The manufacturer is a local one, and they were very helpful in sending the colour I wanted to the local Mica store. if you have any probs, contact them (the manufacturer), they will help you.

    Kind Regards
    Ismail
     
  9. Andre
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    Andre Green fingers

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    Hi Ismail

    Thanks for posting this. I really like what you did.

    It would be interesting to see what the effects will be on the pH and hardness after a few more water changes.
     
  10. Mopani_Root
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    Mopani_Root Noob

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    mopane roots

    glad to see your artwork!! it's a year back that i have met you! ;D

    interesting to see how you have placed the mopane roots!

    if anyone is wants to come and select their own unique piece for your tank, have a look at http://www.namibianhardwood.co.za/produ ... roots.html and feel free to contact Ryan Anytime!

    chow
     
  11. Rattail
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    Rattail Algae harvester

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    Nice job here.... I notice a difference in colour between the tan you showed and the final colour inyour tank. Is this because of lighting, or did you omit to tell us about another colour you used? I prefer the colour of the last photo.
     
  12. ismail
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    ismail Algae harvester

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    Hi
    The colour was not changed. The colour does change a bit as it dries.
    One also has to put a complete qoute on at a time (no touch ups after drying) otherwise, one will see different shades.

    Kind Regards
    Ismail
     
  13. slummies
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    slummies Noob

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    ismail, great stuff you got there.

    I was thinking instead of using copox which you said changes pH and all that, cant you "paint" marine silicone on? and come to think of it. we build climbing wall grips here with resin. hmm i wonder if that would work!

    well done mate
     
  14. ismail
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    ismail Algae harvester

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    Hi
    @ slummies: I'm sure sealing the background will prevent the effects on the water chemistry, but I have no experience with that.
    I tried doing some research in that regard when I was building the background, and the only stuff I came across was some guys that sealed their's with epoxy resin. However, the guys had problems with the type of resin used, it also affected the water, so I abandoned that idea.

    Silicone does not affect the water quality, but it is generally 'opaque', and I don't know if it can be 'painted' on.
    Your idea is correct - just find the right stuff to do it! :)

    Kind Regards
    Ismail
     
  15. slummies
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    slummies Noob

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    i think this is somthing to look at. if you can get the right paint (a hardware store should help you out) to paint on 1st and then silicone it it should look good. ill venture into this once my tank is up and running ;D

    thanks ismail
     
  16. Rattail
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    Rattail Algae harvester

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    I think the cost will be scary :eek:
     
  17. slummies
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    slummies Noob

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    much cheaper than copex. it all depens on how big is my guess.

    i would use the copex for a malawi tank.

    Ismail: could you do a report on how your pH is looking since you put it in?
     
  18. ismail
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    ismail Algae harvester

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    Hi
    The strip test still shows 7.2. I am waiting for a new probe for my pH meter, should be here next week.
    Will post the readings when available.

    @ slummies; the coprox should work 100% for a malawi setup. In fact, i have seen a tank on the net where the guy also built his base with the same stuff, including caves and such, and leaving areas for the substrate. But then, you will be using much more coprox. Look at the links in my first post for some ideas- most of the guys also incorporate the plumbing and heating behind or into the background. :)

    Kind Regards
    ismail
     
  19. turando101
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    turando101 Algae harvester

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    IF the pH is not a problem I see this as something that can be used for any type of tank.
    For example if you are going to do an Amazone river....use a darker color of the coprox (dark brown/black) and shape branches from additional pieces of styrofoam...fit these to the background to simulate a riverbank....
    basically look at pictures of the habitat and design and build what you want to have.
    Cheers,
    KarelM
     
  20. Zombie
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    Zombie Noob

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    Guys I have been busy making a rock background for some time now, only difference I am using food grade apoxy resin.

    With cement you pH will climb for a while because of the lime in it. Best way around that fill tank with background in place, add rock salt and run for a few days, repeat for a few days with full water changes and more salt

    After that clean tank repeat without rock salt this time and that should solve your problem.
     

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