Saturday, October 25, 2014
Styrofoam-cement aquarium background
So, if you want a dramatic background, can have enough plants to limit the algae growth and have fish that tolerate higher pH values, here are the steps.
At first it seems like it is really complicated and that the chemistry of the water can be jacked up quite easily, but if you let the concrete cure for long enough and then rinse it for about a month, then you'd be fine.
First step, think about what you want your aquascape to look like. Then use styrofoam and silicone (make sure it is 100% silicone without mildew protection, as these chemicals would send your fish to heaven, provided they were good of course) to construct your dream. We used insulation foam from the hardware store (a lot cheaper than the foam at the crafts store).
We used standard hydraulic cement paint (the cure timing is lower than regular cement). Let this layer dry and apply a thicker coat. If I were to redo this project, I would force myself to apply 3 or 4 coats of concrete, as I was able to peel off some concrete when cleaning the tank later on. Don't make your layers too thick and spray water on the concrete regularly while it is curing. Otherwise, your concrete will crack when it cures. Don't apply a coat until the previous one is completely dry. Concrete takes a long time to cure (weeks). So, at least you want to wait a couple of days between layers. Once you are done, you can test fit again and then silicone the crud out of the back to attach it to the tank. Don't go stingy on the silicone now. You probably have gone through 10 - 15 tubes now, no reason to stop. If you go stingy, some pieces will float... you can ask my wife, the middle piece, that we called the fireplace, just took off and almost broke some lights. Let everything dry/cure for a week or more and pump the water in.
Now, you need to put a little circulation pump and a makeshift filter:
You can see in these pictures that we set up the tank in the family room. It was intended for the living room, but there is too much mess going on when you do this, it is better to have your project in a hidden room.
When the time finally came we added the plants and the fish.