It started off with the Tropheus. I ogled these fish at the LFS and fell in love. Such animation and color, I had to have some. I bought 6 my first time out and placed them in my 25g Eclipse…. then I found out that they would need something much bigger. So this is where it all came together.
The main goal I was trying to achieve was to have a very low maintenance tank. This is why I considered trying a DIY background. Also, much inspiration came from the beautiful tanks I have seen out here on the Cichlid-Forum that have DIY backgrounds. I figured "What the heck, I have to try it."
I read both of the DIY Background directions from Mike and Paul. I used tips from both to start on my DIY background. The one thing I wanted to try was building rock formations and caves… all would be permanent in my background. From what I could tell, building rock formations and caves had not been tried using foam and concrete. I thought I could get it to work… so here is how I did it!
I found a used 55g tank with stand, lights, filters, and the works. I cleaned the inside of the tank using antibacterial cleanser and water. I also used a blade to scrape off old deposits.
Off to the store I went…. local craft store. I purchased ˝" thick styrofoam for the back of the tank and various shapes of foam to build my rock formations. Styrofoam cones and balls, along with 2 can of Great Stuff and 2 tubes GE Silicon I. 1 bag of Quickqrete Quickwall, black, blonde, and brown cement pigment. I think I had everything I needed to get started.
I placed the ˝" thick foam in the back of my tank using the silicon, making sure to seal all the seams. I also put foam backing on one side of the tank because this side would be against the wall. Once the backing was in place, I started to place the foam cones on the bottom of the tank using silicon. I took the foam balls and cut them in half and placed them in various positions on the back of the tank. Then the Great Stuff comes into play. I went nuts with this stuff! I sprayed big mounds of it in the bottom of the tank and dotted it along the back of the tank to give it some depth and character.
The photo below shows the first stages of the background. For the caves, I used a knife and spoon to dig into the Great Stuff, I did this in several places, creating about 5 caves. I also put on the first coat of cement. I used the brown pigment and it was way too dark so I put on a second thin coat of lighter pigment. The darker pigment bled through in some places causing an interesting effect. I also placed some plants in various places to get a feel for how it would turn out.