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Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Wed Jul 31, 2019 12:51 pm

I think the shine won’t be as noticeable once underwater. And definitely once it gets a coating of aged tank scum. If you have a scrap of something with the epoxy coating on it, just stick it in an extra tank with water and see how it looks.

Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:46 am

Thank you Dee. Thanks for the tip skwerl, I'll try it tonight. I did a test piece with the foam and will dip it in my oyster reef tank.

Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:26 am

Oh man, I’m getting excited, water coming! It will look fine, the gloss tones down under water. Especially once your tank gets some natural growth if you let it.

Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Mon Aug 12, 2019 8:13 am

Thanks Kipnlilo. I didn't add water yet. I managed to scrape off the excess silicone from when I installed the wall. It was such a tight fit that, when I pushed the third section back, some silicone smeared on the of the glass. Some of the epoxy also went on the glass, but, surprisingly to me, it scraped off easily. I moved the tank almost into position where it will be set up. After I paint the Drylok on the outsides of the tank on the sides to hide the pink foam and silicone ugliness, then I'll push the tank into position and set it up. I hauled a bucket full of river rocks that I collected down to the basement (sweating profusely), but still need to collect some sand and gravel. I will do the rockscaping first, then fill in with sand and gravel. I didn't want to add all those rocks and then have to move the tank.

I need to redo my spray bar, which is easy to make. I will make it longer and have only one point of entry into the tank. There isn't room in the back where the stand pipe drops in, so it will be dropped in from the front. I want to use a glass top, so, to solve my access problem, I'll just flip the top around so it opens from the back, and the plastic cutaway section is in the front, where the spray bar will have a cut out. You won't be able to see the spray bar because of the roots.

The spray bar will shoot current over the top of the roots and across the surface of the tank. Hiding in the roots is a large powerhead that will drive a large amount of stream current. The roots and rocks will break it up and create small eddies. That's the goal. I placed the powerhead along the glass and the roots hide it nicely. You can see it from the right side of the tank looking through that glass, but, not so much from the front unless you're all the way on the right side. I'm pretty happy with how that worked out.

Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Tue Sep 03, 2019 8:49 am

I made progress, but... A couple days ago, I remembered that there is a stream close to my house where I could drive up and park right next to the water. So, I went and checked it out, and sure enough, there was a gravel/sand bar that looked great. The colors and size were perfect. Then, yesterday, I screened, washed and sifted the gravel. Here's a tip though. When you have to carry a 5 gallon bucket worth of wet gravel or rocks to your house from the vehicle, and then downstairs, it's much easier to divide it into two 5 gallon buckets and carry it in balanced. A month ago, when I collected the rocks, I carried the full 5 gallon bucket down and it wasn't fun. Also, washing creek gravel took a lot more time than washing store bought gravel. It seemed like it took forever. I think that I spent a good 3 hours or more washing it. Anyway, here it is divided into the two buckets:

Then, I took the rocks out of the bucket and sorted them out by size and shape, and set aside the ones that I wanted to be seen the most and arranged them on my workbench (which is the stand that I built for my 100g oyster reef tank).

After that, I went ahead and rockscaped the tank, then filled it with water. This was a test run, to see if the wall held up and the roots didn't float. I also set up the powerhead and checked out the current. It ran perfectly. I didn't use this design to achieve unidirectional flow. Rather this current, along with the spray bar, should simulate a stream side eddy and undercut bank. I didn't take a picture because the water was still cloudy, and, I didn't have my canister filter set up. I will have that done tonight.

I also received the light that I ordered, a Fluval Planted 3.0. I'm really happy with it. I plugged it in, downloaded the phone app, and configured and previewed it. It's really cool. And, the best part is that, remember the shiny look of the epoxy after it finished drying, and I was worried about it? Well, what they advertise is true. It really does disappear underwater. Everything should look great when I'm finally done.

However, and now the but... I noticed that the roots stuck out of the water about 1/4", which is no big deal, but, it would have affected my ability to run the spray bar and shoot water over them to simulate the stream. I thought that maybe, when scaping the sand and rocks, that I just needed to adjust it, so, I pulled out the roots, moved the sand and rocks to the right side of the tank, and stuck the roots back in. And...they float. It isn't bad, but, it's enough to mess with my design concept. So, I unplugged everything and will work on fixing that asap. I pulled the roots out and set them in a container to drain them as water does get inside them. I'm not too worried about that because everything is inert that I used, and it enters very slowly. Although, I'm considering another coat of epoxy on areas where water might seep in, just in case.

The roots float at the top of the fixture, moving it away from the wall and up over the water surface. The bottom of the roots seems to stay down, somewhat because of sand and rocks, but, more because there was less foam used there. So, I think that I can leave the bottom alone, and design some sort of hook and latch system at the top, in the back, out of sight, that will hold the roots down.

Next steps include fixing the roots, draining the tank, scooping out the rocks, sand and gravel, add sand and gravel again, rescape the tank, refill it, cycle it, add fish.

The good news is that the back wall held in place, and is firmly attached. I don't think that it's going anywhere. And, the tank doesn't leak. I was worried about spray foam expansion damaging the glass seams, but, they're OK. And, the epoxy shine disappears underwater.

I'm almost there folks. There will be fish in it soon!

Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Thu Sep 05, 2019 5:54 am

I'm new to this forum so first I want to thank you for being so thorough about what you are doing and how you are doing each step along the way. It's encouraging to me because I've been wanting to build a paludarium and wanted to have a similar type of "stone" rock wall background complete with a waterfall above the water surface. I also wanted to have a similar "shale" look for the stone. I have heard "great minds follow similar paths". I'm sure about yours but will let others decide about mine. On the serious side however, I was thinking about your "floating roots" and wondered if drilling up from the bottom of each root and inserting stainless bolts possibility with epoxy might add enough weight to solve this issue. Thanks again.

Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Thu Sep 05, 2019 7:43 am

Thank you so much LongJohnSilver for the compliments and the suggestion. If you post a build thread on here, please let me know, as I'd love to follow your progress.

As far as solving the floating root problem, I started to take a simple approach, one that's worked for me for many things...zip ties :). Last night, I drilled a hole in the back corner of the roots, where it sits next to the standpipe. I also drilled two holes in the standpipe. I'm going to run a black zip tie through the hole in the roots and the two holes in the stand pipe, and since it up very tight. It should be out of sight too, for the most part. I didn't finish last night because I still need to drain the tank, and remove the gravel and rocks. Then, I'll be able to finish attaching the root, rescape the tank again, and fill it.

Last night, I also put together a new spray bar out of 1/2" CPVC pipe and some fittings. I'm not going to glue the actual spray bar until I finish adjusting the angle for the current, so it goes over the roots the way that I want. I'll glue the parts between the hose connection and the actual bar connection, but not the bar itself. All I need to do is paint it, so I probably won't get to that until Friday. Then, I will test the canister filter that I got for free, for functionality or leaks, and also make sure that the spray bar works as planned. If all goes well, I'll start cycling the tank.

I should post a lessons learned...I need to put some thought into it. So far, my biggest regret was that I let the fear of failing slow me down. I questioned my own ideas way too much. Knowing what I know now, rather than taking three years on and off to get to this point, If I had to do it again, I could easily get it all done in a month or two, faster if I really dedicated the majority of my time to it. My problem is that I have too many hobbies to distract me. I also have a passion for fishing and fossil collecting.

Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Wed Sep 11, 2019 8:38 am

This past weekend, between fishing trips, I made some progress on the 75g stream tank. First, I drained the tank, took out the rocks, scooped out the gravel and cleaned out the silt. When I put the gravel in the first time, even though I sifted it for a couple hours while running a hose through it, it still had a bunch of silt in it.

When everything settled, the silt created a layer of scum that covered everything, including the roots and wall. It actually looked like what you'd see in a real creek. But, I cleaned it off with my hand and a sponge and cleaned the glass as best I could. Some of the silt made it's way into the crevices of the rock wall and root. It actually looks pretty realistic, so I may or may not try and clean them out. I'll wait until I fill the tank again.

I took the gravel and divided it up into two buckets, and decided to clean half at a time. It took me three hours to clean the first half, and it's not perfect, but much, much better. I think that I'll divide the other half in half again, and clean each of those 1/4 amounts one at a time. Maybe it will go faster.

Once I had everything out of the tank and finished cleaning the scum, I put the roots back in, measured where to anchor them, and zip tied them to the stand pipe (picture below). It's really secure now, won't budge, and certainly won't float again. The stand pipe is wedged in there tight to the tank and secure in the wall. I'm really happy how it turned out. There is plenty of room for my standpipe and over the roots current.

If I want to do maintenance to clean out the stand pipe, I need to remove the roots. The zip tie is easy, just cut, take the roots out, clean the standpipe, put everything back together and in, and then use another zip tie. Easy peazy.

After that, I put the mostly clean gravel into the tank, then snapped a pic. Under water, the glare from the epoxy completely disappears. This is the first pic with the new light fixture:

Next steps this weekend (hopefully, I can get them all done)
-wash the rest of the gravel and put in the tank
-redo the rockscape
-fill the tank and reset the circulation pump
-redo my spray bar for the canister filter
-set up and test the canister filter

The only thing else after that is to buy a glass top, cycle the tank, and then catch some fish for the tank.

Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Fri Sep 27, 2019 6:01 am

I was reviewing your to do list and noticed you need to "reset the circulation pump". Does that mean you will have a another pump in addition to one (I'm assuming ) that's in the canister filter? Also, what type/brand canister filter do you like? Thanks. Jeff

Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Fri Sep 27, 2019 11:13 am

Thank you for your questions Jeff. Yes, there are two pumps. One is a Hydor Koralia 3G Third Generation Circulation and Wave Pump that sits inside the root structure to provide current at the mid level of the tank. The other is a Fluval 405 canister filter where the return is a spray bar that goes over the roots to provide current across the tank surface. I'm hoping that this sufficiently mimics a stream undercut bank eddy.

Tank status: I've been out fishing a lot, but have spent a good amount of time washing the gravel that I collected. Man, it had a lot of silt in it. I'm 3/4 finished. I took me 4 hours to wash half a bucket last Sunday! I'll work on it this Sunday for the rest. After that, time to fill the tank!

Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Wed Oct 09, 2019 3:38 pm

Chasmodes wrote:Hi Everyone.

I've been working on a background for about a year and a half, and should be ready to install it in my tank soon. This background will be for a 75 gallon US Native stream/river tank, and I wanted to try and build a biotope that you might find in one of our local rivers, all of which have shale formations along the river bank. I also wanted to create something that I haven't seen before, so my intent was to have the faux slate stratification at a downward angle. Since much of my research came from this forum, and many of your paved the way for guys like me, I figured that it was time to give something back and show you not only what you've taught me, but what I figured out on my own as well, and we can finish this project together.

The background was carved out of styrofoam boards, then each glued at a 45 degree angle or so when they were done carving. I measured as I built it up. the gap behind the foam board and base were filled with spray foam and river rocks (to reduce buoyancy). I used Gorilla Glue to bond the styrofoam boards together and also used plastic popsicle sticks to help stabilize and bond them. On the left side, there is a PVC pipe that goes down into the background with an intake that I made for the intake tube of my canister filter. There is a removable section of carved foam covering it that allows me access to clean and clear the intake of debris. The part that sticks out of the left side hides the intake.

The pics and video below show what the background looks like today. In the subsequent posts, I'll show how I bought the stuffed
giant shark plush on cute plushies net and constructed it. Hope you all enjoy it and thank you for all of the posts of your backgrounds that helped me!

The paint is the second coat of Drylok, tinted to resemble the base rock color of our river cliffs. The first coat was just Drylok gray. I will be stippling lighter shades of this color a few times to make the rock less monotone and more realistic, and then finish with light color highlights. Construction steps to follow in the next posts. It may take me a few days to get this thread going to the point we are today. But, I'll start with my first steps.

This is something called super work. Really impressed!

Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Thu Oct 10, 2019 2:56 pm

Thank you James!!!

Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Tue Oct 22, 2019 11:31 am

I was able to pretty much finish the stream tank. I finished washing the gravel as best that I could, added it to the tank along with the river rocks that I collected, and rockscaped the tank. I'm not certain that I'll keep it this way. More than likely, I'll remove some of the river rocks. I kinda got carried away LOL. I also purchased a glass top that didn't fit correctly. But, it worked out, because I was able to trim the plastic pieces that come with it to make up the difference and give it a good fit. All I need to do with that is cut a couple of the corners to make room for the canister filter stand pipe intake tube and the spray bar. Oh, yeah, and I finished the spray bar. Once I get the glass cut, then I'll set up and run the canister filter. This should bring the river effect into full swing, adding current across the top of the roots and across the tank. The roots are cinched down tight and are doing their job well, hiding the powerhead.

Next up, cycle the tank, then collect and add fish.

Below are a few pics.

Front View:

Front Left Side:

Front Right Side:

Front View Sunset:

Here's a video:

Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Mon Nov 04, 2019 8:18 pm

The stream tank is completely done, ready for fish. Here's a video below. I still need to cycle it, but not a problem. I installed the canister filter and spray bar, and it is working just as planned, shooting current over top of the roots and across the top of the tank. The powerhead is hidden behind the roots and shoots current through the roots. There is an eddy effect, which is what I'm going for, so I'm happy with that. I also pulled a lot of the river rocks out, keeping my favorites, and I added a couple pieces of shale that I collected from a fossil site along a tributary of my river. I layered the rocks so that it appears that some sluff off of the wall (as Andy and Matt suggested) and will add a couple more soon. I have to dig them out of my fossil collection, LOL. I also have a preview of my sunrise to sunset feature of my light.


Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Sun Nov 10, 2019 2:06 am

Turned out really nice looking Kevin, I like it.
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