DIY - Projects & Ideas • DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

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Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Postby Kipnlilo » Wed Jul 03, 2019 11:45 pm

Looking good! Keep the updates coming!
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Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Postby Chasmodes » Fri Jul 05, 2019 8:23 am

Thank you Kipnlilo!

I'm almost finished with the roots! I only have one more coat of paint to dab on there. I brushed on a thick coat of dark brown last week, and this yesterday, dabbed on a lighter color of brown with the sponge. I will dab on an even lighter coat this weekend to finish up the painting.

Here's a pic taken when I was finished, no flash.
Image

It was hard to see any detail in this picture under the room lighting. So, I took one using the flash on my phone.
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I liked how the flash shows more detail, so I put the roots in the tank. Then, I brought in the two shop lights and put them over my tank and lit up the background and snapped these pics. First, full tank shot:
Image

Zoomed in on the roots:
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Looking in from the right front view of the tank:
Image

I'm pretty happy with how they turned out so far. Next steps after the last coat will be another dabbed on coat of paint for highlighting. Then, I may seal it in with tile adhesive...I'm not sure yet. I'm a little concerned about durability, because I had some cracking and a soft spot. I don't understand why that happened, but maybe the tile adhesive will cinch things up. I have some silicone mess to scrape off the right side of the tank too.

I am planning on going fishing this weekend, and my plan is to gather some rocks and gravel from the river. If I can do that, then I can start running the tank! I need to purchase lighting for this tank too, so I will do that soon. I want an LED fixture that can grow plants. It will be nice to get the 75g stream tank done so I can focus on finishing my oyster reef build.
-Kevin Wilson
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Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Postby Kipnlilo » Fri Jul 05, 2019 10:48 am

It’s going to look fabulous! I’m imaging running water in it soon. Lol!
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Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Postby Chasmodes » Fri Jul 05, 2019 11:42 am

Thank you Kipnlilo. I can't wait to get it up and running.
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Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Postby Chasmodes » Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:46 pm

News on the 75g stream tank: First, I went on a fishing trip this past Saturday, and successfully collected enough river rock for my tank. I need to get some sand and some smaller rocks and gravel still, maybe this weekend. I decided on the new lighting fixture that I want, a Fluval Planted 3.0. It should be perfect for this tank. I will order this light fixture very soon.

Last night, I dabbed on the last coat of paint with a sponge to give it some highlights of a lighter color. I think it turned out OK. It doesn't look that much different than the last time I took pics. I put my shop lights over the tank and took a few pics at different angles.

Full tank shot:
Image

From the left front corner of the tank:
Image

Close up of the roots in front:
Image

Right front corner of the tank view:
Image

Basically, my roots and background are almost done. If it wasn't for the next step, that I just decided to do, that will happen as soon as I can. I decided to seal in and protect my work on the background and roots with a clear coat epoxy called Polygem 1319. I've read good things about it. For example, it looks not so great without water in the tank, that it shows a shiny coat when dry, but in the water the shiny coat disappears and you can't tell that there is epoxy on there. It dries hard as a rock, seals everything in underneath, and is very durable. It's used by public aquariums and museums. So, I ordered a quart of it, and it should arrive in a few days, hopefully in time for the weekend. Anyone ever use this stuff before?

I figured that I put so much time and effort into this stuff, that it would be a shame to ruin it. The Drylok is great, but, all it takes is a scrape from some sort of cleaning tool to chip off some foam or Drylok and you have an ugly pink spot. The rock wall background and roots are actually pretty fragile. I'm sure that I could easily chip off the grout, so this epoxy will help the roots too. So, for now, another week, probably.
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Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Postby Chasmodes » Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:26 am

After doing some research, I probably will not use the Polygem 1319 on my rock wall. Apparently, it melts foam. I don't know what will happen with foam covered in Drylok. I may try a test piece, but, this stuff apparently gets very hot. I don't want to chance ruining the look of the rock wall.

As for the roots, I think that I will test it on a small section of the roots near the bottom that will be covered in rocks and substrate anyway. I can always add more grout and paint it again. Since the roots are covered in both Drylok and grout, maybe the heat won't be an issue. If it works, then I'll test a small section of the knob. If all goes well with the tests, then I'll apply it to the entire structure.

I originally wanted something to firm up the grout anyway. I thought that maybe it would be a good thing to do with the foam. After researching, there aren't many options for clear coating over already painted foam. There are plenty of coatings that are white that you have to paint, but, for me, that isn't an option.
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Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Postby Deeda » Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:58 am

SteveC on this forum uses Pond Shield pond armor clear coat sealer to seal his DIY backgrounds if that's any help. You may want to PM him for suggestions or questions.
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Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Postby Chasmodes » Thu Jul 11, 2019 11:00 am

Thank you Dee!
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Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Postby Chasmodes » Fri Jul 12, 2019 7:25 am

I talked to the Dave at Polygem, nice guy. He said that the heat wouldn't be a problem because you apply a thin coat, so any heat generated should be minimal.

Since I don't have to worry about mixing colors, he said that when using the clear coat, it would be better to mix up small batches and apply it in sections at a time, especially with the roots where it might take more time to apply because of the shape complexity. And, he agreed with me about testing it first.

As it turns out, they have a better product, 1618, that cures much faster. Next time, I'll get that instead...same price. There is a possibility that I might need more for this project. He answered all of my questions and took the time to really explain things. In a nutshell, great customer service.
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Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Postby Kipnlilo » Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:49 pm

I’m with Deeda here. SteveC turned me on to the Pond Shield Pond Armor. Great stuff!
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Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Postby Chasmodes » Thu Jul 18, 2019 7:50 am

Thanks Kipnlilo. I already ordered and received the Polygem 1319. I'm pretty confident that it be OK. Depending on the results, if I need more clear coat, I may consider the Pond Armor if things don't go well. If my tests go well, and I use all of it up, I might get their better product though. I'll post results. At least everyone will know if there is another product out there that will do the job or not in case Pond Armor goes out of business or something. If the tests fail, then I'll purchase the Pond Armor. Thanks for the recommendation everyone.
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Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Postby Kipnlilo » Thu Jul 18, 2019 9:23 pm

You’re right though. It would be nice to know another product that works. Keep us informed.
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Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Postby Chasmodes » Mon Jul 29, 2019 8:30 am

75 gallon stream tank update: As you may know, I purchased a quart of Polygem 1319 a few weeks ago. I mixed up a small batch and tested it on a piece of foam that was half painted with Drylok, to see if any chemical or heat changes might affect either the Drylok or the foam.

Then, I painted some on a small section of the roots, and had so much leftover that I just decided to go ahead full force on the roots. I painted the epoxy on about 3/4 of the root structure from the front and sides. Everything went very well on the tests and the roots. On the test foam/Drylok piece, I only painted one side. It was so strong afterwards that I could not break the foam. This product will protect the wall nicely and there were no problems with regard to heat or chemical reaction to the foam.
Image

I finished the roots last night with a coating of epoxy on the back side, and then started painting the epoxy on the rock wall. Here's a pic before I finished the back side (facing up in this pic).
Image

I had a fair amount of epoxy mixed up, so I went full force on the wall. I got about 95% done before the product was too thick to apply. I will have to finish it up tonight. I would have mixed up another batch, but, I ran out of protective gloves. I checked everything this morning and the wall looks great with a nice epoxy coating over most of it. I can't wait to finish it tonight.

The roots were hard as a rock this morning, just what I needed to happen. I feel confident that they will hold up well in the tank. The only flaw is a drop or two of epoxy that dripped from the last coat onto the front side that looks like a drop. I'm hoping that it will disappear or not be noticeable underwater. Otherwise, I'm very happy with the results.

This stuff reflects a lot of light and is very shiny, but, supposedly, when you fill the tank with water, you can't tell the epoxy is there. I hope that is the case. Polygem 1319 fully cures in a week, so, next Monday, I should be able to add water to the tank and test everything out! Woo Hoo! That means that I should be able to start scaping the tank in the meantime. I have rocks and small stones, but I still need some creek sand and gravel.

I should have the tank up and cycling in less than two weeks, then it's time to collect some fish!
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Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Postby Chasmodes » Tue Jul 30, 2019 8:06 am

I am nearly done. Last night, I tried to apply epoxy to the last bit of rock wall on the right side of the tank. I thought that I was done, until this morning, when I discovered that there are a couple spots that need some that I missed. So, I'll mix up a small batch tonight and finish the job. But, essentially, I'm done and ready to set the tank up.

Next steps, rockscape with the river rocks that I collected and washed. Add sand/gravel that I still need to collect. Then, fill and cycle the tank. Purchase my new light fixture.
And, finally, collect fish. It should be up, running and cycling next week.

Two things to notice, the bright shiny reflections are annoying to me, but, apparently, they disappear under water. I hope that's the case. On the roots, there are three or four "drops" that dried on the front when I finished the back side that are pretty obvious. I think that I will try and sand or grind them down. Other than that, I'm pretty happy with how they turned out.

I'm a little nervous, because this is the scary part, adding water. Will the rock wall hold up? It fits tightly into place, and is heavily attached with silicone. Will the roots float with the little bit of foam in them? Or, are they heavy enough to stay on the bottom? We will see when I add water...the final test.

Here are some pics of the wall and roots as they look now in my tank:
Image
Image
Image
Image
-Kevin Wilson
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Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Postby Deeda » Tue Jul 30, 2019 5:27 pm

I like the look and also hope the glossy look disappears under the water.
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