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Customizing and Installing a 3D Background
by Chuck Greene (forest109)

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This completes the background installation. However, there is one additional item to consider. As I mentioned earlier, all backgrounds currently on the market are sized for metric tank dimensions. Although the width of my background was fine, and required trimming less than an inch, the installed height was slightly less than ideal, with the top being above the level of the bottom of the tank trim but up to an inch below the glass-top canopy. This might not appear to be a problem, but African cichlids can be jumpers, and after stocking the aquarium with a couple of dozen juveniles I soon discovered them "disappearing", in this case over the background and into the space beyond. From experience I can tell you that it will be extremely difficult to catch any fish that make the leap. In my setup the space beyond is fairly tight and packed with tubing and equipment, and the convolutions in the background provide them with plenty of hiding spaces! I tried everything to trap them, with no success. It finally took a full day to catch two that had grown to adult size behind the background, and I had to work leaning in and looking down from above since the tank is in a wall enclosure. It was not fun! As I said above, small fry can make their way through the return inlet mesh grills, so be prepared for that unless you use a finer mesh fine for the grilles, although that may restrict the flow a bit. I have had no problems at all with debris clogging the grills.

I eventually solved the over-the-wall problem by installing a "fence" across the top of the background, using strips of thin, flexible clear plastic cut from the flat top of a produce container, with plastic toothpick "fence posts" glued to each strip. However, not any glue will work, as it is notoriously difficult to bond plastic to plastic. I found one product that actually works well, Loctite Plastic Bonder. I pressed the toothpicks into the top of the background, following the contour and leaving a fraction of an inch above and below for air circulation.

Automotive tire Automotive lighting Bumper Asphalt Wood

Below is what the finished installation looks like from the front and above.

Wood Rectangle Bedrock Flooring Gas

Air gun Trigger Wood Gun barrel Automotive exterior

I hope this provides some useful information to assist anyone considering installing a 3D background. The basic installation is not difficult, but with a little planning and additional effort you can create a realistic, natural looking display that complements the rest of the aquascaping and completely conceals all of your equipment.
Eye Plant Petal Tints and shades Font
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