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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Alright, I have a 125 gallon 72 1/2 x 18 1/2 x 23 1/2. I'm going to make my own background. I have all of the supplies, but have a couple questions. I'm hoping some of you that have made them already could help? Before I design it, I was wondering if I put a top shelf that sticks out far enough to put pillars for top dwellers, would that effect my flow? Using Fluval FX6 and a Fluval CP4 for flow. I was thinking of one on each end and one in the middle as far as the top shelves go and then some mid and lower in various places. The next thing is airbrushing. If I put a coat of quickcrete/drylock on after I have it designed, would my regular airbrush paints stand up to it when I go to put another coat of the drylock over it? Anyone ever tried that? I thought it would be easier for me to airbrush it. I also thought about making a ship or a cool broken sunken bridge if I could use the airbrush. Rust and green colors, maybe some barnacles? How is the drylock on small detail pieces? I know, just try it on a sample piece...just didn't want to waste my time if someone has already tried it.
 

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Depends on how big of "shelf" you are talking as well as where your outflow from your filters are placed in relation to the shelf. Worse case scenario if it were to block circulation would be easily solved by simply adding a small power head to help circulate. Drylok is a very thick paint you will not be able to use it in an airbrush it would clog the needle and seat up with in a couple of seconds. Paint it with plastic safe paints which are safe for in tank use and then seal it with pond armor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the quick response Steve. You have made some amazing backgrounds! I guess I should have worded it better. I want airbrush with my paint, not the drylock. I was going to put a coat of the drylock on first, let it dry, then airbrush it, then more of the drylock or pond sealer. I assume it is somewhat clear after drying? I use createx paint that is water based and non toxic. What brand of pond sealer do you recommend? I am using styrofoam to shape/sculpt it. As far as circulation, I should be good. The Fluval CP4 is a power head.
 

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Got ya, I thought you meant you were wanting to airbrush on the drylok at first lol. If you airbrush paint on then that would be the last thing you want to apply before the clean coat. Because drylok is not transparent, it comes in white or gray only. So you'd want to do the drylok first, then paint on top of the drylok, then seal over that. There are a couple different sealer people have used but personally I like the Pond Shield pond armor clear coat sealer the best. It isn't cheap ($70 for the smallest kit of 1.5qt) but it works great and lasts pretty much forever once applied.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Ok, got it Steve. Thanks again for the help. You are the background master from what *** read and seen on here. I know mine won't hold a candle to one of yours, but I'm gonna give it a whirl. Have you tried to make objects with small pieces? Example, if I were to make a rope bridge, the rope would probably be pencil size around, carved from the styrofoam. Would the drylock harden it so it won't break easy? Just a thought? I thought it would be cool to make the broken bridge hanging down with the shipwreck that hit it nearby. Maybe some rum barrels and a treasure chest scattered about. I'm using the black and white Cichlid sand/substrate for the bottom.
 

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I've done smaller things like stalactites that hang down from the upper rim on my 240g, but it's hard to do objects that are down on the floor of the tank because with styrofoam being so buoyant it makes it hard to secure smaller items on the tank floor without them wanting to pull off the floor and raise to the surface. The drylok and pond armor will help to harden the foam, but I would think it would still break if hit while doing tank maintenance and such if it were still too thin a piece.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yeah, I forgot about tank maintenance. Probably right there. I also read the lengthy discussion of silicone. It seems to me, one person disagrees/agrees with the next. Lol! What do you use if you don't mind me asking? I bought the GE II window and door? My local fish store also sells the aquarium type if needed? Pretty sure I have everything else besides the pond sealer. Going to get that. I'm fixing to start sealing my sheets together and start carving away, but don't want to use something that will kill my fish. Bonus for me - my tank wasn't made with support bars across. Easy to install. Once I start my project, I'll post some pics here.
 

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Yep be sure to share pics along the way I always like to see others projects on stuff like this. As to the silicone I would not use the GE II personally. I always use GE Silicone *1. Have used that for many years now with now issues what so ever so that is what I would recommend you use. I've hear more than one person have fish deaths after using GE II. It is thought that the mildew inhibitor in the #2 one is deadly to fish. The GE*1 is for sure safe though so use that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Ok, thanks again. I'm getting ready to head out and get the pond sealer now, so I'll pick up some GE I while I'm out and use it instead.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I know it's been a while, but I'm just now getting around to my background. I've siliconed my sheets together. I'm fixing to start drawing out a sunken pirate ship seen and try to carve it out into somewhat 3 dimensional shapes. I'm going to hide/incorporate the intake and return into it. Also going to try and make something to hide my Fluval CP4 power head, but make sure it's still adjustable for flow/direction. After carving, dry locking, I'm going to try and Airbrush it, then seal it. This is going to be really challenging (for me) and hopefully it doesn't end up looking like a pos. As mentioned above, I'm using an FX6. Couple questions. Would a simple 3" round slotted plastic cover work for the intake grate to get to my hidden one? Would 2" round pvc pipe be acceptable to extend/tunnel my 2 return chutes through the background if needed? I plan to seal the background so that the only water behind it will be at the intake and return. Making no possible way for fish to get behind it. All male tank, so no fry worries. I'll post some pics as I go along. Probably slow. Lol! Wish me luck! Any and all feedback would be appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Ok, here's the big mess I'm starting with. 6' long, 6" at the thickest point. Rough drafted in a sketch needed to start carving away. It looks like a road map. Lol! I'll post some more pics in the next couple days after I whittle off about 1/3 of it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I got the back cut out before the festivities today. I still have to cut one of the return holes. It will be at an angle shooting out towards the middle of the tank. The one cut will be angled to break the surface. I put the intake grate in slightly just to show where it will be. Maybe more work tomorrow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Ok, I got it all carved out. I also made the other hole for returns. The second hole isn't in this pic though. *** got the first coat of quickcrete/drylock on. I'll probably get two more coats on it tomorrow. I'll get some pics of it after it dries. Anyhow, here it is carved out. Can you find the ship parts?
 

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Nice job on the background so far!! I've never tried this type of DIY background as it seems like a lot of work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks Deeda! If I were just carving the rocks/caves, it wouldn't have been to bad. It was the three ship sections and the dock where I had to be careful when it got to thinner parts that had to be cut fairly deep. I just wanted something different than the normal rock formation. I put a couple more coats of the drylock on it today. I forgot to get pics of it, I'll get a couple up tomorrow. The airbrushing should bring it to life. Wanting some color and 3D/depth effect. Hoping my skills are good enough, never done anything large scale, just T-shirt's, hats and stuff.That is what will take the most time I think. With all that said, I think if you can use a caulking gun,a Dremel, a sharp knife and a brush, you could make a really nice rock formation background without any problems. You should try it if you have the spare time. Steve C., which I'm sure you know from here, has the best threads on these in my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Ok, I have the background siliconed in. My camera is a POS. Lol! It doesn't show the 3D depth and all colors. The reflection from the vertical blinds and the tv don't help either. I'll try to get better pics in the next day or two. It looks way better than these pics. It may be because of the Zetlight led lights? I still have clamps holding a glass center brace. The tank didn't have one, but it bowed about 1/4 inch when filling, so I added it for safety. I have an FX6 and added a SunSun HW-302 for the Hydor heater. Both hooked up and running. Still have to hook up the Fluval CP4, Cichlid sand, rocks etc. Install the hospital tank underneath. Then put the doors and hood/top on the stand.
 

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Looks good! It can be very difficult to take pics of tanks especially when you have lights, windows or reflective surfaces behind you when you snap the pic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
After double checking everything, I added Carib-Sea cichlid sand today. It's still a little cloudy from it. Installed the Fluval CP4. I didn't make a rock cover as planned for it, may do it later. I put in a couple plants, a gator head and the skeleton at the broken helm. I have enough flow in the tank that the skeleton moves without using air. I have one more thing to add inside the tank. I'm going to put in a small circle bubbler in to emulate a waterfall. Hoping I can position it to look as if it is coming from one of the cave holes. We'll see? I got the hospital tank in and running also. Now it's time to tidy up my wiring. I have some harness for that. I have to install the three led lights for each door/compartment. Anyhow, here are a couple more pics and a video. Ignore the popping/cracking in the video, my heeler is chewing on some rawhide. Lol!

 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Sorry, I didn't code the video right. Here it is.

 
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