I am a first time poster. But I have been reading this forum for many years. Reading about other background projects gave me inspiration, so I wanted to return the favor and maybe show something a little different. I also wanted to mention that I too successfully used 'GE Silicone I Door Window Attic', after much, much debate about spending extra money on "aquarium safe" silicone.
Since the day I first saw someone's tank filled with beautiful Tropheus Ikola and fake flagstone rocks I have longed for that setup. If someone knows the person or tank I am referring to I would greatly appreciate the info, as I can no longer find them.
So after some inspiration from this forum and a few others (not to mention a gob of free time), I figured it was time to give it a shot on a smaller scale (29 gallons). Since it has worked out so wonderfully I will some day attempt it again on a much larger scale (although it could be another 10 years).
I purchased a used 29 gallon 'All Glass Aquarium' with iron stand and hood from a very nice person off Craigslist $50,
Krylon Paint $3
Painting tape $3
1 inch thick styofoam (blue) $18 (used $6 worth)
Razor blade cutter $7
Steak knife $2
Coarse rasp $9
2 tubes of GE Silicone I Clear Door Window Attic and Gun $15
Quikrete: Masonry Mix, acrylic fortifier, color (charcoal & buff) $22
Styrofoam cooler for mixing cement $3
Paint brushes for cement $3
Gloves for cement $5
Aquaclear 70 filter (very happy with this size, but will still add a power head for circulation) $40
Aqueon Heater 250 watts (it happened to be cheaper than the smaller ones) $25.
Play Sand $3
Total $208 on the high side.
Painting the background black
I thoroughly cleaned the tank with vinegar water, then covered all the surfaces that I did not want black paint on with newspaper and tape (including the inside of the tank). The tank and light fixture came with wood trim, so I elected to paint them black as well. 3 coats of black Krylon, using the directions on the can.
Making the rocks
I don't particularly care for the all rock backgrounds. By making each rock individually I was able to keep a little extra space in the tank, and it was easier to silicone them in. I also wanted to have additional rocks in the foreground, so that all the rocks would match. Having a background different than the foreground always takes the realism away for me. Kind of like having a coral tape on, with guppies and grass in a tank.
The PICTURES & Steps: I hope you don't mind a slideshow. If you do, clicking on the 'X' at the bottom will take you to all the pictures.