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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After much research into aquarium safe products I came up with this.
This is a background I made using styrofoam and great stuff insulating foam in a can which I carved after it cured and applied thoroseal made by thorite.
I then finished it off with 2 coats of drylok and black moon sand.
The thoroseal and drylok are safe for ponds according to the manufacturers.
The reason for the drylok is because the thoroseal was causing very high ph even after a month of cirulating water and total water changes.
Now the ph is fine and all is well.

If I were to do this again I would only use a thin backing of styrofoam and build on it with the insulating foam in a can. with the middle section I did just that. It was much easier to cut and carve and it was much cleaner than little specks of styrofoam going everywhere I think there is some still in my naval, yuck.
This took 2 10 oz tubes of aquarium safe silicone but I could have used 3 for finshing touches.






 

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Awesome! I love the colors... was it originally all one shade of grey or did you use some kind of tint in your drylok?
P.S. Tiki "rocks"
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
that is the color of the drylok. I am very pleased with that product.
I find it disturbing that many people do these projects with the assumption that if a product says it's water proof they assume it is tank safe.
One of the most time consuming and laborious aspects of this project was not the construction but the research trying to find fish safe products.
 

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Your tank look amazing. What is drylok and were can I find it? I am looking in to getting a new tank and want to try a DIY background. I just hope mine comes out as good as yours.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Drylok is a water proofer used mainly for basement walls and can be purchased at hardware stores
and the larger hardware stores. The color I bought was gray and I sprinkled moonsand on the second coat while it was wet. I was going to fill the gaps in but never got around to it.
thanks for the compliments and good luck with your own projects.
 

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Thank you. I hope to try making some blocks out of Great Stuff this weekend, and see how it carves up. The Drylock might be just the ticket, especially with several shades of sand. Finally a use for all those extra bits of substrate! lol
 

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Mfarmarco, sorry to bother you again, but more questions. lol

Do you know if drylock will stick to bare styrofoam? I contacted UGL for info on tinting Drylock, and just was told their product is only for concrete and masonry. I made the mistake of mentioning styrofoam.

If no to the above, then do I need to coat the styrofoam with thoroseal and then Drylock? Looking at your pics again, your background seems to have a bit of rock like texture. Is this from the thoroseal? Or are you a real whiz at carving?? :D

Thanks again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I am not sure how it would be straight on styrofoam.
The texture of the drylok is like a thick gritty pancake batter.
Best I could say is try it on a small piece of styrofoam and if you like the results go for it.
The thoroseal won't be necessary because it will be coated with the drylok besides the thoroseal requires that you mix in an additive and after purchasing the additive and thoroseal you are up to $50 or more US.
Good luck
 

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Nice looking background !

A few questions:

- you stated that you would use thinner styro and then put Great Stuff on to make the 3D texture. does the Great stuff stick to the styro, harden and then you carve it ?

- when you mount the background to the tank, do you silicone it in so that no water is able to get between the back glass and the styro background ?

- did you make your filteration an integral part of the background ? Or, is the filteration a separate system ?

Thx. It looks great. I have a new 75 that I am taking my time ( too much time ! ) thinking out all the various parts; DIY background, DIY sump, DIY stand, DIY canopy. Thankfully, I have my 55 to look at !
 

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This is very helpful. I'm still in the planning stages and even after looking through numerous threads it is hard for me to feel certain I know what are the best (most effective + 100% safe) materials to use.

On that note I too want to ask, are you saying based on your experience the ideal way to do it is
the following?

1. take one thin piece of styrafoam for the backing.
2. apply great stuff insulating foam directly to the styrafoam as please to design rocks.
3. let it cure.
4. carve it.
5. apply drylock directly above this (or, despite the fact it raises the PH, a thin layer of thoroseal made by thorite is necessary before applying the drylock)?

as someone who has never done this the more clarity i can have on what people have done the better. and yours looks great plus it so
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The heater, filter intake and return are behind a void I made in the rear left wall. The nozzle for the return is simply higher than the wall itself .
Since this is my first project I can only tell you what I experianced .
IF I were to do this again I would use one sheet of 2x styrofoam and build onto that with great stuff insulating foam. Let that cure then carve it. Then I would coat it with a cement to provide
a hard surface . I did not use ordinary cement so I don't know what to expect with if you use regular cement. After the cement is fully cured I would coat it with the drylok to seal it .
After that is fully cured I would fasten it to the glass with fish safe silicone.
I did not coat the rear of the wall with cement or drylok. I only applied silicone to the styrofoam.
In my opinion the drylok was a godsend . I was waiting forever for the ph to go down .
The drylok has zero affect on ph unlike concrete.
Make sure you get the latex based drylok though.
Goodluck, Mike
 

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thanks mike. by far most helpful post i've read on DIY backgrounds. this is what i'm going to try when i get the chance
 

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That's a great looking tank, love the background. Which version of Great Stuff did you use? I saw three different ones: small cracks, windows and doors and large gap filler. I'm assuming the large gap filler but I wanted to make sure before I started picking up supplies.
 

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i just made a rock wall waterfall with Great stuff ,Drylock and Hydrostop cement.

i drylocked the wall then put the great stuff right on top, then added a thick layer of hydrostop then i used cement coloring and drylock to paint it up.

the great stuff is a polyurathane foam and acts like a glue, it will stick to most surfaces very well.

there is one problem, i found that the cement can make the foam contract a small amount. if you just use drylock it may cause a air gap right behind the drylock.

I am not sure if this is normal with the high expansion foam or caused by the drylock and cement.
 

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Where is the info on the diy canopy?

Another thing about the styrofoam for the other people wanting to do this. Is that if you do not put on enough cement/drylock the styrofoam can break off and float to the top. It is very buoyant and needs to be weighed down. The silicone will keep the main parts stuck to the back but the rock designs you make on top of that can break right off.

Looks good though. :thumb:
 

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The thread is 5 months old, what do you expect when you go digging back that far?
 
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