This artificial rockscape attempts to recreate a setting of layered sedimentary
rock where uneven and broken surfaces provide unintentional opportunity for
plants to take root and schools of fish to thrive.
Click here for step by step instructions on how to build your own DIY aquarium
DIY Aquarium Background
This 90 gallon DIY background was built
using 1 1/2 inch thick pink polystyrene
(styrofoam). A special hacksaw hand tool
was the primary cutting tool. A surform
shaving tool was used to smooth and
shape the artificial rock formations.
The 90 gallon capacity of this aquarium
provided the advantage of enough space
to create layered terraces with deep
pockets for plants to be positioned above
A folding table in the garage made a good
After the polystyrene rock formations were
siliconed together, a 1000 watt hobby heat
gun was used to smooth surfaces to give
the formations a more natural looking
This lower left corner section of the
background was assembled outside the
aquarium for ease of applying the cement
on all sides.
In this photo, the first of three coats of
Quikrete brand Quikwall cement has been
applied. Quikrete Acrylic Fortifier was
used instead of water when mixing the
cement to increase strength and reduce
This piece includes three pockets for live
plants and when installed will provide room
behind the formation to hide aquarium
hardware and for fish to safetly navigate
as they like.
The two main sections have been
completed, each with three layers of
Quikrete brand charcoal and brown liquid
color were added to the cement mix
before brushing on the final layer.
This photo shows the backside view of the
right corner of the background.
The corners cutout from the polystyrene
before the cement was applied will
provide room for a PVC overflow to be
installed behind the background and
almost completely hidden from view.
Note the large gaps between the layers
where fish will be able to play and hide.
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do-it-yourself aquarium and semi-aquatic background designs beyond the traditional