75 Gallon US Native Tank with DIY Foam/Drylok Background

Share your aquarium background projects, get ideas, advice and feedback from the community!

Re: 75 Gallon US Native Tank with DIY Foam/Drylok Background

Postby Chasmodes » Thu Feb 23, 2017 3:50 pm

Update: I used wooden grilling skewers to poke holes at the thickest parts of each section where the most foam would be that might have a chance of being uncured. I'm happy to report that I didn't find any uncured foam (that would show up as a sticky goo on the skewers). Therefore, I have a nice long weekend ahead to carve away excess foam and make the fissure resemble what I intended.

One thing to note that I found out the first time when I cut sections 1 and 2 apart was that they didn't fit together the next day. Same thing this time. The foam kept expanding. So, I need to go back in and trim again with sections 2 and 3. I may have to do it again with 1 and 2! Apparently, GS may keep expanding for some time.
User avatar
Chasmodes
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Mon Aug 01, 2016 8:41 am

Re: 75 Gallon US Native Tank with DIY Foam/Drylok Background

Postby Chasmodes » Mon Mar 06, 2017 8:50 am

It's been a while since I've provided an update, but I've been busy working on this project. I'm OK with what I've done, but not 100% happy with it.

First, I purchased a Hydor Koralia 3G circulation pump for a decent price. This one moves 2,450 gph, so that should make for a pretty fast current. If it turns out to be too much, then I can always move it to my other tank. I will provide some current breaks. If you don't remember the direction that I took regarding current, his tank is my attempt to mimic an eddy along an undercut stream bank/rock wall.
Image

I'm still working on the rock wall, as I'm almost done with the structure and carving. This picture kind of shows the structure around the stand pipe.
Image

Rather than a mud wall made of spray foam, I decided to go ahead and finish the entire back as a rock wall to hide the stand pipe and intake:
Image

To make the strainer on the stand pipe accessible for maintenance, I am making the rock section that covers it removable. The second pic below will be the means for how I attach the lower end of the removable piece. The upper end will be made by a peg and hole system. All I have to do to remove it is to slide it down. My only fear about this is if the current causes this piece to move, so I'll have to affix the mechanism tightly. Another option might be to affix this piece to the root structure and have the root structure removable, or at least be able to move it enough to get to the strainer.
Image
Image

Below is a view that shows the side of the structure hiding the intake. I'm not real happy about how this looks. If you view the tank from towards the right side of the tank, you can see this. I think that I will work on trying to make this look more realistic and add/carve a little more foam. Another option is to add just enough foam to make it look like a cave, then paint the inside black.
Image

I know that it doesn't look like it, but there is plenty of space in there around the intake that will allow water to be drawn in. Again, my concerns about this are the aesthetics and the functionality of the removable section. After I finish this, then I'll move on to the roots. Oh, another option to hide the cave is to use the root system to block that view. In doing so, my challenge will be to make sure that the strainer is accessible.

I have to say that I'm discouraged a little because this is moving so slow. I thought that I'd be a lot further along by now. Part of that is because I have to wait for the glue to dry one section at a time. If I try to do too much at once, it turns out not looking very good.

Thanks for following.
User avatar
Chasmodes
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Mon Aug 01, 2016 8:41 am

Re: 75 Gallon US Native Tank with DIY Foam/Drylok Background

Postby Chasmodes » Tue Mar 07, 2017 7:53 am

I got to thinking that maybe I shouldn't make that piece removable, and just stuff some sponge in there as a prefilter. I'm on the fence right now. What do you all think?

By the way, I modified that side area. The amount of water that can enter the intake is the same. It is just the lower support structure that I covered. Here are some before and after pics. I wasn't happy with the way that it looked. I feel better about it now. Hopefully, I'll be able to hide the powerhead about half as well as I did here.

Before:
Image

After:
Image
User avatar
Chasmodes
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Mon Aug 01, 2016 8:41 am

Re: 75 Gallon US Native Tank with DIY Foam/Drylok Background

Postby Chasmodes » Thu Mar 09, 2017 9:17 pm

I trimmed the left end so that I could fit it all in the tank. I have to do some more trimming on the back side to get a flush fit against the glass on the back left side, too much gap back there. I also will have to break out another can of spray foam to fill in the remaining gaps on the left side up to the front of the strainer.

Here are some full tank shots as I fitted the rock work:
Image
Image
Image

Thanks for following and for all of your suggestions!
User avatar
Chasmodes
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Mon Aug 01, 2016 8:41 am

Re: 75 Gallon US Native Tank with DIY Foam/Drylok Background

Postby gminor » Sat Mar 11, 2017 10:14 pm

Love how you hid the hardware. Textures still looking very natural. Thanks for all the updates!
Glenn
User avatar
gminor
Site Admin
 
Posts: 419
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 1:39 pm
Location: Lawrence, Kansas

Re: 75 Gallon US Native Tank with DIY Foam/Drylok Background

Postby Chasmodes » Sun Mar 12, 2017 10:06 am

Thank you Glenn!

Quick update:

I had to even out the back wall so that gap between the background and glass would be not that much to silicone, so I had the idea of using egg crate to give me a final plane to cut against while having the ability to better bond both foam and silicone ultimately to the glass. Everything worked out as planned as I applied Great Stuff to the egg crate and foam, and fill out the gaps around the stand pipe and an uneven bottom on the right side of the third section...

...except, now I'm worried that I messed up and wasted a can of spray foam, because I didn't scour the back of the foam wall. DOH!!! I fear that it will just peel off. Well, worst case scenario is that if I can easily peel it off, then I can redo this step.

Image

Image
User avatar
Chasmodes
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Mon Aug 01, 2016 8:41 am

Re: 75 Gallon US Native Tank with DIY Foam/Drylok Background

Postby Chasmodes » Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:05 pm

After letting it cure for a couple days, I trimmed off the excess foam and tried to remove it by hand. I couldn't budge it, so I guess it passed the test despite me forgetting to scour the foam board prior to applying the spray foam. I'm confident that it will hold up when siliconed to the glass. Plus, it's a continuous spray foam connection from the bottom of the structure to the back which added to the strength overall. In addition, the entire background will rest under the lop of the tank trimming and the middle support which should help keep everything in place.
Image

I also used the foam to fill in some gaps along the stand pipe and also even up the bottom.
Image
Image

I'm not happy about raising the level of section 3, because it now makes that left fissure into more of a chasm. I guess it's OK, but fish can swim back in there and it doesn't look as good as I'd have hoped. I guess fish need hiding spots, so maybe it is a good thing. I'm a little bummed about it. Maybe after painting it with the Drylok, it will look better. Here are some pics when fitted into the tank:
Image
Image
User avatar
Chasmodes
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Mon Aug 01, 2016 8:41 am

Re: 75 Gallon US Native Tank with DIY Foam/Drylok Background

Postby Chasmodes » Thu Mar 30, 2017 8:43 am

Sorry for lack of updates. My plan was to move on to the roots, but I still needed to fix my problem with attaching the removable foam section that covers the filter intake. I guess that I have trouble multitasking. Recently, I bought some super strong magnets and planned to use them, but have been wrestling with a couple issues with how to attach secure them on both sections of foam. So, I came up with a variation of my original idea and scrapped the magnets. If my idea fails, then I can always go back to the magnet idea.

I bought some nylon spacers used for spacing nuts and bolts when attaching hardware and decided that I can glue two of them to the removable section, and one of them to a foam piece on the background. My first step was to cut to fit that foam piece and glue it to the background. Then, I had to use a drill bit (not using a power tool, but by hand, so as to remove foam at a controlled pace and get a more accurate hole size). The nylon spacers are basically 1" long by 1/2" in diameter. Once secured, then I could slide a plastic rod through all all of the spacers and secure the removable section. I did it, but it wasn't easy aligning everything.

This pic shows the two nylon spacers glued into the removable foam section:
Image

Here is the third nylon spacer glued into the extra foam piece that I attached to the main background. I used extra pieces of the plastic rods and glued them in to help with the alignment of the nylon spacer holes.
Image

Trying to check for the fit, prior to sliding it in place. Getting the removable section in place isn't that bad, but getting the rod that connects them through the holes is a little challenging. I can get it done, but doing it with the tank filled with water might not be so easy. My solution to that is if I ever have to clear the filter intake behind this section from debris, then I'll drain the tank enough so that this section is out of the water (more than half of the water volume).
Image

Sliding the plastic rod through the hole and nylon spacers provided a pretty tight fit, but it's a little challenging to get it aligned properly. You have to adjust the removable piece with one hand while sliding the plastic rod into the structure. It's not bad, but could be trouble in a full tank.
Image

I needed a little bit of the plastic rod to stick out so I could remove it from the removable section to free the filter intake for maintenance. I'll have to figure out a way to disguise it from view later on but still have easy access to it. My current idea is to hide it with a movable root section.
Image

I'm fairly happy with how it turned out. We'll see if it works correctly once the background is installed and the tank is filled with water.

I'm torn on my next steps, to paint the background then move on to the roots, or work on the roots and paint it all at once. I'm leaning toward the latter option.

Thanks for following!
User avatar
Chasmodes
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Mon Aug 01, 2016 8:41 am

Re: 75 Gallon US Native Tank with DIY Foam/Drylok Background

Postby Chasmodes » Fri May 12, 2017 8:05 am

It's been a while since my last update, but not much has happened except that I made an attempt at making my faux roots. I built a frame and it just didn't look right. I'm not going to scrap it, but will make a bunch of changes highlighted in the rest of my post below. But here is a pic of what it looks like today:
Image

I've been a little frustrated, almost to the point that I couldn't even go downstairs and look at it. I couldn't envision the roots turning out realistic at all. Since then, I've been doing a lot of thinking and research about it and came up with some ideas to move forward.

I've decided to go with my original design and the frame but with some modifications. I went shopping yesterday and picked up the item that will do the job, plaster cloth wrap.

One of the potential issues holding me up, other than the looks of the roots so far, was getting stuff to stick to PVC. Honestly, the issue was in my head because I hadn't tried to see if my other plan would work (from the previous post) because somehow, I felt it would fail. Hence, more frustration.

But, it dawned on me that plaster cloth wrap that I saw used in other reptile builds might be the perfect solution, because it would be then coated with grout and then sealed by Drylok. Also, I don't like the foam insulation that I have on there currently. I will cut it off and use grout to build up my thickness and form. I don't want these roots to float, plus, I don't like the look of it. If the roots don't float, then I can make them removable for easy maintenance and tank cleaning.

So, my enthusiasm is back. My plan for this weekend is to:

*add more roots to the frame, cement the pipe and permanently attach wired roots. Drill holes in strategic spots to add more roots for realism.
*cut off the black foam insulation from the pipe.
*use foam board in a few places to get bulk, and achieve specific form and texture.
*use spray foam to add bulk and a more realistic shape in a few places, sparingly, that I can carve to achieve the desired look.
*wrap the entire frame and all roots with plaster cloth and let it dry.
*apply tile adhesive to the entire frame over the plastic cloth to seal it in and firm up the structure.
*apply grout to firm everything up, carve, shape, sculpt and sand to get form and texture that I want.
*use Drylok mixed with cement color to paint the final touches and seal everything up.
*build a small root structure that will be removable for access to my removable rock section

I know, I overthink things and stress about them way too much.

On a related note, I did receive my new Perfect Dipnet thanks to Mark at Jonah's Aquarium so I will be ready to stock this tank once cycled! ;)
User avatar
Chasmodes
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Mon Aug 01, 2016 8:41 am

Re: 75 Gallon US Native Tank with DIY Foam/Drylok Background

Postby fishwhisperer » Wed May 17, 2017 6:19 pm

Honestly, that's amazing. Don't think I could pull off anything quite as nice and well done as that. Look forward to the final product.
I enjoy this hobby with my 20 gallon fish tank, a 30 gallon fish tank, and lastly a nice 50 gallon fish tank. Fish Supply Guide
fishwhisperer
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon May 15, 2017 10:01 pm

PreviousNext

Return to Aquarium Backgrounds

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

cron