A bit of different approach ...

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A bit of different approach ...

Postby wryan » Tue Nov 24, 2015 12:55 am

After being out of the fish keeping hobby for about 20 years, about 2 or 3 weeks ago I decided to pull out my tanks, and leak test them in preparation of setting them. Three or fours days later (and no wet spots) it looked like I was good to go :D

After that, while doing some research into getting set up again, I ran across a couple of sites. One was Frank Mueller's (fmueller.com) who until recently used to live near me, but has since moved to New Zealand, and the other was Glenn's site here.

The last time I was running a tank (breeding pair of Green Terror Cichlids), I went with a natural approach with rocks and gravel, which has always appealed to me ... but never a full background.

Frank's site is worth taking a look at for what he did doing a full background in a 240 gallon tank using actual rock - sourced from a company about 5 minutes from where I live (Ohio Beauty Stone), as well as the other home-built technology he cooked up. I assume the tank went with the house when they sold it, as it took either 6 or 8 people to move the empty tank alone (sans backdrop) into the house when he got it.

Of course, everyone reading here is already familiar with Glenn's outstanding work, which I found to be rather inspiring.

Long story short, I happened to have a bunch of 1 1/2" and 2" Owens-Corning styrofoam which was left from insulating our polebarn ... so I thought: "I'm just gonna do it ..."

My equipment is somewhat dated ... I have a pair of Perfecto undergravel filters, and two Marineland Magnum canister filters (200 and a 330), and a Whisper 1000 air pump. After replacing the on/off switch on the Magnum 330, all of it was functional.

I decided to take a slightly different approach, using what I have (I'm on a budget :D ) and cobbled up a reverse-flow UGF, making the supply plumbing out of 1/2 PVC pipe, planning to use one of the Magnums as the pre-filter and supply to the UGF. It will use the carbon canister and some sort of foam. The other Magnum will use the micron filter cart and DE occasionally to polish up the water.

Because of the piping, and the fact that the UGF's will sit under the backdrop, I've been trying to figure out how to avoid having to attach the backdrop to the aquarium glass with silicone.

Obviously, the positive buoyancy of the backdrop will be an issue.

On the otherhand, if I were to silicone the backdrop to the UG filter plates themselves, the weight of the gravel (and any foreground rocks) would act - at least to some degree - to hold the backdrop down.

I got out the bathroom scales and weighed a container full of gravel (with water added to take up any air space) and then weighed the same container with water only. From this I was able to determine that the gravel is about twice as heavy as the water it displaces.

Unfortunately there is no easy way to do that with the foam, due to all the irregular shapes.

There are a couple of other possibilities:

1. use a row (or two) of actual rocks, as the base course of the backdrop. This would provide weight to compensate for the positive buoyancy of the rest of the backdrop, and it would be down low, so no chance of it falling over and breaking glass.

2. Do the backdrop entirely in styro and silicone it (in places) to the back wall of the tank ABOVE the UGF plates, which would allow tipping the plates up at the front to remove them if need be. The PVC supply piping for the filter plates basically just sets in the plates themselves (friction fit) and can be easily removed. As it is currently designed, there is about an 1 1/2 gap/area between the backdrop and back wall of the aquarium, containing the supply and intake piping for the RF UGF, heater, etc. This area would have several inches of gravel covering the filter plates and supply pipe.

Looking for thoughts and/or feedback.

Oh, yeah ... BTW: I started cutting and sculpting foam 2 nights ago ... I've almost got that done ... maybe another course (depending on whether I use a course of actual rock or not)

What a fun project !
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Nov 20, 2015 1:23 pm

Re: A bit of different approach ...

Postby wryan » Fri Nov 27, 2015 1:44 am

Came up with a possible solution for avoiding cementing/siliconing the background in place.

I found some PVC pipe hangers I had down the basement, acquired long ago for some other project. Basically these are "J" hooks, about 4" or 5" long, around 1/4" or 5/16" thick.

Plan is embed the J hooks into the styro horizontally, or at an upward angle, with the hook part pointing up ... and then silicone some short (1/2") sections of 3/4" PVC pipe onto the back of the aquarium, that the J hooks will then hook into.

The positive buoyancy (to whatever degree) should keep the background secured, and it avoids the undesirable prospect of (permanently) attaching the background to some other item (filter plates or the tank itself)

I finished siliconing the last course of "rock" onto the background a couple of hours ago, still needs some final sculpting work:

Backdrop siliconed together

So tomorrow night, after the silicone has had a chance to cure, I'll pull the two pieces out of the tank and take them out to the garage and finish any final sculpting that needs to be done on the front side. Probably take a die grinder with a rotary rasp and cut out tunnels and caves on the backside, along with finishing up the spaces for the heater, filter intake, and piping for the reverse UGF.

I picked up the Glass Block Mortar, Acrylic Fortifier, and a couple of colors (charcoal and brown) from The Depot the other day ... so with any luck I may be applying the masonry topcoat by Sunday.
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Nov 20, 2015 1:23 pm

Re: A bit of different approach ...

Postby Pedrowitus » Mon Feb 29, 2016 11:05 am

Any updates on this project? Anxious to see how it turned out.
Posts: 10
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2015 1:29 pm

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