My husband Dan and I have had a 200 gallon aquarium for 16 years, however
we have not had water or fish in it for about 5 years.
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Our 200 Gallon
DIY Aquarium Background
Dan and Becky Topp
Des Plaines, Illinois
We did a large remodel of our home and after losing our discus to a mishap (water change gone bad) we decided to shut the
tank down for a while until the remodel was done. The remodel took longer than expected and we are just now getting the tank
going again. In mid January 2011, my husband was searching YouTube for ideas for a background for our tank.
After we saw some of the examples of what people had done with backgrounds, I did some further searching and came across
Dramatic Aquascapes and just loved the work Glenn had done.
do-it-yourself aquarium and semi-aquatic background designs beyond the traditional
I decided to use 2” pink insulation and my goal
was to make something as real looking as
possible. I also wanted to create a lot of caves
and crevices for the fish to hanging out in.
I drew out the large shapes on the insulation
board and my husband cut them out with his
portable Milwaukee Hackzall. I spent hours and
hours sanding each piece with 60 grit
sandpaper to get the pieces to look like
layered rocks. I learned the hard way that one
should wear gloves when using 60 grit
sandpaper. Also, sanding this stuff is a huge
mess! It is like opening a beanbag chair.
The little pieces of insulation are statically
charged and stick to everything – even my poor
dogs! I would also recommend wearing a dust
mask when sanding this stuff.. I actually would
have preferred to do this job outside, however
it was in the dead of winter in Chicago.
It took me about a month of working on the
pieces after work and on the weekends to get
everything shaped just right. I placed everything
in the tank and had it all ready to go. I then had
to wait for my husband to get all the plumbing
done. We have a system that circulates to the
basement below the tank and runs through the
pump, several canister filters, and a UV filter.
The system also includes the ability to easily
add fresh filtered water.
This works out great as the mess and noise is
all downstairs in the basement. My husband
had already drilled holes in the tank for the
previous set up, but had decided he wanted to
go with bigger pipe this time. This meant we
had to order the proper bits and bulkhead
fittings and drill the holes larger. It was a bit
nerve racking helping him drill the rather large
holes, but it all worked out.
There are two pipes for the return on the right
and two more pipes on the left for the supply. In
the middle of the tank is the all important
overflow. This is an absolute must when you
have a closed system with the ability to add
fresh water! Believe me, we learned that the
hard way! Also mounted under the tank is a 650
watt inline heater. Another month later all the
piping was done I could finalize all of the pieces
and start coating them.