Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
HOW TO: Build an aquarium background TUTORIAL

HOW TO: Build an aquarium background TUTORIAL


Hi, everybody Joey here again, and welcome back so last week I gave you a sneak peek to [a] 3D background with an integrated sand fall this week I want to show you how to build a 3D background or Structure a 3D background is certainly one of the most unique features you can create for your aquarium [I] created my first background around [10] years ago And fellow Hobbies have been doing it for far longer than that using a [tried-And-true] method of styrofoam and cement now There are many ways to accomplish this so I suggest doing some further research in finding the method that works best for you For example. I made a hollow fiberglass background in the past [so] in this video I intend to simply give you some tips and inspiration to use on your own to get started. You’ll need some styrofoam [now] You can either buy [this] or you can get it for free at a furniture store that throws it out [everyday] You’ll want to get white styrofoam and the thicker the [better] Start off by measuring the area in your aquarium that you intend to place this I like to start off with creating a thick base So I silicone a few layers together having a general idea of the final product in mind will help Now to be honest. I had no idea what I was going [to] create what I made this I just knew I wanted some caves Crevices and a lot of texture to use in this example there really is no perfect tool to use when carving so use what works? best for you now I used a combination of razors and simple knives [you] might even want to draw out the General formation that you’d like on to the styrofoam prior to cutting so you have a basic outline to follow There’s really no worry of cutting off too much as you can always replace it with another piece of styrofoam and some silicone my advice Here is just to take your time. Cut slowly. There’s no fast way to do this also Have a shopback [or] vacuum on hand to clean up your mess regularly because this is really messy as you’re cutting Constantly fit it into your tank as you go as well making [sure] it’s coming along as planned and it still fits if you plan To have your filter [behind] it make sure that you carve out a large enough place for it and are Constantly dry fitting it in place So there’s really no surprises when you go to install it if you do intend to install a filter behind it just remember that you’re going to need an Entrance and exit for that filter the options and styles here are literally endless and I certainly can’t cover everything with [the] basic Formation completed I like to use a heat gun to lightly Scorch the surface this makes a surface much harder however you can also sand it to achieve a similar Texture sanding it will also help bring out definition heating it or sanding It’s also going to stop little bits of styrofoam from coming off in the future when pleased with the final outcome I move on to cement now. I have seen basically every type of cement used with no real problems however I like to use a hydraulic water stop cement as I can build it to up to whatever consistency I like and it doesn’t have a tendency to crack plus It cures fast [all] you have to do is mix the cement with water and thoroughly combined it the more water you add the less Thick the Mixture will be the first coat should be pretty thin simply to give the second coat a better surface to stick to I tend to apply all of the coats with a paintbrush now the Second coat will go on thicker if you’re finding that you’re losing definition in your background during this application use your finger or Pencil to help remove a bit of the cement from those areas or crevices This is also a good time [to] tell you that you should account for this happening when you’re carving So make sure you carve slightly larger than you want to allow for the cement let each [coat] cure in between applications Now cure time depends on the cement use so just follow the [directions] usually after three or four coats you have enough You’ll be looking for a thickness of around two millimeters thick so [now] at this point You can either install it as is or you can move on to painting if you like it as is Silicone it in place and ensure all the sides are sealed so the fish can’t get behind it Wait at least 48 hours for the silicone to cure You’re using a lot of silicone so a bit of extra time is needed for this background at that time if you don’t like something About the background you can still cut some [off] and coat it again in the tank Or even applying [thin] a thicker cement to help build it up a little bit more now comes the water Changes after your initial fill your ph will skyrocket off the charts So [you’re] going to have to do continuous water changes until it goes back to normal this can take several weeks Changing the water every three days is what I would [recommend] Testing the water three days after each fill until the ph in the tank is the same as the ph coming from the tap Once that happens you can go ahead and continue with the tank as normal however you may not want to have to do water changes At all so coding the background and the clear Epoxy coating can be done But it’s much more expensive however it not only seals the background But it also provides a hard protective shell For painting you have a couple of options you can either simply buy some cement tint and tint it as needed or you can use 100% acrylic paint once cured. It’s non-toxic now It’s not going to last forever underwater But it will last several years [I] Suggest using it Sparingly to create a more natural look you can also use a two-part epoxy paint, but again. It’s not cheap Formations in the tank are exactly the same except you can make them by simply Stacking up a few pieces of styrofoam and silicone em together followed by the cement It’s very easy to create rocks this way as well as caves and really anything you want Just ensure [that] you fully coat the structure with cement followed by silicone in it in place. That’s basically it I think that’s enough information to get you started Now obviously there’s pros and cons to a 3D background one is not the cost This is relatively inexpensive to make however It does take a lot of time and effort to create one on another note the chances of somebody having the same background as you is Zero Anyways, hope you guys enjoyed the video I also want to thank you for watching and I’ll see you guys next week when we build the sand fall

49 comments on “HOW TO: Build an aquarium background TUTORIAL

  1. Hello, pls guide if we dont apply cement at all, and just acrylic paint, or spray paint, will it work ? , the idea is avoid the ph to rise so much ?

  2. Wow this is an awesome idea ive been looking for an idea on how to create a background for a koi fish pond that i am making and this is just perfect for the waterfall bro you rock thanks

  3. I was thinking of takeing plexy glass an silaconeing rock to it. I can make shelfs and all . fill in blank areas with silicone and sand. Whats ur oppion

  4. Do you think my ph will be okay after about 2 weeks if I have African Cichlids since they like the ph lol kind of high?? Thanks. Great vid

  5. Can i build one and let the ph stabilize in another tank befor putting it in my current tank? I only have one tank and nothing else to put my fish in for the period the background needs to be ph stabilezed.

  6. Hello M8 your job is Huge and really good but i have a question what is the best way to make and install a 3d backround at an already filled and running aquarium?Tnx for response

  7. Hi Joey, thank you for your videos, I find them really interesting and have helped me do my own DIY tank, which is going to be in a log cabin outside, no heating with native UK fish. I have almost finished, but have hit a huge sticking point which I really need some help with please. Each time I stick the finished cement background to the tank with silicone, I leave it to dry for 24 hrs before filling. Within a few hrs the buoyancy separates the silicone and pops up to the surface! 😡. It has happened 3 times now. I have tried cementing the back of the insulation boards to help the silicone stick better, but again it just separates??? Do you have any suggestions please???

  8. Just FYI to everyone your background will crumble before you ever get your ph to a manageable level. I’ve soaked it in vinegar ive soaked it in water I let it cure for a week I used all aquarium safe products. I did this for one full month and still the background was unsafe for fish.

  9. How do you get the cement to stick to the foam? With one Coat, it is just rubs off! Hoping with more coats it will start to stick. Thank you

  10. Okay, so, question. Once a background is siliconed to glass is it permanent? Or if you decide you wanna break it down and do something new will you be able to get the silicone and background off the tank glass?

  11. I really like this video, but have you considered using non-sanded grout? I takes more coats, but will not erase details as much. Also sold in about 20 different colors…

  12. I want to make removable pieces for a turtle aquarium. Would suction cups or magnet fixtures work using this method do you think?

  13. Do you have a video on painting aquarium backgrounds and ornaments I want to 3d print my own ornaments but worry about paint killing my fish

  14. Thoretically could i use this same foam and cement combination to make an artifical flowing river in a giant snake terrarium for the snake to both drink out of and bathe in

  15. Learn a lot from your channel and planning to do my first DIY.

    Looking around some paint options here in the Philippines, what paints properties should I stay away from?

    I found some that are 100% Acrylic but it says
    Triple action algae, mildew and mold protection. Would this be safe?

  16. Is one styrofoam better than the other? Like is the pink stuff better than the white stuff? Also if I wanted to use this as like shelf Rock to put frags on do you think it would stay under or would I have to adhere to the tank? Or magnet it to the tank

  17. Great video, followed it to the tee and my background came out great! How long will it take to get the pH down? It’s been about 3 weeks of 2-3 water changes per week and still very high. No noticeable drop (8.6ish)

  18. If you're wanted a natural Finnish using different paint techniques but also not have to bother with so many water changes would you paint then epoxy or vice versa? Many thanks, love the videos

  19. Eu tenho aquário de discus, gostaria de fazer um cenário amazônico… que tipo de material é aquilo que você usa? Isopor?

  20. Question: You said the pH will rise and you have to do water changes for weeks. well I have an already established aquarium, would it be okay if I created this, let it soak in a big bucket or tub for weeks and change the water till the pH is normal and then be able to take my fish out for a day and do a 100% water change and put it in while I do that?

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