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  1. #1

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    Default Styrofoam background


    0 Not allowed!
    How to create an epoxy covered styrofoam background

    A structured background can add great depth and contrast to a tank, and may be what seperates a nice tank from a great one.

    Unfortunately pre-made backgrounds often come at a very high cost, and in a very limited selection.

    Here is one way you can create your own structured background. It's not exactly inexpensive, but you should be able to get away with a little less than you would pay for a pre-made one. It does however come in all the variations you can possibly think of, is great fun to make, and gives an extra personal touch to your tank.

    (Picture to be added when the background is fitted in the tank)

    I made this sample background for a new fry tank of mine, it is only 30x50 cm.

    0. Stuff

    For the sample background I used

    4 cm thick styrofoam
    Husfix cement powder
    Lady acryllic interior paint, chocolate brown and black
    Sigural two component clear epoxy floor paint



    The following tools are handy

    * Cutting knife
    * Brush and perhaps a natural spounge
    * Heat gun
    * Dremel

    You an do without the heat gun and the dremel, but I find that they make things eaiser.

    1. Cutting and shaping

    You start off by cutting the styrofoam into a piece that will fit your aquarium. Then procede to shape it into what it is you want it to look like.

    You can use any tool you want. I like to use my Dremel with a small drill-bit, but you can use a cutting knife, a screwdriver or just about anything.

    Keep a vacuum cleaner handy :)

    After cutting it you might want to blow a little warm air on it with a heat gun, to slightly melt the surface, keeping small bits from coming off easily. A heat gun may even be helpfull while shaping the styrofoam. If you don't have one, this step isn't crucial, we'll cover it all up anyway.

    In my case I wanted something that resembles a typical grannite stone wall with some quartz in it. So here is how I cut it:



    Now is a good time to make sure the background will fit into your tank. You should leave a couple of millimeters on each side for the cement covering we will be adding next.

    2. Applying cement

    The next you want to do is cover the styrofoam in cement. This will make it more solid and easier to paint, ease the cut a little and make it look a little more natural.

    I used Husfix for this part. Just mix the cement powder with water and apply it thouroughly as if it were paint.

    Since we're going to cover the background in epoxy later on, you only need as much cement coating as is required to get the look you want. Apply one or more layers as you see fit. Each layer of cement coating needs to dry for a couple of hours.

    Last edited by dev; 07-14-2007 at 09:01 PM.

  2. #2

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    Default


    0 Not allowed!
    3. Painting

    As soon as the cement is dry you can start painting your background in the colours you want.

    I started by watering out some chocolate brown making it a little lighter and more redish. When applied to the cement coating with a spounge it creates a a pinkish look.



    This will be the pink quartz in my rock wall.

    I then proceed with watering out some pure black colour, creating a greyish look. Once again I use a small spounge, only using a brush to reach into the narrow carvings.



    The paint will lighten a little as you leave it to dry for a couple of hours

    4. Applying the epoxy coating

    To protect your paintjob and make the background more solid we're now going to cover it in a clear epoxy paint.

    Read the instructions for the epoxy paint you have. The one I have has two components that needs to be mixed in a 2:1 ratio, and should then sit for 15 minutes before you use it.

    Paint the epoxy on using a brush until you get a fair layer covering the entire front and sides of the background, aswell as a little on the edges of the backside.



    After letting it dry for 12 to 24 hours you may choose to add a second layer of epoxy before finally leaving it to dry for 24 to 36 hours. If you wait more than 24 hours between the layers the result may not be completely transparent.
    Last edited by dev; 07-11-2007 at 05:03 PM.

  3. #3

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    Default


    0 Not allowed!
    This is how my backgroung looked when trying it out in the tank after the first layer of epoxy had dried.



    As you can see I got some epoxy stains where I applied it too thick, so I'll have to repaint those areas before applying a final layer of epoxy. This time being more carefull to get a thin and even layer. It's a little easier this time as the surface is a lot more solid from the first epoxy layer.

    5. Fitting the background

    When the epoxy paint is completely dry the background should be rinced thouroughly in water before being glued to the back of the tank with silicone, heating glue or epoxy glue. Using silicone makes it easer to remove the background should you have need to do so.

    Here is my sample background fitted in my 45 liter fry tank:



    And a final image with plants and some young guppies and swordtails.

    Last edited by dev; 07-21-2007 at 10:36 PM.

  4. #4

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    Default


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    * also reserved for more content *

  5. #5

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    Default


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    Nice job! Was that your first attempt at it?
    55 g Goldfish Tank - 3 Fancies, 2 Comets
    25 g Tropical Tank - Celestial Pearl Danio/Mixed

  6. #6

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    Default


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    Quote Originally Posted by Rue
    Nice job! Was that your first attempt at it?
    Why? Does it look that that bad? :p

    Yes, this is my first attempt at the styrofoam/epoxy combination.
    Last edited by dev; 07-10-2007 at 09:25 PM.

  7. #7

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    Default


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    It looks excellent! That's why I'm asking...

    I've seen photos of other first attempts...and they LOOK like first attempts...

    ...yours doesn't...
    55 g Goldfish Tank - 3 Fancies, 2 Comets
    25 g Tropical Tank - Celestial Pearl Danio/Mixed

  8. #8

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    Default


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    Quote Originally Posted by Rue
    It looks excellent! That's why I'm asking...

    I've seen photos of other first attempts...and they LOOK like first attempts...

    ...yours doesn't...
    Thanks :) I wasnt too happy with the picture, the high level of detail combined with the reflections makes it look a little messy. I'm glad you liked it anyway :D

    Will be interesting to see what it looks like when the epoxy is dry :)

  9. #9

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    That looks great Dev - you got my shipping address!
    Go ahead - try to count my Bumblebee Gobies!

    72 Gallon Bowfront
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    Baby Platies

  10. #10

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    Default


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    So, you actually dabbed the paint on more than putting it on with a brush? It looks awesome. I think in the larger tanks you want to cut it in half to get past the center brace but not a straight cut or you'll forever see the seam.

    Hurry up now. I'm waiting for more pictures. LOL

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