Making a background (again)

Niels D

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I've posted a build topic before, but in the end I didn't like the result. That's why I removed the background which I made in topic http://www.caudata.org/forum/f1173-...c/86656-making-background-another-method.html. I ended up with this:


So it's possible to remove a background which is made into your tank while grout was used to fill in the crevices. Had to scrape off the grout residu and remove the sealant a little to get me this:


It already was an old tank, so it's got a couple of scratches. As long as it's waterproof I'm not complaining about a tank which I got for free.

The first step was to get me a piece of roof insulation which fitted in the tank. I'm using a kind of insulation which is a hard kind of foam (couple of brands: Kingspan, Roofmate and Renova). It's not cheap, but you can find second hand foam plates on the internet most of the time. You can alter the size easily using a saw. This step is easy of course:



You can start carving the plate into a desireable form straight away, but I wanted a little more depth. I glued on a couple of pieces using silicone sealant. The idea was to let the exhaust of the water pump end in a puddle above the water surface of the main area. Shaped the pieces a little using a kitchen knife.





I still didn't glue the background into the tank. First I wanted to shape it out of the tank so it's easy to reach everything. Using a little sharp knife I got the shape which I wanted. I ended the proces rubbing everything tightly with a rough brush. On the first picture you can see the difference between the fully shaped part on the left and the unfinished part on the right. Second picture shows you the result.





Now it was time to fix the tubing for the water pump. Made a little ditch into the back for the tubing and the cable for the pump. Glued the tubing into place. On the second picture you can see the end of the tubing, the future exhaust of the pump. It's placed above the puddle which I carved out. The other end of the tube has got to reach the front, so I had to remove a little piece of the background at the bottom.





I then added three layers of thin grout mixed with little concrete bonder adhesive (brands: Flevopol, ACE concrete bonder, Quikrete) which makes it more flexible and strong. Let it dry for a day to let it harden. It already starts to look like rock.



Next step is colouring. If you start with a light colour and let it dry, you can add a darker colour which you have to wash of with a wet piece of cloth so this darker colour only sticks on the less portruding pieces of the background. Adding a even darker colour has to be washed off even more. In the end you can use a mix, thin as water, with black "tile grout" which you have to wash off almost entirely so it sticks only deep within the crevices. For each new layer you have to wait until everything is dry off course. In the end you can add lighter colours using a brush of course. Be creative and do not hesitate to experiment.



Differen styles can be made using different techniques:






Stick the pump in a plastic container and fill everything with sponges. You can hide this underneath the sand or substrate.


I use river sand as a substrate. I've added some rocks as well to keep the containter in place. Then I added water and some plants. It's too bad I can't seem to take a good picture after the tank is finished. The vid isn't very good either, but I guess you can see how the result looks like. It's a pretty easy method and it's also fun to do.





New tank H.orientalis - YouTube
 

modestum

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Looks fantastic! I have an empty 40 gallon breeder, that I am going to try your technique on!!!
 

Niels D

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Are you and Conrad the same person...?!

Haha. Yes I'm Coenraad van Biezenmortel on facebook. My real name is Niels D (eijkers) though. Don't like using my real name while using facebook. On forums I use Niels D, because I'm selling a lot less nonsense when I'm not using facebook.
 

Azhael

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O_O I´m not usually one for this kind of decorations but that last one is bloody amazing.
 

Niels D

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Thanks guys. Just a few more tanks and all of them are equipped with a background. I like this last one, but I prefer my H. orientalis background though. After a while the grout gets covered with mosses and dirt and it looks way more realistic. Shrimp love to hide in the cracks and the snails search the surface for tasty morsels. I'm now working on a P. ruber background at this moment. Above the surface I made use of concrete binder adhesive (Flevopol) mixed with fern root grindings and turf pulp. This gets covered with moss if you rub it in with Java moss and when everything remains humid enough. I've applied it on expanding foam like clay. I use this for my frog and gecko vivs. Water will flow over the fake rocks on the left. In the middle there's room for some plants and on the right I've used some cork bark.


 

JoshBA

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How do you silicone the backgrounds in? Do you completely cover the back, or just siliicone it in around the edges? I'm definately going to have to try to make one of these.
 

Azhael

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Do you think in a model like that last, rocky one, ferns could attach themselves? I´ve always had a fantasy about a fern/moss terrarium and this would make an excellent lightweight substitute for a rock background, provided it can support being rooted on by plants. I know there are other options that can, but this one looks better xD
 

Niels D

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I think this could be possible if the layer of grout is thick/strong enough. Mosses are no problem even with a thin layer. That's a good idea of course.

As long as Kimmy and I both have a house to sell, we can't buy one together. When we do however we already got plans how to make our big newt and salamander shed with built in vivaria. Fake rocks aren't necessary anymore. We also wish to make a tropical room for our lizards and frogs. When the time comes we will have al lot of work to do.
 
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Muddy

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Do you think in a model like that last, rocky one, ferns could attach themselves? I´ve always had a fantasy about a fern/moss terrarium and this would make an excellent lightweight substitute for a rock background, provided it can support being rooted on by plants. I know there are other options that can, but this one looks better xD

Setting tree-fern fiber into the background would probably work. You could make life much easier with that expanding foam stuff as well, but I bet you could skewer it in too. Id silicone any part of it the fern fiber that'd touch the curing foam though. I've got a few orchids who definitely don't hate it :D
 

Niels D

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I've tried many methods before and expanding foam is one of my least favourites. You can't carve it just as well as this hard foam. The only times I use expanding foam is when I make vivs for frogs or geckos or like the P.ruber background as seen above. Expanding foam doesn't work well for fake rocks, except when you want to create round curves.
 

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I've tried many methods before and expanding foam is one of my least favourites. You can't carve it just as well as this hard foam. The only times I use expanding foam is when I make vivs for frogs or geckos or like the P.ruber background as seen above. Expanding foam doesn't work well for fake rocks, except when you want to create round curves.

Hard foam isn't the same as "styrofoam" is it? I had a huge, thick square of it which used to be insulating a building, but when I tried to cut it the other day, it made a big mess with all the tiny round particles blowing all over my yard:mad:.
 
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