New 200l tank with 3D background

evut

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I have been busy preparing a new home for our aquatically kept T. marmoratus group and it's finally nearly ready.
The tank is a 200 litre Fluval Roma. Here's some pictures documenting the process so far.
First two photos show what had to be done in the room first. A bit irrelevant from the newt point of view - just to give you an idea how complex this operation was :happy:
The cabinet doors were modified with sticky back vinyl to match our colour scheme.
 

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evut

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I spent a lot of time looking at other people's 3D backgrounds on the internet. In the end I decided to use the "modular" method (attaching individual fake rocks to the background one by one) and to coat everything with silicone and sand. The background had to be made in several parts to fit into the tank.
I made several "planters" and a space to hold a sponge filter.
 

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evut

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The prepared background was then siliconed into the tank in stages. The backs of the bits stuck to the side of the tank were coated and attached with black silicone. I changed the whole island area to give the newts more space and to have some flexibility with the water level. There will be a small pump underneath which will water the plant on the island (that's what the airline in the last photo is for...it hasn't been tried out so I'll have to see if it works).
 

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evut

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...and finally, today we filled the tank with water. My fears of all the sand falling off the polystyrene and the island breaking off haven't come true yet. Some parts look quite light in the water but generally it seems ok.
If everything's still ok tomorrow, we'll put soil and sand in, then plants and if everything's still good then also the newts.
 

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Molch

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this is very impressive! I'd love to make a rock background like that for my strauchii tank.

Can you give a couple more details on how you made the rocks? They are styrofoam, right? And you used silicone to glue them to a background styrofoam sheet, which then in turn you glued to the tank?
 

evut

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Thanks, Molch.
The "rocks" are polystyrene (styrofoam)...I like to think of it as Hollywood rock :happy:
I used a Stanley knife to cut the shapes. I went through a lot of blades because they need to be super sharp to cut nicely. The pieces were coated individually with transparent silicone and sand was then pressed into it. A bit more silicone would have been better for colour (more sand would have stuck to it).
As you say, the pieces were then attached with silicone to a sheet of polystyrene which was attached to the tank, also with silicone. I used 6 tubs of the stuff for the coating and attaching - probably far too much but I was (still am) so worried about something becoming loose and floating.

This was my main inspiration: 3D Aquarium Background
Some good backgrounds can also be seen here: Cichlid-Forum :: View topic - Links to DIY backgrounds
 
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Molch

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awesome. I will attempt something similar for my strauchii, who live in a 36" tank. Very inspiring!

another stupid question: should the sand be completely dry before pressing in the silicone?

I wonder if one could even glue a few real pebbles into the wall with the fake ones?
 
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evut

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Anything you want to attach with silicone must be really dry, otherwise it won't work. Regarding real pebbles, I think the only worry would be the weight (if they're large) but if you can attach them securely, perhaps into holes in the background, it should be possible.
 

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We put in soil and sand and last night I planted the tank. I am hoping that the plants will grow well and fill the space quickly. The water feature on the island will probably be unnecessary because the planter leaks from the bottom but it might be useful if there's java moss. For now I'll just probably put in some hedera. The two other planters have bacopa in them which I hope will grow out of water (the one in the back should also hide the airline).
 

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bellabelloo

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Wow Eva, Fernando and his ladies will love this. I think the light background will be fantastic, if it was darker I feel you would get lost when all the plants grow.
 

evut

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Just a little update - I have fixed some minor issues and planted the island with tradescantia and hydrocotyle, which Chris (Froggy) kindly sent me, along with the floating limnobium.
This is what the tank looks like now. I am adding a few photos of the inhabitants as well. I assume that the water is a thick soup of newt pheromones at the moment...
 

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Azhael

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Looking great! Both the newts and the tank, although since i´m a sucker for marmoratus, specially the newts :p
Both the Tradescantia and the Hydrocotyle look awesome, and once they get going they grow very fast, i love it. Thanks to Joost and Chris, i´ve developed a rather unhealthy fixation with Hydrocotyle...it just looks great.
Good luck with those handsome newts, and post pics when the plants really go wild, it´s going to look amazing!
 

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A little update:
I am quite disappointed with the plants - I thought I'd be able to watch them grow... But it's only been two months and looking at the old photo it's perhaps not so bad. The plants on the island are doing well - especially the Hydrocotyle.
There is some algae (brown and hair algae) but nothing major. I had to get rid of Bacopa monnieri from two tanks however, because of hair algae - it seems to be a magnet for it.
The worst thing is that planaria are everywhere - tiny but numerous. They seem to thrive in this set up even though I still do fairly frequent water changes and my newts don't know the meaning of the word leftovers. I suppose I'll just have to live with that.

This is what the tank looks like now:
 

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Wow! That looks wonderful! Very inspiring! I so want to do something like this one day.
 

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I love the tank, and the helpful how-to/links. Thanks a bunch!
 

evut

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I don't clean the background. There is a bit of algae around the filter outlet and on the edges of the islands, otherwise it looks like new. It can be rubbed off but I think some of the sand might come off if it was scrubbed too hard or too often. It's a kind of natural set up, with soil, lots of microfauna...I'm just leaving it be most of the time :happy:
 

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Eva thats amazing what a fantastic idea!! Your newts look very happy in their and glad you finally got to use your new tank, looks better now than sat on the kitchen table in its box :D
 

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I don't clean the background. There is a bit of algae around the filter outlet and on the edges of the islands, otherwise it looks like new. It can be rubbed off but I think some of the sand might come off if it was scrubbed too hard or too often. It's a kind of natural set up, with soil, lots of microfauna...I'm just leaving it be most of the time :happy:

Are you not worried about the build up of bacteria or anything? ,it's quite inspiring might give it a go myself
 

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WOW! Your tank is incredible, and its inhabitants are even better! Gorgeous animals you have there :D
 
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