Building Rockscape With Foam

sloughdog

Anyone have experience building rockscape using foam board (stuff used for insulation in construction)? The biggest issue I’m currently having is rebuilding the structure (Just doesn’t fit the aquarium right...takes up too much space) and trying to get it to sink! I can’t get the ratio of real rock to foam rock right. Any tips or tricks I’m missing?
I coated it with latex dry lock (its aquarium safe according to all the research I’ve found) and then painted it with aquarium safe paint. Used silicone to glue it all together.
Those YouTube and other tutorials make it look soooooo easy...well it’s not lol.
 

Seasoldier

I know this might sound silly, but why not just use real rock? Is it a weight issue?
 

JoeCamaro

I made a 3D background using insulation foam (the pink one), cement, spray paint and acrylics paints, Rust-O-Leum LeakSeal and clear silicone.

It was a fun project, but I will be taking it off in February (more on that later)

What I did to hold it in place was I turned the aquarium on its back, glued the background with silicone and placed some heavy stuff on top of the background in different places and gave it a few days to cure.

Now, based on my experience, these are 2 things to watch out for:
1. Colors may change: I incorporated a dinosaur fossil decoration in my background. I painted it to match the brown of the decoration, but the color quickly faded. Now it doesn't look like it belongs.
2. Leave space between the aquarium glass and the background, mine is so tight I can barely fit a paper towel in between and a lot of dirt accumulates there. Make sure you can reach every nook and cranny so you can clean it.

I started my tank in February. At that time I wanted a Fantasy-themed aquarium. I loved it at first, but now I want something more natural. They only reason I will wait until February to remove the BG is so all the time and effort I put into the project was worth it, so 1 year is good enough.

Below are some photos of my aquarium's background and evolution.

JDSbSFQ.jpg

1bVJ1Nv.jpg

cnsqVvg.jpg

uDqAOqY.jpg
View media item 238926
 

ktorg

The biggest issue I’m currently having is rebuilding the structure (Just doesn’t fit the aquarium right...takes up too much space) and trying to get it to sink!
I've done it a few times. It's fun but can be time consuming. It will never sink! I've tried weights and hollowing it out and filling it with rocks and sand and it still floats! If you do them right they can look pretty cool.
If it's too big you'll need to make it in separate pieces and then install them separately.
Here's one I made a few years ago for some salamanders and another one I was recently working one. They look a lot better when the algae starts growing on it.
I made a 3D background using insulation foam (the pink one), cement, spray paint and acrylics paints, Rust-O-Leum LeakSeal and clear .

It was a fun project, but I will be taking it off in February (more on that later)

What I did to hold it in place was I turned the aquarium on its back, glued the background with silicone and placed some heavy stuf on top of the background in dofferent places and gave it a few days to cure.

Now, based on my experience, these are 2 things to watch out for:
1. Colors may change: I incorporated a dinosaur fossil decoration in my background. I painted it to match the brown of the decoration, but the color quickly faded. Now it doesn't look like it belongs.
2. Leave space between the aquarium glass and the background, mine is so tight I can barely fit a paper towel in between and a lot of dirt accumulates there. Make sure you can reach every nook and cranny so you can clean it.

I started my tank in February. At that time I wanted a Fantasy-themed aquarium. I lvoed at first, but now I want something more natural. They only reason I will wait until February to remove the BG is so all the time and effort I put into the project was worth it, so 1 year is good enough.
Hey that one is pretty nice. I like the fossil that fits in there!

Below are some photos of my aquarium's background and evolution.
 

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Seasoldier

Ah right now I get it, it's for the back drop, I thought you were using it to create a rockery on the tank floor Doh! I did something similar but cheated by buying it preformed.
 

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sloughdog

Great work Joe and Ktorg! Yes it’s a lot of work and that’s why I’m **** bent (and I’m stubborn) on using what I made lol.
My structure fits in the tank but just takes up more space than I thought. So I’m reconfiguring a bit but it’s harder now with plants and fish in the tank.

Seasoldier you were correct in your 1st reply. I am using it on the floor of the tank. I’m using a combo of real rock and my fake foam rocks. I can’t figure out any other way to keep it submerged without weighting it down with real rock. The reason I’m not using all real rock is I want a shelf/overhang to fit a specific spot....so finding a real rock for that hasn’t panned out. I like that backdrop btw...I should of done that.

I actually had the whole structure glued into the empty tank over the summer but no matter how much adhesive I used, the foam either broke loose from the adhesive or the foam literally broke in pieces!
 

JoeCamaro

Great work Joe and Ktorg! Yes it’s a lot of work and that’s why I’m bent (and I’m stubborn) on using what I made lol.
My structure fits in the tank but just takes up more space than I thought. So I’m reconfiguring a bit but it’s harder now with plants and fish in the tank.

Seasoldier you were correct in your 1st reply. I am using it on the floor of the tank. I’m using a combo of real rock and my fake foam rocks. I can’t figure out any other way to keep it submerged without weighting it down with real rock. The reason I’m not using all real rock is I want a shelf/overhang to fit a specific spot....so finding a real rock for that hasn’t panned out. I like that backdrop btw...I should of done that.

I actually had the whole structure glued into the empty tank over the summer but no matter how much adhesive I used, the foam either broke loose from the adhesive or the foam literally broke in pieces!
Ohhh I see. Well, coating it with cement should do the trick. You only coated it and painted it, right? If you coat it with cement, you have to either make sure you completely coat it with the sealer, otherwise it will leach stuff to your tank and raise the pH I think it is. I can't remember well.

Btw, I do not blame you in wanting to use it. I know the feeling. I wasn't trying to discourage you at all.

Also, thank you.
 

sloughdog

@JoeCamero What sealer did you use?
Just recoated some of the foam with the dry lock/cement.
 

Hepting_3000


20170907_220256.jpg

this is what I have done. Carved foam, covered in concert, covered in concert sealer and siliconed to glass. I would fill the tank with water and once the ph raised to above 7.6-7.8 I would dump the water and start with fresh until it stopped climbing. That took about 3 weeks.
 

JoeCamaro

@JoeCamero What sealer did you use?
Just recoated some of the foam with the dry lock/cement.
Rust-O-Leum LeakSeal
 

ktorg

Great work Joe and Ktorg!
Thanks!
I actually had the whole structure glued into the empty tank over the summer but no matter how much adhesive I used, the foam either broke loose from the adhesive or the foam literally broke in pieces!
What kind of adhesive? It should be 100% silicone.
 

sloughdog

Yes 100% silicone with no mildew resistance additives or mold or bactericides etc...
 

JoeCamaro


20170907_220256.jpg

this is what I have done. Carved foam, covered in concert, covered in concert sealer and siliconed to glass. I would fill the tank with water and once the ph raised to above 7.6-7.8 I would dump the water and start with fresh until it stopped climbing. That took about 3 weeks.
Looks great!
 

sloughdog

@Hepting that looks awesome. Well done.
 

2211Nighthawk

I made a 3D background using insulation foam (the pink one), cement, spray paint and acrylics paints, Rust-O-Leum LeakSeal and clear silicone.

It was a fun project, but I will be taking it off in February (more on that later)

What I did to hold it in place was I turned the aquarium on its back, glued the background with silicone and placed some heavy stuff on top of the background in different places and gave it a few days to cure.

Now, based on my experience, these are 2 things to watch out for:
1. Colors may change: I incorporated a dinosaur fossil decoration in my background. I painted it to match the brown of the decoration, but the color quickly faded. Now it doesn't look like it belongs.
2. Leave space between the aquarium glass and the background, mine is so tight I can barely fit a paper towel in between and a lot of dirt accumulates there. Make sure you can reach every nook and cranny so you can clean it.

I started my tank in February. At that time I wanted a Fantasy-themed aquarium. I loved it at first, but now I want something more natural. They only reason I will wait until February to remove the BG is so all the time and effort I put into the project was worth it, so 1 year is good enough.

Below are some photos of my aquarium's background and evolution.

JDSbSFQ.jpg

1bVJ1Nv.jpg

cnsqVvg.jpg

uDqAOqY.jpg

View media item 238926
I’ll take it!!
 

Hepting_3000

this is my most resent project, its currently in the stage of leaching out the stuff that make my ph go up to 8.5 plus over night.
drain, fill, wait over night, replete until ph stops climbing.


20171218_223436.jpg
 

sloughdog

What kind of adhesive are you using?
I think I figured out my issue. The one “rock” I made just had too much surface area making it way too buoyant. Trimmed it down and just recoated it yesterday. Will probably have to soak it in a separate container to prep it for the aquarium.
 

Hepting_3000

What kind of adhesive are you using?
I think I figured out my issue. The one “rock” I made just had too much surface area making it way too buoyant. Trimmed it down and just recoated it yesterday. Will probably have to soak it in a separate container to prep it for the aquarium.

100% silicone with no mildew resistance additives or mold or bactericides etc.
 

sloughdog

Same here. I’m using GE brand but haven’t been too happy with it...but there are 2 pieces stuck to the bottom of the tank that may never come out lol.
 

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