DIY styrofoam background 10 Gallon Tank

Discussion in 'DIY - Do It Yourself' started by aylad, Dec 31, 2012.

  1. ayladWell Known MemberMember

    Today I finally started shaping some styrofoam for the background in my long-planned RCS tank. I'll use this thread to document my progress.

    I'm using a styrofoam "cutter" that is basically a long, hot wire that melts away the styro. I've never used it before. I'm mostly pleased, except for the strings of molten plastic that it leaves behind.

    Three pics and a video of my progress so far:

    Started with a chunk very similar to this. The styro was packaging on our new TV a few months ago.

    Ended with this. The "cave" will open onto a cavity hiding the heater and one of the two sponge filters. I wanted a big opening so shrimp could graze on the filter without getting trapped, but the opening is now too big: I did want the equipment to be inconspicuous.

    My work area. The cutting tool is in the foreground.


    I ended up making another piece for the video to close up the hole a bit. (My cinematographer/wife says the camera adds 10 pounds to my hands. :p)
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2012
  2. Matt BWell Known MemberMember

    I can see where you're going with that, I like it! Especially the sponge filter "bay" where the shrimp can get access to it. :;th Neat tool too, tell your wife she was filming your hands "bad side" ;)

  3. ayladWell Known MemberMember

    Thanks, I'll pass that along. ;D

    I need to get back to work on it, probably this weekend. I'm very excited to be making progress, finally.
  4. Matt BWell Known MemberMember

    That must be a satisfying media to work with, much faster progress than my usual bashing rocks and hoping they end up in the shape I want!

    I've seen these type of backgrounds come out awesome, even by people making their first attempt. So, I'll be interested to see how it progresses.

    I love diy stuff in general, it seems like no matter what you buy decor wise you're settling to some degree, when you make it yourself its exactly what you imagined! (most of the time)
  5. ayladWell Known MemberMember

    Amen to that. :)
  6. ayladWell Known MemberMember

    I just made some more progress on another corner piece for this tank.

    Starting with this:


    I carved much of it away and added some of the scrap pieces back on to make:


    This took about an hour, but it's still a work in progress. Before I can proceed, I've got to glue the scrap pieces to the base chunk so that I can keep it together while I work on it.

    EDIT: In fact, I've just posted a question about this here:

    Here they are in a tank (10gal, the same size they're going into for real):


    I still have a lot of work to do. The background will go all the way across the back, all the way up to the top, and will include some "rock"-work in the mid/foreground from one end of the tank to the other.

    For anyone who is interested in using a similar tool to cut styrofoam: I figured out how to clean off the accumulated polystyrene on the wire. Basically you prop it up somewhere safe and let it sit, turned on, for a while. This gets the polystyrene fibers nice and liquid. Without turning off the tool, scrape it against the edge of a piece of cardboard to wipe off the melted polystyrene. (Don't let it linger against the cardboard. I don't know how hot it gets.)
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
  7. wolverinedValued MemberMember

    That is an awesome idea using the hot iron makes it less messy I bet.
  8. ayladWell Known MemberMember

    Finally made some time to get a lot more work done on shaping the styrofoam. I also figured out how to spot-weld styrofoam together with the heat tool, which made it easier to move forward without breaking out the silicone just yet. :)

    Before (from the post above):
    After, with flash:
    After, without flash:

    Obviously I'm biased, but I'm very happy with how it looks so far. :party0024:

    My wife deserves all credit for the idea, but thanks. :) It depends on what you mean by "less messy"... the iron pulls strings of molten polystyrene behind it, and those have to be pulled or brushed off of the finished piece. On the other hand, there aren't little beads of foam getting all over the place. I'd rather have the strings than the beads. I think.

    Mainly the tool just makes it easier -- a LOT easier -- to make cuts and trim pieces off.
  9. OldFort ExoticsValued MemberMember

    Very nice
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2013
  10. Geef64Valued MemberMember

    what did you use to paint it with or color it other than white

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice