What paint is safe for aquariums?

HawkeyeDJ

AQUARIUM ... that must be latin for "sewage treatment plant."

Let's face it, that's essentially what an aquarium is. Our first goal is to create an environment that protects our finny friends (and others) from the toxic waste products they produce in a an enclosed box. The problem is that we don't (at least I don't) want it to look like a sewage treatment plant. I find the appearance of the various pieces of equipment to be an eyesore in what I want to be a living work of art. Therefore I'm about to build my first saltwater aquarium in 30 years with the intent to hide all the pipes and hoses and pumps, so that what people will see is only the beauty, not the mechanics.

My first question is what paint is safe and stable for saltwater?

I intend to install walls of either glass or acrylic to hide the equipment. All sight lines to the equipment would be blocked while still allowing plenty of flow throughout the tank. I would like to paint these walls to appear as undersea walls of some kind. I intend to incorporate rock fragments on the glass to give it an authentic 3-D appearance without taking up a lot of precious space in the tank. Perhaps something like the photo here.

Any suggestions?

PS: The tank specs are 36 gallons, 29 in. wide, 21 in. tall, 10.5 in. deep.
 

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MoshJosh

I would just buy colored acrylic or buy a prefabricated background, companies like Universal Rock and Aquadecor Backgrounds make some very cool and very realistic 3D backgrounds.

If you want an actual painting, like art work, I would try to find non-toxic acrylic pains to do the actual painting, then cover/seal the painting in a clear aquarium safe/pond safe epoxy. . . but that sounds like a lot of work.

Could also just make a sump so all of the equipment is hidden.
 
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HawkeyeDJ

I would just buy colored acrylic or buy a prefabricated background, companies like Universal Rock and Aquadecor Backgrounds make some very cool and very realistic 3D backgrounds.

If you want an actual painting, like art work, I would try to find non-toxic acrylic pains to do the actual painting, then cover/seal the painting in a clear aquarium safe/pond safe epoxy. . . but that sounds like a lot of work.

Could also just make a sump so all of the equipment is hidden.
Yeah, I just went over to Aquadecor and got an estimate. Somewhere between $500-700 for my tank. Beautiful work but way out of my budget. And I'm still not sure it will fit my particular needs. I'm thinking a color-by-number scheme (sort of) will work for me. I get a full color picture of what I want, place it on the back of the pre-cut glass sheet, paint the front to match the picture, glue some rock fragments for the 3-D look, and then let nature (and algae) do the rest.

Thanks for the acrylic paint tip.
 
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AquaPhilNJ

Some choose to do the closed loop aquarium and sump.
 
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John58ford

If you are going to do rock fragments anyhow: lay each piece (of acrylic) flat on a table, put a sheet of paper on it and trim to size. Lay out rock chips to cover the sheet of paper fairly well. Remember it's directional and should look stacked or eroded, I like to put the "fat" part of the individual rock facing up, to create the effect that the next rock above it is laying on it.

Once you have your rocks on the paper, select a sand that would look like the rocks you are using, but crushed up. Basalt rocks look good with black sand as an example. Now, with the rocks and sand dry, grab a tube (or more) of silicone 1, shoot a very fat bead on the left side of the acrylic. Then, quickly use a bondo knife to spread it evenly across the whole sheet like buttering bread. You want 1/8-1/4" thick. Now, quickly but carefully, move the rocks one by one from the paper onto the silicone. After you get the rocks on, cover the whole thing with sand, maybe a 1/2" deep. Mist the sand with a squirt bottle of water, then carefully pres straight down, patting the sand into the rock cracks.

Leave it for 3 days to dry, then, stand it up, sweep it off and then hit it with the garden hose. Should be sweet. If you don't want to risk the expensive acrylic, try a practice run on a sheet of cardboard, the glue is only $4-7 per tube and rocks are near free depending on what you choose.
 
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Apollo322

Yeah, I just went over to Aquadecor and got an estimate. Somewhere between $500-700 for my tank. Beautiful work but way out of my budget.

eBay - cheaper than Aquadecor - where I found most of ours, tape measure for the size.
 
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