Aquarium Set-up :
- Fresh Water Aquarium Set-up :
The following preocedure is for Basic Tropical fresh water aquarium set up which you need to be familiar with .. then we will explain more coplected aquariums ( We advise to take alook and read the Aquarium Cimponents before that )
Aquariums are a lovely addition to any space, creating a lively focal point and a source of color and entertainment. Read below the jump to learn the steps involved in setting up a tropical freshwater aquarium. You'll be pleased with the process as well as the end result, and finish with a new 'water world' of your own.
1- Before you get your aquarium, choose a place to put it. Remember that wherever you place it needs to be able to support the weight of the aquarium
2-Bear in mind the temperature of the location.
3-Set your aquarium up. Place it securely in its new home, and if possible check to make sure it is level. Remember, unless it is a very small tank, once it is full you should never attempt to move it. Moving a tank with water in it can lead to disaster.Please Remmber :
- Every 1 liter of water equal to 1 Kg ..So 100 liters will be 100 kg !
-Don't used any chemicals when you clean the tank
-Plan the equipments sizes and wieght , also enough space for maintenance .
4-Rinse your gravel/substrate. If you plan on using live plants, consider researching what substrate is best to use. Remember, some fish have specific requirements on what substrate/gravel they need. You will need approximately 250g of gravel per liter of tank (depending on your setup). It is important to have enough gravel as gravel is a place for good bacteria to grow on(more on those later). You will want to rinse your gravel well before placing it in a tank to remove dust and debris from travel. If you are using an undergravel filtration system install this now. Scoop the gravel into your tank slowly so you do not damage or scratch the glass. Generally it is best to create a gentle slope of gravel; deepest in the back and most shallow in the front.
5-Water time! Place a small, clean dish on the gravel floor of the aquarium, and pour water into this dish if you wish to avoid displacing the gravel. If you are a beginner fish keeper, it will be easiest for you to use tap water.
6-Add de-chlorinator (a liquid that will render your tap water safe for fish to live in it, it removes the chlorine. Good brands will also remove chlorine, ammonia, and nitrite). Be sure to follow the instructions on the package.
7-Add your decorations. Remember to use only safe decor for a freshwater aquarium. Not all rock types are safe for freshwater aquariums- research or ask your local fish shop what their recommendation is. Consider what species you are going to keep- decor for an aquarium full of African Cichlids would be different than for goldfish, for example.
8-Attach your filter. Each filter is different so be sure to follow instructions. Once it is hooked up properly, you may plug it in and ensure that it operates properly. If you are using a canister style filter, consider attaching the spray bar so that it agitates (creates ripples) on the surface of the water. This will help dissolve oxygen for your fish. All other types of filters should normally agitate the water.
9-Place your heater into the tank. Follow instructions carefully! Some heaters are fully submersible, some or not. Wait at least 30 minutes before plugging your heater in! If you fail to do this you run the risk of causing the heater to shatter due to thermal inversion. Set the heater at a proper temperature. This may take some fiddling depending on your heater model.
10-Place the thermometer in/on the tank. Ideally most tropical freshwater fish enjoy a constant temperature in the 24 °C (75 °F) - 28ºC range. Research the species you wish to keep to learn about specific temperature requirements.
11-Place the aquarium hood and lighting on the tank. Note that most lighting will work for any species you keep, however additional research should be preformed if you wish to keep live plants. Live plants often require more than standard lighting. Some fish keepers find that attaching their light to a timer is beneficial.
12-Confirm that all cords have a drip-loop. A drip loop is a U-shape in the cord, so that if any water were to drip down the cord, it will fall to the floor instead of running into an electrical socket!
13-Test your water. Test for pH, carbonate hardness(KH), General Hardness(GH), Nitrites, Nitrates, and Ammonia. You should not have any Ammonia, Nitrite or Nitrate yet, unless your tap water contains these. Calcium carbonate (hardness) ties in to pH. If you have very soft water, the pH of your tank can become unstable. If your water is soft, add conditioning salt & KH Powder to your tank to prevent a pH crash. Most freshwater fish can live in a pH from 6.5 to 8.0. (7.0)is Neutral and preferred by most fish. Ask your aquarium to test your tap water for its pH level. If your pH ranges are above or below, Ask the staff at your local aquarium for advise.#* Remember that fish are very adaptable. They are more likely to get sick from a fluctuating pH than a stable but less than perfect one.
Test your pH at least once per month and never let it drop below 6.0.
14-Sit back and relax. Grab a book or hop on the Internet and decide what kinds of fish you might like. You will need to wait at least 48 hours before adding your first fish. Adding too many fish too quickly is usually the worst of beginner's mistakes and usually leads to total tank failure.
15-Adding fish, and understanding your new tank. Adding fish is the most exciting part of setting up the tank! Unfortunately, it is often the worst mistake unless done properly. By following these steps, you will help to avoid the heartbreak of having all your fish die:
Let your tank run without anything in it for at least 48 hours. This helps the temperature stabilize. It allows you to make sure your water parameters are safe, and gives the dust and all parts of your tank to settle.
If you plan on keeping live plants, add them. They will help jump start the biological process needed to support live fish in your tank.
Take time to understand that your tank is not just a fancy cage for your fish. It is an entire ecosystem. Fish produce lots of ammonia- they produce it when they defecate, and they produce it as they breathe. That's what the filter is for, right? Well, yes and no. The filter only works properly when it is full of nitrifying bacteria. These are the good bacteria necessary to support your live fish. Without these bacteria, the ammonia that your fish make stays in the water and poisons your fish. Your brand new tank, being clean and newly set up, does not contain these good bacteria. If you add a group of fish without letting this bacteria grow in your tank, you are dooming your fish. This bacteria takes anywhere from 2-6 weeks to populate! So, what do you do? There are several methods of 'breaking in' or 'cycling' a tank... So, Cycle your tank.
If you know someone with a tank that has been set up for more than two months and with healthy fish, you can borrow some used filter media from them. Keep the media wet until you add them to your tank (gotta keep those good bacteria alive!). The good bacteria will have a jump start in populating your tank. If you don't know a friend with fish, you can purchase live bacteria in several forms from your local aquarium.
16-Add fish slowly. If possible, add no more than 1-2 smaller fish per 40 liters. For the first week, feed them very sparingly (a tiny amount) every other day. This is not cruel- remember if you overfeed at this point it may kill them. If you have your own test kit you can test your water daily, keeping a special eye on the Ammonia and Nitrite levels. If at any time the Ammonia or Nitrite spike to a dangerous level, perform a 20-30% water change. Never remove more than 30% at this stage (or you run the risk of killing your good bacteria off) and always replace with dechlorinated water. After a week it should be suitable for you to add a few more fish, and repeat the process. Barring any problems, you should have a stable tank within 4-6 weeks. After your tank is stable, you can feed on a regular schedule and can add fish as you desire. Remember: adding a large number of fish at a time sometimes causes the tank to become temporarily imbalanced, so use caution. Also remember that your tank can only support a limited number of fish per liter. This number depends on how large the fish is and its eating habits.
Top 10 Common Mistakes In Fish Keeping and Aquarium set-up :
1. One of the most common mistakes in fish keeping is not cycling your tank. You go out get a fish, plop it in some water and call it a day. This common mistake can lead to fish illness and even fish death. Cycling is a process in which good bacteria grow to deal with ammonia, and nitrite in the water. Ammonia comes from fish food and fish waste. You will get it no matter what you do. Cycling your tank takes time. This time can vary based on the size of your tank, whether you have fish already, if you use live bacteria to “jump start” your tank and what you “Feed” your tank with. I am currently cycling my tank with fish and have come to realize how difficult this process is. I would recommend to anyone reading this to do a fishless cycle. There are many good articles detailing a fishless cycle already: If you just HAVE to have that perfect fish (and I strongly recommend you don’t do this) then you are in for an uphill battle. Daily and I mean that daily partial water changes and daily testing for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate are in store for you.
2. The next mistake that I have seen a lot of is overstocking. This means too many fish for too small a space. Lots of people find a million fish they like and want to keep but only have a five gallon tank. Fish need space to swim in to be happy and comfortable. The general rule of thumb is one inch of grown up fish ((They get bigger!)) to 1 gallon of water. Now this is only a loose rule as some fish are much more messy ((Like the common goldfish)) and they need more room. Some fish get aggressive in small spaces and will injure other fish if your tank is too small. Others like to live in large groups of their own kind and will be very unhappy alone or in pairs.
3. Number two leads straight to number three. The fish bowl. We’ve all done it. You win a fish or get one gifted to you and the only spot you have available is the fish bowl or that vase your mother-in-law gave you seven years ago. These items are TOO SMALL for actual fish! The water quickly becomes polluted and as the fish grows they lose the very small bit of swimming room they may have had when they were juveniles. Please get AT LEAST a five gallon tank. Remember bigger in this case is always better!
4. Another common mistakes is equipment. ALL FISH need filtration. Even that little Betta you got in the cup. A lot of beneficial bacteria live in the filter and it adds oxygen to the water which fish need to breathe. Filtration, be a little gentle sponge filter or a turbo boosted “Home Improvement” style filter is needed to get some of the fish waste and gunk out of your tank. A little side note here, DON’T clean your filters under tap water! This water holds chemicals that kill your bacteria. Swish them gently in a bucket of used tank water. When replacing filters ((Also note: you don’t need to do this often, white filters are actually bad as you are replacing all your bacteria with no bacteria)) place the old one in front or behind the new one or cut it up and put it in with your new filter so your tank doesn’t lose all your beneficial bacteria.
5. Now for some more chemistry: Ph. Check your Ph levels once a week and try to avoid using aquarium products like Ph up or Ph down, these are TEMPORARY solutions at best. Most fish can adjust to any stable Ph value, its rapid fluctuations that are truly harmful. If you have low Ph adding crushed coral or shells, limestone works well too, to your tank or to the filter is usually a good idea. If you have high Ph and want to lower it, use some peat in a mesh bag ((Warning this MAY discolour your water)) or a piece of wood can help too. Just remember most fishes will be okay with a strange Ph. If you are changing your PH don’t do it all at once, lower or raise it gradually so your fish are not shocked.
6. This one is an important one.. Most people go to the pet store, see a pretty fish or two, buy it and mesh the fish in with ones they already have. I STRONGLY suggest you research the needs of your fish. They may be pretty and add that perfect splash of colour to your tank but you may wake up to a missing fish or even worse a dead one. All fish live in certain parts of the world for a reason, they have adapted over centuries to live there. Temperature, behaviour, survival instinct, chemical balance all these things are a need to know BEFORE you buy your fish and put them in the tank. Goldfish for example are COLD WATER fishes and can’t survive well in heated water with tropicals. Male bettas are fighting fish, they will nip the fins of other fish when they are elaborate and they generally need a soft gentle filter as their fins slow them down. Angel fish are predatory, they will eat smaller fish and since they are taller than they are long, they prefer a deep tank. All this is important stuff to know.
7. Feeding your fish. Feeding your fish may be more complicated than you know. Lots of people buy flake food and leave it at that. Fish are like people they need variety in their diet. Live food, plant material and protein plus vitamins and minerals are all important. KNOW what your fish eats: is it an herbivore? ((eats nothing but plant material)) Is it a carnivore? ((Eats nothing but meat with very little plants)) Or is it an omnivore? ((Eats both meat and plants)). There is a remarkable range of foods available for fish these days, Live, flakes, pellets, wafers, frozen,
freeze dried and “people food” like peas and lettuce. Remember if you feed your fish frozen food, thaw it out first.
8. Seven leads to eight.. Overfeeding. Again a very common mistake and it may take you a couple days or even weeks ((Weeks in my case, I have mollies which are little beggars. Even if they are not hungry they will “Beg” for food then spit it out when I give in to them)) to figure out how much your fishes eat and how much gets wasted. Wasting the food isn’t the problem here, its your money, its that decaying food adds to your bio-load ((what the bacteria can process)). Food decaying on the bottom of your tank can produce excess ammonia and overwhelm your beneficial bacteria.
9. This is a common mistake that I see happen more often than not. Over cleaning. You think you are being a good owner by keeping the tank sparkly clean for your fishes but really what you are doing is scrubbing or sucking up all your bacteria. Filters are supposed to be brown! Never use soaps or detergents on your tank or tank items ((like decorations or gravel)). They carry harmful substances for your fish. You should never have to “break down” a tank. Most literature says to do this once a year, but if you keep up with weekly maintenance you shouldn’t have to dismantle everything and start over. Get a gravel vacuum and use it to suck out any waste hiding in the substrate ((the stuff on the bottom of your tank, gravel, sand, peat, marbles)). Gently swish the filter media (the pad thingy) in OLD TANK WATER, not tap water. You can keep on top of algae but getting a fish that likes to eat it ((Like mollies or plecos.. make sure you have room for them and do your research!)) or by getting a gentle scrub brush or magnetized glass cleaner. Reduce the amount of light your tank gets (Never place your tank in or by a window!) a day and do your partial water changes once or twice a week to get rid of built up nitrAtes. Live plants can help with nitrAte excess but they are not completely needed if you keep up with water changes.
10. Under cleaning. Having a tank comes with responsibility. You are responsible for keeping the fishes environment clean and free of toxins. Do WEEKLY partial (25-50%) water changes and use a gravel vacuum to get left over food. ((Never clean all the gravel or all of the filter at once!)) Test your water weekly for ammonia, nitrite and nitrAte. Ammonia should be zero, nitrite should be zero and NitrAte should be less than 40 ppm. Water from the tap NEEDS to be conditioned to get rid of chlorine and chloramines and heavy metals. Make sure the temperature of the replacement water is the as close to the water in the tank as you can get it.
The 10 most common mistakes. didn’t cover anything about baby fishes and fish stress or sickness.
keep reading.. You’ll never know when you come across the perfect solution that meets your specific needs. This site and many others cover lots of the basics for new beginners! Talk to other people that keep fishes, something they do might help you out. Be wary of generic pet stores as most often then not they are just doing their jobs and trying to sell you
A lot of kinds of decoration materials available, we can say that every materials from river or lakes for fresh water aquariums can be suitable for the aquarium that you plan but it is need to be selected, cleaned and arranged carefully with sense in the aquarium, try to avoid and artificial materials, like artificial plants, games, plastic pipes and figures..
There is three types o decoration materials you can use: pebbles and sand for bottom furnishing – wood and roots – rocks..
You can use any of these materials.. but try to search the internet , emerge yourself with underwater movies and documentaries , read books and magazines and try to find something special ..
Several types, shapes and colors for wood
Bottom Furnishing materials ..
Use rocks with Protrusions , lumps and curves textures ... are good with light reflection to give a natural sense in the aquarium ..
- Plants :
Several types, shapes and colors of plants are available in the pet shops and aquarium market . we will explained these types in seperate division of this website but as we are in the aquarium construction and set up must know the proper way to planting ..
Firstly avoid the the roots to be out of the sand bed of the aquarium , if you afraid that the plant will be floating .. best to use rubber band or fibre yarn and tight to the small rock or pebble ..
Cut the long roots ..
plant and press the soil around
Fish Density :
Adding fish must be after the cycling of the aquarium which take time between two to three weeks - Will be explained in the aquarium Maintenance idivision of this website -
Quantity of Fishes must not add as your desire there is a rule or quatity of water needed , Generally speaking every 1 cm of fishes need 1.5 liter of water , which mean 10 cm fish length ned 15 kiter of water or 10 fishes each one measure around 1 cm need also 15 cm , Creatures like snails , crabs and lobsters need 3 liter per 1 cm of water .
The Cable Heater : it 's hard to find nowdays hobbyist use this type of heater it is best way to warm the aquarium both soil and water ..
Cable heater with transformer the red cable is the heat cable ..
Cable lying in the bottom of the tank - avoid to touch the bottom glass , best to put some soil under the cable
Put soil and fill with the water like any normal aquarium
-Aquarium Background :
There is a several types of aquarium background ..
Above is several types of background :
2-3- Rock slate
5- Rounds rocks
6- Structure of slate rocks
The best ways to make a background aquarium by your self ( DIY:Do it yourself ) by taking an examples and know how to do that :
Example One : Using Real Natural rocks as an Aquarium Background :
1- The question was how to get the rocks to stick to the background. In my very first tank back home in Germany, I had experimented with attaching the rocks to each other using silicone, to create a big, permanent rock labyrinth. The structure hadn’t lasted very long, and from then on I had always built my cave structures by simply balancing the rocks on top of each other. Yet, silicone was pretty much the only thing I could think of to glue the rocks to the back wall of the tank. If I was going to experiment with this, I was not going to try it on a 240G tank. In addition, there were a few other things, like for example an under gravel jet (UGJ) system, that I had only read about on the Internet, and was keen to check out in a smaller setting before installing the in the 240G. I purchased a 29G tank from Walmart to be used as a guinea pig for some of the techniques on trial for the 240G, and to be turned into a South American tank that would give me something to look at while I was planning and setting up the big tank. At the time I hadn’t had a tank in nine years, and was desperate to get something running. The setup of the 29G SA tank will be discussed separately on this site, but as far as the background is concerned, I picked up some flagstone pieces of not more than 2″ thickness at a local creek, laid them out on the ground at the local DIY carwash, and gave them a good cleaning with the power washer. Once the rocks had dried overnight, I put the tank on the floor with the future back wall on the ground. Then I covered this side of the tank completely with flagstone, starting with thicker pieces at the bottom and choosing some nice big ones that would reach all the way to the water surface in the middle.
2-I tried to create a nice natural looking pattern. My Dad used to be a landscape gardener, and has designed many beautiful rock gardens in Germany. A design principal that I picked up from him is that the rocks should look really stable; that is not like they are just about to topple over. For this you want to have the big ones at the bottom and smaller ones at the top, and it is worth really looking at every rock, and finding just the right place for it. This is a lot like completing a jigsaw puzzle, but with a lot more creative freedom. Much later I learned that this design principle is also important in creating the fantastic Japanese Zen Gardens, which serve aquascape design guru Takashi Amano as an inspiration for the creation of many of his aquarium art pieces. I am a great admirer of Amano and own a range of his books. Anyway, on the viewer stable rock formations tend to have a calming and relaxing effect, which I think is desirable for almost any aquarium setup.
3-For the 29G I used GE Silicone II for door and window. It should be available at any Lowes or Home Depot, but don’t confuse it with the silicone they sell for bath and kitchen. The latter contains mildew inhibitors which are harmful to fish. Rumors on the Internet have it that the door and window variety used to state that it’s aquarium safe on the packet, and only stopped doing so when GE started a collaboration with Allglass to sell some of this stuff under the Allglass brand name with a significant markup. As I said, it’s a rumor, but it sounds very plausible to me and at any rate, GE Silicone II for door and window is definitely aquarium safe. I have used it for years and never had a problem.
4-For the 29G tank I used clear silicone, and sprinkled substrate on it in the places where it protrudes between the flagstones. My substrate is black T-grade 3M Color Quartz, and unfortunately the silicone cures white. It’s not a big eyesore, but for the 240G tank, where I am using the same black substrate, I used black silicone. Once the silicone had cured and securely attached the flagstone to the back wall of the 29G, I turned the tank in the upright position, and proceeded to lift it onto its stand. I was stunned by how heavy the tank had become. In fact, I am a 6′ tall guy and barely managed to get the 29G onto its stand by myself. Now, nearly 3 years later, I can say that the rock background in the 29G has held up well. There were two places were I used silicone to attach rocks to rocks, to create a little planter for Java fern, and to add visual interest, and in both of these places the rock has come loose. However, the rock siliconed to the glass is still holding on strong. Now partly overgrown with Java fern and Java moss, the background simply looks stunning.
This palette holds 1 ton of rocks – about 3-4 times as much as I actually used for the 240G tank.
5- For the 240G it would not be possible to pick up all the rocks from a creek, so I went to a local building and landscaping rock supplier (Ohio Beauty Cut Stone Inc., 40 W. Turkeyfoot Lake Road, Akron OH 44319, Phone: 330-644-2241, Fax: 330-644-5559). The selection of rocks they had on offer was simply stunning, and visiting their stone yard should be well worth your while even if you have a longer trip to make to get there. I ordered one of their cheapest rocks, thin Ohio Top Rock, which seemed just perfect for my purposes. The estimated maximum thickness of the rocks is about 3″ to 4″. I found estimating how many rocks I would need very difficult, and I ended up having a palette with one ton – yep, 2000 pounds! – of rocks delivered to my house. The cost was quite reasonable at $140 for the rocks and $65 for delivery. Tax brought the total up to $272.21. When I drove home I was still wondering if I should have ordered more, but once the background was completed, I had only used up about 1/4 to 1/3 of the rocks. The remainder will come in handy for gardening and landscaping projects around the house. Also, it wasn’t completely useless to order a complete palette, since this gave me the opportunity to pick the biggest and nicest rocks out of a wide selection. Most importantly, I chose three big slabs of rock for the middle section of the background between the overflow boxes. Each of these pieces reached from the bottom of the tank all the way up over the present water surface. There were only three pieces of comparable size on the palette. While lifting these pieces into the tank I had to be extremely careful as they could only just be angled diagonally between the center braces into the tank. I covered the tank floor thickly with Styrofoam during this process in order to prevent bumps. Unlike in the 29G, I did not feel comfortable putting the huge weight of these large rocks directly onto the tank floor. As a result I covered the area under the rocks with a thin strip of Styrofoam, which I left in place, and eventually sealed towards the front with silicone to prevent fish from digging into it. So far I havenâ€™t had any problems with it, and the tank is holding up well.
You can see the 2×2 pieces of lumber, which prevent the largest rocks from tipping forward until the silicone has cured.
6- Considering that I had needed six people to move the empty tank into the house (many thanks to the students from my wife’s research grouphelping out, especially Mike Radomski, who I believe at one stage was holding the tank up all by himself!), there was no chance to move the tank by one bit once the rocks were in place. The technique I used to install the background in the 240G involved putting the large rocks at the bottom in place first and bracing them against the front glass using 2×2 lumber that I cut to just the right length.
Real rock background, just installed, but not yet wet.
7- Once the silicone used for the bottom layer of rocks was cured, I could then add the second layer, moving the 2×2 braces as required. In this way over the course of several days I eventually completed the whole background. As discussed, for this tank I used black silicone, and I also filled in the gaps between the rocks with this material as well as possible. Once the silicone was in place, I coated it with substrate to make it look even less obtrusive. There are very few places were I left confined areas open behind the rocks that the fish can use as caves. Yet, it appears that the fish quickly found any remaining gaps and manage to disappear completely behind the background. For example I have about two dozenSynodontis petricola in the tank, which I bought when very little, but some of whom are now approaching 4″. I never ever see these catfish during the day, since they choose to live entirely in and behind the background. They don’t even come out at feeding time, and people have suggested that I feed less to make this happen, but the main purpose of this tank right now is to grow out my frontosa, so I feed plenty for that reason. The only time I am seeing the petricolas is at night with just the moonlight on. During this time the whole tank seems to be swarming with petricolas, and the swarm freely through all levels of the water column.
Real rock background; one rock at the top still supported by 2×2; right-hand side not yet complete.
8- The possibility of fish disappearing behind the background is its only possible disadvantage. Now, two years after setting it up, it continues to overgrow with algae, Java fern, and Java moss, and I am extremely happy with its natural look.
Real rock background, about 2 years after installation.
Epoxy , Slicon or any good aquarium safe adhesives an be work to attach wood , roots or rock to the glass background of the aquarium
Example Two : Creating roots and background by foam and natural materials:
One of the elements that strongly characterize the set up ofa tank is the back wall: I always had the strong desire to recreate the shoreof a river.
That was my goal. The shore, either muddy, rocky or covered by plants, is notonly choreographically interesting but can offer, both in nature and in a tank, a protection for fish or invertebrates, hiding places and shaded areas where they can procreate or reduce the stress that always no matter how big the tank is, can modify their behavior turning them into more aggressive animals or inducing several types of diseases.
My previous experiences with different types of wood, organic and inorganic materials, and commercialized products allowed me to choose the more appropriate without (after introducing them in the tank) having to repent of my decision.
I also tried to keep the production costs low, trying to create a product nice, realistic, and functional without having to spend too much money, letting fantasy, creativity, and patience take control during the work.
Following is the description step by step of the Antibodi’s wall construction.
The products that I bought in a Brico center (an Italian hardware store) are the following:
A panoramic of all the products
1- Vinyl elastic gloves. The polystyrene gloves are fine as well, in a package of 10, even though it is easier to find them in packages of 100 (no problem, you can always find a use for them). Just to be more specific I used 2 pairs to work with the silicon and about ten pairs to mold and set the expanse polyurethane for all the creation that I made. Be careful because polyurethane is rather sticky and could create some problems to your hands if you don’t use those useful precautions. Try to buy the right size of gloves, they have to be tight, otherwise it will be difficult to work the polyurethane, that after a short while hardens and causes problems with gloves that are too big. The expanse polyurethane is a rather common building product (even in the “do it yourself"), so it is easy to find in hardware stores. Initially I bought 2 packages of 25 liters each. I realized then that it would not have been enough and I bough two more (50 liters each) that I used almost completely. Probably, having being mixed with different materials, it didn’ts well much, and I needed an extra amount, but at the same time it helped in making the back wall more solid.
Two bottles of expanse polyurethanic foam
Quartz sand is used in buildings, easy to find, rather grayand very fine.
It is important to use different kinds of sand or powder,both in size and color.
This will help you create different shades of color anda more realistic look.
For this reason I used at the same time grayish quartz sandand another sand (previously bought), similar in size but rather yellowish incolor.
I also used lava powder, very nice looking, rather dark or reddish incolor. The silicon must be acetic and not the anti-mold type, Ibought it black, but since you use I only to attach the polystyrene and the PVCbottle to the Polyver (sealing polyurethane) leaf, it can also be white ortransparent, it doesn’t matter, it will be entirely covered by the othermaterials. A polyver leaf of the right size and about 3 mm thick, it can be adapted to the size of the tank’s back wall, and polystyrene that you will cut into pieces.
I bought them both in the same hardware store.
2- Certainly it has been useful to hide as mush as possible the instruments that will be used for the normal functioning of the tank, like the heater and the entrance tube for the external filter.
I thought at a functional and easy to make solution, took tow bottles of mineral water (one and a half liter each), I cut them as showin the photo and adapted them to create a sort of a tube into which to put the instruments. You can also use the usual building tubes (orange or white), sealed at the bottom.
I attached it to the Plexiglas wall with silicon, leaving the top open. In the sealed bottom I opened two holes with a red-hot tool, where I put two PVC tubes to let the water flow. In this way I managed to both create an easy solution to the instrument hiding problem, and at the same time I created a bump in the back wall, giving a greater depth to it and a sense of greater random aspect to the wall.
The bottle that contains the tube of the filter and the heater
3- When I was attaching the bottle with silicon, I also attached pieces of polystyrene, creating some dynamic effect to the wall, in order to avoid having to use later more material. Polystyrene is cheap, easy to work with and very light.
The poliver leaf with some elements attached
4-When I first started to describe my adventure, I told you about my interest in searching for natural materials: soil, sand, leaves, small branches, roots, rocks and pebbles, dried grass, are all materials that in due time form the shores of rivers and lakes, and I strongly wanted to use them, trying to imitate the natural process.
Two pieces of green tube, used for entrance of the filtration
Some of the natural material used
5- In the different phases of covering the back wall I attached to the expanse polyurethane all those materials, trying to do so in a random way, fixing some of them with small amounts of polyurethane.
In the photo you can see some of the materials I collected: leaves, rocks, dried grass, that I didn’t wash, and that I tried to insert by breaking them in small pieces whenever possible, or, at the end, all in one piece.
The bottle attached with silicone
6- At first I recommend to start playing with polyurethane and sand. Put the latter on a flat surface (I used a left over piece of polystyrene) spray the polyurethane (about a first), trying not to spread around the sand, and start molding it.
Fill little by little the entire wall, keeping the surface irregular (thanks to the glued polystyrene that you have previously used). I suggest to start from on side and to use the gray sand (the other can be used later to create shades of color).
Broken wine roots on pavement
7- I operated by mixing the different materials with sand and polyurethane, layer after layer, don’t be afraid, the layers will become more compact, so you can operate in different phases. With a little patience (not even that much!) lots of fantasy and creativity I sat on the ground, and taking advantage of a beautiful sunny day, with some breeze, I finished the first part of the wall in about two hours. Be careful! Keep your gloves on and try not to breath the product, work outdoor if possible.
The poliver leaf has been completely covered with the materials
8- All the materials have been pasted together, including somepieces of roots and gravel I found on the site.
I have to admit that when it all starts to get into a shape you not only are very motivated to continue and to finish soon, in order to put it quickly in the tank, but you also are satisfied by your work and start imagining how to place the plants and the other materials in the tank.
I recommend you to operate at random, not to press the paste too much, give some little bumps to it with your fingers if you want some parts to be more flat. Remember that you are trying to create something as realistic as possible.
At times it happens to admire the photo of a river, with its shores covered by plants, rocks, roots. I saved the latter since a few months, and put them aside for the “big day” since I had admired them a lot. They are roots of vine, a deep walnut brown, not too thick, of various length, that I put in groups of 2 or 3 elements within about ten centimeters from the sides of the wall.
The wine roots over the grass
9- The roots stayed a few weeks in running water, having had care to cover them with water completely. I fixed them to the wall when the greatest amount of the work was done. I attached them with polyurethane in the spots I had selected, trying to keep them in the right position with rocks, letting the polyurethane dry. It doesn’t take long, maybe 10 minutes, till the solidity is sufficient.
The background against the wall
10-Don’t worry if the polyurethane used to fix the roots (it happened to me too) will be of a different color and shape, sort of out of place with the rest of the wall. The final touches, also using the plastivel (a plastifying paint spray), will be easy to make. Good! The wall is done, or at least the greatest part ofthe creative work I mean, because afterwards, other than final touchesin the coloring or the adding of a few more materials, we will alsohave to protect it, as much as possible, using a non toxic transparentpaint, the plastivel.
11- You can lift the wall and let the excess sand to fall, dust then the wall in order to eliminate the excess material. Don’t worry if the green entry tubes are visible, they will be easy to hide with some plants of a rock, but I decided to give them some space for easy access.
The polyurethane mixed with all the materials took a few hours to become solid and compact, but I recommend waiting a few days before passing to the following construction steps.
The top of the bottle with hidden instruments and filter tube-in
A lateral view of the background
12- In this view from the top you can notice the space for the instruments, keep it in mind before choosing the bottles to use. I used two bottles I had handy at the moment, but you can try to find a unique bigger bottle, maybe a two liter bottle will be enough.
The nearly complete work
13-Here is the final result for the first phase of the creation. I also put some lava rocks at the bottom to figure out how the look would be with the wall and the decorations in the tank.
Pulverized lava stone and some grey sand
14-In a hardware store I bought a liquid plastivel can and a spray bottle, and, of course, a brush. I started painting the wall with light brushing, trying neither to break nor to move the delicate dry leaves or the small branches sticking out. I had to give careful touches with the tip of brush in the most difficult zones, such as between the roots. This wasn’t too difficult, but it is certainly not easy to cover the entire surface with plastivel, that’s why I later used the spray as well.
The plastivel and a brush
15-I want to remark that the color after using the plastivel will slightly change, in my case they became darker, also because I used lava powder, so if you want to keep the wall very light in color, use very light sand and other elements.
And finally we came to final result. The back wall before being put into the tank looks like this.
With the same procedure I had used to create the Antibodi’s wall I created some rocks to give a sense of continuity with the back wall. Over a plastic bag I assembled the materials to use for the mix, therefore more grayish quartz sand, some pieces of lava rock, leaves and dry branches, pieces of polystyrene, small rocks and the ever present polyurethane. Remember to enclose within the paste or at the bottom a rock heavy enough to keep the created rock at the bottom of the tank, otherwise when you will add the water it will float to the surface (I used a plastic container to make a few attempts during the process).
16-I mixed the various components breaking the leaves and Isprayed the polyurethane. The overall size was that of an apple. I mixed it,punching slightly with my fingers, adding sand and waited for the polyurethaneto dry, 10/15 minutes are enough.
The material over the bag
17-After about 10 minutes the plastivel had made the rocks rather solid already, but to be on the safe side I didn’t touch them till the following day. With this method you can create endless forms to furnish your tank. Not only back walls, but also group of rocks, plant supports, hiding places for instruments or the aquarium living guests.
All the elements together
18-Once in the tank I will decide where to put the Antibodi’s rocks, for the time being I only tried to imagine at once what they would look like, by putting them at the bottom of the wall.
Final touches before putting the wall in the tank. I cut the extra pieces of polyurethane that were sticking out using a normal knife.
Then I rinsed it all with a garden tube, and I let it dry against a wall.
19-With some precaution I put it in the tank, and I was glad to see that it fitted perfectly. I have to admit that when I turned the lights on I was struck by the fact that it looked really nice and realistic under the neon lights.
The out-tube of the external filter that can be now seen running at the top of the wall will be hidden later. I will spray it will a small amount of polyurethane, that I will cover, the way I did for the rest, with quartz sand mixed with lava powder. Then, if it will be necessary (the water will not arrive up to there, I will cover it all with plastivel.
I could have inserted the tube in the overall wall before, I recommend you to think about is when working.
The back wall inside the aquarium
The roots touch the sand
20- In those two photos, that show some details of the wall, you can notice the choice of not using for the back the same materials I used for the wall, since I thought that a small difference in the tone of color could be beneficial to the overall look, even though (the way it happened to me with other fish tanks) the back wall will change in time, and the addition of other materials or the dwellers themselves will change the look and the composition.
21- Another small attempt I made to make the wall as realisticas possible was to use different dried leaves, with different colors, covered with plastivel, to allow them to last a long time in water and avoid rotting.
The leaves are poplar’s, a type of wood I had already used in the past.
The poplar's leaves at the sun
22- The tank is 180 liters and has 2 neon tubes of 30 watts each. I changed the lights by inserting another neon (20 watts), not so much to increase the overall power, but to create a sort of dusk and dawn effect. I always though that a sudden change in lighting will stress the fish, so I set the extra neon tube in order for it to start and stop working about half an hour before and after the others.
It is a nice effect, believe me, not too difficult to made, and not too expensive either, there are countless options to choose from.
Dusk and dawn simulated effect
Finally the water!
23- I took this photo immediately after adding water to the tank, therefore it is not too sharp, because the water was still full offloating particles, but I wanted to show the real birth of the tank, the turning on of the filter and the heater!
At the bottom I put some fertilizing material covered by thin amber and gray sand, with some lava material spread around. Fish and plants belong to the original ecosystem, a small tributary river of the river Nyong (especially in the Cameroon): various Anubias, Crinum, and musk.
Some Anubias Bartheri "nana" grows on a wood
24- Two Anubias grow on the wall
We know that Anubias are also epiphyte plants likeBolbitis, Microsorum and others, so I blocked them to the back wallusing plastic hooks, that I stuck by pressing in the polyurethane.
Roots are aerial, but they are slowly attaching to the background.
I also arranged to fix a couple to the wooden roots by tying them with a nylon
The beautiful green leaves of the Crinum
Fish are a couple of Pelvicachromis Taeniatus, a group of Neolebias Ansorgii (soon) and two snails Neritina Natalensis.
Neritina Natalensis on a root
A male of Pelvicachromis Taeniatus (not really identified)
The female... what a wonderful colors!