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FAQs about Backgrounds for Marine Systems

Related Articles: Marine Aquascaping, Live Rock, Placement, Marine SubstratesLive Rock,

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Centropyge bicolor. A complimentary background can do much to enhance your livestocks' appearance.

Re: Nano action plan... Now background, paints      8/21/12
Well everything is finally together, and it looked great, for about a week... (see attached, stand open)
Now all the paint on the back baffle is peeling!
<Happens... must be very clean to start... I've found that black spray paint works best (but is a mess; do outside, with masking/papering of the rest of the tank>
I used Krylon fusion which looked great, but the water going over the overflow has caused it the peel back and now it looks rubbish.
<Krylon makes good products in my estimation...>
Any ideas how I can proceed? I was thinking to peel of as much as I can and place a black acrylic baffle in front of the glass portion?
<Maybe try an acrylic vinyl paint, or better, ask the folks at the paint store/department what they recommend for this application>
Or will this make the glass break?
<It will not. In fact, another possibility is to buy a piece of dark/black or blue acrylic at a plastics outlet (many have bins of scraps for cheap) and have them cut it to the back size... either double side tape or lightly Silicone the edge to the back. Bob Fenner>
Have you got any ideas? I would hate months of hard work to be wasted..

PVC Plastic 3/8/2011
Hi there
<Hello Clark>
I am setting up a new bigger tank for my marines and wanted to create a false back using a sheet of white PVC plastic.
This is to hide the pump pipes and wiring from the heaters.
I was then warned the pvc (the type used to make windows etc.) may be poisonous to the fish.
Please could you tell me if this is the case.
View from the top of the tank
The water will enter into the back through fine slits in the top of the plastic - then come back into the tank at the other end after going through my filters and skimmers.
<PVC is generally safe for aquariums but there is a possibility that the type used for making window frames may have a chemical mixed into the material to resist mold and/or UV rays. Bob may input here as well. <<I do agree w/ your stmt.s James. I would have the querior contact the window manufacturer directly re. RMF>>
James (Salty Dog)>

top view

Removing Paint from an Acrylic Aquarium 12/01/10
<<Greetings John>>
I am looking at purchasing a used 55 gallon Hex acrylic tank that has one pane spray painted black.
I would like to remove the paint so the aquarium can be put in the center of a room. The owner said he used black spray paint. Can the paint be safely removed from the acrylic, and if so, any suggestions on the best way to try this?
<<I cant think of any way to remove the paint that wont damage the clarity of the acrylic. Solvent paint strippers (Citric Acid based or not) will likely cloud the acrylic and of course, sanding the paint away will obscure the view as well. The good news is the acrylic can be polished to return the clarity of the viewing pane. And this is easier done than many realize. If it were me, I would carefully wet-sand away the paint (use the finest grit that will remove the paint) versus a solvent paint stripper, as any clouding from the stripper may go deeper in to the acrylic (in some situations, this may even penetrate the full thickness) than any light sanding scratches. Once the paint is gone, its a simple matter to sand and polish the acrylic back to its original clarity. Do a NET search re Acrylic Scratch Removal for kits and supplies. There are both liquid and sand paper type products for this my preference is to use the paper (called Micro-Mesh) first, and then finish with a liquid polish like that offered by Novus - just follow the manufacturers recommendations. You will also find there are kits available for use with power tools, but for a small project like this and as a first-time user the ole elbow grease kits will serve you best>>
Thank You,
<<Happy to share EricR>>

Foam Rock Wall Question 04/22/10
Hi Guys & Gals,
<<Greetings, Jeff>>
I'm doing a foam rock wall for my 125 gallon saltwater tank. I've built the structure out of egg crate and I picked up the pond and waterfall foam but my question is to do with weighing it down.
<<Ah, yesmost all Ive seen were actually built on/attached to the interior of the tank panel. Building it as an insert as you plan is certainly doable, assuming you will still be able to get it in to the tank (could also be constructed as a series of panels sized to fit through the top opening)and sizing this as a friction fit to the back panel might well preclude the need for weighing down>>
I was wondering if I were to use limestone or some other kind of rock but totally incase the rock in the foam before attaching it to the wall, would it be safe to use?
<<Surethough I would stick with a calcareous/limestone based rock and stay away from anything like river rock. Dry base rock meant for reef systems would certainly be safe to useand some of the big pet chain stores (e.g. PETSMART) carry a dry rock for marine systems that is very dense and heavy and likely a cheaper route for what you have in mind>>
I'm assuming that it would be fine since nothing could leach out when it's encased in foam
<<I dont think you should rely on this to protect the system from possible contaminants in the rock. In my experience with polyurethane foam (I have used it to build large cave structures for large tanks, utilizing PVC frames and dry base rock); I am not convinced it is impervious to water absorption/permeation when exposed to a good long soak. Dont misunderstand, it excels at what you have in mind and for underwater applicationsIm just saying I wouldnt expect it to be a totally water-proof barrier to any encased rock>>
but I thought I better check with the experts before proceeding.
<<Pick the rock with the same care you would if simply adding it to a marine system and youll have no problems>>
My plan is to tuck the top of the wall under the lip of the tank and have rocks built into the foam in the wall to weigh it down and also have two or three feet/braces stick out from the bottom to be covered in sand and live rock to also help keep it down.
<<Should work, especially once the sand is in place. An alternate route might be to forgo the weights but keep the feet, and squirt a dab of foam in each corner and in the middle along the long sides when placing the panel to anchor it to the tank back>>
Thanks for any help you can provide.
<<I hope I have done so>>
I've read multiple articles on doing this but none seem to answer my question regarding encasing rocks in the foam without having them partially sticking out of the foam for appearance.
<<Regards EricR>>

Removing Concrete from Glass Aquarium. 7/30/2009
Hello, I bought a 130 gallon tank, that has concrete on three sides.
<Wow, I hope it was a good price.>
I have two questions. Number one, how can I safely remove the concrete?
<Will neither be safe, nor easy - you cannot chip it our for fear of cracking the glass. Strong acid is the only way I can think of off the top of my head - Potential for burns, noxious fumes, etc.>
And number two, which should answer your question of WHY? is this, Can a glass cutter shorten my tank easily?
<No, glass is tempered (hardened)>
It is about 4" too tall for my new house setup, but I can not afford to buy another tank just to lose the 4" of height.
<I don't see an easy way out, other than taking the aquarium apart and replacing the glass completely.>
thanks for the help

I'd leave it. RMF

Tank Setup Question... backgd., foam et al. rock work  02/12/09 Hello Bob <"Loving one"> Thank you for taking time to read this, my husband absolutely swears by you and lives on your site. We are taking another go at our saltwater tank!! This time with much more knowledge and research. I just wanted some reassurance that we are not headed for disaster. We found a great idea and want to run with it. <Ok> Our plan is to take small pieces of dried live rock to make a rock wall to cover nearly the entire back of our wall. We are going to glue the pieces with silicone to the front of a plastic light diffuser. The next step is to reinforce it with Beckett's pond foam. The idea then which is where my concern comes in is to cover the foam with Bondo Brand All Purpose Fiberglass Resin and while still wet mixing in crushed coral/sand. The idea is to cover the foam up and in return getting an all natural looking background. I have seen pictures and it looks beautiful. <Mmm... this could work... w/ or w/o the Bondo> My concern however lies in toxins. We would allow it to dry assuming it will dry non-toxic. Then cure it for about one to two weeks with small water changes. Then do a complete water change set up our skimmer and cure for another two weeks before introducing any live stock. We have also cornered off a section of our tank to build an in tank refugium. I guess my question to you is do you see a big "NO" in our plans thus far. I am a research guru myself and want to make sure we are not setting ourselves up to fail after all the thought and planning and research we have put into this. Thank you and sorry for the short story!!! Amanda Phoenix, AZ <Do take pix of your progress here... With curing, this should be fine. I would do this work out in the garage... Bob Fenner>

Reef rock background, epoxy recommendation  12/27/08 Dear WetWebMedia crew, <Hello Brent. Minh at your service.> I have a 327 gallon acrylic aquarium (84x30x30). It is a going to be a FOWLR. I am going to purchase about 300-400lbs of rock from bulk reef supply. What I would like to do is, in some way, secure all the rock to the back pane of the aquarium. Instead of the background being painted black or blue I would have rock. My problem is what to fasten the rock to? And how am I going to make the rock structure stand up against the back as opposed to having it fall forward? I also need to know what type of foam or silicone to use to secure the rocks in place. <There are several methods to accomplish this task. You can use one or a combination of the techniques below that best fits your situation. First, to create large stable rock structures, look into creating pillars with acrylic rods or PVC skeletons. More information and examples can be found here in this link (http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=746318). To further strengthen the rock structures, you will need the help of an epoxy adhesive. There are some commercially available products like Two Little Fishies' Aquastik (http://www.customaquatic.com/estore/control/product/~product=SA-TLASB) or Aquamedic's Reef Construct (http://www.customaquatic.com/estore/control/product/~product=SA-AM74018). Personally, I have found a similar product that is much more affordable, particularly if you are aquascaping a massive tank, and that is AquaMend (http://polymericsystems.com/epoxies-adhesives/epoxy-putty-sticks/aquamend.h tm). This product should be available at most home improvement stores at half the price of the aquarium commercial products. Lastly, to add a final measure for stability in especially tall structures, you may want to use a mechanical holder like this Reef Holder product (http://www.customaquatic.com/estore/control/product/~product=SA-AM74021).> I came across this idea when I was browsing through reefcentral.com. It was an old thread and the person who started it has not replied to my inquiries. I then made a trip to the Mandalay Bay aquarium and saw their background for the lionfish exhibit. That is when I really fell in love with the rock background. I am also going to add faux corals to add color and realism to the aquarium. The fish I intend to keep will not permit me to get the real corals. I have tried many search engines and I cannot come across any ideas. Are their any websites that I could go to for direction as well? <Another method you may want to consider is using a faux wall made out of foam. This foam is called "Great Stuff" and is available at most home improvement stores. More information about this technique with examples can be found here: http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=447292).> Thank you, Brent <You're welcome. Cheers, Minh Huynh>

Crystal craze inavail.   4/6/08 I searched the internet for quite a while and the only real reference I could find to crystal craze was on your site. Do you know where I could find some of that old crystal craze? It was such a good product. Thanks, Diane <Was a neat (though smelly) product to use to create some interesting backgrounds... but the company is long-since gone. You might have luck looking for it on Craig's List, eBay... These mega-sale sites do have "olde aquarium products" listings. Bob Fenner>

Type of Background for in Wall Aquarium 3-01-08 I am installing an aquarium into a wall that will be impossible to access the sides/back. I want a blue background, but I am worried as to which type to choose.. The rolls of blue plastic and glue it in place, or to paint it. I am afraid if I paint it, it will flake. Then, I am worried if I use the rolled background, it will get moisture/salt between it an the glass, and then it will be impossible for me to clean. The only access I will have will be the top, sides & bottom. This is a silly question I know, but one which is bugging me because this is going to be the setup I've always dreamed about but never figured I could do it. I would appreciate any tips and advice you could give me (and if it is paint, what type of paint to use) <I would paint the back of the tank because I personally hate the look of salt in-between the background on a amazing aquarium. The type of paint you should use is Krylon Plastic and Glass Paint. It is advertised as a plastic paint but it also works on glass. It works amazing and looks really good. The paint will not come off unless you scrap it off with a razor so you won't be worrying about it flaking> <You are Welcome! Merritt A.> Thanks

Painting Tank Back 2/27/08 I am installing a 54 gallon aquarium into a built in wall unit. I want to paint the background so that water/salt will not drip down and be visible (since I will not be able to clean the outside). What type of paint should I use and how? <First, I assume you are painting the outside of the tank. If it is a glass tank any paint can work, although a spray paint or latex will be the easiest to work with. If it is an acrylic tank you will want to use a latex (water based) paint.> I appreciate your advice. <Welcome, have fun setting up, Scott V.>

Re: Backgrd.    9/9/07 Hi Bob (crew) <Cynne> Well I am now ready to begin the new cycling of my old tank. I have set up a holding tank for all remaining inhabitants and emptied the aquarium. I am ready to paint the tank. I first want to make sure, I am going about this the right way. I am not sure I made myself clear in the last email and before going any further would like to verify the paint recommendations. I will be painting the inside of the tank. <?> The backing is currently black, I believe it is some type of tinted glass or acrylic? I would like to change this over to a blue color. Since it will actually be painted inside of the tank is the latex water based still the correct choice? Thanks for everything!! Cynne <Mmm... this won't work... it will for sure peel off... Sorry for the lack of comprehension on my part previously... I would go with your suggestion to use a thin sheet of acrylic... color and adhere this to the back... with Silastic all the way around. BobF>

Re: SW backgd.  9/10/07 Bob, Thanks for the quick response. I am finding colored acrylic sheets to be quite difficult to locate, and not inexpensive either. Despite the challenge they are on the way. Thanks Again Cynne <Should be around in at least the milky light blue and royal blue type... look for thin... much cheaper... Oh, and do send a pic along! BobF>

Polyurethane Foam...Safe With Tangs? 09/05/07 Grateful for your input, as always. <<Hi Olly...happy to help>> I have been reading several posts over the last few months about people using that black aquatic foam (waterfall foam<http://www.123ponds.com/fp1053.html>) to create a cool back to their aquarium. <<Ah yes...am aware/familiar>> I am STILL!! In the process of setting up my new 240 and thought that this would be a great idea to add some more depth to the tank. <<Can impart some neat effects, for sure>> However, after sitting watching my Naso Tang, and Yellow Tang pick the algae off the back wall this weekend, a question occurred (this is where I require the input). <<Mmm...think I know where this is going...>> Do you think that this stuff would be safe for the tangs if they continue to pick at the back wall, or will this foam be ingested and cause the fish harm? <<Well Olly, I can tell you I used this Polyurethane product to fashion large rock structures for my 375g reef. The foam works very well for sticking rock to a PVC framework to create arches/caves/overhangs/et al. The foam is inert once cured. I cant say that ingesting it is totally without consequence (I honestly dont know), but my grazers have not seemed bothered by the foam...I even have urchins that quite obviously consume a small bit of the foam when the graze over it, with seemingly no maleffect. The product is also used extensively in custom pond installations with no apparent harm to livestock. So...I feel you have little with which to be concerned re your tangs and the foam>> Once again I really appreciate your input. Thanks, Olly <<Quite welcome. EricR>>

Styrofoam Background for Brackish Tank  3/8/07 Dear WetWebMedia, <Pufferpunk here with you again, Ben.> I recently  contacted you in regards to a large corner brackish aquarium 230 U.K. gal tank and water level at 180 U.K. gal. I want to plant mangroves in the tank and I also want to make a sloped structured background in the tank at the rear corner. I  have seen some articles on a Malawi website that used Styrofoam and glues and paints to create structured background. I am hoping  to make it so it has large cavities in it to plant the mangroves going up the bank. Do you know if using normal Styrofoam to create a structure is safe in the  aquarium? I find it hard to believe the glue and paint is but that is what it said on the site cichlid forum.com. I recently read of an eco friendly marine retailer in the U.K. who creates live rock by using a type of cement and then growing the organisms on it.  Thanks for any advice you can give on safe materials to construct a background <Styrofoam should be fine for a background.  Here's one site I found: http://www.csd.net/~cgadd/aqua/art_other_netmax_styro.htm I'm sure if you do a search, you'll find many more.   You might also want to search sites on home-made live rock or go with the fellow you found.  ~PP> Best Regards,  Ben

Glue and acrylic tank question(s)   3/31/07 Hello;   I have an acrylic dispenser box that was originally used for storing soap at an "earth friendly" store. My spouse convinced me I should try it out for an aquarium (it was free). Originally I thought this was a bad idea but we set it up and tried running it with a few goldfish. They are thriving in the tank after six weeks. It's about 40 gallons in very tall, slim proportions.   A couple of questions maybe you could help me with:   First off, I apologize for using my goldfish as test subjects--I don't normally do such.    1) Is six weeks long enough to be able to say it's not leaching anything toxic into the water? <Yes>   (I have many species of FW fish: cichlids, catfishes, loaches, ghost knife and I may creep over to the marine side eventually.....)   2) It has some permanent ugly lettering on the back. I'm thinking of 'gluing' sand to the inside of the back panel as a background. Would Weld-On work to make the acrylic tacky, allowing the sand to stick? <Mmm... I would not use this... for fear of weakening, ruining the panel... I would affix whatever you'd like on another thin sheet of acrylic and mount this, just place inside against the back...> Or do you know of something else I can use, like a spray paint or glue? I expect it will be permanently there. <Mmm... there are some epoxies that are non-toxic (once-cured) that you can use here... Check with the "Plastic Store" where you buy the scrap (hopefully from their bin of such... to save money)>   Thank you very much for your time and expertise, best regards, Anna   PS. I tried to register to WWM chat forum to ask my questions but was unable to. <Am going to cc Zo here re... We're all friends, associated in that way, but only he "administers" WWF. Bob Fenner> Pump & Stocking Advice; skimmer op., reef stkg., circ., spray-on foam inside backgrd.s    - 02/21/07 Dear Crew, <Scott> I sent the basics of this email on Saturday and didn't receive a reply, so I thought I'd send it again.  If you received it previously, I apologize.    <I don't recall seeing this. Thanks for re-sending>   Thanks again for this forum.  I cant tell you how invaluable your advice has been.  You offer great advice that saves hobbyists a lot of grief and heartache, not to mention $.  Unfortunately I got overly excited when I saw what I thought was a great sump/refugium.  I ordered it prior to measuring it and prior to receiving my Euro Reef RS-180, which I cant wait to set up.  The front compartment is too small for the skimmer.  I am going to attempt to modify it, however, if I cant I may be forced to house the skimmer in the final compartment which is where I housed it when my 150 gallon reef was set up 8 years ago but times have certainly changed since then. <Not that big of a deal...> How much of an added benefit due you feel there is to housing the skimmer in the 1st compartment versus with the return? <A few (single digit) percent>   I sincerely appreciate your passion and responsiveness.  Im establishing a 180 gallon reef which will house Acropora, Galaxea (I need to provide room for growth and to account for their stingers), <Oh yes> a torch, a yellow Sarco, zoos, and another group of soft corals such as polyps or Ricordea.  Ill also have Tridacna clams.   My fish choices are: Pr of BT Triggerfish (or Sargassum Triggers) (1) Sohal Tang (my preference, but also considering Powder Blue, Palette, or Purple) <The Sohal will be "king" here if placed> (1) 6-Line Wrasse Small school of Chrysiptera (Flavipinnis, Hemicyanea, Caeruleolineata, Cymatilis, or Chromis (Scotti or Viridis)...as these seem to be among the least aggressive (1)Yellow Assessor (1) Pseudochromis Fridmani (1) Oblique-lined Dottyback (Cypho Purpurascens) Pr of Clowns (Undecided on type) (1) Flame Angel (Unsure if this is a good choice due to the clams) <Likely okay in a setting of this size, type> (2) Shrimp Gobies (preferably Amblyeleotris Yanoi or Stonogobiops Yasha, but welcome recommendations based on the other inhabitants) with commensurate shrimp <Mmm, your triggers may consume the shrimp...  best to place these ahead of the Balistids>   (1) Mandarin (last fish WELL after the tank is established) <Mmm, may likely starve... hopefully can be moved to the refugium...> I will be including a school of either Scott's Fairy Wrasses (1 male 3/4 females) or school of Anthias (preferably Pseudanthias Bimaculatus, Fasciatus, Rubrizonatus, or Squamipinnis, .recommendations?   <Any of these, or even two species would work... one male...> What are your thoughts/concerns about including both the Anthias and the harem of the Scotts? <Can be done in a six foot long system...> If I were to go that route, what fish, if any, would you eliminate?   <Mmm, none stick out from what is listed> The last thing I want to do is overcrowd the tank.  If I go with the Anthias, I will still be adding a male Scott's.  I would appreciate your recommendations. The tank details are: 180 gallon acrylic w/ 60 gallon sump w/refugium Euro Reef RS-180 Skimmer I am contemplating adding a Calcium Reactor at a later date. <A worthwhile piece of gear>   3 MH (I dont remember the wattage still have the ballasts from a 150 reef I ran 8 years ago) and 2 Actinics (aesthetics) <I see>     I haven't decided on the pump yet.  Im leaning towards an Iwaki 70RLT (1500 gph @ 4' head) or 100RLT 2000 gph @ 4' head), although I am reconsidering the Dolphin line as well.  I need to determine what the drainage (gph) of my overflows is in order to choose the correct pump (the calculator on reefcentral.com (I believe) can help me determine the drainage flow rate. <Roughly, yes> I have one additional question concerning the Iwakis.  Although the Japanese motors are preferred, it appears that the better choice in wet/dry return pumps is the RLXT which is only available up to the 40RLXT.  Is there a significant difference in the RLXT versus RLT models?   <Not IMO> I believe that Im better off running a larger RLT than (2) smaller RLXTs. <Agreed> My preference would be a single larger pump (with a 2nd as an emergency back-up).  I am also planning on installing a Turbelle Stream Pump on both sides of the tank pointed towards the center front. <Nice units> I also have the option of running a single unit on the center overflow (5 x 16).  If I did this, what would be the best direction to direct the flow? <The two... at either end... perhaps with Tunze's timer...> I guess the more turnover, the better, so I expect that the better option would be (2) streams, one on each end of the tank. <Yes>   My LFS has been spraying black expanding foam on their tanks.  It looks great in their 180 display.  The overflows are hidden by this foam and it creates a nice wall. <Mmm... am concerned about this material in the long haul...> Theyve also attached frags to it.  Although it looks great, I have long-term concerns about the products safety. <Me too>   Apparently Foster & Smith were the first to offer it for aquatic use, but they didnt recommend it for saltwater use when I called them.  They stated it was created for pond use.  I know that Julian Sprung has mentioned the use of similar products in Europe for years, but he was unsure of the long term effects of its use as well.  Are you aware of these products?     <Am... and I expect to see Jule's "Completely revisited and revised" opinion/spiel here as well... I wouldn't use it>      Thanks once again for your expert advice.  Having this wealth of experience a mouse click away is invaluable.   Scott <Glad to share, proffer my input. Bob Fenner>

Marble tiles and Grout, Plywood tanks  11/21/06 Guys, <Hi Tom, JustinN with you this evening> Quick question, I built several tanks out of plywood and reef safe epoxy, I wanted to tile the outside of the tanks and very top lip of the tanks with tumbled marble. <Very cool! Having a background in fiberglass repair and fabrication, this type of aquarium construction has fascinated me since I first discovered it!> I just wanted to check and see if you knew of any adverse affects of marble and or grout on reef aquaria, they are fairly large tanks so even if water did come in contact with the upper lip of the tank (marble and grout) (water level is 3 inches below where marble and grout lip would be so its just a splash factor) any contamination from the materials would be minimal IMO. The other option s to put a clear epoxy over the marble, which I don't mind doing but it has to cure 7 days adding to the setup time of these tanks. Thanks in advance and CHEERS! Tom <Well, Tom, personally I think you would be fine without epoxying the surface of the tiles, however, why not take the extra week to do it? If epoxied, there's less risk of anything ever happening to them, and less potential maintenance later. If it were me/mine, I would take the extra time to seal them. Hope this helps you! -JustinN>

Tank Backgrounds/Tank Set-Up 11/16/06 Hey guys, with all your experience in the hobby I was wondering where I could purchase one of those plexi-glass 3-D backgrounds for inside the  tank?  I see them in the UK but can't find a place to sell them to me.  Do you know of any?  Maybe more affordable dealers?  Please  let me know, I'd appreciate it. <Can't help you here my friend.  Try Googling.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks Re: Tank Background/Tank Set-Up 11/16/06 What about any of your colleagues, did you ask them? <We just do not have the time to poll individual questions such as yours. If one of the crew is aware of this item being available somewhere, He/She will respond, and it will be posted in the dailies.> Thanks <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> <<Best to "call" around the local shops, wholesaler's (Underworld, TMC... in the UK), and use the various BB's for a much wider "net" for such product/availability information. RMF>> Painted background   8/20/06 I seen  at a fish store a painted background that looks nicer then the appears stuff you'd put on the back could you please possibly tell me what kind  of paint this is and what I would have to do to just paint my background black   Thank you.   Jason <I like latex enamels (water-based of course), for their long-lasting, water-proofedness, beauty, color-palette availability, and ease of (later if desired) removal. Bob Fenner> 3-D backgd. const.    4/20/06 Hi all crew at WWM                My husband is currently making a 3-d background for his tank and would like to know if any of the crew might know what paint is safe to use in the tank as obviously the background will be going in the tank and not taped to the outside. Thank you                                   Ann <Latex and epoxy paints are safe once cured. Bob Fenner>

Keeping a Background in Place  - 02/20/06 Hi, recently bought a used acrylic tank with a blue acrylic background I'm not too fond of.  Would like to use a 3D background that goes inside the aquarium but not having much luck figuring out how I'm going to keep a background like this in place.  Most folks say silicone isn't going to hold it in place as it doesn't bond well with acrylic.  Any thoughts.  Thanks. <These backgrounds usually like to float. I cut them to the exact dimensions of the back of the tank. and slide them in place an use the top of the tank to hold them down. Then I use sand or rocks placed against it to hold it in place. Try DrsFosterSmith.com and ask them about the AquaStik Epoxy Putty, Holdfast Epoxy Stick and Mr. Sicky's Underwater Glue. I know they work on glass but not sure about acrylic. You may see if these manufacturers has a web site that than answer that for you.-Chuck>

Wood finishing, plumber's tape for threaded connections, painted backgrounds, whew! Hi Guys (a generic term that includes the female members of the crew ;o) <Watch this...> I have searched WWM & couldn't find a relevant answer - hopefully I've not missed! <We'll see... or add to it> Just a quickie re finishing the woodwork for my new 24" cube - I will need some sort of finish on the veneered panels that I have now got for the new tanks cabinet and open topped hood but I am not sure what would be most suitable, I have been looking for some sort of polyurethane varnish type stuff but have so far drawn a blank (maybe its just called something else in the UK?).  The main area for concern will clearly be the hood woodwork as this will be the closest to the (salt) water & thus more chance of particles of finish (or some sort of reaction leading to leaching of nasties) entering the water column (clearly something to be avoided if at all possible (however I believe in planning for the worst - comes from working for the UK government I guess lol!!)) Any pointers to a suitable finish would be more than welcome. <Polyurethanes are fine (durable, non-toxic once cured, attractive), though I am a bigger fan of Varathanes (as you speculate, perhaps a "Yank" (formerly colony) term... These come in different reflectivities (I like the less shiny), and are even more durable> Would you be able to confirm my suspicion that PTFE (plumbers) tape will be fine for sealing my new closed loop system? From what I can gather this should be fine and nicely inert. <Is... though I am a bigger fan (here we go again) of using 100% Silicone (the same material/el used for making glass aquariums... for thread to thread connections... makes a nice flexible joining, and allows for easy unthreading if needed later on... and "makes a seal" rather than allowing salt creep over time. Bob Fenner> Ok just 1 other question ;o) <Oh!> I also need to paint the back (outside obviously) of the tank black to match the weir - I am planning to use enamel paint - Japblack I think the brand is (do you see any problems here?) <Am unfamiliar with this term> - will I be OK just to go ahead and paint this or would I be better running some sandpaper or such over the area to be painted to provide a "key" or rougher surface for the paint to adhere to? <Mmm, I have used latex or water-based in-door wall paint here... sans scratching... to good effect...> Sincere thanks as usual in anticipation Cheers   Chris Mirror, Mirror, On The.. Tank? 1) Can I use a mirror as a Background to an aquarium? <You could, but you'd want to "preview" it first before permanently installing it. In my personal opinion, a mirror can be a bit distracting> 2) How can I know the power of the external filter I should use? <I'd simply consult the manufacturer of the item that you're considering.> Thank You in advance Best Regards Roland Gebara <My pleasure. Regards, Scott F.> 

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