Custom Tank Background

If you find this tutorial helpful, please consider leaving a donation. All donations will be used to make more tutorials or care for our animals.

 

Materials

Foam backing – you don’t need this foam back if you’re going to build the background directly onto the back of your tank.

Black silicon

Caulking gun

Great stuff – we recommend getting the black colored Great stuff used for ponds, but the white colored one works fine as well

Coco fiber bedding

Acrylic craft paint – brown or black colored (not needed if you buy black Great Stuff)

Wood sticks or cork rounds

Something to hold plants – plastic pots, PVC pipes, bamboo, etc.

Saw

Plants

Utility knife

Paint brush

Latex gloves

Background-FiredUpGeckos_0005

 

 Construction Steps

Cut the foam to size. Remember, measure the interior dimensions of your enclosure.

  • Be aware of the black rims on fish tanks which will make the fitting process more trial and error.
  • You don’t need to do this step if you’re going to build the background directly onto the tank. Please see this tutorial for instructions on that: http://www.firedupgeckos.com/do-it-yourself/tank-conversion/

Background-FiredUpGeckos_0007

 

Arrange the wood and plant holders (pots, pvc tube, bamboo, etc) on top of the foam backing .

Background-FiredUpGeckos_0010

 

Make sure you angle the plant holder up slightly; this will make planting easier.

Background-FiredUpGeckos_0011

 

Spray on the Great Stuff. Be sure to fill in all holes where a gecko could hide. Great stuff dries in a few hours normally. It depends on the temperature. *Great stuff fumes aren’t that bad, silicon fumes are awful. Plan accordingly.

Background-FiredUpGeckos_0019 Background-FiredUpGeckos_0021

 

Note how the Great Stuff expands.

Background-FiredUpGeckos_0025

 

Trimming is almost always in order. Use the saw and the knife to get rid of extra foam. Take special care to clear extra foam away from the plant pots.

Background-FiredUpGeckos_0027 Background-FiredUpGeckos_0028 Background-FiredUpGeckos_0035A

 

Here’s an example of a cleaned edge.

Background-FiredUpGeckos_0030

 

Optional step: sand the edges

Background-FiredUpGeckos_0036

 

Paint the foam black or brown. This is a very important step if you’re using the white Great Stuff. The key is to get the paint in all the tiny holes.  It is very hard to avoid bright white nooks and crannies in the white foam if you don’t, and will make the silicon/coco steps a nightmare. Painting it helps hide imperfections in the coco fiber layer. Use either a brush or finger paint with gloves on.

Background-FiredUpGeckos_0039 Background-FiredUpGeckos_0042A

 

The finished paint result. Oops, we missed a few spots. No worries, we went back and got them painted up.

Background-FiredUpGeckos_0046

 

When the paint is dry, spread black silicon over the entire thing. Wear latex gloves and really push the silicon into all the holes. A paint brush can be used as well, but the silicon will ruin the brush.

Background-FiredUpGeckos_0053 Background-FiredUpGeckos_0054

 

Put the coco fiber bedding over the silicon. Lay it on thickly and pat the bedding down firmly with your hands. If you feel a sticky part, then you need more coco bedding there.

Background-FiredUpGeckos_0061A Background-FiredUpGeckos_0066

 

Don’t remove extra coco and let it dry overnight. The next day, brush off the extra coco. Use the black silicon and extra coco to do touch up if needed.

Background-FiredUpGeckos_0068

 

Optional step

Use the silicon to glue on some moss. It’s just to make it look pretty.

Background-FiredUpGeckos_0071 Background-FiredUpGeckos_0074

 

The finished background, but wait, there’s more!

Background-FiredUpGeckos_0077

 

Add some plants!  We only use fake plants from the Dollar store. We recommend at least 3 plants per pot. A singular plant isn’t so pretty, and it doesn’t provide enough cover. Bend it into shape. Place the bunches of three plants into the plant holders.

Background-FiredUpGeckos_0087A

 

All done! Hope you enjoyed this tutorial!

Background-FiredUpGeckos_0090

 

Additional notes

There are always ways to cut costs. I was really busy with work this week, so I had Amazon ship me all I needed. If you’re starting out, you probably don’t have the majority of these supplies in your basement, as I do, so I recommend shopping around.  I know for a fact that craft paint is $1.00 at Walmart of craft stores, versus the $4.00 on amazon. We used Mopani wood because this build was done for a contest, and we only use quality materials for contests. However, if you know how to properly select and treat wood from the forest, then that works too. Home Depot or Lowes will sometimes cut the foam to size for you, if you buy it from them.

 

Amazon Links

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00A2GIZIG/ref=oh_details_o00_s01_i01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

http://www.amazon.com/Expanded-Polystyrene-Foam-Sheets-qty/dp/B0054JE4IG/ref=sr_1_1?s=industrial&ie=UTF8&qid=1401565548&sr=1-1&keywords=foam+insulation+sheet

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002YOVFO/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i03?ie=UTF8&psc=1

http://www.amazon.com/Newborn-188-Ratchet-Caulking-Cartridge/dp/B00004YON8/ref=sr_1_2?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1401563386&sr=1-2&keywords=caulking+gun

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00167VVP4/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

http://www.amazon.com/DecoArt-Americana-Acrylic-Paint-2-Ounce/dp/B000XZVP0Q/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1401563532&sr=8-7&keywords=Acrylic+craft+paint http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000QFUAFY/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000KH7RF4/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i02?ie=UTF8&psc=1

http://www.amazon.com/Stanley-15-579-15-Inch-SharpTooth-Cutting/dp/B00009OYG5/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401563680&sr=8-1&keywords=saw

http://www.amazon.com/Great-Stuff-283064-12-Ounce-Stone/dp/B001AQ0FVC/ref=sr_1_2?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1401563421&sr=1-2&keywords=great+stuff

 

If you found this tutorial helpful, please consider leaving a donation. All donations will be used to make more tutorials or care for our animals.