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Foam backing – you don’t need this foam back if you’re going to build the background directly onto the back of your tank.
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.
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: https://www.firedupgeckos.com/do-it-yourself/tank-conversion/
Arrange the wood and plant holders (pots, pvc tube, bamboo, etc) on top of the foam backing .
Make sure you angle the plant holder up slightly; this will make planting easier.
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.
Note how the Great Stuff expands.
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.
Here’s an example of a cleaned edge.
Optional step: sand the edges
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.
The finished paint result. Oops, we missed a few spots. No worries, we went back and got them painted up.
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.
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.
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.
Use the silicon to glue on some moss. It’s just to make it look pretty.
The finished background, but wait, there’s more!
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.
All done! Hope you enjoyed this tutorial!
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.
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.