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  1. #1
    ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ JK47's Avatar
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    Post HOW TO: Installing 3D Backgrounds / Tips & Techniques

    I've been getting PM's from allot members about how to install 3D backgrounds. I decided to make a thread we can all share our tips, tricks and fails with one another to help other members when searching for info.

    I have done three 3D backgrounds of my own and one for a friend so far. All of these pics are from my overhaul thread but now you don't have to go through 50+ pages of my "ADD" (wanna ride a bike? ) bouncing around to find them.

    All my backgrounds came from: www.designsbynature.net


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    10 Gallon: The BG is a slimline (1" thick). I can't remember the name/model of the BG.

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    120 Gallon: The BG is the "Selvas" model and is pre-cut. It is one of the thicker BG's ranging from 3" to 9" at it's deepest point.

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    300 Gallon: The BG is the "Mangrove" model. It is also a thicker BG model and ranges from 4" to 7" in thickness.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Please be patient for a bit, I have LOTS of pics to load...
    Rest easy Joey (R1_Ridah) 1972 - 2012





  2. #2
    ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ JK47's Avatar
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    10 gallon install:

    In this tank I wanted to incorporate live plants into the tank for biofiltration. I did it by building a chamber for the plants using the background as a wall. It works as a wet sump/refugium. Pics are pretty self explanitory.

    Slimline backgrounds are super easy to put in. 10 minutes or less. (small tanks have no excuse for not having a BG) I used a regular saw to cut this one. The tank has no brace thankfully.

    Suppies used: tape measure, clear 100% silicone, hacksaw, straight edge.

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    120 gallon pics in a sec
    Rest easy Joey (R1_Ridah) 1972 - 2012



  3. #3
    iHate Apple jcardona1's Avatar
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    Great write-up, thanks for sharing! This will be a sticky in no time
    Quote Originally Posted by SumoNinja
    if you are offended[...], leave this thread, use the "ignore" feature on me and go join the mickey mouse club.
    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one and don't have one, you'll probably never need one again.



  4. #4
    Arapaima ballinouttacntrol's Avatar
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    pretty sweet. definetely wasn't what i was expecting. lol, i was like people are writing to ask how to tape a background to the back? hahaha
    If I tell you I'm good, probably you will say I'm boasting. But if I tell you I'm not good, you'll know I'm lying



  5. #5
    ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ JK47's Avatar
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    120 gallon install: (my PC is crashing trying to load 100+ pics I have to break it up into a few posts sorry)

    This tank is bright with live plants, sand, stones and some rare eartheaters. I got the tank as a used saltwater reef tank. I wanted it because it was already drilled through the bottom for overflows. I wanted to hide the plumbing and have the option of a sump down the road. All of the below pics were trial fitting dry. The "selvas" BG came precut in 3 pieces. The BG itself was 60" width, I had to cut it down to 48". (a tad over 47" taking glass/blade width inside the tank) I chose this background because it had the large stump decoration to hide equipment behind it. You absolutly must have a clean surface to work with. Also, start from a straight 90 degree corner if possible, in this tank, the left side and center piece are uncut leaving only the right side to measure and match up to the other pieces. I DO NOT recommend installing a BG with the tank upright. Laying it on it's back is far easier, just remember now your working backwards and upside down lol

    Supplies needed: Great Stuff brand "pond foam" Tape measure, hand saw, hack saw, 24" level, drill, 1-1/4" hole saw bits, file, allot of the patience.

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    There is nothing holding the BG in place above ^... It is just trial fit. When installing a background, plan on fitting it mutiple times before making cuts etc.. "less is more" when it comes to cutting.
    Last edited by JK47; 12-02-2010 at 2:35 PM. Reason: forgot pond foam.
    Rest easy Joey (R1_Ridah) 1972 - 2012



  6. #6
    ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ JK47's Avatar
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    I decided to add a few 90 degree elbows to get the plumbing to sit more flush against the back wall of the tank. Drilling a perfectly measured hole in a 3D BG is harder than you think. The surface is uneven, where to measure from? I basically just eye balled it where I wanted the returns, said "screw it" and popped in two holes. It's easier to line up the plumbing with holes already in the BG, than it is to match up the BG to plumbing. I hope that makes sense.

    Also do yourself a favor mark which side is which on the plumbing so they line up to the imperfect hole you just drilled. Oh and paint the back. Do it right from the get go.

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    ^ even though the above has water in the tank, it is a complete FAIL.. I tried to use the trim on the tank to hold down the BG but it floats so strongly that it was pulling the 3 pieces away from one another. You can see it if you look closely. This is where the Great Stuff "pond foam" came into play.
    Last edited by JK47; 12-02-2010 at 2:38 PM.
    Rest easy Joey (R1_Ridah) 1972 - 2012



  7. #7
    ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ JK47's Avatar
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    This stuff is my new favorite product!!! Great Stuff pond foam (green can below) is where it's at. PH inert and leaches nothing in the water column. Home Depot does not carry it but my local Ace Hardware has it for $10.99/can. I used 2 cans on this BG install. This stuff expands allot. It is also extremely sticky, becareful when using it. It has to be shaken every few minutes (do that outside) and wear gloves.

    I took the more is more approach on this tank. It is a little dramatic when looking at it at first because it expands so much but I wanted this background and tank being one piece. Now it is I gave the foam 24 hours to cure. I added water and let it soak 48 hours fore adding fish. I was being cautous although I am not sure I even needed to do that.

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    I used a knife to stab the excess foam and pushed down with my thumb tearing off (ripping up) about a 3/4" strip of foam. The rough cuts give the foam 3D contours and blend right into the BG surface. I would also recommend adding a bead of foam on the edges. It makes looking at the side of the tank very clean, unlike seeing plumbing etc...

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    Last edited by JK47; 12-02-2010 at 2:55 PM.
    Rest easy Joey (R1_Ridah) 1972 - 2012



  8. #8
    ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ JK47's Avatar
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    I left the top of the BG uncut or messed with in any way. I wanted it to be an open top tank with live plants. In order to do that I had to cut about 1/2" of of the bottom of the background. I did that by taking a tape measure and stabbing every few inches (1/2" up from bottom of BG) making a line to follow with the hand saw. Kind of line coloring in the lines when your a kid...

    The bottom I plumbed with barbed reducers from 1-14" ID soft line to 1" ID for the dual inlets, and from 1" ID to dual 3/4" ID returns to the Loc-Line in the tank/BG. I ran to dual 3/4 returns so I can use a UV and inline heater on this tank.

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    BAM! Finished tank! The Loc-Line returns make it really flexible on where I want the flow from the FX5. (corraling a school of 20 tetras as well) I like things that way so I can mess with it down the road.
    Last edited by JK47; 12-02-2010 at 3:11 PM.
    Rest easy Joey (R1_Ridah) 1972 - 2012



  9. #9
    Datnoid soulpatch's Avatar
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    After helping on ACW's tank would you still use the foam or instead now use the black silicone with the straps to ensure tight fit and invisible seams?



  10. #10
    ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ JK47's Avatar
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    300 gallon install:

    Supplies needed: pond foam, 1 tube GE1 silicone, 2 tubes GE2 silicone, tape measure, truck tie down straps, 24" level, hand saw, hack saw, utility kife (fresh razors), file and a bit of nerve snapping the BG into pieces...

    Again, paint the back first while you have the chance. This BG is the "Mangrove" model and measures 79"x24". The 300 gallon measures 96"x30". I have both height and width to make up. Remember those nasty overflow towers from the 120 gallon reef tank above??? I decided to hide my equipment behind those instead of the BG. People expect to see overflow towers on large tanks so IMO I thought they would not be out of place visually.

    I soaked the crap out of the towers in white vinegar. Smells terrible but got them spotless!!!

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    I mount the overflow towers upside down so they did a better job at mechanical. You can see in the above pic, that is how I am making up the width. The height is coming from a pipe under the tank. The pipe is just filler space so I don't have to spend as much on pond foam later.
    Rest easy Joey (R1_Ridah) 1972 - 2012



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