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DIY guide to making concrete reef tank

The new trend in aquarium keeping especially in reef aquariums is building concrete tanks. Why people prefer concrete tank is for their reliability and attractiveness. A concrete tank does not means it is to be made of concrete cement on all sides. The glass aquarium goes in with some precautions and only the display window remains visible in glass. Mostly concrete tanks are thought of when one wants a permanent tank for getting fixed in walls on installing it in any permanent place. The disadvantage is that they cannot be moved or in case of stand installed tank, difficult to move because of its heavy weight. Since it requires a lot of breaking and repairing work, it is better done along with interior renovation. In-wall aquarium is exquisite to watch and adds to the charm of the place. What I love about the idea of in-wall aquarium is that they can be shared in two rooms at a time by keeping both the alternate sides uncovered in concrete. Here is a step by step guide on how to build a concrete reef tank:

1.Plan well and check out the maps for the place that will be undergoing constructions. Make sure the spot you choose for installing has got no cables and plumbing around it. Plan on the equipments you will need in the entire process and get them before hand. If you are getting the work done by a contractor or with the help of the renovation team, ask them to plan on stability more than outlook.

2.Mark the measurements according to the size of the tank and keep extra space for feeding. Make sure you ask the contractor to build and extra strong platform at the base where the tank is to be kept. Meanwhile get the tank ready.

3.Cut in 1/2″ polyurethane foam to fit sides and a 1/2″ strip of foam for the floor front glass and check if all pieces fit properly. Stick foam into place and press them firmly making sure it’s glued in well. Contact cement, or Mod Podge craft glue can do the job well. Leave aside for 24 hours to let it dry and fix in place perfectly.

4.Arrange heavy black plastic on the floor of the tank, allowing it to partly cover the foam.Cut around the bulkhead fittings precisely. Put some silicone around the entire foam covered area especially around the bulkhead. Pour in a base of Portland cement being careful enough not to allow any Portland cement to bond with the glass as it can give muddy and dirty look.

5.Cover with plastic or glass over top of aquarium to hold in dampness and add some water to wet down the cement as soon as it has become solid. The humidity and moisture will prevent cracking and warping in future. You will also want to carry on with keeping humidity and moisture high during the rest of the process. Prevent water or any moisture from getting on the glue holding the foam to the sides, until the foam has been solidified with Portland cement. After it is all set up, you can trim excess black plastic.

6.Apply another paint quote of Portland cement on the foams trying not to get any real coverage, just solidifying it up some more. But remember to leave about a quarter of an inch where the foam meets the front glass, and where the foam meets the top rim, totally uncoated with Portland cement. The bare foam will soon rapidly become covered with coralline algae, and you won’t be able to see the difference. Take two more days in applying another two coats of Portland cement keeping at least 24 hours different between each coat.

7.Next day wear some hand gloves and splash some Portland cement on the sides to thicken it up, but don’t try to get full coverage, giving it a structured look and not flat. Repeat it again the next day, and get full coverage. This is where you can create more surface areas and nooks and crannies.

8.Next day, using acseterator and toilet paper, make caves, and overhangs, working around different areas until the earlier places are set up enough to add some more. This will take more than a day to be done with.

9.Now that is basically the work needed to get a concrete reef tank. Depending on where you want to set them up, get your contractor to work and make the platform stronger and tougher to handle all the weight.

Every good thing has some advantages as well as some drawbacks and this is no exception. One of the major drawbacks is the heavy weight making it difficult and almost impossible to be shifted to any other place. And if you get them permanently installed in wall or in any other place, it might become a problem when you want to sell the property. There is no surety that the buyer might also want such a big tank and this affect the value of the property adversely. Basically ponder over your idea before working on it to be sure you want it done without leaving behind reasons to regret.