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Major25 03-18-2014 08:25 AM

DIY Space Themed Aquarium
I'm an engineer and love astronomy. I looked everywhere online for help on how to try to make a space themed aquarium, but I couldn't find much. I decided to try to make one on my own.

I'll start off by saying that I'm extremely amateur. I have never done something like this before, and I'm sure someone reading this will be able to do a better job than I have (I think I could if I were to do it again).

The first thing I decided to do was the background. I could have just had staples print out a professional quality photograph but I wanted to try my hand at doing it myself. I watched a few youtube videos to get an idea. Theirs came out much better than mine did.

Roll of 24" tall paper (bought at Staples)
Spray Paint
Buckets to paint around (see images)
Contact Paper (for 'waterproofing')

First I spray painted the base color for each of my three planets

I didn't get a picture of it, but after the base colors dried I splattered Other colors on top. I splattered yellow over the red, orange over the blue, and I made large white dots on the black area to try to simulate crators. I then covered these areas with the buckets:

Once the buckets were in place, I spray painted the rest of the paper black. Once the black dried it was time for the stars and 'halos' around the planets. To do the stars I just took a paint brush and some white paint and splattered white paint around. To create the halo affect, I pointed the spray paint at the buckets themselves, and let the overspray hit the black surrounding the buckets. Once all the paint dried I removed the buckets and this was the end result:

The moon is the only part I'm really disappointed in. Hopefully anyone else who attempts this will have better luck than me, or just omit including a moon. The last thing I did was lay down contact paper on both sides of the painting so that just in case any water from the tank splashes back there, the paper won't get wet. This took away some of the vividness in the colors unfortunately. Maybe spending a little more and having Staples laminate it for me would have been the better way to go.

Bonus picture of the cat wanting to help (and what the tank looked like before)

The next thing I did was a big step. I took all the fish out and removed all the blue stone from the bottom of the tank and replaced it with pool filter sand. I used Mystic White Pool Filter Sand. This is the video I used to guide me through rinsing and adding the sand[/URL]. Please remove the fish before adding the sand as it takes a few hours for all the sand to finish settling. Only put the fish back when the sand is done settling. I put the fish into my largest bucket with all of their decorations, plus the air stone and heater.

Here's what the new substrate and background looked like once the sand finished settling

A couple new decorations to go with the space theme (note the space ship! Took me for ever to find that, but I actually found it at Petco in the reptile section).

I removed the tall coral structure and replaced it with a couple rocky looking ones. I also found a lizard skeleton decoration at my LFS that I half-buried to make it look like a fossil. The mound of sand in front of the space ship is from one of the cichlids digging it out. Man do they love to dig.

The last thing that I've done so far is put a couple lamps behind the background to try to back light it. Here's how it looks in a dark room without the tank lights on

Back light + left light on:

Back light + both lights on:

Dark room with tank lights on but no backlight

The result so far isn't exactly what I had in mind when I started, but I like how it came out, especially with the back lighting. My plan is to continue getting rocky decor that I can stack to create more hiding places for everyone. I also want to get a smaller air stone and stick it inside maybe the space ship, so that air bubbles are coming out the back and it looks like it recently crash landed.

Let me know what you think, and if you have ideas to improve the look!

willow 03-18-2014 03:15 PM

what a great job :-D
i'm going to enjoy watching this tank grow.

bob reed 03-18-2014 08:09 PM

Wow, this is looking good. I will be watching! :-D

pennyls9332 03-18-2014 10:27 PM

i love the space thing its so neat...... it would be cool to see a lunar rover in it but thats just me lol

badxgillen 03-18-2014 11:12 PM

When I came into this thread I was not sure what to expect but I must say that this came out great.Not sure if there would be a way to improve it as it looks really good.

It might be fun to add some blue lunar LEDs

Major25 03-19-2014 06:42 AM

Thanks for the awesome comments every one!


Originally Posted by pennyls9332 (Post 4139458)
i love the space thing its so neat...... it would be cool to see a lunar rover in it but thats just me lol

pennyls9332, I was thinking about popping in a lunar rover I found on amazon but I wasn't sure what sort of thing would be safe to put in the tank long term, and I couldn't find any rovers made specifically for aquariums


Originally Posted by badxgillen (Post 4139650)
When I came into this thread I was not sure what to expect but I must say that this came out great.Not sure if there would be a way to improve it as it looks really good.

It might be fun to add some blue lunar LEDs

The LEDs would be a cool idea and would probably help illuminate the moon/stars while the tank lights are off without being too bright, I'll keep that in mind, thanks :)

badxgillen 03-19-2014 10:30 AM

I got one of the submersable blue LED bubble wands for my sone pretty cheap,like $16.00.

sandybottom 03-19-2014 09:36 PM

Major25 03-21-2014 08:56 AM


Originally Posted by sandybottom (Post 4145098)

Oh that's a pretty cool idea. Your link also led me to this satellite air ornament that I think I may go with, though the reviews say it's pretty big:

sandybottom 03-21-2014 02:27 PM

that one is even cooler.

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