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lynda441

Cheap Commercial Tank Decor

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Hey! How's it going? So, I bought a Japanese arch for my tank from my local Pet Co. I love Japanese style; my whole house is a combination of Japanese, craftsman and danish modern, which are all complimentary styles. The danish modern stuff is hand-me-downs from my parents. Oh! and don't forget IKEA! lol! I'd have strictly Japanese, but who can afford that beautiful Japanese furniture? So, anyway! It goes to follow that I would decorate my tank in a Japanese style. But, after a couple of months of this arch being in the water, the paint on it all started to peel off. I couldn't believe what a cheesy job of painting they did! It's so new and I love it and I didn't want to throw it away, so I decided to repaint it. Because I know that there are real Japanese arches like this; they're called "Torii," which means, "gate," I decided to do a little research to find out if there's a traditional way of painting them, and pretty much, there is. I didn't want to spend any money on it, so I just painted it with paints I had. I wanted to paint it bright red, but, I didn't have bright red, which is odd, it's such a standard color, but surprisingly, I had the exact original color, go figure, so I just went with that. But, I'm such a "stickler" for historical correctness, I may get some bright red and repaint the red parts. And, I painted the base the color of my gravel so that it would blend in. So, I thought I'd share with you my repainted project. I still need to coat it in resin to make it waterproof, but otherwise, it's finished.

Torii1.jpgTorii2.jpg

Torii3.jpg

Here's the famous Torii of Itsukushima on Miyajima Island for comparison.

I wish mine had the cute little roof on the top!

torii.jpg

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Hi Lynda,

Too bad about the painting job they did, but it turned out really nice. I can't wait to see it in a tank :D .

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Oh my god...it looks beautiful...Awesome job Lynda...it looks soooo neat...wow... :heart

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Thank yew! I think I've decided to go with bright red, so I'll have to repost new pics. And, btw.... just a bit of a brag... that's real gold leaf on those little details! I hope that it doesn't have a reaction with the resin, like peel/disintegrate or turn black or something..... :hummm hmmm...

Oh, I thought I'd post a picture of the original arch. You can see that it's starting to peel....

ToriiOriginal.jpg

Edited by Lynda Von G

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wow..very cool..oh btw I have to ask..wat kind of paint is safe for fishies???...I recently got a decor and immersed it in hot water to make it safe for my fish...but the water and the decor gave off a varnish smell all the time..I was kind of skeptical and returned it..so just for my knowledge.. :) ..is all the decor and piant you get safe for the fish???

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It would be even cuter if you had the little people with it!

You did a really nice job! Ususally when my deco starts to fade, I swap it out with one of my 'extras' lol

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Nice job Lynda! I'd also like to know what kind of paint is safe for fish tanks.

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Well, I don't think any paint is safe for fish tanks in and of itself. That's why I seal it in a two-part acrylic resin. I paint the decoration with simple acrylic paint, let the acrylic paint dry for several days to completely dry and harden well, and then apply several coats of resin. Resin is really runny until it hardens, so you have to keep watching it for drips and turning it to keep all areas coated. It takes several coats to get the decoration completely sealed. But, once it's sealed in resin, there is no way the paint on that decoration is coming off. I let the resined decoration sit for a good two weeks to allow it to completely dry and all gases to escape. All hard plastic type aquarium decorations are made from one type of resin or another, so well-dried resin is safe. And I've noticed lately that they are selling artificial plants set in resin bases with rocks or gravel enclosed in the resin. I've repainted decorations and sealed them in resin several times and have had no problems. I've also just made a resin base with gravel in it for my artificial bonsai tree. It's currently in its third day of drying.

Here's some pics of my torii with the original rust/brown color (for comparison) and new ones after changing my mind and going with the bright red. I'm very glad I decided to go with the bright red!

Torii1.jpgTorii11.jpg

Torii2.jpgTorii22-1.jpg

Torii3.jpgTorii33.jpg

Edited by Lynda Von G

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Very cool! I saw a real arch on an island in the Aleutians a few years ago, it was occupied by Japan during the war and it sits on top of a hill so you can see it from the ocean...very very cool! I can't wait to see your tank when it's all done.

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Here's some pics of my bonsai tree and the base I poured. This tree is all plastic and had no weights! It floated! It was sold as an aquarium decoration, but had absolutely nothing to hold it down. I tried several things to hold it down and nothing worked. Then I saw those artificial plants with the resin bases and went, "AH HAH! I can do that!" This bubba ain't floatin' now!

Bonsaitree.jpgBonsaitreebase.jpg

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ooh! those are great decorations!

i too can't wait to see what your tank looks like!

man i wish i were as creative as you guys! :D

or had the time to do these artsy projects.

*sigh* looks like so much fun!

of course.. you know we'll be "patiently" awaiting pictures. ;)

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Lynda, that bonsai is awesome..you wouldn't believe..I was at this chain pet co store.. ;) ...I saw the exact same decor with the cheap paint on it...and the same bonsai tree too..I almost bought the bonsai tree...but then realized it had no weights at all...but now I think I shud really get it and do this gravel-resin thing...wow..oh my god it looks awesome....wow you really are creative...

How do you enclose the gravel into the resin??? and how does the tree sit inside it???please tell us tht secret..I would love to do tht...

Once my fish are back to normal health I really wanna decorate the tank and make it more happening for them..LOL..thnks for the awesome ideas.. :)

Edited by SunshineGurl

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Yup, that's where I got both of these... Pet Co. To make the resin base for the tree, you need a plastic refrigerator bowl/container that will fit the roots of the tree that extend out. Resin doesn't stick to the plastic or melt it, so as long as you can bend the container to pop out the resin form, it will work. Mix the resin in equal portions. You just need to guess at how much you'll need. Pour each part into the container and mix them really, really well. You need some sort of mixing/moving tool. I use those cheap wooden chopsticks or bamboo skewers. The resin is strange stuff, it stays runny for quite a while and then all of a sudden, the chemical reaction starts and it gets hot and starts to harden. So, you need to keep an eye on it. I mixed the gravel in right from the beginning and it all sunk to the bottom and wouldn't stay mixed throughout. So, when it started to harden, I had a bit of a trick to get it mixed. I was hoping to be able to mix the gravel in thoroughly once it started thickening, but, I didn't watch it quite closely enough and I started to get a soft, but solid layer of resin across the top. How to get a really good mix is just going to take time and practice, but if I'd watched it closer, I might've been able to catch it while it was still gooey and before it got too hardened and it might've been easier mixing in the gravel. The resin also doesn't just start doing an overall thickening. It starts to harden from the top down, so the underneath was still gooey. So, what I did was to push the semi-hardened part down to the bottom with my chopsticks and kind of wiggled it around from side to side and forced the still gooey stuff up to the top. Some of the gravel remained underneath and I managed to squoosh some up to the top. Then I just pressed the roots of the tree into the goo and held it for a few minutes until it set in, and then just left it alone to completely harden. After it's completely hard, just pull and bend the sides of the plastic container to loosen it from the resin and pop it out. Then I took a metal file/rasp and smoothed out the rough top edges.

Edited by Lynda Von G

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ohhh..awesome..I am so gonna try this..I ll get the bonsai and the resin...would I get the resin at Home Depot??...you truly are sooo creative... :)

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mmm... I don't know... you might find it at Home Depot. I get it at an art store, like fine arts with canvases and oil paints and drawing supplies, but you might also be able to find it at craft stores like Michaels. You'll want to get bottles vs. the smaller dual syringe type things because the syringes won't have enough resin for what you need. Make sure you get clear and not white. It's called polyester casting resin.

Here's a link to a product Michael's carries: Michael's polyester casting resin

Edited by Lynda Von G

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So technically speaking, you could find items around the house like knickyknacky things that you like and coat them with resin to make them aquarium safe? I'm asking because I have some thoughts about doing a Halloween theme and Christmas theme in Moby and Florence's tank. Possibly the only Christmas decs I will do, so I want to go all out for the "kids"! :D

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Yeah, sure! But, you'd only need to coat the item in resin if it had some sort of paint or other layer that would peel off. I mean, if the "non-aquarium" item has a color/design that's embedded in the plastic or glass, or if it were a completely glazed, fired ceramic or greenware, it would be fine. But, if you're suggesting painting something or making some unfinished item, then, yeah, then you'd need to coat it in resin.

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Yes! I had the same problem with mine Lynda. I was trying to figure out what to do because I like how it looks in my tank but I didn't want my fishies eating paint chips. Your newly painted arch looks amazing! I'm probably gonna steal your idea again if you don't mind ;) .

Here's a pic:

006-2.jpg

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Thanks Lynda for the idea. I have been eyeing that Arch at my local pet*co for some time now, I love anything Asian especially Chinese or Japanese. I am planning on getting one when I upgrade/upsize my tank in a month or so. It peeled. I am suprised. How long did you have it before it started peeling? You did a great job of repainting it.

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THIS IS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have GOT to make some plant decorations... I love it! I love it!! And I can even use the teal gravel if I want to for LOOKS but the fish won't be able to get it caught in their mouths. OMG this is the best idea ever!!!! I have to read everything in better detail (and maybe ask you a milliion questions) but this is seriously SO cool!!!

Go Lynda.. your bonsai is amazing!!! Did I tell you ever how freakin BRILLIANT you are?!?!?! lol

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Thanks Lynda for the idea. I have been eyeing that Arch at my local pet*co for some time now, I love anything Asian especially Chinese or Japanese. I am planning on getting one when I upgrade/upsize my tank in a month or so. It peeled. I am suprised. How long did you have it before it started peeling? You did a great job of repainting it.

I only had it for maybe two months! jeez.... the resin can be a bit of a pain, being drippy and sticky and all, but it definitely sure makes it nice when it comes to customizing your decor.

THIS IS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have GOT to make some plant decorations... I love it! I love it!! And I can even use the teal gravel if I want to for LOOKS but the fish won't be able to get it caught in their mouths. OMG this is the best idea ever!!!! I have to read everything in better detail (and maybe ask you a milliion questions) but this is seriously SO cool!!!

I've been playing with the idea of making a "matt" for the bottom of my bare bottom tanks. Enclosing a layer of gravel in a sheet of resin the size of the bottom of my tank. Maybe perfectly square up to the edges and maybe random shaped to look like spilled gravel. Trick is to come up with a form....

Go Lynda.. your bonsai is amazing!!! Did I tell you ever how freakin BRILLIANT you are?!?!?! lol

Thank you.... but, like I've always said... "I'm not stupid, just slow...." lol!

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I love these...they look so good now!

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Just a little "side note"....if you decide to use a NON AQUARIUM APPROVED item in your tank, for example some kind of ceramic thing, be sure to coat it on the outside AND (if hollow) on the inside as well! I have a Co-worker who makes ceramics (fires them and everything). When I asked her to make some items for my tanks she 1st called the supplier of the stuff to find out IF it was safe. They said to make sure to coat every part that the water touches. Or else it can eventually dissolve!!

Edited by Jeana727

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wow! :thud you blow me away! I never thought of doing things like this in a tank. I'm having the hardest time trying to find any kind of decor for my tank. I just absolutely love the bonsai tree!!!! no wonder you are motm, you are awesome! :thumb: so I guess I could buy one of those standard "no fishing" signs and repaint it w/ my own slogan and then put resign on it?! :Jig: I'm excited!!

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Just a little "side note"....if you decide to use a NON AQUARIUM APPROVED item in your tank, for example some kind of ceramic thing, be sure to coat it on the outside AND (if hollow) on the inside as well! I have a Co-worker who makes ceramics (fires them and everything). When I asked her to make some items for my tanks she 1st called the supplier of the stuff to find out IF it was safe. They said to make sure to coat every part that the water touches. Or else it can eventually dissolve!!

You are absolutely correct! Thank you for making and clarifying this point! Every exposed inch must be resined/sealed.

wow! :thud you blow me away! I never thought of doing things like this in a tank. I'm having the hardest time trying to find any kind of decor for my tank. I just absolutely love the bonsai tree!!!! no wonder you are motm, you are awesome! :thumb: so I guess I could buy one of those standard "no fishing" signs and repaint it w/ my own slogan and then put resign on it?! :Jig: I'm excited!!

You betcha you can! And most importantly, you can have fun making things and knowing that they're YOUR original design and NO ONE else has what you have!

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