30 to 40 gallon vivarium background conversion

My 30 gallon tank started leaking, so I had to tear it down. While I was doing that, I remembered I had a larger tank that I know holds water, so I decided to upgrade in size to a 40 gallon tank. In addition to holding water, it’s taller than the 30 gallon, which solves the problem I was having with the water level in the 30 gallon tank being too low.

To get the water level high enough for the pump in the 30 gallon, I would have to add a lot more substrate, which would have covered some of the lower features of this background and take away a lot of height that I wanted to leave for the plants.

To start, I had to figure out where to add to the vivarium background. Instead of adding to one side or the other, I decided to add to the middle since I was already pretty happy with how either end turned out. I chose the place to cut around the features I’d put in already. This spot would have the least affect on the roots.

vivarium background

Thank goodness for my small shop-vac. The styrofoam balls would have been impossible without it!

vivarium background

I fit a new piece of styrofoam into the space.

vivarium background

I used Great Stuff to finish filling in. Note the wax paper behind it. This is excellent for use around Great Stuff if you’re trying to stop it from sticking to things. The wax paper will peal right off when it dries.

I couldn’t decide exactly what I was going for, so I didn’t carve the styrofoam before putting it in place. After everything dried, I carved in the detail, and added more details to other parts of the background. I cut a bunch of little pockets to put substrate in, to give plants more to grow in.

vivarium background

Next, I siliconed the background in place and let it dry for a good long time. When I took apart the 30 gallon, a lot of the silicone was still very soft, despite¬†how long I let it dry. I thought a few days would do the trick, but it wasn’t enough, so this time I’ll leave it for much longer.

vivarium background

I made sure the sides were sealed real well. I don’t want smaller frogs squeezing behind it! In the picture below, you can see one of the smaller pockets I carved for soil for the plants.

vivarium background

The left side was much harder to seal cleanly, so I’ll just clean it up later with a razor blade.

vivarium background

I added some silicone to the waterfall to patch up some spots that didn’t hold up to the water so well. Peat moss doesn’t stick very well.

vivarium background

The added section starts to blend in once it has been carved and covered in silicone.

vivarium background

There is a space under the entire background now. I’ll just fill this in with the substrate layers when I get to that step.

vivarium background

Peices of styrofoam help support the background now to prevent it from sagging while the silicone dries, and to keep the substrate from invading the pump compartment when I get to that stage.

vivarium background

I covered all the silicone in peat moss, but forgot to take a picture of that part. Next time!

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