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Re: PAINTING THE BACK OF AN AQUARIUM
This is rather longish, but someone else may find the information
michael.dunn at thalhimer_com
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Subject: Re: PAINTING THE BACK OF AN AQUARIUM
Author: Michael Dunn at mgt
Date: 3/6/98 3:54 PM
Not a bother at all Danielle...
I have had mixed results with painting glass directly. Glass has such
a smooth surface, it is hard to find any "tooth" for the paint to
adhere to. Someone once recommended that I lightly sand the glass
before painting it. It worked well at the time, BUT DO NOT TRY THIS.
I since learned that the majority of tempered glass's strength comes
from the surface -- hence scratches reduce its overall strength! I
had a number of sleepless nights after I learned about that!
If you read my post, you know I am a real proponent of using foam
board, for the added temperature stability and additional shock
protection it provides. That said let me admit that I still have two
aquariums with painted backs and if you must do it... let me at least
go through my trials and tribulations.
Oil based enamels applied with a brush - yuck; very poor coverage and
an uneven coating that showed through when stray light came from the
rear of the aquarium.
Latex applied with a brush - slightly better results, but the coverage
was still spotty and uneven.
Latex applied with a roller - this was decent and certainly, the best
of the hand applied finishes. It still left a slightly mottled finish
(even with self-leveling paint). It took two or three coats as I
recall, but the effect was neat in a way.
Spray enamel/lacquer - a.k.a. good 'ole Krylon! This is my choice for
painting aquariums these days. It takes a little surface preparation
and time to mask the frame, but the results are about as good as you
are going to get painting glass.
How to do it... the name of the game is keep it clean!
Place the aquarium face down with the back facing up. Try to keep the
tank as level as possible - this will help if you are using a
self-leveling paint. Grab some glass cleaner and some paper towels
and give the glass a good cleaning. Make sure that you remove any
fingerprints. The oils in your hand will prevent the paint from
adhering to the glass.
Once you think the glass is clean, do it again just to be certain.
After I clean the glass a couple of times I usually wipe the back down
again with some acetone (finger nail polish remover will work). BE
VERY CAREFUL USING THIS STUFF! It is toxic, it is flammable and you
do not want to glob it on because it will eat silicone seams!! Apply
a little bit to a paper towel and give the glass another good once
over with it. That will ensure that you have cut-up and removed every
bit of oil on the back of the tank.
If you are spraying the tank, now is the time to mask the frame and
the sides of the tank. Plain old masking tape and newspaper are fine
(this is not a science -- it is the back of the tank after all!).
Cover up anything you do not want splattered with paint or over spray.
Once you feel safe that you have protected the "environment" (and
prevented yourself from getting in trouble for unwanted paint in
unwanted spots -- experience speaking here: just don't ask my wife
where the green haze in the dining room carpet came from.) Paint
away! It probably will take several coats. Be sure and follow the
paint manufactures instructions for drying time between coats.
After your final coat and well before the top layer has cured, peel
back your masking tape and clean any unwanted drips and dribbles on
the frame and sides up with a single edged razor blade. Let the paint
harden a while and Viola! you are done.
A couple of hints: 1) Do not worry about drips, sags or runs. They
more than likely will not show through when looking through the
aquarium. 2) Get rid of any large air bubbles. They WILL show
through. 3) Be very careful once you are done. The paint does not
have a good hold on the glass and it will easily scratch and peel from
Phew! I am sorry this is taking so long. One last thing though,
color. All too often, I feel people choose colors that either hide
the inhabitants of an aquarium (i.e. black in a marine or reef
aquarium) or distract the viewers eyes away from the inhabitants (i.e.
bright blue in both freshwater and marine tanks). For fresh water
tanks, I have settled on a very, very dark green. It is natural
looking, shows off plants great and still allows you to see the black
coloring in fish (think of looking at a black molly against a black
background - not to great huh?). All of my marine tanks used to be
painted (read past tense - I am totally freshwater now) were painted
in standard bright blue. If I had my druthers today, I would more
than likely use a really, dark teal or blue. Something natural that
would compliment my fish and invertebrates without washing them out or
drawing attention away from them.
If you are hand painting the back and having a latex paint mixed, why
not be different? Break the standard and shoot for something that
will add depth to your tank. Think of your self as being under water.
Do not shoot for infinity, but what color would you be looking at
just beyond visible perception. A fun exercise and one whose effect
will be fantastic if you apply the concept correctly.
You probably did not expect an epistle, but I hope the information
helps. Drop me a note and let me know what color you choose and how
it turned out.
michael.dunn at thalhimer_com
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Subject: PAINTING THE BACK OF AN AQUARIUM
Author: "Nadeau; Danielle" <NadeaD at parl_gc.ca> at Internet
Date: 3/6/98 12:56 PM
I hope this e-mail won't be a bother but your answer at FINS is the only one
I could find related to painting the back of an aquarium.
In it you were talking about painting styrofoam and then taping is to the
aquarium. What I was wondering is if you have any experience with painting
the actual glass of the aquarium. What kind of paint? A roll or a brush?
I am purchasing a 65 gallon tall. It is glass and it will house marine fish
for now and a reef in a couple years.
Any advice would be appreciated.