View Full Version : Innovation - Bridging Subtrate and Bare Bottom

03-31-2016, 08:31 PM
Would usually keep to myself but I don't think there would be a big enough market anyhow (would gladly eat those words). We've seen bare bottom, substrates, 3d backgrounds, and more. As I believe that BB discus keepers have a tremendous advantage to keeping water quality more consistent, tanks cleaner, and, of course, healthier discus over their life time, I am still one of many who would rather keep them in a tank with substrate, wood, and plants (and again, I am aware of the disadvantages).

Now could there be a method to have a "portrayed substrate"? Could there be a "mat" with varying levels rolled out across the bottom that looked like a sand substrate?

-must fit snug against entire bottom of tank to avoid trapped debris
-must not allow algae to easily blanket the mat (note: subject to keeper)

-contain a few pockets for a few plants to be "potted" with actual substrate (e.g., a tiger lotus having a 4" x 4" x 2" pocket with sand substrate)
-allow for "cuts" in case enthusiast desires portions of their driftwood to appear "buried"

Anyone have any ideas? Even with a large amount of silicone lathered on a mold with a heavy dusting of sand that is blown off the next day?

There will never really be a way to bridge the gap between BB and substrated-tanks but may be an alternative. I was thinking more of a flexible material due to being able to fit through the braces of larger tanks (which avoids seams that would offer trapped debris). I am sure there would still in some way, shape, or form be trapped debris but it would be minimal yet still allow folks to have a tank that appears to have substrate.

03-31-2016, 11:16 PM
I honestly don't see how there could be a product made that would check off all of those requirements. Would be cool, but just seems like a dream

04-07-2016, 04:59 PM
Its probably easier to make a 3D substrate rather than a background. making a Styrofoam model and then thermo molding a plastic shell coat with sand of choice and making a silicone mold with the sand infused into the silicone?

04-08-2016, 08:01 PM
Rick, I think Devon may have hit a good idea for initial, low cost prototype. Maybe one without as many tiny ridges and what not. Just a less pronounced 3d background but on the bottom. Loved an old thread back around 2010 or 11 with guy who did 3d background and I think partial substrate 3d. Looked soooo real. Maybe silicone over seams and sides could prevent debris going under it.

04-09-2016, 01:01 AM
The closest I ever saw to what your talking about, was some guy who put smaller rocks and gravel, for pockets he placed plastic cups where he wanted them, then he poured and painted to cover all with epoxy paint and dusting of fine sand for the color. It looked really good and the paint seeped in all the way to the bottom so there was no where for junk to get trapped. HTH

04-09-2016, 10:08 AM
I've used a natural 2 part epoxy, not petrochemical based... It's ingredient escapes me (ecopoxy brand name) anyway, no fumes, I did it right in my living room both times... Mixed the epoxy, then mixed it with sand. Placed the sand carefully to not get it places I didn't want it.
End result is a sand bottom, impervious to water.
Feels like concrete
Looks like a natural sand bed.

04-09-2016, 10:13 AM

04-09-2016, 11:26 AM
Jorge, heck yeah. That's what I was thinking.

Cully, that looks exactly what I was picturing. I just painted my boat and remembered old school non-skid method on the deck (using paint and sand) and thought why not epoxy or silicone and sand, then blow excess sand off once cured.

Well, next I redo the tank then I'm going that route in order to have closer cleanliness to bb but appearance of natural substrate.

04-09-2016, 07:10 PM
Cullymoto what makes up the shape that looks like the roots of a big tree?



04-10-2016, 10:48 AM

04-10-2016, 10:52 AM
Here it is, dirty after a feeding and right before my 95% water change. 96559

04-10-2016, 01:12 PM
Here it is clean, refilling, with a bunch of wet chickens lol96570

04-11-2016, 04:19 PM
Why not do the same process on the slim line bulkhead strainers with the sand? I would hate to get algae on that sand bottom. How would you clean it? It looks like it would be as difficult as trying to get something off sandpaper. With that said, I still like like the look.

04-13-2016, 10:07 PM
Never thought about using the epoxy to sand the strainers, good idea.
I use a stiff bristle brush, like (and even) a toilet brush and scrub away. Easy. Same brush I use on the 3d background... Drag my knuckle across the background or the sand bottom and I leave skin behind, stuffs tough

05-13-2016, 11:14 AM
this one is a pretty good idea:


I know it does not meet all of your requirements but imo--looks ok

05-13-2016, 11:16 AM

WAAAAAAH! *amazed*

08-17-2016, 12:32 AM
Here it is clean, refilling, with a bunch of wet chickens lol96570

This is brilliant!

08-17-2016, 12:56 AM
That looks so cool. So simple but so interesting.