By Bob Goemans
Site Supported in Part by:
Eco Tech Marine 

Bob Goemans corresponds with Henrik Karlsson

Henrik Karlsson writes...

Hi Bob,

First, let me thank you for the product review you did and posted on your website of the Red Sea Max 130D. My questions concern the background you made in that tank using a product called Handi-Foam. I have never seen or used the product, but seen it can be ordered on-line. Therefore, I'm interested, as I'm sure many hobbyists are, in more details of how you did the tank's background with that product, e.g., is it applied directly on the glass and what specific techniques are needed to apply it in order to get the correct pattern and depth?

Also if you have pictures that show how the background was done and the final result, this would be appreciated.

After you've been running the tank for some time - is it difficult to maintain the background, e.g. from algae? Will debris get stuck to the coating?

Thanks in advance


Henrik Karlsson

Malmö, Sweden

Bob replies...

Hi Henrik,

Thanks for your email and as to Handi-Foam, there's also an article titled 'Aquascaping with Polyurethane Foams' on the Articles' page of my website that you might want to view, as it contains many photos on how it was done.

As for your questions, yes its applied directly on the clean glass. As explained in the article, this product is quite buoyant; therefore, as shown small sections of eggcrate first have to be cemented to the areas (glass or acrylic) where the foam will be applied. Without this 'eggcrate/anchor' material, the dry foam would float right off when the aquarium is filled. I used aquarium grade silicone cement to glue the eggcrate pieces because if ever I wanted all the foam/eggcrate removed, it would all come off including the cement without harm to the surfaces. As you can see in the 'review' article, each side of the glass for this small aquarium had about 3 different size pieces of eggcrate attached. The bottom had long strips within about 2.5 cm of all sides, plus various small pieces around the bottom area. And even though the bottom on your aquarium would have sand and rock, it still needs to be secured, as the foam would rise in areas if not sufficiently secured to the bottom glass! And importantly, just using dabs of cement at different places on the eggcrate is sufficient, as I wanted the foam to be able to flow 'under' portions of it.

After the eggcrate pieces dried (gave that one day), each side of the aquarium was placed flat on a big soft towel and the inside flat face sprayed with foam. The foam should be applied to a surface laying flat to prevent any runs from happening. Did the back first (one day), then each side (two days) then the bottom last. Used short, swiping strokes, very briefly stopping here and there to give the finished surface a somewhat bumpy look when dry.

I did not want a sandbed in this aquarium, as I was experimenting and wanted to see if the aquarium could be maintained without sand. Actually, it worked well and it was always easy to siphon out any collecting debris and keep the sand-less bottom looking nice (in my opinion). In fact, except for not having that lagoon looking bottom, this 'sandless' system proved to be extremely healthy!

When finished with all the foaming, flush the inside surfaces with some freshwater, let dry and go from there to begin the system goal as desired. One note, did find the pH somewhat low during the first week of running the system, so monitor, as it may need a little buffering while the foam cures. Otherwise, never had a problem with the foam, and it was very easy to attach frags, and I simply used a turkey baster to clean its surfaces, as I would other areas in the aquarium/other aquariums.

As for unwanted algae on its surfaces, never experienced anything that could not either be siphoned out or simply removed. And as of now, use a product called NO3-PO4-X from Red Sea that keeps nitrates non-detectable and phosphate extremely low.

Hope this helps and if you need more info, contact me.



Handi-Foam; Aquascaping

Other Advice Letters

Site Supported in Part by:
Real Reef Rock