(aka how to make your own aquarium decorations)
After learning my husband never had 'sea monkeys' as a kid, I got him some as one of his birthday presents. But the aquariums they come in are not only tiny, they need to be manually aerated.. and quickly get nasty. After a few weeks, I decided to give them an upgrade. I bought them a tank designed for Betas, a cheap air pump (u want a very low power one so as not to churn them around all day) and a cheap heater (our house doesn't have central heat/air so the temp varies a lot in the winter). And then decided to see what i could do to make it fancy...
Step 1: Make Sure You Clean Your Materials
After seeing the exorbitant prices on aquarium stuff.. i decided to visit the dollar store instead. I could find no difference noted on the packaging for certain things (like gravel, sand, and glass) , but decided to err on the side of caution, and boiled all these things after rinsing them. Make sure you add your glass before bringing the water to boil, and boil gently. I also invested in a tube of silicone "adhesive sealant" that stated its 'aquarium safe'. *
Before doing anything else, I cut a square of parchment paper in the dimension of my tank (i did this by inverting the tank and tracing around it then cutting inside the line, but you could simply measure too). At this time i also drained my glass and set it on a towel to cool and dry. I found the sand and gravel much easier to work with while wet.
* I looked around at various fish enthusiast forums, and there seems to be some support for GE silicon 1 being aquarium safe even though it doesn't claim to be, I probably would have used that (even though i had nightmares of killing all my sea monkeys trying to improve their quality of life) but my hardware store only sold this in large containers, and since they had the dap "aquarium safe" silicone in a small tube i went with it.
Step 2: Choose and Arrange Your Substrate
Since this isn't the focus of my instructable, I'll keep this step short. I used an expired bank card and a spoon to help me, I started from the center and worked out , I chose to add the sand after the gravel because it seemed like it would be easier to get cleaner looking lines (although I am aware these will fade away)I used the card to straighten my lines, I spooned the sand in after making my gravel design. then used the card again to level it... and now for the fun part!
Step 3: Make Your Foundation
I folded my parchment paper over to allow for the width of the heater on one side, since i haven't decided with certainty what direction i want the heater to go in (horizontal or vertical) then using the hot glue gun i made a single layer of glass (leaving an opening for my largest "doorway"). Allow this to dry and make sure its relatively strong.
Step 4: Let Your Imagination Run the Show
For all subsequent pieces of glass i put a dob of the silicone adhesive about the size shown on each piece , and then tacked it with hot glue (since the silicone takes 24 hrs to cure completely, your glass wont stack well if you don't tack it. From here i just started layering my glass slowly. You'll notice that i covered all the joints with another piece, and i employed this technique throughout the whole build,unless i was making a "tower" for an arch , this was by design to make the structure stronger.. Also one other thing to keep in mind is the height of your tank so you don't build too high. Once you have a structure that you like....
Step 5: Allow It to Cure Completely
The silicone adhesive takes 24 hrs to cure (meaning dry completely) allow your structure to sit and cure even though the hot glue may be giving the illusion of it being stable.
Step 6: Do a Final Clean Up
you should inspect your structure and remove any hot glue "threads" and peel off any drips. you can do this with ur fingers or if needed in tight spaces an exacto knife. Then lift the structure, and turn it over to gently peel off the parchment paper.
Step 7: Place It Carefully Into Your Tank and Do Any Final Adjustments
then fill your tank with water.
* I actually kept vacillating on keeping the plant or not, and in the end removed it because my sea monkeys showed no interest in it and I decided to put the heater horizontally as shown from the side view.
Step 8: (optional) Add Picture of Fred in His Old Habitat
and shamelessly beg for votes in the contests I entered.
If you like this instructable.. please give it a vote!