Fun with Silicone
by Nischint Sohal of Bombay, India
I use a sheet of thermacole (or styrofoam, as I think it's known in the US) and apply a
thin layer of silicone on it. Thin, mind you, not too thick and not too thin. Then
sprinkle some sand/gravel on it and let it set. After a while, shake all free sand/gravel
away, and inspect the thermacole sheet. If there are some empty spots, then apply a bit of
silicone and attach single bits of sand/gravel. Once it's all set and done, let it
dry/cure for 24 hours.
After that, you break the thermacole/styrofoam gently, making sure not to tear the
silicone. Then peel off the thin silicone sheet with the sand/gravel attached to it. You
can reuse the thermacole/styrofoam if you wish, but be very careful and gentle with the
The end result? You can put this little sheet in your tank. Attach it to the back of
your tank (as long as it's not too high), or the bed of the tank, and you have a sheet of
gravel, which looks absolutely real and fantastic.
Applications?? Many, if you want a contrasting gravel look. Most of the times, if you
use two types of gravel, to create layers or to create different gravel zones, you end up
mixing the two types of gravel during cleaning. Which later might be a mess to clean. With
this method, you just siphon off whatever waste you want, and you can even pick up the
sheet and brush off waste from it.
You can arrange it however you want, but the main advantage of this method, over the
traditional method of sticking the gravel on an acrylic/glass/plastic sheet, is its
flexibility. You can cut corners, or shape it in whatever form you choose.
Cichlids digging into it?? No problem, just shove a rock on it, and they won't be able
to move it. You can even attach plants using this method. It's also a great way to cover
up any of your equipment.
The biggest USP of this method is that it's really cheap, fast and looks really good. I
just did it to my tetra tank and it looks fantastic. I used reddish gravel, which
contrasted beautifully with the golden sand that I have in the tank. Along with some
bright and dark green plants, it looks absolutely beautiful.
Another thing that I did was take some marbles, and create a cone, like a pyramid, by
siliconing the edges of the marbles that touched each other. Not only does it look
beautiful while reflecting and refracting the light, but it also works as a sort of mini
filter. Thanks to the water movement in the tank, waste gets into the marbled cone through
the gaps in the marbles. All I do is lift up the cone, and shove the siphon in there to
suck up all that gunk.
Of course, building caves with small rocks using silicone is easy. But if you have a
big tank, then you can even create a small teepee out of the rocks and the silicone. Or
make a huge bridge, using the ends as caves.
My next project? To make a small replica of a wrecked ship using rocks and silicone!!