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Another background thread

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Yep another DIY background thread.

I have seen some great ideas on this forum and read a little from the internet on how to go about doing this. From what I can gather there seems to be two methods. Both use Styrofoam bases cover that with cement and oxide and then somehow get it to seal/cure and be safe for water....anyone care to elaborate? The other method I have looked into uses expanding foam carved into various designs and then covered with silicone which has sand/dirt/gravel etc stuck to it while is is drying. I asked at Bunnings about painting the foam, but they said it wouldn't be safe for aquariums and that I should look into marine paint that they did not stock. This sounds expensive though.

Digging around in my parents garage I found some bits of packaging foam, half a can of expanding foam and Cement Australia brand cement oxide colour that is apparently non-hazardous. I bought a tube of glass/aquarium silicone and plan to do some experimenting this weekend as I have not used any of these products before. If anyone could offer advice and answer a few questions that would be awesome.

Would the packaging styrofoam, expanding foam or oxide powder by itself leach chemicals into the water for a short or indefinite period of time? Would I have to seal them somehow to make them water safe?

Are there any aquarium safe paints that don't need sealing?

Any other simpler construction ideas or would I be better off just doing painting the outside of the tank black :?

Thanks :)

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