Well, this seems as good a time as any to start a journal as I'm just beginning this and starting to make a little technical progress even if I haven't touched the tank proper yet.
This is the tank I'm working with:
It's an ~500 Gallon tank, currently very poorly done reef. Has a handful of clown fish and damsel fish, one Tomato Clown, one very small white and brown sea cucumber, and a ton of snails. Harscape is all lace rock, Texas holey rock, and dead coral on a white sand bottom that is littered with chunks of dead algae, snail shells and urchin remains.
My plan is to go with a lightly planted african cichlid tank, probably Lake Victoria oe Lake Malawi. Since the tank is as tall as it is wide front to back I'm planning on re-scaping using the same rocks that are currently in place (minus the coral) and crating a multi-tiered cave system with plants accenting in various positions on each tier, and maybe seeing if I can get some HC or some type of moss to grow in little bundles within the crevices in some of the rock so it resembles series of a steep rocky hill/mountain sides with lianas and things trailing down the side draping over some of the cave entrances. Maybe a banana plant here and there.
All that is for the future though. There is still much work to be done. The tank has to be drained and cleaned, the fish returned to the people that currently manage the tank, etc. The part of the project that I'm working on right now is the new canopy and lighting system.
You can see in the first pic I posted above that the aquarium is currently lit with light pods attached to bent metal conduit. The conduit is screwed to the 2x6 cedar board that forms the upper rim. Each pod holds a single-bulb metal-halide fixture. I am building a new canopy that will replace the entire top rim of the aquarium. The new canopy will be cedar to match the current office decor and the rest of the tank trim. The outer board will be 1x12 Cedar. It will sit down over the top ~3" of the tank. Inside the canopy are two light pods, each containing 6 T5HO54 48" bulbs. The fixtures will be centered front to back and spaced evenly horizontally so that there is equal space between each end and the canopy and between the two pods in the center. The pods will be supported by 2 2x4 arms, hinged at one end so the entire pod can be flipped up to change bulbs or work in the tank. Each fixture is surrounded by 1x6 cedar with a sheet of plexi that slides into the cedar frame. The plexi and cedar frame is there mainly to provide an splash guard around the lights.
Now, without further ado here are some pics.
This is the new outer canopy frame. It is 10' long for reference.
One of the new light pod frames:
Light pod with partially assembled fixture test fit:
The whole shebang with the pods and fixtures balanced on saw horses to give an idea of how it all goes together:
Close-up of one side:
I don't have any of the hinging or wiring in place and there will be some outer trim added to the corners of the main hood to cover up the screws. I originally intended to do miter cuts on the corners of the main frame, but the aquarium is 10' and 1/4" long and my 1x12's are 3/4" thick. To make a 45 degree miter cut I'd have needed boards that were 121.75" long and the 1"x12"x10' boards I got were only 120.75 at the absolute longest. I couldn't find 1"x12"x12' available, even as special order, within reasonable driving distance so I used what I had, made overlapped box corners and will make some miter cut 3" wide cedar moulding to cover the ends. Should match the moulding on the rest of the office decor pretty well.
More pics to come as things progress.