50G with 30G sump - month 10 update - Page 2 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #16 of 96 (permalink) Old 08-09-2012, 01:40 AM Thread Starter
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Returns made to Lowe's, and the stuff from Pets and Ponds got here already!

Bulkheads, gravel, and loc-line pieces. The loc-line, handily enough, fit my two pumps' outlets, so they are now pushing water around in the 50G so I can get a feel for how much power I'm dealing with. Thus far, quite turbulent in there...the losses from pushing up the return piping should give me just what I need.

Apologies for the poor pictures - BlackBerry was all I had.

Kill-a-watt measuring 91-92 watts with both pumps in operation.

Side-by-side comparison of the 50G and 30G tanks.

The pump with attached loc-line.

Blurry picture of the surface movement.
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post #17 of 96 (permalink) Old 08-09-2012, 07:52 PM Thread Starter
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Cleaned the 30G and 20G today with vinegar and water. Taped the tank for baffle attachment. Learned a few things.

1. Just because the bottle says 'Silicone I' doesn't mean it's clear. Protip: When it's labelled 'white', it is indeed white.
2. Mask off the baffle, too.
3. Wear a breather - fumes are nasty.
4. Dry-fit everything first. Obvious, but easy to overlook.
5. Use a little bit of silicon to start, then add extra once things are in place.

So instead of a 1.5" lower opening, I now have a 3/4" lower opening because I assumed I had dry-fit it already. I probably had, but then that was before the measurements were finalized.

I also got silicon all over the baffle panel itself. All that aside, it should turn out functional - and that's all that matters for this first try. In an hour or two I'll do the secondary baffle panel.
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post #18 of 96 (permalink) Old 08-10-2012, 01:29 AM Thread Starter
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Added in the second baffle, learned another lesson: Don't mask somewhere that won't be accessible after gluing. Protip.

Second baffle tank masking:

Second baffle masked:

View of the baffle from the outside:

Second baffle in place:

Had a family outing to the local shops, came home with...

22 packs of scrubbies (132 total):

Cut the trays:

And glued the tray rests/ledges:

Tomorrow I'll remove all the masking, place the scrubbies and trays, and start work on the sump stand. Will also drain the 50G and give it a good cleaning/rinsing, and start work on the drill press stand so I'm not drilling these holes by hand.
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post #19 of 96 (permalink) Old 08-10-2012, 11:21 AM Thread Starter
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What I learned:
1. I might need more pot scrubbies.
2. I definitely need to add center supports and then cut the eggcrate trays into halves - impossible to fit inside the tank.
Edit: 3. Change order so that pattern is symmetrical.

Last edited by crazymittens; 08-10-2012 at 05:06 PM. Reason: OCD
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post #20 of 96 (permalink) Old 08-10-2012, 02:25 PM Thread Starter
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Had some more thoughts on the train in this morning.

* The warnings about silicone/glass/acrylic bonding don't seem to apply - the stuff I'm using seems very sturdy. Maybe due to using 3/8 plexi?
* Call glass shops for quotes on covers - 36x12 and 36x18
* Rain is preventing MTS drying and no room in the garage! Clean/re-organize the garage.
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post #21 of 96 (permalink) Old 08-10-2012, 05:05 PM Thread Starter
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Cool, glass shop right near me gave a pretty good quote - $11 per piece @ 36x4" (1/4" thick). I won't do lids for now - almost $75 after taxes to get the overflow box and lids cut. They also have a week waiting period, so better get those measurements hammered out tonight.

So, timelines...
  • Aug 10-11 - Finish sump framework/details, clean 50G, start sump stand, work on MTS
  • Aug 12-18 - Get overflow glass cut, install overflow box?, drill tank?, finish MTS, finish sump stand
  • Aug 19-25 - Sump/overflow plumbing install, plumbing live testing
  • Aug 26-Sept 1 - Move setup into final spot, place MTS&gravel, buy/plant plants
  • Sept 2-20 - Tank cycling
  • Sept 21-22 - Add Red Cherry shrimp
  • Mid-Oct - Add school of Neon Tetras
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post #22 of 96 (permalink) Old 08-11-2012, 01:35 AM Thread Starter
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Sump is pretty much done - just the coarse filter tray to silicone together. I managed to get all the tape out, thanks to a pair of 'remote fingers'. The trays are cut in half and midsection supports siliconed in.

Also washed and scrubbed the 50G, so that's out of the way.

It's still raining, so the MTS will have to wait. I did get some more of the garage cleaned up, but not enough to move the tarp inside.

Things I learned tonight:
  1. Use a low bench to work on tanks - saves your back and shoulders.
  2. When cutting plexi sheets, keep your table saw blade low to avoid chip-out.
  3. You can cut eggcrate on a table saw (low blade height).
  4. The pumps I'm using move a LOT of water.

Trays cut in half:

New middle supports (twice the width of end supports):

Some things I'd do differently next time:
  1. Use a router table to dress the edges of the plexi tray rests (or sander).
  2. Use some solid guides to keep the silicone edging neat - very hard to trim once inside the tank.
  3. Leave a little more room for the pumps.

I think both pumps could completely empty the 50-gallon tank in less than 3 minutes, so the return chamber that houses the pumps could empty in 30-45 seconds if a blockage occurs.

So, another addition to this project will be a float switch to turn the pumps off should a major blockage occur. Following that line of thought, maybe it won't be an issue due to the sheer volume the overflow can deal with. Testing in the garage will be my gauge.
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post #23 of 96 (permalink) Old 08-11-2012, 07:33 PM Thread Starter
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Let's start with a word from our sponsors...Dollar store pot scrubbies...now with more floatation power!!

Seriously. Did not see this coming.

After my initial disappointment, I got a good laugh out of it...looks so ridiculous...like a child's bathtub or something. Scrubbies will be freeeeee!

Pretty sure I'll end up with some sort of drip-tray arrangement, but more on that later.

Sump stand reinforcement build
Always use the clamps...measure twice, cut once, blah blah. Makita's impact driver is pretty awesome...after years of not having one, will never go back. I wasn't super picky about the hole placement on the sides (within 0.5"), but it won't ever be visible, so not a big deal to me. I did, however, countersink nice and clean...gotta have some standards! Just used the table saw and mitre guide to cut the wood. Two 2x6 for the center (attached through the center chipboard divider) and one 2x4 on each corner. It's only for the 30-gallon tank, so probably quite overbuilt. All of the wood was leftover from other projects.

If I can make one critical recommendation to newbie woodworkers - buy clamps, even cheap junk like the ones pictured (Jobmate) will work great. As a matter of fact, even though I have higher quality/strength clamps, these get used 95% of the time because they are light, 'quick clamping', and I don't care what happens to them. For the not-so-newbie woodworkers, if you don't already troll Craigslist and Kijiji for garage sales with clamps/tools...well, the more for me, I suppose.

Trays finished
I fixed the one tray where a few edge pieces got yanked off by super-gluing some plexiglas. Then I siliconed the vertical divider in place, roughly 6x12" area for coarse filters and the drain lines.

Sump finishing details
Installed the pumps and tied the cables together, used some suction cup cable clamps to keep it tidy. I am sure that zip-tying the pumps together will come back to bite me, but too many hours spent cabling car audio systems and computer cases have taken their toll on me. IASCA standards, indeed.

MTS is still on hold
Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day...well, actually, the farmers are probably pretty happy, so I can wait.

Back to the comedy
Pictures, then my thoughts on how to fix it.

You can (sort of) see the flow rate in that first picture...I don't have any way of doing video, so you'll have to use your imagination. It's quite good - that 0.75" spacing on the first baffle is tons. The second picture is again, funny. Trust me. Third picture has highlighting (thank you Windows 7 snip tool) around the water level pre- and post-baffle. About 0.125" difference thanks to the input of the two pumps, but after 10-15 minutes it had not changed at all. Definitely no need to add in a water level cut-off, I think.

The fix
The DIY wet-dry filter has input at the top, then a mechanical filtration tray with lots of holes - enough to flow the water, but not so much as to immediately drain the tray. Those holes function as a shower-head, raining water down onto the biological filter media - you end up with excellent aeration of the water and thus happy, healthy bacteria.
  • I believe I'll have to add a removable plexi tray with the appropriate amount of holes drilled in it that will sit exactly at the top level of the top layer of pot scrubbies (preventing the float). It is unfortunate that I have to buy MORE of those things, as they are almost out of stock at the local Dollarama.
  • Also too bad that I have to buy some plexiglas...that stuff is expensive. Maybe there is a tray or something similarly flat I can salvage. I don't think this top tray has to be super strong, and I can add plexi ribs to prevent bowing.
  • Finally, the topmost tray will have more substantial 'tray rests' - these will be threaded for some sort of wing-nut or thumb-screw.

Material to source:
  • Pot scrubbies (4 more packs)
  • Plexi/plastic tray/lid thingie
  • Appropriately-sized coarse filter pad - ??
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post #24 of 96 (permalink) Old 08-13-2012, 11:07 AM Thread Starter
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Quick update. Spent pretty much all day (outside of church) cleaning the garage and building my wife a shelf/stand thingy for her flower pots. Looks pretty good, considering how 'recycled' the wood was. I also rinsed the gravel as best I could before my back said 'no more'. Can't believe how much dust is in that stuff (Flourite Black gravel).

I will try and get out to pick up that plexiglas today...definitely going to have to reach into my welder savings now. Dag. Hm, maybe I'll take one more stab at an easy fix.

Here's a clearer view of the pump flow rate. It's also fun to watch the little waterfall.

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post #25 of 96 (permalink) Old 08-13-2012, 06:09 PM
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This might be a stupid idea, but do the scrunchies have enough buoyancy to float the trays? That way you could put the tray under the glass ledge, and the scrunches below them. The scrunches would then push the trays up into the glass stops. Just a thought.
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post #26 of 96 (permalink) Old 08-14-2012, 11:21 AM Thread Starter
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That's not a stupid idea, but my only concern would be them losing buoyancy over time due to whatever reason. The drip tray idea will actually be beneficial to this project, so might as well go that route.

Some pictures of how I'm cutting the plexiglas, if anyone had wondered.

40-tooth blade on the table saw, pushing through with the mitre gauge.

Sacrificial DIY-clamp for pieces that get my fingers a little too close to the blade.

Nice clean cuts all around by keeping the blade low (height = 2x thickness of material).

I also ordered the glass yesterday, ready on Wednesday! Ended up going with the full-length 'coast-to-coast' overflow box - I can drill through if necessary for the returns.

What I'm currently pondering is what is plastic but also threaded, and cheaply/easily available...? I had thought maybe something like those clear curtain rods, but they might not deal with torsional forces involved with threading. The other end of this would be stainless steel, but that's probably more cost than I'm prepared to pay.
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post #27 of 96 (permalink) Old 08-15-2012, 12:18 AM Thread Starter
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Cool! Plastic thumbscrew issue resolved.

Found some old ear plugs from my rockband days.

Threading the plastic pieces.

Test fitment - perfect!

I started threading with oil, but quickly turned out that I did not need it - I tapped the clear plexi with no oil at all. I think I will try the next one with the drill press so as to make the threads perfectly vertical. The ear plug rod was cut with tin snips, not a super clean cut, but good enough for my purposes.

I will make the head portion of the thumbscrew out of two squares of plexiglas with rounded corners. If I had the stuff to do it, some plexi dowel, drilled and knurled, would be ideal.

Anyway, busy week coming up, will progress as time allows. Super happy with the threading results!
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post #28 of 96 (permalink) Old 08-15-2012, 05:08 PM Thread Starter
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Picking the glass up tonight - the two pieces came to $17.11, not bad!

Took a look around for knurling tools...very expensive/hard to find. I think I'll move more in a 'hex-head' thumbscrew for a few reasons. First, completely round would mean zero-grip if any kind of algae or film formed on the surface. Second, knurling or a slot pattern would fill with aforementioned algae/film and require occasional cleaning. Third, a hex shape gives enough grip without looking ridiculous, and is relatively easy to make.

I plan to leave a 'shoulder' on the threaded rod portion to fit snugly into the drip tray itself. The top end of the shoulder will then be cemented (E-6000 adhesive) into the 'top/nut' plexi piece.

Next tasks:
  1. Finish MTS process. (let dry out; first round mesh sift; second mesh sift; store in tub)
  2. Install overflow box. (prepare jig; measure/mark; initial silicone; glass placement; final silicone; tape)
  3. Mark out drill points on 50G. (measure/mark)
  4. Fabricate drip plate thumbscrews. (thread plastic pieces; cut top portions; assemble)
  5. Fabricate drip plate. (trim/drill/tap drip plate rests; measure/mark/cut drip plate; measure/mark/drill press drip holes; test; enlarge if necessary)

Drip plate
For the drip tray hole sizing, I will start at 1/16" and test. Once the initial holes have been drilled on the drill press, I can re-size them using the hand driver quickly enough. I think the idea is to have as many holes as possible while keeping enough standing water to allow the drip tray to 'drip' from every hole. I am sure there is fancy maths that can be done to calculate the exact hole size off the bat, but I didn't do that well at math (probably for lack of trying) and this is DIY, not mass production. If it takes 1-2 re-sizings, that's fine. Probably less extra time involved than the calculations.

Overflow box
I had thought about installing the overflow box right away (more time to cure, good visual prior to drilling), but decided against it - too much could go wrong. Also, I might discover that the 5" depth I've specified is too deep and need the glass re-cut to fit. Finally, if I have to drill for the returns, much easier to do that out of the tank.

Edit: This guy has a great overview of his BeanAnimal/coast-to-coast system: http://www.glassreef.com/basics_index.htm
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post #29 of 96 (permalink) Old 08-16-2012, 11:52 AM Thread Starter
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Again, apologies for the fuzzy pictures...it's the best RIM can do. Later on I'll take some time to do nice shots with the Canon and tripod.

The overflow glass is about 1/8" too short, but I think after a liberal dose of silicone things should hold up fine.

Drip tray
The tray rests were cut, tapped, and siliconed in place last night. I am not super happy with the end result - the curves I cut on the band saw are not symmetrical, the holes are not symmetrically spaced - but since I have so little time, and this will be hidden, we'll go with it. Functionality won't be impaired, just aesthetics.

As you can see, all the threaded portions are done, just have to cut the hex heads and adhere them in place.

Driftwood/rock design v1:
My wife started work on the driftwood and rocks last night while I worked on the drip tray. I am liking how the driftwood fits together, but the rocks will need smashing/chipping. Right now the rocks cover ~40% of the soil - I'd like that number to be closer to ~15% to allow for more stem plants. She'll also be trying to integrate some sort of cave/rock bridge thingy to provide shelter for fish should the plants have issues.

Coming up next...
  • Sump drip tray
  • Overflow box
  • Finish MTS

This weekend will be busy, hopefully the sump stuff can be finished up. Another item I forgot about was finding coarse filter media to line the drip tray with. Maybe I'll just forego that and use the filter socks for testing.

Just saw that the PVC parts are out for delivery today!! Sweet.
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post #30 of 96 (permalink) Old 08-16-2012, 01:56 PM Thread Starter
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Awesome, my wife just sent me pics of version 2.

I think it looks great...the rock footprint is reduced, wood spreads out in a somewhat natural position...yup.
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