Mr. Aqua 17.4g - Iwagumi, DIY ADA Stand upgrading - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 04-20-2013, 02:16 AM Thread Starter
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Mr. Aqua 17.4g - Iwagumi, DIY ADA Stand upgrading

A few months ago I decided it was time to upgrade from my ten year old 10g low-tech planted tank to something I was proud to display in my living room. It's been a painstakingly detailed build with countless forum searches and many trips to the hardware stores and it's now time to start a journal.

As the post title mentions I'm starting with a Mr. Aqua 17.4 gallon rimless tank (60cm equivalent). It came ridiculously packed from Marine Depot (packed 1000 times better than my online lily pipe purchase...they all came broken...but that's another story).

I'm going pressurized CO2, already have the tank and regulator but it's on my 10g now until this tank gets set up. Purchased an Eheim 2217, Finnex Fugeray LED, will be making a DIY CO2 reactor, 12L of ADA AquaSoil Amazonia and ultimately going for an Iwagumi style.

Step 0: Obtain all sorts of packages in the mail
Step 1: Time to build a stand.

I really like the look of the DIY ADA stands people have made so from many owners pictures I made my own plans, sketched everything out in MS Excel and started the build. Here's a quick list of the major parts:
  • 3/4" Plywood (one 4x8 sheet)
  • Sheet of laminate (they only had a 4x10 in the color I wanted...this allowed me to laminate both the inside and outside)
  • Wood glue and screws
  • 1" flush laminate bit
  • A variety of power tools (table saw, circular saw, jigsaw, dremel, router)
  • Wood files and sandpaper
  • Hardware for the doors
  • Many trips to HomeDepot and Lowes

I took a few pictures along the way to document my first woodworking project since junior high shop class 16 years ago. There were definitely a few bumps in the road but all in all I'm happy with the finished product.

1. Here's the wood already cut to size and the roll of laminate acclimating to the same temperature and humidity in my house.

2. The sides, bottom and back were glued and screwed together. Now it's time to get some laminate on the inside walls.

3. A few more pieces are glued on and lots more laminate installed. The cutouts for the power and filter hoses took a bit of ingenuity over here but I'm really happy how they turned out.

4. The finished product!

It's level too!

5. Here's the tank on top. It's a dead perfect fit, exactly the width and depth of the tank. Note, the Iwagumi formation is still a work in progress, some more Ada AS for height and adjustment of the rocks and I'll be ready to DSM this tank.

I'm not embarrassed to share a few of my learnings for this build:
  • Keep the router bearing clean. If it doesn't spin freely it can burn your laminate edges that are already installed.
  • Accurately label all cut pieces of laminate. I incorrectly glued the wrong side pieces (those cut for the outside were glued on the inside...oops). This meant I had to get creative with the laminate for the outside-sides. A 4x10 sheet is just barely enough to laminate all the inside and outside of a 30"x24"x12" stand which meant I didn't have any extra pieces to fix this error.
  • Account for the additional 1/16" thickness of the laminate on all cuts. I read this previously and said "yep, I did that". Well I didn't on all pieces. I had to cut and glue a small 1/16" strip of plywood on the front outside edge of the top to get everything flush.
  • Ensure a perfectly level top. This is especially important for rimless tanks. A little wood filler ensured this was the case for me.
  • A straight edged piece of plywood was a godsend to ensure straight cuts of laminate and wood. This was especially important for the inside pieces of laminate that couldn't be cut oversized and just routed off.
  • Painters tape can sometimes help to prevent chipping. Sometimes.
  • Contact cement requires a warm environment to dry. 45 degrees does not count as warm. Follow the can directions. For me this meant painting the contact cement on in the garage and then carrying the glued pieces upstairs to dry.
  • Fill countersunk screws before laminating. Otherwise the router will find that small hole and you'll have a very small divot in your laminate. Lovely.

As this journal progress I'll showcase the rest of the setup. I'm waiting for a new shipment of knock-off lily pipes to replace the broken shipment. In the meantime I've picked up some acrylic to attempt some DIY lily pipes as well. My DIY CO2 reactor was almost ready to build but I've changed course and want the clear 2" PVC. I know it's not necessary as plain old white PVC will work just as good but I want to see the bubbles! I've already spent more money on this tank than I care to admit so what's another $20 if it makes me happy, right?!
Once I get the rocks to a position I like I'll be planting some glosso for a carpet using the dry start method. Give that a few weeks to grow and hopefully by June I'll have this tank full of water, cardinal tetras, otos, shrimp and my SAE.

Last edited by RunnerUW; 04-20-2013 at 08:46 PM. Reason: Better title
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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 04-20-2013, 06:57 PM
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You did some nice work on the cabinet!

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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 04-20-2013, 09:52 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you!

Couldn't pull the trigger on the 2" clear PVC last night. $10/foot + $10 shipping didn't make sense to me. I wanted to see how well the CO2 was dissolving in a Rex Griggs Style reactor...with a 2217 I worried it'd be a decent amount of flow that could potentially carry a few small bubbles of CO2 back to the tank before they dissolved. I'll just build a longer reactor. Heck I've got about 24" of available room in my stand, may as well make it a 2 foot CO2 reactor.
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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 04-21-2013, 07:33 AM
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Mighty fine work on the stand! Congrats on the new tank too!
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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-12-2013, 10:09 PM Thread Starter
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Well, it's been a few weeks since I've journaled my progress. Mostly just a lot of prep
work to get ready to plant. New 10# CO2 tank to replace the 2.5 pounder I had. The
regulator is still hooked up to the 2.5# tank on my 10gallon. It'll get moved over once
it's time to CO2 inject the 17 gallon.

Purchased some plants at the Greater Seattle Aquarium Seattle (GSAS) plant auction.
Floated them in the 10G until it was time to dry start the 17G. It's pretty sparse in
the tank so far so I'll either get some more glosso or just be really really patient
while it fills in. In the back right corner is some Marsilea hirsuta to add some darker contrast leaves to the brighter glosso color.

The new filter and filter media are currently cycling with my makeshift rubbermaid tank on the kitchen counter. It was a great leak check for the CO2 reactor, hydor heater and some plumbing. We are currently sitting at ~5ppm of NH3, 0 NO2 and 0 NO3 at 86 degrees F. But given how long it'll take this glosso to fill in I'm sure this filter will be well cycled before the tank is finally filled.

And then to suck away more of my free time and money I went to a "how-to homebrew" class yesterday. Apparently I don't pick the cheapest hobbies
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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-12-2013, 10:39 PM
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Nice job on the stand, it is also organized well. I assume the grey cylinder is the CO2 reactor?
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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-30-2013, 04:02 PM
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Wow, beautiful job on the stand. Could you give a rough estimate on the cost of materials to put this together? I'm trying to present a case to the Lady that it is more cost effective for me to give woodworking a shot than spluring a godly amount on a premade stand.
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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-30-2013, 04:13 PM
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that is awesome. I'd love to find a stand that fits my CO2 tank (and maybe future CO2 reactor and canister filter too?) and aquarium just right like that - I guess custom-made is the only way to go right now, sigh!

20 Gallon High Community Tank Journal, Started 4/30/13.
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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-30-2013, 05:10 PM
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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-30-2013, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by RunnerUW View Post

I love the anal attention to detail under the hood! Nice Job.
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post #11 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-31-2013, 04:31 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you all. My friends thought I was crazy bothering with all the details of this build. I'm still cycling the filter and dry starting the tank so not much progress on the tank that is worthy of pictures. For the fishless cycle I tried just ammonia with starter bacteria from my mature tank but I may have overdosed the ammonia to somewhere between 4 and 8 ppm. After 3 weeks there was no change in the ammonia (4+) and zero nitrite. I saw suggestions for a dead shrimp to get the cycle started so I did a big water change on my temporary tank and got the grocery store to give me a free shrimp. They were right! After just a week of a shrimp I'm seeing nitrites Now I just need my glosso carpet to get growing sideways.

Some approximate costs for materials (what I can remember or take a guess at)
-Plywood $50
-Laminate $120
-Glue and screws $10
-Contact cement + cheap paintbrushes $25
-Hinges $20
-Magnetic long throw door latches $15
-Touch up paint $5
-Wood filler $7
-silicone to fill in the tiny gaps in the laminate seams $10

Then I don't know what you have for tools but I used:
-table saw for the big cuts
-a circular saw for smaller cuts and for the laminate (needed to buy a fine tooth blade for the laminate...$15)
-dremel with planer attachment
-palm sander with various sandpaper grits
-router with 1" flush tip bit
-jigsaw for the cutouts
-drill and drill bits

The laminate is the significant cost here but I'm really glad I went that route.
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post #12 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-16-2013, 05:33 AM
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updates? I want to see this thing FILLED!
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post #13 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-16-2013, 06:43 AM
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Great journal, nice build and I like that you dont waste anytime cycling the filter. Thats a great idea.
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post #14 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-18-2013, 03:24 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the press for updates vermino, I know I haven't been diligent enough about updating this journal. Since my last post I've started a new job and am in the beginning stages of selling my house so I'm actually kind of glad the tank isn't filled. It'll be much easier to move when the time comes for that step

The grow out of glosso has been painstakingly slow. I see very little new growth. I hope these buggers are laying down some crazy root systems since they obviously are not concerned about spreading themselves out. I've since been adding new plantlets when I find the time.

Finally the filter has cycled. That shrimp was the key. Now I keep adding a couple of drops of ammonia throughout the week to keep the bacteria happy while we wait to move the tank.

I'll try to add some more plants in the upcoming week and take a couple new photos. It'll look like a lot of new plants from the pictures above but it's just from me adding new stems, not from new growth.
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post #15 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-10-2013, 01:31 AM Thread Starter
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Good news...the glosso finally started to grow. Some sideways, some upwards, some every which way. I probably could have "trained" them to grow sideways with some selective pruning and/or encouragement. But I'm just happy they finally started to grow. My first DSM, mostly a success.

Bad news...I'm moving in a few weeks which means the tank has to come down Sad! But hopefully the second time around is much easier. Given this is a rimless tank I have to take down everything...I'll bag the plants, take out the rocks and support structures under the substrate, bucket the aquasoil and start over again.

Fingers crossed it all goes well in a few weeks!

From the top:

Lots of humidity in this tank.
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