The Epic Mini M build - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 49 (permalink) Old 03-11-2014, 07:24 PM Thread Starter
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The Epic Mini M build

When I last moved I decided to shelf my ADA Mini-M until I was settled into a new apartment for the long term. Needing a project I decided to build a simple stand for the tank as I won't be moving until the summer. I had a plan and a budget that I completely ignored. Whoops. Here is the story.

I decided to build a quick and dirty ¾” plywood stand. I had the tank, the filter, the heater, and the light. I figured for less than $75 I could throw a stand together so I went to Home Depot, bought a sheet of plywood, and built a real simple C-frame stand.
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post #2 of 49 (permalink) Old 03-11-2014, 07:26 PM Thread Starter
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However as I looked at it, it was pretty ugly. I began to toy with ideas for dressing up the stand....painting it (I hate paint), covering it with formica (I also hate that), then skinning it with wood. The last option seemed best, so I went back to Home Depot.

I initially planned on a Luann style hardwood veneer plywood, but the cost of actual hardwood for the trim pieces and door (yeah, I also decided I needed to have a door) started to make the project upwards of $200, so I looked at other options. Cedar was cheap and attractive, so I dug through stacks of lumber until I could find enough knot free pieces to cover the entire stand. This was a time consuming task. At the register I was surprised to see the total come out to about the same as the hardwood option....oh well.
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post #3 of 49 (permalink) Old 03-11-2014, 07:29 PM Thread Starter
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After cutting the individual slats to length, the pieces were arranged with alternating wood grain and color. They were then glued and clamped.
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post #4 of 49 (permalink) Old 03-11-2014, 07:33 PM Thread Starter
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I then rough sanded the faces of each panel with a combination of a belt sander and random orbital sander as I lacked a planer. This was also a very arduous task; I spent many hours hand sanding and checking with my straightedge to ensure a nice level panel.
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post #5 of 49 (permalink) Old 03-11-2014, 07:35 PM Thread Starter
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The pieces were then glued to each plywood face, clamped, and weighted. Additional securing of the panels was performed with pocket holes; all screw holes were covered by the next panel and glued, so there are no visible screw holes anywhere on the stand.
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post #6 of 49 (permalink) Old 03-11-2014, 07:40 PM Thread Starter
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The top plate was made from two separate pieces; due to the tendency of cedar to warp, I chose two pieces with very close, albeit alternating grain glued together. After sanding the piece turned out great.


The border pieces were then screwed, glued, and clamped into place. This will form one single top piece that will then be screwed & glued to the supporting plywood top plate.
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post #7 of 49 (permalink) Old 03-11-2014, 08:05 PM Thread Starter
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The door became a real problem during the build. I wanted the front door to match the style of the rest of the stand, but feared warping of the cedar. Instead of 2" planks for the entire door, I used a 1x6 cedar board in the center of the door. The piece has gorgeous grain and varies in color from green to purple to orange but more importantly helps add some rigidity to the panel. The back of the door is framed out with Fir 2x2s. This frame slides into the front opening of the stand and is both pocket holed and glued.

I had decided early on that I did not want to have a hinged door, rather a door that could be removed entirely. The original design was a pressure fit only, and this was not successful on this size build.

To secure the door, I did a lot of reading and decided to implement rare earth magnets to hold the door to the stand. 8 epoxy coated Neodymium magnets will be mounted in the door and the stand. I’m waiting on a plunge router for cutting out mounting points for these magnets.
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post #8 of 49 (permalink) Old 03-11-2014, 08:12 PM Thread Starter
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I consulted an old friend of mine concerning the finish to apply to this stand; his recommendation was a Tung Oil lacquer. I had never used it before, but it seemed similar to any other hand rubbed oil finish. I gave the whole stand a good finish sanding and 4 coats of Tung Oil over a 5 day period. I applied a single coat to the door; the final finishing will be performed once the magnets have been mounted.


The final product is gorgeous. The cedar has a deep orange/yellow color and the grain swelled slightly during the process, giving the grain a deep sheen. Awesome.
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post #9 of 49 (permalink) Old 03-11-2014, 08:14 PM Thread Starter
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Right around this time I found a killer deal on some Sieryu Stone. The same day, another member was selling his entire collection of Bucephalandra, so I bought the lot. To best accommodate Buces, I should run CO2.

I originally planned on running a ADA Advance CO2 system, but after buying one and seeing it in person I decided that I should build up something a bit nicer. With the Concoa reg I bought from Ruko several years ago, I built the following:

-Concoa Ultra High Purity SS regulator 3323331-320
-McDaniels Controls K-series SS ballistic Glycerine filled gauges
-Burkert 6011 SS solenoid
-Ideal 54-1-12V SS needle valve
-Swagelok SS-2C2-1/3 check valve
-Swagelok fittings
-HK Bubble Counter
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post #10 of 49 (permalink) Old 03-11-2014, 08:16 PM Thread Starter
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The space inside the stand initially allowed for only a 2.5 lb tank. The inside bottom shelf was modified, adding a recessed hole for the CO2 cylinder. I can now fit a 5 lb tank. Immediately another issue became present; the full 5 lb CO2 was barely heavy enough to support the weight of that monster reg. I added some mounting hardware and a Starbright marine grade all SS ratchet strap (this is a very awesome part, if you ever need one) and can tighten the tank right to the stand.
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post #11 of 49 (permalink) Old 03-11-2014, 08:17 PM Thread Starter
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I also originally planned on running an Atomic inline difuser but once it arrived I again changed my mind. I decided upon a Cerges style reactor as this seemed to be the most efficient option and least likely to leak over time. I used the heavy duty 10” clear housing from Amazon, bought a SS mounting bracket from Max Water up in Canada, and drilled & tapped the housing for a Swagelok SS tubing adapter for the CO2 inlet.
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post #12 of 49 (permalink) Old 03-11-2014, 08:20 PM Thread Starter
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The filter is an Eheim 2211. I’m using a Hydor ETH 200 for the heater; while I’ve used these for years with great luck I was concerned about the bad press lately with these units. As an extra layer of protection I wired in a Ranco temperature controller. This is in turn wired into a GFCI outlet for just the heater, as this is the most likely component to fail. This also allows the rest of the tank to continue running even if the heater trips the breaker.



I only uncovered the issue with the Ranco temperature probes after having bought the unit. After extensive research I decided to keep the temp probe dry entirely. I bought a SS thermowell for $10 and modified my plumbing on the exit side of the Cerges Reactor. Temperature difference between my probe and the tank water is less than 1.5 degrees, which I can live with.
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post #13 of 49 (permalink) Old 03-11-2014, 08:24 PM Thread Starter
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It was a tight fit getting everything into the stand.

An industrial Tripp-Lite 8 port power strip supplies power to everything, and the CO2 solenoid and light are controlled with Intermatic timers, which have been by far the most reliable for me.

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post #14 of 49 (permalink) Old 03-11-2014, 08:30 PM Thread Starter
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Added the rocks, substrate, and 30+ Buces. After running into quality issues and restriction problems with the overseas lily pipes, I went and bought an ADA Lily Pipe Outflow P-1 (10mm). I’m still using the HK inflow as it does an adequate job.

The stocklist for the tank includes:

Bucephalandra 'Blue Electric'
Bucephalandra 'Copper Leaf'
Bucephalandra 'Giant Sword'
Bucephalandra 'Green Achilles'
Bucephalandra 'Green Freya'
Bucephalandra 'Green Wave'
Bucephalandra 'Elise Blue'
Bucephalandra ‘Harlequin Corvus’
Bucephalandra 'Icarus Bell'
Bucephalandra 'Icarus Sword'
Bucephalandra 'Icarus Velvet'
Bucephalandra 'Lalina Black'
Bucephalandra 'Kedagang'
Bucephalandra 'Kudangan'
Bucephalandra 'Miranda'
Bucephalandra 'Oereo Aegis'
Bucephalandra 'Pink Blossom'
Bucephalandra 'Red Ghost'
Bucephalandra 'Red Line'
Bucephalandra 'Red Vein'
Bucephalandra 'Shine Blue'
Bucephalandra 'Silver Grey'
Bucephalandra 'Sunshine'

*some of these came unmarked in a bag; I’m not convinced that all of these are what they claim to be, and I’m pretty sure some of these names are fabricated entirely.
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post #15 of 49 (permalink) Old 03-11-2014, 08:35 PM
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Looks pretty cool, should look good once grown in
Good luck...

FISHY

Last edited by horsedude; 03-11-2014 at 08:36 PM. Reason: Miss typing
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