This thread is a journal for my newest
tank. (Is it bad that I want MTS?)
Present state as of (4/16/2014):
Gonna do a bit of a re-scape soon, couldn't see what was going on because of the murkiness on my first attempt. Most of these plants will be cycled out and replaced with more interesting species later.
In the spring of '13 I got an itch to make a nice 3D background for my 29 gallon tank and the project has been spiraling out of proportion (and increasing tank size) ever since.
I made the stand myself, mostly with 2x4 lumber and 1/4" plywood. I already knew (roughly) how I wanted the background to look, so I chose to enclose the top of the stand on 3 sides, hiding any trace of wiring or plumbing. Unlike most aquariums with equipment along the back, my aquarium has its equipment housed along the sides.
One of two equipment chambers in the background:
I wanted to make sure the stand would hold, so I made a CAD model and did a stress analysis.
Solid model of 2x4 structure:
The result was a completely over-engineered, nearly unbreakable stand. The frame is able to support about 8 US tons (according to the theoretical models). My floor will give out before the stand does
One of the few pictures during the stand construction process:
I am no carpenter; the stand took far more perseverance than skill to complete. I spent over a month of on/off work to finish it.
The background has two purposes: look pretty and hide all the equipment. I created two equipment chambers on the left and right sides of the background. My canister filter draws water from one and pumps it through the other to ensure good circulation around the heaters and the like.
I made the background very durable. All foam pieces are held in place with 1.19 mm music wire in addition to silicone glue. After the foam structure, there is a 1/4 in thick layer of Quikrete built up over 5 coats. After this, I added 2 uncolored layers of Drylok just in case adding concrete pigments weakens the sealing properties. Then I added a brown layer of Drylok, followed by a layer of other colors to add more visual appeal.
Completed background, just before gluing into aquarium:
Water intake for one equipment chamber, currently doubles as a planter for some Anubias barteri
Foam structure, shaped using knife, acetone, scrapper, and blowtorch:
Close-up of chamber inlet/anubias planter, pipes are hidden under gravel:
Drilled holes all the way through background and filled with concrete to weight it down:
First Quicrete coat of 5:
Gluing background in place:
Background during chemical detoxification and leak test stage, lots of drains and fills, sitting on table outside:
This was the most time-consuming part of the entire build, mostly because I did it during school when I had little time and waning motivation. I could have finished the shaping in a weekend and the concreting and sealing over a couple weeks, but it ended up taking 5 months.
The aquarium is not automated in the slightest at present (4/16/2014). I will be using an Arduino Mega as the brains of the whole operation and an Arduino Uno to control the human-machine interface (HMI) (lcd screen, buttons, indicator alarms and lights). I am no programming genius, so there will be an ungodly amount of debugging involved. The HMI code is about 30% complete and I have not started on the actual controller code.
Here is a list of features I plan on implementing:
-pH control using CO2
-High level CO2 alarm
-High level TDS alarm
-Intelligent temperature control
-Automatic water change (AWC)
-Automatic lighting control: day, high noon, night
For sensors, I am planning on using:
-Atlas Scientific pH Sensor to control pH level and CO2 injection
-Custom colorimeter/drop check to detect high CO2 levels
-Atlas Scientific TDS Sensor to detect high TDS and trigger AWC
-Atlas Scientific ENV-TMP Temperature Sensor
-Any good ideas for a compact float switch?
The cheap ones seem unreliable and the expensive ones are too large.
That's all for now, I'm going to sleep.