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post #1 of (permalink) Old 05-30-2012, 11:46 PM Thread Starter
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Smile pandamonium's 40BR amazon setup (update 8/6/12) New fish


Current Update: New Plants, Aquascape, Fish, and Equipment!
So after keeping a handful of neon tetras at school, I became interested in biotope/habitat style tanks, especially an Amazon biotope. While up at school I couldn't do anything (the LFS had only 1 or 2 species of Amazonian fish), so I did a lot of research and shopping until I came home. This thread is just to track/share my summer project. If anyone has comments or suggestions, please let me know
The theme for this tank was going to be a low-tech, DIY style tank that tried to simulate the low-lighting environment of the Amazon River. Anything that I could modify or build myself, I tried to do to save money as well as get a hand on aquarium DIY.

Tank Stats:
Size: 40 Gallon Breeder
Stand: DIY Stand inspired by an ADA-style stand
Substrate: Play sand
Filter: Eheim ECCO Pro 2232

Here are the pictures of what I have done so far. I'll continue to update as long as I add something new.

DIY Stand

DIY Stand: Side panels and top panel. The skeleton inside is a typical dual boxframe setup.

DIY Stand: Front trim piece

DIY Stand: Doors and doorknobs attached on

Total price for the stand was about $75. Panelling cost $55; Oak Supports were from my cousin's DIY staircase project; bottom 2x4's about $10; Iron-on Trim was $10.

Tank with Sand and Driftwood in Place

Filter plugged into mounted Power Strip

I intend to install a DIY inline heater following a design similar to someone on this forum. I'll be using a Eheim Jager 150W heater as the inline heater with a backup Aqueon 100W heater as a submersible heater. I'll post pics of that as I do it, as well as pics of the aquarium inhabitants.

DIY Modification on Light Hood

Lighting: 4 13W 6500K Sylvania MicroMini CFL Bulbs
Just finished modifying my light fixture. The 24-inch T8 that came with my tank was not adequate enough. Looking on some other threads I found that some people used CFL bulbs. So I got a dual socket out of a lighting fixture from Lowes as well as 4 CFL bulbs.
Here are pictures

The dual socket before removing the switch. Light bulbs installed.

Both switches removed on the sockets and wired together. I'll be using the switch that is already mounted on my hood.

Wired in and screwed in. Drilled two holes to fix the light to the hood. Works like a charm. All that is left to do it use aluminum tape as a reflector.

Heater: 1) Eheim Jager 150W DIY Inline Heater, 2) Aqueon 100W Submersible Heater
So I went to Home Depot and purchased the parts I needed to make a DIY Inline heater. The reason I wanted to make it inline was because this is a DIY themed tank so I had to kinda And also because I read that inline heaters do a much better job of maintaining a uniform temperature throughout the tank. I read about the Hydor heaters and an issue in the way the switch works (bi-metal switch, I think it was) could cause it to jam either on or off permanently. As far as I know, normal submersible heaters do not have this issue as much.
Here we go! So I bought a bunch of parts for the heater housing. This is listed as quantity, size, and part name.
1 - 1'' Elbow, threaded on one side
1 - 1'' Tee, threaded on one opening
2 - Reducers, threaded (1'' to '')
1 - 1'' PVC pipe (approx. 7-8 inches long)
2 - '' Nylon Hose Barbs Adapter ('' ID)
1 - Reducer, smooth (1'' to 1'')
To join them, I used Teflon tape on all threaded ends and PVC cement on all smooth ends.

Assembly of the Tee and Elbow pieces. Attached the threaded reducers into the threaded elbow and tee pieces. Then put in the hose adapters. On the left side is another side project. I created an aquarium drain valve hooked into my intake tube for the canister filter. Makes draining water out of the aquarium a bit easier (I'm lazy, I know ).

Rough assembly of housing. Thermometer not in place yet.

Thermometer assembly. I silicone glued the thermometer into the smooth reducer with GE Silicone 1. From what I have read, any 100% silicone glue with no mold inhibitors should work. There are aquarium safe silicone glues out there as well. A better option would have been to use a cordgrip, but I did not purchase one. I know Heyco sells them.

Next I cut my canister intake tube to put in a brass T connection. The 2-vertical ends were hooked back into the canister tubing. The 3rd end was hooked into the valve which has spare tubing attached so I can drain water into a bucket so my dad can use it for his plants.

So just finished raising my light using some metal cord that I bent into place and drilled into the side of the light fixture.
And now the first legitimate picture of my tank since all the DIY/hardware work is done (mostly)

The background is planted with Brazilian Pennywort. Floating plants are mostly Amazon frogbit. The tank has right now 4 German Blue Rams and 3 Honeycomb Catfish (Centromochlus perugiae). I'm expecting 10 Golden Pencilfish on Tuesday. Most pictures now will be of fish additions or aquascaping

This is the finished product of the DIY inline heater. It is a Eheim Jager 150W heater housed in a PVC case. Parts I listed above. I will be installing it tomorrow and will have pictures of it working (hopefully).

Installed the inline heater today and started the tank running. Here are the images of it. It's hooked into the stand behind the tank.

The heater was installed about an hour ago and I unplugged my submersible heater. So far temperature is remaining quite stable, about 81-82 degrees. Looking good so far

So heater is having some problems calibrating but I am fixing the issue as I type. In the meantime, thought I would post some pics of the tank's current inhabitants. More are coming in soon.

Honeycomb Catfish (Centromochlus perugiae)
This is one of 3 I have in the tank. He came out for a picture, an opportunity I could not pass up!

This is all three of them the day I got them. Not used to the tank yet so they are just hanging out.


It has been a while since an update. So far, the inline heater is working wonderfully. My temperature has not fluctuated more than 0.2 degrees in either direction. I definitely recommend this

I received a shipment of plants and bought some lemon tetras to add to my tank. Since their addition, the rams have come out more and look really colorful.
I also rescaped my tank with the new plants. In the left most corner is sunset hygro, pennywort is in the center and on the right most side, in the middle is blyxa (under the manzanita branches), in the foreground is staurogyne repens.

Last edited by pandamonium; 08-06-2012 at 11:03 PM. Reason: update
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