That first picture makes my head hurt.
If you think of it as tinker toys, legos, and mud pies for adults, then it's not so intimidating. It was a WHOLE lotta fun to do.
Are those just regular substrate, or are they some special ones that buffer the water? Beside leaf litter, what leaves are those in the last pic?
I believe in ecosystems - as my background is as a biologist. I do not believe in proprietary, artificial, designer, or chemically-induced and try to avoid them whenever possible. Regular cheap substrate. Backyard leaves - oak, maple, poplar, elm, beech
where did you acquire the orange sakura shrimp from? was this a cross between a yellow and red sakura?
A shrimpy friend, and I was lucky to get a few. They are a color gene mutation of reds.
I have a few questions if you don't mind.
That first rack on the right, is that 24" deep and about 72" or so long? I've seen a similar rack at Costco. Are those 15's set end to end? I was going to go with 10's as they are cheaper and I have limited space. However they are over 20" long and the next size down in racks is 18" unless I special order. So I thought I may go with 15's for the stability and because I'd have to go the next size up in racks anyhow.
About the wire mesh on those racks. If I recall correctly, some of the wires are up higher than others right? That's no issue if they are very close, but I think the ones I saw only had a few that were higher and I was worried about a way to even this out. It looks like you used foam? However, with rimmed tanks the foam pushes up on the bottom plane. They are meant to rest on the rim or something hard that doesn't form to the bottom. I was thinking they may even be safe right on top of the wires as long as the distance between wires is close. Not positive on that, but if it's only a 2" spread there should be any pressure points of consequence as the load is spreak by the trim.
If you did use foam, how do you find it holds up to getting water and other dirt on it? That was one of my concerns is how it will look after awhile.
I'm looking to do similar quality work as yourself with the shrimp, just on a much smaller scale. I could use some assistance, if you have the time or inclination, you can pm me. It's rare to find people trying to do every aspect to the highest standard. I'm the very same way, I just don't have all the knowledge yet.
The FIRST place, and really only place (aside from breeding livestock) I spend top bucks is on my shelving infrastructure. The most expensive thing I have is my shelving. If your shelving units fail, you lose EVERYTHING. You are mixing heavy weight, water, electricity, and lots of other pricey stuff, and if the shelves fail, you lose it all, and in a dangerous and damaging way. All the rest of my stuff is BORG off the shelf parts, modest tanks, heaters, and filters - nothing high end. To me, the real beauty lies in a gorgeous, healthy animal and perfect ecosystem, not the gizmos surrounding them - that is just noise to me, and fashion. My first generation of tanks were plastic drawers from the dollar store. I still have one in use, as a matter of fact, because it is producing so well still I hate to disrupt the population in it. It is currently cantilevered off the end of one of my shelving units because I don't have anywhere else to put it right now!
I use industrial, double-rivet boltless shelving with a steel beam center support, welded 1/4 inch epoxy coated grids, all rated at 1500 lbs per shelf. I put closed-cell foam board on top of the grids to distribute the weight. It's precisely BECAUSE the tank rims will sink into the foam a tiny bit that makes this so safe - all the weight load is then evenly distributed with no pressure points. I would never put tanks on a rigid wire grid with extreme pressure points resulting. Closed cell foam (BORG) is waterproof but will dent, tear, etc. if abused. It lasts just fine if you are reasonably careful.
Since I like non-proprietary, I use 24x48 units, then I can use 48 inch shop lights overhead. They have the most widely available and cheapest T8 bulbs, and easiest to buy. I use 15 gallon tanks because they use the same glass thickness as 20s. The 10s are way too weak and flimsy in the glass for my liking.
I do use a couple of custom products: $8 mirrorized aluminum reflectors for the shop lights, and $10 custom twinwall polycarbonate greenhouse panels for lids that insulate but allow 90% light transmission through and are heat and impact resistant. Both contribute to energy efficiency, so pay for themselves.