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blink 11-16-2012 06:51 AM

Blink's 25 gallon Solana cube
Current full tank shot as of 29 December, 2012

It's time to start up the new tank journal and it's late, expect rambling.

I bought a nice little 25 gallon AIO cube a while ago, branded as an Ecoxotic but made by Current USA and essentially a smaller version of their Solana. I like AIOs, they give me a sense of well being and relaxation. Anyhow, my wife decided it would make a nice reef tank until I pointed out that she had recently gotten a 60 gallon cube which still needed plenty of livestock.


The time has come to get some water in this thing so first things first, I needed a stand. I looked high and low and there was nothing I liked, or at least nothing I liked that I was willing to pay the asking price for... what do these people think they are selling? I mean $300+ for a poorly made wobbly pressboard stand? **** that, I'll make one I says which causes much eye rolling and sighing from my wife, fortunately I've built dozens of subwoofer boxes and all a tank stand is, is a subwoofer box with a door and some access holes.

After a quick trip to Home Depot and bribing the lumber attendant I had some nicely pre-trimmed pieces of 5/8" MDF (which were way way off size) Good thing I asked for generous cuts :) Tonight had me in the garage making all kinds of saw dust and getting most of it in my ears and nose.

There are no pictures of cutting or assembly because, well, I kinda forgot and by the time I realized I'd forgotten I didn't really feel like taking any... I was on a roll!! I promise there will be lots of photos coming.

The stand is mostly assembled, some screws and lots of Gorilla Glue, I tried the new white formulation, apparently it dries twice as fast as the original brown. I need to figure out what I'm doing for shelves and a door but so far it's straight and level, probably more level than this house.

I'm considering finishing it in a nice black-brown color as we have a couple pieces of Ikea furniture in that shade and it looks good. Even if I don't get a color match this tank stand is beefy enough to bludgeon the Ikea junk into dust so it'll work, or at least that's what I tell myself. But on the flipside I'm really tempted to go back to my sub box roots and use some marine grade carpet on the stand, I'd have to waterproof it but you have to waterproof MDF no matter what you do because the junk will soak spills like a shamwow. Hmm, guess I'll have to think on that... But I'm most definitely painting the interior of the stand white, I've had enough of black interiors on tank stands. The white looks good and if you put just a tiny cabinet light in there it is so bright and easy to see what you are doing.

Moving right along, I've got a pail of Fluorite dark, two or three ziplock bags of plants I've gotten recently and a whole helping of impatience.
The stand should be finished by tomorrow night and dry by Saturday morning come hell or high water, then I'll need to figure out what I'm doing for scaping since the wife stole all my prize pieces of driftwood for our new 12 long. I don't want to do lace rock again and I don't want an Iwagumi because my CPDs won't stand for it.

Guess I'd better wrap this one up for tonight.

blink 11-16-2012 03:06 PM

Any thoughts on finishing with marine grade carpet vs. paint or veneer?
I've had some time to think and I like the carpet idea, just not sure if I'm conveniently ignoring any cons to it.

mcfly84 11-16-2012 06:09 PM

Questions! Did you buy it second hand? Have you put water in it yet? What do the silicone seams look like?

I only ask because my cousin gave me his 34g solana and well it seeps from the seams. He broke it down when he sold his house and had to keep it in storage for two months then kept it in his garage for another 5 months all during a very hot summer here in Texas. The black silicone they used dry rotted. I noticed when cleaning the calcium build up. Long story short I'll be removing the AIO filter and sump and just having an all glass aquarium with refugium sump once I
re-seal it. It was definately a bummer and set back for my reef setup, so I instead switched to starting my 30g planted tank.

blink 11-16-2012 07:17 PM

I did buy second hand but the seller had water in when I arrived. When i got it home I ran the pump and leak tested it for a couple days but thank you for the heads up on the dry rot potential.

This may not help you but drs. Foster & Smith sell just the solana glass cube without the all in one bits for about $180. You might be able to sell your solana and buy a new one and possibly see some cash in your pocket while having a warranty and a new tank.

mcfly84 11-16-2012 08:48 PM

Glad to hear! I think I'll stick with it. I didn't pay anything for it so I'll just make it a project. It's a bummer but oh well. I think I'll dig an all glass reef set up.

I look forward to seeing you set this tank up.

Weekly updates subscribed.

blink 11-17-2012 01:01 AM

3 Attachment(s)
I made a little side trip to the local fiberglass store and I've figured out how I'm going to seal this stand; Ecopoxy
It's claimed to be odorless and non-toxic so in theory I can work with it in the house, which is great since my garage is unheated and it's hovering around freezing right now. The guy at the shop said it's an incredible product which is pretty reassuring since I was looking at some $50 US composites product and this stuff only set me back $30.
Other reviews by boat builders say that it's an excellent alternative to epoxy or polyester resins.

I think I'll be doing prep tonight and sealing it tomorrow so wish me luck on that aspect, I'll let you guys know how ecopoxy works out for me.

On the construction side of things I spent some time sitting on my stand, literally, and it's rock solid. No flex or wobble with me and my big fat cat sitting on it and rocking around. I figure if 240 lbs won't cause a wiggle then a nice stationary aquarium should be juuuuust fine.
I just need to clearance the door slightly and get some hinges and I think it'll be ready for sealing.

And there are even some poor quality cell phone photos, first one is obviously the semi complete stand.
Second is the tank itself, sitting on an awesome 70s coffee table I found in the basement, I thought long and hard about making the stand the same height because it makes a nice end cap for the sofa but this room currently houses my wife's 60 cube and I didn't want to crowd too much water in one room.
Thirdly is a photo of the sump area, I'll probably be referring to this photo later.

mcfly84 11-17-2012 05:25 AM

hey what are the demensions on that; because it looks an awful lot like my 34g solana? Exactly the same as far as the AIO filter back.

blink 11-17-2012 07:04 AM

It's 18x18x18"
Just a wee bit smaller. It was branded as an Ecoxotic but was made for them by Current who makes the solana. I'd like it if it were the 20x20x20" of your tank, the extra little bit of volume would help fit my favorite piece of bogwood.

blink 11-17-2012 08:13 PM

Yeah, time for more rambling... there is progress though!

First coat of Ecopoxy has been laid down. I did the bottom, back and part of the inside of my stand with pretty heavy coats. Haven't used much material so far and the verdict is in on it's working performance.

This stuff is nice!!

-It does NOT emit any detectable odor
-It mixes easily although it doesn't change color when it's fully mixed (might be able to use a colored hardener to solve this problem)
-It spreads really well. Some resins are goopy and really viscous which makes them hard to work with (especially when fiberglassing) but Ecopoxy is thin and spreads very nicely.
-It even self levels to some extent, not something I'm used to seeing in polyester resin and something I've never seen in traditional epoxy resin.

Since I'm not quite finished I have no idea on the finished result but it's sitting in the hobby room curing (yes!!!! I can work resin in the house! Holy cra... er, mackerel!)
This is such a big deal for me because I've had projects sitting all summer waiting for me to find time to work on them and either the weather was poor or I was busy but this opens doors... I can't emphasize enough how happy I am about this!

I even managed to take a couple photos but I'm saving those for later.

Kayen 11-17-2012 08:31 PM


Originally Posted by blink (Post 2080469)

Moving right along, I've got a pail of Fluorite dark, two or three ziplock bags of plants I've gotten recently and a whole helping of impatience.

One of those isn't the one I happened to sell you last week is it ? ;)

Look forward to seeing progress in this tank.

blink 11-18-2012 01:50 AM

5 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by Kayen (Post 2081908)
One of those isn't the one I happened to sell you last week is it ? ;)

Look forward to seeing progress in this tank.

Definitely is, it's currently enjoying daily doses of water from my other tank. I'd been planning to split it up and plant in there, but I think that tank will be getting torn down.

More photos!
-The back, I may end up making the upper hole oblong but it only needs to fit a couple electrical cords so I'm not too worried about the size right now.
-Front view, what you can't see but annoys me is that there is a slight mismatch between the top piece on the front and the front edge of the top surface of the stand... I may end up making a trim piece that will surround the tank but we will see.
-Mmm, glossy glossy resin, it's only been a couple hours and it's already tacky!
-Testing my fluorite, I wasn't sure I had enough but there is a good 2.5" throughout, score!
-I really want to put some swords in this corner but I wonder if it will be too dark and/or low flow? Any opinions?

mcfly84 11-18-2012 05:13 AM

Hrm, Not really sure if flow will be a problem or not. Probably fill and test it to see what your flow is going to be like. Did it come with the dual adjustable return hose?

blink 11-18-2012 05:35 AM

Yes, it came with the dual hose, I'm just not sure I want to point one end of it into the corner. I'm really not sure how I'm going to aim it, I'm not very good at visualizing stuff like that so I'll have to try it while it's running empty, maybe put something into the water that will be easy to see how it all blasts around.

On another note, Ecopoxy is essentially dry to the touch. Probably not cured yet, but should be done by tomorrow so the sides, top and interior will get finished then it's on to other things.
Was hoping to be up and running by Monday, but it's not an emergency so no point in rushing things. Haste = waste n all that.

blink 11-18-2012 08:21 PM

I test fit my bogwood or driftwood or whatever the hell people are calling it these days and both pieces seem too big, which I kinda figured when I bought them but I thought I'd test fit n see what people say.

First piece, it fits inside but it seems too big... I think there's potential when I set up a bigger tank but not sure for now.

And here is the second piece, it obviously needs some trimming to fit and I hate to chop up such a pretty stump so I'm torn.

What would planted tank do, chop up the wood or find another piece or combination of pieces that is better suited to the tank size?

blink 11-19-2012 05:48 AM

Today was resining day 2, the entire stand is covered and it seems to have soaked in as much as it's going to soak and cured as much as it's going to cure so tomorrow I expect I'll be sanding and hopefully painting. My wife has officially put the kibosh on carpeting it, she feels it would look cheesy and I was never really 100% set on the idea so I think I'm going to try and get a dark brown to match the stand our reef tank is on, it's a nice rich color and I prefer it to basic black.

Tomorrow will also be door installation day, I have to use the router and cut a small rebate in the back surface of the door so the hinge will sit flush then install it all and see how I did on making straight cuts :)
I've got a shelf that is nearly ready to install but I keep remembering that this is an all in one, there really isn't going to be much in the stand aside from a few bottles of fertilizer, a net or two, the power strip and the CO2 cylinder. Do I really need a shelf for so few pieces of gear, probably not but perhaps I should install it just in case?

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