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Old 08-12-2014, 03:01 AM   #1
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Ryan's Custom AIO Tank


I've always liked planted tanks, but haven't had the opportunity to have my own tank while attending university. Now that I've graduated, it's finally time to get one started up again.

I used to run a high-tech tank in the past, but I want to go a lower light (and maintenance) route this time. I'd like to think of this tank as a low-tech aquarium, but I'll be injecting a bit of CO2 just because I have all the gear sitting in a closet.

I've also fallen in love with the riparium style. Hydrocyte's tanks have been a big inspiration, but I really like the tanks that successfully combine both immersed and emegent growth, with both aspects complementing eachother. Tom's Bucket of Mud is the first tank that comes to mind, but I've been inspired by many tanks with that style as well.

One of the first decisions I had to make was what tank to get. I wanted to go with an all-in-one (AIO / Internal Sump) design for a few reasons. I like being able to completely hide equipment, and I hope maintenance will be easier as well since I'll only have to lift out the media baskets to clean.

I had my eye on the Nuvo Fusion 30L tank, but it was very difficult to source in Canada, and its predecessor had a reputation for cracking. On a whim, I figured I'd throw a similar design out for quote as a custom build and it turned out to be fairly economical since I wouldn't have to pay shipping or a currency conversion.



One of the weaknesses of the AIO designs is the lack of depth, with most tanks in this size range having less than 10" of display front to back. Since a freshwater tank requires much less equipment in the back, I figured why not center the AIO sump to keep full depth on the sides.

Additionally, there is no reason to treat the sump/overflow area as dead space. I plan on filling the entire area with planters and using it for emersed growth, kind of like the Planted HOB Thread.

I sent this drawing to Concept Aquariums and had them do it with starphire front/sides, polished edges. I left many of the dimensions unlisted since they have more experience in overflow/baffle design than I do.


I got the Starphire glass on a whim, but since the back is regular glass I figured might as well do a comparison. Everyone knows that the difference is obvious from the edge, but I could also fill the tank and see how it affects normal viewing.


The difference is surprisingly pronounced in photos, probably due to the lower dynamic range of a camera. The Starphire is definitely noticeable if you are looking for it, but it doesn't jump out as much in person.


Here is the back of the tank, showing the AIO design. The glass is very good, although the silicone in the sump area is a little sloppier. Not that it matters, since it won't be seen. The acrylic work is good as well, although the edge finish is straight off a tablesaw.


And from the front, with window tinting applied to the back. I had them make a cover for the overflow, but I do not plan on using it. Instead I will fill the upper area of the sump with planters for emersed growth.



Anyways, that covers the tank so next up are the media baskets. I decided to DIY them out of some scrap acrylic. I'm not a huge fan of acrylic but its fairly easy to work with if you are accurate.

I did all my cutting on a milling machine since I don't have much in the way of woodworking tools. Pretty slow, but very precise.


All the pieces cut:


Testing the fit by taping it together:


Take off the paper covering:


Do a test assembly:


Glue it together. The [censored][censored][censored][censored]ty applicator bottle I bought actually had a leak which was extraordinarily unpleasant (you can see the spill on the table). I wrapped some tape around the bottle which made it workable.


And the pair of boxes assembled:

Between both baskets there is room for a liter of bio media. A layer of sponge will provide mechanical filtration. The ~5 inches of empty space at the top is to leave room for the future planters.

I also picked up some rocks from a landscaping place. Not sure which ones I'll go with.



My tank was finished two weeks ahead of schedule, so all of the equipment and such is still in the mail. I hope to finish the plumbing, light mount, and planters next weekend. Going to be a while before it sees water.

Last edited by 691175002; 08-13-2014 at 12:01 AM.. Reason: Change Title
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Old 08-12-2014, 03:15 AM   #2
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Interesting read and nice looking build so far. I look forward to seeing it all come together.

You can edit the title. Top right under "display modes", switch to "threaded." Then edit your OP, from there you can change the title.
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Old 08-12-2014, 03:18 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by burr740 View Post
Interesting read and nice looking build so far. I look forward to seeing it all come together.

You can edit the title. Top right under "display modes", switch to "threaded." Then edit your OP, from there you can change the title.
Thanks for the tip on changing the thread title.
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Old 08-13-2014, 12:11 AM   #4
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The driftwood arrived today. Finding decent driftwood locally is a huge PITA. Most of what is available is the commercial junk screwed to a rock, and its all extremely expensive.

There were a few online places that had a reputation for good driftwood, but I decided to go with Blooms and Branches for no particular reason.

I've always preferred more substantial driftwood, as opposed to the thin branchy type and when I saw the "Ghostwood" on their site I knew what I wanted. There isn't too much information on the stuff, but it should be aquarium safe.

I didn't know what to expect so I ordered a few extra pieces. In total my order was:
  • 2x 10" Stick
  • 4x 10-12" Branches
  • 2x 14-16" Branches

And here it is:


With an 18" ruler:


So this ended up being a considerably larger amount of driftwood than I had anticipated. The longer pieces easily surpass 24". Pretty much everything is at least half again as long as advertised.

I'm really happy with the pieces, I expected a few of them to be boring but they all seem to have some character.

I don't have a container large enough to soak everything, but luckily it all sinks.
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Old 08-13-2014, 03:25 AM   #5
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Your tank is amazing. And very similar to a project I started 2 years ago (and since put on hold for my return to college). I have starfire glass on hand (3 panes) to make a 40g breeder (36"x18"x16"). The bottom and back pane are regular glass.

I'm graduating in May '15, after which I'll pick up where I left off. It initially was for a saltwater project...but I've since discovered planted tanks, so who knows what it will end up being!

How much did Concept Aquariums charge you for the acrylic overflow part, if you don't mind me asking? Whatever it is, I suspect it will be way cheaper than buying a 4'x8' sheet of black acrylic to do it myself.

Definitely following this thread to see where this goes!
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Old 08-13-2014, 04:45 AM   #6
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Man that wood is sexy. Looks like they have some good prices too. Bookmarking that for later.
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Old 08-13-2014, 05:38 AM   #7
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Just here to subscribe. Looks like a great tank. This looks like it'll be a great tank, and I'm pretty jealous of your access to machinery.
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Old 08-13-2014, 02:49 PM   #8
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I started soaking the driftwood, and holy crap it has a lot of tannins. I gave up on trying to soak it in the bucket and decided it was time for the dishwasher. I ran the dishwasher for a cycle without soap or rinsing agent to be safe, and stuffed all the wood in. I'll probably run a few cycles per day until I need the wood.

I'm not against tannins, but I hope to do water changes once or twice a month once the tank settles in. I don't want the water to be dark yellow in the interim. Carbon/Purigen seem like a roundabout way of addressing the issue when I can soak them out of the wood ahead of time.

Quote:
How much did Concept Aquariums charge you for the acrylic overflow part, if you don't mind me asking? Whatever it is, I suspect it will be way cheaper than buying a 4'x8' sheet of black acrylic to do it myself.
Concept did the entire tank, so costs were not broken down. You don't always need to buy a full sheet of acrylic, Mcmaster-carr will sell 24"x36", 1/4" for 60$.
If you want someone to cut it, it mostly depends on finding the right place. If you have CAD then anyone with a cnc router can do it, but prices will vary a lot depending on how much work they do in acrylic. I'd expect to pay in the 100-200$ range.
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Old 08-13-2014, 03:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 691175002 View Post
Concept did the entire tank, so costs were not broken down. You don't always need to buy a full sheet of acrylic, Mcmaster-carr will sell 24"x36", 1/4" for 60$.
If you want someone to cut it, it mostly depends on finding the right place. If you have CAD then anyone with a cnc router can do it, but prices will vary a lot depending on how much work they do in acrylic. I'd expect to pay in the 100-200$ range.
Ok, thanks for the reply. I'll have to do my homework and see if I can find a place in Winterpeg that'll sell smaller sheets, then. I have free access to a cnc router and I've done some work with clear acrylic, so cutting (or assembling) was not the issue. I just didn't want to be buying a 4'x8' sheet only to use a tenth of it.
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Old 08-17-2014, 05:16 AM   #10
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Did a crazy amount of work today, I want everything set up this weekend. Photos are just quick cell phone pictures.

First up is the stand and light. Here is roughly what I want to accomplish:


First thing was to pull the wire mounts off the Ecoxotic E-Series. It was pretty simple, just two screws on each side.


I decided to use conduit hangers to attach the light mount to the stand:




The stand will be encased by an Ikea Besta cabinet, which exists purely as a shell.




A layer of cork for the aquarium:




I made the light mount out of acrylic because I thought it would look nice.




Bent 1/2" conduit (which is actually closer to 0.8" for some reason).


Painted:




Now for the plumbing, I am using 1/2" female threaded bulkheads.


I can just leave the returns as is, or screw in any nozzel:

I'm thinking of using the strainers to spread out the flow, but we will see.



Going to be a ridiculous amount of stuff in the sump.
Syncra Silent 1.5 Pump
Eheim Jaeger 100W
Tunze Nano Topoff
D-402 CO2 Reactor






The CO2 reactor is a little too tall, so I decided to move the CO2 inlet inline.
Cut off the inlet, and silicone it closed.



Now time to make the riparium planters. Rough cut the acrylic on a table saw:


Finish on the mill:


Test fit:


Glued:





I dont know why they put so many warnings on an extension cord:


I had a PID temperature controller sitting around, so I decided might as well use it. It will run inline with the heater.


Thermometer attached to the auto topoff.
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Old 08-17-2014, 07:03 AM   #11
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oh man! this is a project i can get behind! joining two awesome passions, fabrication and fish tanks! awesome awesome awesome
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Old 08-17-2014, 08:34 AM   #12
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subbed. Unbelievable! Make, sell and ship to the us? I got my deposit down asap
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Old 08-17-2014, 04:05 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 691175002 View Post
The driftwood arrived today. Finding decent driftwood locally is a huge PITA. Most of what is available is the commercial junk screwed to a rock, and its all extremely expensive.

There were a few online places that had a reputation for good driftwood, but I decided to go with Blooms and Branches for no particular reason.

I've always preferred more substantial driftwood, as opposed to the thin branchy type and when I saw the "Ghostwood" on their site I knew what I wanted. There isn't too much information on the stuff, but it should be aquarium safe.

I didn't know what to expect so I ordered a few extra pieces. In total my order was:
  • 2x 10" Stick
  • 4x 10-12" Branches
  • 2x 14-16" Branches

And here it is:


With an 18" ruler:


So this ended up being a considerably larger amount of driftwood than I had anticipated. The longer pieces easily surpass 24". Pretty much everything is at least half again as long as advertised.

I'm really happy with the pieces, I expected a few of them to be boring but they all seem to have some character.

I don't have a container large enough to soak everything, but luckily it all sinks.
OMG WAAAANNNNNTTT!!!

SO wait is ghostwood a hardwood? did it come from a conifer tree? Be sure to update us on how it does for sinking, fungus growths in the aquarium, and such! I'm REEEAALLLLY tempted to buy some!
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Old 08-17-2014, 04:12 PM   #14
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Here is some more detail on the filter basket + riparium planters that I built.



The filter baskets are only about 8" high, to leave the upper section of the overflow empty. I am using a set of three sponges (coarse/medium/fine). My reasoning here is that if the detrius gets spread out over three sponges I can probably go longer between cleanings. The fine sponge is very fine, so if it clogs too quickly I may take it out.

There is a large box (1100g) of fluval bio-media split between the two filter baskets.

The riparium planters are essentially just boxes that hang in the overflow and sump area. I plan on filling them with a combination of Flourite and Aquasoil in layers, possibly with some lava rock on the bottom.


Here is an overflow with the stuff installed:


Its pretty tight, but everything slides in and out easily. The riparium planter takes up a lot of space, but there is a small gap around it so water can still flow past.

When all three planters are installed, 14" of the total 20" overflow can be planted. Hopefully plants will completely conceal the overflow and equipment.
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Old 08-17-2014, 04:57 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AquaAurora View Post
SO wait is ghostwood a hardwood? did it come from a conifer tree? Be sure to update us on how it does for sinking, fungus growths in the aquarium, and such! I'm REEEAALLLLY tempted to buy some!
I couldn't find much information on it. Apparently it last a long time and is popular in terrariums. Some people who sell ghostwood recommend it for aquarium use, and their pictures look similar to what Blooms and Branches sells.

It sinks immediately, unless there are large bubbles trapped inside. Leaches a lot of tannin. I've run it through about 15 dishwasher cycles, and soaked it for a few days after and the water still looks like tea within a few hours.
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