Aftica's DIY Hood / Planted tank Adventures! (56K Warning)
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Old 12-09-2003, 12:06 AM   #1
Aftica
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Aftica's DIY Hood / Planted tank Adventures! (56K Warning)


Hi Everyone;

I have been keeping fish now for about 20 years but took a brief hiatus the last couple of years when My wife and I moved and so on etc.. Anyway I am getting back into fishkeeping and decided this time to go with something I have never done before - a heavily planted tank.

With my objective in mind - I set out to learn about planted tanks - and I ended up at plantedtank.net which I must say has a great wealth of information. I feel so blessed with all that I have learned and seen amongst the posts of this forum, and now I feel it is my turn to start contributing back to the community... and I start this long journey with the very first step...

Well - my tank (a Hagen 77 gallon) used to have a single 4ft F40/CW lamp on a reflector / shop light... obviously inadequate for my grandious plans... a new hood is in order...

Well - I needed to decide upon a basic plan to follow as I am absolutly NOT a finish carpenter - I need an EASY plan... I seen Buck's, Malkore's and numerous other plans but I decided on a split canopy and the basic plan I am following can be seen here
.

Sweet - now it got to match my tank and stand - which is black, as is seen below.


So I decided to start picking up some materials... Firstly is Paint - one can of semi-gloss black and one of semi-gloss white. the Black is some kind of reasonably non-toxic type of paint used for childrens stuff and the white is a bath and kitchen high durability anti-mildew good for 5 year type of paint - pictured below. (All Latex) - the PVA Primer was left over from a bedroom I did a couple of years ago but a good start before the other paint is applied.


One of the tools I would recommend highly for this project is a speed square or carpenters square - to keep all the cuts and markings perfectly square these items are indispensable!!



For this project I used the following.

Jig Saw
Circular Saw
Hand Saw
Coping Saw
9.6V Cordless Drill
Pad Sander

3/8 Spade Bit
3/8 Plug Cutter
#8 Makita Flat Head screw countersink
Tape Measure
HB Pencil
1 8" C-Clamp
2 5" 3-way C-Clamps
2 Vise Grip Quick Grips
Red Robertson Screwdriver (Canadian Eh:-)
Speed Square
16oz Hammer and Nailset
Wooden Miter Box
Various Paint Brushes

Fasteners Used

1 box #8 x 1-1/4 Stainless (18.8) Screws (Robertson Flat Head)
1 box 1-1/4 Bright finishing Nails. Zinc
1 Bottle Yellow Carpenters Glue

Lumber Used

1 x 10 boards (Kiln Dried Pine) (Front, Sides, and Top)
1 x 2 Strips Pine
8 ft Cap Molding (of some form - don't know exact name)
1 x 6 Board (Back piece)


Ok - If I forgotten anything I sure it will come up along the way:-) One note sometimes it may seem that I am slipping to and from past and present tense - well it's cause I am... I am writing this about 2 days after the fact... the hood is not yet finished so I am as interested to see what it turns out like as hopefully you are LOL

Stay tuned - tomorrow I head out of town for business for 1 day - will be back tomorrow where I can start in with the meat of the story:-)
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Old 12-09-2003, 08:06 PM   #2
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hi buddy, can't wait to see some pics of it set up!!! good luck!
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Old 12-09-2003, 09:44 PM   #3
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Wow that background is a really cheating one
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200 Litres Tank (= 52.8 gal); 2150W HCI/Metal Halide (OSRAM powerstar NDL); Dupla press. CO2; eheim 2211 300 L/H; heavily planted; daily, 4 drops of plant24, KNO3
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Old 12-10-2003, 05:21 AM   #4
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Long live painted backgrounds indeed....!!!!!!!!!!
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25 Gal. 54watt, DIY CO2 5 Angelfish, 1 male dwarf gourami + 2 females ,2 female betas, 3 albino corys, 2 pepper corys, 2 CAEs
15 gal. Dwarf gourami fry tank
10 Gal 3 variatus platies, 4 black sailfin mollies- 5 Gal guppy birth tank with dividers
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40 Gal Pond with 10 female guppies, 1 male tons of fry.

On various pieces of furniture, 6 cats!
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Old 12-10-2003, 04:45 PM   #5
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yo aftika i do not recommend using the plant background and here's my reasons

(1) it will take away from the beauty of your natural plants that you have....it's kind of like two plant aquascapes battling each other...

(2) a black or a blue background would help with creating depth in the tank....


it doesn't matter what you do , it's your tank, but just give it some thought...
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Old 12-10-2003, 05:03 PM   #6
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Lol - actually the background was there from the former setup 2 years ago - I have not really contemplated that far ahead on that particular point... I was probably gonna leave it - I don't have any adversion to the background - dont really expect to see too much of it as time progresses.

HOWEVER - I seen a few tanks now with the painted blue backgrounds - and I am considering it - very much so indeed... I liked the darker blue that Mike used HERE or perhaps Black... (Hey mike what color is that actually?) - I am leaning towards that blue color...
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Old 12-10-2003, 05:07 PM   #7
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ok there is a AGA entry from way back when.....i forget which year...but look for Detlef Hupfield...he won 1st place in a small tank entry....and his blue background is da SH****TTTT off da hook.,,,,, check it out...
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Old 12-10-2003, 05:16 PM   #8
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Found that one...
http://showcase.aquatic-gardeners.org/2001/show62.html

Airbrushed multitones of blue - very nice - I personally thought it looks a little "light" and prefered a darker background but it is a very nice looking job - or is that all the plants talking :-)
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Old 12-10-2003, 05:19 PM   #9
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yup that's the one....awesome awesome... anyways, yea, darker would be nicer. say if you did something like that with darker blues... oh man, kind of like your avatar...and ooowwweeee you'd have something there....

take it from a former plant background owner, once you have a nice looking plant tank.... you won't need it anymore!!!
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Old 12-10-2003, 05:47 PM   #10
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Well - Here we are at 6:10 am - coming to you from 35,000 feet flying from St. John's to Halifax. I decided it's a good time to start the next post. (Got to love the Palm Pilot)

Well I decided to draw out my plans a bit before I picked up any of the wood. My basic design drawing is shown below.


Ok - first I had to decide on the height of the unit and this is where I was kinda unclear on where to go. I ordered my lights from AHsupply but they are not in yet. (I suspect they will be in by the time I get back - they take longer for me because everything pretty well has to come from the USA into Canada so I got shipping and customs to deal with as well.)

Well the lights I got coming from AHS are 2 of the 2x55w kits (the one with the 2 reflectors and the single ballast that will fire 2 lamps) - this will give me a total of 4 x 55w lighting on my 77. (220watts / 77 gallons = 2.86 Watts per gallon)

Now the one problem I had with AH Supply was that the dimensions on their site for their product were unclear - it said 2 inces deep but it never mentioned the distance it drops from the roof of the canopy via the spacer they supply etc.. Not knowing this I figured that I better to error on the deeper side rather than too shallow. I decided to go with 1 x 10 boards for the sides and the front etc.. (Nominal size 3/4 x 9-1/4). Ok - so I wanted a space on the back for the pipes and tubes and toys and gunk - so for the back piece I went with 1 x 6 board (Nominal size is 5-1/2 x 3/4). - If I want after I make my own spacers from Wooden blocks later.

Now the sample design if you look at the finished product had a nice edge around the top and I thought it really set it off and made it look like a nice piece of finished furniture. I figured that the top was cut oversized and then "Prettied up" with a router. Ah Ha! Well I am kinda like Tim the tool man Taylor - got lots of power tools and not very good with any of them. Well the router happens to be the one tool that I am terrible with - I got one but decided this was not the time to try and learn how to use it properly. I opted instead for some kind of trim cap molding - least I can operate a miter box and hand saw:-) Below is a pic of the Cap Molding - and the Miter box etc.. I think it does give it a bit more of a finished look when it's on.




Around the inside of the hood are the 1 x 2 strips which are what the hood actually sits on. It is installed 1-1/4" from the bottom of the hood - which is the same depth as the plastic trim around the top of my tank.

As you can see in the example - the front appears to be one piece and you do not see the edges of the sides - this was the way I wanted it as well - so the front had to be cut to include the width of the 2 sides when attached. (Now the measurement of the front of the tank whenever I refer to it will mean the top plastic trim width - not the glass width. It is after all the plastic piece that the hood actually rests on.) so the tank is 48-1/8" wide, and the two side panels will be 3/4" wide so the front board was to be 49-5/8" - now word of caution- make it a LITTLE wider in your plans - when I did this it was exact and when complete it was just a little too tight and I ended up chiseling 1/16" off both sides to allow he hood to fit properly.

Now the depth of the tank was 16-1/2 inches and I am allowing a 1/8" gap between the front and the back for the piano hinge... the sides are to be 8-1/8" wide. Cut the Wood to fit - USE THE SPEEDSQUARE!! Make those joints good and flush etc.. When using the Circular saw (or Jig Saw if your so inclined) I find it good to get a very straight edge and CLAMP it to the work surface using C-clamps giving your saw a guide to follow to make that cut all the straighter. When Using the C-Clamps - in order to prevent marring the wood surface with little circle indents - I placed those sticky self adhesive felt pads for furniture feet on the ends - makes it better. Not too much pressure though cause on soft woods like pine you can still leave a mark like the surface of the pad, on the wood.

Ok - once cut it was time to attach the sides to the front of the hood. Now remember this hood is a 2 piece design so I built the front first and the back second (seemed logical) - now to attach the front I wanted a nice clean surface at he ends so what I decided to do was countersink the screw heads and then plug them with wood plugs , sand and paint etc... Ok my plug cutter for the wooden plugs is a 3/8" so I got a 3/8 spade bit to do the pilot holes. I taped the bit around at a certain depth so that I knew when to stop drilling my holes. (Otherwise I would go right through the boards) after I drilled my countersinks I placed the boards in position and drilled a small 1/16" hole through to the end of the side. I applied a liberal amount of carpenter's wood glue to make the joint and screwed in my screws. (Did them with the drill but finished them by hand - Works better this way!) I then cut my plugs and put glue into the holes and inserted my plugs. Remember that the actual joint is held together by the GLUE and NOT by the screws. The screws just give stability while the glue dries. The plugs, when inserted into the holes with the glue, will soak up the glue and swell a bit filling the hole. Cut the excess off with a coping saw or a hacksaw blade after and sand it. Use a little wood filler if necessary etc...






Bah! Time to land - Stay tuned for the next post
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Old 12-10-2003, 05:51 PM   #11
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sweet, keep up the good work.
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Old 12-10-2003, 09:09 PM   #12
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do you come into halifax a lot? once my tank is up and running, maybe we could trade plants.

my girlfriend is from carbonear. where do you live?

if i were you i'd add a compound mitre saw to your christmas list.

i'm not sure how much heat those lights will produce but you may want to consider leaving a lot of the back of your canopy open to allow some heat to escape.
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Old 12-11-2003, 07:54 PM   #13
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Jart - I dont get to Halifax as often as I used to - perhaps once a year now - Plant swaping sounds good to me though - perhaps courier? (I would be getting the better end of the deal though at least for a while - I don't have any plants yet LOL - perhaps I may bug you when the time comes - my local stores don't do much for plants:-)

I do get to Carbonear a fair bit though with work, but I live in Portugal Cove so I am only 10 min from St. John's. As for the compound mitre saw - I hear ya - and I want one! HOWEVER not in the budget this year - kinda blew it with the CO2 gear, Lighting, 50kgs of Flourite, etc... gonna look perhaps at next year for a nice sliding compound mitre saw from Makita or Dewalt and a nice Table saw - my old table saw is gonna get passed on to a friend of mine...
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Old 12-11-2003, 08:07 PM   #14
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Got some time to kill in the Hotel so what better way to do this than thinking about fishtanks:-) I never intended to do a "Hotel installment" of the hood project however my Wife called me to let me know that the Lights from AHSupply have arrived... I am counting the hours till I get home to get into that LOL.

Well - I left off with the front attached to the 2 side pieces. Now the top needs to be cut to fit. the front is 49-5/8" so cut the top to the same length. once cut we are going to have to cut the board width to 8-7/8" which is the 8-1/8 plus the 3/4 width of the front piece. We need to "Rip" the 1 x 10 to a 1 x 8-7/8 - now this is best done on a table saw but can be easily done on a Circular saw and again clamp a straight edge to make the cut clean and square etc..


Once the top is cut I measured out the evenly spaced points for the countersinks for the screws. This time rather than the 3/8 spade bit for this I used a specific #8 countersink bit made by Makita. (actually I don't know who really makes it but one company appears to make them for a whole slew of companies and pre-prints their name on it - Crasftsman has an identical one and I have seen others as well.)



After I applied the glue I placed the cover on and started screwing down the top with a drill driver and finishing each screw by hand for the last couple of turns. This time I don't mind the screws being visible as the trim (molding) will cover up the screws. If need be use the C-Clamp or the quickgrips to "draw" the top close to the top of the front board before screwing it in makes a good clean fit.

I bought an 8 ft piece of molding and had very little waste. Measure carefully, and when it comes to the corner miters - think them out carefully if your like me and tend to always frig up the miters (however this time I did all cuts perfectly) Once cut I glued both sides of the inside of the molding, applied it and nailed it down with the finishing nails.




I guess my next checkin will be on the plane tomorrow - heading home:-)
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Old 12-11-2003, 09:05 PM   #15
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man you are all geared up homie!
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