Two larger tanks out of one smaller one?
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Old 03-17-2008, 09:30 PM   #1
Wasserpest
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Two larger tanks out of one smaller one?


A while back I bought a 55gal tank during one of those $/gal events. It is very low tech, breeding ground for cherry shrimp and hair algae.

I enjoy working with wood, and keep thinking about cutting the tank up, and building a plywood double tank structure, using the front and back glass as new front glasses, increasing the depth from 13 to maybe 20 inches, with one tank on the bottom and one above, integrated in a plywood stand.

Is there anything wrong with the idea? Would a plywood tank need a thicker glass than a comparable glass tank for some reason? Any other things I should consider?
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Old 03-17-2008, 10:00 PM   #2
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I know a guy who did similar with an old 75g to make two seperate tanks.

It seemed to work fine for the years he used it, but the glass was pretty thick compared to some of the 55g's I've seen made today.

You may want to look into the glass thickness typically used for the size tank your project is being coverted to. (Sounds like you may be going from 55g to 75-90g for example)

GARF's Tank Calculator may help some on those details.
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Old 03-17-2008, 10:21 PM   #3
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If I keep the height roughly the same, I'd expect the glass thickness requirements to be the same, no matter how deep (13 vs 20 in) the tank would be.

GARF confirms that, also they suggest the same glass thickness whether all glass or plywood/glass.

Just a thought right now... why have a 55 gal tank when you can have 3 times the volume?
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Old 03-17-2008, 11:48 PM   #4
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Here is a guy on another forum who used his 55 to make a 180 gallon plywood tank. Definitely an interesting approach.

http://www.cichlid-forum.com/phpBB/v...r=asc&&start=0
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Old 03-18-2008, 04:23 PM   #5
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Thanks i_n, awesome link. From the username, to the right ingredients, some novel methods... I need to take some time to read/enjoy the whole adventure.
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Old 03-18-2008, 06:36 PM   #6
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I have two disassembled 55g tanks in my garage with the hopes of doing this. I think it could be very cool. I will be following your progress for sure
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Old 03-18-2008, 06:52 PM   #7
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Cool, we'll see who finishes first.

This thread is just to collect pro's and con's. Still need to finish up some other projects, get wifes buy-in, and read up on epoxy and resins and stuff.

If this does work out smoothly (Not that I would expect that...) I might do something similar with the 100 gal that I currently have... turn it into a 200 maybe?

I read the thread on cichlid-forum. Gives me a bit confidence, after all his "creation" did hold water...
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Old 03-18-2008, 08:00 PM   #8
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That cichlid forum thread gave me confidence as well. If that nut can build a no leaking plywood tank surely you and I can, Wasserpest.
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Old 03-18-2008, 08:19 PM   #9
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ive made 3 plywood tanks.


i recommend sweet water epoxy from aquatic eco systems(store)
also you will want to get ether some wood caulk, or some fiberglass cloth tape to use in the corners and seams to strengthen them.
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Old 03-18-2008, 08:50 PM   #10
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This stuff? Sounds more like a patch filler than paintable... How much can you cover with 2 gallons? Do you know how much they charge for shipping approximately?

I have heard that West Systems is a good one...
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Old 03-18-2008, 11:28 PM   #11
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On cichlid forum do a search on "lomax" and take a look at some of his DIY tanks. He has some pretty amazing ones and RAVES about West-Systems. The Sweet Water is really a paint from what I understand, but cannot comment because I have never used it to seal a tank (only to paint). BTW I REALLY do not like Aquatic Ecosystems new site layout.

Monsterfishkeepers.com is also a really good one for BIG DIY tanks. However, Lomax is by far the man with all the info on cichlid forum. He even tried using Pond liner, however that did not go well. Anyway, I hope the links help.
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Old 03-19-2008, 04:40 PM   #12
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Read some of lomax' posts, very useful as he shares both success and points out his errors. Seems like West Systems Epoxy is expensive, but good for this purpose.

Right now I am pondering two little issues...

1) The front glass of a 55gal tank is pretty much exactly 48in wide. So are the plywood panels. While I could go against GARFs guidelines and screw the sides from the outside, there is still a little risk that the glass will not fit inside after applying a number of epoxy coatings. I want to be efficient and use the standard width of the plywood. Prolly have to cut an inch or two from the glass panels, which isn't as easy as, say, cutting them in half.

2) There will be two tanks, as described in the first post. I am wondering if it would be advantageous to couple both via an overflow in the top tank and a return pump in the second. That would reduce the equipment needed... One big filter, one big heater, one set of fertilizer dosing pumps, one CO2 reactor, etc. Basically like a sump setup.
Or, keep both tanks separate from each other, more flexibility but the need for more (expensive) equipment.

What'cha think?
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Old 03-19-2008, 11:58 PM   #13
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Just my two cents on that. It would be great to have a single "cabinet" style setup where everything could share the same plumbing and electrical equipment. Like in the picture where they are both together. With some nice wood work I think that would make for an amazing showpiece. I am still pondering whether I should do that for my 135 and 90 that are going to be setup right next to one another. Having to have only one or two ballasts and share lights is very appealing as well.

The ONLY drawback for doing that is if there is an outbreak of a disease. The more tanks that are connected, the more you have to dose as far as medication.

Once again, just my opinion to throw out there.
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Old 03-20-2008, 07:26 PM   #14
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I probably need to mention that visual appeal is not THAT important, it will be housed in the garage... having said that, a) if I screw up something it is not as important as with a central showpiece in your living room, and b) I will still try to make this as good-looking as possible.

I am not much concerned about the disease spreading issue either... I tend to heavily understock my tanks, and many of my fishies will celebrate their 5th birthday this year Plants are my focus, and I rarely buy new fish these days.

The question is more if I want to create two different habitats. Be it lower/higher temperature, different fertilizing strategies, low CO2 vs high CO2, along those lines. Not sure if that advantage outweighs the additional cost of duplicate equipment.

Any opinions on that, as well as the other glass/plywood issue I mentioned before?
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Old 03-30-2008, 10:52 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wasserpest View Post

1) The front glass of a 55gal tank is pretty much exactly 48in wide. So are the plywood panels. While I could go against GARFs guidelines and screw the sides from the outside, there is still a little risk that the glass will not fit inside after applying a number of epoxy coatings. I want to be efficient and use the standard width of the plywood. Prolly have to cut an inch or two from the glass panels, which isn't as easy as, say, cutting them in half.

Don't do it! You're going to need a piece of ply(5/8-3/4 in?) that is

3/4 + 3/4 + 48 + 3/4 + 3/4 = 51 inches for the front (and back).

the first 3/4 is for the inside fitting of the side panel and the second

3/4 is to give you room to put the glass in without problems.

(I did this with a 55 many years ago and it worked out great.

I used fibreglass cloth and "boat" resin to seal it.)


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