Olskule's 125 project - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 05:00 AM Thread Starter
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Olskule's 125 project

OK, so I'm starting this journal so I can throw out my ideas as I go and hopefully get some good feedback from more experienced people here on TPT. I've always wanted a large, six-foot aquarium and have never had one. (Actually, I do have a six-foot aquarium, but it is one made from the glass "scraps" leftover from building 250 gallon aquariums, and it's only about 45 gallons, so this is my first true "big" tank.) I just bought a house and moved out of an old rental that was, for many reasons, unsuitable for setting up aquariums, so I finally have a good place to get back into keeping aquariums again, after many years out of the hobby. Also, although I have a good bit of experience in fishkeeping, I've never had a true "planted tank". I was just starting one about six years ago, when my home burned and I lost all of my years of accumulated aquariums and supplies (including a fantastic specimen of driftwood I had inherited from my mother). So that's where I'm coming from, and now on to where I'm going.

I just got a good deal on an entire 125 gallon setup, and made the 500 mile round trip to pick it up last Saturday. When I say " pick it up", well, picking up the aquarium was no problem, but the stand? Let me just say that, whoever built this thing was determined that it wasn't going to fail, no matter what size tank was put on it! Among other aspects, it had EIGHT 4x4 treated posts built into the stand and finishing nails every two inches, all over the cheap plywood sheathing that was used to enclose the stand frame. After thinking about re-skinning the stand as it was, since I wanted a more finished, furniture-quality look for it because it's going in the main room of the house, I decided it would be easier to take it apart and rebuild it to my liking. So I've taken it apart.

[IMG] [/IMG]

The aquarium itself was painted black on the back, which I wasn't aware of until I got there to pick it up, and it seemed to be painted with enamel, which I figured was going to be a pain to scrape off, but yesterday I noticed a scratched spot had started peeling, so I took a tug at it and it peeled off in a big piece--it was latex!--so I peeled it all off easily. The only other thing the tank needs is to sand the old paint off the frame (since I don't like it silver and don't know what kind of paint it is, anyway) and paint with Krylon Fusion paint, since I've read on TPT that it's safe to use in aquariums. I'm thinking simply black. The only problem is, now that I need it, my Walmart doesn't seem carry it anymore. I know they used to. I tried Lowe's, but they don't carry any type of Krylon. So here I go again, running all over the place looking for something for my aquarium, like I did trying to find plain old' ammonia without surficants for a fishless cycle. So I can still sand it down, but the painting itself will have to wait. I'm not hurrying, anyway; I don't plan on buying the substrate until next month, in any case.

[IMG][/IMG]

So what are my plans for this tank? Well, first off, I know I don't want to get into the CO2 technology--yet, at least--so I'm going low-tech, and plan on using Black Diamond blasting sand with root tabs. I'm wondering how it would do to mix it with at least some of the natural kitty litter someone on here mentioned they liked. Or maybe use the kitty litter as a thin bottom layer? Just an idea, and open to suggestions on that.

As for lighting, I have two 36" Coralife double T5 fixtures that came with the tank setup, and they have one Colormax and one 6700K bulb in each one. I also already have an 8000 lumen (0.05w 6500K LED x 168) BeamsWork 72" light I may use either with or without the Coralife lights.

The two filters that came with it are Fluval 305s that are running, but one is noisy and both need a rebuild kit in them. But that can wait at least a month or so, too. They didn't seem to be putting out much when I set them up temporarily in my 55 (newly setup) to be sure I had a good nitrogen cycle going since the three plecos were going in there, so I decided to clean them. They were full of "mud"! No wonder they weren't putting out much; one basket that had the ceramic bio-medium on top of a layer of regular filter medium was so clogged up it actually FLOATED until I pushed it underwater! (I saved the bucket of fishpoop-water I was rinsing everything in so my daughter can use it for her vegetables she's growing. I expect they'll go crazy over it.)

Other things that came with the setup are four convertible powerheads, a 9watt Coralife UV sterilizer and a set of API test kits and two 36" glass tops. Two 300w heaters were also included, but I have them both in my 55 and they stay "on", but don't heat up. (I don't think the guy knew they were out.) I also received a 5" plecostomus, a 6 1/2" plecostomus and an 11" plecostomus in the deal. The fellow had African Cichlids in the tank, but I wasn't interested in them, so he sold them to someone else. Now someone mentioned on here that large plecos and planted tanks often don't mix well. Oh well, he's been in the 55 for a few days now and hasn't uprooted the plastic plants yet, so maybe...?

That's as far as I am on this project, aside from going to Lowe's to get an idea of what they have to rebuild the stand, which I did today. I've got a pretty good idea how I'm gonna build it now, and I have the individual prices of materials written down, but I'm afraid to add them all up! I guess I'll go ahead and do that tomorrow.

BTW, I did take pictures with my phone of the stand before and during the teardown, but I'm posting this from my phone and I'm not sure how to go about resizing them on the phone to meet the conditions of this forum, so I'll post them later.

Until next time,

Olskule

(Photos added 8/03/216)
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Last edited by Olskule; 08-03-2016 at 06:50 AM. Reason: Added photos
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 05:13 AM
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For the stand....
I have been bindge watching some old episodes of fish tank kings.
I noticed a trend. They never build cabinets. They have the steel frame that holds the tank and its accessories. Then they have a loose skin that just gets moved over the frame.

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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 05:35 AM Thread Starter
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That would work, Nordic, but I don't have the tools nor the know-how to build a metal stand. Woodworking I can do. Plus, This is going between my dining area and my living room area, so I want it to look like a nice piece of furniture. I'm going without a canopy for now, but I may build a thin one later. Most canopies look too "heavy" to me, as in "top heavy", so if I build one, it will be thinner than any I've seen. But that's on down the road.

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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 05:48 AM
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I love woodworking. Every wood smells unique, I think I enjoy the smells the most.
Orange tree wood smells exactly like popcorn when you work it.
Wood is relatively expensive here unless you want to settle for low grade pine timber or maybe meranti.
Just a 4 foot long 455m wide (1.5') piece of laminated pine for the base is over $31.

I can buy 3 meters of square tubing for less than $10, A stand will use about 11m or more. So 12m is about $28.
I would have it pre-cut and just take it to someone that does welding. It actually also helps me spread the cost over time, as once the frame is built, the tank can go on and I can add the skin later.

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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 05:32 PM
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What are you planning to stock? I keep BN pleco's in all my tanks. I love them. The 11" pleco may cause some issues. When they are startled like when the lights come on they freak out
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 05:49 PM Thread Starter
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I've always wanted a tetra tank, so I'm thinking of a South American/Amazonian biotope, maybe with some cichlids, too. I also am partial to bristle-nosed plecos and plan to have one in the tank.

So far, the large plecostomus hasn't been prone to being startled when the lights come on suddenly or by anything else, so maybe he's just a calm individual. But we will see, right?

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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 06:12 PM
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If all else fails, I believe they are quite tasty.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-15-2016, 07:07 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nordic View Post
If all else fails, I believe they are quite tasty.
LOL! Funny you should say that; just the other day I was reading Herbert Axelrod's account of a fish-collecting expedition in the Amazon, in which he describes eating plecostomus caviar with the natives. He said they would just tear the heads off the bodies and get the eggs out, toss the heads and bodies away (literally--they were scattered all around, with flies buzzing all over them), put the eggs in salty water for a few minutes, then eat them, washing them down with the local "firewater ". He claimed it is the best caviar in the world.

It is a bit odd, reading about this seemingly "brutal" treatment of what most of us would consider a "pet" fish by the man who is known as one of the main and leading authorities in the aquarium world. It's somewhat like reading about the treatment of domestic dogs in China.

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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-03-2016, 09:22 AM Thread Starter
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I just uploaded the pictures to photobucket for my first post of this journal, so be sure to take a look back up there. Also, I thought I'd show y'all the basic plans for the stand.




There are a few minor changes I have in mind that are not reflected in these drawings, but they're too minor to worry with redrawing the plans. One thing is I have some raised panel oak cabinet doors with hidden hinges that I think will fit, and I may decide to use those instead of building simple panel doors. I'm afraid the raised panel doors, although nicer in themselves, may look too "busy" with all the trim that I plan on using. Oh, and I forgot to mention that the stand will be finished in oak. The trim pieces (fluted trim and bull's-eyes) only come in white-wood, so they will have to be stained to match the oak panels, which I plan to stain in a medium/dark oak to blend with my antiques. I'm still too scared to total up the costs of materials, but those bull's-eyes alone cost just under $3 each, and there are 24 of them, so... But it looks like it will be a couple of months at least before I can invest in the materials, anyway, so there's no rush.

Incidentally, the pieces of the original stand I will be eliminating are the eight heavy 4x4 treated posts (to be replaced by 2x4 studs) and twelve 2x6 pieces roughly 18" long (that's 18 feet of 2x6!), so that's a lot of unnecessary weight that will be trimmed, not to mention the 3/8" rough-grade sheathing/plywood that will be replaced with nice 3/16" oak veneer plywood. Of course, there will be more trim than was on it originally, but that will all be white-wood, which is pretty light.

Also, I collected some local native plants from the riverbank the other day and I'll be posting those pics in another post, probably tomorrow, since it's so late. I'm not sure exactly which species they are, and all of them were growing at the water's edge, not completely submersed, although some "had their feet wet". I know there are a few Sagittaria, but which exact species, I'm not sure. Also, there are some of what appear to be Echinodorus, again, not sure which species, and a few others, stems and hairgrass (?) that I'm not positive about. I'm not even sure all of them are truly aquatic, but I'm giving them a shot, anyway. Most of them have their terrestrial leaf forms, so they'll be melting in the 10 gallon I set them up in. Anyway, watch for that post later on Wednesday (probably).

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Last edited by Olskule; 08-03-2016 at 09:25 AM. Reason: Added
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-03-2016, 11:54 AM
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If you have or have access to a drill press, you might consider buying a rosette cutter instead of individual rosettes. Depending on which one you get it might actually be cheaper, but also, you could use whatever wood you want, rather than relying on the options at a home store.


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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-03-2016, 03:33 PM
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Now this is just a thought. It's a lot more trouble than what you planning, but may be worth it.

You said you wanted something more furniture grade. The problem is when you skin a stand with something like an oak veneer plywood, it will always look like an oak veneer plywood. It's a matter of taste, but for me that is not the look that I wanted.

When I built my stand, after weighing many options, I decided to build the whole thing with dimensional lumber. All actual solid oak no veneer. It's a little trickier, but is doable. You can also custom size every aspect of stand. I made mine a little taller than stock stands, which makes it easier to view when walking by or standing next to it.

As to the canopy, I guess you would call mine "top heavy". However, it houses the lights, and I made it easy to access the tank, both with small flipper doors and the option to open the whole top up without removing it. Once again, more work, but to me worth it in the long run. I have a small video of my project on the first page of my tank journal.

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/12...-w-plants.html

Good luck with whatever you decide and looking forward to seeing the updates.


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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-03-2016, 05:43 PM
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Looks great, but I hate to say it..... From my experience, lots of treated 4x4 twist with time. I steer clear of those when building my stands.

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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-03-2016, 11:12 PM Thread Starter
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Scolba, thanks for mentioning the rosette cutter, I do have a drill press in storage, and I hadn't thought of doing that; it may, indeed, be cheaper or the same cost, but in the long run, I'll be able to make them out of whatever wood I want AND be able to do it (cheaply) from here on out. Good idea, I'll look for one!

Greggz, good point about the veneer, and your stand looks great! Did you make the raised panel doors yourself? I'll be reading that thread later tonight, but if I dropped all the expensive trim pieces, solid oak construction may not be that much more expensive, even though they are mighty proud of it at Lowe's. But then, their mighty proud of their thin oak veneer ply, also. I guess I just automatically assumed it would be cheaper and easier to just dress up (and correct) the basic frame I already had, but maybe it really won't; I'll think more on that. Thanks for the suggestion! (You also have me thinking about rainbows; I've never had them before.)

Big Buddha, yeah, I'm tossing the 4x4s and the 2x6 pieces, they are ridiculously waaaayyy overkill. I had planned on replacing them (the 4x4s) with 2x4s, which would be plenty, but with Greggz's suggestion, I may be rethinking the whole thing, anyway. But I may stick with the frame construction, not sure yet. Thanks to you guys, it seems I have more options than I realized. That's what these forums are all about, sharing ideas and finding more options!

Olskule

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Last edited by Olskule; 08-04-2016 at 01:47 AM. Reason: corrected measurement
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-04-2016, 12:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Olskule View Post
Greggz, good point about the veneer, and your stand looks great! Did you make the raised panel doors yourself? I'll be reading that thread later tonight, but if I dropped all the expensive trim pieces, solid oak construction may not be that much more expensive, even though they are mighty proud of it at Lowe's. But then, their mighty proud of their 3/8 oak veneer ply, also.
No the doors are the only thing I didn't make. I ordered them and stained them to match. When I looked into what it would take, and the equipment I would need to do it right, it just made more sense to purchase the doors.

The basic construction was done using a Kreg Pocket hole jig and plenty of glue. The real key to the whole operation is good planning.

Like I said, it's a little more involved than 2x4 construction, but I consider it a more elegant solution. I'll add some more info about the build to my tank journal tonight that might help you out.


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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-04-2016, 02:05 AM Thread Starter
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No the doors are the only thing I didn't make. I ordered them and stained them to match. When I looked into what it would take, and the equipment I would need to do it right, it just made more sense to purchase the doors...
You know, you can set up a jig on a tablesaw and run the planks across the blade diagonally to make the raised panel for those doors. That is, of course, if you have or have access to a tablesaw. Other than that, there are the router bits for the joinery, and just pin the center panel in the center of the top and bottom, and let it "float" in the channels of the door frame, to allow for wood expansion and contraction. They're really not that difficult with basic equipment, if you have it, and once you know how.

Olskule

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