30 gallons of budget ideas... journal - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-04-2017, 01:30 AM Thread Starter
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30 gallons of budget ideas... journal

Ok, obviously I'm not good with titles, but here we go...

With every room of this house in mid remodel (ongoing live-in house flip), why not do another temporary tank in the kitchen? If that makes sense to you then we're on the same page! :-)

Seriously, with my bigger tanks now sitting in storage till the move to my next house, I desperately needed a little more room to grow some plants out. I hopped on Craig's List for another cheap 20L and stumbled upon this 30g (36x12x16) for $20. A little haggling and I'm headed to pick it up for $15. Kinda feel bad for haggling when I get it home and find out it's a Deep Blue...lol.



Glass is in great shape and just needs a little polishing before it's good to go.

Lighting: This will be based off my usual MakersLED heatsink. Package arrived last week. I went with the "Slim" model again. Nothing fancy... just 36" of premium heatsink



I'm still torn on what I'm going to run inside this one. I will eventually transition this light to a new 40B that I have sitting in storage. I want dimmable low to insanely-high output with the ability to highlight/spotlight certain areas while others stay moderately lit. I have some Bridgelux EB's sitting around as well as some Cree XHP50's that I've never even powered up, but I'll probably go with a combination of Cree XM-L2's and XP-E's again. Waiting on multiple orders direct from Shenzhen, so those will prob fit the bill.

Primary power supply will be the MeanWell LCM-60U and this is probably getting too technical for a tank journal so I'll leave a link to the build log here: xxxxxxxxxx (once it's created).

CO2: Pressurized budget dual stage DIY reg outlined in my build log that is linked here: xxxxxxxxxx (have to track it down and finalize/update it too).

Substrate: This is where things will get a little out of the ordinary. The majority of it will be HTH Pool Filter Sand. The rest of it will be Marfied Controsoil in DIY modular "planters". Think of them as an "oasis" essentially.



I've tested these planters before and they give you a great way to have contained "aqua soil" in any tank without having it look ugly like a pot or something. They're made from formed lexan and inert stone (I usually use slate). Have a hammer, a saw, a torch, and some silicone handy if you want to follow along!

Filtration: I have a used Eheim 2215 sitting around as well as a 4+250 still in the box. Either will probably suffice. I also have a Hydor circulaton pump sitting around in need of a home.

Ok, that's it for now... updates to come as parts come in and I get the free time to build stuff.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-04-2017, 01:40 AM
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Interesting idea with the planters. Seems like you're going for a modern, clean, organized look, more like an "aqua-patio" than an aquascape. Any plans to pull that thick black rim off the tank? I find they look much slicker without it.

Adapt and overcome.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-04-2017, 02:18 AM Thread Starter
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Interesting idea with the planters. Seems like you're going for a modern, clean, organized look, more like an "aqua-patio" than an aquascape. Any plans to pull that thick black rim off the tank? I find they look much slicker without it.
Funny you ask about the trim. I was considering it but my fingers still hurt from the last one I did!

I'll try to dig up some pics of my idea for the planters. I've previously used the general idea to create elevation changes and terraces. They create a firm division between substrates yet actually become part of the hardscape. The nice part is that you're free to come up with your own shapes as you heat/bend the lexan. The rock they get covered in is what converts them into "hardscape". Hard to describe... I really should dig around for a pic :-)
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-04-2017, 04:40 PM
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I'll try to dig up some pics of my idea for the planters. I've previously used the general idea to create elevation changes and terraces. The nice part is that you're free to come up with your own shapes as you heat/bend the lexan.
Do you have a thread on the tank you previously had planters? What device do you heat the plexy with? You are using plexy?

I have my plants in plastic containers at present for I hope to move this year. I have been told that plants in containers develop BGA. I put kitty litter in the bottom and have had no algae problems.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-04-2017, 05:19 PM Thread Starter
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Do you have a thread on the tank you previously had planters? What device do you heat the plexy with? You are using plexy?

I have my plants in plastic containers at present for I hope to move this year. I have been told that plants in containers develop BGA. I put kitty litter in the bottom and have had no algae problems.
I've used 1/4" Lexan in the past. Bends nicely into odd shapes with a little heat from a propane torch.

I can't find any pics of my old setup. I have some now in a tank as a divider. I'll grab a pic tonight. I guess "planter" might not be the best term but it's essentially what they'll become.

Basically I take 2" strips of lexan, bend it into a shape I like in a closed loop, adhere that to a cheaper piece of plexi for a bottom, then cover the top with fragments of stone. Sounds stupid but essentially I'll have a sea of inert PFS with an island of Controsoil inside. You can't see the lexan, just a transitional ring of stone separating the two substrates.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-04-2017, 05:28 PM
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I've used 1/4" Lexan in the past. Bends nicely into odd shapes with a little heat from a propane torch.
Why did decide to use Lexan instead of plexiglass which is cheaper?
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-04-2017, 05:35 PM Thread Starter
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Why did decide to use Lexan instead of plexiglass which is cheaper?
It seemed to bend better for me. The plexi would get to the bendable stage then fold over. The lexan would heat more uniformly and bend/form nicely around an object. Downside is the price is usually 6-8x the cost of plexi.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-04-2017, 05:45 PM
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It seemed to bend better for me. The plexi would get to the bendable stage then fold over. The lexan would heat more uniformly and bend/form nicely around an object. Downside is the price is usually 6-8x the cost of plexi.
To steep for my budget. I will just stick with the containers, which were $.50 each. A bit cheaper I believe. I painted them black and am going to put Black Diamond Blasting sand around them so they won't be noticed.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-04-2017, 11:59 PM Thread Starter
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To steep for my budget. I will just stick with the containers, which were $.50 each. A bit cheaper I believe. I painted them black and am going to put Black Diamond Blasting sand around them so they won't be noticed.
Yeah, it's definitely not the cheapest thing out there, but still not crazy. My local home store charges considerably more for lexan over plexi... but you can grab a .25"x12"x24" piece off Amazon for under $20 shipped and easily make over a dozen depending on how big you want them.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-07-2017, 07:14 PM Thread Starter
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Decided to go against my earlier plans and just use a 1/4" sheet of Optix Acrylic I had laying around. Looking back at things... cost is really close between the 2 materials at 1/4" thickness.

Pieces cut



Formed up with the help of a little propane torch and 2 steel pvc primer/cement cans



Cut base out of cheaper 1/8" (same Optix Acrylic)



Traced out the position and placed some silicone



Put together and added a bead of silicone inside and out





Was in a hurry... thankfully no need to be bubble free and stay optically clear. Next step with this one is breaking up some stone.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-01-2017, 03:14 AM Thread Starter
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Jumped back into this project tonight as I'm desperately in need of some grow space...

In the past I've used slate pieces to cover my plastic walls and dividers, but this time I wanted something different. I ended up using the rough finish side of a granite tile for a more man-made "concrete" look, yet still remain inert so it doesn't impact my water perameters.









Just need to fill it with my "soil" and it'll be good to go. The other side of the tank is going to get a more unique setup... once I sort out the details in my head. lol
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-06-2017, 03:50 AM
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That is really good work. I cannot wait to see this build. You got a crazy steal on the tank for sure.


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