I converted the filtration over to a sump. I bought some new livestock, and lost a bunch of it to Ich. See latest posts for details :-).
Current Picture of tank:
Current Picture of Stand/Bookshelves
7 foot wide acrylic 105G tank. Custom stand, hood, etc. DIY CREE LED lighting. Arduino with 4.3" touchscreen and custom written code/GUI controls lights, auto feeders, pumps, filters, auto top off, temperature, etc.
Concrete/foam background with pieces of driftwood integrated into it.
~10 Denison Barbs
~15 Tiger Barbs
~10 Apollo Sharks
~15 bloodfin Tetras
1 Pictus Cat
2 Bristlenose Plecos, a loach, some shrimp and snails.
Corkscrew and Jungle Vals
Some other assorted plants
The Long Version....
This has been a BIG project. Way too ambitious. I'm kind of burned out. I bit off more than I could chew, but the project is almost finished.
This will be really long, so I'll separate the different parts of the project:
I had 11' of wallspace in my living room that I've wanted to put a tank in for awhile. I have a 50 gallon tank in another room which I've put a lot of work into, and so the plan was to take down the 50G, and transfer the lights/pumps to a new bigger tank to save some money on the build, and I have no interest of keeping 2 tanks.
I was looking for 125G tanks, but found this tank on Craigslist, and couldn't pass it up (was cheap, too).
Its an acrylic tank, 84" wide, 17.5" deep, and 16.5" tall inside dimensions, which is 105 gallons. All 1/2" acrylic. It wasn't braced, but it bowed terribly as you might expect, so I added 2 braces which works well.
Picture of the first filling next to a cat. The tank really looks bigger in person, its 7 freaking feet long!
I wanted to go all out on this, so I went for a complete DIY foam/concrete background. I also went to a local lake and picked out a bunch of good driftwood pieces. The idea is to make it look like a river flowing through a forested area, and to make it look as natural as possible.
Making the background took A REALLY LONG TIME. Like at least 50 hours. I think it turned out well, but it was a big learning experience. I can go through my trials and errors in another thread, but overall I'm happy with how it turned out. I am particularly happy with how I integrated the wood into the background.
I used pink styrofoam and mortar for the background. I did not use a sealer, but perhaps I should have. I let the background sit for a month after I finished the concrete, and then let it soak for a month with at least weekly drainings/refillings before adding fish.
Planning the wood layout.... The center 2 pieces are actually the same piece of wood that I collected, and I cut it in half down the center.
I wanted to make it look like a dirt/silt background in some spots, so I took a mix of regular ol' Petco plant soil and Petco black gravel for aquariums and mixed it liberally with black concrete and applied a few heavy coats on the back of this styrofoam. The styrofoam I shaped really quickly with a heat gun. I am REALLY REALLY happy with how this turned out, and it was really quick and easy to do. The rocky parts took a long time to do.
Foam shaped with heat gun layout out in tank:
With gravel/concrete applied:
Biggest center "rocky outcropping" peice. It has 2 caves built into it.
After a few coats of variously colored concrete:
On the sides of the tank I created hidden places for the filter intakes and outputs to go. It turned out really well:
(2) 2" intakes
(2) 1/2" outputs (another output is flush with surface)
Background is complete!!!!!
Really happy with out how turned out.
A few quick tips/lessons I learned:
Because the tank was braceless, it was MUCH easier to put the background in the tank. I braced the tank after putting the background in. in a "normal" tank it would have been a lot harder to make a large background like this.
I stressed a lot over the texture of the styrofoam while I was carving it, but the texture is really controlled by the concrete. It smooths it all out, and depending on how you brush it it creates the texture, so don't worry so much about what the raw styrofoam looks like.
I also stressed a lot over the coloration of the concrete. I do like how mine turned out, with several layers of different colors so that it has some good variation, but once you submerge it for a few months, the colors are very different than they were when I was making it, so its just really hard to anticipate how it will look in the end.
I basically re-used a design that I used on my 50g setup. I travel a lot for work, and the tank is designed to go 30+ days without being touched, and it has worked really well so far.
I already had (3) Magnum 350 filters, and I really like them. They aren't all on at the same time, I only have 1 or 2 on at a time... more on that in another thread, but they provide plenty of flow and filtration, and I think they're easy to maintain.
If I didn't already own the magnum filters I would have made a sump, and perhaps that's what I should have done, but this was a tried/tested setup that was pretty easy for me to re-use.
I wanted a uniform flow river tank, so the intakes are on the left side, and outputs on the right side. It doesn't really create the uniform flow that you would expect, but it still works pretty well. I drilled bulkheads directly in the side of the tank (thank goodness for an acrylic tank!).
All the filters share a common intake/output pvc piping. It works pretty well, the only pain in the butt is if air bubbles get into the system, they're kind of hard to burp out, but once everything is setup and running it works really well, you don't have to prime the pumps!
Here's how it turned out. It would be better if I had more height on top of the filters so that that the plumbing into the PVC wasn't as tight... but it works pretty well.
I have a 18 gallon rubbermaid tub as a reservior for an auto-topoff system, and I can optionally drain the tank into the tub if I want to.
On the intake, I have a piece of 2" pipe that goes the height of the tank. I have a 400W submersible heater in there. My goal was to hide all the equipment of the tank, and I didn't really want to buy an inline heater since I already had this submersible heater. I'm happy with the results.
I have a 0-5 psi pressure sensor installed on the output pipe. An arduino will monitor the pressure to gauge the flow and status of the filters. I don't have this functioning yet, but it will be implemented soon.
Here's a basic sketch of how everything is plumbed up. The intake pvc is 1" and output is 3/4". If I were to do it again, I would probably make the intake 1.5", but keep the output as 3/4" to keep the flow velocity high.
The lighting is mostly taken from my old tank... its a custom made CREE LED setup that I made 3 years ago. It runs off a 24V power supply and iscontrolled by some transistors and an arduino... More on that in another thread, but its a mix of individually controllable warm white, neutral white, and cool white CREE LEDs mounted on heat sinks. I also added some purple, teal, and deep red lights to fill out the color spectrum. Its about 80 total watts worth of LEDs. The tank isn't really heavily planted, and I'm not injecting C02, so its more than enough light.
I made a 14" tall hood, and its sealed well to prevent light from creeping through and prevent some evaporation.
I have 4 auto-feeders that are controlled by my arduino (more on that in another thread...), along with a water temprature sensor, ambient heat/humidity sensor, water level sensor, and 2 fans on the side that I can control. I found with auto-feeders inside a hood, that the food can get moist and stuck together if you don't have fans that come on periodically.
I wanted to make the aquarium look "built-in", so I made it to have bookshelves on the side to fill up the entire wall. I have an awkard 6" on either side of the aquarium where the bulkheads/PVC are, that I haven't finished filler pieces for, and I'm not sure if I'll be happy with it, but on paper it seemed like a good idea.
After mulling over several different designs, I decided on doing 3 sets of "frameless" cabinets for the stand. I would not do this again. They are very difficult to get to line up, and I don't own a table saw. I got it to come out pretty well, but it was not fun to build. But on the plus side, when they're open it makes the stand very open and easy to work in/on.
I built the stand taller than most. The bottom of the tank is 48", which puts the top of the hood at about 6'2". The idea was to make the tank at eye level so you don't have to lean over to look at it. It also puts the tank higher than the drain of my kitchen sink which makes water changes MUCH easier! I just stick a hose in the tank at the desired drain level, and siphon it into my kitchen sink, and come back and refill the tank. No buckets.
I first made a sketchup of the design to get all my dimensions correct:
I didn't end up building the top part above the hood, but I might at a later date.
Here's the frame finished(with my old 50g in the background):
I made the middle shelf out of melamine shelving from home depot. Its where the filters will go. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND DOING THIS! Its basically waterproof. If it gets wet you just wipe it off.
Here's the most recent shot of the tank. The wood for the left hood piece was warping, so I'm bending it back. You can also see a mess of wires where the Arduino touchscreen is going to be.... right now its the bane of my existence.
I haven't stained the wood yet or securely put the bookshelf pieces on the side, but that part is not hard to complete.
The stocking will be:
10 Denison Barbs
10 Tiger Barbs
20 Cardinal Tetras
8 Panda Cories
1 Boita loach for the snails
Some octo cats and amano shrimp
a bushynose pleco or farowella cat if I can find one
Maybe a catfish, like a jaguar or pictus.
I want a bichir and/or ropefish but I'm not sure if they'll be fine with the cardinals and cories.
My current plan is let the Cardinals and Cories to grow for about 6 months and then get the bichir and ropefish, and if they eat the cories or cardinals... than oh well, and I'll buy some bigger fish. Maybe some Congos or Gouramis or something.
Here's a shot I took with some of the stock in it:
The fish are still juveniles, but they don't fill up the tank as much as I was anticipating, so I might add another school or something. Depends on what I can find at my LFS.
Well that's pretty much all the pics for now. The tank is up and running, but I'm having issues with the Arduino setup, and the lights aren't running their proper schedule, so the plants aren't growing in well, and I've only put in about half the fish I intend on putting in.
Thanks for slugging through all the text and stay tuned