First off, let me thank everyone on this forum for posting their experiences with setting up new tanks - without your help I would never have dared to cut so many corners.
This is my first aquarium. I've been itching to set up a tank for about three years now and finally I'm in a position where I have enough time, space and money to make it happen.
Originally I wanted to put together a riparium. I've seen some amazing, absolutely inspiring things done with a bit of foam, a plastic cup and some suction cups. So when I went camping out along the Hoh river this summer I decided to collect some rocks and wood and see what I could come up with.
When I got home I tried a few mockups. This piece of driftwood was perfect but the tank was too short ... while it turned out that the wood was unusuable due to some pesky sap deposits, the idea of a tall tank stuck in my mind. After a long, futile search for a new 15g tank I ended up buying a nice 10G "tall cube" from a shop in the international district. The tank is roughly 12"x12"x18" (tall) with 1/4" glass. It was pre-drilled for standpipe and return, cost me $56 out the door including the bulkheads.
I had some trouble finding a suitable stand - I wanted something tall enough to lift the tank up and into the room, so it would be closer to eye level but still short enough to work on without a ladder. I also wanted a sump, and the tank is drilled, and it couldn't be any wider than 30" or deeper than 20" and and and ....
I ended up finding a place that sells the consumer variant of Metro's industrial wire rack system - they are rated to 500lb per shelf, so I'm not *too* concerned that I cut a small piece out to allow the standpipe through. It wasn't a major piece of the frame and I'm hoping the wood backing under the tank will help distribute the load around the hole.
Adding a divider to the sump was cheeep ($1) and easy so I might redo this again later to change the ratio of refuge to pump space. I'm also considering moving the pump out of that side entirely and passing the inlet through a bulkhead in the divider .... but for now it all works well. The Eheim 1048 is extremely quiet and worked like a champ at the start but now that I have some bio-junk accumulating in the pump and lines the flow isn't quite as strong. I wish they made something between the 1048 and 1250 - I don't need 2x the flow and 3x the power consumption. At 28W it consumes as much as all of my lights combined!
I put down a thin layer of eco-complete, added the bigger rocks, then poured in a sparse layer of crushed lava rock. Supposedly this will "help the plants long term" (I've heard eco-complete "fizzes out after 12-18 months") but only time will tell. I hedged my bets and didn't add too much- if I need to add root tabs later on, so be it. I don't want my green plants turning red!
Another layer of eco-complete and 10 gallons of water later, I had a bog!