Plywood/Epoxy Tank Rack - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 38 (permalink) Old 09-03-2010, 08:06 AM Thread Starter
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Cool Plywood/Epoxy Tank Rack

I got a great deal on some very heavy duty metal shelving, so it's obviously time for a real tank rack.

Current project: Garage tank rack
3 - 135 Gallon Plywood tanks with glass fronts
1 - 75 Gallon Sump (Yes, all the tanks, 1 filter system, 1 pump, very efficient.)
1 - Existing 75 Gallon Ball Python Habitat
Yes, that's 550 Gallons of water, and that's why it's in my garage.

Costs:
$300 - Plywood
$100 - Epoxy
~$100 - Glass
$TBD - PVC
$Free - Metal Shelving - Discarded from retail store.

I already have the plywood cut and assembled, and will be spending the next week doing 2x coats of epoxy on everything.

Here's one of the 135 Gallon tanks sitting on it's rack spot.



And right now, we're ready for an epoxy marathon.


Notes: 3/4" Aluminum L braces will go across the top front of the tanks so that they will not bow outward.
The epoxy is Goop Coat-it, the only place I found to purchase it was
Creative Wholesale.
It has been my experience that 2 coats of epoxy is necessary to insure no gaps in coverage. Each coat takes roughly 2 pounds of epoxy.
I plan to include a sump overflow that drains outside, making water changes easier.
Also, hopefully, a low water emergency pump shut-off mechanism.
Will update as things progress.

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post #2 of 38 (permalink) Old 09-03-2010, 08:45 AM
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So how do you attach the glass to the plywood?

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post #3 of 38 (permalink) Old 09-03-2010, 09:12 AM Thread Starter
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The glass is goes inside the tank and overlaps the plywood by 3" on all sides. After the epoxy is dry and has been cleaned, a bead of silicone goes around the opening and you press the glass onto the silicone, sandwiching it between the glass and the epoxied inside of the front of the tank. This makes the silicone completely invisible from the front of the tank.

Here's a picture from the front of the already completed ball python habitat. I don't seem to have a picture from the inside so you can actually see the silicone, but maybe it'll help the more visual people a bit.



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post #4 of 38 (permalink) Old 09-03-2010, 11:26 AM
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wow, that's a pretty cool idea. Are you gonna breed fish in them or are they all gonna be planted?
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post #5 of 38 (permalink) Old 09-03-2010, 12:07 PM Thread Starter
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I'll be moving everything from my big glass tanks (90g and 75g) into these tanks once they're up and running. The glass tanks will go into storage for a while.

I've got RCS, Calico Bristlenose Plecos, MTS, and mixed fancy guppies breeding in those tanks right now.

They will all be planted, but nothing too fancy. Crypts, Aponogeton, Dwarf Red Lily, Guppy Grass, E. Vesuvius, Christmas Moss, SŁŖwassertang.

I'm also probably going to get 4 jumbo pieces of Mopani Wood for them, since the heavy tannins seem to make my RCS breed much faster in my tap water.

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post #6 of 38 (permalink) Old 09-03-2010, 12:54 PM
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Very cool project. What are the dimensions of the 135 gal tank?
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post #7 of 38 (permalink) Old 09-03-2010, 01:19 PM Thread Starter
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Interior dimensions with glass installed: 30.5" Depth x 46" Wide x 23" Tall
I made them as large a footprint as would fit on the shelving.
I am 6' tall, but reaching the back edges may still require a snorkel and mask.
I'm not one of those that manicures plants, so it shouldn't be an issue.

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post #8 of 38 (permalink) Old 09-03-2010, 02:54 PM
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wow ambitious project, what is you plan for the tanks, are you going to breed fish, grow/sell plants, or just wanted 3 135g tanks? Looking forward to this build.
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post #9 of 38 (permalink) Old 09-03-2010, 04:09 PM Thread Starter
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I pretty much just wanted a nicer tank rack. I've not been very happy with the stand and setup of my glass tanks for a while now, and since both of my kids are in school now I've finally found the time to clean out the garage and start this project.

I was hoping to get through a full coat of epoxy on all 4 of the tanks, but I've only made it 15% of the way because one of my kids is home from school sick.
Hopefully I can get things moving a bit faster over the weekend.

Here's a pic of the epoxy mixing process. I'm trying to mix this batch a bit more exactly than I managed the last can, so I've got a $5 digital 500g scale to measure the syringes in order to get the 7:1 by weight ratio of epoxy mix to hardener more precisely. So far I've got a lot more uniformity in the thickness of the epoxy, which makes it easier to apply.



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post #10 of 38 (permalink) Old 09-03-2010, 05:36 PM
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Be careful with this brand of epoxy. Due to its light color it is easy to miss a spot (corners!!) and any missed spot will turn into a nasty leak, as the wood starts to swell. I am not convinced Coat-It will hold up long term to water exposure.

If you want to be totally sure, I'd recommend Sweetwater Epoxy paint (which can go over the Coat-It). It is expensive incl shipping, but good stuff and one can goes a long way.


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post #11 of 38 (permalink) Old 09-03-2010, 06:41 PM Thread Starter
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I have two other plywood tanks, the oldest of which is around 15 months old, and I learned quite a bit building them.

You're right, with one coat of epoxy it's VERY easy to miss tiny spots, or to get something in the epoxy that allows water to wick through to the plywood. That's why it's imperative that you carefully clean the surfaces and put on 2 THICK coats of epoxy, allowing more than enough dry time for each. Then, carefully inspect every inch of the surface to make sure there aren't any gaps. For this last inspection I mix a small batch and coat any spots that are even remotely suspect a third time to insure no leaks.

Also, putting any kind of dividers or compartments in the plywood tank is a BAD idea. It's far too easy to miss spots when you're having to fight the angles to coat everything. If you need some kind of dividers, use thick plastic/acrylic/glass whatnot sheets and put them in with silicone after the epoxy is all dried and fully leak tested. (The same way you'd put in an internal overflow box or divider in a glass tank.)

During leak testing, it's important to fill everything up and run the pump for a full 2 weeks while periodically checking for leaks or damp spots. Then drain everything out, and pull out the plywood boxes and inspect all surfaces for dampness. If you get any hints of moisture on the plywood, do another full coat of epoxy.

I think most leaks occur due to lack of patience and failure to follow directions and common sense.

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post #12 of 38 (permalink) Old 09-03-2010, 06:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ezcry4t3d View Post
Also, putting any kind of dividers or compartments in the plywood tank is a BAD idea. It's far too easy to miss spots when you're having to fight the angles to coat everything. If you need some kind of dividers, use thick plastic/acrylic/glass whatnot sheets and put them in with silicone after the epoxy is all dried and fully leak tested. (The same way you'd put in an internal overflow box or divider in a glass tank.)
Agreed. Good that you know your stuff.

Do you sand the first layer of epoxy after it dried, or do you/did you apply the second layer while the first one was still tacky?


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post #13 of 38 (permalink) Old 09-03-2010, 07:36 PM
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I've honestly never even considered/seen a build like this. So the front glass/acrylic just slides right into the front and you silicone it in place ? Very interesting. I'm wondering if you could do it on a much larger scale. Like a wall of 10 gallon tanks. Probably be extremely complicated ... and heavy has hell. It would look amazing when finished though. Good build. Looking forward to seeing it completed.

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post #14 of 38 (permalink) Old 09-03-2010, 07:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Finalplay10 View Post
I've honestly never even considered/seen a build like this. So the front glass/acrylic just slides right into the front and you silicone it in place ? Very interesting. I'm wondering if you could do it on a much larger scale. Like a wall of 10 gallon tanks. Probably be extremely complicated ... and heavy has hell. It would look amazing when finished though. Good build. Looking forward to seeing it completed.
10gal tanks would be cheaper if purchased as 10 gal glass tanks. Epoxy ain't cheap.

Check out wasserpest's thread of his dual plywood tanks. Gorgeous and the best example I've seen of a plywood tank to date. (or maybe I just like the mixture of the plywood tank and the plants lol) Usually they're just people's slightly cheaper way to build massive tanks to house big fish.


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my 75 (the old tank)
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post #15 of 38 (permalink) Old 09-03-2010, 08:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jargonchipmunk View Post
10gal tanks would be cheaper if purchased as 10 gal glass tanks. Epoxy ain't cheap.

Check out wasserpest's thread of his dual plywood tanks. Gorgeous and the best example I've seen of a plywood tank to date. (or maybe I just like the mixture of the plywood tank and the plants lol) Usually they're just people's slightly cheaper way to build massive tanks to house big fish.
I think I undersand what he was thinking and 10 Gallon might be cheaper, but I doubt you could do what went through my head with 10 gallon tanks.

Consider an LFS with Plywood 10 Gallon tanks all lining a wall, with 10 gallon view windows.

All the plumbing is done and automated right into the tank for draining/filling/filtering, etc...

You could literally end up with a full wall of tanks that if you added autofeders too required little to no maintenance.

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