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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-24-2016, 05:59 PM Thread Starter
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DIY Tank planning

I wanted to start a thread to get feedback on an idea I've been playing around with. I've been planning a large tank for bala sharks for awhile now. I'm looking for criticism more than anything. I want a few more sets of eyes to point out mistakes I've missed.

Again, this is completely subject to change and I've had a thousand different ideas that I've been experimenting with and modeling.

Without further to do, some photos and explainations. For reference, I'm using Google Sketchup Make. It is free and looks better than my hand drawings. It also is a lot easier to use exact material thickness than free handing.

Lets start with the stand, it is a basic 2x4 stand like many others. The top rim will most likely be 2x6 or 2x8s, not 2x4s but I modeled it with 2x4 lumber anyway. This is something I would love some feedback on. For reference, there is a 5'5 person in the model. The stand measures 93"x36"x30" (LxWxH).



Some time later, I finished up the model of the tank. The tank is utilizing some free glass I have on hand, 40"x31"x5/8". There will be a dual panel opening to utilize the two pieces of glass I have. The tank is 93" so that I can use 96" lumber (8') as the exterior bracing. I was planning on using 2x4s as exterior bracing, but may opt for 1x4s. I doubt the 3/4" difference will bother me personally. If anything, I think the bulky nature will look robust. The bottom is doubled up 3/4" plywood.



Here is the 'intake' side of the tank. The tank utilizes a built in sump with a nearly 2' long overflow area. There will be a simple screen, such as gutter guard, to prevent fish from entering. There is also a river tank manifold present with black foam over the intakes and 1" PVC piping. You can see the glass better in this photo. I plan on leaving a small gap (1/8"~1/4") between the pieces in the center. There is between 1.5" and 2" of overlap between the glass and the wood. The center brace being 3.5" made the overlap a little uneven.



Here is the output or return side of the tank. That is a 1.5" spray bar. It was a 'pre-drilled PVC' model, but will only have one row of holes. There are also 4 Aquaclear 70 power heads (400gph ea).



The sump area will be basic. The water will overflow onto foam (not pictured) for mechanical filtration. Then will pass through Seachem Pond matrix for bio media. This will most likely not fill the entire volume of the sump, but will be more than enough bio media for a tank this size. There is a gap between the baffle and the bottom of the tank to keep the media from contacting equipment. Equipment will be a Catalina 1000w heater/conroller (possibly a couple smaller ones instead) and a Jebao 12000 (3,0000 GPH) return pump.



Lighting will likely be medium to high powered LEDs to make up for the depth. The plan is to run 2x 48" and 2x 36" lights to put out 20-30 par at the substrate. This was modeled due to the ease of making LED light bars.

My other idea includes running pendent lights like I did on my 75g. Spiral CFLs grew everything I put in my tank with 32" to the substrate, so they could easily work here too. I would go with a hanger and suspend them in the open rather than make a canopy. I could also replace the spiral CFLs with LED flood lights, but it would be a similar setup with similar par to every other idea. This could possibly lead to more center bracing across the width of the tank, something that would make me feel more comfortable.

The plant list will be minimal with anubias and java fern making up most of the lower tank plant life. Spiral/jungle vals will make up the background plant life and reach higher up, so par shouldn't be an issue.



Here is a link to the Sketchup file if anyone wants to play around with it.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/x7e26z1nwy...0tank.skp?dl=0

The tank measures 96"x39"x34" on the outside, which is over 500g. The actual tank area measures in much smaller at 81"x34"x29" and nets 350g. The total sump area is roughly 40g with half of that being the area for bio media. The total tank volume, when running, will be approximately 400g.

Some more information:

The tank will be sealed with pond armor, a water proofing product I have seen used on several plywood builds with great success. Along side that will be fiber glassing in the corners.

The glass will handle the depth fine. After calculating the span of the glass and the thickness, the safety factor is around 4.8. Most tank builders suggest 3.8 and many modern tanks are in the neighborhood of 2.8.

I do not plan a canopy, but will utilize something simple for lids such as corrugated poly carbonate roofing material. It is common in greenhouses and the product I found locally boasts 93%+ light penetration.

The river tank manifold is something I really want to try in conjunction with the primarily bala shark community. I would also like to stock clown loaches and possibly a few SAE/flying foxes. These fish are the closest things to freshwater 'sharks' that I have seen. They basically share a similar profile, but nothing else. I would like to have 10-15 balas and 5-6 clown loaches. Aqadvisor puts this at 100% stocking. With a tank this size, I don't want to push the stocking and result in massive water changes.

The top brace is modeled at a solid sheet of plywood that will connect to the exterior bracing and have a 6" brace run the length of the tank. It also has a couple 4" braces running the width of the tank. The top bracing is something I am not positive on.

One thing I have not been able to come up with is an effective way to drain the tank for water changes. The over the top siphon is the current solution. Adding a bulkhead on the side of the tank isn't something I would like to do. I have thought of drilling the bottom of the tank, in the sump area, and passing through a bulkhead in the side of the sump. This would then drain from the display portion of the tank. The only concern would be a leaky bulkhead on the bottom of the tank.

I also have no idea what to do as far as covering the stand. I just made basic doors evenly spaced for now. I'd like feedback on the offset nature of the 'all in one aquarium'.

I have dozens of iterations of similar tanks. I'm just planning for now and would enjoy talking through ideas. My wife has OK'd the idea and budget. Ironically, this is one of the cheaper hobbies I engage in. She also likes the fish a lot more than any of my other hobbies.

Anyway, just a fun idea for now. Some of you may know that we are moving in the coming months and this project won't start until we have settled in.


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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-24-2016, 09:08 PM
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This looks cool, as to a way to drain the tank, you might want to look into pumping it out, either with your sunp return, or plumbed into your river manifold. Both could be isolated with a ball value so only used when needed, knee in the sump would be hidden from view, the one on the manifold would be able to draw the tank down further and allow a bigger water change


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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-24-2016, 10:29 PM Thread Starter
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Pumping it out is a good idea. I'll look into that actually. I'll probably just use a pump dedicated to changing water then.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-25-2016, 12:29 AM
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Given the compressive strength of pine 2x4 lumber and the design layout your have drawn up, you should be ok with just using 2x4's. The one thing I am noting is 8 or your 10 front to back boards would offer little support as it appears they are relying on screws/glue to carry weight and are not actually supported by lumber like your perimeter boards are.


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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-25-2016, 10:38 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Immortal1 View Post
Given the compressive strength of pine 2x4 lumber and the design layout your have drawn up, you should be ok with just using 2x4's. The one thing I am noting is 8 or your 10 front to back boards would offer little support as it appears they are relying on screws/glue to carry weight and are not actually supported by lumber like your perimeter boards are.
I noticed the same thing you are mentioning. I was thinking of adding something under them either on the side or in the center to support weight, probably the latter. Suspending a large amount of weight at this height would definitely be top heavy.

I am looking into other frame builds and I'll modify mine.


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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-25-2016, 02:12 PM
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Yea, not crazy about the grey "pairs" on top..though like floor joists, it is done all the time..
I prefer solid wood support from top to floor,
Notched 2x6's to hold the top 2x4's is how I'd overbuild it..

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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-25-2016, 02:56 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jeffkrol View Post
Yea, not crazy about the grey "pairs" on top..though like floor joists, it is done all the time..
I prefer solid wood support from top to floor,
Notched 2x6's to hold the top 2x4's is how I'd overbuild it..
I actually love this idea. I'll definitely do this. I've only notched end pieces before, nothing in the center of a piece of lumber. I'll have to look into doing it right.

I do try to avoid using screws as the only thing holding the weight. I much prefer solid lumber to lumber contact.


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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-25-2016, 03:22 PM
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Don't know if it is of any value to you, but, for my crazy frame build I went with plywood over typical dimensional pine lumber. The plywood was your typical 3/4" plywood cut into approximately 3.75" wide strips. I then glued 2 strips together to form a piece of plywood that was 1.5" thick by about 3.75" wide. Then I ran the completed assembly thru the table saw to give me a finished piece that was 1.5" x 3.5" (about the size of a 2x4, but significantly stiffer Kinda like this stuff).
I guess what I really liked about this method was the fact that all edges were crisp 90 degree corners - all the individual "pieces" lined up very nicely (probably my OCD kicking in, LOL).


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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-25-2016, 03:35 PM
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To simply drain out water you could use the pump in the sump, plumb it with a couple of ball valves: With one open and the other closed it is tank circulation. Open and closed the other way and the pump will pump out the water. The problem is this: does the water from the tank only enter the sump from the top? This would simply drain the volume of the sump, and do nothing in the tank.

Alternate: Keep a separate pump and hose. Bring it out at water change time. Drop it in the tank and start pumping. The first water could go into buckets and you would clean the filter media in this water. Remaining amount of water change would be out to the garden or wherever. When the tank is drained as much as you want, put the pump into the bucket(s) of dirty water and pump most of the water out so they are easier to carry away.
In my larger tanks, with larger filters, more media, it can take 2-3 buckets of water to clean the filter media.
Refill with hose connected to a faucet, add dechlor as the water is entering the tank.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-25-2016, 04:06 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
To simply drain out water you could use the pump in the sump, plumb it with a couple of ball valves: With one open and the other closed it is tank circulation. Open and closed the other way and the pump will pump out the water. The problem is this: does the water from the tank only enter the sump from the top? This would simply drain the volume of the sump, and do nothing in the tank.

Alternate: Keep a separate pump and hose. Bring it out at water change time. Drop it in the tank and start pumping. The first water could go into buckets and you would clean the filter media in this water. Remaining amount of water change would be out to the garden or wherever. When the tank is drained as much as you want, put the pump into the bucket(s) of dirty water and pump most of the water out so they are easier to carry away.
In my larger tanks, with larger filters, more media, it can take 2-3 buckets of water to clean the filter media.
Refill with hose connected to a faucet, add dechlor as the water is entering the tank.
First off, yes, it only enters from the top. I could quite potentially add in a mid section drain which would handle almost all of the flow most likely. The reason I hadn't thought of T-ing off of the return is due to the sump only draining about 40g of water and being empty; just like you said. I do think dropping in a pump with a hose and pumping it out is going to be the best bet. That or connecting the sump to the main tank at a lower point (even if it is a ball valve on a bulkhead) and using the return pump to drain water.

I completely understand your method for rinsing media too. Very similar to what I have done in the past. A 5 gallon bucket in the back yard that I drain the water into. I pour out some of the water, take it inside, rinse the media, and just drain the rest of the tank water out into the backyard for the lawn. I will likely use filter media bags just to make the media easier to handle.

Thank you all for the input thus far. A few things I hadn't considered at all and some answers to some questions I had. I'm sure more mistakes have been made and can be pointed out.


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