New 46 gallon bowfront build - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-09-2016, 10:43 AM Thread Starter
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New 46 gallon bowfront build

Hello planted tank members! I recently purchased an Aqueon 46 gallon bow front aquarium from Care-a-lot pet supply for $120. I had the option of buying the stock stand for the tank but.. It was ugly. So I've been doing a lot of looking around online. Custom stands are expensive and the cheaper stands are just cheap and I'm nervous about putting 380 pounds of water on one. So I decided to build my own custom stand (and hood if money allows) and try to keep the expenses below $100.00. I've seen a lot of diy stands and only a handful of step by step threads. So hopefully this build goes well and can help others down the road.

First step was to draw out my plans. The front of the stand will have the same "bow" as the aquarium, I decided (since this will be my first time bending plywood) not to add doors and keep the front all one piece. I will be putting "concealed" doors on the sides of the stand to give access to the canister filter or sump if I decide in the future. I plan on building a back piece to hide cords and hoses, so I made the sides of the stand 3.5 inches wider than the tank. This will also give me a little more room for my doors.

Some supplies I purchased:
4, 8ft 2x4
1, 8ft 2x8
8, 90 degree brackets
Kreg jig (bought it just to check it out, not sure if I'll use it)
This should be enough to build the frame

I labeled my pieces as I cut them out, then used my drawing to put the puzzle together.


I attached an image of the look I'm going for and a doodle of my plans. More to come.
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-09-2016, 11:24 AM Thread Starter
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I have a very limited supply of tools for this job:
Jig saw
Circular saw
Cordless drill
Palm sander
Hand plane
Miter box with saw
And I'm building it on the balcony of my apartment.. So This is 100% DIY, it would be nice to have a big workshop but anything will work.

Frame is built! Labeling each piece was a big help and made the assembly fast. I traced the bow of the tank onto two 2x6s and used a jig saw to cut out the curve. I added a few extra supports that weren't in the original drawing; (1) the 3 vertical boards in the front, (2) a cross member to connect the bottom bowed 2x6 to the back, (3) a 2x4 that runs left to right to support the back of the aquarium and creates a 2 inch gap to run filtration and wires, (4) and a vertical post to support the center of the above mentioned #3 board.

I tried to upload an image that had all the new boards (1,2,3,4) labeled but it didn't work, so here's the original images, you'll have to use your imagination
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-09-2016, 12:04 PM Thread Starter
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Next was to level the stand. My cuts weren't exact since I used a circular saw, which threw off the stand about a 1/16". A compound miter saw would be better for this build. It wasn't off much so I just used a hand plane to shave some wood off the top until my level sit pretty well.

So thats about it for the frame, the final step I did (and I'm sorry I don't have any pics of it) was cut a piece of 1/8" plywood underlayment to use as a the flooring for inside the stand.. I had to use the jigsaw to cut out around all of the supports so it would fit in there snug. This will give me a nice level floor to place my fluval 206. Then I cut a piece of 1/2" plywood to put on the top. This will be the base for the tank to sit on.

In this picture you can see the top (1/2") plywood the tank will sit on (note the gap left for running the filtration). Inside you can see the 1/8" plywood underlayment.. Also a sneak peak of the beginning of wrapping the stand in plywood !
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-09-2016, 12:41 PM Thread Starter
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Time to start wrapping the stand in plywood. I think it was 1/4" but it may have been smaller. I want the stand to hide the black plastic frame of the tank so I placed the tank on the stand and measured from the floor up past the plastic frame on the tank to where the glass begins. This will give me the height I need for my plywood and really create that custom built look. The cuts didn't have to be exact for this step because I will be covering up all the joints with a nice trim(1/2" trim). I just made sure the edge that was on top was straight because it will be visible even with the trim.

Here's a few pics;

one of the front(remember to use a piece of scrap wood under your clamps so you don't get marks on your finished project.)

A close up of the edge (I used two pieces of kitchen cabinet liner as a leveler/cushion under the tank before I filled it up.. So if you plan on adding anything like that I recommend making the height of the plywood a 1/16-1/8" taller than the black plastic frame because in the end the tank will sit a bit higher)
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-09-2016, 01:21 PM Thread Starter
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I nailed the front in place. Before adding the sides I cut out holes for the doors. I wanted to make the doors as big as I could but they're still pretty narrow. I built a mock door to hold up just to get a idea of what it would look like.
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-09-2016, 01:24 PM
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That is going to look fabulous. You are doing a terrific job and it will certainly be strong!
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-09-2016, 01:56 PM Thread Starter
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It took some time to figure out the doors(trim, hinges). I did all my shopping at Home Depot and added some screen shots of what I used for the doors. I cut them out of 1/2" plywood then used my miter box to make 45 degree cuts on the trim. I used wood glue for the trim and attached the hinges. Bingo! Doors done!

Next I began working on trim for the stand. Once again I used my miter box (I think it was 20$ at homedepot, a must buy) and cut the trim at 45 degrees then used nails and glue.. Remember nail holes are gonna have to be filled before painting or staining so don't go overboard.

The two front edges were the most difficult with the trim.. (I added photos) I butted then up together and with lots of planing and wood filler they came out pretty nice.
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-09-2016, 02:09 PM
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You have done a beautiful job. Have you decided yet on whether you are going to paint or stain?
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-09-2016, 02:20 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks touch of sky!


Here are images of the trim and hinges I used.
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-09-2016, 02:24 PM Thread Starter
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Touch of sky; it's actually all completed, I meant to upload my progress as I went but I was short on time. I rushed to get it done because I was having surgery on my foot.. Now that I'm laid up I'm uploading my progress lol. It's a really dark stain. I did 4 coats of minwax poly shades expresso (it's an all in one stain and poly).
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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-09-2016, 02:34 PM Thread Starter
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Next step was to buil the back of the stand that will cover the plumbing for the filtration and wires for lights. Sorry I didn't take any photos while I was building this part, but it was pretty simple. I simply made a frame out of a couple of 2x4s and 1x2s that fit snugly into the notch in the back.. Then cut pieces of the plywood I used for the sides and front of the stand and finished them off with trim the same way I did the bottom.

It fits pretty snug so I didn't attach this top piece to the bottom of the stand.. This way I can remove it if I need access to the back for some reason.
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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-09-2016, 03:01 PM Thread Starter
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So the stand was pretty much done at this point, I went to Walmart and bought a 10$ fluorescent light and mounted it in the cabinet. Then I started the sanding process and filled all of the holes and joints with wood filler.

I picked up some minwax poly shades which is a stain and polyurethane all in one. Expresso was the color and I ACCIDENTLY bought gloss. I wasn't planning on doing a gloss.. I was so excited about it almost being done and applied two coats before I realized I had bought the gloss! But... It looks amazing, I did 4 coats with a light sand in between. The gloss makes it easier to clean up water spills and gives it more of a modern look.

Next I picked up some krylon flat black spray paint and painted the back of the aquarium. I don't think it matters flat or gloss, it still turns out glossy because of the glass. This will hide plumbing and wires.

once it was dry I laid down the kitchen drawer liner (the solid kind without the tiny holes) and traced the outline of the aquarium with an exacto knife. I used two pieces, and laid them on the stand. Then I carefully lowered the tank into place.. Fit like a glove!!!

I slapped on my coralife dual t5ho lamp that I bought for 33$!! Yes what a steal!
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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-09-2016, 03:10 PM Thread Starter
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I had been soaking this driftwood now for about two months and had a few Amazon swords, java fern and Anubis in my 15 gallon tank that I was planning on moving to this one. I bought a ton of substrate lol. 1 bag of fluorite, I bag of Eco complete, a few bags of just black sand, and some leftover floramax I had from my other tank, and mixed it all together!

And so I began messing around with my hardscape.
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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-09-2016, 03:19 PM
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Wow! The stand looks amazing! and IMO it looks better than the reference picture you posted first. Bravo
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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-09-2016, 03:59 PM Thread Starter
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So I was happy with the hardscape and ran a hose from my kitchen sink to my tank.. This is where I think I messed up ?

I filled up the tank and immediately added my plants. I know the tank has to cycle, but have read that adding live plants helps speed up the process.. But I made one crucial mistake, I didn't let my tank come to temperature and added the plants to the cold water which I think shocked them.

I had two Amazon swords, one was over a foot and a half tall and now all of its leaves are dead, the other also lost all of its leaves.

My ludwigia completely melted away.

The Java fern and Anubis is ok.

Water Conditions:
So it's been two weeks and my ph went from 8 down to 7.4. I'm seeing a spike in nitrites 5.0 and nitrates 10.0. Ammonia 0.0

Before (my large swords) and after (complete destruction) pics.. And yes it already has fish despite the not being cycled, don't hate me lol, I took apart the old tank to fill the new one.
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