Designer Aquarium Design Proposals!! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-27-2012, 08:20 PM Thread Starter
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Designer Aquarium Design Proposals!!

I wanted to design a new tank for myself, so here are some of the designs I'm considering. I'm having trouble deciding however, so I thought I'd solicit feedback here. Please share your comments and suggestions as you like. (Or steal the design and let me know how well it works out for you as I'm not in a rush!)

Each tank is a little over 2' x 2' x 2' which works out to approximately 66 gallons for the tank, not including the in-tank sump. I might scale that slightly, but I'm thinking between 40 and 60 gallons in any case.

I'm not sure about cantilevering the tank edges on a tank this size if it was to be in glass? I suppose that would work with acrylic at least. I'd prefer glass for the tank due to scratching issues, but the housing for the lids and underside of the tank could be colored acrylic.

The concept is to do an all-in-one tank, with a sleek contemporary look. I (maybe) might do black edging instead of white, but the white makes the design easier to read in these sketches at least. The white sand might 'clash' with the black bands though.

Lighting would be via low-profile DIY LED's mounted around the front and sides mounted on anodized aluminum angles sitting atop the splashguard,with the LED's thus angled inwards at approximately 45 degrees. The top cover would be a louvered panel to allow heat to dissipate while keeping the fish in and preventing any light spill. As the lights would be on the perimeter the fish would be lit from their front sides, (instead of from the back or above which doesn't display their full colors and iridescence). Due to the angles, the light shouldn't be hitting the glass which should minimize algae growth there.

The 'bands' along the top and bottom of the tank would be either directly painted on the outside or inside of the glass, or could be a band of white or black silicon applied to the inside face of the glass. I'm intending to use white sand and I don't want to see any algae growing in the substrate up against the panes of glass. Would an automotive painting shop be able to do nice glossy bands if that had to be painted externally?

I don't want to see any equipment anywhere and insist this needs to be absolutely silent. Accordingly, the tank should have one power cord to a powerstrip in the rear housing. Filtration would be via Seachem matrix biomedia, carbon, and a micron sock in the rear housing powered by a submersible pump there. (which being submersed should entirely dampen its noise?) I don't even want to see or hear any overflows or anything, so the sump would intake water from the side edge of it through a recessed mesh screen. With the use of an 'in-tank sump' that should prevent any of the usual complications, flooding dangers, noise, and external filter annoyances, right? The water pump's return would likely be via a spraybar along the bottom edge at the rear of the tank and pointed upwards, which would in any case be concealed by plant growth.

The rear compartment could be made bigger as well. I was generally thinking low-tech/low light, but I might still allow space for a CO2 bottle in the rear housing. I'd like to allow for an auto-top off reservoir as well in the rear housing, which could hold 2-3 gallons of RO/DI water. I'd want an auto-feeder to be contained in the top of the rear compartment as well.

I think I'd prefer for the tank to be self-contained to give me the flexibility to relocate it wherever I like. But I'd also construct it to allow for a drilled overflow which if I in the future desire, could be plumbed directly to a drain or empty barrel in the cabinet. In that way, I could stick a water storage barrel in the cabinet and then do water changes with just the flip of a switch. A water tubing closed loop could be allowed for in the future as well, in case I wanted to add an ozone reactor or UV sterilizer.

I would do the rear wall with a DIY 3D background, where I'd create a series of terraced pockets with substrate to allow the entire back wall of the tank to be planted. I would consider planting terrestrial plants rooted in the sump's biomedia as well.

I'd also want the tank to be designed and built to allow for it to be converted easily to a reef tank as well, in case I go over to the dark side... Even if I did I wouldn't want to use a remote sump due to the noise, so I'd use the in-tank-sump as a refugium.

(Tank designs from left to right)

A: is just a glass cube, with painted bands to hide the lights and substrate. The reservoir is set in from the back corners so that you would get a glass corner there instead of seeing the sides of the in-tank sump.

B: Has a slimmer profile around the lighting, with a slimmer bottom band to match as well. However, to prevent unsightly sub-substrate level algae (as the bottom band wouldn't conceal the full substrate depth) I would mix up a batch of silicon with the sand and apply this to the bottom edges inside the tank. In that way you'd be seeing this siliconed sand instead of the actual substrate.

C: This tank would be rimless, and would have the edges of the top light housing extending beyond the water surface to prevent any light from spilling. The recessed base would contain the full depth of substrate with just a thin layer bordered in siliconed sand within the 'tank' volume.

D: Self explanatory with similar concepts to the others.

E: Asymmetrical massing to give it greater sculptural dynamism. This also allows for a larger reservoir and potentially a hinged panel to access the equipment more easily.

F: Same as E generally, but in case the cantilevered edges prove unfeasible for a tank this size.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-27-2012, 09:27 PM Thread Starter
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Here they are with some indicative context -

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-28-2012, 01:13 AM
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When light strikes water at 45 degrees, a lot of the light reflects off the water surface and does you no good. That reflected light will probably end up in the tank as diffuse light, which will still light up the glass. Personally I would just use lower light intensity and let that be what reduces the algae problems. You can also use narrow angle optics on the LEDs, if you use a lot of them, and keep a lot of the light from striking the inside of the glass except near the bottom of the tank.

I don't think I would ever use a pedestal base, with the base signficantly smaller than the footprint of the tank. Doing that requires the tank bottom to be very strong and rigid. And, I don't see it looking much better.

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-28-2012, 08:35 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks. To delve into the more technical details, I had anticipated having a white panel on the underside of the lid to diffusely reflect the light reflected from the water's surface back into the tank.

At a 45 degree angle do you have an idea of the proportions of light which would be reflected versus what would be enter the water? This was something I'd been wondering about, and I'd be keeping the lighting rails loose and modular so that I can make adjustments as necessary for things exactly such as changing the striking angle to 60 degrees if I find that to be helpful to. If I need to raise that angle considerably then I'd want to add an extra rail of lighting over the middle of the tank as well so that it's not dark along the rear of the tank. And I will design space to allow for optics and will play around with them to see if I think they help the overall effect.

I'm not entirely against light reflecting off the front pane however, for I suppose in your typical aquarium a lot of the colour and iridescence we see on our fish is from light which was reflected already off the front pane before it reflects off the front of the fish?

It's a personal thing in terms of taste, but I think I like the pedestal base, which fits in with the design of my kitchen and the rest of the space. I appreciate the base pane would need to be considerably stronger than usual, but I wasn't exactly sure how much thicker it would need to be or how to go about calculating that out. Even if that pane would turn out to have to be quite thick then I still don't see that as really being a major problem.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-28-2012, 01:07 PM
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On the pedestal base. do a two step design, one that has the smaller base followed by a wider footprint base above it to support the weight of the tank. just a thin sheet would be much more stable than just having all the weight on a smaller footprint

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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-28-2012, 01:15 PM
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i'd do something like 48x8x10. shallow and wide, narrow as well.. it would go on a table against my wall, under my television... if only...
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-28-2012, 01:46 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by HD Blazingwolf View Post
On the pedestal base. do a two step design, one that has the smaller base followed by a wider footprint base above it to support the weight of the tank. just a thin sheet would be much more stable than just having all the weight on a smaller footprint
I'd rather just do a thicker base pane at the recess, even if it ended up being an inch thick. Sometimes we must suffer in the name of beauty...

I also realize that if I'm going to be trying to contain the majority of the substrate depth within the pedestal base then that hole cut out of the middle of it is going to weaken the base pane a bit further. I wonder if I could find a structural engineer to check the integrity of this, or if a custom aquarium manufacturer can cover that instead.

I may add a base plate the same footprint as the tank under the pedestal however, just to help ensure that there isn't anything that could cause this tank to tip over, regardless of the fact that I'm not in an earthquake zone.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-04-2012, 09:28 PM Thread Starter
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In regards to the earlier discussion here about light angles and reflections, I did a bit of experimenting with a laser pointer and bowl of water. It generally appears that approximately 3/4 of the light enters the water, while perhaps 1/4 is reflected, judging rather roughly by the respective intensities of the respective red dots of light. (It might even be 2/3 and 1/3). In any case, the interesting thing there was that the amount of light entering the water and reflected seemed to consistently remain the same whether the light was at 90 degrees, 45 degrees, or even 30 degrees to the water's surface. The only time I could discern a change was when the light was only about 10 or 20 degrees above the water surface, and even then most of the light was still entering the water. So I suppose I'm not so worried now about angling my lights at 45 degrees.

I'm not sure however if the wavelength of light changes the results at all. For red light and blue light do of course act differently when passing through our atmosphere for instance or in their ability to penetrate deep water.
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