DIY Custom Acrylic Semi-Dream Tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-07-2014, 03:16 AM Thread Starter
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DIY Custom Acrylic Semi-Dream Tank

Not sure if this is the right forum for this so mods feel free to move it.

A little bit of background.

I have always liked square tanks and long low tanks and have always liked one. I have also always wanted to try lake Tanganykia shell dwellers due to having the perfect water for them straight out of the tap(Ph 8.4+, Gh 20 ish, kh 18 ish). This summer my dad gave the green light for another tank with the caveat that it has to us straight tap and not an RO and tap mix like my other tank dose. Around that same time my I managed to infect my brother with the aquarium bug, and he is willing to split the cost of this tank with me . I also enjoy tinkering, building and DIY.

What I am proposing is a tank that combines all of that, a short square tank with a large foot print which would be perfect for shellies. The goal is to have all equipment hidden and out of sight. Unfortunately tanks like this are few and far between and expensive, so I'm faced with having to build it my self. Luckily I have access to a fully tooled wood working shop (my dads shop in the garage) and I think building it out of acrylic may be the way to go. I would like this tank to be sit in a corner and be viewed from two faces. The bottom and other two sides will most likely be black acrylic.

Proposed specs:

Tank: 24x24x8 (about 20 gallons with a 4 square foot footprint) rimless or euro braced diy acrylic tank

Stand: Custom wood built by dad, brother and I in the wood shop.

Heater: ???? Need suggestions for smallest one possible so it will fit in the sump thingy

Lighting: Two hanging 13 watt Spiral Florescent bulbs????

Filtration: Built-on-the-back-sump. As of now I propose it to run across the full length of two sides and be 1.5 inches wide, this holds about 2.5 gallons. The pump will be in a chamber built onto the back corner (May change to a single side depending on the tank location.) Any suggestions for pump size/brand???? I was thinking of maybe using a cheap one from harbor freight...

Co2: None, Maybe Excel

Scape:

Substrate: Sand

Hard scape: Rock pile, wood???(might look cool, cant decide) and shells, lots and lots of Shells

Flora: Most likely Anubias, Java fern, crypts, bolbits (if I can find it), Egeria najas. The plants will be on and around the rock pile. Open to suggestions.

Fauna: Shell Dwellers!! Not sure if anything else would work as tank mates.



Thoughts, Comments, Suggestions, and Devils Advocates are all welcome and Needed!
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-07-2014, 03:18 AM Thread Starter
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Built a mock up out of foam to help visualize my somewhat methodless madness.
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-07-2014, 03:38 PM
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It's a cool idea and I'm looking forward to the build!

Couple questions though.
If you aren't planning on using a lid or canopy, I think 8" will be too short. I have the 33L tanks that are 12" tall, use lids and sometimes the fish will get startled and try and jump out.

It might be easier to build the sump inside the tank rather than outside the tank. This will still allow you to keep the same total footprint of your design. Increasing the width of the sump area would allow you to eliminate one of them and allow viewing the tank from 3 sides IF you decide to relocate it in the future.

Just my 2 cents!

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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-07-2014, 04:00 PM
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My preference would be to keep the sump entirely inside the tank, as it reduces the number of watertight seams. The current design will be considerably more difficult to build.

IMO you want a high quality pump, since cleaning/replacing it will be a fairly painful job once its plumbed into its 2-3" wide area.

I'm working on my own AIO, and I hope to use the overflow/sump area for riparium plants. In a heavily planted tank, you really don't need an enormous volume of filter media, so why not throw in some planters?
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-07-2014, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
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DIY Custom Acrylic Semi-Dream Tank

Thanks for the replies!

I'll probably end up using a just because of evaporation. I'm thinking of keeping the tank shorter because shell dwellers don't really use vertical space and my dad would prefer it if I kept the tank gallonage to around 20.

For building the sump I was planning to build the foot print larger then the actually display dimensions that I want, that way I could install a false back so the sump was built inside like you guys are saying.

I keep bouncing back and forth between a larger one sided sump or a smaller two sided sump. Pros and cons of both?

Any suggestions for a good pump and heater that would work in this application?

At a danger of sounding ignorant what does AIO mean? I've never come across it before.

As far planting it will hopefully have some plants but most likely won't be heavily planted. Also my mom does not like anything growing out of the top of the tank because she thinks it will ruin the walls.

Last edited by Thenoob; 08-07-2014 at 04:41 PM. Reason: adding
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-07-2014, 05:04 PM
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AIO Stands for all-in-one. Pretty much any design that has an in-tank sump.

I'm paying someone to build this for me:

Water flows down through the two side compartments which will contain filter media. Equipment goes in the center. I will be using a Jaeger 100W heater and Syncra Silent 1.5, but it is a fairly expensive pump.

I would not build the sump on two sides of the aquarium. You just won't be able to use that much space when the tank volume is only 20 gallons. You really only need 6-8" for a pump+heater, and any area beyond that point will be for filter media.


Choosing which sides to use for the sump basically depends on how the tank will be displayed.

Spanning an entire side is the most common design, but is kind of problematic in a corner since you will be able to see into the sump. Centering your sump like I have done will leave three sides of the aquarium open.

If you expect the tank will always live in a corner, putting your sump into the corner might be the best looking option.
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-07-2014, 05:38 PM Thread Starter
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That makes sense. Would I need to have baffles in my sump?
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-07-2014, 05:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thenoob View Post
That makes sense. Would I need to have baffles in my sump?
It depends on a lot of things.

You can see what Nuvo does, this is pretty much the stardard AIO design.

http://reefbuilders.com/files/2013/0...r-Drawings.png

You will notice they have the first baffle to force water through the filter media, but there is also a second baffle to maintain a constant water level for equipment.

The water level in your tank will always be constant with an overflow, so any evaporation comes out of the sump. It could potentially lose an inch or more per day.

In a freshwater tank, the second baffle is only really useful if you are including a vertical heater. A submersible heater could be placed sideways so it stays submerged even as the water level drops.

My preference is a baffle for the filter media, but you could design filter media baskets that do not require that baffle.
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-07-2014, 06:21 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the diagram! The whole baffle thing is starting to make sense. I think I need to do some more foam modeling. Any idea on GPH for the pump I would need?
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-07-2014, 06:34 PM Thread Starter
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Just reread your post am a little confused.
How does an overflow make it so the water level is always the same in the tank?
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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-07-2014, 06:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thenoob View Post
Just reread your post am a little confused.
How does an overflow make it so the water level is always the same in the tank?
The aquarium water level will always be X inches above the lip of the overflow, where X is dependent on flow rate. The water level can never drop below the lip of the overflow, since no more water would drain.

Because the water level in the display section is constant, any evaporation will only be reflected in the sump.
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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-07-2014, 06:49 PM Thread Starter
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Oh I see. Should the overflow wall be shorter then the rest of the walls?

Thanks for being patient with all of my questions.
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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-07-2014, 07:06 PM
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Oh I see. Should the overflow wall be shorter then the rest of the walls?
The overflow should be shorter to ensure the water flows over that side. Generally the overflow has slots or a mesh to keep fish from taking a ride.



Technically you could design something that does not require an overflow, and instead uses inlet strainer type parts.

An overflow is generally your best option since it is visually clean and does a good job of skimming the surface, preventing scum/biofilm from forming.
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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-07-2014, 07:26 PM Thread Starter
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I see what you mean thanks for so much help so far!

For heaters I see two options open to me:
1) Buy an eheim jäger which I like quite a lot but are somewhat pricey.
2) build/buy some kind of control unit for one the heaters I have that there thermostats failed.

Thoughts and suggestions?
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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-07-2014, 07:42 PM
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I'm no expert on heaters, but I would be surprised if you could buy or build a temperature controller for less than the cost of a cheap submersible heater.

I would be mildly cautious going DIY with a broken heater since any mistakes could cook your fish without the secondary failsafe of the heater thermostat.

Plus most DIY builds have exposed wiring which seems problematic around water.
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