The Planted Tank Forum banner

180 Gallon Renovation (A photojournal) PICS!!!

13162 Views 67 Replies 36 Participants Last post by  150EH
Hi all, although I've had aquaria on and off all of my life, I just

recently (April '07) began my journey down the road to "planted

tank" heaven with a 29 gallon tank. That effort blossomed into a 29

AND a 55. Learning the basics of light, co2 & ferts carried me

through the agony of my first bigtime algae bloom as well as

ongoing hair/thread/GDA/GSA etc. and led me to the point where

the bug RE-bit me with a vengence. :help:

Obviously, there's still LOTS to learn but, even so, I went looking for

something bigger.

Checking classified ads and craigslist and eBay within 200 miles, etc, etc,

and I discovered what $100 and a 140 mile trip to Orlando will

buy... a really nasty looking 180 gallon acrylic.

To say it was in "rough shape" would be an understatement but I

thought "the bones" were there to bring this tank back.:proud:

Removing the salt encrustation and the corals? or whatever

growing on the acrylic was interesting to say the least as well as

replacing the rusted/corroded door hinges and other metal bits

and pieces.

The use of some steel wool to remove the growing things on the

acrylic and multiple rinses brought me to a clean inside (clean but


I used a sanding block with 350, then 600, then 1500grit wet&dry

sandpaper to handsand the entire interior of the tank (except for

the bottom and back). This was followed by an automotive polisher

with a terry bonnet using Novus#3 Heavy Scratch Remover. Then a

couple of sessions with a cloth buffing wheel and Novus#2 Light

Scratch Remover. Final interior polishing was done with Novus#1

Acrylic Polish and a soft cotton cloth. The exterior of the tank was

in much better shape than the interior and I did spot

sanding/buffing/polishing in a number of spots and then Novus#1 on

the entire exterior. I've no experience with acrylic scratch

removal/buffing/polishing products so I can't compare the Novus

stuff to any other products out there but I found the Novus

products to do a good job of buffing out the scratches and

polishing the acrylic.

A good scrubbing, followed by two coats of semi-gloss latex took

care of the exterior of the stand, while the interior of the stand is

white laminate that was acceptable after a good scrub.

I then moved on to the interior of the canopy which was just a shell

when purchased. I retrofitted AH Supply CF brite kits into the

canopy ... 2 x 55 and 2 x 96, wired in such a way that I can bring

them on as "~100W" or "~200W" or "~300W".

This is the canopy up against the wall atop the tank:

while this is the canopy in position but open atop the tank:

Moving right along ... under the tank/inside the stand.
The tank was pre-drilled/bulkheaded with 7 holes in the bottom.

Two (one 1" & one 3/4") bulkheads within the overflow box
One 3/4" and Four 1/2" bulkheads in the body of the tank
as illustrated below:

I'm using the 3/4" bulkhead within the overflow box as a drain for

the autowaterchanger system, while the 1" bulkhead in the box is

tied into the four 1/2" bulkheads in the body of the aquarium

through the use of a common manifold (the 1" pvc across the

inside top of the stand) . This manifold acts as the filter intake and

feeds the two Rena xp3 canister filters that you can see on either

side of the stand. The last bulkhead in the body of the aquarium

connects to the ball valve/hose connector that you see in the

upper right inside of the stand and drains to waste with the

addition of a garden hose.

Also in the right side of the stand you can see the co2 reactor &

Fabco 55 needle valve which connects to my 10lb co2

tank/regulator which is located elsewhere in the room.

I know I said I'd be brief when I started this entry and while this

hasn't been brief, I hope I haven't bored too many of you with my


Here's a picture of the first fill ... no leaks ... hooray! :bounce: Once I got the

substrate in, I decided to lose the sponges over the plastic

strainers at the bulkheads. They're black and as you will see, they

pretty much disappear into the black background/hardscape.

I drained the tank and added about 80lbs of SoilMaster Select

(charcoal) into the tank (unwashed). I added driftwood/rocks and

did an initial planting by raiding both the 29 and 55 which I've been

using as farm tanks in anticipation of planting this 180. I then did a

VERY slow fill of the tank by inserting my python into the overflow

box. The common manifold connection allowed the tank to fill mega

slowly by dividing the already slow python flow among the four 1/2"

bulkheads in the body of the aquarium and as a result, the water

was surprising clean and dust free when the fill was complete.

At the moment there are a handful of ramshorn snails (came in on

the plants from the 29/55), one oto and two baby guppies (about

1/2" long) swimming around in this tank. I'm not planning on raiding

any other fish from the 29 or the 55 except for a King Tiger Pleco

now residing in the 55. I'm making a buy from the LFS (as part of

his weekly order) for my initial stocking which will consist of :

12 otos
12 pygmy corys
12 julii corys

with their arrival expected at the end of next week.

Other schooling fish, centerpiece fish, other livestock are up in the

air right now, but there's no rush. I've been down the discus road

in the past (altho not in a planted tank) and I don't think that's the

way I want to go this time so at this point I'm still anticipating the

thrill of selecting and adding more livestock and plants as things


So, that's where things stand as of today. I'm working out the kinks

of my autowaterchanger design and awaiting the inevitable

challenges of cycle and photoperiod selection and all the other

bumps that will arise as this tank matures ... ain't we got fun?

Thanks for looking and I'll be updating as things progress.

Keep Smilin'
John :icon_smil
See less See more
1 - 20 of 68 Posts
WONDERFUL! The acrylic looks great, you did a great job on the repairs -- I definitely wouldn't have the guts to sand like that. but it paid off and you're off to a wonderful start. I look forward to seeing how this will progress!
:proud: Outstanding restoration!!! No matter what happens from here you still got the "Tank of the Month" in my eyes. Well done.

P.S. Get yourself a nice hunk of driftwood for that baby...
What is the device that looks like a doorbell button next to the CO2 reactor?
that is the fabco needle-valve mounted on a piece of plastic I think.

Nice work John. Yes, you do have the planted tank bug quite bad I'd say.

Excellent restoration and deal of the century!

I hope two XP3's is enough flow for you.

Can I suggest dwarf SA cichlids for the tank? Sorry, that is what I like... they are beautiful, tons of personality and great with plants. gl which ever way you go.
Thanks all for the kind words.

footbeat/Macclellan, yes that is the knob for the Fabco needle valve. I've found that having it mounted is so much nicer than chasing it around loose on the airline. ;)

Macclellan: In addition to the 2 xp3's there are 2 MJ900 powerheads with small sponges on the intakes ... lots of flow ... in fact I'm considering taking one of them out but I'll wait till more planting done and things grow in before I decide for good.

Keep Smilin'
John :icon_smil
wow that doesnt even look anything like the what you paid for LOL. awsome job!! I was going buy a used acrylic that was all scratched but didnt think it would turn out nice, maybe i will now!
wow dude , wat a fantastic deal , u can resale it for 1,999,837 to be exact!

U did a great job in repairing it. It looks fantastic, be proud of urself!:cool: :drool:
Good job on the tank. Looks very promising. IMO I would like to see one species of small schooling fish. With all that space you can see their behavior as if in their natural habitat. Inverts like RCS and green neons (if you can find them)would be my choice.
Looking forward to watching this one progress. Nice find!
great effort John! how much time did you spend for all of these works?

I picked up the tank and brought it home on 6.28.07 and "first fill" was 7.26.07.

Yikes! It sure felt like it took longer than that to get it up and running.

Keep Smilin'
John :D
John, It looks amazing and what a deal. I would love to have a tank that large. You may have mentioned it in the first post but what are the dimensions of that tank? Can't wait to see it grown out a bit.
Robg32:it's 72" x 24" x 24"

Keep Smilin'
John :D

It's the morning of the third day and things are clearing up nicely. I'm adding bits and pieces of greenery stolen from the other tanks. Also, I've moved the new pleco (L-066?) from the 55 gal and that's him/her just to the right of top center :fish:

I mentioned in the original post that the initial stocking would be 12 oto, 12 pygmy corys & 12 julii corys. Well, one of my pet peeves is people who do not do what they say they will. Last Thursday, I spoke with the owner of the LFS where I was going to get the initial stock from. we discussed the "what" and he said he'd call me Thurs nite with the "how much" after he looked at his suppliers price list. Well, no call on Thurs nite ... I called him about 2 pm on Fri and he did not have prices yet but promised to call me back "within the hour". Well, on Saturday I purchased some fish from another LFS's instore stock and had the pleasure of calling the original LFS owner late on Sat afternoon to say "don't bother I've made other arrangements". I can deal with whatever you tell me you're going to do ... I may be disappointed that it's not what I want, but I can deal. What I cannot abide is when you tell me something and then don't follow through. I know, in the overall scheme of the world, it's no big deal, but it really is a pet peeve of mine. So anyway, the initial stocking is a little different. As I mentioned earlier, the pleco from the 55 is now in the 180 and in addition I've added 12 more otos, 3 false julii corys & 3 peppered corys. I also bought 4 clown loaches but they went into the 55 to clear up some of the juvenile snails there. I also didn't want to overdo the fish in the 180 till it's a bit more mature. They will be transferred into the 180 a little further down the road.

Again, thanks for all the nice comments and for looking.

Keep Smilin'
John :)
See less See more
Fantastic job!! What a great deal for 100.00 dollars.It looked like a lot of work but you did an AWESOME job.
Thanks for sharing... great job


You have done a great job and should be very proud of the results! You took what could only be described as a disaster and made this a remarkable fish tank! Keep us posted on the automatic water change system, I would be interested in how you solve that one as well.

I would add some big disuss , would look awesome in dat setup
I've been down the discus road

in the past (altho not in a planted tank) and I don't think that's the

way I want to go this time so at this point
From the first post...
1 - 20 of 68 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.