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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So for those of you who I haven't had the pleasure of chatting with yet, my name is Joshua and I am an undergrad here in Louisiana studying Electrical Engineering. I've kept planted tanks for about 3 years now, although I had a 1 year break in between. Before that I had a 75 gallon african cichlid tank.

I've been on both sides of the spectrum starting with a low light, low tech, 75 gallon where my plants did not thrive. No co2, and no fertilization, and low light led to very leggy plants that lacked luster, color, and sheen.

Now having been back in the hobby for almost a year now, I took the plunge into high tech, co2 enriched, highly fertilized, high light waters, and I love it. Its great being able to throw just about anything into a tank and get it to grow. And so this high tech 20 gallon has been running about 6 months and is doing great.

Now wouldn't you know it, my wonderful girlfriend who at first was a little taken back with my hobby, ended up wanting to upgrade my tank for me for Christmas. So I've searched around and found a 60 gallon breeder for $60 from a local (36"L x 20"H x 19"W). They looked so nice and such a great size for where I'm at in life that.... I bought 2 of them. 1 for the display and 1 for the sump/refugium.

Main idea of this tank comes from my engineering mindset, efficiency is key. If I can build something to do a particular task for me, then why not?

Second idea of this tank is that it will probably be in my living room when I get married, so display worthy is a must.

Things I plan on automating:



-Water changes

-Auto top off

-LCD display showing temp, time, and ph levels.


-DIY Dimmable t5ho based off of Dark Cobra's Build. 6 bulb fixture 36" with ice cap reflectors.


With this build, I plan on using my first sump filtration system. After reading hours and hours worth of articles online, I figure that this will give me the best options for automation.


I'll post links with the parts at the bottom of this post.

Decided against the CPR overflow, I want a bullet proof system, and after talking with another guy over at TPT, I've decided that I will be drilling the tank. However, it will not be drilled in the standard way.

I want a system that will be very quiet, co2 efficient, and bullet proof in regards to structure and flooding. Because of this, Bean animal really caught my eye, its a great system, that is very safe and reliable and introduces very little to no air via the overflows. Overall, it sounds like the way to go.

However, my next dilemna was how can I make this look good and take as little space as possible? This is going to be a display tank, so I really don't want a big ole overflow box taking up a bunch of space on my back wall. A buddy, by the name of crazymittens here on TPT, had the solution. Use an internal/external overflow setup.

Basically you drill the tank like normal with holes, However, You also build an external box that will also have holes drilled into the bottom which is where the actual bulkheads will be located. From there you can do everything else like a normal Bean animal build. On the inside instead of a big overflow box, he just made maybe a 1.5" at most glass box overflow. Slapped a little prefilter guard for fish, and bam, high quality, safe, asthetically pleasing overflow system.

Once I get more details, I'll make sure to post them here.

Internal/External Overflow

Here are some pics describing the setup. Credit to crazymittens here on TPT. Let me know if you'd like me to take down the pics.

Mine will have 3 holes drilled like at 2 3/8" equally spaced on my 19" side. Here is my autocad drawing demonstrating the dimensions.

Sump design

Just about have everything I need to make this setup, including the marinepure filter media. Lol, I bought 2x (8"x8"x4") blocks. Each one is rated to filter 500 gallons of water alone. So basically this plus my poret filter foam walls and the added BB from the refugium will give me water clarity very close to that of a wet/dry setup.

I will be using an Eheim 1260 as the return pump and hard plumb it with flexible pvc.

In addition, I'm thinking also about leaving room for a housefilter purigen reactor setup. Although this would be a luxury item that I'll leave room for but work on later.

Lastly I still have to leave room for whatever types of auto top off and auto water change system I will use. This is very much still in the design stages. I will update this post as things progress. Please look at the new sump designs below

Good sump links:

40 breeder wet dry setup:

​wet dry discussion:

My sump design discussion:

internal/external overflow system:

River Manifold System

More to come.....


Fertilization will be controlled with a pic18 microcontroller and use 3 peristallic pumps to dose fertilizers each day. More on this to come.

Riverscape with dark rocks and manzy branches. Probably play sand mixed with pool sand as the substrate along with various rocky pebbles.

Inspirational links:

Price List

Costs left for tank
-River Manifold System??$$?
-eheim 1260 return pump- $170
-Ice cap reflectors x6 - $180
-hardscape materials - $120
-Glass pieces as quote by local glass shop - $85

total left: $775


Will have to be a custom build in order to incorporate the odd sizing of the 60 gallon tank and also be able to fit the 60 gallon sump.


As of right now, for at least a few months of the tanks life, it will be shrimp only until everything stables out/ I make all the final arrangements.

My goal is to make a "community tank" of shrimp that won't interbreed, and that "could" potentially survive with small fish.

Shrimp species to note:

Caridina sp "Dark Green"

Malawa Shrimp

Tangerine Tiger Shrimp

Amano shrimp

Blue Diamond/Dark Blue Cherry Shrimp

After a while once the algae in the tank matures, I will add gobies and hillstreams to the tank.

More than likely this will be a yearlong plus project. But I look forward to the challenge. I'll try and keep this initial post updated as time goes on in order to better keep track of all the parts of this complex system to be. Also posted will be links to helpful topics or discussions that brought me to my decisions on the tank.

Last updated: 3/27/2014

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Awesommmmee. I was wondering when i'd see a journal pop up for this tank! Seems like you have a pretty solid plan. All of my sumps are designed like this, with the exception of the internal/external overflow, which is a great idea. Can't wait to see this come together!
Thanks Duck, yeah I figured it would be good to have a place where all of my thoughts are stored together... I have so many DIY projects going on I'd get overwhelmed if I didnt haha. Do you find that forcing the water to go up through the filter media is effective? I'm worried that it will clog up and end up by passing my media? does that happen often? Yeah I'm pretty psyched about the internal external shindig, I think in the long run it'll be pretty sweet. Especially to have something skimming the film that collects on top.


Awesome build! Those dimensions are great! Nice room to work with.
Keep us updated!

Thanks Mike, Yeah I think its gonna be great. Just a smidgen bigger than a 40 breeder and a good bit taller. So hopefully lots of room for my stems to get big and lush. Will do sir!


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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hey Duck, thanks so much for the input on the sump layout. Do you think that my current design would not work well? Do you think I could just reverse the current filter media layout and still have the media chamber first, but having it use gravity to its advantage? I would optimally like to keep my refugium in the middle for display purposes.
Thanks again,

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well thanks Duck,
I really appreciate the feedback. I'm honestly really excited to see this come together. I've already purchased the poret foam blocks and pads, and I just got in my two 8x8x4" marine pure filter media sump blocks. Each block has enough surface area to support 500 gallons a PIECE. So my fishes will have pristine water conditions. Especially once I get my drip water change system implemented. Thats the goal anyway haha.

So I think over spring break I'm going to setup my sump tank and try to get that squared away with all the baffles and drilling for the drip drain.

I've also made an executive decision to sell one of my 60 gallons that would have been used for the display and get a custom 75 gallon with starphire glass front and sides. So the new dimensions will be (36"Lx24"Wx20"H) So I'm thinking with that added depth, I will put the internal overflow along the back. With it only being 1" Thick, the box won't stick out very much and with 24" in front to back depth, who cares about 1" at the very top of the tank.

Reasoning for doing this:
1. I'm going to be spending alot of time building this custom stand and custom light fixture so I want to make sure that I won't have the desire to upgrade for some several years to come.
2. I've already spent $60 on the tank and would be looking at $100+ for the glass to replace the front panel with starphire and to eurobrace everything.
3. It would take alot of time and effort to replace the front panel and all that jazz and well I'm in college for electrical engineering and a full time girlfriend (and job) and don't have a whole lot of extra time to do too many big projects.
4. If I'm gonna spend $200+ on a tank, I'd rather spend it on a professionally done new tank not fixing up a used one.

So all in all I will sell 1 60 gallon and then use that money plus what I would save by not getting the extra glass and put it towards a professionally built custom tank. Rimless of course ;) Its also my birthday on May 5th, so hopefully I can make that swing.

What say you?

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Decided not to go with the upgrade haha, $500 for a tank is just not viable right now. So I'm gonna stick with the dual 60's. Should be plenty big enough for my space.

Plans for the summer:
1. Farm out my buces.
2. Swap out front pane of glass for starphire on the 60 gallon. (Quote from the glass shop around $80)
3. Drill display for overflow.
4. Setup up Sump.
5. Build Stand.

If I can get all that done, then all I'll have left is to build the light fixture.

I've started to think on a different train of thought for this tank. Instead of a strictly buce only sp tank. I'm very much considering, building a river manifold and doing a hillstream goby and loach tank.
I would setup a very natural looking river scape with rocks and my manzy, and then blast as much light into the tank to get that nice algae layer for the gobies and loaches to munch on. I would still scape it with crypts, buces and anubias, but focus less on the plants, and more on the fish. Not positive on that front, but I plan on setting up the tank to where either option would be possible.

Also thinking about trying my hand at breeding different goby and loach sp. I'll have about a 25 gallon refugium in the sump that should work nicely for that. And then a 10 gallon for fry rearing.

What do yall think?

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