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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
still waiting for the Eleocharis Belem to spread some more, think I should probably start trimming it soon... still needing to get a backdrop of some sort to start taking better photos.

this photo is with the plant grow (reddish) tube turned off and some additional processing in lightroom beyond what I usually do... starting to play around with how I'd want to photograph the tank when I finally get a backdrop in place.

waiting for the belem to fill in, starting to see some hair algae that I need to figure out how to get rid of. the java ferns are going crazy w/ baby plants about to drop off and the anubias have both had a few new leaves open up. More photos on page 6.

Added some Blyxa Japonica a week or so ago, then added some Vallisneria and a pair of German Blue Ram's just the other day. Here's what things are looking like at the moment.

re-graded the substrate and planted the belem (which will hopefully live through USPS' 10-day priority mail adventure).

I moved so I tore down/rescaped the tank and added co2 for the first time. I was battling hair algae for a long time and the baby tears were getting unwieldy so I decided it was time to restart. only plants so far are java fern and a few anubias coffeefolia's waiting for some eleocharis belem to arrive. (more photos on page 5)

trimmed the plants way back, finally got around to hanging the light so I could get it up off the tank higher. looking into replacing some of the stem plants with something a little slower growing as well as adding co2 soon.

blue ram died a few weeks ago due to nitrite levels I believe, tank is out of control with stem plant growth, still combating the spirogyra.

been battling some spirogyra, pruned plants way back and cut ferts while dosing h202 and excel for 4 days. lost 1 rasbora last week, picked up 10 more this week as well as an electric blue ram. Added a cabomba caronliniana plant and a few blyxa japonica as well

ammonia is finally down to a negligible level, I added 3 amano shrimp last week and some fish last night. Starting with 7 Rasbora Espei (porkchops) and 3 Otocinclus. I'll be adding 6 or so more rasbora down the road after things get a little more established.

Starting to see some hair algae so I'm dropping my photo period from 10 hours to 7 hours and starting up dosing Excel and ferts again after a 1 week break so I could make sure my water parameter readings were accurate. Here's hoping I can get it under control.

Cal Aqua Labs inflow and outflow installed, water test today showed nitrites and nitrates at 0 but ammonia is still high for some reason.

Natural and artificial light shots. lots more photos on page 4.

Baby Tears planted, Rotala cut and replanted, Wisteria on left removed, driftwood came out to tie Christmas moss on which resulted in having to rearrange things and rebuild the substrate back up.

PH is still low (~5), Ammonia is still high (~5mg/l), nitrites are low (.3mg/l) seeing some good plant growth, wiped white slime off the driftwood yesterday when I did the second 25% waterchange. I just started dosing pfertz micros, pfertz nitrogen, and seachem excel today.

Tank is first filled, stem plants added, tons of ammonia in the water from the Aquasoil, did a ~30% water change after 12 hours, added some Seachem Prime. Lights are on for 10 hour photo period light yet to be hung, still sitting on top of the tank.


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161 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
this was originally the first post, bumped it down so I could make the focus of the first post tank updates

So I've been holding off on posting a journal because I'm still waiting on my tank to arrive but I've got my stand pretty much totally finished so I figured I'd share.

I took a lot of inspiration for building the tank from malaybiswas' thread here but with a few big tweaks. I built the whole stand out of MDF (for better or for worse, this is my first project, next time I'll use ply) then I laminated the sides and top, and finally I used some locally sourced reclaimed Oregon Black Walnut for the face of it. I'll do a full cost breakdown of the build when I get the tank in but as you can imagine for the stand the walnut was easily the most expensive component and probably tripled the cost of what it had been had I just gone with fully laminating it.

I'm calling this tank Oregon because the wood is Oregon Walnut and the rocks in the tank will be granite with quartz veins from the Oregon coast hopefully, still soaking them and going to test the water for hardness to see how they effect it.

The first thing I did was I taught myself how to use Google Sketch-up so I could render how I wanted the stand to be, unfortunately never having built anything like this before there were some minor allowances I had to make that I hadn't taken into consideration but in the end it all worked out.

The next thing I did was track down a nice piece of black walnut for the face, it was initially ~2" thick and I had it cut down the middle to be bookmatched then had it squared, cut across the top, and had it belt sanded which reduced the overall board thickness to less than 3/4"

I did a lot of reading on woodworking forums to figure out how I wanted to finish the wood, I landed on Danish Oil which is a blend of natural oil to stain it and a light varnish to seal the wood. I had to buy an orbital palm sander and a router (for the laminate) and then I was off and running. I started with 80 grit, then moved to 100, 120, 150, and finally 220 grit before rubbing it down with Watco Danish Oil. Each piece of the face got 3 coats of the Oil waiting about a day between each coat.

This is what the face pieces looked like after they were all finished:

At the same time I was working on finishing the wood I was working on the stand with the help of my dad who used to be a carpenter years ago.

note our expert use of Ikea storage containers in place of a real workbench :D

adding 2x2's for support:

scoring the laminate:

laminate glued on the sides w/ contact cement:

flush-routing the laminate:

after the laminate was applied to the top and routed we cut hand/hose holes in the sides with a jigsaw. I ordered some cable trap grommet's for routing wires on a desk from this company Mold Rite My desk at work has these same grommets so I tested my 1/2" eheim hoses in the holes and it fit perfectly.

The part I don't have any photos of that probably caused us the most grief of the entire project was mounting the euro-style hinges. Because the thickness of the walnut doors was a little thinner than the thickness of the 3/4" MDF sides the hinges weren't aligning properly. We ended up having to route out the hinges on one side of it at unequal depths to get it lined up properly... all said and done though there's just a little bit of unevenness in the gaps above the doors but I'm totally alright with it.

I also ended up coating all of the exposed mdf I could get to with a few coats of polyurethane varnish after reading how terrible mdf is around moisture, hopefully this will protect it from swelling well enough if it gets some drips here and there.

That's it for now, I'll do a write-up of all of the gear I'm using once my tank arrives. I'm also trying to figure out the best way to mount some 3/4" square-tubing to the back of the cabinet so I can hang my light fixture.

Thanks for taking a look, please keep checking back :)

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
SWEET book match and the finish looks great, details, details, details, get all those gaps straight and in line. Those hinges should make easy work of any adjustments.

Can't wait to see with a tank on top!!!
really?? I can't figure out how to adjust the hinges for the life of me, we've messed with them for a good long while and this is the closest we came. The left door is actually bowed just ever so slightly so you can see from the side view that it's pulling away a bit at the top.

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
you should give that walnut a tung/poly finish .... looks fantastic
I'm going to make a coffee table out of the same wood and I think I'm starting to experiment with doing a satin poly finish but I'm a little worried the poly is going to be way too glossy (even in satin) for my liking. I'm still considering it, I just don't know how well the wood would take to tung oil after already sealing it with Danish oil... have to do some experimenting but I'm not ruling out trying to do that while it's in place at a later date.

that wood you used on the front pannel is nice love the grain but with that laminate it throws me off. why not do the complete stand using the same wood? It still looks good
Hopefully it will make more sense once you see it in place. It's going in the corner of the living room sort of behind the end of our sectional so the sides won't be as visible as the front of it. Honestly not making the whole thing out of it was mostly a matter of cost and not wanting to screw up badly on my first project and waste a bunch of walnut. For perspective, the MDF sheet was ~$30, the laminate was another ~$30, and the black walnut board for the face was $90 + $50 to have it book matched + $~40 to have it squared and belt-sanded.... It was going over budget pretty quickly, still far far cheaper than an ADA stand and much more rewarding building it myself.
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