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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Welcome to my Journal Thread! The title will be self-explanatory after a while, but in the meantime, an important disclaimer:

You may see things in this thread that have your common sense screaming "NOOOOOO" from the depths of your brain. If you see such things and have such a reaction, but choose to mimic/follow them anyway, I assume no responsibility for loss of your tank or fish or plants or floor or foundation or house or marriage or any other adverse actions that may occur. You have been warned!

OK, that's a little tongue-in-cheek, but, I just wanted to bring it up because working with tanks of this size and the accompanying volume of water/weight can be exceptionally hazardous if you don't exercise some common sense. So, please, "let's be careful out there!"

OK - Now for some fun!

History - Bought this 72"x18"x 28" tank used from a nice gentleman out in the country, who had moved the tank out of a basement biology lab for his daughter years ago. Daughter grew up and didn't want the tank any more, and they are wayyyy out of town, so he was selling it for a really good price. We did the hour drive out with my two strong boys, and with them and the help of the gentleman's Kubota Tractor we got it loaded into my truck and back home.

Hmm, no stand, OK...I know there's some build threads here but before I found this forum I found this really informative thread on DIY Stand design. Some serious engineering discussion (like, from actual engineers) in here, including what makes a good build:

Reef 2 Reef - DIY 72" Stand

My own design needed to be over-engineered, because I knew I would be rolling the tank on piano dollies to move it and needed the stand to be able to handle lateral motion with minimal flexing. So - my design:

Wheel Bicycle Tire Wood Rectangle


Plant Building Wood Fixture Wheel



Once built, I backed my truck up to the porch. I designed the height of the stand so that I would be able to work in this deep a tank and still have a bit of clearance at my arm pit. ;)

Just so happened that, on two piano dollies, the height of the stand matched my tailgate exactly!

When does that ever happen? ;)

So, once again, I recruit the boys (and to get it started, a little block & tackle rig to pull the plywood "sled" the tank sat on out from the bed far enough for the boys to get behind it):

Car Automotive lighting Plant Vehicle Wood


Supervisory cat is optional. :LOL:

So rolling the tank in after we got it on the stand was actually fairly easy. Then we just carefully lifted each end and pulled the dollies out one at a time.

Brown Furniture Building Wood Couch


A word about weight--This could easily weigh 1,500 pounds or more filled. This is the "old" (1981) part of the house--subfloor is 2x6" Tongue-in-groove with a generous substructure--it handled a Grand Piano just fine, thank you, so it can handle this. The "new" (1990) addition to the house is engineered wood I-beams and a lot more clearspan underneath. When I had my 75 set up on that side of the house I did take some of the weight with a house screw jack on a paver.

More to come...
 

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I have a couple stands built like that here for my smaller tanks. You may want to consider adding a couple diagonals to the back of the stand or anchoring it to the studs in the wall with blocks in between to provide room for plumbing. The reason i say this is given the location, if someone were to trip and fall against the tank (even full) it could topple the stand. The design is very strong on the vertical but is weak in a side load situation. If you do a leak test even with the tank half full and jiggle it from the end you will see what i mean. Hate to see it take a dive for the lack of a couple 2x4s. Oh, and welcome to the six foot tank club and planted tanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
I have a couple stands built like that here for my smaller tanks. You may want to consider adding a couple diagonals to the back of the stand or anchoring it to the studs in the wall with blocks in between to provide room for plumbing. The reason i say this is given the location, if someone were to trip and fall against the tank (even full) it could topple the stand. The design is very strong on the vertical but is weak in a side load situation. If you do a leak test even with the tank half full and jiggle it from the end you will see what i mean. Hate to see it take a dive for the lack of a couple 2x4s. Oh, and welcome to the six foot tank club and planted tanks!
Thank you, that's a very valid point, and I was indeed concerned about the torsional stability until I tested it...there's more strength there than it looks like...STILL, you're right that could be a weakness and always better safe than sorry! That'll be rectified easily when I skin the stand. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So, a long-held "Cheapskate" staple for large-volume of exchange-friendly substrate has been baked clay. It often can be found under the name of "Oil-Dri," or "Safe-T-Sorb," found at your local Tractor or Farm supply store. You can find it in Cat Litter form too, but I've always eschewed those choices because to me it's harder to tell if anything "unfriendly" (perfumes, caking agents) has been added to it. Note that you still "roll the dice" using this stuff because there's great variation in the quality/characteristics based on what manufacturing plant it comes out of. It rarely rinses clear no matter how much water you put through it and can sometimes break down. This is why I always recommend a generous inert sand cap on it.

Wood Floor Rectangle Flooring Automotive exterior
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
So I've often used quartz sand-blasing sand as a cap. But I'd heard good things about this so I thought I'd try...

Coal Slag, huh? Who'da thunkit? Yes, it is inert and safe for an aquarium.

Plant Gesture Finger Thumb Wrist


Goes by the name brand of "Black Diamond" blasting sand. Like the clay, you can find it at a tractor or farm supply store.

This stuff is AWESOME!

Cheap, rinses clear, is heavy and dense so it actually holds my stem plants in while they're rooting (I always had "floaters" with the quartz stuff). Get the "medium" (20/40) grade.

On initial fill, my water was the clearest I've ever had it. Impressive!

Contrary to popular opinion, sandblasting sand is not sharp--it shouldn't be. Sharp edges would actually "break" off in-process and result in an untenable amount of dust generation. My Loaches and Corys have always loved the quartz sand and I'll be interested to see how they react to this stuff.

Wood Stairs Flooring Floor Composite material


...Paving Tool. ;)

Wood Rectangle Floor Bumper Hardwood


I have a generous "cap" of 3-4" of the Black Diamond over about 2" of the baked clay (I sometimes replant so wanted some extra insurance in the cap). For a 72" x 18" tank it took:

(2) 40-lb bags of Safe-T-Sorb
(4) 50-lb bags of Black Diamond

All told, about $70 for 280-lbs of substrate. Well worth the hour drive to Tractor Supply Co.! :cool:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Now, about that Dragon...

I looked high and low for driftwood specimens large enough to scale well in such a large tank, and on my fifth LFS visit to a store in Boise I finally found some decently large pieces of Mopani wood. Pricier than I'd like but at least they were hardwood and pretty. I'd intended to put several pieces together in one composition, but, on putting one piece in and weighting the back down with another waterlogged piece from my low-tech low light "Java Fern Greenhouse" aquarium, well...this is what it looked like...

Water Organism Plant Aquatic plant Fish supply


...and all my previous compositional ideas went completely out the window! :ROFLMAO:

I don't have a large enough vessel to soak pieces this big, so they're in the tank as the plants acclimate and I'll just do big water changes until they settle down.
 

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Another option is to get some natural slate wall tiles and drill a hole through the center and screw it to the bottom at the angle you want with stainless steel screws. It will make the wood stay on the bottom and make it stable until its waterlogged.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Another option is to get some natural slate wall tiles and drill a hole through the center and screw it to the bottom at the angle you want with stainless steel screws. It will make the wood stay on the bottom and make it stable until its waterlogged.
That's one to remember! Wish I had done that at the outset with this piece--when it got watterlogged it went nose down and I had to add a rock on the base to ballast it, lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Initial planting. My hope is I'll be able to trim the Java Fern into an understory when the Swords on the right (several in background, behind the dragon) come into their own. From a previous experiment, I'm toying with the idea of overlapping 48" fixtures to leave a little drop off in light intensity on the sides for Java Fern and maybe some other low-medium light plants. Another reason for this is down the road I'm considering Discus, and I wanted the aquascape to allow some "shaded" areas for them to escape to when the lighting is cycled to full-growth photoperiod.

Is that enough hair-brained ideas yet? :ROFLMAO:

Water Plant Pet supply Aquatic plant Terrestrial plant


My Finnex 24/7 ALC came in, and Aaronious was right in his response on my lighting post--it will take two. What you see here is the Finnex at full brightness with an LED shop light added to approximate the brightness of two. I took some really rough measurements with a lux app (can't afford a meter), and at 24", on-axis in open air, the shop light is 2400 lux, the Finnex 2900. Running both gets the brightness to 5500 lux or so. Using a lux->par calculator I'm estimating between 40-50 PAR at full brightness for just the Finnex alone. With two I should theoretically be able to hit 70-90 PAR.

...Theoretically. ;)
 

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How long is the Finnex? The ends of the tank look pretty dark. I have a suggestion on lights that will cover the whole tank, but are not big box store brand. I have them on my display. They are straight 10K LEDs sold by a company in Texas called 21 LED. If you call them they will sell you the 72” lights in 10K as they don‘t have them listed on the website. You will still need 2 lights but you will have full coverage and excellent penetration to the bottom. I have mine 12” off the water and run at 85%. The controllers are worth the extra money as it gives you ramp up and down. Maybe use the current fixture for another tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
How long is the Finnex? The ends of the tank look pretty dark. I have a suggestion on lights that will cover the whole tank, but are not big box store brand. I have them on my display. They are straight 10K LEDs sold by a company in Texas called 21 LED. If you call them they will sell you the 72” lights in 10K as they don‘t have them listed on the website. You will still need 2 lights but you will have full coverage and excellent penetration to the bottom. I have mine 12” off the water and run at 85%. The controllers are worth the extra money as it gives you ramp up and down. Maybe use the current fixture for another tank.
That's a really neat source! Yeah after having the programmability I think I'd find it hard to not have some way to ramp the lights. I think that's wayyy better than the battery of "interrogation lights" I'd have Clack on loudly with some big timer/relay a long while ago. :p

The Finnex is 48". I don't mind it being slightly dark at the edges if I can make it transition naturally, but yes this is too dark. I was thinking of adding two 36" ALC's side-by-side and behind so I can get the back corners as well. Was also considering an additional "spot" 20-incher or so over the foreground where the carpet is.

So you've had good results with the 10K? Judging from your awesome Journal thread? :cool:
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
I got an FX4 off ebay for pretty cheap--catch being there was no filter media and no plumbing. Media was easy--really not that pricey for the stock stuff from the LFS and if you wanted to save more money I've used off-brands before as well. For the plumbing, I wanted something I could easily splice into and add on to later...with some flexibility. I read on a reef forum some guy used pond tubing, which is really easy to work with, but after looking at it I was skeptical about running that much water through it in an indoor setup. I did find this, however:

Bicycle tire Wood Grass Plant Bicycle handlebar


Schedule 40 Spa tubing. It's flexible, strong, and is easy to weld into a system with standard fittings. The 1" stuff happens to fit all the main FX4 fittings well, too:

Automotive tire Wood Rim Gas Automotive wheel system


The extra is there to plumb in my reactor and sterilizer later. I did boil the ends to soften the tubing a bit before I squeezed it on and clamped it to the Aquastop valves.

Purple Textile Thigh Gas Human leg


I do think I need a better hanging apparatus. ;)

No leaks...well, at least none after I welded the one joint that did leak on first try--turns out I completely forgot to cement the output riser to the elbow. I was lucky the pump didn't blow the thing clear off! :rolleyes:

Loving the FX4. I'm using the stock Fluval spray bar and intake. Moves a lot of water but gently throughout the whole tank. The pump itself is nearly silent...sounds more like I have a faucet on outside than anything else. It'll probably be completely quiet once I skin the stand. My water's looking nicely clear from running with the polishing pad the last 24 hours.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
A cautionary tale....

Have had the filter going with "canary" fish from the other tank for a week. Water parameters were looking really good. So we went to the LFS store and bought some more stock: 4 Clown loaches to keep our solitary one company, a dozen Congo Tetras, and a very pretty (and exotic-ly pricey) Green Phantom Pleco.

This happened to me a long time ago, but I'm kicking myself for not remembering...

Just because you're not running CO2, doesn't mean you don't need to agitate or otherwise get some O2 exchange at night.

I was figuring adding airstones or additional surface flow at night when I plumbed in CO2 next month. I guess I kinda figured, "The tank isn't that heavily planted yet...I'm not injecting CO2, everything will be fine..."

When I had my 90, I'm now remembering, it wasn't heavily planted either to start with, but, it was a deep tank at 24" and this one is deeper. And I still was lighting pretty heavy to start with.'

Those "small amount of plants" still respirate at night...as do the fish, everything is using up O2.

So, got woken up this morning by a worried wife saying "there was a problem with the tank." Sure enough, lots of fish gasping at the surface, with one adult Angelfish on his side and probably already gone.

I adjusted my spraybar for more agitation, and this afternoon set up a timer power bar with some circulating pumps to churn things up even further when the "extra" light goes out.

But, paid a price for my foolishness: Lost a Kuhli Loach, that Adult Angelfish, and also the Phantom Pleco. 😪 Fortunately all the Clown Loaches and Tetras (and the small contingent of remaining fish) made it.
 

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Man that really sucks!!! 😔 we lost a green phantom plec just as we got him too... turned out a blessing in disguise because in retrospect the tank would have been too small for him. But we were so sad.
 

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In my 29g I run an air stone just because. It's non CO2 but I'm old school and it's a small pump that's USB. It runs in the corner of the tank cut back. You can't see it because of the plants There's no sound ether. If power goes out I can plug a power pack in to it. I know I don't need it
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Ugly Emergency Hack #2...

I'm leaving on a business trip for a few days...Wife noticed (by now you're probably wondering how I ever tell if there's a problem with my tank without having the wife around), "it looks like the Angelfish has ick...and look this loach has it too...."

Yep... :rolleyes:

No time to finish the elegant (read "beautifully complicated") low-flow external plumbing loop I'd planned for the UV sterilizer. In a previous build, however, I had the sterilizer plumbed up into the hood with a return spraybar extending down into the tank. So, when you already have the parts:

Water Plant Grass Terrestrial plant Gas


Plant Fines herbes Grass Filter Gas


I'd fortunately ordered a new UV bulb (going on faith that the durned thing still worked), and had just cleaned all the gunk off of the quartz sleeve, so the sterilizer was actually ready to go. :cool:

Temperature was already a nice 78 degrees F, so bumped it up a little more. Hopefully this will get us on our way to beating back the Eee-vil protozoan interlopers.
 
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