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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey Planted tank!

I've been a lurker on build sites for the longest time, taking motivation from other's builds, information,etc. (not just planted tanks, but in many things). I love DIY, but have decided for once to give back here and build some consistency/diligence by keeping this journal.

Some initial background - I've kept reptiles & amphibians for years as a younger kid. Once I got into college, I rehomed everything and left the hobby. Last Christmas, my wife got me a fish tank (20H), and I fell very deep into planted community tanks. I love the ability to create such intricate little worlds, and in my opinion fish are so much more interesting to watch!

I quickly got more tanks and more fish. Right now, I have a 40 breeder show tank (Apistos (aggie), cardinal tetras, kuhlis, oto's, 2 honey gouramis, harlequin rasboras, NC shrimp), 20H, 20L, and 5 gal portrait. After lots of experimentation and learning, I am ready to build my first serious attempt for a larger aquascape.

150? Gallon tank build plan:

The Tank:

150 gallon (48x24X31) that I got an AMAZING deal on. I love the footprint, but not the height. Holds water fine, has very nice thick 1/2" glass. Some scratches, but figure it'd be a great start before shelling out and buying a waterbox (dream aquarium). I want to prove to myself that I'll enjoy a tank of this size and can manage it well before spending that type of money.

First question!!! Although it holds water, P.O. housed water dragons in it prior, and I was planning to reseal the whole thing. Since I will be tearing the tank apart anyways, and there is a respected glass shop near me, would it be worth it to have them chop off 4-5 in to have a more reasonable tank height? Really considering it, will definitely help with overall image and especially maintenance/lighting. Then planning to minimize the profile of the brace on top, might use the leftover glass and make a euro brace.

The Stand:
Built a 2x4 stand frame using King of DIY's frame video. Bought 1/2" primed MDO to finish the cabinet, and have some leftover 3/4" HDO from a different project for the tank to sit on. Planning to paint it black.

Lighting:
After doing hours of research, I am thinking that building my own LED's is the direction I will go. Shoutout to @Fissure and @jeffkrol for their wealth of knowledge and builds here in this forum. Especially if I don't do any shortening of the tank - 31" of water is going to be a beast to grow a carpet on. If I end up chopping the tank down, will probably cut back a bit on the # of LED's. Still think I'll be better with DIY though for coverage and plant growth.

Currently planning:
Bluefish LED controller
4x 1120MM 5700K Bridgelux EB strips
4x 280mm 5000K EB Strips
4x 280mm 4000k EB Strips
Some RGB strips for fancy fun colors.
probably mean well drivers
found some free office lights (4x2) that I will use as a housing and suspend them.

Filtration:
Still need to do research here. Was planning on a single FX6, but now I am beginning to question if that will be enough... But it is important to me to manage aesthetics with function. I don't want a monstrosity of hardware visible in the tank. Never built a sump before - but I am pretty handy. Just dont want to lose out on cabinet space. I keep live blackworms, and plan to keep their little tote underneath this aquarium.

CO2:
Currently, in my tanks I just run the ole baking soda/citric acid reactor, but imagine that this will not at all suffice for a tank of the size I am building. Found someone nearby selling a 20lb tank and regulator and fx6 for cheap, but it's a bit
of a drive.

Substrate:
Planning on 5x 9L bags ADA Amazonia Ver 2 and 4 bags of Seachem Flourite (or similar colored clay substitute), and maybe some larger filter bagged gravel to raise the substrate up a bit where I want height. finally, a natural colored sand cap in the front.

Plants:
Will update later. Currently shifted a few of my tanks around to be grow out tanks ahead of time to help save on plant cost


Fish:
I am a huge fan right now of smaller community fish, so planning on moving my stock from other tanks, as well as adding a small school of galaxy rasboras, a set of Amanos, a few more tetra schools, and gold ring danios.


Bear with me - but I will definitely add pictures in time here! I want to do this build right, and not rush things through, but I tend to be a very impatient person so as one forum member put it - I will be receiving therapy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
12/29/2021 update:

So I called up the glass shop near me - nice older gentleman with years of experience was happy to help cut down the tank. I disassembled the tank last night, and brought the glass over this morning. New finished size will be 25 in high. He is also polishing all the edges and cleaning everything up. Only wanted like $75!
I ordered a few tubes of ASI sealant and will be planning to use injection. Prior there was barely a hair of silicone in the joints, glass was pretty much butted up joints. Not too good!!! Ended up with a few corner chips on some of pieces, but this ended up being removed with the shortening!
If my calcs are correct, this will now be a 120 gallon tank :).
Pardon the mess! First pic shows the tank and various driftwood pieces I plan to use. The bracing was cracked in a number of places anyways, so planning on making an aluminum upper frame with a removable center brace. Undecided on the bottom, but might just lay down a pad and just go with a small matching aluminum frame around the bottom for some support/cosmetics.

Also found a great deal, and backup (if something goes wrong trying to build the 120) 75 gallon setup, stand, 20lb CO2 tank with regulator, and an FX6. Will be picking all that up tomorrow morning.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
1/2/2022 Update:

Happy New Year!!! Alright so an update for tonight - typing while I have a moment! Tank glass was (somewhat) successfully cut down to size. Only gripe I have is that the shop cut one piece a little shorter than the others - about 1/4 in. Not too terrible but won't be using that fellow anymore and will see if I can get a refund or some remediation. Lowe's guarantees cuts to an 1/8".... New tank size is 48"L x 24"W x 25"H.

Huge update though for tech - as mentioned found a great deal on some barely used tech - an FX6 with all hardware, a Fluval 3.0 Planted tank light, and a 20lb CO2 bottle (completely full) with CO2 Art regulator and diffuser - all for $200. Guy was moving to Arizona for work, and had a knifefish that killed everything else in the tank and he was done with it. I ended up passing on the tank itself. I ended up breaking the diffuser though by throwing it on the floor - didn't realize I had it in my hand with some hosing . Planning a Cerge's Reactor though so doesn't matter too much to me.



Spent a portion of Saturday collecting rock for the aquarium. I really like the look of Seiryu/Ying stone, which is just a form of limestone (as I understand). More specifically, I like grey stones with white accents/ veins. Limestone is extremely common up north here where I am, and I imagine throughout most of the US. But - these stones are mainly calcium and carbonates - which will raise your GH and KH. You can find a ton of info out on these, but in my geological research - I also found another potential -shale. Very common as well - but less reactive. I looked up a geological map of my county, and then looked for shale/limestone near common rivers, streams, etc. I also went out on a rainy day - you can have a better idea what the rocks will look like in your aquarium when they are wet! Pro tip - you can take your Nitrate bottle #1 from your master test kit to get an idea of how "reactive" a stone will be in the slightly acidic waters we like to keep. put a drop on a clean section of rock, wait to see how quick/how much it fizzles.



Found a haul of good stuff very close to me, which was awesome. I ended up settling on what I'd imagine to be about 150 lbs of shale, and 50 lbs of limestone (1 huge centerpiece which weighs around 100lbs). Shale did react a tad to the acid test, but very slowly after like 10-15 seconds and only a few little bubbles. Limestone obviously reacted a lot. I don’t have a pressure washer at home, but took it to a self service car wash to blast them clean!






Also took the time to convert my 40 breeder to a plant growing/driftwood sinking tank while I continue my build. super excited to get on with Hardscaping!

Tomorrow evening I am planning to reassemble the tank. Using ASI sealant - they rate it for up to 700 gal tanks or something wild like that - think it will do just fine for the 130 gallons I'll have.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Alright!!! Long time in the making here, but made a lot of progress the last 2 weeks( or whenever my last update was!).

Tank:
- Successfully re-assembled the tank using silicone injection. I used 1/16” spacers (which is roughly 3mm IIRC, right in line with the recommended thickness), along with corner braces. I taped the edges for a 3/8” seal seam with the silicone and each pane of glass. With such a small gap, a lot of silicone was ending up outside the joint, so I injected and sealed it in the same step. Pro tip - silicone skins after 5 to 10 min. After that - don’t touch it lol. Forgot that and boogered up the skin on one of the corner seams. Not enough to bother, but annoying nonetheless. Went through a tube and a half on the whole aquarium! If you look closely in this photo, you can see that 1/4” miss I mentioned in the earlier post. This will be hidden by the frame. I left it to cure for a week.



While the aquarium cured, I added the plywood to the stand frame. There will end up being a bit more lip than I originally wanted, but I forgot that I would wrap the frame in 1/2” ply all around when I was building it. Oh well.

Now - I had to figure something out for the bracing/frame. I’m sure some will chime in with concern, but with the injection, while it is stronger silicone than original, I did lose a tad bit of “sealing surface”, as before it had the glass butted up against itself. It is 1/2” glass, but now the sealing surface on the base is effectively 7/16 now instead of 1/2”. Also, want that safety factor at the top. Given that I changed the overall size, and that I hate plastic, those plastic braces were out of the question. As mentioned - I am very handy, but I have limited experience working with metal. Buttttt - aluminum angle looked very nice, and would also allow me the option of a removable center brace. So - time to learn how to braze!!! Actually was quite easy!!! (Checking for any wood workers - no - okay) I also liked aluminum because I could easily cut it on my miter saw since it is soft. Opted for 1 in angle aluminum, 1/8” thick. It took me a couple tries to get the frame angled right to fit over the aquarium, but got it all together on my third try. Not the prettiest, but planning to get some steel weld filler to fill any extra gaps and then prime and paint it! Used my drill tap to drill holes into the center brace and thread in some small screws to hold it in place, and also be able to remove it. Not as fancy as customaquariums framing, but works for me!!!





Now - the exciting moment! Filling the tank! I moved the behemoth into my utility room and filled it up this morning! Took over an hour to fill, but so far so good!!! Planning to leak test for 2 days, then will move it to the stand!!!




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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you!!! Gettting super anxious to start building the actual scape, but definitely don’t want to rush or skip anything!!!


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So fun to watch. Admire your DYI spirit! Curious what river you collected stones from. Often thought of collecting stones in our woods or on our brooks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The creek I got these from is called Tulpehocken Creek. Just a tad smaller than some of the rivers in the area. I think most important was cross referencing the geological maps, so you know what you’re grabbing and what to expect. Searching next to rivers just makes it easy so you don’t have to dig, and water will have softened and eroded edges to gives things a natural look!


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