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Making a Comeback

4250 Views 30 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  cg49me
After a 5ish year hiatus from the hobby, I'm diving back in! My last planted tank was super-low tech 75 gal. I'm upping the complexity this time around, but still not planning on breaching into "high-tech" territory. ...at least not right away...

This was the first weekend I had time to spend on things. I'd been hoping to at least get started on the first stand, but life got in the way. So, for this inaugural post, I'll just lay out my plans with some not-so-interesting pictures.

Initially, I was going to go with a 20 gal long shrimp breeder and a 75 gal show. The closest place to buy tanks off the shelf is a PetSmart about 30 min away, and I wanted to have the tanks on hand for measurements before I started on the stands (didn't quite trust the advertised numbers), so Saturday morning I was off to buy some glass boxes. Got there, and they were fresh out of 75's, and the 20 looked smaller in person than I'd been envisioning (especially for the over-engineered stands I'm putting together), so I ended up leaving with a 40 gal, and I'll check back next week to see when they get another 75 in. Also, after mulling it over for all of an hour, I've decided that, once I get these two tanks running smoothly, I'm going to source a 125 gal, and hopefully satiate my no-longer-dormant MTS.

Here's where the breeder tank is going - it'll be in the entry flush with the bottom of the stairs.



The 75 is going to the left of the TV, against the same wall. That pile of crap, which has been there for pretty much the entire 3 years I've been in the house, will be moved to an ulterior location, from which I'll undoubtedly have to relocate it again some day when I want to put some other project in that yet-to-be-determined area.



The 125, when the time comes, will be located behind the couch, in perfect feline leaping distance of the tower on the right.



I got the 40 home and placed in on the floor in the location it'll eventually rest (on a stand, of course), just to get an idea of how it'll flow. I think it'll be nice - an immediate eye-catcher when people walk in, and something for the lucky occupant of the recliner to be distracted to.



Whether or not Vince approves is yet to be determined. No points for guessing where he's been playing ALL weekend long...



The advertised measurements for the 40 were dead-on (surprise surprise), so I roughed the frame plans for the stand, and had intended on today being the beginning of fabrication. I finally managed to get to Lowe's around 6:30 this evening, and had other things yet that necessitated doing, so no cutting transpired today. I'm headed out of town this week for work, but when I return, I'll be taking a long weekend (thank you veterans!), so I should have something more interesting to show then...

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The breeder will be for some kind of neo shrimp. I had cherries in my old tank, and really enjoyed them, but I'm thinking about splurging on some blue rilis or diamonds this time around. There will be ottos and probably barbs in there with them.

The main fish in the 75 will be gouramis. I had been thinking about going with angels, but the more I read about them, the less I like the idea of dealing with them in what I want to be a community tank. I kept gouramis before too, and never had any issues with them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Finally found some time to finalize my stand design and start cutting. Only got one piece of the frame done, but it's progress...







As this project progresses, you'll quickly find I tend to overdo things... Lots of neat ideas for this build, hope it turns out well.

I've pretty much made up my mind on the livestock. I really want to go with a pretty blue neo, but I'm a little on the fence because of their high prices. I think I'm going to start off with a decent group of carbon rilis and ottos, and after I'm sure the shrimp have acclimated themselves, I'll put in some danios and rasboras.

After taking a hard look (with a measuring tape) around my downstairs, I've also come to the conclusion that I just can't fit a 75 and a 125 in, so I'm just keeping my plans for the 125 for now. That's after the 40 is running smoothly, of course.

I've got most of my equipment picked out as well, but I've yet to pull the trigger on any purchases. No real reason, just taking things slow. I'm going to hold out on lighting until the new Finnex fixtures come out. The P+ II and P+ Elite sound like they're going to be amazing...

Lastly, that line about not going high tech right away... Pshh. Totally buying a GLA inline diffuser setup.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well, I put in alot of time on the stand yesterday and today, but I don't have a whole lot to show for it... Finished the frame of the base save for a couple of pieces last night. Got those on this afternoon, and was going to put in the bottom shelf, but didn't manage to pull it off...





My measurements thus far had been so close to perfect, I suppose it was time something went awry. I had a spare piece of particleboard I was going to try and notch out so I could use a single solid piece for the bottom shelf. That was a terrible idea. My "shelf" progressively became more and more of a mangled mess (was trying to use a Dremel as a router for the inside cuts; don't have a jigsaw), so I ditched it, and decided to cut out three simple "plus sign" shaped pieces (could get away with just using the skill saw). I got the first one cut no problem, but got in a hurry on the second piece and made a wrong corner cut. By that time, I'd spent all day making measurements and marks and cuts that didn't turn out, it was pushing 6 pm, and we've got snow headed our way, so I decided to clean up the garage and move the truck in. I thought I'd be skinning by today - oh well.

I DID order most of my equipment and electronics... I'll be sure to post the goodies as they roll in. It'll be quite awhile before anything gets hooked up (again, I'm waiting on the new Finnex LED fixtures to be released before I throw anything into the tank). Busy week this week, and I've got birthdays and holidays coming up, so I might not get hands on the stand again until as late as December...
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Made some decent progress this weekend... All the shelves are in, and I started paneling.



Also, some of my equipment has started arriving. I'm using a 12" x 18" NEMA 1 enclosure to house my control electronics. I left myself EXACTLY 12" of space to mount it, but... I failed to consider that 12" would be an INNER measurement...





Oh well. Still had enough space to move it up a bit.




Also set one of the canisters on the bottom shelf to see how much clearance I'd have for the hoses. I'm thinking about mounting the DIY in-line heaters right under the tank.



Plenty of space!

I got the sides and back on, and was quickly reminded how much I hate finish nailing by hand... Unfortunately, I don't do this kind of thing quite enough to invest in a nailer.






I'm getting close to a stopping point until more of the items I've ordered come in. I'm going to have a panel of switches, indicators, and displays, and I need the exact measurements of everything to cut the plywood it'll sit in. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Only had lunch with Madre today, so I had a little more time to work on the stand. Only got the electrical boxes put in. The top two will be mostly blank - one gang will house a timer for the solenoid for my CO2 regulator. The bottom two will have outlets on four different circuits: light, heat, filters, and CO2.

I should have held off on the paneling until I got these in - would have made life a little easier. Oh well, I was antsy last week, and didn't have materials for anything else.






I really hadn't intended for that gap behind all the electrical, but now that it's there, I kind've like it - I'm totally going to run all my plumbing back there.

More paneling tomorrow!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
No further progress to show (yet), but I wanted to post a quick note about my filter selection...

I'm going to be running a couple of Hydor 250's on this tank, and I was a little wary when I made my selection. The SunSun filters have an enormous positive following, likely heavily due to their price point. I wasn't able to find many reviews on the Hydor's, though what I did come across was mostly positive.

The one recurring negative comment I saw was that the Hydor's have a high amount of media bypass due to their tray design. I'm ordering Poret foam to put in mine, and was making measurements of the baskets, and wanted to check on this bypass issue while I was doing so.

SO, here's the canister...



...and looking down at the baskets, there is, indeed, about 1 mm of spacing between the side of canister and the basket lips.




HOWEVER, the top piece that fits on the top basket before you put the pump back on does form a complete seal all the way around the top lip. It also fits down inside the top of the top basket, so, in fact, there is NO bypass whatsoever on these filters.





That 1 mm of space between the baskets and canister will fill up with water, but none of that water is in the return path to the aquarium. Everything that gets pumped back to the aquarium HAS to go through the media trays.

SO, moral of the story, there is NO bypass on the Hydor canister filters. :)

Also, for anyone that's curious, the trays are roughly 8" x 6" x 1.5".
 

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I'm going to watch too - I like the stand a lot, I'm planning on building a base for a 100g in the new year as soon as my wife 'gets her new floor'.
I worry about the pre-fabricated bases that come with reasonably large tanks now, MDF sheets and not a decent piece of timber in sight. Yours would hold up a tank full of concrete! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Erg... Progress keeps eluding me...

I didn't quite think enough about how the filters and CO2 tank would sit under the aquarium with regards to how I was going to run the electrical to my switches, indicators, and readouts. I spent more than an hour basically just staring at the thing trying to work it all out, and I think I've finally got it. I'm going to have to end up getting a little contortiony with the CO2 tank, but it'll all fit. :) This thought process included a couple of trips to Lowe's, of course...

After all that, I only got the boxes for the switches and indicators mounted, and the electrical conduit runs started.











Those two boxes are going to house the four switches and indicators for the four circuits I mentioned earlier - light, filters, heat, and CO2. The conduit running to the far left will be for the temperature relay and sensor displays.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
I assembled my DIY in-line heater housings today. I'm headed out of state for work tomorrow, so unfortunately I don't have time to spend on anything else this weekend.



The Heyco brand cord grips were a little difficult to source (and what I did find was expensive), so I bought a pack of 10 of a similar product ("cable glands") from the bay. I think they're Amico brand? I ended up paying a little less than $3 per unit, free shipping.




Here are some dry fit pictures. I only ended up using a 4.5" length of 1.5" PVC for each housing, and could have probably have gone 0.5-1" shorter than that. Also, I'd been planning on using clear PVC pipe so that I could see the little light on the heaters when it comes on, but it's covered up by the cable gland. Oh well.






I need to go back to Lowe's for the 497th time for the right size barb adapter fittings... I think I'm going to mount these guys on the far left side of the stand, which is the same side the filters are going to be.
 
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