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Discussion Starter #1
DIY 37 Gallon Tank Journal

I started a 29 gallon planted tank approximately 18 months ago. Although I've had moderate success with growing plants, the tank really has no theme. I wanted more front to back depth in the tank but still keep the 30” width and hopefully be able to develop an aquascape that has some flow and tells a story. I couldn’t find a tank at my local LFS’s that fit my needs so I decided to build the 37.

Pictured below is the outgoing 29 as it is today with the following equipment:

· The stand/cabinet is homebuilt
· 29 gal. glass tank
· 5# Co2 tank, twin gauge regulator, solenoid and NV-55 needle valve and a DIY bubble counter made from a small jar.
· 2” X 24” Rex style reactor and Hydor in-line heater being fed by an Eheim 2217 filter
· 2 – AH Supply 55 watt power compacts with 6700K lamps
· A small in tank pump for better circulation





I dose with 3cc of PPS macro and 3cc of PPS trace daily with 10 gallon weekly water changes.

The Flora includes:
· Limnophila aromatic
· Narrow Chain Leaf Sword
· Rubin Sword
· Red Mellon Sword
· Java Moss on some wood
· Aponogeton undulates
· Rotala verticillaris
· Brasiian micro sword

The Fauna includes:
· Neon Tetras
· Espei Rasboras
· One very old female Platy
· A few Otocinclus
· A few Amano shrimp
· A bunch of RCS

Most of the equipment and flora and fauna will be used in the new 37 gallon. I’m probably going to build a new cabinet and update the lighting with the new 31 watt T5 HO retrofit kits and use new AH reflectors.

Now for the incoming 37 gallon tank:

· The outside dimensions are 30” long X 16” front to back X 19” high which comes close to 37 gallons.
· I’m using 6 mil glass cut by St. John Glass here in Bellingham, WA and I have to say they did a nice job.
· I’m using GE RTV108 100% silicone rubber sealant purchased at Grainger Supply.

The newly purchased glass all wrapped up neatly


The glass laid out after checking which ends up/down for best fit.


The glass masked (hopefully for clean/neat joints)


The tank all sealed, taped up and drying.



I’ll let it dry until tomorrow then remove the tape and clean up the excess silicone. I’ll let the joints cure for a week before filling with water (outdoors) to check for leaks. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I got it right. The cabinet for the 29 will work for the 37 but I may start a new one while the joints on the tank cure. I have some ideas for something more pleasing to the eye with views of the ends instead of just the front.

I’ll update the build as I proceed. Thanks to the PTF for all the information and ideas I've gleaned from its members these last 18 months. Thanks for looking and I welcome all comments and suggestions.

Pat
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The glass cost me $99.00 and the tube of RTV108 was $8.00. Probably a little much for a DIY but I just couldn't find a 30" wide with more than 12" depth. I've thought about the rimless tank with suspended lighting but am a little concerned about too much bowing with the 6 mil (1/4") glass. When I fill it Ill strap a metal rule across the top to check the bow. If less than 3 mils I'll consider the rimless setup. If I'm still concerened I have a design I've worked up that should have a clean modern look and still allow for some bracing. Thanks for your comments.
 

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Sweet. Reminds me of my DIY rimless build last year. Amazingly the cost of glass was probably $99 for me too if I remember correctly.

Nicely built. A few points from my experience.
1. Check for uniform seams (no air bubbles) when it is dry and before you fill it up with water.
2. Cover the tank after you fill it up so that no water is lost due to evaporation.
3. IMO "fill test" it for at least 5 days to be sure that there is no sag.
4. Record the dimensions (L, W, H) at different points at the beginning and at various points of the fill test period to identify an consistent and growing sag (touchwood).

Looking forward to it and agree with yikesjason about keeping it open.
 

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THanks for the comment. Your leak check procedure is what I had in mind except I didn't think to cover the tank. I'll definitely do that and will record the measurements as I fill. This is a winter project so there is no particular rush. 37 gallons of water on the hardwood floors would be cause for an uprising in the camp.
 

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What you can do is fill 1/4 (approx 10 gallons) each day over 4 days, so if you have any leaks lower in the tank, you can figure it out with lesser possibility of an uprising (may be a small mutiny :))

I did mine in my garage and one of the 2 had a small leak, but I filled them at once since I was not worried with a spill (luckily the leak was towards the top and a small one)
 

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Update on 37 gallon build - Not good news

I wish I could say the assembly went silky smooth but that's not the case.
As the photos show the tank was all sealed up but 24 hrs. later the GE RTV108 was still tacky. Went back to Grainger Supply with the remains of the tubes and they called their distributor to get an explanation. Turns out the batch of sealant was manufactured in 2003 and has a two year shelf life so the product was four years past its shelf life. The distributor provided a tech support number (800-332-3390) for Momentive which now makes the RTV108.

I got through immediately to a tech person and he said if it hadn't cured by now, 36 hrs. after use, it probably wasn't going to cure. He also said if in fact it did cure the structual integrity has been compromised. He expained how the curing process works, but bottom line, I'll have to take the tank apart, scrape and clean everything thoroughly with a solvent and start over which is a project I'm not looking forward to tackliing.

For those who may want to use the RTV108, The batch number printed on the bottom side of the tube is actually the mfg. date. The new tubes I have are marked: Trans RTV108 09AUG5.

Grainger Supply did refund my money for the two tubes I purchased and today gave me two tubes with a mfg. date of August 09 at no cost. They also said they destroyed all of their outdated inventory. Additionally, the Momentive tech rep was a knowledgable and pleasant person to work with.

I know this is kind of windy but thought other DIY folks might like a heads up to help prevent a whole lot of additional work for themselves.
 

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I'm hoping to get it cleaned up and put back together tomorrow. I'm sure the new RTV will work well. A number of sites on the web recommend the RTV108 for aquariums and the tech rep at Momentive said it should work well. They have a disclaimer on the tube but he said it was for liability purposes. I'll update when the sealnt has had a 24 hr. cure and is cleaned up. Pat
 

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Update on Build

The tank build is back on track after a few hours of scraping and cleaning the glass panels with acetone to prep them for another assembly using RTV108 with a manufacture date of August 09. Aside from the 3-4 hours to clean everthing completely the job went well and within a few hours I could tell the RTV was curing correctly. I taped for a 1/4" bead of silicone on the 4 corners which I applied after setting all the panes in a bead of silicone. I removed the blue tape immediately after doing the corners so the edges of the sealant would be clean and not tear. That worked well. If I had it to do again, I'd tape off every bit of glass that wasn't going to be sealed. Cleaning this stuff up is labor intensive. The two pics below show the tank as it sits now waiting to cure a few more days before I leak test.





I've learned a lot so far. Had I not wanted a tank with specific dimensions I'd never have tackled this. Waaaay too much work. I'll update again after the leak test I'll start this coming weekend.
 

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I don't know for sure but I'd guess it's pretty much the way it's gonna be. The oblique shot makes the silicone more obvious. A straight front or end view doesn't show the silicine that much. It doesn't appear to be much different than the store bought 29 I have. Perhaps water in the tank may change the look also.
 
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