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174 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After a long hiatus from the hobby, I finally got the chance to jump back in. With the pandemic, my partner and I were going to be working from home indefinitely and we wanted to make our office a bit nicer. I was surprised at how much this hobby could change - LED lights, all the new colored shrimp, new fish I've never seen before.

In particular, I really liked the shallow tanks I saw at my LFS with the open top view and wide surface area to work with. So a year ago, I bought a shallow 10 gallon tank but like everything I do, it just sat around for months while I procrastinated getting it set up.

I wanted to attempt my first iwagumi with minimal equipment showing. I tried to cut costs where I can and DIYed some parts of the build like the tank stand and the in-line heater. Youtube has been a great resource but I still had to figure out/tinker with some of the small issues I encountered. I can write followup posts with as much detail as I can provide if anybody's interested.


DIY UNS stand knockoff

Kessil tuna sun a360x

flourite black base
UNS contrasoil
plastic strips cut from water bottles for the hills

Brushed off the dust from my 15 year old trusty Fluval 304 and replaced the gasket and impeller.

5# CO2 tank with an co2art pro-se dual stage regulator
seachem in line diffuser

120watt Eheim in a DIY in-line PVC housing

Monte Carlo

maybe Chili Rasbora

174 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Nice. What did you make the stand out of and what type of rocks are you going to put in there? Did you drill the stand for the filter tubing?
Thanks! I made the stand out of some 3/4" walnut plywood boards and used veneer edge banding for the sides. Yep, I put in a small hole in the back of the tank for filter tubing. Will post more details of it soon.

I bought some blue mountain seryu from my LFS but they're much smoother than seiryu usually is so I suspect they might be something else.

174 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The UNS stand knockoff

I liked the look of UNS's aquarium stand but it was a tad pricy. I had gotten into woodworking two years ago and luckily had a friend with all the right tools and expertise.

There were aspects of UNS's stand I liked and there were other features I wished it had. I tend to be pretty messy so I need as much storage/shelves I can use to organize things. I hated having to use a flashlight to look for stuff in the dark so I wanted in cabinet lights. I also wanted the inside to look as nice as it does outside.

Drafted a model with attempt to fit the filter (green), in line heater (red) and co2 (silver) while also maximizing the space for shelves.

Made a box with 3/4" walnut plywood. Sides were glued and clamped and wood screws secured them in place

Front panel was attached with glue and pocket screws

I liked the 45 degree cut on UNS and incorporated it into the diy stand. The edges of the plywood were covered with walnut edge banding that had heat activated glue. I didn't like how slightly visible the edge banding glue was. I think next time I'd get edge banding without the heat activated glue.


I used front face blum hinges to attach the door. The shelves were held up with shelf pin supports.

Finished it with 3 layers of arm-r-seal oil based semi gloss and assembled the lighting. I'll post a more detailed diagram of it in another post if anyone's interested.

Finished product with the equipment set up.


Also attached a small tool shelf on the door with dowels

Overall, I liked the way it turned out minus the edge banding and the slight gap from the shelf pins. However, after setting up all the equipment, I'm glad I used those shelf pins since the shelves are removable and way easier to setup the filter tubes and all that.


174 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I got the chance this weekend to play around with the hardscape. I was trying to scape it with all viewing angles taken into consideration and was much harder than I thought. I eventually settled on this:

Rectangle Floor Flooring Gas Composite material

Wood Flooring Floor Gas Composite material

Wood Rectangle Line Art Gas

Wood Pet supply Organism Rectangle Flooring

Light Tap Lighting Plumbing fixture Architecture

Never done a iwagumi before so any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated!

Super Moderator
15,757 Posts
Really great stand and hardscape! Having those two things looking so great is going to go a heck of a long way. Because even if your plants go south and you have to change things? The stand looks great and the hardscape is nice. Even if you decide to totally give up and just go with all Crypts or something? It'll still look good.

I've gone the Iwagumi route a few times and the best advice I can give: stay on top of trimming. Every week. multiple times per week if necessary. When you don't? That's when everything goes to the no-no place and you'll start to hate the tank.

Given any thought to a background on the tank?
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