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Discussion Starter · #1 ·


Ok, I'm going to start a journal on two 29g tanks I bought at the Petco sale. I'm using my late father's metal stand for sentimental reasons. It was pointed out to me that the clearance on the bottom tank will be tight, and boy, it is! I have 4-1/2" of clearance between the top and the metal above it. I'm going to make it work, though. I'll be using a versa top (and I may make my own to give it a try) and a single or double T5NO. I guess a single, since I want low tech, low light tanks. Crypts, anubias, trident java fern, rocks & driftwood. These tanks will house small shoaling fish, up to two different schools per tank.
First, I wanted to raise the metal stand - the bottom tank was too low to really see. I bought a 2"x8"x8' at Lowes and built a basic base using brackets inside. I topped it with 3/4" plywood. No shear, no movement, and square.
Then I used Hardiebacker board on top of the ply and did a mosaic to match the tile floor I'm laying under the tanks. To be sure it was level I used a puck tile level during each step.
One pic shows the outdoor retaining blocks I made years ago for my garden. They were the inspiration to mosaic the base - I don't have a tile cutter, and it's fun to smash tile with a hammer! lol
These tanks are going in a spot that is between my kitchen & living room - against an exterior wall - so I choose tile I'd like to use in my kitchen and extended it under the tanks. I'm going to do the same for two 55s that I'm putting up later as a dividing wall between my living room and kitchen. I'm a slob when it comes to water changes, so I wanted tile under the tanks. As much mosaics as I've done, this is my first time laying tile. I put 1/2" ply over my existing subfloor (I want to strengthen my subfloor throughout my mobile home). Used 1/4" Hardieboard with the polymer thinset recommened, and ceramic tile. I was going to go with porcelain, but $$ was a consideration. Even my girlie 14.4v B&D cordless screwed the Hardiebacker screws in pronto - it's very easy to do!
So, now I'm waiting to grout.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
These are the brackets..



My cat laughs at my building skills...

 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The backer board on the new subfloor - sorry the pic are so big! I'm still trying to figure out why sometimes I get the pics, and sometimes I get the links...

 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The base, showing the ply top, the backer board, thinset, ready for tile!

 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Mosaic is done, waiting to grout. The new tile floor is in the background, the tile level is checking the corners where the tank's feet will sit.

Level!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The outdoor retaining wall I made by mosaicing concrete cap blocks. These have been outside for 4 - 5 years, and I forgot to seal the grout. Still holding up well! (sanded grout)
Can someone tell me how to add more than one pic per post? lol This will be 10,000 posts long! ; )

OK - it took me a while, but I think I've got the photo thing down... lol

 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
starting a DIY 3D background

Now I'm starting my first DIY 3D background for the bottom tank. I've never made one before, but I've been reading all I can on the cichlid sites.
I bought a sheet of blue insulation at Lowes ($10 per 4'x8' sheet by 1" thick). I had to slice & dice it in the parking lot to fit in in my little Hyundai Accent! lol I didn't know insulation was covered in thin plastic - I removed it. Nothing I've read on the sites mentioned it, but I think you probably have to for a tank.
I used the 29 tank as a template, and cut two pieces. One is a solid backing - the bare canvas, if you will. The second piece is for added depth, and to allow me to cut out a shape to accomodate the intake of my HOB.
Next I drew rough rock shapes/directions on the third piece, and cut out the rough shapes into individual smaller shapes. It was much easier for me to carve that way. So I wouldn't forget where things went, I wrote letters on the jigsaw pieces & back to match them up. After I siliconed them down, I went back in some spots and carved even deeper into the sheet below (not the base sheet). I like the depth it gives.
All I ended up using was a steak knife - I have a propane torch and was going to smooth the edges with it, but I like the jagged look. Maybe I'll use the torch a little next time (I have two tanks to do). So this has 3 sheets - one solid base sheet, one middle sheet, and the top sheet that I cut the rocks out of. The little accent pieces I added to the very top are from the scraps left over from carving.
It's all glued up with GE1 silicone, when it hardens I'll tweak the carving. Btw, when I glued the sheets and "rocks" up, I spread the silicone out with a bit of cardboard - so there is 100% contact on all pieces of styro.
next - experimenting with Drylok and quickcrete colorants!








 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Ok, I lied! I couldn't resist trying out the propane tank - I lightly "dusted" the surface, and I'm glad I did. I may go back and resharpen a few edges, but overall I like the "water softened" effect.
Guess I'll wait until tomorrow to start the Drylok process...
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Final dry fit of the 3D BG



I'm going to carve a little more out around the intake, esp. on the left side so it's a smoother transition. Some tweaking of the carving, and I'm good to go onto the next step!

I've been thinking about adding pieces of styro like a "bridge" over the tube of the intake. I couldn't put the whole BG forward enough to hide it, because the 29 is so shallow a tank. But I may put pieces over the tube, leaving the grill exposed. That way I'll still be able to remove the filter & intake for cleaning, and all but the grill will be hidden. What do you think? (however it would be easier to hide the intake with a sword or java ferns and driftwood- my first choice - lol)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
scapegoat - I thought about making a ledge/cliff under the outflow - I thought it would be cool to have it slightly divide, so the water flow wouldn't go straight in/down.
Hmm, mayby the creative juices will turn back on tonight - lol.
jwm5, I found about about DIY 3D backgrounds because someone on this site had a link to a cichlid site. I don't remember who it was now, but if you google "DIY 3D background" there are amazing (and sometimes not so much) things made for aquariums and terrariums. It's fascinating! Concrete was used for years, but Drylok has become the norm - it doesn't require soaking to leach out chemicals - it's made to line masonry but also potable water/birdbaths, etc.
I haven't opened up the can yet so I don't know how it is to work with, but I've read it's white and like thickened latex paint. They can tint it at the store for you, but I bought three colors of concrete tint to experiment with - charcoal, terra cotta, and buff. You can add sand & grit to it for texture, too!
 

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I've been wrong about a lot of things.... but no way in the world would I put two 29 gallon tanks on a stand sitting on that block......

I think you've underestimated the 300 lbs that will be sitting on it.


The backgrounds are cool, though.
 

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Very nice. I will be following along for the ride on this one.

One tip about the Drylok. I have not used it yet, but on all the reptile forums I am part of, everyone says that if it is going to be constantly wet, it should be covered in something that will waterproof it further. Having said that, may I suggest a layer of clear silicone after you paint it all? Just a thought. Now enough of my rambling and inexperienced tips. ON WITH THE BUILD!:proud:
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Overstocked - obviously, I hope you're wrong! lol
I may be overly optimistic, but I think of this as a mini free standing/floating deck. Have you ever seen those? They are a basic frame with cross studs. I have two cross studs of 2"x6"s underneath. I didn't use 2"x8"s because I didn't want the support studs to touch the floor - I want all the weight on the frame of the box. The box is only 8" high, minus the added bit of height for the top. The top is 3/4" ply, Hardibacker board, and tile. I certainly hope it will hold 300+ pounds, I wouldn't have built it if I was unsure. Hopefully I didn't miscalculate and make a bad mistake. I hate to say this, but I weigh over 200lbs myself, and my friend who is slightly lighter than me & I can stand on it & jump up & down. I can only hope it holds up over time, but I think it will. I'll be the first person to come here and say "you told me so!" if it fails!
If anyonme here has built their own tank stand, I'd like to know if you think it'll fail. It's also like a mini tank stand, when you think about it!
Cableguy, thanks for the tip. That's something I was wondering about. I'll ask over at the cichlid site and see if there have been problems - I don't mind coating the BG with silicone, but I'll have to do that outside - it stinks and is bad for you to breath in!

PS - in the end, I don't have to use the block at all - it's only because I don't like the lower tank to be so low that I made it. I could just put the stand on the floor...

 

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Following the photos you posted the iron frame rests directly over the 2x6 frame.
So,,, 2x6 frame, 3/4" plywood, Hardiback cement/fibered structural backing board and ceramic tile,,,,
park a truck on it and it won't crush that thing LOL.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
OK, overstocked - you made me nervous! lol I may post some of the basics of this box on the DIY forum & hope some people that have made stands will chime in...
I did a test of the stand & two empty tanks to see if I like it. I do like the height but I can live without it if it seems my construction isn't sound...

 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Yes, wkndracer, the stand sits directly over the 2"x 8"s. The support beams running underneath are 2"x6"s.
Thanks for the vote! *whew* It doesn't take much to make me worry!

LOL! Why didn't you post before I told everyone my weight! ;)
 
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