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Gilles' 125 gallon tank and 40 gallon sump

70810 Views 122 Replies 51 Participants Last post by  Tex Gal
Well this is my first big post on APC. I've been working with aquariums for about 2 years now, mainly using them as "i have nothing to do, lets trim the aquarium" kind of thing. In other words, i did not take a lot of time to "work" on my aquarium.

My (old) 50 gallon tank:
I have been fascinated with the aquarium even since i first got my first, and when i moved to my appartment i decided to go from a 40L to a 180L aquarium. To convert these values to Gallons, you have to divide them by 3.8. So first i had a ~10 gallon and then i purchased a ~50 gallon.

Not long after i had this 50 gallon tank, i switched from the internal filter to a tetratec EX700 filter, and decided to inject CO2 using an Aquamedic 1000 reactor. Here are some pics of my first aquarium.

My (old/current) 125 gallon tank:
Almost 8 months ago, i switched to a 125 gallon tank and a 40 gallon sump. This has been nothing but a disaster to be honest. The overflow of my tank was wrongly build, and it had no second overflow. A snail got stuck in the overflow to my sump and the pump kept on pumping, well you get the idea.. I had a wet floor 3 times untill i finally got around and knew how to fix it.

The tank has 4x36w T8 lighting, with electronic ballasts, the return is done by a pond pump, and i have a UV filter attached. My electronics where not kept seperate from my water flow, so when the tank flooded i got a short circuit.

The hood of the tank was made from thesame material as my other furniture, meaning 18mm thick plywood. Off course, this was WAY to heavy, but then again, you never know you have to look out for something untill you bump your head.

I am injecting CO2 in such a manner that i have my PH steady at 6.8 with a KH of 5, giving me approx. 30ppm CO2. My lights are dimmed by an aquarium computer, which means i have a beautifull sunset and sunrise.

First i added CO2 directly using an air stone in my sump, but that caused me to use approx. 10kg of CO2/month which is (off course) not good for the environment. Right now i am using a reactor (Dennerle Cyclo Turbo XL) which is driven by a seperate pump in my sump.

I will spare you the other problems i had, but again, here are some pictures of the current tank.

My (new/in progress) 125 gallon tank:
Besides the seperation of the electronics from the water (100% seperated = no more short circuit) i had the idea to incorporate my return lines in my DIY background (made from isolation material, tile glue and epoxy coating) and off course there is a second overflow. There is also going to be a bottom heater and the other (good) parts of my current tank will move to the new tank.

The POND pump will be replaced by a pump which can be found in about every boiler in the world (yes, a boiler pump). These pumps are used a lot in the Netherlands, they have 3 different speed settings ranging from 30,45,60 watts and pumping out 900-1700 gallons per hour. Off course this is going to be less, since i am using a lot of PVC with bends and so on, but you'll get the idea.

The CO2 injection will be done (once again) by a Aquamedic 1000 reactor, which will be incorporated in my return lines. I will have 4 points from where my water will be returned, 3 below water and 1 spraybar which will keep the oily surface away. Besides that, it will also "move" all dead leaves to the overflow.

My lights are going to be upgraded. Instead of 4x36w T8 i am going to use 4x36w T8 and 2x54w T5. The reason i did not switch entirely to T5 is the initial price you have to pay. All in all i am going to end up with approx. 2.1w/gallon, maybe i'll add another two 54 T5's, meaning i'd go to 3w/gallon. All in all, it is way better then my current WPG which is 1.2w/gallon.

The stand will be made from metal piping, and is allready constructed, grounded and painted with hammerite black. Pictures describing the building progress will come very fast, since i am allready half way with the construction.
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You must have a lot of time on your hands! :p Great tank and journal by the way.
I am envious! Excellent journal so far, Giles!!! Very in-depth and interesting to watch the whole process!! Looking forward to the next installment!
Wow, I'm impressed with the DIY. Very detailed and thought out. Useful design steps. Like Donald, I'm interested to see the next installment.
I really like how this is coming along. I honestly would incorporate a water change system but that's just me. :)

Very nice DIY work I must say. Reminds me of a tank I once saw at a zoo.
Well it is about time for an update. To be honest, the new tank is allready running since last friday, but i am still working on the canopy. Here are some pics since the last update:

Drilling glass didn't work out the way i expected it to be:

Lot's of piping:

The tank is on the stand for the first time:

You can allready see some of my plumbing lying at the bottom:

First light fixture installed, just to see the background:

Installing pump security. This way, the pump can't run dry. Someone from the netherlands made this for me. Basicly it is a relais attached to a floater which is located in the last section of my sump. If the water level drops, a contact is made and the power is cut from the 2 sockets you see there.

Adding the sides:

Added lights in the filter "chamber".



Installing the old sump with new holes.

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Moving from old tank to new tank:

^ NOT Me ;)


Quick-view of the current plumbing, attached to the tank:


Had to make an adjustment to the CO2 reactor (p.s. tank didn't stop running. Due to the excessive ammount of plumbing, i was able to remove the reactor without spoiling water):

Last picture (9-1-2008):
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You have done some incredible plumbing work on the sump and returns, I only have two questions:
1) Is it a wet/dry sump or is it just wet
2) do you have a top to your sump to seal in c02?
3) does your tank have any type of lid to reduce c02 loss?
guess it was 3 questions =P
Some answers to some questions made:

John said:
"I honestly would incorporate a water change system but that's just me."

Actually the requirements are allready there. As you can see, i have incorporated a floater in the last compartment of my sump, this is attached to electronics which will turn off my pump and heater in case there is a low water level. On the other hand i can also make it so that it will turn on a water flow to refill my tank. I am currently living at an apartment, so i don't have the means to drill holes in the wall. In the next house, there will also be a connection to the sewer.

IceTerran said:
"You have done some incredible plumbing work on the sump and returns, I only have some questions:"

1) Is it a wet/dry sump or is it just wet
It is a 100% wet sump. I will make some pictures of the sump plumbing so you can see how i made it all.

2) do you have a top to your sump to seal in c02?
No, first i injected the CO2 into my sump using an air stone, but it is mainly to keep the heat in the sump, and also to keep the water damp in the sump. It also helps to minimize the noise of the sump.

3) does your tank have any type of lid to reduce c02 loss?
You mean canopy? Yes there will be a canopy, but i am still making it. It will not be any higher then 2".
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Long time no update (29th of Januari):
Thanx to Easylife (liquid filter medium) i can adjust the flow of my water exactly.



Canopy on the frame:

Connecting the wires:

Clean up the wires:


This resulted in a lot of moisture, meaning my canopy became ruined.

WIth 1 TL:

Working on my own DIY aquarium computer (more to come)

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Another big update.. Since the start of my tank i have 216w above it. Meaning ~0.5w/gallon. It is not yet being dimmed by a computer but that is in the works. I add PO4 and NO3 daily and Trace elements on a weekly basis.

Some plants have a little bit difficultys:

Rasbora galaxy's: (i have 50 :p)


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Problems with my sump.. It just doesn't work right. The **** doesn't stay in the sump but hits the fan (hehe) because it goes back into my tank.

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Sump modified so it holds the poop better:
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From one linux hacker to another I can't wait to see the controller!
When you finish the controller, you gotta post the directions and the coding that you made for it. Great work.
Gilles -

I love your work! This thread has given me some FANTASTIC ideas. I am very much looking forward to your aquarium computer. I would love to build one of these depending on how yours comes out. What are your plans for what you want it to do?

I love the way you keep things tidy and clean looking. Very insporational! Thanks for sharing.
HeY Gilles,

Nice report!
(Dutchman are everywhere.......)
It has been a long time (almost 2 months to be precise) and a lot has changed. Tomorrow, i will get the key to my new house so this is probably going to be the last update which i will post in another 2 months. I am planning to move on the first of august. That is also the time i will be starting to build my canopy, since that has been laying still ever since i knew i was going to move.

First some pics, since my tank has undergone some massive transforamtions:

Preparation for light panel (before)

Electronic Ballasts removed

Preparing tools:

New light panel with my own "light control unit"

All wires are nicely placed in a hidden compartment.

Wich looks like this (you see the bottom heater cable running here)

And this is how it looks when it is all closed.

The computer which only used 15 watts of power

Preparation for connecting the computer to the HUB which in its turn controls the 1-wire network:

Re-attaching wires:

****, wires to short....

Prevent wires from pulling to much on the ballast:

The bottom part of my electronics is (visually) finished:

Adding some juice to the network:


Lights in action:

7 days of no light result in molten Tonina ;)

Which resulted in me, doing a massive trim, after receiving some plants from GreenChapter (singapore)

Which resulted in this:

Maintenance by a student which i hired to do all the tiny stuff (like soldering 220 volts ikes!)

Dirty windows:

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