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Gilles' 125 gallon tank and 40 gallon sump

70813 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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Great work Gilles! Your electronics look very clean and well organized. Good luck moving into your new home.
Wow! Fantastic tank--that's an incredible amount of work. Thanks for sharing all of this.
Good luck on the move. I had to move a 30gal. about 2 years ago and didn't have half of the stuff you do.

Sorry for the late reply to this awesome post.

I often said that when freshwater aquarists do the same uber-DIY projects that saltwater aquarists do, our little hobby would have come of age and hit the big time. You've made me realize the planted aquarium hobby has come of age. Thanks, man.

You are now my DIY hero. Good luck and keep posting.
Wow, amazing build, you've basically built a "reef system" for plants. You should look into reef tanks I think you would fit right in.
Well thank you guys for all the good words. Although i also have disasters in my tank.

It all started when i moved. The tank survived all without any scratches and so on, but it has been 3 weeks and i still haven't done my new plumbing due to a total lack of time. I filled the tank with 100% new water (and new gravel) and did NOT have any startup problems luckily.

My fish where in a bucket, and i thought they would survive, i had even put a heater and an airstone in it. But i've lost a lot of fish that week.

15 cory sterbai (14 survived)
15 Carnegiella Strigata Strigata (1 survived)
40 Paracheirodon axelrodi (2 survived)
20 Otocinclus Affinis (all survived)
30 Caridina japonica (all survived)
15 Xiphophorus helleri (all survived)

So i had a massive ammount of 135 fish in a bucket of 10 liters.. (again, i feel very ashamed).

The plants where in a styrofoam box used to transport fish in. I kept them moist, but someone added 1 liter of water, turning all my beatiful plants to jucky juicy stuff.

So.. now i am 2 weeks later. My new sump has arrived, my lightning is back on (50% of the lights = on). I've orderd for 100$ of new plants, some nice ones to! This week i have to plumb my sump, install the new Red Dragon pump (rated at 4500l/hour and only 45 watts!) and redo my return lines.

Oh yeah, the bottom heater has left the building. Soon i'll post some updates.
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Hello Gilles, I've not yet posted any comment on your journal, but I'm about to copy most of it. Hope you don't come after me for buma-stemra
Dutch as well, but fortunate to live in Thailand with everything I'd need for fish at my doorstep.
Anyhow, hope you're going to update soon. Keep it up.
I just got back into the hobby after 13 years(got married, small house then, not sure how she would take all of it , etc. and one of the reasons is projects like this. They are soo fulfilling that one is almost sad when it is finished uh actually mine never get quite all the way done. I like to leave my computer cases loose you know just save time when and if I need to get inside yes yes that its. Again very very nice looking and I caan certainly feel for you with your move. I I had to move my aquarium 13 years ago from Joplin, Missourri to Florence, Alabama. about five hundred miles. That was another reason I was so slowly to return moving just under 2000 gallons worth with fish to my parents house there and then later moving most of the same with considable less fish to St louis, Missourri(about 350 miles)
To the drawing board Batman!

After reading this through, I found that my mental schematics were terribly inadequate. Now, I have to set down my coffee, walk all the way upstairs to get pencil and paper, return and read this completely through again. O, the agony. :hail:
Pretty incredible setup.... You are probably driving your girlfriend crazy.
wow...I am impressed. The backing is great, would love to try it but I can view both sides of my tank
wow that is awesome. im amazed. have never seen anything like it. how did you learn all this???
I just got thru the whole thread. Terrific thread!. Really amazed on the details, organization and electronics you incorporated into this project, there are a lot of excellent ideas in this post and very detailed instruction on how to make them.

I hope everything went OK in your home moving and please keep us post on updates for this project, I am really interested as some others here in the DIY computer you made. Let us know details on it how it work for you, and instructions in how to make it please ;).

Very impresive and amazing journal this will certainly help a lot of members here, a post to read twice as intothenew mentioned. Congratulations.
Hi Guys, it has been a while since i've updated his thread.. Tomorrow i'll have to clean my filter and prune my tank. Check out my topic in Fotography (Limnophila Aquatica (Giant Ambulia)) to see a pic of my tank right now. A lot has happened.. Please stay tuned.. Happy new year to you all!
Wow! I've always wanted to make my own backdrop and in the process hide plumbing and wires. This has defiantly made me think about trying this once again. Thanks for the great step by step photos. I can't wait to see the next installment!
Hello Gilles, I've posted before, still by far the best thread I've come across for building up a tank like you do. You've given me a lot of ideas to work with and I'm in the middle of working them out.

What I'm really curious about is your sump and what diameter piping you are using.
My cabinet is not ideal for a large sump, so I had to be creative with space and ended up having 2 tanks in my sump, 1 for filtration, the other for equipment and pumps.
Anyhow, I'm trying to figure out the dividers in the sump. Got ideas but do you have more pictures or a drawing on your sump-compartments?

Would be very grateful having a closer look at those.

Oh, by the way, in return, there's a lot of fish and plants that you might like from Thailand. Any help you need there, let me know. I'm close to Bangkok and there is really a lot of plants and fish here.

Luc (another fellow Dutchman)
Well lots and lots of thanks on that one Luc! I will post some pics later this week. My tonina's are dying (stupid plants) and i'll have to get my dosing pumps up and running (yes you don't even seen those!). I've made the terrible mistake to place some background plants in the middle and some middle plants in the back, so i have to do some redecorating soon.
Hallo Gilles,

My copy of your work so far:
Will keep you posted...

Busy at work..look forward to your comments.

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