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Discussion Starter #1
Last year I moved from Utah to Alaska. My 75 gallon tank has sat empty since the move, waiting for me to finish a few DIY projects on it. Since my tank and stand are empty I figure it's a good time to take pictures of some of the DIY projects I have done over the years as well as what I've been working on lately. If someone can get some good ideas from what I have done then it is worth the effort. It also may inspire me to finally finish my projects and get this tank running again.

To start off I thought I would show you my stand. It's the first project I started on this setup. I originally planed this stand for a 90 gallon tank that I was going to build from acrylic. But I later found a 75 gallon at a steal ($25) and bought it to save money. This means that my stand is a little bit bigger than my tank in the back. The extra space proved to be very useful in my next project of building a canopy - more to come on that later.



The stand is pulled away from the wall so I can work in the back of it. It isn't normally on an angle in the room like this.




This project took me a long time to make since I was a student and living in an apartment when I made it. I had to take it out on the porch every time I wanted to work on it. The design is basic, like others we have seen here. The frame is made from 2x4's and wrapped in plywood with an oak finish. I used two different router bits to get the fancy edge on the molding. The molding on both the stand, and later you will see on the canopy, is made to cover the plastic rim of the aquarium (my aquarium is the basic glass type with a 2"wide plastic rim on the top and bottom that are so common). That way you only see the nice oak trim of the stand, while the not so nice looking plastic is hidden behind it. I am really pleased with how this stand turned out. I think at some point I will add small oak corner pieces to hide the poor silicone job and make the tank look all framed in.

Close-up of the moulding that hides the plastic rim.
 

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When I bought an old, used 120 gallon tank back in the 90's I did that trick of using corner moldings to cover the ugly glass corners of the tank. I cut 1/8" thick strips of the wood the stand and hood were made of, glued them into corner pieces, then used dabs of silicone to stick them to the tank corners. All of the wood was stained the same, so it looked great. Go ahead and do that - you will never regret it.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Thanks for the input Hoppy. 1/8” seems kind of thin though, is that a typo? I was thinking of using the same size as I have on the front corners of the stand. I think they are 1/2”. Even that size probably won’t cover all of the silicon, but it will hide most of it. The problem will be matching the stain. As you noted it looks real nice when everything matches. I remember the brand I used just not the color. I guess I will have to do a little trial and error with some scrap wood.

Edit: Never mind Hoppy, I think I understand now. The strips you cut were from a 1/8” board or sheet and you would have cut them wide enough to cover the corner. I thought you were referring to the width of your cut not the thickness of the board.
 

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Thanks orlando, I like the way the stain turned out too. The Finish really is what made it look nice though. I chose to use Minwax’s brand of Helmsman Spar Urethane which is used to protect outdoor furniture. I figured that way it wouldn’t matter how much water I splashed on it. I’m glad I went with that finish. It really brought the red out. I used the same stain on the inside of the door, but I ran out of the Spar Urethane, so you can see the difference in color between the finished and unfinished wood. I think it gives it a nice shine too.
 

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Thanks for the input Hoppy. 1/8" seems kind of thin though, is that a typo? I was thinking of using the same size as I have on the front corners of the stand. I think they are 1/2". Even that size probably won't cover all of the silicon, but it will hide most of it. The problem will be matching the stain. As you noted it looks real nice when everything matches. I remember the brand I used just not the color. I guess I will have to do a little trial and error with some scrap wood.

Edit: Never mind Hoppy, I think I understand now. The strips you cut were from a 1/8" board or sheet and you would have cut them wide enough to cover the corner. I thought you were referring to the width of your cut not the thickness of the board.
Actually, I used a table saw to rip 1/8" thick pieces off of a 3/4" thick board. So my corner pieces were about 3/4" by 3/4", and they just barely did cover the ugly corners, but they did cover them. If you are like me you never throw away anything, so I had the now empty can of stain I previously used and that gave me the color information I needed. (I think I still have it somewhere in the garage!)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yeah, I’d kept my can of stain too. I think it even had stain left in it. But the moving companies won’t move paint cans, and the like, even if they are empty (or CO2 tanks for that matter). So I had to leave that stuff behind. I was too busy with the move to think about writing the information down.
 

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For the lighting in this setup I wanted something that would fit in the canopy I was planning to make (limited space lengthwise) and I wanted to use fluorescent T12 lights, since I already had a fixture with 2 ballasts and 4 pair of end caps. The lighting from 4 T12 bulbs worked well, I was able to grow glosso that clung to and covered the substrate (until it got too full and started growing up with gusto).

I made my fixture out of the aluminum that is used in siding (my brother works in siding and gets this stuff in rolls). He just cut me a section, snipped the corners and bent the sides up using a 2x4 as a straight edge to aid the bending. The inside of the aluminum was already painted white. I had originally planned on adding curved reflectors behind each light, but this has actually worked great so I never bothered going back and adding them. I bought a piece of aluminum rod at home depot and cut two pieces to fit across the fixture for support and to hold the fluorescent endcaps. I took apart the fixture that I had and mounted the ballasts in the stand. The only thing left was the wiring which I originally just ran behind the stand in a big mess of wires, but I have since cleaned it up.

You can see from the picture that I was no longer in an apartment when I built this. The work area in my garage was quite an upgrade from the deck of my apartment.


Positioning end caps




This picture is of preparations for my first setup in my previous house.


My only concern with this fixture is that condensation builds up in the fixture each morning. The light still functions great after a year and a half of use, but I think I will do something to waterproof the end caps. The lights are grounded and I use a GFCI outlet but I would feel better if I knew there were no exposed connections.

I'm thinking about adding two more bulbs before I set this tank up again. Like I mentioned earlier four bulbs did a pretty good job, but I think six bulbs will make growing certain plants easier.
 

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How are you going to close the corners? You could use small aluminum angles and epoxy them in place. It looks very good now, but would look even better with the corners closed.
 

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very nice job on the tank, couldn't you add some vents and maybe a small computer fan to help with the condensation? and the corners could use some help as Hoppy said. Gerry
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks Hoppy and Gerry for your input. I agree that the corners are not the prettiest on this fixture. The reason I didn’t do anything with them is because the whole fixture gets attached to the inside of the canopy and you never see it again, at least not from the outside. If someone wanted to make something like this as a stand alone fixture/canopy then Hoppy’s suggestion of using the aluminum corners would be the way to go. My brother had also suggested making only four cuts, folding the sides down, then folding the corners over the sides and riveting them in place. With the right kind of rivets that method might look real nice too.

I had bought a computer fan for this fixture since my water temp was getting a bit high in the summer. I figured that blowing some heat out the top would help. But I never got around to that project. Now that I’m in Alaska I figured I wouldn’t need to use the fan. But I didn’t think of using it at night to help with the condensation. I might have to give that a try. Thanks for the suggestion Gerry.
 

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could be wrong but i think the rapid cooldown when the lights go off is causing the condensation. maybe if you put in styrofoam between the metal top and your finished canopy might help. its looking great good luck Gerry
 

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Discussion Starter #13
This is the canopy I made to match my stand.





I wanted something big that would make the whole aquarium like a piece of furniture and a sort of crown for the stand I spent so long making. I also wanted to have complete and easy access to the tank without having to take the whole canopy off each time that I wanted to work in it. I didn't like the idea of using a hinge in the middle of the canopy; I just wanted one solid piece with no gaps or spaces that would let light through or not match up when closed. I also wanted the stand to be flush with the wall; so the canopy would have to swing straight up from the top corner. Luckily I had some extra space at the back of my stand behind my tank to allow for the design I eventually came up with. The design allows me to have a large canopy that swings all the way up and gives me unrestricted access to my tank. I use a small dowel to hold the stand up, like the hood of a car.



I can also easily hold it open just a little if I want to make a quick adjustment to something. I drilled down into the rim just a bit for the dowl to sit in, that keeps it from slipping.

 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Thanks for the kind words wrkucera. Here are some better pics of the frame that holds the canopy:

To keep the canopy from falling backwards I drilled two holes in the trim and tied the frame to it with wire.


From the back


Close-up of back


The space behind my stand was 2" so I used 2"x1.5" boards. If I were planning this again I would make the space and boards smaller. I've made some covers for the sides out of matching wood, I just haven't attached them yet.
 

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That is a fantastic effort, sonaps! Looks absolutely professional and super clean. I also have a thing for knocking up my own things around the house out of wood, so I can really appreciate what has gone into this. I'm gonna bookmark this thread and copy your ideas some day. You should be proud of this, mate, well done!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Sonaps... thanks for showing me this site today at Stusser. I hope the ballasts and bulbs work out for you... ;)

- Clint
Thanks man, you really hooked me up nicely. I gave those bulbs a test when I got home and they were blinding!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
From the above post you can see that I decided to upgrade the lighting for this tank. I went to all the big electrical stores looking for T5 lighting and surprisingly all they had in T5’s were short one-bulb fixtures for like $90. I had given up and went back to Home Depot to get another T12 ballast to add to my tank. I got to talking with a worker there about the lack of T5’s anywhere in town. He asked if I’d been to any of the electrical wholesalers and thought they would probably have them. After getting directions from him I set out with new hope. The first place I went to was promising; they had a 4 bulb T5HO fixture for $159. I wanted to check the other stores though since they didn’t know anything about the bulbs that it came with. I’m really glad that I did since that is where I met Clint from the above post.

I walked into Stusser’s and asked about T5HO lighting, he asked what I was using it for and I told him it is for a planted aquarium. He said “I just set one of those up on my aquarium”. He brought me around the counter and showed me his setup which was posted online. Then he took me in the back and showed me what they had. I left with a six bulb unit that has two ballasts. The item had been broken in transit and he had stripped the ballasts and end caps, which still worked great. He let me have it for a steal! They didn’t have the best lamps in stock (I think they were 3500K) I took them since that is better than nothing. They may be doing a special order on some 6500K bulbs though that I will get in on.

I’ve been doing a ton of work on the tank lately. More updates and pictures to follow.
 

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I'm ordering the bulbs in the morning... They'll be here Thursday! ;) So uhm.......... how bright were those T5's? :flame: :supz:

That hood you built has me wanting to run out to Home Depot.... & you're gonna have to hook me up on the CO2 system you're runnin'!:rapture:

- Clint
 
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