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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello all!
I suppose I should (re) introduce myself, my name is Josh and about 5 years ago I used to be very active on this forum. Some of you old timers (Lol :rolleyes:) may remember my DIY 34 gallon setup complete with cfl lighting and paintball co2.

A quick pic:


and thread HERE.

And you might remember the awesome thrift store score I made with this 75g acrylic aquarium:



and thread HERE.

Well life happened and although I slowly but surely worked on that monster I found very little time to post my progress. Two moves, another kid and several work promotions later I have finally decided to pull together all of the pics I took along the way and do a proper build thread. I want to thank the members of this forum in general for the incredible community and resource you provide. I would have never been able to put all of this together without the support, ideas, and all around awesomeness of this group! I hope you like it...

It all started with that acrylic 75g tank I just told you about. I decided I wanted to build a fine furniture grade cabinet and incorporate all of the equipment in a way that made the mechanical side look almost as nice as the exterior. I sat down and made this design in Google Sketch up.



I wanted it to have very clean shaker style lines with a minimal abount of trim. I also wanted the hood to be as absolutely thin as possible.

The only problem was I had very little money and lived in an apartment with no real space to work, I was not deterred however and proceeded to purchase scraps of birch plywood from the cut bin at the local Home Center. I cut them to size with a circular saw and straightedge and began assembly on my patio.

and it went together well.


You may notice I strayed from the normal severely overbuilt stand we've all made before (you know, 4x4 posts to hold a 10 gallon tank? :cool:) and instead stuck to more standard cabinet construction with four solid sheets (top to bottom) of 3/4" plywood braced by 1x lumber frames and capped with a top and bottom sheet of more 3/4" ply. All of the connections are screwed and glued and I can tell you I would be comfortable sitting in that thing with a car parked on top, it's solid as a rock! It also gave me three completely separate storage cabinets under the tank.

Anyway, it was now time to stain, I went with Minwax Polyshades in "Bombay Mahogany".
First coat:

Second coat:

and third coat:

Starting to look like a stand!

I made the doors from some more 1x3 boards and sheets of 1/4" plywood, I did use my father in law's table saw for that part along with his door jig.


I cut some keyhole shaped holes in the top for the plumbing (had to pass PVC ball valves through them, more later.)

and threw a sheet of foam on top.


This is the inside of the cabinet, the hooks are to hold my filter system.


Tank drilled with bulkheads and valves in place.


So then it was on to the hood, I said I wanted it thin and I was not kidding! I also had almost no money so the best bang for the buck was a total of 6 4' T8 tubes placed as close to the water as I could with a bright white coat of paint as a reflector behind them.

I assembled the frame and made grooves in the boards to run the wires through. (after the wires were in place I glued the top sheet on and they are completely hidden.)

There is wiring for the 6 T8 tubes and their ballasts (mounted to the back), a row of 12 LED night lights, and two fans for cooling and condensation removal.


Here are the tubes in place:


and a full shot with the stand, tank, and hood.


I bolted some 2x2 lumber to the back of the stand and ran them up behind the tank to the hood. I mounted hinges on the top so the entire hood is hinged to lift up and out of the way for maintenance.

(I have since properly mounted the ballasts and fans and removed the tape)

The next step was filtration / circulation. I wanted the three cabinets in the stand to each have a specific use, the right one was for the pump, filter, and co2. The middle is a hospital tank and liquid fert storage. The left is for electrical / automation equipment and dry storage. I designed the filtration system to fit perfectly in the right side cabinet. It consists of a Quiet One 4000HH pump (980 gph!! :rolleyes:) fed through a 1" inlet on the bottom of the tank. It goes into a household whole house water filter that I stuff with poly batting and then into a 2" PVC co2 reactor. It then goes back up to the tank through a single hole in the bottom and into a piece of 3/4" PVC that runs along the back as a manifold with six 1/2" outlets on it. Each outlet can be individually aimed.
There are also several valves in place so I can isolate any part of the system for maintenance and also a valve at the lowest point with a hose connection for water changes.
Here is a shot of the pump and filter:

and that FTS from above that shows the PVC setup inside the tank:

and here's the pump cabinet itself, fully assembled.


Here's the whole thing complete with water and everything.


I used a mix of the eco-complete from my 34 gallon setup along with some turface pro league in tan for the substrate.


I just realized I don't have any current FTS's. I recently got back into working on this thing and did a full clean out and rescape, things are growing back in right now, but I'll get some pics in the next few days.

Future plans include automatic liquid dosers, feeding, water top-off, lighting, co2, and heat all controlled by an arduino in the left side cabinet, for now it's just power strips and lamp timers with a manual valve for the ATO (guess that makes it an MTO - Manual Top Off?) plumbed into my refrigerator's ice maker line.

Hope you like. :D
 

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Very impressive! I'm starting a similar build for 150 gallon tank this winter. Do you have a design on the dosing pumps yet? I program them for robotics projects, but haven't found a way to do much with the aquarium that is cheaper than what I can buy OEM equipment for.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Very impressive! I'm starting a similar build for 150 gallon tank this winter. Do you have a design on the dosing pumps yet? I program them for robotics projects, but haven't found a way to do much with the aquarium that is cheaper than what I can buy OEM equipment for.
Yeah, if it was just the dosing I'd agree, but I plan to use the same arduino to control several other features as well. There are some $15 peristaltic pumps on ebay I have heard good things about and plan to give them a try.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Ok, I went ahead and took some quick photos today, I'll get some better ones soon, but wanted to show how it looks today. Bear in mind I just did a major overhaul and rescape so it is not looking the best at the moment...

Here's the hood open with all the lights on.


And here's one with just the night lights.

They are actually a part of a string of LED holiday lights i mounted by drilling holes in a brace and running the wire through a groove in the back of it.

Here's the stand and tank in all it's glory...

the center cabinet is designed so I can put a 5 gallon bucket in with a heater and airstone to use as a QT / Hospital tank. I plan to hang a small LED light under the top shelf in the future to provide light,

The obligatory FTS:


And a couple more shots of how it looks in the house.
 

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Nice build. Is that an inline filter with an external pump? I had a setup like that once, but found it clogged too quickly. I'll be interested to hear how you like it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Nice build. Is that an inline filter with an external pump? I had a setup like that once, but found it clogged too quickly. I'll be interested to hear how you like it.
Well it's been running for about 5 years with no trouble... I took one of the cartridges that go into the the house filter and ripped all of the media off. I then wrap the plastic core that was left with polyester batting from the fabric store. Cleans well and I just replace the batting every couple of weeks.

Oh, and thanks by the way ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hey Aaron, I changed the filter media and thought I'd show some pics.

This is the cabinet after I removed the filter housing, real quick and easy, just turn off the pump, close two valves, and unscrew the housing. I also installed a little bleed valve on the bottom of the housing to drain off the excess water so there are no spills.


This is what the inside of the filter housing looks like before cleaning.


And here is the fabric unrolled, it has about two weeks worth of crud on it.


This is a roll of new batting, I just cut off enough to wrap around the core a couple of times and roll it up.


Even as dirty as it was there was almost no reduction in flow. I think using just the batting keeps things pretty free flowing while catching most of the big junk. Hope it helps clarify... (Oh gosh... ouch, get it? clarify? Couldn't resist.:D)
 

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Thanks for the update on the filter change out. Great idea on the bleed valve to prevent spillage. I had the Lifeguard mechanical inline filter on my tank when I was running it and the micron filter it came with clogged fast. I put some batting in it eventually and that helped, but changing it was still a mess. I think your solution is both better and cheaper. I may try your way, but with poret foam as a filter media so it's able to be rinsed and reused.

Sorry, I didn't respond until now. My kid was due tomorrow, but decided to come early on 10/1 when you wrote your response. :)
 

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Another question: What size is your whole house filter? It looks to be this one.
 

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You nailed it. Exact make and model.
Thanks. I think I might go with the clear one if I try this. I like that it also has the shutoff valve incorporated into the top and I can see when the filter is getting dirty.
 
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