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THIS is going to get interesting....

26777 Views 126 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  giypsy
Hi Guys. This is my first time posting on here. I've been lurking and reading and lurking some more and this site has been a WEALTH of information to help me with this project that I've embarked on.... so I figured I'd start a journal up here, and maybe help keep someone from repeating mistakes that I have made while learning in the process.

This WHOLE project started.... (Drumroll please....) Because we decided to paint a room. (yes, you read that right.) It had this godawful flowery, stripey, yucky wall paper that my mother put up when this was her house. (she has since moved and I've taken over the house) It was her formal dining room, and we are converting it to a living room/family room type of thing.

A quick little bit about me: (this will prove relevant as you move through the thread.)

My nickname is McGyver. Anytime people need to figure out how to do something or fix something, I am always the first call. (Flattering, but sometimes annoying.) I spent sixteen years as a landscape Nurseryman, and can probably speak more latin plant names than all but one or two people in North Jersey. (Joisey as the New Yorkers call it... LOL) I got laid off a year ago and vowed never to back to the business, and my back thanks me for it. I now fix Glass. (Think fancy Waterford Crystal champagne glasses and all sorts of artsy fartsy stuff like that. Hey... It's paying the bills.) Now that all of that is out of the way.... Let me explain how this all really started.

"Honey... can we strip this wallpaper off and repaint the room?"

"Yes dear".

"When do you want to start?"

::::Mumbling to self:::::: (I don't really WANT to start) "I dunno. When do you want to?"


"Ok Dear."

So like any good man would... I made a godawful mess of stripping wallpaper, scraping Wallpaper Glue, Sticking my fingers together with said Wallpaper Glue.... and all that kind of stuff. Then there was the Spackling and sanding.

(I swear, this will get on to aquaria related stuff soon.!!!)

This is what I was left with:

While working on the room, I moved a few times, an old 85 gal aquarium. It was in my possession because I was asked to "Turtle sit" for two months, for friends that moved to South Carolina. That was two years ago. Way I look at it.... It's mine now. I had to let the Turtles go because they out grew the tank in six months. (and I told the folks that I did too.) So I said:

"Honey.... I want to set this tank up and make it the focal point of the room"

"OK. Now get painting."

::::Mumbling.... Grrrrr... Inaudible:::::

And so we went on painting.

And then it hit me! I'll set up a "Dog-Quarium!"

I don't believe Dear Marie was going to let me go through with that plan, but I DID get a chuckle out of her....

So.... I decided to set up an aquarium. I've had many over the years starting when I was just four. Then for my first job I worked at a pet store. I had Oscars then until my well meaning mother washed the windows directly over the tank and the overspray did in my Oscars. :(

Then I had a "Native aquarium" for years until my pickeral ate me out of house and home. I had him in there with some sunfish that were bigger than him... Crayfish.... etc....

But I've always dreamed of an aquarium with lots of gorgeous Cardnals schooling together, Kulhlies rummaging around......

So.... I like to do things right. First I was going to get one of those cheap photo backgrounds, throw some plastic plants in there and fill'er up.

But like the true Plant Geek I am.... I decided to go with real plants..... and THIS..... is where it all got interesting. I started researching lighting and substrate, and stumbled across "Concrete over styrofoam" backgrounds....

::::Wow. That looks cool. I can do that!::::

So then I spent a WHOLE bunch of time researching backgrounds.....

"HONEY!!!! Put the computer DOWN and come help me paint!"

"Yes dear...."

In the interest of not making this particular one TOO awful long, I'm going to stop here and continue with a new entry....

"FLYING STYROFOAM.... Or.... Pink Styrofoam tracked all over the house!"
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Flying Styrofoam.

Ok.... So here's where it got interesting.....

I did all my research.... learned all about applying concrete over styrofoam, and one day after finishing a coat of paint, I headed for the Man Cave to start. I already had a friend help me carry the tank and stand down, I already stripped silicone that the turtles shredded to bits, and I already fixed a crack in the bottom of the tank by using my fancy "glass repair bonding agent" to seal the initial crack or at least bond it back together, and then cut a plate of glass and siliconed it in just for insurance. The tank was then leak tested to make sure said repairs worked. (they did)

So I went out to the shed and dug up some pink foam that someone was throwing out where I used to work and I had always said to myself "That will come in handy for SOMETHING" so I grabbed it.

First I cut a piece to fit the back of the tank:

And then I had to cut it into three parts to fit in the tank because of a brace that goes across the top of the tank. I then put it back in and considered where to put the filtration and all that jazz. I'm using two Fluval Cannister filters, one on each side of the tank, so I carved in a groove for the filter intake:

I was using an air powered angle grinder with a wire wheel mounted. FASTER than a hot knife through butter let me tell ya!!!! Why use knives and stuff to carve the foam when you can use POWER TOOLS! (Making best Tim Taylor Grunt)

I then bonded on strips of foam using West System Epoxy. I build boats as my other Hobby and I have used West System many times with this foam, and it works awesome. It was what I had laying around.... so I used it. I was going for a sedimentary rock formation type look, so I bonded the layers all Paralell, and had some of them overlap the adjoining pieces to lessen the look of the seams:

Then I carved all the layers to look like rock:

Then it was time to apply the concrete. I used QuickCrete Sand Topping Mix. I mixed it thin, brushed on a few coats allowing approx, 24 hours drying time (with misting 5+ times a day) in between coats, and applied my last coat with a color tint from QuikCrete.

I siliconed the foam background in, and weighted it down till the silicone cured:

and I then Used a thick layer of the Topping Mix to Make the seams invisible:

The background, now upright:

"Honey! C'mon.... we gotta get this room done!!!!!"

"Oh.... Uhhh.... Right. Be up in a few minutes hon! Just gotta take a few more pictures of the tank!!!!"

":::Grumble, mumble::::" From the top of the stairs.

Oh yeah... One more picture. The tank set up, background in, filled with water to Leach the lime out of the Concrete, and a piece of wood soaking to get the tannic acid out of it and help it sink. (I figured it wouldn't hurt and I could kill two birds with one stone.... The wood leaches Tannic Acid, and the Concrete leaches Lime which theoretically should cancel each other out.)

It is at this point that I need to post a disclaimer:

"I am NOT an expert and I am bumbling my way through this. Any questions, comments, or anything of the sort are highly appreciated, and will not hurt my feelings!!!!!"

The next installment should probably be termed "The minor complication"

Stay tuned folks for more info.
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Ok..... SO here comes the unexpected twist. A friend of mine got himself a 55 gal and recently set it up. On impulse he bought a few plants and put them in... (against my warnings...) and he got a pair of Oscars. As I predicted, they dug them up, started playing with them, and even set up a fishie Volleyball court where they would whack them back and across the net....

So my Dear buddy (who knows about my plans and helped me carry the aquarium down to the Man Cave) calls me and says, "You gotta take these plants. The fish are killing them!" So he gave me the plants in a plastic shopping bag.

Now.... Mind you... I have NOTHING set up yet to contain water that I would put a living thing into. Next thing I know, I have a plastic shopping bag with an Echinodorus 'Ozelot' and a Cryptocoryne 'Cilata' in it, and nothing to put it into.

After reading all about Walstead setutps, I rummaged around in the garage and found a 2.5 gal (?) tank, and added gravel around the perimiter, filled it with topsoil, and topped it off with well washed COARSE sand dug out of a local stream. I then plopped the plants into it, gently filled it with water, and to my suprise it was already clear. Since I was doing all of this outside in my greenhouse, I let the water run gently to finish clearing it off and it was clear after about five minutes. I ended up throwing on a pair of boots and rummaging around in the stream and coming up with a few clumps of something that resembles anacharis and plopped that in there....

I brought it in, put it where it got a little sunlight and set up a desk lamp.

After a little more reading, I decided I needed a few more plants so off I went to LFS and came home with a fistfull of moss, and some un-labled low foreground type plant. (Gimme time. I'm a plant geek but this is a whole new palatte of plants for me to learn. I'll get better with names. I pick them up quickly.)

There was also a tank full of Endlers Livebearers that were labled as such "Endlers livebearers, Small" and no price. I inquired with the head honcho that informed me that they were indeed NFS, but then proceeded to ask how many I wanted.

"Two pair?"

"No.... Can't do that. One?"


Upon arriving home, I break up the moss and spread it around the way I like while acclimating the fish. I plant the foreground plants, and now I have two happy as can be Endlers, and observed the male do his little "You know you want me" dance today. (One full day after entering his new home!)

That's the end of the story for the moment except for the pictures that follow, but I will keep everyone posted.... and as before, I welcome comments and advice! I'm bluffing my way through this following the old addage: "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with BULL" :)

The new Small tank:

If you've got Eagle eyes..... you can see my little Endler girl looking right at you:

My new baby boy. (On the left):

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Looking good. You'll probably have to change your water out several times. Personally, I would soak the wood in a bucket and cure the concrete without filling the tank up with water. When I did my rock wall - albeit in a terrarium but should still apply - I used vinegar in a spray bottle several times to "cure it" and then I sprayed it with water several times a day until the runoff reached a neutral pH. Sounds like you've already done a bit of this, so it should be easy. Of course, I have a python to help with the water part. Anyway, It looks very good. It would go well with large plants and large fish because the striations are so big. Smaller striations would look better if you want to "miniaturize" the aquascape - just FIY.
Dryn.... I've been testing the water just to see where it falls, and my Ph Test kit only goes up to 7.6. My tap water alone hits the top of the scale..... so I fill it with water, and add two cups of vinegar to it and retest. It then drops to approx. 6.0. At the end of the day (if I do it first thing in the morning,) It's back to 7.6+. I figure I need to get a better test kit so I can get the REAL values and see how things are working out. For now I've resigned myself to a few weeks of water changes until things level out.... Besides.... the room isn't fully painted yet, and we are considering new carpet which is a MUST before putting in an 85 gal tank that will sit on top of it. :wacko:

I was planning on large plants for exactly the reason you mentioned. The scale is off but by time I realized it, it was already siliconed in. I should have done more detail.... but I'll deal with it for now. Maybe next round I'll add a little more detail to the rocks. I actually ended up blowing up the air compressor I was using to run the angle grinder, because the compressor was not really meant to run an angle grinder. (That was the real reason that I didn't add more detail. LOL) Sais La Vie.....

As things happen I'll post more pictures! Thanks for the advice!
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Ok.... so I haven't gotten to this point yet... The Nuts and bolts of it all.

What I've got now:

(Now, mind you, all of this came with the tank except for the background I made)

One 85 gal tank with new background in the garage filled with water to leach the lime out.
One Fluval 205 Cannister filter
One FLuval 405 Cannister filter.
One "Stealth" heater that upon first testing, released a stream of bubbles for a minute and then crapped out.
Two aquarium hoods with 18" fluorescent lights. The tank has a brace in the middle that is a plate of glass approx. 12"x18", and the hoods sit in the two openings on either side of it. The hoods do not reach all the way from front to back.
One unknown ballast screwed into the inside of the pine cabinet.
One EXTREMELY patient and supporting girlfriend.

So here's where my questions start:

I was considering wiring the inside of the cabinet and possibly building shelves in there. My thoughts were to run one wire out to the outlet, and then run it in, and to two switches controlling different outlets. One would be for the lighting, and timers and all stuff like that (heater, etc...) and the other circuit if you will would be for the filtration so I could just flip a switch and shut it down for maintenance. Has anyone done something like this? Do you think I would be better off using a few power strips to accomplish this instead?

Now from all the reading I have done.... I can assume that these lights are going to be totally inadequate for plants. SO..... The tank is five foot long. In all my reading I've heard about T5, T8... Now instead of paying through the nose at LFS for an "aquarium" light fixture... can I go to the local Lowes or Dome Heapo and get a 4' Fluorescent light fixture and then build it into a custom cabinet? I don't know what to look for if I go that route. (I'm assuming the specs will be on the box somewhere.) I just recently purchased a 4' twin fluorescent fixture to use over my workbench, and I think I paid under twelve bucks for it.

With some sort of light fixture over it.... I'm assuming that I'll need to cover the two openings in the tank with glass to prevent splashing on the lights and escapees. I'm comfortable with cutting (controlled breaking) of glass, drilling glass, and acutally cutting (with a diamond saw blade), so I was envisioning a hood that has the front flip up, and then having a hinged piece of glass lift up for feeding, maintenance, etc... I could drill the glass and bolt in Stainless steel hinges or something like that. (would only take me five minutes...)

My thoughts..... are to do a Walstead style setup. 3/8" Pea gravel around the outside to contain substrate, topsoil, and the washed sand topping that seems to be working so well in my little temporary tank. The sand is very coarse, due to the base rock it was weathered from, containing a lot of quartz and silica. My area of North Jersey was a huge iron mining area during the revolutionary war and I have a minimum of five iron mines within three miles of my house, so I know there's a good amount of iron in it. The way I wash it leaves me with almost pebbles, much coarser than "sand"...

I am going to use that piece of wood, but boiling it is totally out of the question. It just barely fits in a rubbermaid 100gal stock tank.

I've got plenty of time on my hands because of two things:

I have to leach the concrete out yet and I know that that is going to take some time.

We've painted the room in varying shades of brown, and the carped is this awful pastel yellow kind of color. I am NOT going to set the tank up until we get the new carpet in for obvious reasons. It's going to be a while before we save up for the carpet too.... giving me even MORE time to DO THIS RIGHT THE FIRST TIME.

So.... I'm throwing it all out there.... I'm not looking for a fancy CO2 setup or anything like that... and that's what I have to work with, along with a willingness to make/build anything that I need to. Not quite a "Hillbilly, knock the supporting wall out and bring in an I beam" project, but big enough to keep me busy for quite some time....

Looking forward to your comments. :D Crow.
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Hi Bunnie. Thanks for the reply! I've actually been checking the forum twice a day because I want to move forward with the project but don't want to go off half cocked and have to re-do anything. I talked to a future brother in law who is an electrician, and he told me to go with a few power strips all tagged together. (I think he didn't wanna get sucked into the project) That's FINE with me... Makes my life simpler.

While I'll agree with the fixture not being as important as the tubes... It kinda is, because if I have the fixture, I can start moving forward. I can always buy the tubes later. I cant' start building anyhing without the fixture first however. I forgot to mention that I've got full access to a metal fabricating shop, with a sheet metal brake so I can bend and fabricate a reflector for inside the fixture for simply the cost of materials.... (Told ya I'm a McGyver. You should see some to the things I've built for my little wheel horse garden tractor! LOL I can pull a 16 foot log 24" in diameter with a log hauler I built for that little bugger.)

One issue I'm trying to figure out how to deal with: Most fixtures are either four, or six feet long. My tank is five. If I go with a four foot fixture I'm worried about dark spots at the ends. (I've been reading all the forums.) With all THAT being said....

What are the benefits of T5 over T8? I haven't done enough reading yet I guess.....

I'm anxious to get the fixture so I can start with the more "mechanical" building part of it.

You mentioned making the hinges "unobstructive".... which gave me a genius idea that no one other than me would probably notice! LOL. If I use double thickness glass..... (1/4 in) I could flush mount the hinges like you would in wood. (Mortice them in.) I have the capability to grind the glass just enough to make the hinges fit flush with the surface. I'm sure that NO one other than myself or perhaps my father who is in the glass business would notice.... but it would be a nice touch of craftmanship to say the least. :D

Now..... I was leaning more towards a low tech Walstad type setup than going towards CO2 but then again.... I'm so far into this.... I might as well do it right. I make my own wine, so DIY CO2 sounds fun.... (and may lead to interesting by products.... :tea: ) My other pets feed me breakfast.... (Chickens) so why not my fish? :)

To anyone else reading out there in wonderland.... Keep this in mind:

I'm good at working with wood. I build wood boats for a hobby.
I'm decent with any kind of metal and have full access to a metal fab shop, and if anything is beyond my ability, the owner of the shop loves tinkering projects such as this, so the sky is the limit.
I'm bad with electricity, but have a future brother and father in law who are electricians.
I work with glass for a living. The thought of drilling a pane of glass and then enlarging the hole to five inches to me.... is as nerve wracking as making a PBJ sandwich for most other people. (No one ever told me I COULDN'T.... so I just DO it.. :rolleyes: )

Thanks again for the reply. Looking forward to more comments.
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Thanks Guys.... I REALLY appreciate the input.... I'm impatient and cheap... LOL so I wanna get going on the lighting as soon as possible, but still trying to start my own business so funding is limited.

I'm also "transportationally challenged".... (apparently the local PD didn't have much of a sense of humor about an atv crossing the highway) but that should be resolved by next Monday. The EVER so patient girlfriend only wants to go to the LFS when she needs dog food though, so every time I walk in there, I have a notebook full of questions for the poor owner. (Fish related)

Current status:

Tank is in the garage with the two fluvals running and a busted heater.... Leaching the lime out of the concrete. Tank is also this puke green/brown color. (not concerning me.)

The little tank I set up to rescue the plants for my buddy is bubbling along nicely with no input besides a desk lamp with a fluorescent above it and some daylight in the morning. (Strong for about two hours.) (there's also a heater in there)The Ozelot Sword has gone almost completely brown. I should prune it today to get the dead material out of there. There is one leaf growing strong from the base of the rosette with gorgeous color so I'm assuming it's just adjusting.

The endler pair... (LFS would only sell me one pair. I asked for two but he doesn't want to let them go yet...) is happy as a bug in a rug and I'm starting to think I should get another girl because the boy just will NOT leave her alone.... doing his little dance in front of her every time I peek in.

Moss is spreading quickly.....

Added three Red Cherry Shrimp as clean up crew but they are more interested in cleaning the moss and plants.

Can I add something like a small cory to help out? I'd PREFER to add a few Kuhlies but the tank is only 2.5 gal (approx) and I really don't wanna add anyone who will eat shrimp fry... Thanks again for all the help guys.
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Thanks for the welcome! I was thinking this was the case with the sword... (Read: hoping) It looks pretty crappy right now. I was wondering because it's getting a LOT more light now than it was in my buddy's tank.

The Dog is a patient and curious soul. He's always sticking his nose into any project I'm working on. (Literally) This summer I built a chicken coop and he had to investigate:

One more update. Since I'm not going totally High tech, I went out and got two, for foot T5 Fixtures today. Grand total? Twenty four bucks at Lowes. Now I can start working on some sort of hood. :)
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Thanks FBG! I'm going to start working on the hood this week.... Still not sure if I'm going to build a wood "enclosure" or if I'm just going to add glass to the top of the tank and build some way to suspend the lights. I'm leaning towards a wood enclosure simply because I don't want light "spilling" into the room. I'd prefer when the room lights are off to have the tank just give off light from within instead of being able to see the bulbs.... (Did that make any sense?)
Your dog is so cute. Good thing he's small enough to get the real skinny on all your projects!

One more thing to consider about your lights. Any barrier between your lights and the water, ie. glass, acrylic, will act as a filter cutting down the amount of light that gets to your tank. Since T5s are very intense that might not be a problem. Then again it depends on what plants you grown. I have about an 18" brace in the middle of my tank. I can't grow certain plants there simply because that glass is in the middle. It really makes a difference.
Thanx Tex! I have a similar brace in mine too.... Hmmmm.... Now ya have me "re-planning" in my head. I was going to head up to Lowes today and get some wood to make the top which I still will do, but now maybe I won't buy the glass... I was assuming that the lights needed to be protected from splashes etc.... but if I mount them a little higher, that shouldn't be a problem.

HOWEVER.... I did have a brain fart when I mentioned the lights I aquired. I got T8's instead of T5's. I only bought two bulbs. (I have two fixtures requiring two bulbs) so I need to get two more. NOW.....

ASSuming that my tank is 83.25 gallons.... (7.4 gallons in a cubic foot...) I have two 32Watt bulbs that are 5000K. (They were only six bucks and I wanted to see how it worked.... call me impatient.)

I think I'm going to have to buy a third fixture. (2x32watts per fixture, 64 Watts per fixture.) I'm scanning the boards reading as fast as possible, (so I don't ask too many 'tupid questions)

Now.... Remember how this all started? Repainting the room? Heh.... The dear patient girlfriend is starting to lose a bit of that beloved patience.... I haven't touched a paintbrush in a week due to this tank obsession. :sorry:

We painted the room in varying browns.... I sponge painted the one wall. Dear Marie is a vegetarian..... She LOVED the sponge painted wall until I mentioned it looked like Camouflage. (I am a hunter) Now she hates it.. :doh:

As always.... I'll keep y'all posted.... keeps the comments coming! Makes my day and helps me avoid costly mistakes. :ranger:
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There's a big difference in output between T5s and T8s. If you checked out the link I sent you to my light creation you'll see how close mine is. I have no glass except the center brace. My bulbs do fine. I think you will definitely need more light than the two you have now. Remember that the reflectors make a huge difference.

You may want to paint first. Finish the room first and then plan to your heart's content. That way your gf will not mind what you do with the tank. :D
Hey Tex.... I did check out your post... but when I got to Lowes... I had a brain fart and wrongfully assumed that the higher the number the higher the output. (T5 vs T8 ) Kinda like a car... V-6 vs. V-8.

I think I'm going to stay with the lights I have though. I'm not going to go high tech.... or least not High High tech... For Twelve bucks, I think the fixtures I have are going to work ok. Assuming I can get a ride today I'm going to get the wood for the hood. I just have to try to find a stain to match the stand. (Being "transportationally challenged" ends MONDAY! YAAAAAY!:clap2: )

I'm fairly blessed with an odd work schedule. I work weekends and I'm off during the week. (I do some work during the week but not too much) This lets me "play" during the week when dear girlfriend is at work. I think I'll do some leaf cleanup this morning before the rain comes and then paint this afternoon. Gotta keep the girlfriend happy. (besides... we're ALMOST done!) Then we gotta save up for carpet and THAT is going to be the hardest thing.

In other news... Got a full range master test kit... The background has settled out as far as the lime. I'm reading a consistent pH of 7.4 which is what my tap water tests at. The little "rescue tank" is bubbling along nicely with a Walstad type setup, two Endlers, Two kuhli's and Three Cherry shrimp. Everyone's living peacefully and water Param's are spot on. Yay!

I might post a pic or two of the room after I paint today... Just because it IS part of this project. :)

Thanks again!
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Good going! Looking forward to seeing the "entire" project.

FYI - about my link - just wanted you to see how low my light was to the water and that the lights are ok without a splash guard. Also you can see the big brace I have in the center. :D
Hey Tex... I've got the same type of brace in the center... As promised... Here's a few pics of the "entire" project. (Scan all the way back to the original post to see where I started.)

My "Camouflage" wall:

The new Wall Hanging thingy: (and yes... that is a 55gal under the cloth not being used.... That's another project....)

And what I plan on doing with the beams that some idjit painted:

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FINALLY... something worth posting.

So uh.... I started working on the hood tonight. Due to a "Civil" domestic dispute, I decided that I'd tuck my tail between my legs and head for the garage and wait for things to calm down a bit.....

Once I hit the garage.... the creative juices took over.

Here's the first pics of the new hood for the tank: (the brown bottle is the glue that seems to hold projects such as this together.)

The hood sitting in place... glue still wet, and clamped together:

The TOP of the hood... glued up and clamped together:

Whilst I was working on this... I was also working on the lighting. I purchased three 48" T8 fixtures that came from the store painted black, inside and out. No reflectors or anything. I've researched using Mylar... Aluminum.... Just about everything.. I was going to make reflectors at my buddy's Metal shop (He has a sheet metal brake he'll let me use) when at approx: 4:30 am I sat up straight in bed with an idea!

"I'll use Hillbilly chrome!!!!"

Well.... Hillbilly chrome goes by a NUMBER of names.... Jewish chrome, Mexican Chrome, Polish Chrome, or ANY Ethnic group you want to mention, as long as you put the word "Chrome" after it. I choose not to discriminate against ANY group, so if you send me an email I would gladly add your ethnic group to this list. I happen to be a *******/hillbilly sort, so I chose that name, but I'm Polish too (or at least half Polish). So I just took TWO shots at myself so I don't wanna hear ANYONE griping about me making ethnic jokes....

So here is what I bought:

I had to dissassemble the light fixtures anyway to mount them properly... so while I had them apart, I painted the reflectors. Here's a good before and after:

Glue is still drying... Paint is still drying.... I SHOULD have it mostly assembled by tomorrow and I will post more pictures then. Just figured I'd post an update so you guys don't get bored... :D
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Bunnie.... Sometimes... (if not MOST times...) my BEST ideas arrive just before the waking hour.... I'm just lucky to remember the good ones.... (and unlucky to have forgotten the others...)
That's funny. My best ideas seem to be as I'm going to sleep, or when I have a problem, JUST before I give up!
Bunnie.......Keep a notebook beside the bed.... WRITE IT ALL DOWN! And NEVER GIVE UP!!!!!

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Daily update:

Ok... so all mornin' there's been sawdust flying... screws turning, zipties zipping.... Made some good progress this morning!

First thing this morning.... I glued everything into it's final resting position. My Dad always said "Son.... you can NEVER have too many clamps...." If you look at the ones on the wall.... well... they didn't do me any good. I scrounged all I could to come up with the ones seen in this photo:

While the glue was drying, I put the light fixtures in place...

I put the painted reflectors in.... screwed everything together, and added the bulbs.

When I plugged them in.... I think the rest of the lights in the house dimmed.... :peace:

I then busted out the trusty router and flush trimmed all the overhangs, and rounded all the corners to make it match the existing stand. I also cut the spaces for filter intakes, outputs, and electrical cords.....

Started staining to match the existing stand....

And plopped it on top to see how well the lights worked!!!!

I still need to put another coat of stain on it to get it to match the tank stand..... but you get the idea.... The "heated discussion" from last night has blown over. (Yes... I apologized like a good boy...) I was the cranky one and realized it. :sorry:

So.... aside from another coat of stain.... and a fancy cantileivered lid lift mechanism.... I'm almost ready for substrate.... But then again.....[smilie=f: there IS that little matter of having to put the new carpet down before I can move the tank to it's final spot. (carpet donations anyone?) :D
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Hey Tex... Just got an email from my aunt who is watching this project from where I'm hosting my pictures... She mentioned a "Family trait" of going like the devil on a project and then burning out... LOL Well.... I'm still in the "Go like the devil" phase.

I'm pretty much hitting a stopping point very soon until I can get the dang carpet down, so hopefully that will give me a break without the burnout part.

Although.... I've got this lift mechanism idea and spent an hour at the welding shop this morning pickin' my buddy's brain to see what size materials I'll need. He might swing by after he's off work to take a peek at what I'm doing. :D
Ok... I SWEAR this is the last photos for the day. Really!!!!!!! Here's a before and after. The before, is with the cheap hoods that came with the tank. I don't believe that they were the original ones, because there was a ballast installed under the stand. (But again.... it's what it came with.)

Two, 17 watt generic lamps that would come with a walmart package. (.41wpg)

And AFTER.... with the new custom hood, stained to match.... 6x32w T8's (2.31wpg)

I'm DONE for the day dangit! :D
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THAT is awesome! You're quite the handy manny!!
Bunnie..... <evil grin> You don't know the HALF of it.... LOL
Well.... if you've been reading this journal so far.... you might have read about me being "transportationally challenged".... Well.... $750 later, and jumping over hurdles and through hoops.... I am no longer "transportationally challenged."

I arrived home about noon today clutching a little card that contained my regained freedom. After seven MONTHS of being on foot.... I get home.... and want to go for a ride.... But get this.... I don't have anywhere to go. Bummer. Soooo..... I did what any guy would do. I threw the dog in the car and went out for a cup of coffee... BECAUSE I COULD.

(Really.... this kinda DOES relate to the aquarium build...)

Well.... the other day I headed over to the fabricator's shop. I explained my whole "hood lift system" to him.... and he threw in his two (TEN) cents.... I also made the mistake of mentioning that I would LOVE a LED moonlight system... (I figured he just worked with METAL!) Well... I found out that he tinkers with electronics.... 45 min later after viewing two hundred electrical diagrams.... I walked out of the shop with four, eighteen inch pieces of steel, and four, twelve inch pieces, and one helluva earful about LED wiring.

Here's where the whole transportation issue comes into play.... I had NO where to go and was itching to drive... ANYWHERE.... and I saw the pieces of steel sitting on the work bench. And then it hit me! I need machine screws! So I fired up the 7.3L Turbo Diesel pickup, and drove one mile.... Yes.... One mile to the store and back.... Just to get eight screws, and nuts to match for this project.

Here's what I've come up with for the hood lift. There's a LOT left to do... countersink the screws so they sit flush.... and I still need to nail down the way I'm going to attach it to the tank.... but without further adieu, here is my new lid lift.

It doesn't look like it, but this is ten feet of 1"x 1/4" hot rolled steel:

The concept:

Bolted together:

Half extended:

And fully extended:

I MIGHT have it together and working by the weekend, but I have to drive down to Timonium Md. this weekend for work.... If I get it done before the weekend, I'll put pics up.... but if not.... you'll have to wait till Monday or Tuesday. Thanks again for reading, and remember.... I welcome questions, comments, and advice.... I'm bluffing my way through this, pretending to know what I'm doing. Like most things I do.... "I did it because no one told me I COULDN'T do it".
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