500 Plus Not A Reef Vivarium

JDowns

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This will be a long project due to time constraints and travel.

I've wanted to do this project for a long time but due to living in various states for the last ten years I haven't had the opportunity to get it started. Now that I'm back in Phoenix full time for the foreseeable future, minus the summers in which I'll be spending in Idaho, I'm excited to get this project started.

There is a wall between my living and dining room which has a perfect opening for a built in vivarium. I had planned a reef here originally, but due to the commitments it would take in time (not being gone 3-4 months out of the year) I've decided on a vivarium which could be automated and ignored for months at a time and will provide a living indoor garden.

The plan is to add cabinet doors to the bottom and build in shelving and storage below while accommodating for the RO system, 50 gallon reservoir for misting, ultrasonic humidification, drainage/filtration, fans for forced air induction, and all the automation controls.

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The vivarium itself will fit into the existing nook and provide viewing and access via sliding glass doors on both sides.

I've made good progress so far on the vivarium itself. I need to decide which route I'm going to take to seal the interior. I've looked at the pond shield route and decided against it due to the finish is less than desirable. Sealing with epoxy either from Composite Envisions or West Systems is very time consuming with all the coats and sanding and polishing and final 2K clear to get a nice finish that will last. So I've opted for a dual approach to skin the interior with either acrylic, abs, or pvc sheets and finish off the small trim around the doors and upper areas with black tinted epoxy. That should give me a nice waterproof enclosure that will last, be aesthetically pleasing, and balance the costs between time, labor, and materials.

The enclosure itself is 13ply 3/4 Baltic Birch. I got a great deal on (3) pieces of pre-finished sheets since there were gouges on the finished side, but since I was planning on a painted finish a little bondo was not a problem for the cost savings. The finished side had been sanded down so it can be primed, painted, and cleared a gloss white. I'm so looking forward to priming and wet sanding (sarcasm). The interior has already been sanded and coated with watered down wood glue as a pre-sealer to avoid the wood grain from rising when the epoxy gets applied. The plastic sheets will get epoxied into place. There are a total of (56) 1" holes for ventilation that I'll end up printing grommets that will accommodate precut 3/4" stainless steel mesh, or if there is too much ventilation plugs. There will be (4) panes of 1/4" glass siliconed into the top where the (4) LED pendants will shine through. The glass will have holes drilled for the misting system which should largely blend into the black background above.

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JDowns

JDowns

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Made a bit of progress.

First step was to cut into the wall and see what was going on in there. Fortunately already determined the top had a ply base but had no idea what was going on inside.

Ended up having to rerun some electrical and removing/adding vertical supports to get the doors centered.
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Made some shaker doors, got plumbing run for the R/O system which will feed into a Tamco square 20 gallon reservoir for the misters and fogger, put in a subfloor for bulk storage, got the tank epoxied, painted and matte cleared, the top is hinged and gas struts, vents are finishing printing now, lighting installed, and circuit switched over to a 20amp GFCI.

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Next steps are to drill holes for the fresh air fans which will also bring in the fog, drainage, and sensor port for temp humidity. I’ll get the glass door track installed and call it a wrap until the fall when I get back.
 
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