AlexGs Basement Plywood Build 2 displays one system.

Discussion in 'Large Aquariums 180g+' started by AlexG, Aug 9, 2015.

  1. AlexG

    AlexG Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor

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    So I had to move to IL for work which forced me to tear down my 120gallon display. I had a basement sump with a large refugium tank and water storage. I had a great setup and the tank did really well. It was sad to tear it all out but it had to go when I got the word I was moving. I did not think I could get setup again for years but it seems that has changed. I had a thread called "My wife just awakened a monster". I wanted main floor displays with sumps in the basement but the wife said no holes in the floor. I argued for months and lost. Unfortunately for my wife I asked what can I do in the basement and she said "I don't care what you do". This awakened the monster. At first I was not sure what to do as I had a limited size glass tank I could fit down the stairs. After some research I decided plywood was going to be the material of choice for these tanks as I could fit it in the basement and assemble it on my own. I have made some progress after I finalized the plans. I always wanted a split system. As much as I love having a reef tank there are still many fish I always wanted to keep that are not reef safe. I had the idea of a massive drop off tank that was 96" x 96" with the shallow end and 24" and the deep end at 48". After thinking about this a lot I scrapped the idea in part because a tank with that size would not be practical for access and fish separation. Also going over 36" deep brings in another list of issues to deal with. I was going to stagger the two tanks as the next idea but then the space was limited for viewing the reef tank and then the wife suggested side by side. I have moved forward with the side by side idea with the two tanks being tied into one system. The big question was how big can I go and feel confident about the construction and materials I plan to use. I found out that a 4'x8' sheet of plywood fits in the basement so that was the deciding factor for the bottom LxW size. As for height that was an easy choice on the reef tank 24" tall. The fish tank side will go 36" tall as that is a safe height for 3/4" glass. So the reef tank size is 96"L x 48"W x 24"T ~480 gallons. The fish tank is going to be 96"L x 48"W x 36"T ~720 gallons. I like tanks lower to the floor so the reef tanks stand is ~30" tall and the fish tank stand is only ~18" tall. I plan to use 3/4" Starphire glass for both tank viewing panels. Both tanks with overflow into a single 3 stage sump.

    Stage 1 120gallon tank with skimmers.
    Stage 2 Refugium 90-120 gallons in size.
    Stage 3 200-300 gallons: heating, dosing, top off, return.

    Tank construction
    3/4" Birch plywood. Secured using 2" anti-corrosion deck screws and water resistant wood glue. Plywood will be doubled up with screws and glue for all seams. Epoxy and fiberglass will be used to waterproof the interior of both tanks.

    Stand construction
    2x4s framed together with distributed support. There will be no under tank filtration so the there are 48 support legs spread out across each stand.

    Plans
    • Reef tank will have sand 1-2" of sand and the fish tank will be bare bottom with a HDPE sheet attached to the bottom.
    • Water storage planned RODI: 200 gallons freshwater and 200 gallons saltwater.
    • Lighting plans LEDs for both tanks. Manufacturer TBD.
    • Power 2 20amp circuits dedicated to the aquariums.
    • Backup tri-fuel generator to be installed TBD.
    • Quarantine System TBD.
    • Ventilation fans with humidistat to be installed for humidity control. Insulation for the fish room will also be completed to prevent unwanted humidity damage to the house.
    • Water flow TBD
    • Return pump 1 or 2 Reeflo Hammerheads.
    • Access to tanks will be via doors in front of both tanks and a raised platform behind both tanks.
    Unanswered questions.
    • Top Bracing for both tanks is still under consideration. Per plans I have seen online at least 1 brace is needed on the 24" deep tank. The 36" deep tank I plan at least 2 braces across the tank. Both tanks will have a rim brace minimum 3" around the entire top. More research and input is needed to determine the bracing requirements. Suggestions are welcome.
    • Foam for the tank bottoms. As both tanks are flat bottom and wood is never perfectly flat I plan to use foam between the stand and display tanks. Still need ideas for this foam IE: thickness and type. Suggestions are welcome.
    Lets not forget some pictures. I will add more as there is more progress. This build is going to take a while.

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  2. Matthias7

    Matthias7 Active Member

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    Wow, that looks awesome. Will be following
     
  3. kschweer

    kschweer Zoas!!! Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award NJRC Member Partner Member 2018

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    Definitely following this one! Looks great so far
     
  4. revhtree

    revhtree Owner Administrator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Photo of the Month Award Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Cool! Following!
     
  5. AlexG

    AlexG Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor

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    Update. So I have completed the main outer bracing for the 480 gallon reef tank. I wanted all of the bracing to have screws running perpendicular to the main tank plywood screws which dictated a couple of changes. One I needed to double up the bottom of the tank thickness to allow perpendicular screws to be put in place. This creates a greater cost but gives more support to the structure. The second change was to allow a doubled up top brace of 1.5 inches thick to be put in place instead of just 3/4in thickness. It is overkill in some respects but I would rather be safe than sorry. I will add additional bracing on the sides after I determine overflow layouts and placement. I have some ideas on top bracing the tanks. It will be a cross between euro and cross bracing. The shallow tank 24" deep might only get a single cross brace with euro bracing. While the 36" deep tank will get at least 2 cross braces with euro bracing. Some pictures of the outer bracing are included. Questions and comments are welcome.
     

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  6. hybridazn

    hybridazn Acro killer..... Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter 3RMAS Member R2R Excellence Award Photo of the Month Award Showcase Editor Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    This build looks like its going to be fun, following.

    Couple questions. First your choice to go with birch. Any specific reason not to use oak which is a harder wood and would give better strengthening than the softer birch wood?

    I see a decent amount of bracing, but it appears to be bracing better suited for glass or acrylic tanks, most plywood tanks I've seen of this magnitude have utilized side supports that resemble wall structures. Even with a thick fiberglass lining I see this failing. But then again I am no pro at these things so I could be wrong.

    Where did you do research for building the tanks? I always found monster fish keepers a great place of info on things like this.


    I look forward to this build!
     
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  7. AlexG

    AlexG Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor

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    I have been doing research for a while on a number of various sites: GARF, Youtube, Monster fishkeepers. I have seen tanks constructed out of pine plywood and they took the force of much larger amounts of water without failing. Getting the fiberglass and epoxy done right is key. Birch is about the same cost as the oak but I saw that there were several tank builders using Birch instead of oak in part it was due to the grain of the wood. The plywood I purchased is made in the USA and is not full of undesirable chemicals like formaldehyde. Considering the flex glass has plywood is not that different. I know several people use wall style frames around plywood tanks but I found that given the force on these tanks in the size I am building there have been tanks made of materials of less quality without failures. I know plywood is not exactly common for reef tanks but it has proven a sound method of construction of aquariums for decades. The main point of strength I am looking at is that all of the seams are crossing each other with material that is 1.5 inches thick and screws that run perpendicular to each other. On top of that there will be epoxy and fiberglass layers. If this does not have equal or greater strength of glass or acrylic I will be surprised. Worst case if there is a failure I am in the basement and it is not finished. I am building the tanks in a similar method of the DIYking on youtube (so far I have not seen a reported failure). I will eventually fill these tanks with water and that will be the true test of the tank structure, stands, and the floor. I will post more updates as progress on this project is completed.
     
  8. AlexG

    AlexG Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor

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    I am working on the bracing for the 720 gallon tank now. I finished the doubled up bottom which has been screwed and glued to the tank. The top/bottom braces have been made and put in place withe a few screws for fitting. I will be working on the corner braces and then final assembly of the outer braces this week. I will post some pictures once I have finished this work. Then I will be moving on to electrical and ventilation.
     
  9. AlexG

    AlexG Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor

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    Not many updates this week. I have been working on getting a utility sink installed to have a water source in the basement for RODI and cleaning equipment. I am also working on installing a humidity sensing ventilation system into the basement. Once this is complete I will be working to get some paint on the aquarium stands.
     
  10. TheEngineer

    TheEngineer Formerly icecool2 R2R Supporter Showcase Editor Delaware Reef Club Build Thread Contributor

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    Holy smokes! That's some great looking woodwork. Definitely following along.
     
  11. Harold Green

    Harold Green Well-Known Member

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    You'll like the wood aquarium. I built a 250 gallon wood and glass tank about 35 years ago and enjoyed it for years until I gave it away. I sealed the inside with four coats of Nassau blue epoxy and backed up the seams with silicon over the epoxy. I finished the wood stand with rough sawn 1x8's.
     
  12. AlexG

    AlexG Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor

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    Well I have completed the the utility sink install and plumbing had no leaks. I caught some flak installing the humidity sensing exhaust fan from the wife. She was not happy about the hole for the ventilation duct. I told her you said "no holes drilled in the floor. You did not say anything about holes in the wall." HAHA. The ventilation has worked out well so far. The fan is near silent at .3 SONES and cannot be heard upstairs. I have the first coat of primmer on the reef tank stand and tank bottom one more to go and that is done. The best part about the ventilation is that it kept the paint fumes out of the house. This served as a test of the ventilation fan system which I believe will keep the humidity out of the house. I will post some pics soon.
     
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  13. AlexG

    AlexG Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor

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    Its been a while since I have sent an update. I started an MBA program so some of my free time has been taken up by school work. I ordered my pond shield at the end of September since it was on sale. I was not planning to get the epoxy until later but I decided it was worth the savings. I got the 1.5 gallon kit in black. It arrived on a Saturday morning and when I put the box down I noticed my hand was covered in a black substance leaking from the box. I opened it up and sure enough the Part A of the epoxy can was dented to the point where it was slowly leaking into the box. I took some pictures and sent them to the pond armor email address with my order number. Surprisingly on a Saturday night I got an email back apologizing for the damage to the product and said Monday we can get this straightened out. On Monday I spoke to Butch from pond armor and he said let me know how much of part A was lost and I will overnight a container to makeup for the lost part A. I let Butch know what was missing and he decided to ship a quart which was more than I needed. I was very happy with the customer service.
    I just finished applying the first coat of pond shield to the 460 gallon tank. This stuff is thick and measuring out the part A that is black was a little difficult due to the color. Part B is super thick but after thinning it with Denatured alcohol it was easy to work with. Mixing part A and B together was not difficult and I gave myself 30 minutes to get the tank coated. I would suggest watching the Pond Armor videos on youtube as they have several videos that go over coating a wood aquarium. If anyone has any questions please let me know.

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  14. hatfielj

    hatfielj Valuable Member

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    So COOL!! I want to try a small plywood tank build someday. Can't wait to see how yours turns out
     
  15. AlexG

    AlexG Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor

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    Some progress has been made. I now have 3 coats of epoxy in the 480 gallon tank and the first coat of epoxy in the 720 gallon tank. I plan to get the fiberglass into the 720 gallon tank this weekend if I have time.

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  16. kangadrew

    kangadrew Active Member

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    Are these going to be FOWLRs or reefs? Sorry if you said it before.
     
  17. AlexG

    AlexG Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor

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    The 720 will be more for fish but I plan to add some corals to it eventually. I plan to house some puffers, large wrasses, tangs, and Angels in the 720. The 480 will be a full blown reef tank with a variety of reef safe fish.
     
  18. bairdimusprime

    bairdimusprime Bill R2R Supporter Reef Squad R2R Excellence Award

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    absolutely AWESOME!, will be following
     
  19. revhtree

    revhtree Owner Administrator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Photo of the Month Award Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Update? :)
     
  20. AlexG

    AlexG Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor

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    Well I have made some progress on the build. The walking platform is being painted along with the tanks. I have one more coat of pond shield to apply on the 720gallon tank. The walking platform is upside-down so I can paint the bottom. I have been remodeling 2 bathrooms since January but with those projects completed I can focus on the aquarium again. The electrical has been pushed in place as well 12 outlets over each tank split on 2 circuits. I also just purchased a used 150gallon tank that will be the refuge tank. I hope to get more work done in the next week or two that will show some progress in the pictures. uploadfromtaptalk1460594019838.jpg uploadfromtaptalk1460594028007.jpg
     
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