Glory's 36 gal SPS bow

Discussion in 'Member Tanks' started by Gloryofthereef, Mar 20, 2017.

  1. Gloryofthereef

    Gloryofthereef Member

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    After 7 long and un-utilized years without an aquarium set up, I have at long last settled into a new home that I don't plan on leaving any time soon. During our housewarming party, a friend offered her old 36 gallon aquarium/stand. I gladly accepted it with grand plans of doing a freshwater planted aquarium on a meager budget. I did my homework, and with every tank part I researched, I realized my passion is not freshwater...
    At the heavy insistence of my co-workers who recently started reef tanks, I too am beginning my re-entry into saltwater aquaria.
    The following is my "on-paper plan". It is open for discussion, and is just a plan at the moment, all suggestions are welcome! There will be many an adult beverages between now and completion, as well as many months I'm sure.

    The build:
    (Blue items I have already, the black ones are on a soon to be acquired wish list for the moment)

    Tank: 36 gallon bow front
    Lid: custom cut styrene egg crate cover (DIY)

    Filter: 20 gallon Rubbermaid "tough" refugium/sump
    Refugium light: 5x5 watt LED light (brand unknown, previusly used on a softie pico)
    Overflow Box: Glass-holes.com 700 overflow in-and-out kit

    Return Pump: Danner mag-drive supreme 7 700 GPH water pump
    Skimmer: Coralife super skimmer w/pump - 65 gallon

    Lighting: Aqua Illumination Hydra 26 +HD LED light

    Powerhead: Maxspect gyre XF-230 kit

    Heater: Eheim Jager 125 watt

    I will post progress pics soon, this weekend I worked on a foam/frame aquascape that I plan on covering with masonry mortar. I also cut out the center brace and built a new one out of clear acrylic and nylon screws.

    I welcome ideas/suggestions on how to refugium this one. (I was going to use a 26 bowfront as my sump, but it is too expensive for what can be accomplished in the rubbermaid instead, now I need to get creative.)
     

  2. Gloryofthereef

    Gloryofthereef Member

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    As promised, here are the new tank pics and my current progress on my diy live rock background.

    36 gallon bow and stand, 5x5 watt LED light (brand unknown. This will be my fuge light eventually): IMG_3022.JPG

    The soon to be sump, a 20 gallon Rubbermaid brute tote: IMG_3023.JPG

    Styrene Egg crate diffuser panel 24"x48": IMG_3026.JPG

    My trusty Dremel tool and some cutting discs for it: IMG_3027.JPG

    Post practice and final cuts, my new aquarium lid made using the styrene egg crate material (someday I will go on a local store scavenger hunt for black styrene to replace the white with): IMG_3033.JPG

    I decided that I don't like the look of the tank with the center brace shading light source across the center so, using the Dremel tool, I cut the center brace our and will replace it with clear acrylic and nylon screws to hold it together (pics to follow in a future post): IMG_3037.JPG IMG_3038.JPG

    Using styrene egg crate/zip ties as a form, I created a 3D in-aquarium background: IMG_3043.JPG IMG_3046.JPG IMG_3047.JPG IMG_3054.JPG

    The next step was to cover the final inner form in pond safe expanding foam sealant, my local hardware store had "Smartpond" brand, so I went with that: IMG_3057.JPG IMG_3059.JPG

    One can coverage wasn't impressive, but knowing how much I will be saving on liverock, the total 5 cans ($13.50 per, impatience is a beast) that it took to cover the framework I built wasn't so terrible: IMG_3061.JPG IMG_3064.JPG IMG_3066.JPG IMG_3068.JPG IMG_3069.JPG

    Once the whole frame was covered, it took 2 days for the foam to fully dry, and then it was time to shape the back to be flat and trim some of the excess. I used my favorite fixed knife blade and made short work of the undesirable areas: IMG_3073.JPG IMG_3074.JPG

    For the sake of water flow and to give some shaded areas to my future fish, I carved out a long cave behind a couple of the rocky areas: IMG_3076.JPG

    Final foam form drying (the inner foam was still expanding/curing in a couple places on the back side): IMG_3079.JPG

    Foam only background in the aquarium: IMG_3081.JPG

    At this point I was at a crossroads of choices: should I epoxy coat and cover in sand/crushed coral or cover the form in mortar and make the whole thing one big live rock.

    Utilizing other members' posts and suggestions, I decided to try my hand at masonry and an adult beverage. My hands were plenty steady for the drink that followed, and the slight buzz that ensued helped to calm the realization that masonry is done in many layers and this project is going to take a while to finish...
    The next day, I had to find my cheap disposable gloves to keep the 12+ pH mortar off my delicate fingers (I have man hands too Paul, but I also have to use them at work, in the transplant lab of our local hospital). The only scoop tool for the dry mortar we had (that my wife would let me use) was our future children's sand box shovel (we were given a sand box and toy set as a housewarming gift by my over-child-zealous parents): IMG_3090.JPG

    You would also be amazed at how well re-purposing this Chinese food take out tray worked as a mortar mixing tray (thouroghly washed of course): IMG_3091.JPG

    As practice to find out how well the mortar was going to stick to the pond foam, I used the last bit of foam from the tail end of the last can to make a practice "rock". As it turns out, the mortar sticks better to the foam if you sand it first, but still not terribly well. I did manage to get it to stick though, so just have some patience if anyone else trys this out themselves: IMG_3092.JPG

    The following pictures are my progress so far after using 9-ish lbs of mortar on my trimmed and sanded aquascape (wear a dust mask when you use a Dremel tool for sanding guys, the foam makes a soft dust that is quite fine when sanded at high speeds, and no one should get the black lung from making a background for their fish tank): IMG_3093.JPG IMG_3099.JPG

    The plan now is to let that dry. I am waiting on snail mail to get me the overflow kit I ordered from glass-holes.com so that I can trim out the over flow and return sections before covering them in mortar. Once I have the tank drilled and the bulkheads in I can trim the background around them to get the background in its true final form, and continue covering the aquascape in mortar.
    Once the base layer of mortar sticks and drys, the process of making the 'scape look like live rock should be a bit more straightforward, as it likes to stick to itself better than the pond foam. I am looking forward to finishing this up and getting it into a curing tub as soon as possible. Looking at the empty tank every day makes me sad that it isn't up yet, but the possibilities that are available make the process all worthwhile. Patience IS a virtue after all right?
     
  3. mdbannister

    mdbannister Ahh...the Reef Life Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter Photo of the Month Award R2R Excellence Award Partner Member 2019 R2R Secret Santa Article Contributor Build Thread Contributor

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    Looking good!
     
    Gloryofthereef likes this.
  4. Gloryofthereef

    Gloryofthereef Member

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    Turns out that either the pond foam I used or the mortar is leeching something that kills aquatic life...
    Back to the drawing board, I am upgrading the system to a 65 gallon and I will be custom building my stand and going with conventional liverock. Pics to follow, currently the livestock that didn’t die from the diy livestock is in quarantine recovering quite nicely.
     
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