Specific Plywood build

BackToTheReef

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There was an article, snip it in a book post, something or another on a forum (I think it might have been RC) forever and a year ago, probably 15 to 20, about a large plywood build for a massive reef.

It detailed the design, materials, and methodology really well. I specifically remember doubled plywood (I think), sawdust mixed with glue or epoxy to created filets in the corners, fill seams, and fill screw holes, then narrow 4 to 6" strips of fiberglass to cover seams, and a full layer of fiberglass over that (maybe two), and then a colored epoxy coating.

It's a long shot but does anyone vaguely remember what I am talking about? I think it was a "pro"/author but I can't remember that aspect of it. Hoping to use it as guide while I plot/plan my build. (Materials, etc.)

I've been searching RC and MFK but can't find what I am looking for. Any help would be appreciated. :)
 
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AlexG

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Nothing I recall reading on RC but, there are several folks on this forum that have built large plywood aquariums including myself that are happy to share their knowledge. Monster Fish Keepers also has several detailed posts on plywood aquarium construction.
 
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Sorry, screwed up the title too, should have said "Looking for info on a specific build"! It was years and years ago so I figured it might be a long shot.

The more I think about it, it might have been in a book. Wasn't there a build described in one of the volumes of the "Modern Coral Reef Aquarium" series? Tank was tall and deep and set up like a ravine. My memory is good on some things but not others.

I was digging through the MFK build thread compilation the other day and doing some searching here. My plan has evolved from a long, wide, deep tank to a long, wide, deep tank with an 'L' shape foot print with multiple viewing panels. Dimensions depending on house I get and corresponding basement.

It's evolved into the realm of the ridiculous but with some equipment tweaks and the appropriate space to put it I think I can pull it off - IF the engineering/design works out. Since I like the combo of reef and fish (I like big fish and I cannot lie) I want to go as big as possible so I don't get busted by the tang police! ;)
 

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This what you are thinking about?

 
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Only thing I can remember was the king of DIY did several videos on a plywood tank that sounds very familiar to what your describing.

Think it ended up being an arowanna tank or something.
 

AlexG

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I am a few months away from my new build starting but there is a possibility my new tank will be L shaped. I am planning to go with a composite bottom of some kind (pond liner, pond armor/fiberglass) and just glass for the sides of the tank. I am also in the realm of ridiculous. The one thing that I think will be a major factor in an L shaped tank is it being properly leveled so that one side of the tank is not pulling on the other side of the tank putting stress on the seems.
 
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I am a few months away from my new build starting but there is a possibility my new tank will be L shaped. I am planning to go with a composite bottom of some kind (pond liner, pond armor/fiberglass) and just glass for the sides of the tank. I am also in the realm of ridiculous. The one thing that I think will be a major factor in an L shaped tank is it being properly leveled so that one side of the tank is not pulling on the other side of the tank putting stress on the seems.

This is one of my big worries as well. I figured use concrete leveler as a first step but my "stand" will be minimal. Given the depth I'd like to achieve the stand high is going to be short based on typical basement ceiling heights. The goal was to try and minimize the way I could screw up getting something out of level but I don't think I have the design skill for that.

I was thinking of using doubled 3/4" marine grade ply, staggering seams as well as glue and screw. With LVLs as the exterior support, especially along the 2 main viewing panels that are going to be long. LVLs are typically stronger than dimensional and I have also read they are less susceptible to warping due to moisture (I'll coat them with a marine grade top coat outside the tank. Any at the top will get the fiberglass and pond armor coating (I'm thinking of using pentair's epoxy rather than pond armor though).

The 4'ish viewing pane means acrylic which brings a whole extra level of complexity with ceiling it to the structure of the tank. With the 2 main panels being really long and the two end panels maybe being 3' worth of viewable space as well.

Overall DT volume could be 1800ish to 2400ish gallons depending on final dimensions. (OR MUCH MUCH less). Worried about flow and overflows. Not just how to get that much flow into the tank but how to organize it to eliminate dead spots and how to plumb closed loops without weakening the tank by turning it into swiss cheese.

Not that I have thought about this a lot or anything...

I also found a couple of heat pumps that will both heat and cool. One designed specifically for aquaculture applications and another for pools that has a titanium heat exchanger. Seems like a no BS way to control temp in a big tank!! (No heaters and COPs that are 4 or 5 which are great efficiency numbers)
 
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Only thing I can remember was the king of DIY did several videos on a plywood tank that sounds very familiar to what your describing.

Think it ended up being an arowanna tank or something.

I'll check it out!
 
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This what you are thinking about?


No but that one was extremely helpful and did influence a few of my design ideas.
 
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This is one of my big worries as well. I figured use concrete leveler as a first step but my "stand" will be minimal. Given the depth I'd like to achieve the stand high is going to be short based on typical basement ceiling heights. The goal was to try and minimize the way I could screw up getting something out of level but I don't think I have the design skill for that.

I was thinking of using doubled 3/4" marine grade ply, staggering seams as well as glue and screw. With LVLs as the exterior support, especially along the 2 main viewing panels that are going to be long. LVLs are typically stronger than dimensional and I have also read they are less susceptible to warping due to moisture (I'll coat them with a marine grade top coat outside the tank. Any at the top will get the fiberglass and pond armor coating (I'm thinking of using pentair's epoxy rather than pond armor though).

The 4'ish viewing pane means acrylic which brings a whole extra level of complexity with ceiling it to the structure of the tank. With the 2 main panels being really long and the two end panels maybe being 3' worth of viewable space as well.

Overall DT volume could be 1800ish to 2400ish gallons depending on final dimensions. (OR MUCH MUCH less). Worried about flow and overflows. Not just how to get that much flow into the tank but how to organize it to eliminate dead spots and how to plumb closed loops without weakening the tank by turning it into swiss cheese.

Not that I have thought about this a lot or anything...

I also found a couple of heat pumps that will both heat and cool. One designed specifically for aquaculture applications and another for pools that has a titanium heat exchanger. Seems like a no crap way to control temp in a big tank!! (No heaters and COPs that are 4 or 5 which are great efficiency numbers)

I would be more inclined to go the route of stand that can be leveled with adjustable legs just because it can allow for adjustments as the tank is being filled incase there are any small adjustments needed.

I would avoid marine grade plywood due to the chemicals that it is treated with. If a high grade of plywood is used and it is properly water proofed then it should never have any issues with leaks.

There are a few members here that have used acrylic and one of the better methods I saw used a pond liner to seal the tank with acrylic viewing panels.

For flow I would look into some of the larger commercial grade flow pumps (Tunze Masterstream)

For heating radiant heating is the way to go.
 
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I would be more inclined to go the route of stand that can be leveled with adjustable legs just because it can allow for adjustments as the tank is being filled incase there are any small adjustments needed.

I would avoid marine grade plywood due to the chemicals that it is treated with. If a high grade of plywood is used and it is properly water proofed then it should never have any issues with leaks.

There are a few members here that have used acrylic and one of the better methods I saw used a pond liner to seal the tank with acrylic viewing panels.

For flow I would look into some of the larger commercial grade flow pumps (Tunze Masterstream)

For heating radiant heating is the way to go.

Wouldn't the chemical issue with marine grade plywood be a non issue if water sealed as well? I had never heard that about it so I'll have to re-think that aspect for sure.

Good call on the leveling legs just not sure how practical depending on the final tank dimensions. Again, another good thing to think about.

Yeah, gaskets and bolts seems to be the way to go. I was reading one of the threads about how a plywood and acrylic build went wrong and picked up on some of the methods but will have to track it down again.

I've been looking at the big masterstreams and even a couple of the larger smaller tunze powerheads (6255) but mounting seems to be an issue. Sea swirls and sea sweeps will be my friend most likely. I've found some controls for AC pumps that might also help and tried to find some decent high flow AC pumps that are sort of efficient - MRC, AMP Master, etc. I'd really prefer to do DC but they get pricey in a hurry.

Radiant? Are we talking radiant coils in the substrate like planted tanks have? When I think radiant I immediately think of in floor radiant heat or baseboard electric heat. I sort of like the idea of the heat pump considering most resistance heat has a COP of 1 (1 unit of energy in, one unit of energy out) while heat pumps are 1 unit in and 4 to 6 units of heat out...granted they come with an upfront cost.
 

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Only time an issue with marine plywood chemicals would come into play would be if you have some kind of leak as it might allow chemicals to leach into the tank. Of course the leak itself would be bad on its own but that might be a correctable issue. I get a little paranoid about metals and chemicals near my tanks.

For pump mounting something else to consider would be a mount suspended from the canopy. I personally am not a big fan of closed loop but there are methods to do it without putting a bunch of holes in the tank.

For the heating system the radiant heating system would be using a hot water loop. The source of the hot or cold water is up to the user but the principal is the same. I insulated the lines in the loop to reduce heat loss through the heat exchanger coil. Had this system working flawlessly for 3 years on my system until I did a tear down for my move. The advantage of this type of heating is that it is not complicated, not a high cost to implement, low operating cost, and has none of the risks associated to electric heaters failing. Using a double or triple redundancy on the temp controller also eliminates risks of an over temp due to a temp probe failure.

radiant heating system.png
 
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Only time an issue with marine plywood chemicals would come into play would be if you have some kind of leak as it might allow chemicals to leach into the tank. Of course the leak itself would be bad on its own but that might be a correctable issue. I get a little paranoid about metals and chemicals near my tanks.

For pump mounting something else to consider would be a mount suspended from the canopy. I personally am not a big fan of closed loop but there are methods to do it without putting a bunch of holes in the tank.

For the heating system the radiant heating system would be using a hot water loop. The source of the hot or cold water is up to the user but the principal is the same. I insulated the lines in the loop to reduce heat loss through the heat exchanger coil. Had this system working flawlessly for 3 years on my system until I did a tear down for my move. The advantage of this type of heating is that it is not complicated, not a high cost to implement, low operating cost, and has none of the risks associated to electric heaters failing. Using a double or triple redundancy on the temp controller also eliminates risks of an over temp due to a temp probe failure.

radiant heating system.png

I think I've seen this type of set up in a couple Tidal Gardens video.
 
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I believe the article was by blacktip it was a 1500 gallon with blacktips in it. Or possibly mr4000 his was a reef.

I think it was mr4000, sounds vaguely familiar but all I can find is dead end links and the search function on RC isn't working anymore. I'll dig some on blacktips 1500

Thanks! :)
 

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I think it was mr4000, sounds vaguely familiar but all I can find is dead end links and the search function on RC isn't working anymore. I'll dig some on blacktips 1500

Thanks! :)

Not promising anything, but, I think I saved an article that he wrote or was about him that detailed the build. It'll take a couple days. I have over 4TB of aquarium related information on a NAS. :eek:
 

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