Cymen's 20G tall

Discussion in 'Tank Journals' started by Cymen, Jan 31, 2015.

  1. Cymen

    Cymen Guest

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    Tank
    • Tetra 20G high/tall
    • AquaStar "165w" (120w) Chinese LED RGB lights
    • DIY stand (in progress)
    • Glass-Holes 700 GPH overflow kit with dual returns
    • Jebao WP-10
    Sump
    • Tetra 10G
    • Reef Octopus Classic 110INT skimmer
    • Cobalt Aquatics Neo Therm 100w heater
    Rock/Sand
    • DIY using crushed oyster shells and Polyblend bright white grout mix along with rock salt (debating returning the grout mix and getting Emaco R400)
    • Hoping to find somewhere local to buy a couple of pounds of rock to seed it (after waiting for the DIY rock to become PH stable)
    • Probably picking a sand from Petco (to avoid dealing with package delivery)
    Overkill: I am trying to buy equipment that I can also use on the next tank. I am limited in tank capacity by my landlord -- I would have gone with a 40G breeder tank otherwise. So that is why I'm going with a big skimmer, 700 GPH glass-holes kit, and probably a decent-sized DC return motor even though I'll have it turned down.

    I'm uncertain about the return pump. I'd like to go with a Sicce one or a DC one to conserve energy. The part I'm unsure about is how many GPH I want -- if I want a fast flow through the sump or not.

    Update went with a Jebao DC-3000 pump. It's working great but I am planning on ordering a backup at some point so I can swap it out when it has issues.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2016
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  2. Cymen

    Cymen Guest

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    Here is the design for my stand. I don't have a lot of tools so I am making a basic 2x4 structure that will get skinned with plywood along with a nice maple door (I picked up at Urban Ore in Berkeley).

    Front: Back (see discussion below):
    [​IMG]

    Back: Front:
    [​IMG]

    The bottom has extra 2x4 on the inside to support the 10G sump without having to put in a shelf.

    I uploaded my SketchUp model here: https://3dwarehouse.sketchup.com/model.html?id=u1b0e9a2a-29e9-4feb-84dd-6fd52c6cbfd4
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2015
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  3. Cymen

    Cymen Guest

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    And here is the stand so far:

    [​IMG]

    The legs are not attached to the base yet -- I needed a long drill bit so I can drill up from the bottom to put 2.5" screws up into the legs to hold them in place while the glue dries. I got side tracked on dowels and might try that briefly to see how it goes as I need to build a second table for a non-aquarium purpose.
     
  4. Cymen

    Cymen Guest

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    For rock supplies, I purchased these items:
    • 50lb bag of crushed oyster shells from Concord feed ~ $12 (or $2.99/lb if you wanted less)
    • 25lb bag of bright white Polyblend grout from Home Depot ~$16
    I'm still looking for rock salt. I assumed it would be easy to get locally in Oakland at hardware stores. But it makes sense there isn't much need for it. Apparently, I can look for "ice cream salt" at some grocery stores or go back to a feed store. My wife happens to work near the Concord feed store so she'll check next week for me.
     
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  5. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

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    Nice start!

    I notice your vertical 2x4's are turned differently, front and back.
    I would think the side with the larger opening should be in the front. ??

    If you use a thicker skin on the ends and back, (3/8" ply), you might be able to eliminate
    those internal 2x4 support blocks, plus add good shear support.
     
  6. jonmos75

    jonmos75 Supporting Member

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    I notice your vertical 2x4's are turned differently, front and back.
    I would think the side with the larger opening should be in the front. ??

    I agree with you on this....lol

    If you use a thicker skin on the ends and back, (3/8" ply), you might be able to eliminate
    those internal 2x4 support blocks, plus add good shear support.

    Unless he is setting the tank down on those inner 2X4's, otherwise again I agree with you and you can then get more space inside the cabinet...
     
  7. Cymen

    Cymen Guest

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    I want the wider opening to the rear because it just fits a 10G in. I am indeed setting the tank down on those inner 2x4's -- that is the only reason they are there.

    The front will be skinned and I'll plunge cut an opening out -- my door isn't wide enough to cover the whole front. I agree it would be possible to remove the internal blocks up top if I skin with decently thick plywood but they just make it easier to assemble with screws. I'm going to not glue them and try removing them when skinning the front and sides.

    The biggest problem I have is actually getting plywood home. So I'm going to see if Home Depot will cut it for me (it looked like the biggest saw at the Emeryville Home Depot had and out of order sign on it -- I want to check out Economy Lumber in/near Piedmont but hours are tricky until this coming Saturday).
     
  8. jonmos75

    jonmos75 Supporting Member

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    I understand, but the only problem I see is that if for some reason you need to replace your sump you would have almost tear down the tank to move the stand & tank to remove the sump from the rear....just my 2 cents and giving you a scenario you might have not thought of....
     
  9. Cymen

    Cymen Guest

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    Ah crap... I get it now. I'm glad I posted here :). Hrmm... I think my options are:

    1) Put it the other way around and put a removable panel on the front. Con is that it is harder to open than a door so emptying the skimmer/getting in the sump will be harder (I like keeping things easy so there is no inclination to not do the right thing).

    2) Put it the other way around and put two doors on it -- that could work. I need to get new doors or cut plywood panel in half and use it as doors.

    3) Start over -- my frame is pretty darn overbuilt if it gets skinned. Problem is my tools are limited so accuracy isn't the greatest (I've got a 18v Ryobi 5.5" circle saw along with an 18v drill and corded drill). Plus while my brother and dad are whiz bangs at this stuff, I'm still getting a handle on accurate cuts and such.

    Seems like #2 might be the way to go. And thank you! I really appreciate your 2 cents. I think that advice is worth much more if I did have to deal w/ getting the sump out in the future with the original plan.
     
  10. jonmos75

    jonmos75 Supporting Member

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    I would keep your build and turn it around and put a 1X3 vertical board in the center two hide the gap between the two doors and make it removable so you could remove it and get the sump out or what ever other need comes up....or you could attach a 1X3 to one of the back sides of a cabinet door, the down fall to this you have to close that cabinet door first and open the other cabinet first....but the plus side to it is when the cabinet doors are open you have no center brace to work around.....
     
  11. Cymen

    Cymen Guest

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    I've read about the door trick and I think I'd go with that -- sounds good. Thanks again for pointing out the pitfall. I really appreciate it.
     
  12. jonmos75

    jonmos75 Supporting Member

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    no problem...
     
  13. tygunn

    tygunn Webmaster

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    I hadn't looked lately at Home Depot; I thought Water Softener salt was pretty common anywhere. Thats what I usde when I did my DIY rocks a while back.

    How are you planning on forming the rocks? I used the "sandbox" technique and it worked pretty well:

    [​IMG]

    Basically started with a box with some damp sand in the bottom. Plop in a handful of mix and surround with sand, overlapping the mix a bit here and there. Keep putting in handfuls of mix and building up the sand around and you can get some great 3-d shapes. I found the trick to getting really "irregular" shapes was to really just plop the mix in and not try hard to shape with your hands.

    Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!
     
  14. Cymen

    Cymen Guest

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    The Emeryville one didn't have even Water Softener salt -- the Home Depot guy said there wasn't much call for it (due to the local water being good).

    I was going to try the same technique as you. I've been watching Youtube videos to see different approaches. I'm also pondering doing a rear wall with egg crate to support it.

    So my plan for the rock is to do the "plop in sand" approach, let it sit for a while (according to the videos -- did you do the same?) and then cure it in my 20G Brute garbage can (intended to be used for RO/DI water storage). It is interesting to hear the advice on just plopping. I figured I would get way more supplies than I would need so I could experiment.

    Yours looks great!
     
  15. tygunn

    tygunn Webmaster

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    The rock salt isn't absolutely necessary -- I didn't find it made a lot of visible indentations in the rock from the outside. It tended to end up inside the rock for me. The biggest variation in surface texture was from the technique. Since you've got the supplies, definitely experiment with consistency and technique. I found there was a fine line between "too wet" of mixture that turned into ridiculously heavy rock, and too dry which just crumbled.

    The rear wall would be a nice touch. Definitely possible to make whatever you want with DIY rock :) Thats the nice part.

    I typically left the rock in the sand mold for a few days. I used damp sand to begin with so didn't have a lot of issue with the rock being moist enough to cure. Once it was cure I'd rinse it off in a colander lined with some scrap fabric to prevent dumping a beach down the drain.

    I used white portland cement and for whatever reason it was ridiculously hard to cure. I first tried putting rocks in 5g buckets and changing the water daily but after a month it would still spike the pH of the water. Don't worry, I'm sure that isn't going to happen to you -- I think the portland I got was just high in alkalinity. In the end I was able to figure out a way to get even this ridiculously high alk cement to cure. I packed my rock in a brute garbage, filled with water, and used an old Mag 7 to keep the water moving around vigorously. I then use the pH controller from my old calcium reactor to turn on a dosing pump to dose diluted muriatic acid to the trash can.. This let me keep the water at around pH 7.6. With this method I was able to cure the rock completely in 6 weeks without doing a single water change. Its actually interesting, I used my refractometer to check the salinity of the water. At the start you could see the salt from the softener salt coming out. Then as the rock cured you could see the salinity increase as the lime leaching out of the cement (calcium hydroxide) reacted to make calcium chloride (salt) and water.

    Thanks! I was sad to get rid of the rock; but I'm sure the movers would have not wanted to relocate boxes of "cement chunks". :)
     
  16. Cymen

    Cymen Guest

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    I forgot to ask -- what sand did you use while making rock? Can I just buy some play sand from the store? Or should I be careful to avoid something with silica in it? I'm a bit clueless about this and it seems like some people are just using bulk sand. I want to avoid problems so I was mulling over what to do.
     
  17. tygunn

    tygunn Webmaster

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    I used crushed limestone (1/4" size) for mine. I generally sifted out the finest powder with a colander and gave it a rinse before using. I'm not sure if crushed limestone is available here, but you could check landscaping supply stores. This is why my rock was so white to start.

    I don't see any issue using regular silica playsand, however. I believe this would be what we find at our beaches here anyways.
     
  18. Cymen

    Cymen Guest

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    So it took a while but stand 2.0 is nearly done. I still need to mount the door and cut some holes in the back for the glass-holes kits (in and out):

    [​IMG]


    Mounting the door with hinges on the right to hide the wonky cut on the upper right opening!

    [​IMG]


    Used a plane to smooth out the top 2x4s to get a nice stable mounting surface:
    [​IMG]


    Still keeping the same design with the 2x4 on the bottom to mount the 10G sump:
    [​IMG]

    A few alignment issues with the panels up top but I got the front looking decent. It's good enough for me. I couldn't find a matching door so went with a cherry one. The low-VOC poly here in California seems really nice to work with.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2015
  19. Cymen

    Cymen Guest

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    I drilled the tank last week and got most of the plumbing figured out. Glass-holes sent me one wrong piece but Home Depot came through with a (hopefully) temporary replacement for the wrong 90 degree return elbow (Glass-Holes sent one 3/4" and one 1/2" instead of two 3/4").

    I filled it up with tap water and some white vinegar today. One leak on the return bulkhead. The spa flex hose was not flexing enough to let the gasket compress evenly. So I zip tied it down in another spot and tightened the bulkhead slightly and the problem was gone.

    [​IMG]

    I'm still getting the sump setup so the wiring is not clean yet. But here is a look:

    [​IMG]
    White foam is temporary -- just trying to quiet things down but then I realized the return should be below the surface of the water on the right. So I toss an elbow on the end of the spa flex and that got it under the surface which is much quieter.
     
  20. Cymen

    Cymen Guest

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    Almost forgot the RO/DI unit. I hooked it up with a 3 way ball valve so I can skip the DI for drinking water/flushing. My plan is to hook some PEX tubing up to that 5 gallon Home Depot bucket with a run down to another Brute garbage can in the garden. Then the waste water can go into the 5G bucket and we can use it to dump our pre-shower "warmup" water too (we're on the second floor so hauling it down to the garden is getting old). Time to make gravity work for us!

    [​IMG]
     
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