DIY'ing My Everything...

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Hi again guys...

I have decided my 900x300x300 tank is too small for me, and I want to get a larger tank. I am slightly concerned about my inexperience and the small tank being too unstable, as we all know smaller tanks have "faster metabolisms".

500l tanks I've seen can range anything from R6500 to R8500. Expensive... And with a full setup, I am pretty sure the thing will come out to about R15 000, easily.

My fingers are itching to build my own setup. I want to at least build the cabinet, which of course will need serious reinforcement to carry the tanks weight, I want to build the tank, it's hood with light fittings as well as the sump, and protein skimmer (if it is possible).

I'm pretty sure that this will come out a lot cheaper.

My desired setup is as follows:
- A lightly coloured wooden (maybe pine) cabinet for housing the sump, pump, swithces, heating for the tank, as well as electronic timers, switches and electricity safety mechanisms as well as overflow safety mechanisms (in case of power failure).
- The tank must be 500-650 litres, I assume 10-12mm panes with additional glass reinforcements on the brim and base will suffice. Still deciding on which glass to use, I read in the DIY forum about Diamante Glass and just plain glass.
- The sump, skimmer, mech. pump etc. I am still doing homework on, but I don't want any unnatural equipment inside the tank. Everything inside the cabinet.
- The hood will contain 4 fittings for flourescent lights, 2 white and 2 actinic, which can each be turned on/off individually, and are managed by a set of 2 timers.

A few questions:
- What type of glass is recommended to be used, and what thickness?
- I assume silicone is not strong enough to hold the panels together for such a sized tank, should I use something stronger like epoxy instead and then just use silicone to seal the tank?
- Can I build my own skimmer and filter?
- Is it advisable to put heating inside the cabinet, outside of the tank?
- Is it possible to build an automatic timed feeder that dispenses food from within the final stage of the filtration, just before the water enters the tank from the filtration/skimming stage (only to be used on holidays)?

- I am thinking about a setup where water exits the tank via PVC piping fitted through a hole in the aquarium floor. Is this advisable?
- Is it possible to have a smaller pipe (for water return), fitted within the larger PVC which takes water from the tank to the filtration system? Less holes in the aquarium, less possibilities for leaking.
- Can one utilize the water flow from the water return from the filtration system to encourage a water current in the tank.

Thanks for the advice in advance! Looking forward to reading your replies!!!

:)
 

jacquesb

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Mike

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Hells bells, you don' mess about do you, i can answer some of the questions you have, with a few of my own experiences.

The stand, you can get a metal frame (40mm box steel will do all but vast tanks) welded up at a reasonable cost (i can't see major price differences form one country to another (could be way out here) my 1.6x1.0m tank frame was about 150 pounds sterling including powder coating, then buy the wood to go on top, marine ply or similar, about 20mm of polystyrene then just clad it to make it look pretty in whatever wood you like, if you make the whole thing out of wood it just gets in the bloody way as you have to use so much wood to ensure it's strong enough.
As for the tank, as long as it is aquarium grade silicone it will stick some big taks together, biggest ive seen is around 3m x 1.2m x 1.2m all stuck with silicone, no problemo dude, but as for building it yourself - how handy are you? unles you can ensure you have perfectly clean glass, perfect 90degree corners, get someone else to do it, custom tank builders don't charge that much, it will still be cheaper than a shop bought tank and cabinet.
Building your own skimmers can be done but to be honest i don't think you save much money on the deal, you will still need the pumps etc.
have a look in the "beautiful tank" thread for down pipe design, it's brilliant, but you need to use marine grade plastic UPVC grade C piping, other pipe can leach chemicals into your system.

Sorry if i sound very negative, but i would hope i'm trying to save you lots of money and time.
All the best and good luck.
Mike.
 

Mike

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Hi Mike - I like your signature :) So, you rooting for England to win then? ;-)
You better hope good ole' Johnny does not get hurt.... ;-) Cheers, mate!
Well as i'm English, and live in England, i thought it was only polite:)

And yes, i think we might see some concerted attempts to get Johnny in a wheelchair on saturday.:whistling:
 
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Thanks for the link Jacques! It certainly helps a lot.

Wee-man, nothing sounds negative on your post, your advice could at the end of it all save me a lot of money.

As for the metal frame, I'm thinking of trying to get by without one. I'll investigate the possibility of using epoxy or some other similar compound, as it's very, very strong. I'll just need to seal it of from the tank properly, as it probably contains very toxic components.

Handiness, I'm a slight jack of all trades thankfully, grew up having to fix everything ourselves, from the washing machine to mom's car. Having been in a technical high school also gained me a lot of practical experience in doing general stuff.

However, I will not attempt to cut the glass myself. I'll have it cut by the glass shop for me, which should mean I can return the glass if they made a mess of cutting it. I have limited space so I'll also get someone to cut the larger wooden panels for the cabinet for me. I'll just do the putting together, reinforcement, routing and so forth.

I'll also be careful when buying any plastic to go in the tank. Don't want to poison my tank.

Any suggestions on the type of wood I could use. I've decided the side panels will be no thinner than 1inch, with a strong wooden skeleton on the inside consisting of square 4cmx4cm struts.
 

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Hi josamoto - just something from my experience. I also wanted to "build" my own wooden stand skeleton - in the end the wood alone (also 4inch x 4inch for the legs/base) would have cost me R1450 at Builders Warehouse (thats about a 100 quid Mike)... That's without cladding. In the end I ended up buying the "Standard built" work-benches from Builders Warehouse, already built, costing me R1200 in total for 2 (I have a 2 metre tank, and they did not have 2 metre work benches, so I bought one 1.8 metre, and one 0.6 metre (600mm) work-bench... These are strong enough to hold my tank's weight (including water, DSB, live rock, etc, etc).... I just removed some of the extra shelving to put my sump.... It all worked out well for me...

You can go this route if you wanted to, just investigate and decide....
You can always then add the cladding on the outside of this work-bench....

Cheers.
Jacques
 

jacquesb

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Also josamoto - try and get hold of Viper357 (Dean) - he is a bit of a "DIY" fanatic himself.... he can definitely help....

I am sorry - I only noticed you saying 4cm x 4cm.... I am not too sure if this would indeed be strong enough to hold the tank and it's weight. The work-benches I talk about has 10cmx10cm legs/frame...
 

Kanga

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Hi again guys...

I have decided my 900x300x300 tank is too small for me, and I want to get a larger tank. I am slightly concerned about my inexperience and the small tank being too unstable, as we all know smaller tanks have "faster metabolisms".

500l tanks I've seen can range anything from R6500 to R8500. Expensive... And with a full setup, I am pretty sure the thing will come out to about R15 000, easily.

My fingers are itching to build my own setup. I want to at least build the cabinet, which of course will need serious reinforcement to carry the tanks weight, I want to build the tank, it's hood with light fittings as well as the sump, and protein skimmer (if it is possible).

I'm pretty sure that this will come out a lot cheaper.

My desired setup is as follows:
- A lightly coloured wooden (maybe pine) cabinet for housing the sump, pump, swithces, heating for the tank, as well as electronic timers, switches and electricity safety mechanisms as well as overflow safety mechanisms (in case of power failure).
Wood in most cases will hold the heaviest of tanks, make sure you have sufficient braces and ALL joints must be glued well. easy to build doors etc onto this
- The tank must be 500-650 litres, I assume 10-12mm panes with additional glass reinforcements on the brim and base will suffice. Still deciding on which glass to use, I read in the DIY forum about Diamante Glass and just plain glass. Plain glass will be fine if you are on a budget otherwise starfire (low lead) glass is awesome
- The sump, skimmer, mech. pump etc. I am still doing homework on, but I don't want any unnatural equipment inside the tank. Everything inside the cabinet.
can be done however you will need something for flow in the tank depending what you keeping unless you go for a closed loop system
- The hood will contain 4 fittings for flourescent lights, 2 white and 2 actinic, which can each be turned on/off individually, and are managed by a set of 2 timers.
perfect, however put a fan to get the heat out, preferably blowing in (they just last longer this way)

A few questions:
- What type of glass is recommended to be used, and what thickness?
depending on dimmentions 10mm should be fine, provided its not too high

- I assume silicone is not strong enough to hold the panels together for such a sized tank, should I use something stronger like epoxy instead and then just use silicone to seal the tank?
Silicone is most certainly strong enough, but unless you know how to do it get someone who does, a few hundred bucks for a decent tankbuilder is better than a flooded lounge with a blown TV ruined lounge suite carpets etc

- Can I build my own skimmer and filter?
yes, have a smaller (or the bigger the better) sump with a DSB underneath,

Skimmer yes its possible, but best bet is buying one, a reef tek/octopus is a good buget option
- Is it advisable to put heating inside the cabinet, outside of the tank?

inside the sump
- Is it possible to build an automatic timed feeder that dispenses food from within the final stage of the filtration, just before the water enters the tank from the filtration/skimming stage (only to be used on holidays)?
they cost about R150 (never used them)

- I am thinking about a setup where water exits the tank via PVC piping fitted through a hole in the aquarium floor. Is this advisable?

yes, make sure you have sufficient surface skimming though
- Is it possible to have a smaller pipe (for water return), fitted within the larger PVC which takes water from the tank to the filtration system? Less holes in the aquarium, less possibilities for leaking.
Possible yes but it will restrict flow on the outlet as well as in the tank have it enter from behind with a small piece in the tank

- Can one utilize the water flow from the water return from the filtration system to encourage a water current in the tank.

yes certainly, make use of a SCWD for more random flow

Thanks for the advice in advance! Looking forward to reading your replies!!!

youre welcome and at the right place, wait for some answers from the pros

:)
kanga
 
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You guys rock. I have a builders warehouse around the corner from me. Thanks Jacques.

Kanga, thanks for all the vibrant red suggestions. You guys here are very willing to share information. I wish more online forums could be like this.
 
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We're having serious blackouts in Pretoria again. Eskom (our national and only electricity supplier) calls it load shedding. They are selectively turning off electricity in different suburbs to shed the load. Make's me mad.

The real problem however is, IMHO, a lack of grey matter between their ears.

What does one do, regarding your 500litre tank if you have a blackout? Lets say the blackout is to last for 2 days.
 

jacquesb

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Hi josomoto - most people talk about having generators, etc...

I have my brother-in-law's small gennie in the garage - but have not used it yet. I used to use my car "battery pack" (starter) and my 4x4 compressor to supply air and water movement to my tank, in bursts of 5 minutes or so when we had MAJOR power outages at the beginning of last year...

Otherwise, a PC UPS, or an inverter and a 12V car battery?

These are the main options I believe.
 
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Power cuts can be a big problem... The most important is the water temp and some flow. So if you can keep your heater and return pump alive somehow ... Your system should be fine for 2days. If possible, the skimmer aswell.
 
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Josamoto,

If you're keen on doing everythind DIY, have a look at my skimmer I built.

This is the two pvc cylinders I got - for Mahala
02SkimmerBodies-Clean.gif


All the fittings (and more - stayed on a farm, so you tend to wanna go to town only once to get the equipment)
03PipeFittings.gif


The cup - it's a drain fitting that fits snuggly over the skimmer body, just had to have the perspex and cap made, cost me about R80
07Cup.gif


Here it is in full size - I replaced the pipe connections (was epoxy mixture) with proper sealed fittings, and the bottom didn't hold either, had to have one made and fitted in. If I can give advice - get the biggest pump on it you can - this one is 1800 l/h with a venturi connection, but if you can go bigger, or get a needle wheel pump.
11CompleteSkimmer.gif


This was taken just after startup
12Skimmerworking.gif


Here I was still adjusting, but this was 5 hours after startup
14SkimmateAfter5Hours.gif


8 hurs after startup - still too wet tho
15SkimmateAfter8Hours.gif


So this whole skimmer cost me about R400 (btw, I got the recirculating pump also for Mahala, so I christened the skimmer as the Reaper Mahala 2007). Currently I have a 1000 l/h pump on it (directly fed from the overflow - the skimmer - with a recirc pump) and it's not good at all. Still need to upgrade to a 2500 to 3000 l/h pump to get good skimmate again.

Hope this gives you some ideas;)
 

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