DIY - Projects & Ideas • My 55g Mbuna tank project

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Postby Steve C » Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:43 am

The stand is DONE. Well not 100% done, but 99% done. All that is left is to put a coat of polyurethane on the backside of each door as well as on the shelf. As someone with almost no woodworking experience I have to admit I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out, it's a real joy to stand back and look at something like this which I will have for many years to come and know that I built it. I ended up doing two coats of stain on it and then three coats of polyurethane to seal it and to give it a nice shine.

I still have to build a matching wood canopy for it but I probably won't start that for about a week or so. Need to get some other "paying work" done this week. Here's the pics of the completed stand.....



Front view....
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Close up of the inlaid tiles....
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Shot of the corner molding and trim work....

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I also mounted a digital thermometer with high&low temp alarms on the side. I used two pieces of angle wood to form a trim over top to protect it from getting hit as well as a "tube" for the sending unit wire to route through....

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Inside I painted the floor and sides as well as frame work all gloss white to make it brighter inside, but I stained two pieces of oak to close off the back of the stand....

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I made the panel on the right not go all the way to the top, that way I can run my filter tubes and wiring through the opening...

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Made a shelf to store any supplies on....

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Joined: Sun Oct 09, 2011 4:16 pm
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Postby Steve C » Thu Feb 02, 2012 10:01 pm

Got some real work (the paying kind :wink: ) done this past week so should have some more free time to get back on this project again this weekend. Planning on picking up the lumber for the canopy and probably starting on that this weekend.

Still having some "design block" as to how I am going to do the canopy though. Because I want to build it with three openings in it where I can add decor into the openings behind acrylic windows, yet have easy access to the tank without having to remove the entire canopy....AND be able to do both of those things without having the canopy itself being super duper tall :?
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Postby Woodworm » Thu Feb 02, 2012 11:19 pm

Looks good
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Postby dr2391 » Fri Feb 03, 2012 3:11 pm

loving it. can't wait to see the progress on the actual tank! i am going to be starting my 55g soon and am using your tank and a couple others as inspiration :fish:
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Postby Steve C » Sat Feb 04, 2012 1:54 am

I was at the store this evening picking up a few things and while I was in the housewares dept looking for a new smoke detector for home I came across this "Under Cabinet light". Wasn't really looking for it or anything for the tank/stand at all but when I saw it was only $8 for a 75w fully enclosed light like this the gears started turning and I figured it was a no brainer that this would be perfect for a light inside the cabinet for anytime I'm working on the canister filter or doing anything else inside the cabinet.

I'm going to wire it to a switch on the side of the stand next to the digital temp gauge so that I can turn the light on from outside the stand and not have to reach up inside it to turn it on.

Also made a little hanger rack for tank tools out of some scrap trim wood and screw in hooks.

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Postby bwestgsx06 » Sun Feb 05, 2012 3:46 pm

well done man well done. Can't wait to see this thing fully stocked.
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Postby Steve C » Sun Feb 05, 2012 5:33 pm

Thanks. I just picked up 4 nicely shaped rocks for it at the LFS yesterday. I cleaned them and let them dry overnight and am in the process of drylok'ing and shading them with paints to match my BG right now. I'll post some pics of them in a bit after they have had a bit of time to dry.

Also picked up the 1x2's for the canopy frame last night, about to start working on the frame for it in just a few minutes as well.
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Postby Steve C » Sun Feb 05, 2012 11:29 pm

Well I made some decent progress this weekend. Today I worked on getting the "cave lights" set up how I want them and made the brackets which will hold them behind the tank and tested them out for the last time before I take all the mounts off to stain them. Don't know why I'm going to stain wood brackets that will be behind the tank and never been seen by anyone, but that's just how I am lol...If they aren't finished/stained then I'll feel like the job is not finished. I made one tweak to the light bars and I mounted them on about 45 degree angles, that way it looks like the light outside the cave openings are coming in on an angle the way water bends light in a real lake, I like the effect it gives that way.

I also bought four rocks from a local fish shop yesterday. I really only bought them for their shape and not their color because I planned on cleaning them and covering them with the same Drylok that I used on the background, then shading them to match.

Got the canopy started as well. Only had time to get the base started before I called it a night, but it's a start, now I can decide on height and other things overnight before I get back to work on it.

On to some pictures...

Started by buying these four rocks chosen for their shapes & size which I really liked...

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After washing, drying, two coats of Drylok and a few hours under a heat lamp they have their base color and are ready for some shading/drybrushing...

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After shading them with dark grey, brown, some olive green to simulate algae and then some white on the high spots .......

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Rocks in the tank....

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With just the cave lights on....

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With cave lights and testing out the LED moonlight strips....

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With all the lights including the dual T5 white & actinic bulbs..

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Also decided after seeing that the price of the XP3 just went up another $25 to forgo the XP3 and just kick the budget up a bit more and go with the Fulval fx5. With the GPH flow of the FX5 it should turn this tank over at least 12-15 times per hour.

Should have some more work on the canopy done over the next couple days.

Steve
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Postby basesloaded190 » Mon Feb 06, 2012 10:40 am

Really love everything you are doing here!

With the FX5 are you going to build a spray bar instead of using the output that comes with it?
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Postby Steve C » Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:15 am

With the FX5 are you going to build a spray bar instead of using the output that comes with it?


I've been going back & forth over that very question myself in my head the past few days, and I think I am pretty sure that I will go ahead and build my own spraybar for it. Since I have the 3d background which would be in the way for adding the spraybar on the back of the tank, I am considering a way to mount it on the front side of the tank but yet still keeping it out of view.
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Postby Steve C » Mon Feb 06, 2012 5:58 pm

Have the main frame work started for the canopy now. It will be a total of 19" tall with a 6" door for in tank cleaning and such, then the area above will be 3 opening with decorations behind windows. Have to make the 50th trip to Lowes in just a few minutes for more supplies :lol:

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Postby Steve C » Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:54 am

Finished getting the majority of the braces cut and installed tonight. All that's left is the front top rail and then one side brace on the right side. Should have those in and be able to start making the floor for the upper shelf and skinning it tomorrow.

I think the lumber dept at Lowes knows me by first name now :oops:

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Postby Steve C » Tue Feb 07, 2012 11:14 pm

Sorry only one pic tonight. Gluing the shelf on....

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Postby Steve C » Sun Feb 12, 2012 1:27 am

Managed to put in another full days work on it today. Have pretty much the main parts of the canopy on now. Just have to do all the rest of the trim work on it, stain, poly and such still. The upper trim is just butt jointed but that's because that will all be covered by 3" trim like is on the stand itself.

These pictures will give you an idea of what I am going for with the canopy. The lower section is a 6" door which I hinged at the bottom so it will provide easy access for basic tank work and feeding etc etc. Then the upper section is going to be covered with clear acrylic and then behind it will be an underwater scene with another 3d background, some hand made foam rocks, the croc skull, some driftwood and such to replicate a lake bottom and it will also have its own lighting built in to it. Probably sounds weird right now but once I get onto making it I think it will add a pretty neat touch to the whole unit.

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Postby Steve C » Mon Feb 13, 2012 12:44 am

Started working on the underwater scene which will be filling the upper level of the canopy tonight. Still have lots of shaping to do before I start painting/shading but I have most of the "lake bottom" and 3D background all in place for shaping now.

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