DIY - Projects & Ideas • 90 Gallon with DIY Background and UGJ (pic heavy)

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90 Gallon with DIY Background and UGJ (pic heavy)

Postby pikayooperdave » Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:41 pm

I got a great deal on a 90 gallon tank and wood stand on craigslist. So, my mbuna are going to get an upgrade from their current 55. I took some time to set up the tank with under gravel jets and a DIY rock/foam background. My intention for teh background was to combine these two ideas.
http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1375191
http://www.duboisi.com/diy/BNdiygrotto/bndiygrotto.htm

I wanted to end up with a natural looking 3D background that hides all of the intakes/returns/heaters/etc, and which also incorporates some caves similar to the second link.

I used a mag 950 pump and 1/2" PVC in a closed loop for the 5 undergravel jets, and I also put two jets up higher in the back corners to be like powerheads. I used loc-line for all of the actual jets, so they can be re-aimed as needed.

I also hate how detritus always accumulates in the gravel under rock piles, so in addition to the jets I am trying a new method of avoiding that. I laid blocks of 2.5" thick flat sandstone, spaced out on the bottom before adding sand. I then added sand to about the level of the bricks. I used large pieces of lace rock/holey rock that sit mostly on the bricks. So the rocks sit on the bricks, and the bricks sit on the glass, there is less place for large amounts of debris to gather in the substrate beneath the rocks. I think this will help the under gravel jets to be more effective.
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Postby pikayooperdave » Thu Apr 14, 2011 10:03 pm

1. I built the under gravel jets (5) and also included two jets placed up higher in the back corners, to have there instead of powerheads. I figure that 7 jets should be about right for the mag 950 pump, each should be flowing ~100 gph. All of the jets are construced from loc line, so I can switch nozzles and/or re-aim them as needed.

2. The mag pump is housed in a sump I built into the back of the tank. I siliconed plexiglass to the entire back of the tank, and then constructed the sump out of plexiglass which is built off the back wall using silicone and reef epoxy. Built off of the each side of the sump, there are compartments for the fish to use as caves. Each back corner is also partitioned off with plexiglass, creating a space to hide canister filter intakes as well as the jets.

3. The heater will go in the sump with the mag pump, and the canister filter outlets will be hidden inside a small plexiglass box at the top corner of the sump on either side. There is one large cave make out of 3" PVC, I may include another cave or two of this type, but smaller.


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Postby pikayooperdave » Thu Apr 14, 2011 10:04 pm

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Postby pikayooperdave » Thu Apr 14, 2011 10:08 pm

The next step was to cover everything on the back wall with lace rock (using silicone and reef epoxy). I fit them together as best as possible, and then used expanding pond foam to fill in the spaces between. After the foam was hardened, I trimmed it to shape, and to remove the excess.
Before Trimming the foam:
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Postby pikayooperdave » Thu Apr 14, 2011 10:09 pm

After trimming the foam:
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Postby pikayooperdave » Thu Apr 14, 2011 10:11 pm

I now have the tank filled up. Here are a couple of full tank pictures. The only thing I still want to do is take out the loc-line nozzles, and cover them in epoxy and stick substrate to them so they blend in with the gravel. We are currently warming up the tank and preparing to move canister filters and fish over into it.
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Postby GTZ » Thu Apr 14, 2011 10:30 pm

Nicely done, looks like a great tank build. Would love to see some larger pics if possible.
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55G WC Cynotilapia sp. 'hara' | Metriaclima sp. 'elongatus chewere' | L. caeruleus (Lundo Is.)
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Postby DanniGirl » Fri Apr 15, 2011 12:35 am

Looks great!

I've always thought about a lace rock background and yours looks awesome! Thanks for posting! :thumb:
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Postby pikayooperdave » Fri Apr 15, 2011 9:34 am

how do I post larger pictures? I linked these direct to photobucket, and they came through this small.
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Postby GTZ » Fri Apr 15, 2011 12:06 pm

pikayooperdave wrote:how do I post larger pictures? I linked these direct to photobucket, and they came through this small.

Looks like the originals are the same size, in which case you should alter the camera settings to a larger resolution. It appears to be set to 320 x 213, unless you reduced their size before you uploaded them.
75G L. caeruleus (Lundo Is.) | Ps. demasoni | Met. greshakei
55G WC Cynotilapia sp. 'hara' | Metriaclima sp. 'elongatus chewere' | L. caeruleus (Lundo Is.)
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Postby slinkster213 » Fri Apr 22, 2011 1:45 am

this is a fantastic build and I feel like just the setup I've been looking for. So you have an in-tank sump? So basically you never have to worry about overflowing nor worry about your siphon going out?
Do you have any details about your build for the back of your aquarium? Not the background (which is awesome by the way) but details on the plexiglass build (details on sizes and such, angles and what not, I know you probably don't have specifics but more or less the basics....yikes that was a long explanation sorry)
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Postby Chunkanese » Sun Apr 24, 2011 6:55 pm

That looks great, are the fish able to get in behind those areas at all?
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Postby pikayooperdave » Mon Apr 25, 2011 11:11 am

Thanks for the compliments!

We now have the tank stocked with the former inhabitants of our 55 gallon all-male tank. The new tank cycled in less than a week due to moving the mature canisters over with the fish. They are able to use the caves, and they do so quite frequently. They love it and so do we!

I responded to slinkster213 and a couple of other users via email, including larger images and some intricate details about the Under Gravel Jets, exact measurements etc. If anyone else wants that info just email me at pikayooperdave@yahoo.com and I will be glad to forward that to you.
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Postby pikayooperdave » Mon Apr 25, 2011 11:16 am

Chunkanese, to answer your question more exactly - the fish are NOT intended to enter the sump, or the partitioned areas in the back corners. There is no spot that a fish larger 1/2" - 1" long or so could possibly get back there. That said, I have couple of Labidochomis Mbamba fry that can get behind one of the corner partitions (barely). That won't last for long and I don't see any reason to try and prevent it - they got back out again on their own as well.

The fish do use the caves and pockets that I inlcluded intentionally for their use, if that is what you meant.
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Update

Postby pikayooperdave » Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:26 pm

the tank has been set up for many months now so I thought I would provide an update.

-The under gravel jets works nice, the bottom of the tank is usually very clean
-Setting the large rocks on "bricks" buried in the substrate also does a nice job of keeping debris from accumulating under the rocks. At this point, I don't even move them when I vacuum the gravel because there is nothing under there. Between this and UGJ, when I do water changes the vacuum finds only minimal debris.
- The background still looks fantastic, the whole thing is covered in brown/green algae now and the fish pick at it constatly. They also use the caves, a couple of fish have chosen caves that they live in and guard but other caves are used by many fish that zoom in and out.
- The foam prefilter on the mag pump picks up most of the gross debris from the water, and I squeeze/rinse that foam out every week or two, or whenever I think of it. Only takes a minute. This extends the time between canister filter cleanings. The eheims can go a good 3 months before water flow is noticably lessened and I clean them out.
- I will post new pictures when I get home tonight, unless I forget.
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