DIY - Projects & Ideas • 200 Gallon Aquarium Cichlid Heaven / HeII Build

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Postby cantrell00 » Fri May 20, 2011 8:55 pm

From a function (maintaining the tank) & an aesthetic perspective, the PVC array is impractical..

The various reasons have been listed in posts prior to this one. I think you may be hyper-concerned about the potential aggression issues of mbuna. Secondly, if given the choice, mbuna males are going to desire to build their own beds in the substrate as far under rocks as they can get. Just an FYI.

Managing their aggression has more to do with selecting the right combination of fish AND the right male to female ratios for those species. For most of the species, 1M/4F is what is typically recommended. For more aggressive species (Melanochromis, Tropeops, Psuedo sp/elongatus types, etc) require a higher ratio of females to single male. Demasoni as an example are the most extreme with 1M to 12+F.

The other factor is tank length and EIGHT FEET goes a LONG way to increasing the margin of error relative to aggression.

As to your questions:

Nice. Your tank is beautiful and very natural looking. You have a TON of fish in your tank.
Thank you very much.. I am proud of it.

Do any of your fish fight?


They quarrel, yes but nothing severe.

I figured having more hiding places would be a good thing so I wanted a backdrop that would provide me with enough hiding places for the fish and would allow me to have minimum things to remove when cleaning the gravel and for them to dig under. I also wanted to set up the tank so that it would encourage breeding. I hope that after its all in, painted it won't look extremely ugly. LOL


The PVC pipes will not promote breeding of mbuna as much as rocks/gravel & balanced community of fish. Their native environment is a rocky shore line. "Mbuna" means "rock dwelling" I never remove my rocks to vacuum the gravel.. The rocks are sitting on the glass with the sand surrounding them. I basically vacuum what I can get to. Do I get it all, all the time? No. But you don't have to every time either.

What kind of paint should I use? A black spray paint? Would it be toxic?


Yes, black spray paint. I prefer flat & you are painting the BACK of the tank, not inside. Not toxic.

How is your tank maintenance?

Keeping a tank pristine is a labor of love. It is a weekly routine, along with the water changes. you can make the process easier somewhat but IME it is just something that has to be done regardless of the fish you keep.

I was thinking of doing a sump. Recommendations?


Are you committed to drilling the tank? I wouldn't do a sump unless you are. I can't recommend hang over the back drain boxes. I have had them & can't stand them. Personally, I wouldn't have a tank that large WITHOUT a sump but that is just me.

There are pages in the 180 build thread I attached that goes in detail of drilling the tank & building the sump, the plumbing, electrical - everything.

That is a SUPER tank you have & I would really like to assist you through this forum. That thing done properly could be really, really cool.
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Postby jsaunsnp » Fri May 20, 2011 10:33 pm

Very interesting look. I can't say that i have ever seen anything like that. Like it was said earlier beauty is in the eye of the beholder so if you like it thats all that matters. You are obviously passionate about it with all you went through getting the tank up and ready and thats the cool part about enjoying the hobby I think. I have Gibberosa and they would love something like that (all be it with much larger pipes) I know i have seen others coat pvc like yours with a style of glue and then pour sand over them. Those that I have seen look nice and more natural, as natural as you can get pvc to look. I think I would like the backround better if it wasn't so white with the purple plumbers cleaning stuff on it.

Overall though very nice job, thanks for posting it so we can watch the progress.
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Postby Agridion » Fri May 20, 2011 11:18 pm

cantrell00

First off I am not set on my PVC design. I built it to see how the fish would like it and how it would look inside the tank. I think it looks alright but I am sure I could make something more realistic. I am just set on having as many caves as possible / practical with in the background. More on this in a minute.

My tank is actually 7 feet but hey who is counting. LOL. All I know is I can lay within it.

cantrell00 wrote:
Are you committed to drilling the tank? I wouldn't do a sump unless you are. I can't recommend hang over the back drain boxes. I have had them & can't stand them. Personally, I wouldn't have a tank that large WITHOUT a sump but that is just me.

There are pages in the 180 build thread I attached that goes in detail of drilling the tank & building the sump, the plumbing, electrical - everything.

That is a SUPER tank you have & I would really like to assist you through this forum. That thing done properly could be really, really cool.


I wouldn't even know where to start with drilling my tank. Plus I would be scared to %&@k the whole thing up and break my tank. That being said I am not opposed to the idea just scared. Also I have seen sump designs but again I would have to do a ton more research to put a sump in. I think it would probably be easier if I had one.

So I bought (2) 4' X 8' X 2" thick white Styrofoam sheets and I plan to make the concrete Styrofoam backdrop but with a ton of caves. So I think I am going to scratch the PVC idea. It just takes forever to put together.
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Styrofoam Wall

Postby Agridion » Sat May 21, 2011 12:16 pm

OK so after reading about the DIY Styrofoam walls I'm not sure I want to do that either since you have to glue it to the back of the tank to keep it from floating. I want a material that I can easily mold and it wont float.

Oh what to do.
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Mache

Postby Agridion » Sat May 21, 2011 1:14 pm

I apologize for jumping around on background idea's so much. Does anyone know how to make a mache background that is aquarium safe? Not Paper Mache but a paper mache like process. I could imagine that a process like this combining some Styrofoam and natural rock would allow me to create the caves that I desire with a more natural look that won't float in water.

Something like this process but maybe with cement instead of fiberglass.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_555555&v=yFn69PmcmfA&feature=iv

Your thoughts?
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Postby Will1983 » Sun May 22, 2011 6:06 am

look into how the reef keepers make their own live rock, i think its a mix of coral sand and cement. however if you use a cementitous based design you will have to allow it to cure properly before putting it into your tank as the cement will raise your pH.
Planted SA Juwel Rio 180, Rena Filstar XP3, Rena Smart Heater 150W, Tetra Optimat CO2
2x Scalare Angels, 2 Bristlenoses & 1 Botia Striata

Planted CA Juwel Rekord 70
1x Honduran Red Convict, 4x Glowlight Tetras
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Postby cantrell00 » Sun May 22, 2011 6:05 pm

You may want to check out this thread & send this guy a pm about the background you are designing...

http://www.cichlid-forum.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=228613&start=15
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Postby Chunkanese » Thu May 26, 2011 1:00 am

Dude, i know how awesome DIY backgrounds are, however, i went down to the beach and collected some very nice rocks, ones i could use to stack creating a background and hiding all my equipment. Looks awesome, cost me $0. I know it may seem like a pain, but i dont need to really move them again for a while since my filter intakes are secured behind the rocks to keep debris from building, and next time i break it all down i will stick an extra powerhead back there. I will get a picture hopefully tomorrow.

Also i pulled all my sand from the back to the front, placed all rocks securely on the bottom so they wont ever shift, and took my time stacking them up making sure there was no chance for them to fall. I collected large thin rocks that you would consider good skipping rocks, so when i stacked them at the top they look like big rocks facing you, but they are really 1/2 inch thick making it very light and tons of hiding places.

Edit: I have built a DIY background that was mentioned in the post before me, just a note if you decide to go that way, make sure you PLAN and get dark vinyl, use large-ish pieces of lava rock, and a lot of silicone. If you use small pieces you will have endless amounts of pieces falling off when the vinyl flexes. I used 3 sided vinyl gutters, they looked decent when i was done, however i decided i liked the real rock look.
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Postby justinf67 » Fri May 27, 2011 11:45 pm

got any pics of ur tank?
55G: Many Dems, 3 Albino Soc (1:3), 3 Yellow Labs, Jalo Reefs (1:2)4 Petricola
55G: 1 Red Zebra, 1 Msobo, 3 Trewavasae juvies, all thats left after a tank wipeout :(
40g Salt tank
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Postby Bodenhimer » Sat May 28, 2011 1:41 pm

The pvc pipe thing is practical but doesnt look the best. Maybe for breeder tank only. Maybe you could just to the old fasioned thing stack rocks any way you like and hide many pvc pipes inbetween. Like use flat rocks with pvc pipe inbetween with other rocks blocking pvc pipes. You could use eggcrate to protect bottom of tank if rocks were to fall. gl
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Postby Agridion » Sun May 29, 2011 11:37 am

I thought of doing an all natural backdrop with stacking stones but I haven't had to much luck with them in my 55 so I am hoping to create something more permanent and with a lot more caves. I am trying to minimize the amount of rocks with in the tank and utilize the back drop a bit more. Chunkanese I like your idea with the flat river rocks. It would give the Cichlids TONS of places to hide. For me to fill my ~200 gallon tank (after closer inspection I think it's closer to 190 gallons) with all those rocks I would have to spend just as much time finding the rocks and setting them up as I would building a permanent structure that would allow me to remove in several pieces instead of several hundred pieces.

I looked into the vinyl backdrop using rain down spouts and you are right they just look Ok. I have another idea in my head on how to create a light weight lots of caves backdrop. I just haven't figured out all of the details on how to make it look extra super real. More on this topic to come. First let me update you all with what I have been doing over the past week +.
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Truss Support

Postby Agridion » Sun May 29, 2011 11:46 am

Well last week I prepared all 10 3/4" plywood sections to put up onto the trusses. I don't think I would have made it though drilling all of the screws in if it wasn't for the help of my dad and my brother-n-law. A screw every 4" O.C. is a LOT of screws!

One of my Plywood sections (actually 3 parts to go around wires)

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Putting in the last few screws.
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After the basement was fully supported and I let the glue dry for a few days. It was time to do a water test on my Aquarium. This is the point where I think any aquariumast holds their breath. I almost fainted since it was about a 20 minute breath. LOL

Half way there
Image

Completely Full (Thank G0D). And the primary seals hold! Holly-Lula and sitting for an hour. I busted out my level before and after filling the tank, completely level. Floor supports are working well.
Image
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Postby Agridion » Sun May 29, 2011 11:59 am

This past Friday my dad came over again to assist me in the next step of this setup, a designated water supply and drain. I decided if I am going to do this right I am going to go all out and not have hoses running all over the house when I am cleaning or filling this tank. So here are some brief pictures of the process. This also was a full day's project. I started at 12 PM and ended at 1 AM.

Cutting the hole in the drywall after determining where I wanted the water supply and drain.
Image

After connecting the hot and cold water lines it was time to cut into the drain line. There is are not to many things in a home grosser then cutting into a drain line from below with a hand saw and watching the filth run down the blade all over your arms with no water supply to wash it off. After gagging a few times and a few disinfected wipes later I was back to work.

The next image is the basement shot looking up to where the hot, cold and drain lines go into the wall by the tank.
Image

Here is an image with the lines coming out of the wall.
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And finally after I put the drywall back up and fitting up my makeshift faucet support (not screwed in all the way) it was time to test the sucker out and make sure there were no leaks. Fingers crossed again!

Image

Success!

I have a hose attachment for the faucet in the picture it it wasn't on yet.
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Postby Agridion » Sun May 29, 2011 12:22 pm

Yesterday.


Last week after much contemplation I decided to order a 1,500 gpm http://www.glass-holes.com/ overflow box.

I was freaking out all week in determining if my tank was tempered or not. I called Perfecto and they said that they could not tell me if the sides were tempered or not with out the code on the bottom of the tank. Of course the previous owner took this tag off.

So after reading posts on the web and talking with a glass specialist I went out and picked up some polarized glasses. They all say that you can see the heat stress lines in tempered glass and non-tempered glass you won't see the lines. Don't worry I didn't spend any money on them since every movie theater throws out hundreds of these glasses a day! Yep the 3D plastic movie glasses. So I put the glasses on and looked at my car for a test. Yep sure enough you can easily see what is tempered and what is not. So I determined my tank wasn't tempered.

With the help of my two strong younger brothers and my roommate we took the tank off the stand and tipped it on its side.

Setting up the template
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After I have the etched / score marks in the glass and almost ready for my hour long drilling.
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The drilling went smoothly. I do have to say that the glass cutter (drill bit) that glass-holes sent me was off center when drilling since my drill wobbled back and forth as I drilled. So it leads me to believe that they buy the cheapest drill bits / defects to send to their customers. Anyways after cutting the pucks out it was time to install the bulkheads.

I ordered the longer bulkheads because their website says for anything over 1/2" glass to get the long ones. Well the long ones were way to darn long so I had to cut them with my table saw. I couldn't image what someone would do if they had to cut them by hand (cry maybe).

The shorter one I still had to cut off three more threads after I snapped the picture.
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The overflow box installed.
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And now it was time to put the tank back up (another nail bitter). We managed not to drop the tank when putting it back onto the stand.

I do have one question for all of you. Do you think I put the overflow box to low? Now I am thinking that I might have since I am not sure where the water level will reside when the tank is running. I hope at least half way up the weir. Your thoughts?
Image

Well I have to jet. I will get to describing my idea on the new backdrop in detail later but for a quick description: I plan on making a light weight concrete (with mixing in crushed up Styrofoam) and using different shape inflated balloons to make caves and structures for the concrete to form around. I am also hoping to be able to shape the concrete as it cures and add in some real rocks into the mix as well.
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Postby jchild40 » Sun May 29, 2011 4:35 pm

:thumb:
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