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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been planning this tank for a long time and I just started building it not too long ago. The outside dimensions are 12'x4'x'4. I'll try to break each step down as I go and mention what I used in each step. Of course there are gaps in the pictures because sometimes I was just having way too much fun building it and I couldn't stop to take a picture.

The stand: I used 4x4's from the local mill in town for the vertical pieces. On each side of the 4x4 I placed a 2x6 on edge which is secured first with 2 1/2" decking screws and then later lagged in with 5/16" x 5" lag bolts with matching washers. In the picture you can see how I used an impact wrench to drive them in very tight. Of course for the lags I pre-drilled the hole. The top of the 2x6" and 4x4 are flush.

A picture of a finished "unit"

To tie all of the units together I used a pair of 2x6x12. I used a pair of the above mentioned decking screws into each end of each 2x6.

A picture of the finished base. The pipe is for a sump pump, that was later moved to another location in the basement.

The units are spaced 1' on center.



I put two layers of 3/4" exterior grade plywood down. I made sure to stagger the seams so that @ the 8' mark there was not one continuous crack. Again, I screwed these down with the 2 1/2" decking screws.


The seams should and must be perfect, cut straight!

This picture shows how I screwed in the units to the 12' 2x6. It also shows the two layers of plywood.

This picture shows how I marked the 2x4's for the two sides and the back. I got a bunch of angle brackets offline for dirt cheap. I set up a little system to mark where the brackets go, and then predrilled and lagged them in using 1/4" x 1" lags.



I also used the impact gun to lag these in. In made it go a lot faster and also let me really tighten them down hard. Be careful if you do this, a lot of impact wrenches go to 500+ foot pounds of torque, which will rip the wood right from the threads if you are not careful. If you are going to ratchet these all in by hand... good luck!

There is going to be a lot of stress on the corners. I used 3/8" x 5" hex bolts with the appropriate nuts and washers. I also glued the sides to the back for added strength. This picture shows me just starting to do this.

Bolting is done.

There are too many horses in the world, my project helped that problem a little. Don't be shy with the glue. This is how I put it down for attaching the sides and back to the bottom plywood. When you lag it down it should run out of the seam. Then just wipe up the extra with a wet paper towel or rag. I used Tightbond II. A gallon was plenty.

Glue for attaching the right side to the back.

This picture shows the back and sides in place. I used glue to attach all 2x4's (vertical) to the top and bottom sills (horizontal). I also screwed them in place. Finally I took 4"x1/4" lags and lagged the side and back walls down into the stand. That made it solid as a rock.


After all glue had dried I started to seal all seams with GEI silicone. I won an auction on ebay for 20.00 shipped of an entire case of this stuff. Good deal! It took about 3 tubes to seal all of the seams. I then took a plastic spoon, wet it, and smoothed out the silicone to a nice bead as shown.

Also seal in the screw heads that were used to attach the plywood to the vetical 2x4's. These 2x4's were spaced at 1' apart oc. Sink the screw heads in so that you have a little pocket to put a slug of silicone in. Then smooth with a wet spoon. By wetting the spoon the silicone will not stick to it.

I got my fiberglass cloth off ebay as well. Something like 40.00 for 100 yards or something like that. It is 4 mil cloth which is then, but nice to work with. I used US composites epoxy resin which I was very pleased with. I did use a mask, but honestly you could barely smell it. I got the fast curing one which in the humidity I was working in took 1 hour to get tacky, and overnight to totally harden and blush. I help the fiberglass cloth in palce with thumb tacks. Take your time on this so you don't get air bubbles. I allowed it to overlap on all joints. In this picture the sides and bottom were done. Where there is silicone under the fiberglass it looks white. Other than that it should be almost clear.




This is where I left off with the pictures. I'll take a better picture showing the front frame in place.It is made of 2x6's rather than 2x4's like the rest of the tank. This is to keep the glass frame from flexing. The glass is 1/2"x 100" x 44" tempered which I got for..... 50.00! It was supposed to go for a big shower but the customer backed out. Since these pictures I have put the final few coats of epoxy and fiberglass cloth on. I dyed the last coats black.

Notes on the filtration:
I am shooting for about 9000 gph of water flow. I have 6 4' pvc bulkheads that will be used as overflows. I got some SWEET covers for them as well. When I go home this weekend I'll take pictures of them as well. (I'm at college right now picking up a few courses to teach driver ed in the future summers. I'm a Technology (shop) teacher/ marina mechanic the rest of the year. Anyway back to the filters. They will sit to the left of the tank. A family member works at a milk plant and he got me a pair of blue plastic 55 gallon barrels. I will use these along with some 5 gallon buckets above them for my mechanical filtration. I'm going to try http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/pr...ory_name=20326&product_id=19540&cookie_test=1
for my filters. The little 5 gallon buckets will have them as well. I also am using a pair of 4" clear pvc x 36" tall FBF for some of my bio filtration. These are made by myself, pics will soon follow.

That is about it for now, I'm going to seal the tank off the rest of the way this weekend and hopefully do a test fill soon. I'm going to try to make a background for it as well. Why not right? Once the sucker is filled I do not plan on going in to work on it. It is in the basement of my 100 year old house and apparently back then 6' tall was enough for ceilings down there! So we'll just say it is snug between the top of the tank and the ceiling. I'm small so I can slither into it though.

I'll get some more pics of it soon. I'm proud of my FBF so I can't wait for you to see those!
Enjoy!
-Josh
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Here are some links of interest -
US Composites Resin - http://www.uscomposites.com/epoxy.html
Flex PVC - a good source of pvc fittings that are high quality and cheap! - http://www.flexpvc.com/cart/agora.cgi?product=PVC-Bulkhead-Fittings
Awesome site for pvc fittings. High quality and cheap. - http://pvcfittings.com/
You can get the strainers here down to 100 micron. But... look on ebay, some guy sells the same ones for alot cheaper. - http://www.thecarycompany.com/Main.html
A great place to get a pump - http://www.azponds.com/new sequence.htm#Dolphin
This is where I got my angle braces - http://www.dlawlesshardware.com/
 

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It is best to use the silicone last, since silicone will stick to most things, but almost nothing sticks to silicone. I hope all those beads are well covered with several coats of cloth and resin, since each silicone bead and patch is an opportunity for leaks.
 

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NICE price on that glass!! :eek: I bet that would be a couple grand normally! Are you going to seal it to the front with the same silicone? Is there a brace for the front glass I would be concerned the glass would break. Have you considered doing something about the humidity? There is a big tank forum at reefcentral.com where they discuss using HRV"S (heat recovery ventilation). There was a guy called MR. 5000 that had a 5000 gallon aqurium in his basement that he had to take down because of warped flooring and mold problems. For background what are you going to use they sell Handi-Foam spray foam at drfostersandsmiths in the pond supplies section, non toxic and you can sculp it for caves and such. Keep us up to dates with pictures!!! Should be a real nice tank when done!

Tony
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Mcdaphnia said:
It is best to use the silicone last, since silicone will stick to most things, but almost nothing sticks to silicone. I hope all those beads are well covered with several coats of cloth and resin, since each silicone bead and patch is an opportunity for leaks.
I did a test piece with silicone first and then epoxy and cloth. For my test it stuck so well to the silicone it actually ripped some of the silicone off. Which in turn does mean that it would rip from tthe wood on the tank as well..
I think that the actual amount exposed is so small of a radius that I'm going to be fine. I have 10 layers of cloth/resin going 6" each way on all seams. So even if the silicone would leak, nothing is going to get to it. Good point though. I'm actually going to apply my extra silicone over the seams when I'm all done just incase there is a pinhole anywhere.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
tdog44632 said:
NICE price on that glass!! :eek: I bet that would be a couple grand normally! Are you going to seal it to the front with the same silicone? Is there a brace for the front glass I would be concerned the glass would break. Have you considered doing something about the humidity? There is a big tank forum at reefcentral.com where they discuss using HRV"S (heat recovery ventilation). There was a guy called MR. 5000 that had a 5000 gallon aqurium in his basement that he had to take down because of warped flooring and mold problems. For background what are you going to use they sell Handi-Foam spray foam at drfostersandsmiths in the pond supplies section, non toxic and you can sculp it for caves and such. Keep us up to dates with pictures!!! Should be a real nice tank when done!

Tony
Yes, it will be sealed with the same silicone. A nice generous bead. I'm going to have the top pretty much closed in, most of my o2 exchange will occur in the filters. I'm going to have to keep a close eye on that though. At least in the summer I can open the windows, in the winter our air is soooo dry that I think I'll be ok. It is something to keep a very close eye on though.
I'm going to use insulation foam probably with mason's cement over it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
redzebra24 said:
WOW this is soo sweet. Usally people build big tanks and stock them with nasty fish liek sa or cas. I am so happy you are doing africans :) DO you have a stocking list??
I do have some in mind right now:
Aulonocara Benga Yellow
Eureka Red
Aulonocara Kandeense
Aulonocara Stuartgranti Blue Neon
Aulonocara Stuartgranti Ngara Flametail
Otopharynx Lithobates
Sciaenochromis Fryeri
Copadichromis mloto White Head Lupingu
Red Empress
Cyrtocara moorii
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
CHBGator said:
How much resin did it take to do the the inside of the tank? I'm doing a tank soon but wrote off using it because I thought the smell would be too much to use it inside in my basement. If the fumes were as light as you say I might give the resin another look for my tank. My inside dimensions are 96x48x30.
5 gallons
 

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98dak83cam said:
Mcdaphnia said:
It is best to use the silicone last, since silicone will stick to most things, but almost nothing sticks to silicone. I hope all those beads are well covered with several coats of cloth and resin, since each silicone bead and patch is an opportunity for leaks.
I did a test piece with silicone first and then epoxy and cloth. For my test it stuck so well to the silicone it actually ripped some of the silicone off. Which in turn does mean that it would rip from tthe wood on the tank as well..
I think that the actual amount exposed is so small of a radius that I'm going to be fine. I have 10 layers of cloth/resin going 6" each way on all seams. So even if the silicone would leak, nothing is going to get to it. Good point though. I'm actually going to apply my extra silicone over the seams when I'm all done just incase there is a pinhole anywhere.
I did think you were going to be OK too, if you did a good job with the fiberglass. I have a couple 100% fiberglass tanks that were simply lifted out of the plywood or whatever was used to make them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Mcdaphnia said:
98dak83cam said:
Mcdaphnia said:
It is best to use the silicone last, since silicone will stick to most things, but almost nothing sticks to silicone. I hope all those beads are well covered with several coats of cloth and resin, since each silicone bead and patch is an opportunity for leaks.
I did a test piece with silicone first and then epoxy and cloth. For my test it stuck so well to the silicone it actually ripped some of the silicone off. Which in turn does mean that it would rip from tthe wood on the tank as well..
I think that the actual amount exposed is so small of a radius that I'm going to be fine. I have 10 layers of cloth/resin going 6" each way on all seams. So even if the silicone would leak, nothing is going to get to it. Good point though. I'm actually going to apply my extra silicone over the seams when I'm all done just incase there is a pinhole anywhere.
I did think you were going to be OK too, if you did a good job with the fiberglass. I have a couple 100% fiberglass tanks that were simply lifted out of the plywood or whatever was used to make them.
I'd believe that the fiberglass would stand by itself. It makes an extremely hard and durable shell. With your experience on the plywood tanks, what are your thoughts on my 1/2" tempered going the entire span of the front openning? At the deepest point on the glass the water will be 42 1/2" deep and that is assuming that I could fill it to the brim (which will obviously not ever happen.) From the left side of the openning to the right side it is around 97" I think. I'd have to go measure it to be exact but it is in that ballpark. A lot of people express concern over having no brace in the middle. The front frame is all 2x6" and there will be aluminum flat stock lbolted to the top sills probably every 2'. This should take care of any flex that the front frame may have. Is the glass strong enough on its own to not deflect too much in that span?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
redzebra24 said:
You should get some nice open water haps. Phenos never hurt too :)
There are about 100 different fish that I could think of that I'd love to put in there, my list could get crazy and probably will! I forgot about that fish, placiochromis phenochilus is a beautiful fish, I also would like to put some placidochromis electra in there too. I thought about a colony of venustus but I'm not sure if some of my other fish would become food down the road. The sweet thing about this tank is that when I pick a certain fish I can put a group of at least 6 in there because in will easily hold 100-200 peacocks and haps.
 

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Now I know where to send my extras LOL. So your own piece of Africa in the mountains heh. Nice, If I had the space I'd be right along with ya. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
chillout said:
Now I know where to send my extras LOL. So your own piece of Africa in the mountains heh. Nice, If I had the space I'd be right along with ya. Good luck.
I'll take your extras :thumb: I'm hoping they will think it is a piece of the lake. I'm really interested to see how they behave with all that space. I should be able to keep a ton of males colored up and they should grow pretty fast with all the room. Don't let space stop you, my house is only 1000 square feet, of course that is not counting the basement. But either way it did take a good chunk out of the basement.
 

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I don't know much about tempered glass or how or if it flexes. I've never looked up and found all it's mechanical properties for that material thickness program. If I knew the Modulus of Elasticity and Tensil Strength of the Tempered Glass that would help.

My concern was that there will be alot of pressure in the middle, from the bottom to the top of the glass, because of the 42" inches of water height, not so much because of the length of the tank. I don't think the water pressure will break the glass, but the flexing, if there is any, could cause failure to the front silicone seams.
 

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I was just curious, how many lbs of sand are you going use for your FBFs?
 
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