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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just got (what I hope is) a real score on Craigslist. An 8 ft wood tank for $100.00. I'm going to need all the experts help on this one as I re-do it. I need to reseal it to assure no leaks. Plumb the built in sump / overflow. Buy a pump. Make some custom glass covers for it, and maybe a canopy down the road. And most of all refinish it so I don't have to look at this god awful color of it now :) I'd appreciate all opinions on what I have here and any advise you can give to help me along. My main concern is the fact that this wood tank is lined internally with Formica laminate and the seams sealed with silicone. It has definitely been ran for awhile because it has calcium build up at the water line. I hate the ugly color of the back of the tank, I'd like it to be black. And I'm very skeptical of the laminate lasting for a long time, even though I'm told the tank is water proof and does not leak. My initial thoughts are to remove the silicone, epoxy over the entire inside with black epoxy and then reseal the joints with new silicone. This would change the color to my liking and ensure the tank is sealed and will last for years to come, I hope :-? What are your thoughts?

Here are the specs and some pics.

96" x 22" wide x 18" deep. Not as high as my liking but for 100.00 I'm not complaining! 3/8" thick acrylic window in front, thw window goes all the way to the bottom but not all the way up. It is surface mounted not flush with the inside panel. There are aluminum strips screwed on the insde of the front and back to hold glass tops in place. There are 2 cross members on the tank. I can't tell exactly how they are made but my guess is they are long threaded rods going through the front and back panels, running through small diameter PVC pipe. I can jiggle the pvc pipes but whatever is insde the pvc pipe I can't tell. I assume the PVC is for esthetics purposes and or to keep the water off the rods. The entire stand and tank is made of 1" thick plywood. Painted on the outside and laminated with Formica on all internal surfaces. All joints are siliconed. The left side has a huge overflow made out of plexi lined with Formica on the outside that contains a giant bio wheel (about 6-8" round, along with a tray that goes on top of the bio wheel , for media I assume. The front part of the overflow is removable for the bio wheel and tray to come out and has a slanted piece angled downward I assume to quite the flow. It is finished on the back with what looks to be black epoxy. The only bare wood I see anywhere on the inside is at the top of the teeth of this removable overflow part. It was plumbed with 1" pvc to a roughly 40 gallon rubber made type tub, then has a 1" return on the right side of the tank. The stand is all 1" plywood, looks as though each of the 4 pcs (top, front, bottom, and back) is cut from a single 4 x 8 pc of wood with no seams. Construction method- I see staples in the bottom of the stand. It also looks like it is screwed and all screws have been puttied over and smoothed out before it was painted. Over all it looks like someone took a lot of time and care in building it. The seams seem very tight, it looks to be built like a tank to me! Whad'ya think?

How much tank can you fit in a Mercury Mountaineer? Just about this much! !





Unloaded it by myself! Fun! My helper came out in his pj's offering up some muscle! Just a few more years kid. And believe me I need his help :wink: .



Stand pics :





Overflow / plumbing







Is this a good connection for the drain?





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It sounds like one of the many tanks from the old Collins Aquarium in Olmstead Falls on Rt. 252. But it is modelled on one of them, since most of his tanks were built in the 60's and 70's. Not that they wouldn't still be holding water, but the Formica patterns would definitely be out of date and yours is newer. The PVC pipe is a cosmetic improvement over the Collins' design that just used threaded metal rods which rusted after a while. Of couse now if they do rust, you won't know until they fail.

The "calcium" could be from saltwater. Any history of what the tank has been used for?

If you aren't too far from South Park mall, I could take a look at it. I notice cracks in the outside paint around the DIY bulkhead fitting. It is nearly impossible to get a DIY bulkhead that does not seep. That is the only thing I see offhand that needs upgrading. There is a pet shop in Columbia Station with decent prices on real bulkhead fittings.

Rather than repainting it inside, I would just keep lights on the tank long enough each day to grow a little algae and mask the color of the background. At least it's not the red-orange background of the tanks someone in the eastern Cleveland 'burbs sold off several years ago. Any paint with red or yellow pigments tends to create the illusion that the tank water is much yellower than it really is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Interesting info. I'm in Garfield Heights, near 480 & 77, if you would be so kind to advise me on the condition I would be more than happy to pay for your gas. It's about 15-20 minutes.

Here's what I know , (was told at least). The guy I bought it from never set it up in his house, it remained in his garage. He bought it because it had a chiller in it. That's the resaon for the cut out with the grate over it on the end for ventilation. He removed the chiller and sold it for a profit. With the intent to put it in his basement for a Mbuna tank, he filled it in the garage, it leaked around the left ( homemade?) bulkhead, and the overflow. He re-siliconed that area, put in a new (real?) bulkhead on the return side, filled it up and let it set for 2 weeks with no leaks. Drained it. Then got into saltwater and is now in the process of selling all his other tanks except his saltwater set up.

He did give me a brand new bulkhead along with it that I could put on the overflow side.
I don't know the difference between homemade or genuine, but the one on the return side and the one spare he gave me, have a screw fiting with an internal gasket. I assume these are genuine bulkheads.

So you seem to have trust in the formica type tanks? Can you elaborate in your experience with these tanks, as fars as life, and seals holding up?

I can live with the background if I have too, it's not too bad as you say, it's do-able. But I'm really not an "algae" type of guy :lol: I'd really love to make it black if there's a way. What's your opinion on black epoxy over the formica?
 

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I think I know about where you are. My daughter used to love a somewhat grubby petshop in Garfield and was always asking for me to take her there. The owner (John Chapek) took great care of his tanks and cages, but was not a housekeeper so everything else in the store looked neglected. It moved a couple times along the same street then went out of business about the same time my daughter finally got her driver's permit.

I have always been dubious, probably more than I should, of the Formica lined tanks. Some of the Collins Aquarium tanks had water bubbles behind the Formica, and at least one had a peeling section of Formica, however it didn't seem to be leaking. The resin adhesive that should have been holding the Formica still seemed to be waterproofing the plywood even if the Formica was no longer sealing the tank.

Two-part epoxy should stick well to sanded Formica. I always put on four coats, and prefer the first two to be gloss white which is stronger because it has more paint and less additives and pigment. Then the last two coats are black or blue. This also gives you a clue that something (pleco?) is chewing away at the coating. Plecos usually find some hidden spot to do their worst so watch the color of the pleco poop for traces of white paint.

Bulkhead fittings should be easy to tell from DIY. North Coast Marines has some pics online. Plumbingsupply.com has really cheap ones, but they are gray, OK if out of sight. Trickers which is not too far from you in Independence has a bulkhead fitting with a nice long tailpiece (good idea with plywood tanks) but too pricey. I would usually pick up fittings at Salty Critter or Aquatic Technology.

One thing about plywood tanks. You can put the gasket on either inside or outside of glass or acylic tanks, but it has to be inside the plywood tank. Which means the tail piece has to be outside of the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Mcdaphnia, so if it were yours, would you just reseal the seams, replace the bulkheads and fill it? I'm having a hard time locating info about formica lined tanks. Have any links you could point me to?

Paulbearer, interesting idea. I do like the looks of those backgrounds, but am not a fan of working with cement and going through the curing process. I am however inlined to make a real rock background with rocks siliconed to the back, but i'm a little worried about putting all of that rock hanging off of the laminate. My thinking is it could shorten the lifespan by breaking down the seal between the plywwod and laminate due to the weight. But I could be "all wet" :D

Mcdaphnia, any reason the return is at that level? Can it be shortened, or is it important to be at the same level as the overflow? I was thinking if it was lower it would increase the current. But maybe the pump would work too hard then? Hmm, I have lots to learn about sumps. Are there calculations I need to do to figure out pump size, or can I get the biggest I can afford? My intent is not too add anymore filteration but really maximize what I have. By the way thanks for all your advise so far, greatly appreciated.
 

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Unless there is something to see in person that the photos don't show, I would not take on major changes to the tank.

Returns usually come into freshwater tanks as spray bars or adjustable gooseneck returns. If you lower a return coming in from the tank bottom, water could backflow into the sump when the power is off or if you have a programmed system, when a pause intended to evict air from the system enacts. Unless there is a siphon break somewhere higher, the lower the pipe, the more water backflows and at some point could overflow the sump.
 

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There must be some reasons why Formica does not line more plywood aquariums. My guesses: It is expensive. It is usually attached to fiberboard not plywood and the heating and pressure needed to bond it to plywood is not a DIY thing. Scratches will allow moisture through the formica, building up in bubbles between the plastic coating and the resin glue. Tan, brown, yellow, green colored formica patterns all create the illusion that the water is yellower than it really is. I think it fell out of favor well before the Internet Age, so online links may be rare.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well, sorry to say it never made it past my bringing it home. Shortly after obtaining this tank, I came across a totaly free 180 gal glass tank. So seeing that the 180 didn't need any work, I set it up as a larger species Hap tank and it's currently running. In my doing that, I don't have much room left in my small bungalow. It was stored in my garage in the summer and come November my wife wanted her car back in the garage so I had to do something with it. Since I'm not one to give up easily and couldnt part with it, I took it to my place of work where I was able to store it up on our pallet racking.

Part of my reasoning for taking it there is because we have some office space that needs to be redone, and since I'm the warehouse manager, Im hoping to get a new office. If I do, I hope I can convince my boss to let me set it up at work :thumb: If not, I may convince him to let me set it up right in our warehouse or lobby as a show piece. It'd be pretty sweet to have more tank space without it being at my house. I could probably throw something expensive in it for breeding purposes.

But if not, I think I will store it for awhile becasue I really like the construction of it. It looks as though it was built to be put into a wall. The front overhangs the stand a little. So I think it was built so that the stand could be behind the wall and the tank could be slid through a cut out in the drywall from the front. There's nothing I'd love more than to mount it in a wall in my next house :D So .......I'm just holding on to it for now!
 

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A 180 Glass tank... FREE!?!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
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