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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have had a 45 gallon for several years now, and after I was finaly able to get all the fish and plants out of it I decided to do something special with it.

This wasn't the way it started though. I was going to empty it out for some gobies that I was really hoping to get. The deal feel though on my end, so I was sitting there with an empty tank in our living room. I had already sanded and restained the stand and built a new canopy for it. And seeing as how I had all the time I needed to work on the tank now, I though why not try my hand at a DIY background?

And so it began...

Here is what I had to work with:


This was my second try at how I wanted not only the background, but how the stryo rocks on the tank bottom would look as well. I decided to do more than just a background because I thought it would help it all blend in better if parts jetted out into the tank as well.


I didn't want the background to be flush aginst the backglass for a few reasons. Number one was the idea that the less points where it was siliconed that would create less area's for anerobic bacteria to gather. Number two is that I would be able to plumb as much as I wanted too and not worry how it would look if it was behind the background. So to get around this, I decided to see how well it would work by using three large styrofoam blocks on the back of the background, and silicone those to the back glass to help keep it down in addition to siliconing it to the bottom as well.

This is the spraybar and intake for the main filtration, which will be a Fluval 404 for now. I did several 'wet test' through out the progress with the different stages of the plumbing to get an idea of how it would all fit togeather in the end.


The filter plumbing from the backside with the pump I've been using to test.


In the photo above, you see another pipe with a ball valve on it on the right hand side. This is for water changes. I got the idea from Gruntfuttock when reading a post he said that he was able to preform water changes by just putting the hose behind the background, and the fish were none the wiser to what was going on. A big thank you for this idea. All I have to do is hook up the hose to the barb end below the tank, and turn on the ball valve (at least that how it will work once I get the syphon started). And then hook the python up to fill'er up.

I wanted a UGJ system in this tank as well. I went for three jets, and powering them will be a 700gph pump. You can also see in these photo's where the filter intake will pull from. This is the pipe above the bottom extending all the way to the sides of the tank.

The left side


Right side


Since the two jets at the back of the tank were going to be fairly well hidden by the background once in place, that left me with the front right jet being exposed. I used silicone and sand to help it blend in better once the sand goes in.



This is an overall view of the plumbing as well as the pieces that will be on the bottom of the tank. At this point the styro on the bottom was allready siliconed into place.



You can't tell it from the pictures so far, but the background does not go all the way to the end of the tank. There is about a 1.5-2.0 inch space on either side of the background. I sure don't need fish getting behind the background. If they did I would never be able to get them out when tring to catch them. So to help resolve this, I decided to take window screen, and silicone to the sides of the tank, and then silicone them to the back of the background. This will still allow good water flow to behind the background while keeping wondering fish out of there. I cut holes to allow the filter intakes to poke thought the screen.

This part was extreamly messy and smelly. Thinking back on it, I should have used a putty knife to spread out the silicone over the screen, but I didn't think of this at the time and used my fingers. I didn't think the stuff would ever come off of my hands. lol




This is what it looks like with the background in place.
Right side

Left side


Here you can get a good view of the blocks I was talking about earlier as well some the water change pipe.



Once I began to silicone the background into place I realized that it was not going to stay flush aginst the back on its own untill it set. So I used some large clamps to help keep it where it needed to be. I didn't put a lot of pressure on them, just enough to keep the background in place. I only had two of these clamps, and three blocks that had styrofoam and silicone, so to help keep even pressure on all of the blocks I did my best to place the clamps inbetween the blocks. I left the clamps on for a little over 48 hours before removing them.



Here it is. The background on and in place. I put two photo's on here because you can see some things better with the flash, and some better without.





Seeing as this point I was already over a month and a half into this, I didn't see any reason to slow down. I hadn't really have much thought to lighting. I got to thinking, why not setup a lighting system that better simulated the sun? By this I meen having multiple lights over tank, and each one comeing on, and going off at different times to simulate the rising of the sun, noon day sun, and then the setting of the sun. And to go along with the setting of the Sun, what tank wouldn't be complete without some moon light. I cheated on the moonlight and bought one for $10 off of ebay. Its an LED type, 24". I've never messed with any type of moonlight before, so if it doesn't work out on this tank I've not lost much.

I wanted to use 15" bulbs because I wanted to try and get the bulbs running the width of the tank as opposed to length wise as much as possible. They aren't a perfect fit, but better than 18". But to get them, I bought two 18" shoplights from Lowes, gutted them, and then fit them on the canopy to acomodate the 15" bulbs. The two other lights I borrowed from old strip lights I had. Right now I have regular endcaps, but once I see that the lighting is going to be enough and the way I like it, I will get waterproof endcaps. I will also get the plastic saftey sleves that go over the tubes incase one ever decideds to explode on me. There will be no glass cover over the water, so if I had a bulb break I would never be able to get all the glass out of the tank. The lack of the cover is also why I'm going to get the waterproof endcaps. (I'm going to use T-12 bulbs if anyone has 4 pair of WP endcaps they are looking to sell. :wink: )

On the bulbs: I'm going with T-12 because no place localy carries anything smaller in a 15", and only one place has the 12's. This way if a bulb burns out or something else happens to it I can just run down the street and pick one up. The T-12's or 8's really aren't an issue with the current endcaps because there is enough room for either, but once I get the waterproof endcaps I will be stuck with them.

All four ballasts will be mounted on the inside of the stand, and wires run to the top via a PVC pipe to make everything look more tidy. This is how I have the ballast's lined up:



I just used the case from one of the 18" shoplights I had bought for this. See, I do like to recycle. :)

And this is the mess under the canopy. I may eventualy upgrade the ballast to the rapid start to get rid of the starters, but really it's not a big deal at this point, or at least I don't think it is.



You can see that I did manage to leave enough slack in the wires to allow the canopy to be opened all the way, but not so much that they will get caught or snaged anywhere. I'm no electrician, but I did at least try to keep all my wires neat, and in a certian order. This way if I have a problem down the road with a ballast or anything, I know exactly which one to look at and what wires go to what. This is the rat's nest of wires comming out from the back of the canopy that will lead down to the bottom.



My only real problem now is finding a good way to allow me to safely have the lights wired to the ballast, but still allow me to disconnect them and remove the canopy when I need too. I've talked some with our maintance supervisor at work and he sugested that I use a wireing harness and I may very well do that. I'm pretty much running with doing that, or using bullit connectors for them, but the harness would be safer.

I'm sure that I've left out some what's, why's and how's along the way here, so feel free to ask. Tring to get a couple months work into a single post I'm bound to have left some things out. lol Also if anyone has any sugestions on something I did that could be done better let me have them. I'm sure this isn't going to be the first and last one I do. :) So the more feedback I get, the better my next project will be.

Thanks for looking!
 

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Looking great. I like the idea of of maintaining flow behind the background. I will be building a background for a 350g tank and have been troubled by the idea of stagnant water behind it. I may incorporate something like what you did to prevent anerobic bacterias from building up. Thanks for sharing. :)
 

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Mannnnnn.... thats GREAT:) I wish I could get there pipes you use... I can't get them in my country. I mean I can get them, but they are too expensive

LeVaK
 

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Wow...

pvc is dirt cheap here...

Maybe you can find someone in the States to ship some to you. It's all light, so shipping shouldn't be much.

~~

Great, great job on the tank. I'd love to see it with some happy fish living there ;)
 

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I cant find that PVC in my country. Can you tell me the company, that produce that pipes? I think ours are from Germany and are special made for pools and tanks.

LeVaK
 

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I don't know the names of any makers...

But every hardware shop here, from big ones to small ones have it, and most peices are under a buck. Though, Orion is useing a few peices I've never seen before.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks all. I'm glad that I might be able to inspire others on idea's for there own tanks. :)

wow, I don't know how life would be like without PVC. lol Silver-Line is what it says on the pipe, but there are several makers in the US at least. Linchpin is right on with availability here. It's everywhere, and it is cheap.

I'm just curious Linchpinn, what peices have I used that you haven't seen?

And don't worry about the fish, they will be in there soon enough. I can't wait for the way it's going to look once it really becomes mature. Should look great.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks Sav505!

I used a utility knife to cut the large pieces to get the general shape and height I wanted, then used a ripsaw blade to better blend the different pieces togeather and to give better shape to them. The large teeth on the saw blade took out larger chunks, and helped getting the rocks unsymetrical and different looking.
 

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The grey peices the hoses connect to mainly. And the valves... I've seen the valves in use, but not in my local stores... then again, I may have just overlooked them cuz I havn't bought any pvc for 'plumbing' purposes.

I would like to find those grey peices though...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Yes, the gray pieces are very sweet to have. Finding them was an accident at my local hardware store. lol. I wasn't even looking for them because I hadn't thought too, and found them and quickly realized how much of a help they could be.

They make them both MPT and FPT to a barbed end. Only bad thing is that the barbed end is obviously smaller than the pvc and the hose, so for the filter fittings, I decided to go one size larger so that I wound't get a bottle neck at the fittings. I used 1/2" PVC for the plumbing, but these were 3/4" FPT, so I picked up some bushings to make them fit just right on my 1/2" pipes.

Only drawback to the larger barbs is that the hose has a little bit more difficult time fitting over them. So for the water change pipe, I used a 1/2" FPT to 1/2" barb because I was going to be putting the hose on and off this one much more than the others, so I wanted it to be easier to get on and off so that there would be less of a chance of me straining the pipe itself and possibly breaking it, or tareing it loose from the stand.

I just realized something else. I've learned a whole lot about PVC and plumbing while doing this project. lol

The valves were less than $2 at Lowes, but $6 at the local hardware store. I wanted to use these especialy on my intake pipes so that if I needed to remove the hoses, I could keep the syphon in the tube, but not have to worry about dumping a lot of water all over the place. But if you ever use them, its a good idea to make sure that they are in the on possition before you turn on the pump or the python... :roll: that kinda helps.
 

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****... Looks like Silver-line only trade in USA. I found a company in Europe but the importer for our country is in another country(funny as it may sound), so I guess I will have to go with the expensive one:(

LeVaK
 

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I'm telling you man, just find a freind in the states and have him send you some. Draw up the plans for whatever you need it for, then send your freind to Home Depot or Lows. Odds are, even with shipping, it wouldn't cost any more then $20USD.

I'd do it for you, but I'd think you would be better off with someone you know a bit better ;) That way if for any reason they don't get to you right away, you arn't thinking I ripped you off. :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
So far so good with everything. Here are a few pics of what the tank looks like filled with water.

This is with all four bulbs on.


Just the moonlight.


And a pretty bad GIF I made to show the sequence of the lights :wink:
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks guys!

I had a problem with the tank not settling right on the styrofoam on the stand. The front of the tank was compressing the styrofoam to more than half of the original thickness while the back was the same, and creating an unlevel tank. I managed to drain the tank, and replace the styrofoam on the front and most of the sides by myself in a little less than an hour. It's been full and running for several days now with no more signs of major settling like that so I think I'm good to go.

Also moving the spraybar behind the background was a good idea, but it did leave me with an additional problem. The spray that it kicked back up out of the water was collecting on the back of the canopy, and the wiring for my lights. So I took a piece of acrylic about 3" wide, drilled a few holes and attached it to the spraybar at an angle so that the cast off from the spray bar would now collect on the acrylic, and drain back into the tank. Working like a charm and not a drop has made it on the canopy or wires.

I still have yet to get some waterproof endcaps for the lights. I've a few on order. Also I need to get four instant start balasts so I can get rid of the starters that are mounted under the canopy. I'm not an electritian, and while my wireing of the lights doesn't have me to worried, I still want to take every precaution that I can.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Update....kinda

All was going well in the tank untill a juvie calvus some how or another was able to find his way behind the background despite the efforts I made to keep this from happening. In addition to this I needed to move the tank, and because of the added weight of the concrete I had to remove nearly all of the water so that my wife and I could move it. I caught all the multies just fine, but was much more difficult to get the calvus, because they would hide behind the background everytime I tried to catch them. I tried for a week to get the suckers to no avail. In the end, sadly, the background had to come out to get the calvus out. This was sometime in December I belive.

After that incident I lost interest in setting it up agian. The background never would set right after it was removed. The calvus and multies are now in my 75 gallon, and the 45 still is emptey. We moved into a house about a month and a half ago, and yesterday I finaly finished restoring the tank to nothing more than a glass box (as best as I could). One thing I have learned, NEVER EVER apply concrete to glass. Tis a pain to remove. :)
 
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