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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, I decided to start documenting my 90 gallon project on here. It's a slow going project that is driving my wife absolutely insane, but it will be worth it in the end. A few pics:

From the Living Room side (don't mind my sister in law):

The dining room side:

The rock build which will hide pretty well everything:



From the Living Room again, without the tank but with my impatient wife (current state of tank and wife :D ) :

From the Dining Room again, minus tank with top door open (this is where everything will go) :

This is the part that is probably responsible for 85% of my wife's impatience. Tank on dining room table with rock in for fitment before painting/coating:





I'm currently designing/building the side grounds which will hide everything that won't be in the center rock. After those are complete I will coat/paint them with drylock and concrete color dye. It will probably be a little while before I'm able to do that though, due to cold temperatures. I'll have to do it in the barn and I can't afford to let the heaters burn gas all night long when it's in the 20's for the stuff to cure. If we get three days in a row with daytime temps in the 50's I should be good (won't take that much to raise the barn temp to mid 60's). By that time I should have everything I need to put it all together and get some water flowing. I'm hoping to be at that point by Easter.
 

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Excellant. :thumb: I don't think anybody would mind your sister in-law. :lol:

Here's hoping for some global warming in your area. I really like the way your going with this. Keep us posted.
 

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I really like the pvc rock spray-foam thing. Project looks great. :thumb:
 

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That looks outstanding! :thumb: Job well done on a job not yet done.

So that is drylock you have coated on the pvc?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the positive responses, it's definitely a labor of love.

So that is drylock you have coated on the pvc?
No, that's just the Great Stuff expandable spray foam's natural color. After I get the two pieces done for each side of the tank I'll put the drylock on all of them at the same time. It should end up being a dark gray color and I'll most likely use black sand for substrate.
 

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nice tank man
 

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The only problem I see with it is going to be that pvc rock thing. If you ever have to net a fish out you'll have to remove that before attempting to do so. Otherwise the fish will all swim inside of it once the net goes in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
IrkedCitizen said:
The only problem I see with it is going to be that pvc rock thing. If you ever have to net a fish out you'll have to remove that before attempting to do so. Otherwise the fish will all swim inside of it once the net goes in.
Yeah I know. Actually, due to the wall overhang the rock won't come out at all. To remove the rock I have to pull the tank out of the wall. I'll have to rely solely on traps to get any fish out. I plan on stocking very lightly and doing a fishless cycle so with any luck I won't have to pull anyone out. Yeah right, I know that will never happen. :wink:
 

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I have a tank with a bunch of rockwork I won't want to move to retrieve fish. I put the net in a couple times a week when I feed them. This way they aren't afraid of it and I can quickly net them since they associate the net with food. Only problem is if I'm getting a sick one that isn't eating but that is pretty rare.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
tannable75: That's a great idea, I never thought of that. I'll start that on one of the other tanks this weekend.

F8LBITEva: The brand of foam I used is safe for tanks. It's called Great Stuffand is available at most big home improvement stores (Home Depot, Lowes etc) As far as sealing it, I'm using a product called Drylock that is basically a waterproofing sealant used on concrete. I'm not using any concrete though, I'll be putting using paint brushes to apply that directly on the expandable foam. This is a bit of an experiment so you might want to hold off on trying it until I know how well it works. I'm going to tint the Drylock using this stuff. It should turn out dark gray/charcoal in color.

A tip on applying the foam to PVC. Large areas of undisturbed smooth surfaces are hard for the foam to stick to. On the two 'towers' I broke several small pieces of PVC and zip tied them to help break up the smooth areas and to give the foam something to adhere to. On the insides of the larger tunnels and caves I put several random gobs of silicone and let it cure beforehand. Then I did them in three stages over three evenings, rotating the rock so that I was just putting foam on the lower third of the pipe. This seemed to work well. After all the foam was done and had set for a couple of weeks I carefully used a heat gun to harden it a little. If you get it too hot for too long it will become brittle so be very careful when doing that. I had planned on carving out the rock to look more "rockish" I guess but I kind of dug the natural look of the foam. Almost like a coral reef in a way. It's going to be a major pain getting the Drylok in all of those nooks and crannies though, so I may yet regret that decision.

Edit: Speaking of regret, I wish I had used gray PVC instead of white. The slots I cut in the towers are for powerhead and filter intakes. I didn't want to put any foam in there because I need the clearance so you'll be able to see bits of white unless I get the foam just right. Gray would have covered better. I'm sure there are a couple places in the tunnels and caves that might show as well. I think I'm going to try to get the Drylock to adhere to those areas. Will probably do ok on the small bits, but the towers may be a different story.
 

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Nice tips on your application of Great stuff. :thumb:

To darken the inside of your caves I would recommend Krylon Fussion spray paint available at your local Wal-mart in the paint dept. I used it to paint my return lines (black) and it sticks nicely. I don't know how it would effct your foam but you might try it in an unobtrusive corner.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
iceblue said:
Nice tips on your application of Great stuff. :thumb:

To darken the inside of your caves I would recommend Krylon Fussion spray paint available at your local Wal-mart in the paint dept. I used it to paint my return lines (black) and it sticks nicely. I don't know how it would effct your foam but you might try it in an unobtrusive corner.
Is that stuff really non toxic? I've seen that brand name come up a time or two on this forum but I guess I thought it was for painting the backs of tanks. If it really is safe that could be a tremendous help.

Edit: I just did a search and read about 50 positive posts about using Krylon Fusion. I will definitely be trying that on a sample piece to see how the foam reacts. I wish I had prepainted the pvc frame before applying the foam now. Oh well, I have an empty 125 in the basement to plan for lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
A bit of an update. I picked up some of the Krylon Fusion paint to try on the exposed bits of pvc. It seemed to work well and no ill effects on the foam that I can see after a few days. This encouraged me to try something that I may end up regretting. I sprayed the the whole rock with black and gray. It looks pretty good, and as I had hoped, no ill effects on the foam. After doing this though, I'm wondering if I didn't create problems for myself down the road. I'm concerned with the paint flaking off the foam. I don't know if I should try to apply the Drylok on top of this or not. It looks good as is, but will it last? I don't know. I wish I had stuck with my original plan, doing this was a spur of the moment type thing that wasn't all that well thought out. I think I"m just going to leave it as it is and see how it works out. If it starts coming apart I'll just have to make another rock. Not what I want to do, but not the end of the world either. Here's a couple pics:





Whether it holds up or not is for time to decide. I have to admit it looks pretty good right now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I've been waiting to do the side pieces of the tank, basically two small backgrounds on each end, until I had all of my equipment (filters, pumps etc.) on site to allow for proper clearance of everything I need to hide. Today the UPS guy brought just about everything I need to get started on these.

The first thing I need to make space for is my UGJ system. Before I start on this I want to be sure I understand the concept correctly. When I first started reading about these on here, I was thinking the point was to blow stuff out of the sand, out into open water, not letting it settle in deep. The more systems I see that people post, it seems they tend to blow across the surface of the sand to direct debris toward filter intakes. Is this what I should be going towards? I was going to try something different from what I've seen on here, but I'm not sure it will perform adequately if that's the case. I had planned on using clear vinyl tubing, with several rigid plastic 3/16" tubes sticking out of it every few inches. These tubes would remain submerged in the substrate (in theory) and not stick out of the sand because they would be parallel with the bottom of the tank. My thinking was that it would flow smaller amounts of water through each tube into the sand, but would have a lot more outlets and wouldn't cause any sandstorms. However, if I should instead focus on directing stronger flow across the surface of the sand these won't work. I won't be able to direct them like I could a molded piece of pvc. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated so I can get started this weekend. Oh, I'm sure someone will ask, I'll be using a Quiet One 4000 pump to run the jets. It's rated at 1017 gph.

The next project I'll be doing this weekend will be my lighting system. It's going to be relatively cheap but should work well. I bought four 5 1/2" clamp-on work lights from Lowes:



I'm removing the clamps and will be attaching them to a piece of egg crate. In them I'm putting 6500k spiral flourescent bulbs (75 watt equivalent):



In addition to these, I bought some of the Powerbrite LED Actinic Lights:



I'm using one base and one extension, which really isn't enough for the size tank, but since it's just to accent it I think it will work fine. The plan is for these to be on along with the 6500s during the day and then to stay on about two hours longer at night, so that the tank is nice and mellow looking while I'm watching TV. It should look like a slightly brighter moon light. These will also be attached to the same piece of egg crate as the 6500s. this seems to be a good solution as there is very little heat from either light. I plugged one of the bulbs into the work light and had it set face down on a piece of egg crate for about 30 hours, to make sure there wouldn't be any melting issues and there wasn't. It was barely warm. I'll post pics of the completed light this weekend for a better representation.

Again, if I could get an opinion or two regarding the UGJ system, I would be most grateful. That's the biggest hurdle standing between me and doing the sidegrounds.
 

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I like what your using for light. :thumb: Energy effeciant and in a good color range for daily lighting. I'm using something similar for my 350g. Thier security lights that I found at the home depot model # 9265/9266 about 3/4 of the way down this site. http://www.lightsofamerica.com/sec.htm

I used cold cathodes for my moon lighting set-up and am real happy :) with how they look. Here's a picture of both lighting systems in action. About a 1/4 of the way down this page. http://www.cichlid-forum.com/phpBB/view ... 1&start=15

For your UGJ a lot depends on how the tank is set up after all filters and decorations are in place. Ideally you want the UGJ and filter inlets and outlets to work in concert to keep the detritus from settling on the bottom. With this in mind you'll want to work out your rock and decor placement to optimize the tanks current. Don't be hard on yourself if it's not perfect. Some gunk may collect in certain areas but it's all the more easier to clean-up during water changes.

Keep up the good work. I really like what I see. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks, I really like your project tank, very inspiring. I've been playing around with my light set up on the tank and I think I'm going to need one more led strip to get the look I want. I wish I had done this earlier in the day because I can't get it another strip by the weekend now. Looks like I'll be concentrating on the UGJ system, which is a more pressing issue anyway.
 

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Really great ideas! I might steal em :)
I used the great stuff on my DIY background - and to give it a more rock like look, I took a butane torch and lightly went over the whole thing. Its melts it together and smooths it out a little. becareful though cause it catches fire EASILY haha I have a fe burn holes I turned into last minute caves :) But it really does smooth it out and give it great rock texture.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I was afraid of using a flame on it so I went with a heat gun instead. Not quite as hot but still helped stiffen the foam a bit. I guess we Hoosiers think alike :D

This morning I had planned on going to Lowes to get a bunch of pvc and start playing with plumbing. However I awoke to just over a foot of snow. This unfortunately will delay my trip.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Small Update:

After careful consideration of how I was going to do water changes I opted to do a continuous water change system. I drilled the tank today for a single bulkhead that will be used to get rid of the excess water. On the opposite side of the tank I'll have The water dripping in after going through a whole house filter and an inline heater module from Lifeguard. I figure the water might as well be up to temp when it comes in. For dechlorination I'm ordering an Eheim Liquidoser to dose prime. As all these components are mechanical excepting the doser which is battery operated, I'll have no worries in the event of a power outage.

Freshly drilled tank


I've been waiting to get the tank drilled before I started on the other side's background/sideground framing. Here's a couple pics of the inlet side's framing. Note, there will be a few pvc caves added before foaming. Hopefully I'll have both pieces foamed and ready to paint by next weekend.





 
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