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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Im a design student and i have recently started taking an Acrylics class and after making a terrarium for a red tail boa I wanted to try my hand at putting together an acrylic aquarium.

I am a complete noob at this but a little push in the right direction would be much appreciated.

I want to start a 250 Gal African Cichlid tank with live plants. I know this is big but Im not worried.
 

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Most african cichlids will eat plants, although I'm having luck with Java ferns :)
It's not too big, you could do something spectacular with 250 gallons! (Oh, how I wish :drooling: )

Maybe post some more information, so that people can comment/ help?

Size of planned tank?
Thickness/type of acrylic you plan to use?
Stand?
Lighting?
Filtration?

Along side that, why not say which methods you're planning on using to put the abovementioned things together?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The plans that I have drawn up is for a 6'l x 3' w x 3' h
Im gonna try and make some 3-d models of it and post on here to show a couple of ideas that I had.

But I want this tank mainly to have a modern look to it ( not Star Wars modern but that would be cool) I was planning on its size to be used as a divider wall in my house from the dinning room to the living room.

I was planning on using a 1/2" to 3/4" thick acrylic

This is also my first tank EVER so I dont know what all I need as far as hardware; pumps, filters, lighting, etc...
 

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At 3' in height, I would seriously consider increasing the thickness of the acrylic..
 

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You should be ok @ 3/4"
 

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Ariba Dirchi said:
what height do you think i should have it at if i wanted to stay with 3/4"
If you do a 6' tank, 23" tall (with a braced top) is the highest I see recommended with 0.75" acrylic. For a rimless 6' tank, 17" tall is the maximum.

To put it in perspective, with a braced top on a 6x3x3 tank I'm seeing 1.25" as the recommended thickness. With a rimless 6x3x3 tank, you'd need 2" acrylic.

No WAY I'd do 0.75" acrylic with the dimensions you put out there originally.

Information taken from the following page: http://www.regalplastics.net/aquarium.htm.

And, on a side note - even if you used 1.25" acrylic on a 6x3x3 tank, it's volume ends up to be ~400 gallons. A far cry from the 250 gallons that you listed...
 

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You'll see different recommendations given for acrylic thicknesses. I went with Brad Newton's in this article in the forum library. My 6x2x2 uses 1/2" acrylic and it worked just fine. I used 3/8" for 16" high, and again it's more than ok. As he states, aquarium manufacturers will recommend more. No one wants to get sued. Brad suggests only going up to 30" with 3/4" acrylic, so 1" should be fine for 36", 1.25" if the money is no big deal and you want more of a comfort factor.

If cost becomes an issue, you can easily cut down on the height for cichlids. The length and width are more important. So, consider 8'x2'x2', 240 gallons. Then you can go with 1/2" and save a bundle on the acrylic. And probably keep just as many fish and make maintenance easier too.

You're building my dream tank, you know. :) I've done 11 acrylic tanks now, and 5 wet/dry, sump systems. I want to do one more that's a good 400 gallon or so system.

One last thing, add a wet/dry sump system to the project. Don't go huge and then try to filter with canisters.

Just my .02
 

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Dude...

6 X 2 X 2 IS a dream tank!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Prov thanks for the .02 like i said before I am a complete noob at this and all the constructive criticism is great.

Please give me some more insight into what i would need as far as equipment like pumps, filters, heating, etc...

That article BTW was great... the 8'x2'x2' idea sounds great I cant wait to dig into this project I just wanted to be well educated before I completely jump into this.

Im gonna keep a blog throughout the building process so all of those that are interested in how this turns out you will be able to follow along.

Again everyone thanks for all of the insight and .02 so far
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Nina have you tried java moss? Or any other plants I have found a book while at work and did some research and found like 15 plants that work well with cichlids
 

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Please give me some more insight into what i would need as far as equipment like pumps, filters, heating, etc...
Check out this article on sumps. Be sure to follow through the links to part II and part III. That'll give you a lot of info. Keep in mind that he's thinking saltwater, so don't worry about the refugium.

So, think sump with 'wet/dry' filtration. The article explains what that is exactly.

For a pump, I like the Mag drives, and you're looking probably at something like the Mag18 or Mag24 depending on tank size. Scroll down that page and check under 'Supreme Mag-Drive Pumps for Ponds and Aquariums'. Look at the flow rate for 6 foot head. If you went with the 8x2x2 @ 240 gallons, then you'd want the mag24 as it'll push 1700 gallons per hour for about a 7x turnover.

For a heater, go to the Jehmco web site and look at the '500 watt Titanium Heater w/ ETCI Controller'. Don't skimp on the heater and try to use a couple of hobbyist grade heaters.

That'll get you started in understanding what you need to do. Here are links to some pics of what I've done that may help you get a picture of what you can build.

My fish room project

My 180 gallon project These are from four years ago and I've changed some things up, but you get the idea. Ignore the canister filter, bad idea and I scrapped it. The last pics are of the system I used to hold change water and pump it up to the sump for water changes.

One last thing. I went with external Durso's on my fish room tank and have been very happy with them. You'll see pics of them in my fish room project album. Here's the Durso web page that explains what Durso's are, how they work and why they're a good thing to use. Here's an interesting implementation of one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Prov this was another great piece of .02 again. I read all of the articles that you posted and i was wondering what is the importance of adding living things in the sump. Do the stones and plants help aerate the water?

Also during my product design class i had to come up with an idea that will improve an already existing product by making it produce energy that it is using. So in a sense self reliant/sustainable to a point

so i was think of installing a miniature water turbine that is hooked up to an alternator to help cut down on the energy consumption and add a little bit of me into it
 

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i was wondering what is the importance of adding living things in the sump. Do the stones and plants help aerate the water?
I'm assuming you're talking about the refugium. Not often done for freshwater, but could be a place to grow plants to consume nitrates but I didn't find a small one had much, if any, effect. There are more potential benefits in saltwater systems than in freshwater. Here's some info on refugiums for saltwater systems. Google it and you'll find lots more. I was reading that fast growing typical house plants can have a greater effect on nitrate reduction than submerged plants. Just put the roots in the sump. Not sure if it falls under 'sustainability', but you'd have plants consuming the end product (typical for aquariums anyway) of the nitrogen cycle, nitrate.

so i was think of installing a miniature water turbine that is hooked up to an alternator to help cut down on the energy consumption and add a little bit of me into it
Interesting idea. If you could use the outflow of the pump in some way... I'd be interested to see what you come up with and how much power it provides.

oh and your fish tank room. wow you are the man that is impressive
Thanks, and if you ever come to the OCA Extravaganza held in Cleveland in November each year, I'd be happy to give you a tour,
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
ok so *** been looking into the Pump that you suggested. And when I was looking at the article in the forums about build your own tank, his set up is similar to what I was looking for a 6' l x 2' w x 2' h 180 gal alongside a 9' l x 2' w x 2' h 270 gal, so roughly 450 gal combined. Can I run both of these tanks through the same over flow and into the same pump. If so this will maximize the amount of my energy i can produce from my turbine.

Also i know this is going to weigh tons so my guess is that it will crack the tiles that I will put it on.
So my best bet is probably to remove the tiles in that area correct?

If I can run the water from both tanks into the same pump I stayed with the Supreme Mag-Drive Pro 4000-XP will this pump be suficient for dealing with the amount of water that I want to send though it.

Also what are the requirements of my overflow and sump? Also since Im going to be combing both tanks into one sump wont I have to upgrade the heater also. I was thinking the 1000 watt submersible just like the one that you suggested but a stronger one. Will my pump come with a filter or do I have to come up with one also?
 

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ok so I've been looking into the Pump that you suggested. And when I was looking at the article in the forums about build your own tank, his set up is similar to what I was looking for a 6' l x 2' w x 2' h 180 gal alongside a 9' l x 2' w x 2' h 270 gal, so roughly 450 gal combined. Can I run both of these tanks through the same over flow and into the same pump. If so this will maximize the amount of my energy i can produce from my turbine.
You can run more than one tank on the same sump with the same pump, yes. As far as maximizing energy, at what point do you intend to 'capture' the energy produced by the water flow? I'm thinking as it flows into or through the sump before the return trip to the tank? If that's the case, then number of pumps doesn't matter. You could run a pump for each tank. It might make sense to do that. What reason, if any, for the different sized tanks?

Also i know this is going to weigh tons so my guess is that it will crack the tiles that I will put it on.
So my best bet is probably to remove the tiles in that area correct?
Or do something to distribute weight. What you want to avoid is having a tile crumble under a corner so that one corner starts to drop.

If I can run the water from both tanks into the same pump I stayed with the Supreme Mag-Drive Pro 4000-XP will this pump be suficient for dealing with the amount of water that I want to send though it.
I'd be more inclined to keep them separate and sized for each tank. That way you can adjust or tune each separately. How many feet up will the pump have to push the water. Most of the time it's 5 feet as the pump will sit at floor level inside the sump and then have to push it up to the top of the tank, that usually sits about 5' high. Is that your thought?

Also what are the requirements of my overflow and sump?
Overflow pipe size depends on the amount of water moved. Generally, two per tank. In the 180, each should be 1" in size and able to handle 600gph each. In the 270, I'd probably bump that up to 1.25, so they can handle 900 gph each. Here's a calculator. Regarding overlow style, some of that is personal preference. You can do internal overflow boxes, external overflow boxes, external durco's alone...

Also since Im going to be combing both tanks into one sump wont I have to upgrade the heater also. I was thinking the 1000 watt submersible just like the one that you suggested but a stronger one.
It's all about room temp and many people disregard that entirely. None of my 6' fish room systems use a heater at all. The mag24's keep the water at just the right temp. If I were you, I"d make the heater your last purchase. Don't even worry about it for now. Get the system up and running, and see what it's normal operating temp is. Then there are calculators that can determine what amount of wattage you'll need to raise it the last few degrees.

Will my pump come with a filter or do I have to come up with one also?
No, the sump should have a biomedia chamber built in above the water line that the water flow through after being dispersed via a drip tray. That's your filter.

Let me know if any of that's not clear.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The reason for the separate tanks if because I was measuring my Sectional Couch and those were the dimensions for it length wise is this not a wise choice have two different size tanks.

I was intending on capturing the force of the water from exiting through the pump. So wouldn't having one main pump channeling all the water flow into a single unit be the most beneficial?

Overflow pipe size depends on the amount of water moved. Generally, two per tank. In the 180, each should be 1" in size and able to handle 600gph each. In the 270, I'd probably bump that up to 1.25, so they can handle 900 gph each. Here's a calculator. Regarding overlow style, some of that is personal preference. You can do internal overflow boxes, external overflow boxes, external durco's alone...
I read about the DURSO and I liked the idea of it a lot and I do believe that I may be able to tweak it a tad to be more efficient also but that is a secret and if I disclosed that I might have to come find you, and that would be a shame since you have helped me so much lol just kidding but seriously.
 

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is this not a wise choice have two different size tanks.
No, it's fine, I was just curious how you came up with that.

I was intending on capturing the force of the water from exiting through the pump. So wouldn't having one main pump channeling all the water flow into a single unit be the most beneficial?
One pump will work, it'll just have to be a beast. You'll probably have to valve the smaller side, so more goes to the larger tank. Let's assume the sump will hold 50 gallons, then total system would be 520 gallons. You'd need something that'll push 3200-3500 gph at 5' head. So, I think I'd bump up to the 4800. It's only another $30. That's what I found when sizing up pumps. Sometimes there's very little extra cost in bumping up. And at only 250 watts, that's not bad at all.

I do believe that I may be able to tweak it a tad to be more efficient
I'll be interested to see what you come up with.

Thinking about the sump. How are the tanks going to be set up? 'L' shaped, or side by side?
 
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