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Tank Build Thread

this is what I'm working with.  a 24" cubed tank with a weir, trickle filter sump, UV filter, and fluorescent light setup.   

[Image: 8HCpfx.jpg]

I've started cleaning the cabinet up a little (hence the pile of rough cleaning cloths by the side) - so the hood front is a little shinier than than the rest of the cabinet so far.  But speaking of the hood, this is why I need to seal and paint.  the inside MDF is a little rough - but considering it's had 10 years plus of use it's not doing too badly.  It's salvageable:

[Image: yUAl7w.jpg]

The inner top surface definitely needs some sandpapery love and a cleanup on the veneer -

[Image: WbXhud.jpg]

The plan here is to clean back the surface, seal/prime, paint, and on the inner top surface apply a self-adhesive mirror film.   A light bar has also been ordered to replace the fluorescents (which are currently in a bag with a ton of other bits, waiting to either be cleaned/serviced and reused or sold).  I've gone for a Nicrew planted tank 24/7 ordered from Amazon.  If it doesn't give enough light to hit the bottom of the tank (I want carpeting plants) then I'll put a second light bar in with a timer to up the light output at "peak" time.

The inside of the of the cabinet (which has a 24" x 12" x 12" tank set up as a trickle filter) needs a little clean up as well - but nowhere near as badly as the hood - where light reflection isn't such an issue I'll probably just use a clear mdf sealer after cleaning back.

The hood and cabinet clean up are going to be the quick and easy bits though...   The scratches on the glass are terrible - this photo doesn't do them justice:

[Image: FgLwyl.jpg]

They're deep, they're long and they're on every pane.  WHEN will people learn that magnetic glass cleaners are the work of the devil?  Realistically, the scratches are too deep to polish out entirely - the rule of thumb - if you can feel them when you run a fingernail across the scratch, then you're unlikely to be able to polish the scratch out.     I can at least run a buffer over the glass and polish out as much of the damage and blemishing as I can.  23 square feet of glass to tidy up, inside and outside surfaces.  Cleaning the tank properly to remove all traces of gravel and grit first is going to be no picnic either...   I see a LOT of spirit vinegar in my future, and the place is going to smell like a chip shop for a while, but never mind.   At least it'll clean things up, and hopefully get rid of the limescale clouding as well.

I'm going to be fitting a 3d background at the back and over the blue weir front, I'll cut some holes in for water flow and use either mesh or sponge to make the tank (hopefully) shrimp friendly.  I may even rig something with plastic sheet and material from a pair of tights so I'll have flat "plates" that I can remove and clean easily, time will tell.

I've got a nice lot of dennerle 6 in 1 soil ready to go in, and some black Hugo Kamichi gravel as a top layer,  I'm hoping to seed dwarf hairgrass in to get a carpet going, I've got some nice bogwood ready, (it has some small plants and moss already growing on it), plus some marimo balls I kept back from my last tank.  I'll need to put in some tall plants as well, but I'm still thinking about what exactly.  I was going to set up a little Aquastart 320 until this came up...   Now that'll be the hospital tank/overflow before selling on livestock tank.

So far the stocking plan is for blue dream shrimps, a bristlenose variety of some kind (I really like the looks of super reds) and some form of colourful small fish to give some life and movement to the tank - neon tetras are the obvious choice, although I'm leaning towards a fancy livebearer of some kind, so the tank will have 3 "income species" to offset the cost of the hobby.  The 3d background is a dark grey "stone block" design, the substrate is black, so the contrast with blue shrimps, red(possibly) bristlenoses and a bright small fish should be quite nice.

Today's job is to finish cleaning the outside of the hood, and maybe start sanding back the veneer and MDF on the inside.   If you're going to sand MDF, make sure you wear a mask, and do it in a well ventilated area - they use some nasty chemicals to put that stuff together.   Formaldehyde really is no picnic,  I really am not looking forward to this bit...

More pics and progress as it happens.  Might be a bit slow, but I'll do what I can.
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Oh nice project breaking out there, keep us posted, be interesting to see the final product Smile
Bikini Bottom - 168l - community
The Kremlin - 58l - planted WIP
[-] The following 1 user Likes Annie's post:
  • GruntPuppy
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(04-05-2019, 06:29 PM)Annie Wrote: Oh  nice project breaking out there, keep us posted, be interesting to see the final product Smile

Thank you, shall do!

Seeing as my shoulders didn't like me doing the cleaning and polishing of the cabinet (top tip - don't get old, kids!)  I decided to check over the Vecton UV filter.  Sometimes I can't help but go looking for a kick in the arse, and I wasn't disappointed.  Something tells me I'm the first guy in there for a LONG time.  Something also tells me that the last guy was a fumble-fingered idiot - how the HELL do you cross-thread a plastic screw that big?   Never mind, it's out now and I've cleaned up the thread so it should be ok now.

This is what the unit strips down to:

[Image: C0Ze8U.jpg]

Well, almost.  I hadn't removed the starter in that picture.   As you can see, the UV-C tube has had... issues.  So there's more money heading ebay-ward, a new UV-C 15w T8 bulb ordered, and some t8 starters.   I am happy to say that the quartz tube that the lamp fits inside is in very good condition.  I'll give the unit a clean and button it up until I get the replacement parts.

In a way, it's a good thing AND a bad thing.  Bad that it had failed at some point, I'm guessing quite a while ago - the good thing was that when I saw the tank running, overstocked with fish that had outgrown the tank, the trickle weir filter setup was still keeping the water crystal clear.    Seeing as the weir tank makes up 20% of the capacity of the whole system I'm guessing I shouldn't be surprised.  When it's all running together and bedded in the water quality should be very good indeed.

Famous last words, there...  Rolleyes

OK, a bit of an edit.  I hate leaving stuff un-done - sometimes I have to stop doing stuff because I just can't continue, but this is the unit after a wiping-out of loose dust and debris from the inside, and a thorough clean of the outside.  At some point there has been painting done near the unit (I'm guessing before it was fitted into this cabinet/system) so there are two blotches of red paint - I can't use too much force/pressure on the plastic housing as it's flimsy as hell - but I've cleaned them off as much as I can.  So this is the cleaned-up unit, on top of a cleaned-up (on the outside at least!) hood.

Getting dust and dirt out of the corners was a pain in the arse  - many cotton buds gave their lives in the battle.

Incidentally, that dial on the front?  It does nothing.  Not a bloody thing.  It's not connected to anything on the inside of the unit.  The only thing I can think of is that it's supposed to remind you when the lamp is due to be changed.   I'm hoping that spending just over a tenner in parts will bring this back to life - it's the equivalent in spec of their current 400 series unit which isn't cheap, so worth the gamble I think.

[Image: dYBb1n.jpg]
[-] The following 1 user Likes GruntPuppy's post:
  • Annie
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What a project, it will be great to see the end result and all due to your hard work ! Someone asked me , was fishkeeping an expensive hobby, well it can be but there are some good bargains out there too as some of our other members will attest too.
Bikini Bottom - 168l - community
The Kremlin - 58l - planted WIP
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(04-05-2019, 08:30 PM)Annie Wrote: What a project, it will be great to see the end result and all due to your hard work ! Someone asked me , was fishkeeping an expensive hobby, well it can be but there are some good bargains out there too as some of our other members will attest too.

I think there are bargains to be had - but I almost wish I'd spent a little money and got something a little better.  Right now I'm going through the big things so this is where it's expensive.  Tomorrow I start going over the surplus items that came with the tank (like three fluorescent T5 light units)  that I'll clean up to sell and recoup some of the costs.  The fish were traded in against gravel and aquarium soil, so that's kept costs down.  They had to go anyway - they were far, far too big for the tank.

It's funny, but it's the bits that I'm expecting to be cheap that are expensive.  As an example, MDF primer and sealer products are WAY more expensive than I thought they would be.  At least when I'm done I'll know this tank and cabinet are SOLID, protected and will remain so for a good few years to come.  I'm always on the lookout for a bargain (the reflective film I'm going to be using was £5.99 delivered for enough to do the hood three times over), but I'm a firm believer in quality where it matters, and checking reviews before buying.   

Having to buy a mechanical polisher has caused significant annoyance, though...   At least I'll have time to calm down by the time it arrives from Hong Kong, another bit of eBaying has kept the cost down nicely at the expense of a long delivery time.
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  • Annie
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I am in awe of your perseverance with this project even at this early stage. Its going to be a labour of love and the end result will be amazing and worth all the effort.

Once you've added up all the costs to get the tank looking great I'm sure it will still be cheaper than if you had bought the equivalent brand new and shiny from a shop. but without the satisfaction of a job well done.

My Sooperhooge tank needed a lot of work (not as much as yours) so I can sympathise to some extent and will be supporting you in spirit!!

Good luck with the rest of the build Big Grin
500L Sooperhooge Goldfish tank Smile
12L The Startank Aquaprise - Decommissioned Sad
200L The Barbarium….Green Tiger Barbs and Nerite snails
20L Nano Marine.....stocking in progress!
[-] The following 1 user Likes Cheltgirl's post:
  • GruntPuppy
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Can I suggest that you just paint the inside of the lid white which will reflect either the same, or even a little more than metallic films?
Quite a project for you.....
If at first you don't succeed....
...get someone else to do it! Big Grin

Enjoy your fish, shrimps and snails!

All my posts are from a desktop.
Mobiles are way too complicated for me, although I do have one now. Wink
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I'm happy to report a bit more positive progress today, courtesy of a faster than expected delivery from Amazon.  A Nicrew 24/7 Planted Tank led light has arrived Smile

First impressions are good - it came very well packed, and appears to be a well designed, well made piece of equipment.   How do I describe the feel of the unit?  With the matte carbon grey (soooo close to being black!) main body and the matte silver buttons, it's rather Audi in terms of build quality and design.    Apart, that is, from the slidey-in-and-out wire mounts.   I do NOT like these.   If it wasn't for these, I'd definitely grade this lamp as Audi class, Instead I'd class this as "Volkswagen after a student has thrashed it for 3 years of Uni."    They work, they're adequate, but they don't inspire confidence.   I'm putting my unit inside the hood unit, so the mounts will act more like feet.  I'd like a little more resistance in the arms moving in and out under other circumstances though.    The feelings of "oh well" are more than offset by the remote sensor, which is at the end of about a metre and a half of cable.  Under most circumstances this will allow for convenient placement.  This suits me very well, since as mentioned the main unit is going inside a hood.

I don't have water in the tank yet (and won't for a while, either, since I've got a LOT of tidying up to do in there - those scratches and a 3d background need to be sorted out first), but the unit does throw an impressive amount of light out.  Whether it will reach tank bottom like I need, or I resort to a second light bar for peak hours remains to be seen, but I'm actually rather hopeful on this front.

Now for a few pics-  First off, the unit itself.  In this pic, it's in the "early morning sunrise" part of the cycle:

[Image: GYBmlZ.jpg]

The photo shows two leads coming out of the light unit - in left of shot is the remote sensor lead.  In right of shot is the power lead.  The unit came with a UK plug power supply.

This is the light unit at "peak time" in the 24h cycle:

[Image: PslAOR.jpg]

Considering the unit is directly over a piece of 12mm glass, the light throwdown is pretty good.   Unfortunately, too good.  I can now see what an absolutely $*!7 state the tank is in, and how much work I really have to do on it.  So I'll be adding nail polish remover to the list then... and firing up the Oreck XL I got from an auction a while back, and hopefully getting ahead a little with that today.
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And a further progress update - eeh, it's that bad, I've stopped for a cuppa  Sad

The tank had that much crap on the inside glass that I decided to clean it down in stages.  First stage was the CAREFUL removal of gravel and debris from the upper two thirds of the tank.   For this I sprayed on isopropyl alcohol as a cleaning and ungunking agent, and the tool of choice for scraping down was a brand new putty application tool (which was priced at £3 for 2 but scanned through at a quid for 2 in Wilco) - the wider blade of the 2 tools is roughly 6 inches wide.

As a general thing... you know you're cleaning a really crappy tank when

(1)  that algae is on the OUTSIDE.  I'm serious.  I found 2 tiny bits.
(2)  you find yourself thinking "thank goodness, this scratch is on the outside"

The combination of strong lighting, courtesy of the new LED unit combined with the removal of crap have shown that the scratches are far, far worse than I thought.

Meh.  So.. after the residue of the isopropyl alcohol has fully evaporated (never do this sort of stuff in a poorly ventilated area, kids - you'll end up high as hell on the extremely flammable fumes) I shall make with the mini-hoover.  And yes, I'll factor in a safety wait as well.  I've seen a portable hoover become a (very temporary) jet engine after sucking in petrol fumes in the past, I'm not keen to do it with a higher octane air/fuel mix!

No photos at this point, sorry.  I've overdone it to the point of "where's the painkillers," but will have another stab at the tank tomorrow, and when it's empty of grit and crap I shall see what I can come up with.   A previous owner must have had his guide dog clean the tank, it's the only explanation for this many scratches!    Most of them aren't as bad as I feared, in terms of depth at least.  Removing the algae and crap from the scratches means that in many cases I can't feel the scratches when I run a fingernail over them, it's not going to be a 5 minute job by any means but most of the scratches will buff out.

At least while I'm having my cuppa I can get some cerium oxide cutting compound ordered (cheaper away from ebay - who'd have thought it?) and some silicone sealant - the pure stuff without the mould inhibitor for a fish tank.  Well, nearly pure, since I want the black coloured stuff to blend in where I join the two facets of the 3d background (which is due to arrive this week - woohoo!)

More news as it happens.
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I’ve had bits if water lettuce stuck to outside of my tank but never seen algae on the outside, that does take something special!
You did make me chuckle with the isopropyl and the vacuum cleaner comment Big Grin
I’ve just recently started a new job and they use MEK as a cleaner, that stuff wakes you up if you get a wiff!
Sounds like you deserve your cup of tea! Enjoy and relax for the evening Smile
 😇 Heaven doesn’t want me...
And Hell is afraid I’ll take over! 😈
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