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DIY 360 gal. Plywood Aquarium
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blackjack06
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Joined: 11 Oct 2004
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PostPosted: 2006.02.05(Sun)21:42    Post subject: DIY 360 gal. Plywood Aquarium Reply with quote

Well, I've gotten underway with building the aquarium. So far, I have put the wood together and basically just been doing some sanding and cosmetic work to the exterior. I've had some bad weather lately and at one point, I even had to bring it inside to do some of the work! Still trying to get the fiberglass and epoxy resin for the inside.

I will eventually write this out as an entire article explaining step-by-step what I did, but here's a few pics and descriptions of what I've been up to.

I'm finishing putting on the right side using some barclamps


Here's the sides and back without the front yet


This is when I was putting the top braces on (not glued) for support when I cut the front frame for the glass


And, this is it laying on it's back with the sides, front, back, and bottom glued/screwed together and the braces in place


I actually went to Lowes Home Improvement and bought 3/8" steel cable and turnbuckles that I was going to use for the braces, but I opted to go with the wood instead. I still might use one to run from side to side.

Now, with it together and looking at it from the front, I am starting to wonder about cutting a portion of the sides out and putting glass on them also; like the front. However, I am not sure if this will compromise the integrity of the wood and aquarium itself. Any ideas or thoughts?
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Last edited by blackjack06 on 2006.03.18(Sat)1:37; edited 1 time in total
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Oscer
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Joined: 03 Nov 2005
Location: South Africa

PostPosted: 2006.02.13(Mon)12:15    Post subject: Reply with quote

Compromise the integrity of the wood and aquarium itself?

Yes, but I doubt it will structurally fail due to this, but what thickness wood did you use and how thick is the border, is there going to be a border on the two front corners (running down)?
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blackjack06
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PostPosted: 2006.02.13(Mon)20:24    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Oscer,

Well, I used 3/4 inch plywood and left about 2 3/4" all the way around the front for the glass. I will also be applying 3 layers of 7 1/2 oz. fiberglass with epoxy resin from U.S. Composites. Then, I am going to add about 4-5 layers of Sweetwater epoxy paint that I'll be buying from Aquatic Eco-Systems Inc.

Lately, I have been pondering on adding additional frame work (something like 2"X4"s) around it; kind of like what this guy did: http://cichlid-forum.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=86577&postdays=0&postorder=asc&&start=30
Almost like another frame work, maybe apply some insulation material, then cover that with some thin plywood.
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Oscer
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Joined: 03 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: 2006.02.15(Wed)12:55    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well like I mentioned before, it should hold, but if you are going to do the insolating thing (which I think is a good idea) then it eliminates the side glass idea?
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blackjack06
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PostPosted: 2006.02.16(Thu)16:41    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, that would rule out the window's in the sides idea. To be honest, I have many things that I would like to do. However, I am a little aprehensive. For instance, I can't decide if I should drill and place bulkheads in the tank or should I use a skimmer and prefilter box that hangs on the back or sides. I can't figure out which way would be best.
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Oscer
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PostPosted: 2006.02.17(Fri)10:08    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I remember correctly you wanted to put a lot of rocks in. I feel it's a waste to put in glass sides and then cover 1/4 of them with rocks.

Personally, I like the internal skimmer and prefilter box more than just drilling holes in the back panel, but if it has to hang on the back; then I'd much rather use the balkheads.

If you decide to insolate and use balkheads then you could create some interesting flow patterns, by having outlets in the sides and more than one, for example Smile

Are you incorporating any automatic water-change systems in you creation, if we can call it that Smile
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blackjack06
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PostPosted: 2006.02.17(Fri)23:24    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, I haven't really thought about an automatic water changer. Although it would make life easier! Don't know a whole lot about how to set one up either. While on the subject of water, I have been thinking about the amount of evaporation involved. Even with a canopy, should I still use a sheet of like plexiglass or acrylic between the water surface and the lights?

I have decided to give up on the glass in the sides idea. Basically because of what you mentioned also. There is going to be a lot of rocks in there; real or DIY styrofoam I'm still trying to decide on. A lot of rock = a lot of weight!

For circulation, I've already began assembling an udergravel jet system. Two Mag Drive 3 pumps with Lg. foam filters will be used in a closed system to help keep debris from lying on the bottom and aide in circulation. In addition, I was thinking about putting the two overflow boxes for the wet/dry on one end of the tank and having the return spray bar on the opposite to kind of create one general direction of movement. I am open to suggestions!
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blackjack06
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PostPosted: 2006.02.17(Fri)23:37    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's an update with some pictures.

Here I am making the final cuts for the front frame


Here is the frame cut out


Here it is routed, holes filled, sanded, and ready for fiberglassing


The fiberglass, cabosil, epoxy resin, and other materials shipped out today and hopefully will be here by early next week. This is the part that I think is going to take the longest.
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Last edited by blackjack06 on 2006.03.18(Sat)1:30; edited 1 time in total
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Oscer
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PostPosted: 2006.02.19(Sun)13:12    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks good!

Plexiglass or acrylic between the water surface and the lights. Well, do your lights have covers, and is your canopy painted with some type of water resistant paint or something in that line, assuming your canopy is made of wood.

IMO, the UGJs is brilliant and effective, but I always had a problem of cleaning the foam filters, they where situated behind rocks to hind them so it was hard to get to them, but just my experience. Personally I'd use external pumps with foam filters on intake balkheads rather than cluttering the tank, but just my feelings.

The two overflow boxes for the wet/dry sound good, along with the spray bar, IMO should work nicely. Get the W shape overflow boxes, not the U shape.

Your keep cichlids if I
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dale
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PostPosted: 2006.02.19(Sun)23:13    Post subject: Reply with quote

looks good blackjack!
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