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Project 58!! (Image intense)

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Maxx

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Some of you may have seen this on another board....I apologize for the double posting....I just wanted to share it over here too. Besides MojoReef was intrumental in getting this off the ground, so I figured this was a good place to say thanks.


The epic saga of one mans struggle to persevere against overwhelming odds, forces of nature, and financial handicaps to set up........................(Cue theme music from 2001 Space Odyssey)............................... A 58 GALLON REEF TANK!!!!!!!!

This has been a part time project for me for the better part of 2 years. Things have been planned extensively, researched exhaustively, scrapped, and started again many times....
I want to say thanks right off the bat to Mike (Mojo here and elsewhere), Curt Swearingen (CurtSwearing here, no he's not a potty mouth, his full name just doesnt fit.....) who have taken the brunt of all my questions, patiently answered them, and then restrained themselves from smacking me in the head when I asked the same question later cause I didnt like the answer I got originally.......nope, it didnt change......sigh...
Background Info
As a kid I loved to play in the ocean and I had several fish tanks growing up. We moved to Hawaii when I was 12 and I got hooked on Marine Aquariums. Right about the time that Mini-Reefs were taking off, (remember spray bars in your wet-dry filter that rotated? Remember when Zoo's and Xenia were hard to keep and Elegence corals werent?), my family moved off the island, and into Missouri.....I kept a couple of fish tanks then, but marine tanks were really expensive for a kid in high school, and it was tough to explain to girls why you couldnt take them out ot a nice restaurant cause you'd just spent $100 on some fish stuff....
I joined the Marine Corps out of high school and had no time, money, or space for aquariums. When I got out of the Marines in 97, I moved in with a buddy of mine, and started a 125 Saltwater FO tank. His dog promptly chewed through one the sump return lines and drained all 125 gallons of saltwater all over the floors of the my buddy's new house. I got yelled at, the dog got disciplined, and fishtanks were forbidden in the house.
I'm patient, (and sneaky), so I waited a few years and one day when he was gone, went out and got a new 20 gallon tank. I had moved upstairs (2 family house here in St louis...Mike, my buddy w/ the dog, lived downstairs, and I moved upstairs so we each had a place now), so it was easier to maintain. Mike made me swear on my life that there would be no floods with this tank. Otherwise, I was moving out w/ the tank.
The pictures of that tank are in my gallery. I tore it down about a year ago w/ the intent of finishing up the 58 gallon....its been taking awhile. Mike has since married, had a baby, and moved into his wife's nicer, newer, bigger house, and my girlfriend Rocio and I have moved in together and currently live downstairs in Mike's old place, (Central Air baby!!!) Naturally I have all kinds of considerations now.....does it look aesthetically pleasing enough that Rocio will allow me to place the tank in the dining room?
How can I ensure that this wont leak or flood in the house since I have two Lab's myself.......etc
Well, I decided to DIY as much as I could so I would save money, (right.....) and I could make things to suit my needs.
Do It Yourself type stuff
This was interesting for me since my father almost blew the house up attempting to fix the furnace once. The man seriously thought he was going to have to drop the engine on his 1970 Dodge Charger in order to change the spark plugs.....(to be fair, the was a car back then that required the engine being dropped/removed in order to get to the spark plugs......he just didnt have it)......so its not like I come from a strong back ground in DIY and handy type stuff. But I can usually eyeball something and attempt to figure it out and understand what makes it work...So I was willing to undertake this.....
With that in mind, several things here are far from professional looking. I made no attempt to hide the flaws in the photo's in order to help others learn from my mistakes,and avoid issues I had. Hopefully some of you DIY super genius' out there will chime in and explain better ways to do things than I did, so that others who follow will have a better lesson plan....
With that in mind, thanks for reading along, and being patient with all of my ramblings. Feel free to ask any and all questions....
Here we go
 

Maxx

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First up was the planning.....
I knew I wanted to keep a primarily SPS and Clam tank, but I also liked anemones. I liked certain fish and was determined to have them, but needed to make sure they were compatible w/ my system. So I did some researching on what I needed to keep the critters that I wanted best.
First up was lighting.
I knew eventually I would want a bigger tank, so I have tried to plan w/ the ability to upgrade in mind. I went w/ two Sunlight Supply BlueWave IV Electronic Ballasts (which are basically just IceCap E-ballasts which are already wired, in a pretty blue box w/ a 5 year warranty, (Standard IceCap warranty is only 3 years). I REALLY dislike playing w/ electrical, I've seen fires start and been burned myself by fualty wiring etc....so unless I had no other way of doing it, I have payed to get electrical done by smart people who know what they are doing. I went w/ the 250 watt versions. I went w/ the E-ballasts because they can be used for almost any bulb and use less electricity. I wasnt too concerned about saving money on the usage end of things, as I was at start up. I live in an older house and wiring is older and I want to blow as few fuses as possible....
I bought my lighting from Vince at
Ocean Encounter
and got a great deal. Vince also had the Sunlight Supply Reef Optix III plus and gave a great deal on a package set for everything. I really liked that because as I said I really dislike the wiring aspect of this, and now I was plug and play.
One thing to keep in mind about the lighting though was heat and how I was going to be able acclimate corals to the bright lighting.
While doing some online research, I stumbled on Tracey Gray's set up (Poseidon's Paradise) and was really impressed w/ how his lighting is adjustable in height



Go to his website, click on the pics button, then click on the tank sys button to see these pictures w/ his explanation and descriptions.
This type of set up covered both bases for me heat would be easily dissipated by the open top of the tank, and adjustable lighting meant that I could more easily acclimate corals to the intensity or when changing bulbs.
So I drew up this plan originally:
 
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Maxx

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I definately needed a water proof/flood proof stand though......
So I built it. I will be the first to admit it, I over engineered the crap out of the stand. It's built out of 4x4's and 2x6's, with some 2x4's acting as non structural members.
Here is the stand base. Basically its a waterproofed box that is intended to hold up to 21 gallons of water (w/o anything in it) in the event of a flood of somesort. When I did this originally, I goofed and siliconed the seams before adding the legs. This prevented me from getting a good fit w/ the legs, so I had to remove the silicon (NOT FUN) and start over.



Then I added the 4x4 legs to the stand. I was impatient and wanted to get started right away, and the only wood that was dry and able to be urethaned anywhere nearby to me was cedar. Cedar is expensive BTW...had I been just bit more patient, I could have purchased some 4x4's that werent Cedar and sealed them and saved some money. Take notes kids....




Nick
 

Maxx

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So then I used more 2x6's to give the tops of the 4x4's some stability.



Then I added some extra bracing on the side for the skin to mount on. Remember, the intent is that the bottom is water proof and able to hold water in the event of a leak, so drilling holes in it to mount the wooden skin would have defeated the purpose of all of this....



Nick
 

Maxx

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Then I made the skin. I used 3/4" Birch plywood for the skin.....cause I didnt see the 1/2" Birch plywood on the other aisle.....the weight and money savings would have been nice....sigh
But over all I like it. I stained it w/ MinWax's Honeymaple #604 gel stain, and sealed all wood w/ 3 coats of Helmsman's spar urethane in a clear satin finish. Here is the front of the stand w/ the skin in place, w/o the door.



here it is w/ the door in place. The skin has been removed from the stand in these next two pictures.



I wanted to have easy access to almost everything I could stuff under there, so I made the door huge.



Nick
 

Maxx

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Things I learned doing this much.......It was pretty hard for me to make a straight hole in the wood for the door just using a jig saw. If you look closely, you can see little waves in the open door shots of the skin. A better way of doing this would have been to cut 4 rectangular pieces and mount them and leave an opening which would become the door that made...hope that makes sense to the note takers out there.
Nick
 

Maxx

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Looking back on this I see that I prolly should have made a plan for starting this thread, cause I forgot to include pics of the current plan so y'all know hat I'm wanting to end up with....
This is just a sketch I came up w/ in paint to kinda show how I want this to end up......this one shows the structure w/o the skin...its kinda harsh on the eyes, I prolly should have picked out some different colors....



And this one is how it will look when skinned.....



Nick

Edit....while replacing lost images in this thread, I was unable to locate the original plans for the frame. That is why the first image is duplicated.
 

Maxx

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Because of the weight, and my general paranoia, I've changed the vertical light box support arms (gray in the first image) so that they will rest on the sides of the water proof box....I hope that makes sense. I've decided just to suck it up and make the hinged panels on the side full length so they will be flush against the wall. It will look better and be more effective at keeping nosy labradors out of the sump area....
Nick
 

Maxx

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Okay, here is a pic of the arms which will anchor the light box vertical arms...



Nick
 

Maxx

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I've been looking but cant find the pics I took of the entire stand skinned up.....so we'll hafta wait just a bit...
Now its off to the light box.
The light box needed to be large enough to house two ROIII HQI reflectors, two 36 inch VHO actinics, and let enough air flow through to dissipate heat. My last tank was a 20 high w/ a single 175 watt MH over it, and I actually had to add a heater to the tank once I added since it let more air through and cooled the water better. So I used essentially the same scheme here lots of open space on the top and in the back, so I shouldnt need to use fans at all.
Here is the light box frame on top the stand, as you can see, I went ahead and used another sheet of birch plywood to cover the top of the stand as well.....




Nick
 

Maxx

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Here is the top of the lightbox...as you can see I left plenty of room for air to move through things from the top.




Nick
 

Maxx

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And here is the light box skinned but not stained....



I just realized in this pic that you can see all the scrap wood I had lying around from things that didnt work the way I wanted to initially. Another one for the note takers here....SAVE YOUR SCRAP WOOD!!!!! You be amazed at how often I was able to salvage it and make it useful and actually same time and money by not having to run out and get another piece of wood, cut it, stain it, and seal it....
definately something to remember....


Nick
 

Maxx

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Okay here is the light box skinned and stained......things I discovered w/ this....
It wouldve have been smarter to spend money here and buy the 1/2 inch birch plywood instead of using the 3/4 inch that I had on hand. The 1/2 would have been lighter and wouldnt have required me to rethink how I was going to hang this....
Anyway, the plywood w/ all the nails is what I used to elevate pieces of wood while drying them from staining and/or sealing. The wood just rested on the screws and I was able to use a fan to dry things more quickly. A large portion of my time was spent staining and sealing....about 24 hours or more between coats. Although some of that was due to work etc intruding in on what time I had to get this accomplished. sadly I dont have Melev's super human abilities to go w/out sleep for days on end in order to accomplish my goals. But someday I will discover his secret and then I too will be able to work through the night and sleep once a month!



Here you can see how the back is open initially. I thought about leaving it like that, but thought it looked tacky, so I played around later and came up with a way to get this done....



Nick
 

Maxx

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Here is a close up of the gap in the back of the light box
you can see that this needs to filled if I'm going to attach anything here to dress this up abit. Also note the dribbles from the stain on the top strap. There are several of these throught the project, I was just able to cover them up everywhere. These happened when I was in a rush and just slopped the stain or seal on heavy and didnt take time to ensure that any dribbles got wiped off by the brush or sponge before drying in place...



Nick
 

Maxx

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Here is the exact same spot, with a spacer in place. These spacers were just pieces of scrap wood I had lying around from trimming off excess plywood that had been previously stained....more proof that saving scraps is good while woodworking!



Nick
 

Maxx

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here it is as a full shot...you can see that the frame of the lightbox is flush w/ the spacer which will allow me to add more skin to the back and dress it up a bit....



Nick
 

Maxx

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The last three pics were of the lightbox w/ the top facing the camera, the opening facing away from the camera, (this is to orient anyone who might be confused by rambling explanations etc), and I was in the process of filling the gap in the back for aesthetic reasons, but still wanting to have some airflow from the back of the lightbox to keep heat transfer from the lights to a minimum....
here I covered up the top of the frame, and the unsightly dribbles of stain....notice the seam where the two pieces of plywood meet on the side....



And here is the strap/band which covers the bottom of the frame...it kinda looks from this pic like the scrap wood I have the lightbox resting on to keep it off the floor is part of this whole mess...it's not, really.



Nick
 

Maxx

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And here is a close up of the gap between the top and bottom straps...its pretty easy to see the seam where the two plywood skin panels meet up...but I've got a plan for that too, (yeah, I know, I'm all about the cover up huh....)



Left over scrap wood to the rescue!!! Cut to fit and urethaned...



Finally here is the whole thing, with rear filled in abit and extra straps attached.....



Nick
 

Maxx

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I finished up the trim pieces on the light box...
Here is a close up of the trim used on the box and on the stand. This was done to cover up all the ugly seams where the two pieces of wood met up, and all those ugly spots where the stain or water sealeant dribbled and dried.



Here is a shot of the entire front.



Nick
 
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