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135g Kansas Native Aquarium


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#1 elting44

elting44
  • Regional Rep
  • Salina, KS

Posted 23 February 2018 - 12:42 PM

Hello NANFA,

 

I thought I would share some information and pictures of the my process of building my 135g tank that will house some Kansas natives.

 

My goal is to inspire folks who may think they don't have the skills required for a project like this.  Trust me.  You do.  I am a computer nerd by trade with relatively no prior construction experience.  Just a passion for aquariums and research coupled with a lack of fear and common sense.

 

I purchased the aquarium a few years ago from a craigslist ad in Greeley, CO.  It is a Oceanic Dual Overflow 72" x 18" x 25" 135 gallon.  The price ( $90 ) justified the 12+ hour round trip from north-central Kansas.  The midwest can be a desert for large aquariums, but every once in a while a deal will pop up.  The pictures in the ad looked good, the previous owner said there were no issues with it, but for that price I was expecting the aquarium to be pretty rough.  Turned out it was nearly pristine, the only work it needed was new silicone seal on the left overflow.  Turned out the owner had a stand for the 135 and a 90 gallon aquarium that myself and my father respectively purchased happily. 

 

135g:

Attached File  135 Start.jpg   275.55KB   5 downloads

 

The tank has sat in the basement of my old house, waiting for my family and I to move into our new home, which we did July of last year.

 

This project started on Jan 5th. I decided since I didn't have a lid/canopy for the tank and would be building one myself, I should paint the stand black, since it would be easier to match the canopy to it.

 

I removed the doors from the stand and hit them with 3-4 coats of satin black Krylon Dual Superbond.

 

Stand and Doors (before):

Attached File  StandStart.jpg   90.71KB   5 downloads

 

Attached File  StandDoorsPrepaint.jpg   212.17KB   4 downloads

 

(after):

Attached File  standfinished.jpg   291.76KB   4 downloads

 

Pro Tip: Even with 2 open egress windows and a box fan, 3-4 coats of spray paint is enough to make your whole house smell like spray paint for a couple days.  This may or may not displease your spouse.

 

The next step was building the canopy.  I did a bunch of researching online different designs.  My build is nowhere near perfect. I used 1x2s for the frame, and wrapped it in walnut veneer with some trim that matched the stand as best I could.  Thank goodness orbital sanders and trim, with them you can hide alot of poor craftsmanship.

 

The canopy is about 14" tall, and covers the top trim of the aquarium (about 1 1/2"). The entire front is attached via two 10" full hinges, I still need to find a method of keeping the door propped open as of this writing.

 

Canopy:

Attached File  canopydoor.jpg   98.74KB   4 downloads

 

Attached File  CanopyPrePaint.jpg   220.7KB   4 downloads

 

I painted the canopy (outside this time) with the same Krylon Dual. All together I think I used 5 cans for the stand and canopy.

 

Stand and Canopy finsished:

Attached File  BothDone.jpg   186.71KB   4 downloads

 

 

 

 


Tyler Elting -  Intersection of the Saline, Smoky Hill and Solomon Rivers, Kansas
"Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" -Matthew 4:19
Avatar photo credit Lance Merry

#2 elting44

elting44
  • Regional Rep
  • Salina, KS

Posted 23 February 2018 - 01:01 PM

Next was the construction of the sump.  I had a 55g aquarium that I decided to DIY into a sump.  At first I was going to do a wet/dry style sump, but then decided to go with a fluidized bed filter.

 

Many thanks to some folks @ the MFK forum, that gave me ideas and guidance along the way.  I had never scraped and resealed an aquarium before and was quite intimidated by it.  Turns out, it isn't all that bad.

 

What was bad was the shape of the 55g to start with:

Attached File  55g Crusty.jpg   338.65KB   5 downloads

 

There are alot of videos and resources online on resealing aquariums.  Make sure to use silicone that does NOT have mold resistance or other chemicals, I used GE Silicone I.

 

I went through about 5 razor blades:

Attached File  Tools.jpg   232.1KB   4 downloads

 

Not pictured: Elbow grease

 

It cleaned up really well, Vinegar is am amazing cleaning agent, and razor blades can scrape off even the crustiest of crud that is left over.

 

I used .22 inch Acrylic for the baffles in the sump, I found out I am much better at removing silicone and cleaning than applying silicone.  I thought after a few seals I could skip the masking tape, this was folly.  The masking tape is essential. Take your time and dont rush.

 

Sump with Baffles in place, curing:

Attached File  SumpCuring.jpg   255.65KB   4 downloads

 

Attached File  SumpInStand.jpg   215.22KB   4 downloads

 

In the next post I will detail how I plumbed it all together, the lighting, and the aquascaping.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Tyler Elting -  Intersection of the Saline, Smoky Hill and Solomon Rivers, Kansas
"Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" -Matthew 4:19
Avatar photo credit Lance Merry

#3 Josh Blaylock

Josh Blaylock
  • Board of Directors
  • Central Kentucky

Posted 23 February 2018 - 01:44 PM

Loving it!

 

Keep the build photos coming.  Here's a tip, which you may be going to do later, but it's easy at this point before everything is together.  Add in a power strip on each side, and a couple under cabinet lights to the stand.  I did that on my 125, and I'm so glad I did.


Josh Blaylock - Central KY
NANFA on Facebook - NANFA on YouTube - NANFA on Google+

KYCREEKS - KRWW - KWA



I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky.

- Abraham Lincoln, 1861


#4 elting44

elting44
  • Regional Rep
  • Salina, KS

Posted 23 February 2018 - 02:06 PM

Loving it!

 

Keep the build photos coming.  Here's a tip, which you may be going to do later, but it's easy at this point before everything is together.  Add in a power strip on each side, and a couple under cabinet lights to the stand.  I did that on my 125, and I'm so glad I did.

 

I'm gettin there! lol

 

I didn't put a power strip on each side but I put one in the canopy and one in the stand.  I am using a clip-on desk lap for in cabinet lighting currently, but I will eventually install a better solution when the tank is taken down and moved into my office (once the office is finished).


Tyler Elting -  Intersection of the Saline, Smoky Hill and Solomon Rivers, Kansas
"Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" -Matthew 4:19
Avatar photo credit Lance Merry

#5 Josh Blaylock

Josh Blaylock
  • Board of Directors
  • Central Kentucky

Posted 23 February 2018 - 02:34 PM

I meant on each side, inside the stand.  Sorry, that wasn't clear.


Josh Blaylock - Central KY
NANFA on Facebook - NANFA on YouTube - NANFA on Google+

KYCREEKS - KRWW - KWA



I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky.

- Abraham Lincoln, 1861


#6 elting44

elting44
  • Regional Rep
  • Salina, KS

Posted 23 February 2018 - 02:47 PM

The lights are four Stasun 6500k 30w LED floodlights, they are about 25 dollars a piece and create an awesome shimmer effect.  I don't have plans for planting this tank, but if I do, I think they should provide enough lumens for some low to medium light plants.

 

Attached File  Lights.jpg   251.08KB   6 downloads

 

After I had the sump completed, I plumbed it together.  The tank has 2 overflow boxes and each box had 2 holes drilled in the bottom, one for a drain and one for a return.  The drains are 1" durso standpipes run through the bulkhead, directly into a union, the union then has a 90 degree elbow (I would have prefered a 1" 90 sweep here, but couldn't find them that were really expensive) and then a unioned ball valve, then barbed fittings to braided vinyl tubing, back into elbows into 100 micron filter socks on the left side of the sump.

 

My best advice here is it is definitely worth it to buy unions and unioned ball (or gate) valves.  They add some cost to the plumbing, but the ability to take them apart for modifications, cleaning and moving make them super handy.

 

The first section of the sump is for mechanical, I added some sponges and poly-fil (not pictured) to help with the extra debris from the sand I added. but once the tank is established, I will likely just use the socks.

 

The middle section of the sump is bio-filtration by way of 6 gallons of K1 kaldness biomedia, it occupies an approximate 11 gallon section of the sump.  It is currently being kept in motion by a Whisper 300 air pump, but It isn't quite doing the job at the moment.  I don't know if this is because the system is only a week old and the biomedia doesn't have enough beneficial bacteria on it to keep it suspended, or if I don't have enough propulsion to keep it all agitated.  I am going to give it another couple weeks while the system cycles and see if it improves, if not I may have to add a powerhead to keep the media in a fluidized state.

 

 

Attached File  135 Dry.jpg   221.73KB   5 downloads

 

The pumps that return the water from the sump back into the main tank are two Jebao DCP 6500lph pumps.  This was the most expensive element of the setup.  I was debating using 1 pump, but some sound advice I got was to do 2 pumps, and run them each at 50-60%.  They will operate more quietly, and if (when) one fails, you can turn up the remaining pump to get you by until a replacement can be installed.

 

The returns are 3/4" PVC with union ball valves, 3/4" vinyl tubing, back to 3/4" PVC through the bulkheads and Loc-line returns into the main section of the display tank.

 

Pro Tip: Vinyl Tubing is a pain to work with because it holds its shape like crazy when it it room temp or cooler.  The way I found to warm it to make it more pliable (after many failed methods) was to throw it in the clothes dryer with some towels to dampen the noise of vinyl tubing banging around as it tumbles.  Only takes 10 minutes or so to get it nice and soft.  Your spouse will look at you funny, this is ok.

 

Here is a picture of the tank being filled.  It was nerve wracking and exciting:

 

Attached File  135 Fill.jpg   253.91KB   5 downloads

 

Next I added some sand and driftwood.  In the past I have used pool filter sand from a pool supply store, and it was really clean, and required no rinsing.  For this project I bought some pool filter sand from a local hardware store.  Boy was it dirty....

 

Attached File  SandCloudy.jpg   104.73KB   5 downloads

 

12 hours later.....

 

Attached File  SandLessCloudy.jpg   158.59KB   5 downloads

 

I replaced the filter socks after 24 hours, and then again about 48 hours later.  I purchased 8 socks, and wash the dirty ones with the laundry.  The manufacturer recommended rinsing and wringing them out multiple times before using. Oddly enough, so far they seem to trap much more after being washed in the laundry as well.

 

It took about 5 days for the driftwood to soak and sink.  The driftwood I had that sat dry during the move developed a white fuzzy moldy substance which I have seen in the past and usually clears up after a few days.

 

I added a bunch more river rock, smaller stones, and pea gravel to give a natural aquascape:

 

Attached File  135 Left.jpg   203.89KB   5 downloads

 

Attached File  135 Front.jpg   126.35KB   6 downloads

 

Attached File  135 OffRight.jpg   166.3KB   7 downloads

 

Which brings us to today.  The tank is still in the BB cycle, and I would like to find a cool way of blocking/masking the light to create some natural shadows and pillars of light.  I will also likely add some Indian Almond leaves or Oak leaves to litter the bottom.

 

I am looking forward to catching natives once the tank is cycled and the weather cooperates.  I am new to dipnetting and seines, so that will be an interesting learning curve.

 

I have also purchased some microfishing gear, and look forward to catching as many of this tanks inhabitants on (tiny) hook and line as I can.

 

Thanks again to my patient wife and everyone who has given me pointers along the way.  I am the type to plan and plan and plan and never get around to the actual execution.  Being able to have a community of support made this project a reality.

 

 

 

 

 


Tyler Elting -  Intersection of the Saline, Smoky Hill and Solomon Rivers, Kansas
"Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" -Matthew 4:19
Avatar photo credit Lance Merry

#7 JasonL

JasonL
  • NANFA Member
  • Kentucky

Posted 23 February 2018 - 03:19 PM

Just want to say that is very impressive. Big time props.

#8 elting44

elting44
  • Regional Rep
  • Salina, KS

Posted 23 February 2018 - 03:26 PM

Just want to say that is very impressive. Big time props.

 

Thank you for the kind words Jason, I look forward to posting more pictures as the tank gets filled with inhabitants and evolves.  


Tyler Elting -  Intersection of the Saline, Smoky Hill and Solomon Rivers, Kansas
"Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" -Matthew 4:19
Avatar photo credit Lance Merry

#9 Josh Blaylock

Josh Blaylock
  • Board of Directors
  • Central Kentucky

Posted 23 February 2018 - 03:57 PM

I agree, that is awesome!  I love it.

 

The problem I ran into with lights not creating shimmer is how close the light source is to the water.  The further way the better for shimmer.  I tried blocking off certain areas of my LED bar to create a more natural look, but it didn't work that well.

 

You could setup those 4 lights on separate timers, and you could mimic the sunrise-fall with the timers.


Josh Blaylock - Central KY
NANFA on Facebook - NANFA on YouTube - NANFA on Google+

KYCREEKS - KRWW - KWA



I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky.

- Abraham Lincoln, 1861


#10 MtFallsTodd

MtFallsTodd
  • NANFA Member
  • Mountain Falls, Virginia

Posted 23 February 2018 - 04:00 PM

Nice looking setup, can't wait to see it finished.


Deep in the hills of Great North Mountain

#11 elting44

elting44
  • Regional Rep
  • Salina, KS

Posted 23 February 2018 - 04:19 PM

I agree, that is awesome!  I love it.

 

The problem I ran into with lights not creating shimmer is how close the light source is to the water.  The further way the better for shimmer.  I tried blocking off certain areas of my LED bar to create a more natural look, but it didn't work that well.

 

You could setup those 4 lights on separate timers, and you could mimic the sunrise-fall with the timers.

 

My lights are about 7" above the water.  I need 2 lids/tops for the each side of the brace to prevent fish from jumping and to inhibit water loss from evaporation. I was planning on fashioning lids out of thin acrylic.  I figured I could paint some manner of branch like designs on those with black paint and block some of the light entering the tank.  It will be trial and error.

 

All four lights are currently on 1 timer, I was thinking about putting two of them on an additional timer that I could kick on and off and create a natural photoperiod.  Truth be told, 2 of the lights will likely create enough light for my needs.  I like having the extra light for aquatic photography.


Tyler Elting -  Intersection of the Saline, Smoky Hill and Solomon Rivers, Kansas
"Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" -Matthew 4:19
Avatar photo credit Lance Merry

#12 elting44

elting44
  • Regional Rep
  • Salina, KS

Posted 23 February 2018 - 04:20 PM

Nice looking setup, can't wait to see it finished.

 

Thank you Todd. 


Tyler Elting -  Intersection of the Saline, Smoky Hill and Solomon Rivers, Kansas
"Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" -Matthew 4:19
Avatar photo credit Lance Merry

#13 Michael Wolfe

Michael Wolfe
  • Board of Directors
  • North Georgia, Oconee River Drainage

Posted 23 February 2018 - 05:21 PM

Very nicely documented and written.. I am very curious about your LED lights.  Please keep this thread going and let us know how things go!


Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. - Benjamin Franklin

#14 elting44

elting44
  • Regional Rep
  • Salina, KS

Posted 23 February 2018 - 05:54 PM

Very nicely documented and written.. I am very curious about your LED lights.  Please keep this thread going and let us know how things go!

 

Certainly will Michael.

 

I was skeptical about the lights when I started doing my research.  I watched some reviews of LED floodlights compared to high dollar HO and t5 fixtures, and for my needs I am hoping they continue to impress. 


Tyler Elting -  Intersection of the Saline, Smoky Hill and Solomon Rivers, Kansas
"Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" -Matthew 4:19
Avatar photo credit Lance Merry

#15 mattknepley

mattknepley
  • NANFA Member
  • Smack-dab between the Savannah and the Saluda.

Posted 24 February 2018 - 07:15 AM

Build build build! Love it. As has been previously expressed, keep it coming!
Matt Knepley
"No thanks, a third of a gopher would merely arouse my appetite..."

#16 elting44

elting44
  • Regional Rep
  • Salina, KS

Posted 24 February 2018 - 09:58 AM

Build build build! Love it. As has been previously expressed, keep it coming!


Thanks Matt, I will
Tyler Elting -  Intersection of the Saline, Smoky Hill and Solomon Rivers, Kansas
"Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" -Matthew 4:19
Avatar photo credit Lance Merry

#17 littlen

littlen
  • NANFA Member
  • Washington, D.C.

Posted 24 February 2018 - 10:30 AM

This needs a thumbs up icon option!
Nick L.

#18 elting44

elting44
  • Regional Rep
  • Salina, KS

Posted 24 February 2018 - 11:13 AM

This needs a thumbs up icon option!


Thanks!
Tyler Elting -  Intersection of the Saline, Smoky Hill and Solomon Rivers, Kansas
"Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" -Matthew 4:19
Avatar photo credit Lance Merry

#19 Colorful0Giraffe

Colorful0Giraffe
  • NANFA Guest
  • TN

Posted 25 February 2018 - 06:46 PM

Wow, the tank looks amazing. As someone who everyone has always called nerdy, I think its great that youre disproving the misconceptions of society. Any idea of what you will stock in this tank?

Edited by Colorful0Giraffe, 25 February 2018 - 06:47 PM.


#20 elting44

elting44
  • Regional Rep
  • Salina, KS

Posted 25 February 2018 - 09:11 PM

Not sure yet. I'd like Longear and Orangespotted Sunfish. Bluegill and maybe some madtoms or some of the larger minnows that can elude being eaten by the Lepomis.
Tyler Elting -  Intersection of the Saline, Smoky Hill and Solomon Rivers, Kansas
"Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" -Matthew 4:19
Avatar photo credit Lance Merry




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