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Marine Tank 36x18x18 Journal - now with clownies!

Discussion in 'Pets & Animals' started by Sir Ghallahad, Apr 1, 2008.

  1. Sir Ghallahad

    Sir Ghallahad Member

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    Marine Tank 36x18x18 Journal

    This is also on another forum (MASA), so if it looks familiar thats why.

    So after about 5 years of not having a fish tank, ive decided to get back into it with a marine tank.

    Ive heard heaps of good things about St George Aquariums, so ive basically gotten everything from them. Their customer service has been the best ive seen anywhere, with great advice for anything ive asked. </plug>

    I went with a 36x18x18 tank with a 30x18x18 sump. The sump is a 'mini reef' that St George's designed and pump out by the hundreds it seems. The water flows down and trickles over some bioballs, through some more mesh to the return section where the skimmer and return pump are.

    Guess ill start off with the stand build...

    Stand was made with 100x50 Blackbutt (which feels as though its harder than concrete), the doors with Maple and the slats with Sydney Blue Gum.

    I had four legs all identical with notches cut out for the cross beams. Used the drop saw to cut several cuts at the right depth, then chiseled and perfected the fit.

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    Then came the fun of the mortice and tenon joints. They arent really that hard a joint to make, but drilling and chiselling Blackbutt is the problem. I routed the tenons, and drilled and chiseled the mortices.

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    Aaaand the finished sides. Four rails join them together and thats it.

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    Glued the main frame together and also the middle braces.

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    Had some spare Sydney Blue Gum lying around so I thought id work that into it somehow. Came out beautifully with a nice contrast against the Blackbutt. Just a shame the sump is going to completely cover it.

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    Last edited: Jan 11, 2009
  2. OP
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    Sir Ghallahad

    Sir Ghallahad Member

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    Then came the doors. Dont really have many pictures of the contruction of them as I kinda got sidetracked and forgot to take pics. I cut all the lengths for the door frames and mitred them, ran a chamfer bit in the router on both sides, and then made a groove down the middle. Turned it over and routed a rebate out of the back for the door slats to glue on to. The slats just simply have a small chamfer on both sides to make the nice groove pattern. Glued them all up and voila.

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    Once everything was build I started on the mammoth job of sanding. Ran an orbital over everything with grits of 80, 120, 180 and 240. Then hand sanded with some 400.

    Id put a lot of effort into the building of the stand, and I didnt want a half arsed finish to ruin it. So I researched some nice finishes and came up with a great one. First coat I put on it was 50/50 Polyurethane and Turps, which really soaks into the wood to seal it nicely.

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    Oh and heres the foreman. She doesnt move, even with a router 3m away.

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    After the initial sealing coat, I applied three coats of a mix of Polyurethane/tung oil/linseed oil. In between every coat I also sanded it down with some 800 grit. Came up damn nice, really good finish. Once those were all done and dried I polished it with some wax to further seal it.

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    The finish took about 5 days to do, but it was well worth it. Next came putting the doors onto the stand. I really liked the idea of having removable panels, so I went to Bunnies and bought sixteen (four for each door) brass door catches. Now I can simply take all three sides off with no worries of doors being in the way at all.

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  3. OP
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    Sir Ghallahad

    Sir Ghallahad Member

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    I had actually picked up the tanks about a week before finishing the stand, so once that was done I could put it all together.

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    Siliconed in the overflow plumbing and crewed and taped a powerboard to the wall.

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    Here's the sump design...

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    Left the silicone to dry over night, then blue-glued the plumbing from the tank to the sump. Everything from St George's comes 'soft plumbed', with very little actual conduit plumbing. Seems to do a good job so I didnt argue.

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    Filled the beast up and put the salt in. God damn thats a lotta salt.

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  4. OP
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    Sir Ghallahad

    Sir Ghallahad Member

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    For a few days I was wondering why the salinity wasnt going up at all. I calculated the water volume and thought I had it all right. Then I looked at the sheet of paper on my desk, 170 + 66 = 136. Doh! So I chucked in a whole heap more salt and finally got it right at 1.022.

    Been running the tank for a few days and decided it was time for some live rock. Bought ~25kg and a couple of pieces of base rock. This is my first experience with live rock so this opinion might mean nothing, but this batch of live rock is friggin awesome. All different shapes and sizes, with nice big holes and caves in them for fish to swim through.

    I got it all home and started aquascaping. Given some tips from St George's on how to arrange it all which was great. But at home it was a completely different story. Now I can understand why it takes people so long and they are never happy. Myself though, I am very happy with how the aquascape has turned out. Lots of open swimming areas and also lots of caves and holes for the fishies to swim through and hide out. Dont think ill be changing it for a while.

    The rock was already pretty clean before I got it, so the water cleared up pretty quickly.

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    Ill probably let it sit for another week and let it keep cycling, then introduce some 'test pilots'. Was thinking a couple of Humbugs.
     
  5. japes

    japes Member

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    Nice mate, great looking stand and the sump looks quality (setting one up for my tank soon).

    I love the smaller Reef journals on MASA, very interesting. Be sure to keep us posted.
     
  6. Oosh

    Oosh Member

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    That's some impressive woodwork, tank isn't bad either. :p
     
  7. Deftone2k

    Deftone2k In the Darkroom

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    Very nice mate :)

    How does it go for water changes and stuff? Was the salt expensive? Very interested in how it went :) Mind if i ask general costs? (minus stand) if you would prefer to PM me thats cool.

    Looking forward to see it pan out, have seen some wonderful marine tanks of late :D
     
  8. OP
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    Sir Ghallahad

    Sir Ghallahad Member

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    Cheers :) Yeah the sump was really well made. The tank builders at St George 's really know their stuff. They will build anything you ask for.

    Thanks. The stand has taken up more time than any other aspect of the thing so far too.

    Water changes are just the same as any other tank. Just turn off the return pump and skimmer, wait for the waterlines to settle and just siphon the water out.

    Salt cost me $90, which mixes up 600 litres of water. Its only really used for the initial filling up of the tank though. Im going to start either collecting natural salt water or buy it, as its a pain trying to mix the right salinity every water change.

    I dont mind you asking...
    Tank with overflow and drilled - $135
    Sump setup with egg crate, shelves, and ALL plumbing - $400 (most expensive part)
    Lights, 8 T5 fluros - $140 (cheapish ones from Guppys)
    Skimmer - $150 with pump
    Return Pump - $40
    Heater - $50
    Bioballs - $60
    Live rock, about 25kg with some base rock as well - ~$350
    Then just some misc other crap like hydrometer, thermometer, etc. I havent bothered with any test kits yet, I get the shop to test the water at the moment. Also powerboards and timers for the lights.

    The stand was about $200 in timber and $50 in other materials, and many many many many hours of labour.

    Im aiming to have everything setup with fish in the tank for $2k. If I can get any corals within that budget then thats a bonus.

    Should be going to the shop this weekend and getting 2 little Humbugs as test pilots and some snails to start cleaning the live rock back up. Then some cliche clownies and an anemone.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2008
  9. Deftone2k

    Deftone2k In the Darkroom

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    Nice sounds like your pretty close to me (well in relation to St George) its not that far away.

    Thanks for the great break down in prices. Very interesting Indeed, much cheaper than i expect for a marine setup tbh.

    So you just use natural salt water or do a trick effect with adding water so everything slowly gets salted?

    Can that actually happen lol? Add freshwater to salt water and does it dillute slightly but salt the fresh?
     
  10. OP
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    Sir Ghallahad

    Sir Ghallahad Member

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    Im not actually that close to them, I live on the Northern Beaches, but the drive is worth it.

    This tank is probably as big as you can go without it exponentially going up in price. Because you need everything bigger and more of it. But saying that, the bigger the tank, the easier it is to take care of with there being more water. And also if you start getting serious with corals, especially stony ones, then you need to go nuts with lighting and look at metal halides etc.

    All you do to get salt water is just mix marine salt with water out of the tap. Make sure its the same salt level (gravity) as sea water and its fine to use. But yea ill be using natural salt water from now on for water changes etc as its just easier.
     
  11. MoeBro

    MoeBro Member

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    ^^ And there's no issue with chlorine? I'm getting really over having to either pay an exorbitant amount for water, or to travel to the other side of the city for the same.

    P.S
    Get a mantis shrimp for your sump (or for your tank, if you don't like everything living in it) :)
    I've never had a more awesome pet
     
  12. OP
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    Sir Ghallahad

    Sir Ghallahad Member

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    Not that im aware of. People just use natural salt water because of the annoyance of constantly mixing up salt and water. When you are talking 50 litres or so a weekend for some tanks, it gets old very fast. Where as you can just buy a big 200 litre drum and fill it up with salt water from the beach.

    And I paid more to get nice clean live rock without any nasties on it like mantis shrimp ;)
     
  13. Menthu_Rae

    Menthu_Rae Member

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    Wow that's really cool! :D I'd love to go to a marine setup one day... the colours are just so much more vibrant with marine fish :Pirate:

    Out of curiousity and if it's not rude to ask - what on earth is with that wall? Is that seriously your bedroom or something? Motivational writing? :confused:
     
  14. japes

    japes Member

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    Haha I really like it, looks cool and is a bit different.

    Forgot to compliment you on your Aquascaping too, that Liverock is stunning and I really like your layout, top stuff.
     
  15. OP
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    Sir Ghallahad

    Sir Ghallahad Member

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    Haha nah its cool, I was waiting for someone to say something. Ive had enough people laugh at it that I dont really care anymore. I did it about 3 or so years ago now. You could say that im a fan of Lance Armstrong, the writing is one of his famous quotes. I just got bored of a plain wall one day...The picture frame is a signed poster too :lol:

    Yeah im really happy with the rock they put aside for me. Lots of caves and holes in all of it. Hopefully the fishies like it.

    Heres and updated shot. I was finally bothered to get the DSLR out to take some clearer ones.

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  16. Daft_Munt

    Daft_Munt Member

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    Nice tank and setup. Aquascaping looks great. I went to St George Aquariums years ago and it was a good little shop (shat on what tassie had/has). Its one thing I hate about Tas is paying extra for a short trip accross the ditch.
     
  17. newynut

    newynut Member

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    I live 50m from the beach and sell coral and fish that I aquire. Shame your so far away I'm in Townsville:Pirate:
     
  18. zfind

    zfind Member

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    Isn't that illegal? Or do you have a licence?

    On topic, I've seen alot of sumps run as refugiums, where the bio balls are replaced with more live rock and this green algae / grass stuff, I can't remember it's name. Apparently does a better job at live filtration. Plus you can have critters living in there that you wouldn't put in the main tank.

    Looks great though! Well done (cat looks friendly also :D )
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2008
  19. yoda123

    yoda123 Member

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    Looks great, just something I noticed is that you should mix your salt + water out of the tank and then add it to the tank, not just dump salt into the tank.

    Have been watching your progress on MASA :)

    I haven't followed up with the legal side of collecting, however I believe you can collect for personal use provided you don't use any breath apparatus besides a snorkel and hand tools i.e no underwater power tools to cut rock up etc.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2008
  20. OP
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    Sir Ghallahad

    Sir Ghallahad Member

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    Yeah I was originally going to go with a refugium and DSB, but got talked into this trickle system. Trickle systems seem to be a bit more 'old hat', but they still work well. The algae is just various types of macro algae. Having a refugium just adds more things I needed to buy though, and for a 3 footer it wasnt worth it. If I move to a 6 foot then id definately have more compartments in the sump including a refugium.

    For all water changes and once something living is in the tank I mix the water WAY before I put it in the tank. It was only with the initial filling of the tank as there is nothing in it so it doesnt make a difference :)
     

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