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pdxmonkeyboy

First tank.. grow out frag tank

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I'm new to the forum so thought I would post up a build thread so people can chime in and let me know if I'm doing something totally backwards.

 

I'm ultimately angling towards a 240 reef tank but don't want it full of sticks for the first 4 years so I figured I would build a good sized frag tank and see what I can do with it (and decide if I have the patience for a marine aquarium.

 

The tank is built.. 2x4x14" deep frag out of euro braced 1/2" acrylic. The stand is just simple 2x4 as its going in my basement.

I have a 40 gallon breeder that I cut dividers for yesterday. I'll have filter sock section,skimmer, bubble shield, return pump, bubble shield, and then a full depth fuge on the end. I'm planning to pump water into the fuge from a T on my return line.

 

Lights.. 8 light t5ho. jabao wave makers, jabao pump, curve 5 skimmer.

 

Still have to tap my water line, install RO system, and put all the pieces together.

 

Probably not all that exciting to most,but exciting for me :)

274c1421526260c951d88bf5213544a7.jpg

 

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Love that tank size. The extra high sides will help with flow :) I prefer them that way myself!
Out of curiosity how much does it cost to have you make more tanks exactly like this one. I'm going to need a few tanks about this size after I graduate for grow out systems. And I'm really impressed with your work. :)


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That's great you built your tank. At last months meeting, Roy said he built his display as well. I'd be interested in trying that sometime. I did carpentry and cabinet making full time for 12 years and have all necessary tools and skills just curious about where to get materials and some tips and tricks to gluing. Would you be willing to share info? Do you think you'll be coming to the April meeting?


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well, spent the better part of the day building a stand, painting it, putting dividers in my sump, running a pex stub line for my RO and hanging the lights. ugggh.
here are a couple pics. b47e16be4988eda9fe6626fbd4b02fb0.jpg21be261b40a79221e15bcd147efb6021.jpg

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in regards to building with acrylic, it's not hard per se, but it is very very very unforgiving. table saw blade not parallel to the fence? Blade not EXACTLY perpendicular to the table? your hosed! oh, did you accidently let piece slip away from the router fence on the VERY last piece?.. cool! now you can run them all through again so they are exactly the same width.

I thought about giving a talk but then thought people wouldn't have the tools necessary. You need a table saw, router in a router table, and a nice router bit. ohh, and a sander and a stack of sand paper.. and I mean a stack!!

The main joints of the frag tank I just built for badxjillan has beautiful joints.. I mean perfect. then I sanded the corners with 220, then 400, then 600, then 1500 and then polished with heavy and light scratch polish. I was soo pumped.. I was like he is going to be blown away! then while gluing the last piece (the back euro brace), it slipped while I was clamping it. so of course then it becomes..[language filter] [language filter] [language filter].. lifting it off, creating a ton of bubbles, trying to re-saturate the joint without having massive pools of solvent everywhere, repositioning, structurally more than adequate but one slip up turned show piece into garage made piece :(

I could certainly give a demo with some thicker scrap I have. Building sumps and other neat things is pretty [language filter] easy really. stepping it up to DT perfection, that a whole different ballgame.

I get ALL my acrylic from professional plastics in Tualatin. GREAT prices and the have or can get anything you want. That said.. wherever you buy your acrylic get a known name brand that you heard about on the forums. My favorite is acrylite gp. plexiglass, polycast and lucite are also recommended.

Do NOT, and I mean DO NOT build a water containing vessel from marga cipta. It's dirt cheap and everyone around here carries it but while it's great for Windows, you will need to move heaven and earth to get it to melt and join properly. I built my second 120 gallon tank with this. $185 for a full sheet of 1/2"? sign me up! I thought there was something wrong with my solvent! I even bought the "slower" solvent. struggled and struggled. After getting it together the seams looked suspect. It held water on the yard for 2 weeks and I set it up in the house about 7? months ago for an all male cichlid tank. Then last week I notice the door on my stand wasn't closing perfectly... huh? it's a little warped. I look up and see little drips coming out for the seam about 4" from the bottom of the tank!!. OMFG!! All I could think about was the whole thing blowing out. I took the day off, bought two sheets of acrylite and went to work. I just finished it and transfered all the fish into the new tank on Saturday. It was THE biggest pain I have ever dealt with in this hobby. At least it wasn't a salt water tank.
here is the new tank.. 48x24x24. afc528d6172a2f2f69bd45dad60518df.jpg

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Nice work.  Painful story about the cheap acrylic - thanks for the warning. I really like your approach of building a frag system first. I have always set up a DT then never had the patience to go back and do a frag setup even though it would be really helpful. This way, you can have things already acclimated and growing once you have a DT ready. Good luck with the rest of the build. Looks like you have things well in hand. 

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so painful. on the plus side I was ordering the new sheets from Matt at professional plastics and half jokingly said "throw in the massive discount for selling me that garbage cipta that doesn't glue" and he said "yeah, didn't know it was that bad and gave me about 20% off.

Home stretch on the frag tank now. Just have to run some power to the wall and get the RO system working.

Tadah... it's an empty tank filled with sterile salt water!!

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Thanks for sharing your experiences and intel! Good to have a resource for questions and know we have access to a local supplier. My table saw is pretty dialed in and has outfeed tables set up, but I have access to a large cabinet slider table saw at my old job. They've got a CNC set up too. Does the acrylic come in standard 4x8 sheets?

How do you prevent glue/solvent squeeze out in the interior corners where it seems impossible to clean off and polish?


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yeah.. 4x8 sheets. 

no excess glue.. well that is THE trick. I'm still refining my technique on that. I will always use pins now to hold the pieces apart while gluing.  that is clutch for sure.  On one of my tanks I was just pouring the glue in, got a great bubble free joint... and the acrylic was wavy on the very edge.  A couple pointers..

1. Try to get a dead flat working surface. I bought a sheet of 3/4 mdf for this.  

2. make a simple 90 degree jig out of mdf. cut an angle on the bottom face so that any excess glue won't stick to it. 

3. When your placing the pins, if they don't all have the same resistance THEN SHIM THE BOTTOM PIECE so they do.  card stock is typically more than adequate. 

4. use the small needle applicator from tapp plastics. you have to squeeze it for the solvent to come out.  the larger needle it just flows out. 

5. move slowly and evenly and fill the gap with solvent, you will see it flow in, if it starts to flow more on one edge...i.e. it isn't a flat even line when you are applying it.. don't panic, just keep moving. 

6. after you pull the pins out if you have a completely bubble free joint then don't clamp it or clamp it very very lightly. 

I have found then when I made a mess of the inside corners it was where variations in thickness caused a larger gap.  I could tell because the pins where very loose in that spot.  I ignored it thinking it would be fine but what happens is you start applying solvent and you don't see the joint change color like it should.  Or you are moving along at the same pace and then suddenly solvent doesn't seem to be flowing like it did.  what is happening is that there is not surface tension because the gap is too large and your pouring tons of solvent all over the inside of the tank. 

Why it is so frustrating is that once you notice it, unless you can quickly shim it, your kind of hosed.  In hindsight, I think having even tension on the needles indicates an even joint. 

make sense?  

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Sounds like you have just the right techniques. Thanks for sharing! I need to play around and build some small things and decide if I have the dedication and patience to try a tank. We'll see.....


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so an update on the most underwhelming new tank thread lol. So I finally carved put some time to put humpty dumpty together. I dosed some pure ammonia and bac in a bottle to get things started. Then 2 things happened.

1. I decided that just having a frag tank isn't too eye appealing. I mean.. a bare tank with light diffuser and tiny corals... wow! So given that my tank is 14" deep I decided to add sand and picked up 50lb of live rock from Travis at upscales.
#2. After running a circuit to the tank and slapping a power strip on the wall I shocked my wet hands while plugging something in. I thought "I have all this nice stuff and I'm simply jamming all the plugs into a powerful and bending over and unplugging things when I need to. So, I started construction on the "ultimate DIY power station of doom" .

pics should come soon

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I had a feeling you might end up landing on the shallow reef option - I think you will ultimately end up really liking it.  I know that PowderBlue's previous tanks (60 gallon shallow) was one of my favorites.

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If you want the power of a frag tank, get a 1/2" drill bit for stone and drill holes in the rock. Allows you to place frags all over the tank as a "frag tank" but you can also have your full blow grow out colonies and fish :) it's a win win for sure.


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This is a great thread. Appreciate the sprinkling of humor along with technical details and description of methods. It would be great if you turned this into a talk for the club, maybe a demo so we can get some hands on experience.

Thanks pdxmonkeyboy! Please keep it coming. 

Sincerely,

Nick

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2 hours ago, Paratore said:

If you want the power of a frag tank, get a 1/2" drill bit for stone and drill holes in the rock. Allows you to place frags all over the tank as a "frag tank" but you can also have your full blow grow out colonies and fish :) it's a win win for sure.


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that sounds like a really good idea actually!  The only downside is that my hammer drill is made by porter cable. Remember when your dad had a porter cable drill that was his grandfather's and you could basically hit it with a sledge hammer and it would still work?  Well, that porter cable no longer exists. They were purchased by Stanley (who basically makes tools designed for housewives and male hand models)  so consider now they work for one and a half projects.  It works fine when the trigger works, it's just that the trigger only works about 25% of the time.  

the ultimate diy powerbox of doom should be done by this evening. 

Edited by pdxmonkeyboy
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wife/girlfriend was on call.last night so I listened to 90's rap music (Emminem is the secret to my youthful glow) and stayed up till like 3am working on the ultimate DIY power station of doom.

It took so long as I have found a way to completely stop most, if not all of the frustrations commonly encountered with tank management.  stay tuned!!

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11 minutes ago, pdxmonkeyboy said:

wife/girlfriend was on call.last night so I listened to 90's rap music (Emminem is the secret to my youthful glow) and stayed up till like 3am working on the ultimate DIY power station of doom.

It took so long as I have found a way to completely stop most, if not all of the frustrations commonly encountered with tank management.  stay tuned!!

Such a tease!  You know we need pictures right?

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DJ power strip for the win :laugh: cheap and easy in my book..........

 

Oh and if you need a drill let me know I have plenty of red boxes that say HILTI on them ;)

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