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Old 10-05-2005, 12:56 PM   #1
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my DIY super challenge (Need lots building advice\feedback)

Ok so after starting my first thread in teh general section and getting some feedback it seems like I want to continue with setting up a reef tank. Its 55gal all glass, this thread is more about building the equitment itself though.

So I figured that a large sump (~40-50gal) is too much of a PIA to get into the tiny cabinet space and this is all going in the basement anyway so I will build a cabinet for everything. What I need to know is what kind of lumber is best for the job!

1) I planned to make a frame with standard (inexpensive) lumber, aka 2x4's and then use slabs of MDF (medium density fiberboard, also very inexpensive) to use as the "face" and doors of the sump enclosure. This way it will be sturdy, and extremely good at reducing noise. Also plan to make this relatively large so that I can put shelves and mounted lighting, GFI outlets and all the equitment in this thing.

I plan to paint it with black in\out enamel and the inside with behr spar marine varnish which should be enough to keep the SW from damaging the wood right?

2) The sump will be acrylic, I considered getting a really long piece for the wall section and using a torch to uniformly bend it but that seems overkill, so I think just using 5 pieces will be better (plus a brace). I need reccomendations for acyrilic, I'm guessing 1/4" right? but also where to get BLACK acrylic for my overflow box.

3) Ill do a durso standpipe from the overflowbox and have it plumbed to the right or left of the aquarium a short distance but probably still ~8-10 feet at least to make it to the sump, is this too much length?

4) cant decide on which is better, I am handy with electronics but am not sure if its worth it to spend ~$250 on a PC 130watt system with moon lighting or do it myself. The supplies still look expensive from the sites Ive looked at, but I'm also not sure if 2x65watt PC's are enough to keep inverts happy? The premade unit looks very nice however, almost worth it just for that!

thats it for right now, just the preliminary questions about building this whole thing.
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Old 10-05-2005, 01:51 PM   #2
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you've got a lot of reading to do Our DIY section on the site here has a lot of threads that go over exactly what you're discussing. Thumb through the DIY Section and post up with new/additional questions.


(and i'll move this into the DIY section since these are all mostly DIY questions)
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Old 10-05-2005, 05:03 PM   #3
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#1 sounds fine.. you might want to look into some roundoff for the details.. If you have access to some kind of marine finish then I say sure for the stand.. but I would personly just put some polyurathane over whatever color I desided(stain or paint).
#2 acrylic supply online.. http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/default.asp or http://www.ecomplastics.com/ (ecomplastics has a few more tools and solvents) black acrylic is standard stock on ueplastic's site under acyrlic sheet
#3 too much length? is the sump going to be somewhere else? like another room or the basement... well.. the only thing that matters is the distance between the top water level in the sump and the top water level in the tank it will make a diffence how powerfull our pump will need to be/ how much head the pump will be working against.
#4 What do you want to keep in the tank? Fish only? coarl? if coarl what type or name a few that you would want down the line.. some generalzations here SPS coarls will likely need MH lighting unless its situated near the top of the tank (on the rocks), LPS seems to need T-5 HO, VHO or alot of PC, and zoos and lower light critters would be fine with PC.. I finanaly had to do some reasearch to just pick some out (what I would like to have) to deside what lighting I would need.. HTH
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Old 10-05-2005, 06:50 PM   #4
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well home depot and those two linked acrylic sites are selling this stuff for way too much! I saw one DIY using a glass tank to start with and its much cheaper and probably safer in the end anyway...Less cost, probably better build and I dont need the drilling for the tank anyway since I can mount piping on the cabinet that houses it...

So I priced out this cabinet and its about $3 a stud (2x4x8) and Ill use about ~48' for the frame so thats more or less $20 adding pieces too small to use. MDF is about $15 for a 4x8x3/4" slab which is good. I could build the cabinet in a day

Just rang up the LFS and they catered to my questions...priced a ~30gal at about that much in dollars, but a 40gal is like $80 because of the increased glass thickness\size which sucks because its not that much more capacity...

so about $70 or so for the cabinet construction including hinges which isn't too bad, and I'm not sure what sized tank to get...? I'm guessing that 30gal sump is more than enough for a 55gal but thought the extra space of something larger would be benificial, although then again I just remembered the sump has to have capacity for backflow etc...how much would I need "extra"? $80 for a larger tank is STILL cheaper in the end by far compared to $120 just for one 4x8' sheet of acrylic etc...
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Old 10-06-2005, 09:49 AM   #5
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30 gallons should be fine for a sump for a 55.. people that go overboard shoot for 60% or so and your plumbing isnt going to be all that big on that size tank... so with proper plumbing 30 will be more then enough..
I think your overpricing the acyrlic from that site.. thats most likely the price for a THICK sheet that you could build a VERY large tank from.. for a short tank you dont need much thinkness at all.. garf.org has a calcultator for building tanks and gives the thickness needed for the material. From looking at the prices and playing with the caculator for quite some time.. Im telling you off hand that the sheets you would need for that project are about $20-30 total from the usplastics site.. you might want to do a little more reading..
your cabnet sounds fine.. it might be extra sturdy from the sounds of it... you might want to look at pre-fab ones to get an idea how these things are normaly made.. and possibly look at garf.org 's DIY links..
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