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Old 03-06-2014, 05:49 PM   #1
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Cave Aquarium Build Journal

I am in the planning stages of a new 75 gallon build, so I thought I would track my progress here (and a good way for me to keep a log of what I'm doing!)...would love feedback as I go.

The Plan

75 gallon, 48" long. Soil substrate with mix of black gravel and sand cap. Decorated with gathered driftwood and rocks. Live plants. Air bubble wall. Canister filtered. Standard T5 fixture on 36" of it. A custom cave wall with a hollow inside, open to the left/front of the tank. Above it a shelf with a dip for a lightly planted sand shelf, and a flat basking area for a small musk turtle. Interior cave will be illuminated with underwater LEDs affixed to the underside of the rock shelf, and decorated with thin "roots" and a thick supporting piece of driftwood. Fish stocking TBD (most will probably migrate from my existing 30 gallon).

I've attached an image that I made as my plan drawing.

What I have

A plan.

What I still need

Everything else.
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Old 03-06-2014, 05:54 PM   #2
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Looks great!! I'm following!!
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Old 03-06-2014, 05:57 PM   #3
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Equipment List

Como Aquarium Flexible Rubber Air Curtain Bubble Tubing 24" ($8)
SunSun HW-302 External Canister Filter ($60)
36" Hood Lighting Fixture (from old tank)
Air pump (from old tank unless I need to upgrade it)
Heater? (need research, will turtle lamp heat the water, build a water thermostat to turn on/off the overhead heat lamp to regulate water temp?)
Basking Lamp? (need research)
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Old 03-06-2014, 06:01 PM   #4
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Bubble wall at entrance of cave is awesome! Following
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Old 03-06-2014, 08:38 PM   #5
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How big do musk turtles get?
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Old 03-06-2014, 09:23 PM   #6
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There are different types of musk turtles, and they grow from a few inches to 6 inches. I still need to do more research, but I'm liking the razorback or stinkpot musk. They grow to about 5 inches and spend most of their time in the water. My local LFS has a musk/fish tank and they all seem to get along well.
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Old 03-06-2014, 09:27 PM   #7
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That interesting. What kind of fish are you thinking about?
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Old 03-06-2014, 09:43 PM   #8
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Haven't decided. I have some fish that would move over from my old tank, in my sig.
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Old 03-07-2014, 10:52 AM   #9
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I made a miniature clay mockup of the cave and after some consideration I've decided to downgrade the tank size to 55 gallon.

The front width and height is the same on the ones I've been looking at, just 12 in depth as opposed to 18. I think the narrower tank will help the cave shelf be much more stable.

Decided on the cave construction. Going to build a frame out of eggcrate, fill with tubing for running wires, foam it and then paint with a quickerete shell. Found a nice tutorial online, I'll post a link when I get a chance.
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Old 03-07-2014, 11:34 PM   #10
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Couple of pics of my clay model. It's 50% scale. The line on the back board indicates the top of the tank.



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Old 03-08-2014, 12:39 AM   #11
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What are you going to use to make the cave/shelf?
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Old 03-08-2014, 09:21 AM   #12
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Plan is an eggcrate frame, then pond foam or shaped styrofoam, shape it, then layer with colored quickrete. I found a DIY rock wall tutorial I liked.

Link: http://www.cichlid-forum.com/phpBB/v...c.php?t=229995
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Old 03-10-2014, 03:26 PM   #13
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Got a tank! 55 gallon, used. Has some damage to the top frame but should be an easy fix.

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Old 03-10-2014, 08:33 PM   #14
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Equipment (cont.)

55 gallon long tank ($70)
80 GPH Powerhead Aquarium Pump Wave Maker, $19)
Aqueon Flex LED 7-Inch Blue Bubble Wand ($12, for cave lighting)
24" T8 Fluorescent strip (came with new tank, for blue moonlight)
Aquatop 200w heater ($20)
Black Gravel ($10)
Play Sand ($6)
Clamp Lamp ($16)
50 Watt Lamp Bulb ($9)

Cave Construction

2x4 Eggcrate ($13)
4 cans GreatStuff ($4 ea)
Quickrete ($4)
Quickrete Colors ($10)
Silicon ($6)
Fortifier ($5)

Total $197.
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Old 03-10-2014, 11:38 PM   #15
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Looks like its gonna be a good one. Are you starting construction.

What do fish say when they hit a wall? ...... Dam!
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Old 03-11-2014, 03:55 PM   #16
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I'll start the cave this weekend. I still have to design a custom cabinet and hood for the whole thing.
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Old 03-11-2014, 04:01 PM   #17
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I'm following this one, looks interesting!
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Old 03-15-2014, 03:13 PM   #18
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Repaired the crossbeam with a piece of acrylic, nylon screws, and silicon. Also made an eggcrate top for the side over the turtle dock. I'll probably cut an acrylic top for the other side. Need to figure out a feeding slot through the canopy.

Tonight after its all dried up I'm going to put it out back for a leak test.

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Old 03-15-2014, 03:56 PM   #19
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Don't bother with the acrylic top unless you make a rigid frame for it, I tried it and it warped like crazy in only a few weeks.
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Old 03-15-2014, 05:51 PM   #20
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Thanks for the tip. Do I need a cover at all you think? Worried a little about splashes onto the light fixture, but the waterline is going to be 2-3 inches below the top so maybe that's not an issue.
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