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Return to Tanks: 45cm CubeScape

Anisawrus

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Joined
15 Jan 2022
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23
Location
Australia
Pilot: Wet Dreams

After having fish on and off as a child, as a teenager, and at university, moving to get a job had put a stop to my hobby, but finally after 5+ years im back, and better than ever*

The Plan;

To source a tank, DIY a stand, document it and the progress, and start a Aquascape. Ive had, Danios, Shrimp, Goldfish, Mollys and Guppies, Bristlenose’s, and a few Tetras im thinking Tetras, ill firm this up later as i start to research and sketch up the idea. My past aquatic plants are limited to, Anubias, Crypts and a 'Micro Fern'** or two, and ive got a few thoughts of ferns and driftwood.

*Maybe not better than ever.
**LFS label, not reflective of actual type.
 

Anisawrus

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15 Jan 2022
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Australia
Episode One: The Phone Ringeth

So after having a good look around various forums, Instagram, my copy of ‘Nature Aquariums Complete Works 1985-2009’ i've decided to go with a cube, im envisioning a kind of ‘Outcrop’ style scape, a driftwood and fern based arrangement with space for fish to circulate, I enjoy the action of a small shoal and want to make this a space for some great action from the fish. More on this plan later.

Armed with a sketch of this, and a page or two of notes i'm off to find a tank. Its just after Christmas in NSW Australia we are gripped by rising cases of we all know what, so i'm on the phone. Between some fish shops telling me a 45 cube is essentially a custom job, and some others able to order a ADA 45 cube that's a bit above my budget, i've shopped around with a LFS and managed to get a cube ordered at more like my budget.

I’ts been a bit of a mission to get one ordered, what with companies coming back from break at separate times, people being quarantined and huge supply chain issues Chris at my LFS has managed to get an order placed. Chris told me in better times he used to drive to the suppliers workshop in the company van and pick up directly, but due to the current situation, it's gonna have to be another courier, so more wait time.
 

Anisawrus

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Joined
15 Jan 2022
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23
Location
Australia
Episode Two: 2nd Gear: Acquisition

So i've got a tank ordered, and a couple of bits from a nano setup I had as a bit of a ‘Just the Tip’ into planted tanks (maybe not a great idea in the end) Regardless i've made a list of things after looking around for advice, and looking at examples.

Already Haves

  • Chihiros C2 RGB
  • Basic CO2 ‘Generator’ kit, the Bicarb Soda and Citric Acid type
  • Soil
  • La Plata sand


Already Havnts

  • Filter
  • CO2 Diffuser
  • Heater for 90l + tank
  • Misc Bits
  • Inlet pipes outlet pipes

Armed with this, and trying to take advantage of some end of year sales etc I picked up:

  • Fluval 307
  • VIV diffuser
  • Hydor ETH Inline Heater
  • CO2 drop checker
  • Basic CO2 Solenoid

I’ve been thinking along these lines:

Pickup some decent equipment, I prefer if possible to have things for some time so looking for an OK lifespan, also pick stuff that will allow me to swap up to a bit larger tank in the future if that happens. Also to avoid stuff within the aquarium if possible to achieve my ‘Outcrop’ idea. I'm planning on moving to a properly regulated pressurized cylinder CO2 setup at some point, I think I can swing the generator for a while, lets see.
 

Anisawrus

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15 Jan 2022
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Australia
Episode Three: The back in time sketch machine

So after ordering all of this and setting the egg timer on 1-2 weeks i've dug back into some of the sketches I made at the ‘Wild Idea’ phase, i'm thinking if I flesh this out here I might get some more inspiration and ideas, i've not had a huge amount of success with aquarium plants so feedback would help.

I've been thinking, I love some of the driftwood + fern kind of arrangements, and really want a balance of plants and fish, in terms of balance and environment, fish after all live, so I'd like to make that as good a space as I can for them in terms of space and variation of cover etc.

Outcrop_Sketch_Crop.jpg


After sketching up some stuff ive come to think its going to be a job getting the hardscape driftwood right, so I think ill be off to some fish shops to try to find the perfect branches, or something I can kludge into something nice. My prior experiences with driftwood have been tannin heavy so i'm thinking get a decent amount of Acitvated Carbon in the filter, thoughts?

Also not sure if I should do an Island, or a kind of Peninsular

Tank Plan Sketeches-1.jpg
 

Anisawrus

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15 Jan 2022
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23
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Australia
Intermission: The mailman knocks

A little ahead of expectation, deliveries came today, and my tank was in at the LFS. So ive ducked over at lunch to pick things up.

The tank, is what it is, Aqua One is common brand in Australia, its no ADA, but is low iron. But i'm happy to have the stuff here to start with, got me thinking I need a lot of drift wood, and maybe some rocks at the base of the outcrop.
Mail Time.jpg


Having been so thoughtful about designing my stand and holding off on getting anything cut till I could exactly measure the tank, turns out a 450mm cube, is indeed 450mm. Oh well.

Also picked up some Chihiros glass pipes, ill see how those go.
 

Anisawrus

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15 Jan 2022
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Australia
Episode Four: Standing on one leg

While I was waiting for the tank and the items ordered online so I thought id get a bit of a start on planning to build a stand. I work in Architecture, and have a bit of experience making some basic functional furniture, so plow in head long.

The plan is to make a very clean looking stand, using Plywood, Marine hopefully and look to seal it to give it a good lifespan.

Ive looked at the tank and we will be looking at about 90L of water + tank + a bit of tolerance, so I want a stand that I can level perfectly, and that will take the weight no worries, id prefer to overbuild if possible. Also id like to see if I can make it pretty sound proof, or at least as quiet as possible, so sound proof ‘Egg Crate’ foam makes it onto the ‘Think About List’.

Ive sketched up a bit of an idea

Stand Sketch-1.jpg


Mainly looking at,

  • Thickness of ply to get the strength
  • Scope in the base to allow for leveling feet
  • Exact size of tank* Note to measure tank when it arrives to avoid being off

Ive also thought about where you see the end grain of the ply, how the top works and some basic structural ideas*. Also looking at the door, im thinking to add space for a small foam crush seal, this will help make it close quietly and hopefully stop some of any noise

*Structural Guesses
 

jamiepearson

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Joined
20 Feb 2021
Messages
71
Location
Edinburgh
18mm sheet would be the max thickness you need. And the internal upper battens not required on a 45.
Although 120cm, I recently made a stand that you might copy the adjustable feet from. It requires a frame base rather than a base board. My first post includes a SketchUp model.
 

hwscot

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Joined
15 Nov 2021
Messages
64
Location
Montrose
with space for fish to circulate, I enjoy the action of a small shoal and want to make this a space for some great action from the fish. More on this plan later.
Absolutely with you on this.
I'm also returning after a break and as it happens I also settled on a 45cm / 90L cube. Mine is by Blau, in Germany (via amazon, arrived in the uk in a matter of days with no issues at all). Like yours, not an ADA, but low iron glass.
I wish I had your gift for sketching, but I likewise spent a lot of time sketching and planning. For me, because a cube is about symmetry (all my previous tanks were traditional proportions .. my lay off was more like 20 years and back then cubes weren't really a thing) I went with a symmetrical hardscape, hoping that the planting being more random would offset the symmetry. For me that meant a design that's basically an island, so of your two basic ones, my instinct would be the island rather than peninsula. Mine's been running about a month, low tech compared with yours (also doing DIY C02, as it happens, but yeast-based) and a lot of tweaking to do, but I'm happy the centred / island design was the right way to go. A cube seems to me an inherently slightly anal-retentive shape, and I guess I've acknowledged that with a symmmetrical design within it, but I do think that details of treatment, and especially the style of planting, have offset the formality.
Good luck! Hope you post pics when the tank's up and running. I got so focused on the setup and early tweaking that I stupidly forgot to take photos of the first few weeks .. would be great to see how yours evolves from the get go.
 

Anisawrus

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Joined
15 Jan 2022
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23
Location
Australia
18mm sheet would be the max thickness you need. And the internal upper battens not required on a 45.
Although 120cm, I recently made a stand that you might copy the adjustable feet from. It requires a frame base rather than a base board. My first post includes a SketchUp model.

I'd agree on the sheet thickness, as i've not got a frame as you mentioned, I was thinking of 17mm Plywood, as i've now seen the prices for 17mm B,B or A,C ply, i'm thinking 15mm. The tank is to be in the living room, and with consultation with my partner, its been 'agreed' that I cant use FormPly (more like AUD $70 a sheet) so 15mm is where im leaning, Also considering MDF. I need to keep the front upper batten, as it also lets me have a crush seal for the door, the middle one may be overkill.

Also some good points to think about with those feet thanks!

Absolutely with you on this.
I'm also returning after a break and as it happens I also settled on a 45cm / 90L cube. Mine is by Blau, in Germany (via amazon, arrived in the uk in a matter of days with no issues at all). Like yours, not an ADA, but low iron glass.
I wish I had your gift for sketching, but I likewise spent a lot of time sketching and planning. For me, because a cube is about symmetry (all my previous tanks were traditional proportions .. my lay off was more like 20 years and back then cubes weren't really a thing) I went with a symmetrical hardscape, hoping that the planting being more random would offset the symmetry. For me that meant a design that's basically an island, so of your two basic ones, my instinct would be the island rather than peninsula. Mine's been running about a month, low tech compared with yours (also doing DIY C02, as it happens, but yeast-based) and a lot of tweaking to do, but I'm happy the centred / island design was the right way to go. A cube seems to me an inherently slightly anal-retentive shape, and I guess I've acknowledged that with a symmmetrical design within it, but I do think that details of treatment, and especially the style of planting, have offset the formality.
Good luck! Hope you post pics when the tank's up and running. I got so focused on the setup and early tweaking that I stupidly forgot to take photos of the first few weeks .. would be great to see how yours evolves from the get go.

I was drawn to a cube both because of the idea of an outcrop and the symmetry, maybe a little bit of anal-retentive-isim too!
I am not sure how I will go with high or low tech, i'm hoping to find a balance, and work with simpler plants, but there will be some winging involved for sure.

And definitely got to remember the camera!
 

Anisawrus

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15 Jan 2022
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Australia
Episode Five; Productive Parametric Waiting

With ideas of the stand circulating, and before the tank arrived, and some thought from posts above i've thought to apply some of the skills of my job (while I was away from on annual leave) to the tank stand working off the sketch above.

I made a basic cut list for the tank stand, but then thought, why don't I make it harder for myself, but possibly useful in the future.

So im thinking lets go Parametric.

So a little about Parametric, i'm going to use Rhino 3d and Grasshopper* this will essentially let me set up a little bit of ‘Visual Code’ that will take a tank size, stand height and material thickness, and give me a 3d model of the stand I can then use to make a cut list for the Plywood sheet. If I was better at this, I could make this output a cut list for the sheet, but one step at a time.

This means I can make another cut list for any other size tank in a matter of moments to suit any sheet thickness, and with the option of 1 or two doors. This could be great if my partner lets me take our second bedroom, and fill it with tanks... well you never know.
Screenshot_450cube.PNG

So you can see by adjusting the sliders the tank stand gets wider, taller or deeper to match *Tank green, Stand Red
Screenshot_900 Wide.PNG

Width adjusted in yellow for a 900x450x450 tank and stand. Note that ideally I need to add some frames to break down that 900 span.

Then I just use the model to make a cut list/drawing like below.
1642910650033.png

* I am very rusty with this program so its a learning curve again
 

Laoshan

Member
Joined
14 Jun 2013
Messages
55
Go parametric. That is a great idea! The possibilities are endless. Compute the minimum filtration rate, lighting, power consumption, the amount of aqua soil needed and the number of amano’s needed for the cleanup crew, all derived from tank volume and dimensions! Not to mention CO2 and fertilizer usage.

Don’t forget the cumulative strain on your relationships in function of total tank volume in the house 😉.

Seriously great work 👍. I hope you can go open source!
 

Anisawrus

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15 Jan 2022
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Australia
Episode Six; Can he build it, hmm, yes with a bit of adjustment.

So i’ve taken the cut list above, and some pointers from everyone and got the lot cut, at a local store. I’ve not got access to much space or many tools (apartment living) so am up to some assembly but not handling sheets.

Well on the good side, the Rhino cut list above is perfect, goes together flawlessly, and the local store cut exactly what I told them to… now if only I had emailed them the right thing. (design once, check once, typo the list:banghead:)

Anyway I've got the wood now, so make a few on the fly design changes, and end up with something 95% what I originally designed, my own fault there so just got to live with it. I end up fixing the issue by adding a strip of offcut as below to fix the short dimension on my cut list. Its rebate also give me somewhere to grab the door from, and leaves the front looking clean.
Fishtank-3.jpg

I start work on the balcony (my workshop for today) and with only 3! Total trips to the local hardware store im done. Overall I am pretty happy, to fix my cut list mistake I've had to move the door ‘handle’ from the top to the side, but i’m happy to be able to salvage the timber.

I ended up using M8 threaded adjustable feet, these let me adjust the tank in place, and let me level of a floor I don't trust 100%.

Given the tall + narrow dimensions, and the 15mm ply I am happy how sturdy it has turned out, i'm thinking of adding a shelf, pending on the gear placement, and this will help, but i'm happy as is.
Fishtank-4.jpg
I have been assured that this pink level, is indeed more level than other competing levels.

Next time on, idiot visits the hardware store way to many times, hardscape!
 

Anisawrus

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15 Jan 2022
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Australia
Episode Seven; Hard to scape
Stocking up on ‘Golden Vine’ wood at my LFS and playing around to get something like the sketches above, i've come up with this as a rough arrangement of the driftwood.

Fishtank-7.jpg

Fishtank-8.jpg

I'm pretty happy but also not 100% on how much space there will be/feel like for the fish at the front and sides, since this is in a corner, I do want viewing from both the exposed slides. Ill have a bit of a play around and think, now to get the wood soaking, really buoyant, and to get some soil etc.
 

Anisawrus

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15 Jan 2022
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Episode Eight; Fern-ished in green

A bit of a break while I was getting back to a busy start at work but ive planted in some ferns and crypts added sand and soil and here we are.

Ive planted a series of Java ferns, and some mystery crypts from a previous tank as well as a small moss

  • Microsorum pteropus
  • Microsorum pteropus 'Micro'
  • Microsorum pteropus 'Needle Leaf'
  • Microsorum pteropus 'Trident'
As well as the Moss whos name I forgot on the way back from the store....
Fishtank-16.jpg


Got a little white algae on the wood, but this has always subsided for me so ill keep an eye on it

Really hoping to get a great ball of dense growth from the 'micro' fern, ive had this before, but in a tank with more light, so i'll see how it goes.
 
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