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The Kitchen Embankment

Baarks

New Member
Joined
9 Jul 2021
Messages
24
Location
UK
At last!

I have been working on this tank for a while now. I was working in a position where I had to compromise a lot. This is our kitchen and the only place for a main tank in the house, but there was a radiator in the way! The space is almost 5ft, but very shallow (the wife still wanted a place to eat?!) so I was thinking it would have to be custom. I am, however on somewhat of a budget. By lucky circumstance someone was selling a suitable rimless tank 4.5 x 1 x 1ft for £80.

I’ll post each stage of the build with a picture or two and some details for those who are interested. 😄
I have been inspired looking at the journals on this forum so I hope you get some enjoyment from this. I know I have!
 

Baarks

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Thread starter
Joined
9 Jul 2021
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24
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UK
Next step: cabinet
I wanted the tank high, so built a custom cabinet. It had to be stable, strong, navigate a radiator and match the kitchen. Believe it or not, I mostly used odds and ends, and the result matched rather well. I spent less than £20 on the materials, and cannibalised a spare cabinet from the garage unit and an old IKEA bookcase. The radiator is currently turned to minimum. I may shut it off completely but we aren’t running central heating at the minute.

I painted the sides to match the wall and cut a hole for cables etc.
It isn’t perfect, but hey - aquascaping has turned me into a joiner and decorator!
 

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Baarks

New Member
Thread starter
Joined
9 Jul 2021
Messages
24
Location
UK
Next step: lighting

I have been running planted tanks with reasonably cheap LED floodlights for a while, so I used 4 from an old tank. They needed a repaint and the cables were far too short. After some long hours spend rewiring and painting, they then needed to be hung... but how? In B&Q I spotted these curtain mounts reduced to £1 each. They hold the lights and can even be slid back and forth! the lighting is now very adjustable in depth and angle, though the height is largely fixed.

I won’t nerd out on the lights, but I will say that I researched PAR / Lumens / Kelvin and believe that LED floodlights can do a great job in the planted aquarium. Experience has backed this up in other tanks.

I saw a grow light reduced on Amazon, so got that and a reasonably priced stand in IKEA. This will be for emersed plants. On the same trip my wife spotted some LED strip lights, so I got those as moonlighting. This is aesthetic but also practical. My Congo’s are jumpy fellows and the tank is fairly shallow, so I hope to have these overlap with main lights before they go on and off, to aid the transition and create something of a dawn / dusk. The colour I currently have is blue, but there are a few to choose from.

The longest job has been taking all the plugs off to feed it all through the cabinet and then refitting the plugs!
Can I now add electrician to the list?
 

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Baarks

New Member
Thread starter
Joined
9 Jul 2021
Messages
24
Location
UK
Next step: filtration and heating

I am actually NOT someone who runs high filtration. My planted tanks have never needed much (though they have all been really densely planted! My approach has been much more along the lines of deep substrate, as complete an ecosystem as possible (shrimp + snails), lots of plants, light stocking.

I am running an Eheim classic. I fitted the taps you can see to make cleaning the filter less annoying. These were really cheap garden hose attachments.

The stainless steel lily pipes were from Amazon. I attached a small mesh intake filter for 2 reasons: baby shrimp and less maintenance on filter needed. (Can you tell I have a love/hate relationship with the eheim classsic?)
The heater is a NICREW one from Amazon. Reviews and price were good, we will see... but it has a remote 😆
 

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Baarks

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9 Jul 2021
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Next step: hardscape

Ok - I cheaped out and am taking a risk. It has worked in the past but time will tell. I have some regrets and misgivings, but time will tell! I think aquariums are like one big experiment and that is part of the fun.

Risk 1: I collected aged hardwood and took pieces that have done well in my old aquarium. I scaped these to make a steep embankment. Thanks for the feedback @Tim Harrison and @Aqua360.

Risk 2, 3 and 4: Then it was time for substrate. I have had such good success with dirted tanks, I wanted to dirt this one. Trouble is the bank is really, really steep. I was interested in cat litter for the Cation Exchange Capacity and thought it might reduce costs. I mixed the dirt and cat litter and banked this up. Then capped with play sand. Then layered gravel over the bank to help the Wood keep it in place. NOPE! Distaster. The sand slipped and the cat litter turned to light, fluffy mush and became super cloudy and it all went wrong, sliding down. So I used some (load of) slate chips I had lying around. I slid them right down into the bank, all over, then capped with more gravel. I packed this all in on the slope. This is actually holding really well and I hope that with plant roots it will become more stable. No fish until the plants have rooted and established though! I can see the slope sliding rather soon. My plan is to see what happens and react accordingly. Now the bank is much less defined and dramatic than had imagined, but hopefully stable.

Was it worth being cheap on substrate? Probably not. The dirt and cat litter should be good for plant growth though. I am currently dosing the tank with liquid ferts as the clay absorbs a lot initially.
 

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Baarks

New Member
Thread starter
Joined
9 Jul 2021
Messages
24
Location
UK
At last!

I have been working on this tank for a while now. I was working in a position where I had to compromise a lot. This is our kitchen and the only place for a main tank in the house, but there was a radiator in the way! The space is almost 5ft, but very shallow (the wife still wanted a place to eat?!) so I was thinking it would have to be custom. I am, however on somewhat of a budget. By lucky circumstance someone was selling a suitable rimless tank 4.5 x 1 x 1ft for £80.

I’ll post each stage of the build with a picture or two and some details for those who are interested. 😄
I have been inspired looking at the journals on this forum so I hope you get some enjoyment from this. I know I have!
I should add a thank you to @jamila169 @dw1305 @mort @zozo and @PARAGUAY for their helpful input as I was trying to figure out how to cram a tank in this kitchen!
 

Baarks

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9 Jul 2021
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UK
Next step: planting

Now to be patient. I have what currently looks to my neighbour like a weed farm in my garage. The purple glow from the window looks very suspicious. Following @Andy Thurston ’s approach will hopefully yield in a plentiful Monte Carlo carpet.

I have Anubis and the nana variant and some Java fern planted in the darker corners.
I plan to add the Weeping moss once it has propagated in the garage and I have Java moss (bane of my life!) on some of the wood. I will probably add some dwarf sag, and some crypts from the other tank too. I am not in a hurry - slow and steady wins the race. I am toying with propagating my hair grass “A La Thurston” for the sandy front “beach”.

I have added a few emersed plants, mainly an orchid that was languishing in a shop’s reduced section.
There is more to come!
 

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Baarks

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One final bit of kit - a mist maker!
The initial setting up is done. Once I have another extension cable I will neaten the mess of wires and hopefully make this a little less of an electrical hazard 😬 I will use timers to automate the dawn/dusk, floodlights and grow lights. Oh, and to have the mist maker turn on occasionally. This will help the epiphytes and emersed plants I plan to add.
 

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Baarks

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9 Jul 2021
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Location
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Now time for some “before” progress shots with different lighting.

I am excited to feel “back in the hobby”. Here’s to future progress updates. I am a new member but have really enjoyed and benefitted from all the posts here. Thank you for reading this and being part of a wonderful community!
 

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tam

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Joined
5 May 2011
Messages
1,254
Very cool. Smart idea on the curtain supports for lights. I'm thinking about squeezing a tank in my kitchen. I have a row of units 1' wide, and a 3'x1' tank, it's going to be tight. I was thinking lamp, but those wall mounted ones are very neat. I really like your hardscape too - good luck with the growing!
 

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