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Tall 250l - Y llechen ogof

idris

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Y llechen ogof

For various reasons it's taken about 18 months from starting to plan my new tank to getting something in it.
It all started with my old 60l tank when I introduced a couple of new Bristle Nose Catfish and within 2 weeks all my fish (about 20 in total) were dead. :(
But 'tis an ill wind, and there was a spot in the newly revamped kitchen set aside for a new tank. :D

As the tank couldn't take up too much floor space, it would have to be a thin tank, and as I wanted it as large a volume as possible it would have to be a tall tank. All meaning a custom tank, and it's ended up as 107cm wide, 75cm high and 35cm deep - about 250l. (Really I would have liked it taller, but this was the limit for 12mm glass. With hindsight this is a very good thing, as I hadn't considered maintenance, and the fact that I can barely reach the bottom as it is! :oops: )
The tank was made by ND, but because we wanted the stand to match the rest of the kitchen units, that has been made by someone else, and the doors are going to be spare cupboard doors we had, but cut down to size. (These should arrive in the net few days.)
This is what it looks like so far.

5628005204_6c46186004.jpg


The stand is possibly a little over engineered, as the vertical strength is provided by pieces of 40mm worktop, as is the base. It's then clad in birch faced ply. It arrived just as a bare box, so I've varnished it myself, and because I get really fussy about details, I've done a little fettling along the way:

I'm hoping all the tank related stuff will fit comfortably in the left hand side (including CO2 if I add that later), and access to the mains socket is in the right hand side. So because I don't know how much stuff will end up moving around in front of the sockets, I've put a small frame in front of the sockets with a sliding piece of perspex, so I can see the switch is on, but the power shouldn't ever get knocked off accidentally.

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The heater is a Hydor ETH 300. I wanted to keep everything possible out of sight, so this was the obvious choice. That said, IMHO there isn't a good way to mount it as it comes, and I've read several comments about it being easy to knock the temp dial by accident. So I put in a small shelf with a piece of perspex in front, again so it can be seen but not knocked.

5627997256_f9456b9bdf_z.jpg


There's still a little tidying to do when it comes to wiring, and I've not got the plumbing in yet, but this is basically what it looks like under the tank at the moment.

5627412207_3dfaa4509d.jpg


The filter is a Rena XP2.

Much of the kit was spec'd and bought before I'd read up on plants. As a result, I opted for T8 lights, although it seems this may ultimately need adding to. Off the top of my head, the tubes are 38W each, which equates to about 1.3 W/gal, and there's room for another tube if I need.

5627412121_345e6d5c07.jpg
 

greenjar

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very nicely thought out holder for the heater and very nice tidy job all round. nice to see that attention to detail :)
 

Steve Smith

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Very well thought out and executed Idris :) I love the perspex window/protector :geek: Unfortunately the image of your stand isn't showing right now but I'll be interested to see what it looks like.
 

idris

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Possibly too well thought out :lol: That's why it's take 18 months.

(The first pic looks like it's working for me but let me know if it's still not working properly.)
 

nayr88

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Excellent mate,

All the long planning has worked well aye, and leads to much easier maintenance and for an all together neater tidier job.
Will be good to see how you get on with planting and hardscape being so tall and skinny, will defo make a change to some recent tanks, will you be going for a spraybar on the filter? I think being so tall it would be a good good idea to.

Where did you get the tank and stand mate?
 

idris

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Yes, a spraay bar is a work in progress.
The Rena XP2 comes with one but it's far too short for my tank. So I've got some clear acrylic pipes I'm going to bend into shape.

I'm not sure how to position the holes on the spraybar yet - pointing horizontally, virtically down, slightly above the surface, just below etc etc. Suggestions on this would be very welcome, as it's going to be a PITA to make it adjustable and I don't really want to have to make it all more than once.

As mentioned the tank was made by ND. http://www.ndaquatics.co.uk/
The stand was made by a small local company who mainly make kitchen, but will take on pretty much anything.
Neither the tank nor stand were particularly cheap, but since the sizes were completly non standard that was inevitable. And I'm far from unhappy what I've ended up with.
 

idris

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Hardscape

One unusual detail I forgot to mention about the tank:
As only the back is against a wall and the other three sides are all on show, I didn't want to to be able to see pipes and wires hanging down behind it. So the sides of the tank extend an inch past the back. This means the tank appears to go right back to the wall but there is still room to get pipes and wires down the back. There are down sides to this, but it all looks neater as a result.

So on to hardscape etc.

I seriously considered having a photo on the back of the tank – I know this is a bit of a no-no with the planted tank community, but I wanted something that was going to give a sense of a real view in a real river, disappearing into the distance. But none of the picture backings I found really appealed (or were available in large enough sizes) so I played around with some online photos in Photoshop and created this:

5628409832_95c4e7d441_b.jpg


I'm pretty happy with it, but then came the dilema. This was going to cost best part of £40. Knowing how this would actually look like by the time it was printed on vinyl (you can guarantee the colours would have been slightly different to what I was looking at on the PC) and with any colouration from the water, and a load of hardscaping in front of it, well, that was anyone's guess. What if I didn't like it? So I've ended up with a black background. Not really what I wanted, but the safest compromise.

With the tank being so deep, I figured it's going to need something big in terms of hardscape, or it's just going to look a bit empty. And I've decided to do that with wood rather than rocks. After a lot of searching I ended up with these two pieces via eBay. I was a little nervous about what they'd be like “in the flesh” but I'm actually pretty pleased with them.

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The piece in the second picture presented me with a small problem: part of taking 18 months to get this far came down to thinking through almost every detail, especially when it's come to other people making things for me. What I forgot to consider was that I didn't specify the width of the pieces that the support the cover glasses. These are each about 2” wide and meant there was significantly less room to get the wood in. So I had to hack a bit off the bogwood, whilst trying to keep it looking natural. Thankfully it shouldn't be too visible, especially if I cover that bit with moss.

Now I quite like fish like Plecs, but the fact that they're quite nocturnal means they're not going to get seen as much as I'd like. So I thought about having a large cave where the glass makes up the walls. The idea being that there should be plenty of space for fish to hide away from the main part of the tank, but hopefully they'll still be visible from outside the tank.
This may turn out to be a bad idea, or just not work. I can see that there are potential problems eg Plecs are notoriously messy fish and a large cave will potentially be difficult to get a gravel vac anywhere near. We will see how it goes, and worse case, I just take it out.

It's difficult to show how the cave will look until it's all in the tank, but it's something like this:

5629126650_e680f90260.jpg


The roof of the cave will be a piece of roofing slate and will be planted on top, a small bonus being some of the plants will not be quite as far from the lights (though I understand that's not always as big a problem as CO2 circulation). It will be supported by pillars and these have been a real commitment to make.

5627412295_2f4beb968f.jpg


The pillars are about 5” high and are made of stacks of roofing slate, cut into shapes like the contours of hills on an OS map. Initially I was cutting the slices by just breaking slates up with a hammer, but it was quite easy to break the piece I was working on and it was very wasteful. So I invested in a tungsten carbide cutting tool for my Dremel. It ended up being a really messy job, dust everywhere, but the results were much better. The layers were then glued together with aquarium safe silicone and the whole shape softened and sharp edges removed, again with the Dremel. (The one on the right of the picture has only been stuck together and not smoothed off, the one on the left is much closer to being finished.) All told it's probably about a days work to make each pillar, so I really hope the cave works out!

(With hindsight I would have used something like Milliput, like reef keepers use for anchoring frags, rather than silicon. I think this would have made them a little stronger (I've had to re-glue a couple of layres) and I think they would have looked a slightly better.)

The roof of the cave has a lip, again built up from slate, with the idea that this will retain the substrate that will go on top of it. Hopfully I can grow some moss or similar over the edge to soften it. (My inspiration for this is this …)

5629183144_394a8e938a.jpg

(I'm afraid I can't remember where I found this picture, so I can't link to it properly, merely to a copy I saved. I think it was of a tank that took second or third place in an ADA competition, so if someone knows where it might have come from I will gladly link to the appropriate page.)
I'm certainly not expecting to get anything looking this good, but I really liked the over hanging feel to it.

I ended up with a couple of extra chunks of slate when I tried to find an alternative wat to support the cave roof. I have no immediate use for these, so the may end up in the tank somewhere just to ad a little extra shape.

Having read up on the stuff, the substrate is going to be Adakama. I've got about 2 bags of it, which I think should give and average depth of 5cm or so. I toyed with the idea of adding something else as well, but costs were starting to become an issue and I hope this will provide enough nutrients for the plants.
 

Gill

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Excellently Thought out tank.
The Plug Cover is VV Nice indeed, aswell as the Heater stand.
The committment to making the slate stands is impressive, and i can relate to the use of a dremmel when working with slate. Very Messy but worth it.
 

Gary Nelson

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Very nice design, can't wait to see it develop.... this must be the way forward guys? a tank in the in the same wood to match the kitchen - this would keep my mrs very happy indeed!:)
 

idris

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Viper - top tip - get it all done at the same time as having a new kitchen fitted, or at least make sure you can still get the same units. Otherwise it get's inordinately expensive. :rolleyes: But I've not discussed the price at home :lol:
 

idris

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Spent far too long working on the cave roof yesterday.
5645643123_aacdd754c6.jpg

There are going to be substrate and plants above the cave and so I've built a "retaining wall" to stop all the substrate just falling off the edge. (Each of the 4 pieces that make up the wall took about 1/2 hr to cut and I still need to smooth it all off when the silicone has cured!!!)
The wiggly sides with no wall will fit against one of the pireces of bogwood, as if the woor has grown through the roof of the cave.

Having seen what it looks like I wonder whether the edge is going to need softening visually. I was planning on having Dwarf Hair Grass on most of the roof and I now think it might need some moss secured over the front edge, but I don't know how I'd blend the Hair Grass into the moss.
Any thoughts or suggestions?

The bogwood is soaking in a dustbin together the tanins out and I've been practice fabricating inlets and spray bars from clear acrylic pipe.

I've also finally ordered my first batch of plants. 5 pots each of Amazon Swords and Crypt Wendti as well as 7 pots of Hair Grass.
I still don't really have a sense of how much ground that will cover, but seeing as I'm starting them emerged and will be ordering some vallisnaris and moss later I can add more later if it's not enough.
(FWIW I've ordered from PlantsAlive on the basis of cost and (some) positive reports.)
 

John Starkey

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Interesting read,this will be something different,and i can,t wait to see how it all turns out,

john.
 

idris

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Thanks for the feedback. I hope the flora and fauna side of the project lives up to the rest.

As mentioned I've been playing with some pipe bending. This is my practice piece so far.
5649022038_60cfe6cc6f.jpg

I'm pretty pleased with the intake sieve (the slotted end) although I'll probably take a little more time over it when I make the one that's going in the tank. Initially I tried one with slots that run paralel to the pipe (as per the one that came with my Rena filter) but I just couldn't get that very neat. I considered just drilling holes, but after a little web browsing I saw one with horizontal slots and this has been much easier to make well. It's a little fragile, but once it's in the tank it shouldn't have to take much abuse.

The crooked end is ok, but the problem I've had so far is the pipe flattens a little more than I'd like. I suspect I need to be a little braver with the heat gun and get the plastic a bit softer before I bend it.
 

idris

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bigmatt said:
... could you plant the hairgrass into the moss? ...
I like the idea. Not sure how to plant that as I've no experience of either and only seen youtubes of planting Hair Grass. Do you know of any pictures?
 

idris

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Plants – the beginning

My first batch of pants arrived today from http://www.plantsalive.co.uk :D :D :D
5690356785_ef635b6dfb.jpg


Top left : Dwarf Hair Grass (Eleocharis Parvula) - 7 pots
Bottom left : Crypt Wendtii - 5 pots
Right : Amazon Swords (Echinodorus Amazonicus) - 5 pots

My initial reaction was that I was expecting a bigger package than the one that arrived, but I really felt a bit “in the dark”when it came to ordering quantities.
I've opted for pots, not entirely going with advice here, but my instinct is that, all other things being equal, a plant with a root is going to be better than a plant without one. Time may yet prove me wrong.

The plan is to start the plants emersed ie growing the plants growing out of the water. This decision was made largely based on an article by Tom Barr http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/g...ion/52332-new-method-start-up-algae-free.html that Garuf :thumbup: pointed me towards.

When it comes to how many plants, the consensus seems to be in favour of a large bio mass. Well even opting for pants about half the price of Tropica I've still spent £40 on my first batch. And I haven't got everything I know I'm going to want yet (you can't really grow Vallis emerged ;) ). And I may still want more of what I've already got. But the article above suggests that emerged is a good way to get plants multiplying quicker, leading to a higher bio mass in less time and costing less money.

But back to the plants I have got …

The Swords certainly look good and healthy – unlike TV personalities, they are taller than I expected (5” to 7” tall) so I'm pretty pleased with that. There are a few damaged leaves, but from what I gather that's not uncommon. A couple of the plants have runners and my guess is that's good.

The Hair Grass again looks healthy, though I had hoped for a little more in the pots. Maybe if I'd bought Tropica? Who knows.

The Crypts are significantly smaller than I expected (3” max) but I have no experience of these things, so maybe that's normal, and is an observation, not a criticism of the plants or the suppliers. I assume they'll grow significantly.

Tomorrow I have most of the day to myself, so as of tonight the plants are sharing a bucket of water with an old tank heater in the garage. In some respects I'm not entirely ready for the plants as there is still some finishing work to do on the cave and plumbing, and the plants may stay in the bucket for a day or three … pending responses to this … viewtopic.php?f=21&t=15839

Having built the cave roof as previously pictured, it all looked a little linear and unnatural. So I've added some bits in places and will be removed in others. This is the highest priority for tomorrow, though I'm a little nervous about the silicon not having quite as long to cure as I'd like when I get the Dremel out again. Again, time will tell.

The bogwood has now soaked for a bit over 2 weeks. After the first week I changed the water and it was very very dark. A week on the water was still a little coloured but obviously the bulk of the tannins that are likely to leaching out quickly have done so.
 
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