6' Tropical Aquarium
This page will show the progress of my biggest aquarium to date. The aquarium its self is a glass, 72" x 18" x 24" Seabray tank which I picked up for a steal at £32. The only issue with the aquarium was that it has a crack in the bottom pane of glass, but is 100% water-tight. I have fitted and sealed a sheet to the bottom of the aquarium to give it extra strength and ensure that it stays water tight. Here is a projection of what the finished aquarium could look like.
The stand is custom built by myself, based on timber stands used in aquatic shops. It's completely solid, and will have no problem in taking the weight (approximately 90 stone/570kg) of the filled aquarium. It's made from 38 x 63mm timber with 19mm marine plywood tops. In the stand there will be a 48" x 12" x 15" sump with 3 compartments. The first will have a fluidised bed using K1 and Bio-motion media, the second will be the largest compartment and will house plants, snails, and shrimp, the third compartment will house the waste overflow, heaters, return pump, and biohome ultimate media. The stand will be finished off with completely removable panels to allow easy access to the sump and plumbing. They are made from 18mm thick furniture board. Below are the plans I'm using to build the stand and the hardware for the aquarium.
The aquarium is pretty much as-is, and will sit on a 48mm thick piece of polystyrene. I'm going to have some glass lids made to reduce condensation in the top. I'm using glass as the 10mm thick acrylic lid I have in my current tank gets cloudy very quickly and buckles with the heat of the lights. I don't need to worry about gas exchange too much (though there will be a fair amount of room in the top) as there will be a lot of this happening in the sump. The water will get to the sump via a syphon overflow system, which stops flowing when the aquarium water drops below a certain point (in a power failure for example) and resumes when the water rises back above that level.
As for the decor, I'm still deciding. I'd love to go aquascaped with a sandfall, but if I go down this route I will need to re-home some of my fish, or they will destroy that work in a few days.
The top will be made from the same 18mm thick furniture board as the cabinetry, and will be glued together as well as fixed with corner brackets. Across the top, slightly off centre there will be an aluminium cross brace to give the lids some support as well as stiffening the structure. The rear lid will be fixed to the top with magnetic catches, with the front lid hinging off of it; this allows the entire lid to be removed for easier access.
This aquarium will be lit entirely with LED lighting, running off 2 controllers. The main aquarium lights will be made up of 5 pairs of 10watt LEDs, with varying colour spectrums to mimic daylight. There will also be strips of cool white and blue LEDs in the top that I can use to tweak the light and add a moonlight glow at night. The sump will have an LED light source for the refugium section only.
So, why the different colours? Quite simply I'm trying to mimic the natural light throughout the day. When the sun rises, it's closer to warm white, in the middle of the day, cool white, and sun set has those beautiful red/purple tones which I'll replicate to with full spectrum LEDs, used mainly in hydroponics. Each pair of LEDs will be separately timed using a TC420 programmable LED controller.
The lights will illuminate and fade from left to right over the 10 hour photo-period, with the colours naturally fading as it goes. I may need to change set 4 to a pair of cool white and set 5 to cool white/full spectrum if the effect is too pronounced. I will be using a second TC420 to control the white and blue lights in the top and the sump light above the refugium. More information can be found about the TC420 on this page.