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FAQs about DIY Tanks, Sumps for Marine Systems 3

Related Articles: Making Your Own Tanks, Sumps, Designer Marine tanks, stands and covers, Aquarium RepairMarine System ComponentsCanopies, Covers & Lighting Fixtures,

Related FAQs: DIY Tanks, Sumps 1, DIY Tanks/Sumps 2, DIY Tanks/Sumps 4, & FAQs on DIY Tank & Sump : Design, Shape/Size, Materials, Tools/Construction/Sealants, Plumbing... DIY Acrylic Tanks, DIY Glass Tanks, DIY Wood Tanks, DIY Other Material Tanks... & Tanks, Stands, Covers, Custom Aquariums, Stands, Covers..., FAQs on Commercial, Custom and DIY Tank: Design, Shape, Materials: Acrylic, Glass, Other... Tools, Location, By Make/Brand/Manufacturer Name, & Acrylic Tank Repair

"Living Aquarium" by Crescent Books (see used at Amazon.com). This great book includes step by step instructions on a variety of tank building styles/materials

DIY tank ?    7/2/07Hello again! Back with another question! I am considering building my own reef tank. Mainly for practice, I want to build a very large tank in the future. The tank will be 24 wide, 30 long, and 24 deep. Plywood and glass construction. My question is the inside of the plywood. I have a lot of left over rubber pond liner and am wondering if this can be used. <Can, but I wouldn't...> The aquarium sealant I have says that it will adhere to some rubbers. <Not well, or long enough to suit me> If I put the pieces to fit and over hang each cut piece of plywood and set in place before screwing the pieces together. Would it work sealing the corners and glass with 100% silicone? My other option would be plexi glass. Can I seal the tank with silicone? <Mmm, not with Plexiglas, no...> Obviously, the silicone will have no structural use, only to seal the tank. <Mmm, too likely the seams will bend too much...> I really don't want to go through painting the tank and worry about scratching through the epoxy over time. I have used the rubber liner in a pond tank made out of plywood and am very impressed with its strength. Please let me know what you think! Thanks again! Rob <Well, perhaps worth experimenting... the viewing panel/s can indeed be Siliconed over the EPDM/Rubber liner... this needs to be cut loose enough to fit all inside surfaces... Shades of del Rosario's tanks coming apart in the nineties! BobF, who wishes he too were "what was old is new again" this AM> New Setup / DIY - 03/25/07 Hello all, and tank you for all of the wonderful information you provide. I have been researching to build a new 150 Gal reef for about 2 years now, with searching the WWM for about a year. I currently have a 55 gal fish only with some LR, current equipment is two power filters, a Berlin skimmer w/ a Rio 2100 pump, and a few power heads for flow. Current stock is a maroon clown and a yellow tang. My plans are to build a new tank (60 x 24 x 24). I started with 4x4's as the frame using galvanized corner braces. <Do paint over these... rust-proofing...> I added several 2x4's in the center, splitting the center into 3 parts. The top is 2 layers of 3/4" CDX plywood with 1 layer of 1/2" cement board, as I plan on finishing the counter in tile to match the rest of my kitchen. <Neat> My neighbor who is a general construction worker helped me design my stand. We estimated the weight of everything to be somewhere in the 2250 - 2500 Lbs range. I also added several 4x4's under my floor for weight support. <Good> The finished size of the stand is 60 x 48 with 4x4 legs about 38" tall. This was placed as a dividing wall for my kitchen and dining room, with a breakfast bar on the one side. I work at a printing shop so I was able to acquire some printing blankets for placing my tank on they are about 1/8" thick made out of a rubber/canvas layers. I thought this would be a good replacement for the thin layer of foam. I started with the plans at GARF.org but found a few conflicting suggestions from here, one is not to float the bottom glass (raised a 1/4" from the very bottom). <... nice, enthusiastic folks... but not entirely well-informed> My current tank is an All Glass, <The manufacturer I take it> it has a floated bottom on it with a center support in the middle of it. I have read about why to float it, but have not found anything on why not. <Mmmm, not much to state... well-made tanks... can support most all with such floating bottoms...> I went with 1/2" plate (float, etc...) glass for all of it. I also did some reading on bracing it, but could not find much on what I plan on doing. <? Should have come braced... as in the top... by All Glass...> My plans was to use oak? 2x2 and cutting them into a L shape to fit over all edges of the tank. Do you think this would be enough bracing? <Did you make this tank... as in all glass with no capitals?> also does anyone know of what would be a better hard wood to use too? <Whatever is used the top needs to be braced somehow to prevent bowing... cross-braced, Euro-...> I had the bottom pane drilled with two 2 1/4" holes for 1.5" bulk heads on one side (reason was the tank will be visible from 3 sides and I really didn't want to see an overflow in the one corner :) I also have planed to get a flow rate of around 2500 - 3000 GPH, <Not through these two fitting sizes you won't...> what is your opinion of the Sequence Dart pumps? <Good products. Quiet, dependable, have good service factors...> The canopy is going to be a custom built full height cabinet, with doors on both sides for easy access. It will start from the top of the tank with the first shelf around 18" for my lights to mount to. I was thinking of MH because of the depth. If so 250 or 400? <Either... I like the smaller wattage... unless you really have need/use for the larger... AND matching all else to accommodate the boosted metabolism... waste heat...> I like the looks of the 20k ones better (I am a blue fan :) but selecting brand, type, single or dbl ended bulbs is making my head spin. <Keep studying> The cabinet is going to have an empty channel on the side next to the wall to allow air to flow through my lights, up and out of the house. <Will need more than "flow"... you'll want to plan, provide to blow air in and out...> The climate of were I am is more cool than warm so I dint think over heating will be much of an issue, but keeping it up probably will be. <The fans can, should be linked with thermal switches...> Under my stand I built a floor drain out of concrete, It also has both hot and cold water for maintenance. <...? You'll need/want to treat, store new water elsewhere for use. Not tap...> I was going to put my old 55G under there for a sump setup. Can Plexi be siliconed to glass for sectioning my sump? <No, not well. See WWM for other ideas... or plan on Siliconing in glass partitions permanently> I am planning on using around a 6" deep sand bed with about 130-160 LR. My only supplier around here is about a 80 mile drive and all they have is Fiji LR, I did get some there for my 55 and it is descent stuff but they are selling it for $8.50 a pound. <Look to the mail-order houses... chat with folks on BB's re who they found/find to be fair dealers/deals currently. Buy box quantities... cure in-place> (consequences for living out in BFE) Has anyone used a black sand with good results? <Mmm... much to state... but most all such material is inappropriate... won't buffer, provide much biological surface area... often needed...> I haven't found very many people that use it. Does anyone recommend a good on-line place for anything I can't get at my LFS. <Again... best by far to query others on the specialty BBs here> Will send pics when I can finally start on this. Thanks Chris <Do please read my comments closely... and read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm re Plumbing/the size, number of your through-puts... Lighting at the bottom... and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm The second tray down... re tanks... bracing... Do NOT fill this tank w/o internal bracing. Bob Fenner>

Saltwater Fishtank Construction Questions   6/8/06 Crew: <Paula> First, let me start off by saying thanks to James, Bob, and Tom for helping me. <You're welcome.> Being a newbie to the site, I knew only the basics. You guys have helped me expand my knowledge and think about my options. So thanks again for that. My first question relates to a marine article I read on your site. It says that if I am thinking about having a marine aquarium, bigger is better. It also says that the minimum size I should have is about 40 gallons to allow for plenty of "cruising" room for the fish. <Not only cruising room, but the larger tanks offer better water stability, fluctuations in specific gravity and pH aren't as drastic.> The tank I wish to remodel is from 40-50 gallons. How many marine fish would this comfortably house, along with one or two decorations? <Depends on the size of the fish.  Keep in mind a 40-50 gallon tank is not large.  I'd say five smaller fish would be safe.> My second question is about the same article on marine aquariums. As I said, I have that large tank that is 40-50 gallons. I also have a 10 gallon tank that is about the same height as the larger one. Is there a way or device to connect the two so my fish would have some more room? Or is it just better to go with the 40-50 or a bigger model? <Bigger would be better.  No way to actually connect the two tanks offering one display area.  I would use the ten gallon as a sump.  An overflow and return pump will be needed to do this.  This will give you more total gallons in the system which will improve the carrying capacity.  It also allows for much better aeration and CO2 removal and a place to put your heater and skimmer, yes, a skimmer is very beneficial to good water quality.  When the time comes, do research what you want to buy before buying as to needs/requirements of the animal and your ability to meet these requirements.  Compatibility is also something to look at.> Thanks for the help! <You're welcome and good luck.  James (Salty Dog)> Paula

I can see you but you can't see me, one-way view aquarium    3/31/06 Hey guys, I was wondering if in your years of aquarium setups if you have come across this situation.  I have a client who wants an aquarium built into a wall looking from his office into the lobby.  He wants to be able to see out from his office, but not for people to see back into it.  Will one way glass on the office side work for this considering the intensity of the light shining down directly in front of it, or is there something that will work better? <This is the easiest way to achieve this effect/property> The tank will be 6' to 8' long and 30" to 48" high - freshwater with basic fluorescent lights. <There are some other means... You might enjoy reading Dave Powell's "A Fascination With Fish" (my review on WWM)... in which he recounts construction of exhibits, including ones with odd optical properties. Bob Fenner>

Tank Design/Material Thickness - 03/31/06 Hi, I would first like to say how much all of your help and advice is appreciated! <<Glad to assist.>> I am planning to build an acrylic tank approx. 14"x14"x24" high, which should hold about 20 gallons. <<Yep>> All four corners will be heat bent with one but-joint in back reinforced with a splice plate. <<Sounds good>> What should the thickness of the sides be? And the bottom? All the FAQs seemed to deal with larger tanks and I was hoping to save some money compared to 1/2".  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!    <<Well, usually the height of the tank, not the overall size/gallonage, determines the thickness of the materials used.  Normally for a 24" high tank I would suggest as a 'minimum' 1/2" acrylic to preclude bowing.  But, considering the other dimensions (14") and the method of construction (bending the corners) you propose, I'm inclined to believe you could get by with 3/8" cast acrylic here.  And whether you opt for either the 3/8" or 1/2" material, a 3/8" bottom will serve fine.  Regards, EricR> What is starboard? 8/6/05 Dear crew,         I was looking at putting starboard in the bottom of my tank. I can get some from my work for nothing, however it could be nylon, Teflon or polyurethane. Can I use this or will it leach some sort of chemical into my tank?             Gratefully john <Have no idea what this material is... the three compounds you list are not toxic to aquatic life. Bob Fenner>

Where to buy Aquarium Trim? 7/28/05 Hey, <Yo!> I am building an aquarium and have all the specs lined up. However, I do not know where to purchase the plastic/wooden trim that covers the outside edges of an aquarium.  Is there an online site that it can be purchased from? Thanks for your help, Raimie Bateman <Mmm, you can build such, out of wood... from hardware, lumber stores... as trim et al., seal with polyurethane after coloring somehow if desired... or buy plastic and cut, Silicone it on... from aquarium manufacturers... which you can find by searching the Net. Bob Fenner>

Pond-Liner Sump 7/23/05 WWM, <Eric> I have been searching the internet for the amount of chemical compounds that could possibly be leached out of a 20 mil or 45 mil pond liner, in a saltwater aquarium.  I noticed another person building a large shark and ray tank with a pond liner, but I was wondering if these pond liners would effect a reef tank. Thank you for your time Eric <Butyl, EPDM, vinyl liners are used in human contact, water ingestion circumstances. They are of use, non-toxic for aquarium uses. Bob Fenner>

Acrylic aquarium construction 7/14/05 I don't know which is the best way to hold the acrylic pieces together in order to glue them and construct my acrylic aquarium. Could you help me? Thanks. Giannis <Building acrylic aquariums is generally NOT a do-it-yourself project.  Special solvent cements are required, and the joints between the panels have to be perfectly machined to fit.  There are specialized techniques for using spacers in the joints to allow the cement to enter the joint, and then removing the spacers to make a perfect seam.  Clamps and jigs must be used to hold the panels in place until the cement cures.  I strongly suggest doing a lot of research or leaving this project to the professionals.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Tank Design 7/9/05 Bob: <Ben> The following was the product of a "tank calculator" on the GARF.ORG website: "Tank Information:      Material = Glass         Tank Height = 30"         Tank Width = 36"         Tank Length = 72 "         Glass Thickness = 1/2"         Approximate Gallons = 337 <From the outside dimensions> Cut List:      Bottom = 71 " x 35"         Front = 72 " x 30"         Back = 72 " x 30"         2 Sides = 30 " x 35"         Top Front/Back brace = 71 " x 2"         Top Sides brace = 35 " x 2" <I would make these braces wider... like twice, four inches>       Additional Materials         1. Tube of aquarium grade silicone         2. Tape or clamps for holding the pieces in place         3. Solvent for clean up.         4. Rags/Paper towels for clean up.         5. 1/4 inch wooden dowels.       Getting Started         Lay bottom, front, back and side pieces out on a large flat surface.         Cut the 1/4 inch dowels slightly shorter than the length of the bottom. Place the dowels under the bottom piece of glass. <What is this for? Just set the bottom glass on a level, planar surface> It is important that the weight of the aquarium is supported by the front, back and sides. There should never be any support under the bottom glass as this could fracture it. <What? Is the tanks supposed to levitate?>         Run a bead of silicone along all edges of the bottom glass. (these are the edges that will seal with the front, back, and side glass)         Carefully place all pieces in place surrounding the bottom piece. All contacting surfaces should have a bead of silicone.         Use tape or clamps to hold the pieces in the correct position. When using silicone you will have plenty of time to make adjustments. Silicone can become a gooey sticky mess so you should keep the material and work area as clean as possible.         Once all pieces are correctly positioned, let the aquarium set for 24 hours.         After the silicone has cured, it is time to add the glass to the top. This piece of glass makes the sides stronger so the glass does not bow when the tank is filled.         Let the tank cure in a warm room for 72 hours before you fill it with fresh water. If there are any leaks you can apply an additional bead of silicone to the inside seam. " <...! I would run a bead in the inside joints during construction here... Make "grooves" with a popsicle stick, clothes pin... and trim, clean up later after curing>         I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around exactly where the braces go. <At, near the top, on the inside edges... the sides need to fit above or below the front and back braces...> Secondly I have read avocations for both practices of bottom placement (inside the sides and front and back vs. sides, front and back placed on the bottom). Which would you recommend? <Not on the bottom... need to be on the upper, inside edges... to prevent bowing> Furthermore do you advocate the 1/4" offset of the bottom plate? <No... glass should be on the bottom, but just on...>         (Tank will have a 6" DSB thus the 30" height and plenty of surface area)         Thank You,         Ben <Ben get someone to help you who has "been here, done this"... much easier to do with someone with experience. Bob Fenner> Acrylic DIY supplies 6/13/05 Hello, I've been searching on your site for some recommendations for acrylic or plastics.  I want to make a black acrylic box open in the bottom and top with a slot in the middle to hide my Turbelle pump in the aquarium.  The question I have is where can I find a supplier?  Are the easy to find where I live, Dublin, CA or is there one you can recommend on the internet?  I'm looking for the black acrylic.  Thanks, Brent <Most major metro areas have an acrylic supplier.  Check your local yellow pages under "plastics - sheet, rod and tube".  If you don't find someone local, do search for the websites of commercial plastics or US Plastics.  Both sell retail online.  Best Regards.  AdamC.> Wall Mount Aquarium 6.12.05 Hi there. I was wondering if you could give me some advice.  I am trying to build a wall mounted aquarium.  The dimensions are as follows, 48 inches long by 22 inches tall by 4 1/2 inches thick.  The acrylic I am using is .22 thick. I glued it and attempted to fill it with water when it started to pop and one side completely fell snapped apart.  Can you give me some advice as to how to do this properly.  Thanks for all your help. <Hi, never tried it myself but you should be able to find a lot of good info on http://garf.org/ in the DIY section -Gage> DIY Glass Tank I am planning to build a glass aquarium 72"x30"x24". I was wondering if you have any suggestions on the following questions: When having the glass cut to the above dimensions, should any adjustments be made for the space that silicone will take up between glass surfaces? <Mmm, no... but the width of the glass needs to be considered... if fitting the ends inside the front, back panels... I take it you will build these onto the bottom> If I had all edges beveled, seal surface area might be reduced on bottom edges...would there be any consequences to losing the seal, strength, or leakage by doing this? <Yes... only bevel the tank after it's assembled. Practical warning here... be very careful of glass cuts... easy to do...> Any suggestions on how to minimize chance of bubbles in seal other than just buying a ready made tank? <Practice on a smaller system first... perhaps a ten or twenty gallon... that you can use for other purposes...> Thanks again for your many valuable insights!!! <Glad to share. Bob Fenner>

Re: DIY Glass tank Yes, I do plan to place all panels on top of bottom panel. I also plan to put end panels in between front and back panel. My brother who is in the glass business will be cutting the glass (I think he said it could be done by computer) and beveling. I think he can bevel before assembly, which should decrease chance of cuts during assembly. <I'm not being clear I guess... You do NOT want to bevel the edges until the siliconing is done... you want to maximize the surface area/contact of the glass... Just bevel the outside edges (after the tank is sealed> Should I make the bottom plate 30 1/16" wide so that the end panels do not push the front & back panels over the bottom panel edge after silicone applied?  <What? No... the amount of silicone is miniscule... no need to allow for a gap> I guess I could alternately make the end panels just 28 15/16" (using 1/2" glass)? Do you think 1/16" is enough space to accommodate the silicone? <Bob Fenner>

Building a Wall Tank Help needed I am building a basement and would like to add a wall tank unit for my Koi. The viewing wall and tank would be poured concrete in forms maybe 6" thick (thicker if needed) and the glass (Acrylic) section would be recessed for the Acrylic to seal with silicone? <Possible> It'll be sealed with either a pool paint or fiberglass. The tank size would be 8 to 10' wide by 5-6' high and 5-6' deep. The viewing glass would be 8-10' wide by 3-4' high.  What I need to know is how thick is good for the concrete walls (I am thinking 6"  <Fine... with code use of rebar, tied... eight bag mix...> and 3 sides would be underground) glass mounting area maybe 3-4", How thick should the acrylic should be (I'm thinking 1 1/4" or 1 1/2" thick) <Two inch would be better... don't know the actual depth of water where the acrylic will be down to... but if this is over four feet, much less deformity with thicker material> it will be supported on all 4 corners of the concrete and sealed with silicone.  Would all this work? <Could> Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. <Much to consider in the planning stages re plumbing, filtration, lighting...> Thank You, Ron Also where can I find the answers to this on the forum? If possible can you send me an email? Thanks again <Ah, we respond directly to all. Bob Fenner>

DIY large tank, system plans Hi: <Hello there> I would like to build a tank out of glass and plywood that measures approximately 132" length x 36" deep x 48" high. I have been trying to locate DIY plans for a similar sized tank in the 1000 gallon range, but have been unsuccessful. Do you know where I can find plans, or anyone who will draft custom plans to my specifications? <Mmm, nope... have seen ads for such plans in hobby magazines over the years... in the back, classifieds... You could easily piece together what's involved from a cursory reading of WWM, other sites... The height is a bit of an issue... I encourage you to consider switching the width dimension... make the system three feet tall, four feet wide... to save on the viewing panel cost, make it easier to work on, in> I am quite capable of building a tank myself, but I do not have the engineering knowledge required to design such a tank. Thank you in advance for any assistance you can provide. Rob Koblasz <What aspect/s are you wanting input on? Width of materials, modes of construction? Plumbing, filtration? Gear? Bob Fenner> 

Re: DIY plans Bob: <Rob> Thank you for both your time and reply. I guess I have quite a few questions relating to both the materials and the mode of construction. Is it better to use glass or acrylic, and how thick should it be? <Either might well be preferable in different settings... likely the glass will be less at the shorter height, the acrylic easier to work with (much, much lighter), but scratch and bow more easily...> As for the plywood, is 1" marine plywood sufficient? <If braced, screwed every four inches, fiberglass strip and resined in the corners, for the three foot height, yes> Is steel reinforcement necessary for the dimensions I would like? <No> I have an acquaintance with 2000 gallon tank that is 20' in length which was built with steel reinforcement every 2', but I do not know if it is necessary for the tank that I want to build.  <Not necessary, but advised... especially in an area subject to ground movement...> I have researched your site and others as you suggest regarding DIY tank projects and I do have a rough idea how to do this. With regard to the height of the tank and the changes you suggest, are there any structural concerns, or just cost and ease of maintenance? <Quite a few structural concerns... know that for every foot of height such projects about double in cost... in materials> I believe taller tanks are great for viewing, and floor space might be a concern with the extra foot of width. <Mmm, I'd do this... make a "cardboard mock-up of the shape/size of the proposed system/s... the three and four foot width/height dimensions, and stand it up in the proposed space... the three foot tall one is very likely the route you want to go...> I sincerely appreciate any additional information you can provide as I do not want to make a mistake I will regret when the tank is full. It makes for a much happier wife when the water remains in the tank. Thanks Rob Koblasz <I understand this... as well as the (extreme) possibility of the thing coming apart, perhaps killing someone. Bob Fenner> 

135G FOWLR follow-up, cutting glass, overflows, LR over the Net, plumbing and WWM pix Thank you for the reply Bob, I have just a few more questions and then I should be good at least until I get this thing set up.  I talked to a bunch of glass shops in the area, and they all said they would drill the sides, but no one will touch the tempered bottom (can't say I blame em)  With that, they also told me they cannot guarantee the sides will not break while drilling, but they will do it.  That worries me.  If it would happen to anyone, it would happen to me (I know Murphy very well)  So that leads me to overflow boxes, which also worry me. <I'm more worried about the latter than the former in terms of potential for trouble> But then I stumbled onto Lifereef.com, telling me that he hasn't had one malfunction in fifteen years. <Wow! Well, maybe "he" hasn't... but how about their customers?> I value your opinion very much and was wondering which route would you take?   <In almost all scenarios to have the tank pre-drilled if possible before assembly, or drilled after...> Actually, in your experience, are these custom glass places known for busting even annealed walls, or are they just covering there butts? <Methinks the latter> Secondly, I was planning on Caribbean rock for Dr. F&S, and then I found a listing on eBay, Item number: 4381101282, can you please take a look and tell me if this stuff is any good?   <Mmm, did so... out of Ft. Lauderdale...> I emailed them and asked about size pieces and they said to just let em know what I'm looking for.  Too good to be true? <... do you want Caribbean, Florida rock? The South Pacific sources are better for general purposes... cheaper per volume, function> Finally, please don't laugh, but in your last reply, you mentioned nitrate bottle necking.  I don't understand what that means.  Can you please explain it to me?  Thank you. <Sure... by "driving" the forward reaction/s of nitrification... lots of aerobic space, oxygenated water, water flow... nitrate tends to accumulate in high/er concentrations... the means, mechanisms for nitrate conversion into other matter are impeded... and hence "bottle necking" (backing up in the reaction series) occurs> P.S.  I would like to send a couple of pics of my DIY wet/dry, but I don't know what you mean when you talk about file size. <Kilobytes, megabytes... we prefer a few hundred Kbytes size maximum... jpegs, bmps preferably>   Oh yeah, that reminds me, if I have only one 8" baffle right after the bio ball chamber, will the other side of the baffle remain at a 8" depth, even though the bulkhead for the pump is only about 2" high?  Thanks again, I love you guys.               Mike <If your water flow is not too fast and I understand what you mean here, yes. Bob Fenner> 2000lb Tank! How would you lift it onto the stand.  Its a 1300 Gallon acrylic tank we are installing for a museum and I'm trying to calculate the installation costs.  Is there a better way than pure manpower?  And how much manpower would we need? <Dangerous to lift by hand... we used to move such constructs... with hydraulics (either from the bottom or the top... jacks, lifts, back-hoes and straps...> It also needs a solid but aesthetic looking floor. <Mmm> The actual tank will have a motorized vehicle that people will be able to drive around inside the tank. <Miniaturized I take it> The trick is to have something that looks good, but can't be easily jostled by the moving vehicle... I have some ideas, but nothing super, do you have any? <Marbles, large flat rock... perhaps something you can just coat/seal with laminating resin... Bob Fenner> Thanks in advance, Matt

Re: 2000lb Tank! Will the tank grow algae if everything in it is artificial? <Yes... all aquatic systems that have light... will grow algae... you'll likely want to provide a filtration system, and some (chemical) means of treating the water... or go the biological route... Bob Fenner> 

Custom tank glass thickness I want to build a tank that's 59 1/2in long, 32in tall and 4in front to back, it would hold about 33 gallons of water, I was wondering if 1/4in thick tempered glass would work and be safe, if not what would you suggest. Thank you for your time <I would not go with less than 3/8" here... and braced at the top at that. Bob Fenner>

More On Tiera Bat's & Angel's, Tang's Future Digs <<Elisabeth quipped in response to my remark, "Your contractor must love you..">> You said it Marina! I think they saw me coming, a two week job has turned into an 8 week job and I shudder at the cost but we've wanted to have a large "built in" tank for years.  <<I've learned (am still) that nothing goes to initial schedule. Some contractors see this coming better than others, but I always at LEAST double the time, then add a buffer.>> I'd be happy to send pictures when it's finally done, right now you can't see anything in the family room except for saw horses and tools, but I'm going to have fun decorating the tank. <<Oh yeah I bet. And you're going to have fun keeping it clean, too. Mask and snorkel time! Invite the neighbors to watch!>> Another quick question if you don't mind... <<Nope.>> We also have a 125 gallon "predator" tank (Marine Betta, Snowflake Eel and Niger Trigger) and I'd like to move our Marine Betta into the large tank when it's ready. Would the Betta (5") have any problems with the Batfish and the Blue Angel?  <<No, it'll probably be as timid as it usually is, inhabit its preferred (dark) areas. While those two (angel/tang) will need their swimming room, through-ways, etc., they'll also want to check out some caves like the Betta. I'd try to provide extra caves for all, along with lots of "pass-throughs".>> Thanks again for your insightful input! <<You're more than welcome, thank you for your kind words. I do look forward to seeing the end result, and can't help but feel a twinge of envy. Marina>> Tank Dimensions Question 4/28/05 Hi Mr.. Fenner, You have a great website.  <AdamC here today, but Bob sees all of the responses and we all appreciate the kind words!> I have a question regarding tank dimensions for you. In order to ask it, you have to wade through this long prelude. I am planning on getting an acrylic tank with the following dimensions: 120 inches long, 24 inches wide, and 15 inches high. I would like to keep some tangs (as well as other fish) and understand they will need swimming room (hence the length). I would also like to keep various hard and soft corals. Given the length of the tank, I think I can vary the lighting to tailor it to a softies or hard coral area. I would like to go with a smaller height tank, because my daughter really likes looking at tanks from the top. The local fish store has a coral growth tank that is 12 inches high and when the pumps are off and the water still, the view is really neat. I wanted something with a little more room for the fish and enough height to have some aquascaping, but not so high that the lights don't penetrate as well. Also, mindful of cost, higher tanks would obviously get to be really expensive for the length I want, and cleaning the acrylic for a long high tank would be a pita. I've noticed that fish in my 65 gal, which is 24 inches high, almost always hang around the rockwork (which is only 15 inches high)--so I thought 15 inches would work. I envision the tank to be almost bare bottom, with a very shallow (1/2 inch to an inch) layer of sand for aesthetics. My questions are the following: 1. Are there limitations to having a 15 inch tall tank? I.e., are there some fish that need a higher water column? Will the height make the fish feel more enclosed that aggression would be an issue? Are there corals that cannot be kept in that height?  <You are thinking the same things I am! Length is important, but there is a point of diminishing returns, especially for larger fish that may not appreciate the lack of head room! Any fish that gets large enough to really need 10 feet of swimming length would probably be uncomfortable with so little vertical space. It may also increase jumping risk. Many corals will easily grow to the surface of this tank.> 2. If I'm going to use 150 or 175 watt MH lights, is 15 inches too low. Will the MH overheat the tank if their 8-10 inches above the water line? Do I need a higher tank height--18 or 20 inches? <Heat is a much smaller concern than over-illumination. In such a shallow tank, even 150-175w MH may be too much light for many corals.> Thanks and I look forward to your response. Roy <Although tanks do get more expensive with depth, they get more difficult to build and more expensive to ship with length as well, so the net cost may be the same as a shorter, taller tank. In the long run, I suspect a more conventionally shaped tank will keep your fish just as happy and allow your corals to grow more naturally than one that is only 15" deep. Best Regards. AdamC.>

Appropriate acrylic adhesive for reef tank Hello, <Hi there> I purchased an adhesive (Devcon Plastic Welder) for my DIY skimmer and I have a quick question regarding any problems with this adhesive.  Will this adhesive leach any harmful chemicals after it has cured 24 hours?  Any input will greatly be appreciated.  Thank you. David <No worries... their MSDS: http://www.tapplastics.com/uploads/pdf/MSDS%20Devcon%20Plastic%20Welder.pdf Once cured there is none left... not a glue... but a solvent. Bob Fenner> Large Concrete and Glass Custom Aquarium I've been keeping fish for about 30 years and reef tanks for about 10 years. I will soon be building a new house which gives me the opportunity to build in a large tank at the center of the house. In addition to being a reef aquarium, the tank will also serve to buffer the temperature of the house - my excuse for such a large tank of water. :) The tank will be on the first floor with no basement under it so it will sit on the concrete slab specially designed to support it which will in turn be anchor to the ledge below. <Okay> I am planning to build the tank out of concrete in the shape of an polygon, probably an octagon or dodecagon, with one or more panes looking into each of the main rooms of the house. One of my questions is on sealing the concrete against salt water. I have done considerable work with concrete but nothing exposed to a salt water environment. I have found very little information about the construction of concrete aquarium tanks and what I have found has predominantly been very old  information.  The technology has changed and I'm hoping to find some recent information. I have found two references to epoxy coated rebar and I am planning to also use PVA fibers in the cement matrix. I have read on WWM that the existence of ferrous metals in the concrete reinforcing can wreck havoc with some marine fishes senses (e.g., sharks). I would also be concerned about oxidization and expansion through rust of ferrous tensile members in the concrete. Have you read or dealt with concrete saltwater tanks and if so do you know what was used for structural reinforcing? <In small (a few feet in height, length) systems sometimes nothing... other times welded wire, chicken or stucco wire... Larger systems generally reinforced with rebar... tied... and the insides coated with cement mortar...> I am considering using tempered glass as there are no holes necessary in the glass in this is project. The viewing panes will be on the order of 36" to 48" x 72" to 96" of which there will probably be a 4" lap with the wall on all edges. I am thinking of vertical socketing of the glazing. The panes will be in the upper section of the water column. Should I buffer the glass cement interface with a synthetic or rubber gasket that is siliconed in place on both sides and then seal the edges rather than just using silicon alone? <I would, yes> I am leaning towards tempered glass but have a hesitation on it regarding catastrophic failure situations. To date I have only built aquariums with plate glass and acrylic. Have you ever heard of a tempered glass aquarium breaking? Scratching? <Can break, scratch... generally float glass can be used (more economical) for this size panes...> I have read about laminated glass (good and bad - e.g., delamination) but almost all of what I've been able to find is on vendor's web sites as well as a few references here on WWM. Have any of you worked with laminated glass in large aquarium projects? Comments? Is there a tempered laminate glass? What special considerations are there with laminated aquarium panes?  <Laminated glass is of use in moderate height applications... 3-4 feet in height... very clear, strong... not as easily scratched as acrylics> I have considered acrylic but am inclined against it because of scratchability. I have seen all to many acrylic tanks that ended up looking awful due to the scratching especially along the gravel line. I am still open to it as a possibility as safety is paramount.  There will be a central shuttered skylight over the tank to provide natural lightning which will be augmented with artificial light during our short days of winter light here in northern Vermont. Due to our climate, overheating is not a concern. I've kept FW and reef tanks in south facing windows for years without problem, taking advantage of the solar gain which in other climates can be problematic. I've found a few references to the use of natural light (e.g., Waikiki Aquarium and some others) but am looking for more discussion of this topic. It seems to me that it would be the ideal lighting, especially for a large tank.  <These references are obscure, anecdotal largely but can be found through a computer search at a large (college) library> Given the size of this project I am going to be building several models at 1/1000 scale, 1/100 scale and 1/10 scale before building the final large tank that will be an integral piece of the house and have a capacity of 10,000 to 20,000 gallons plus sumps and refugia. I am looking for articles, books, web sites, discussions, comments, etc about issues related to building a large concrete aquaria. I have found a little information on the web and in the aquarium books I have (such as "Dynamic Aquaria") but nothing that goes into the details about using modern construction and sealing techniques for such a project. Any pointers or experience with such matters is greatly appreciated. Lastly, speaking of the book "Dynamic Aquaria", my copy is the original version. I recently heard that there is a new updated version. Do you know what is updated in the new version? Have you read the new version?  Do you recommend getting it if I already have the original earlier version? <As far as I'm aware, Adey's work is about the same in the new edition.> Many thanks, Walter Jeffries <Much that we might discuss... do write back if/when you come to specific questions, are looking for another opinion/input. Our old companies installed quite a few large aquatic habitats over the years... and the technology has not changed that much as far as I know. Bob Fenner> DIY/Aquarium I am interested in building a fish tank, not on how to decorate it but to build the actual tank itself that the fish go in. I need to know what kind of glue is used to hold the glass together. <Nancy, it's Dow Corning Silastic.  In the future please watch your capitalization etc.  It's much easier on us if we don't have to edit the queries before they go into the FAQ's.  Thanks, James (Salty Dog)> Sincerely, Nancy

Good Decision: Patience With Sharks 4/2/05 Thanks again, I think I will hold off on the shark for now and wait until I get more experienced and more $$$. <This is wise, my friend> What do you think about building a tank? Does it cost not as much money as buying a huge one? <There can be savings, but building a big tank as your first tank is asking for trouble. I do not recommend it.> Thanks you guys are great. <For info on tank building and so much more... seek the old book "The Living Aquarium" by Crescent Books (Amazon used sales). Fabulous read. Anthony> 

Aquarium gluing procedure Greetings Crew! <Hello there> Say, here are your stupid questions for the day... I am ready to assemble a 130 gallon aquarium. The pieces are made of 1/2" thick float glass, and the largest weigh 60 lbs or so. The front, back, and sides of the aquarium sit on top of the base glass. So, the weight of the glass will squeeze out all but a thin layer of silicone when the assembly takes place. <Sounds good thus far> Some people use shims during the aquarium assembly process, and then remove them at various stages of the process. Question, would you use shims? <Nope... good strapping tape (the stuff with the fiber in it) and wood clamps are my fave instruments with this size of construct> And, if so, what thickness, material, and quantity? Finally, are the shims removed after the silicone is set, and the resulting gap filled?? Or, are they left in place? <No shims, please... the barest amount of Silastic left in place is all you want/need... let all set up on the outside for a day before trimming (single edge razor blades) and gingerly lay in a bead on the inside edges (after tape, clamps) in all inside joints. Bob Fenner> Please sign me,  Haven't got a shim (James Bradley) 

Rims Around All Fish Tanks for Looks Hi, <Hello> I am interested in making my own aquariums of both acrylic and glass. <An adventure!> I enjoy breeding fish and it is too costly to continue to buy several fish tanks.  I have searched and have many different sizes and information for doing  this, but, the rims around all fish aquariums tops and bottoms with this rim on  the inside to set glass in, I can't find nor do I know where to look or what to ask for. You see these in fish stores. <Yes... and some companies will sell these... your LFS can likely order them for you> I can not find these plastic pieces anywhere, nor has anyone been able to help locate a plastics company who makes them.  Would you know of any companies I could purchase these rims from, in all  sizes or do I have any other options also, do they only sell to a commercial company or business?  I do not want wood, like oak, though very nice looking, wood and water don't mix. I would like to finish off the aquariums, in style, also another question........ I would also like to know, where can I purchase the acrylic to make these tanks. Purchasing glass is no problem Thanks in advance for your response and help!!! <Mmm, put the terms: "aquarium manufacture" in your search tool/s... and contact the folks you find through the Net. Bob Fenner> 

Tank Building 3/2/05 I've been reading your DIY tank building FAQ's and trying to get a grip on all the info you have. Call me dumb, but I am getting really confused about different materials and plans for tanks.  I am looking at building a smallish freshwater aquarium, 42" (L) x 24" (W) x 36" (H), by the sounds of it out of glass - this seems to be favoured above acrylic.  <depends on where you live and your material costs, but yes... for most aquarists - glass is easier and cheaper to get, and far easier to work with (less tools/skills needed)> For these dimensions, I calculated the volume to hold 150 gallons or about 570L total. What thickness glass would you recommend, I was thinking 1/2 to 3/4 inch maybe... <1/2" is not thick enough without engineered bracing to do a 36" tall tank. Go thicker, or laminated, or with a four-sided capture> ...and joining it all with silicone. Also, do you think I would need to use different thickness for the sides and base?  <its common, helpful to use a thicker base, and/or silicone in reinforcing strips along the bottom> If there is any other helpful info you can add it would be much appreciated. <I strongly advise you to practice on smaller tanks first. And make no move until you've bought yourself a nice, cheap copy of the "Living Aquarium" by Crescent Books (see used at Amazon.com). This great book includes step by step instructions on a variety of tank building styles/materials> Thanks for all the info on your site, it has helped heaps with many many other questions. Cheers for now, Brenton <best regards, Anthony>

- Refugium Construction - Hi, I would like to thank all of the crew members at WWM for all of their quick and helpful responses they given me. I tried to search for a question similar to mine, but I couldn't find what I was looking for.  <Seems odd... I answered a similar question not three days ago.>  I am working on a 15 gal. sump, actually it is running, but I do not have it chambered so I can make it a refugium. I think to convert this I would just need to seal two panels, one on each side, so that the center would have most of the flow going over the top and not affecting the middle chamber. My first question is, what would the best material to use as panels?  <Glass or acrylic - either will do, would use the one that's easiest to get your hands on.>  I was thinking Plexiglas from Home Depot.  <Sure.>  Secondly, is there a silicone sealant that can be used underwater without adding any pollutants to the tank?  <None that I would suggest - you should really plan on doing this work in a dry tank.>  Or am I just going to have to drain the tank and use the sealant?  <Yes... this is your best bet.>  I know that your site recommends using 100% silicone sealants without additives, will the silicone package say that it is aquarium safe or am I just to assume that it is?  <If you pick up the silicone from a local fish store, you should be all set... even though Home Depot does carry silicone that will do the job, they have too many tubes of the wrong kind that would be too easy to grab. There is such a thing as "aquarium sealant" that can be obtained at your LFS.>  Thank you again for your help. <Cheers, J -- >

Acrylic tank question Hello, I am building my own acrylic tank, the dimensions are 48"W x 96"L x 48"D. Is 1" - 1 1/4" acrylic sufficient enough to hold water? <Mmm, well... it is... but... if this is for a "fish tank" and there are no really pressing desires to make it this tall... I'd cut the height down to three feet or so... much easier to work on... and whether the setting is high/low (standing, sitting), a better "dimensional aspect" IMO... the tank will bow pretty noticeably even if braced... and from your website am sure you are aware of the cost difference between the one and a quarter... or what I would use here (if going with the four foot height), one and a half... Worth it... structurally and from a resale point of view. Bob Fenner> Thank you for your prompt response. Thanks, Bob North Please visit us at: http://www.splashescreative.com/  <Neat!> 

Re: acrylic tank question Bob, Oops!  I made a mistake. This is a prop to be used for a magic illusion however the dimensions I gave you were wrong. The correct dimensions are 48"W x 96"L x 96"D. We are committed to the 8'depth dimensions and cannot waiver from this. (I've already talked him down from 12'). We will be using full 4'x 8' sheets of acrylic. Do you think that the 1 1/4" thickness will hold water and the magician without bowing or breaking? <Not worth the risk. Our old companies used to fabricate acrylic aquariums (in addition to other work)... and for any tank of eight foot depth I would NOT use less than two inch cast> What thickness would you suggest?  I appreciate your promptness. Thanks, Bob North <Do a bit more looking about... but, please... no less than two inch. Bob Fenner> 

Internal Horizontal Overflow 2/22/05 Anthony, Hi!  <cheers> I am planning on installing an internal Horizontal Overflow (I love that idea by the way)... <thanks kindly!> ...in a glass 75 that I am currently having drilled. My question is, can I silicone in a acrylic overflow in a glass aquarium, or do I need to have some glass cut to make the trough?  <silicone does not bond to acrylic... merely "grips: and will fail in time. Not recommended> I know silicone doesn't work as well with acrylic on glass, but since this doesn't seem to be much of a load bearing application, I thought it might work.  <agreed... and a fairly small matter to drop the water level and reseal later if need be> I am very comfortable working with acrylic, haven't worked with glass.  <ooh... glass is much easier than acrylic IMO. More tolerance, less machining> But I don't want this to fall out in a couple of years. <I do believe it will :( Anthony> 

- DIY Sump/Refugium - Crew, I am in process of building my own sump/refugium. <Cool.> I currently have a 38 gallon tank for this.  I wanted to separate the chambers with baffles.  I planned on having them 1" wide 10"high.  The tank is a glass tank.  Should this be done with acrylic or glass? <I'd go with whatever you can get your hands one - either will work fine.> What thickness? <1/4" Would be fine.> And what type of glue, mainly for bonding acrylic to glass, but also glass to glass if that is suggested method? <100% silicone adhesive - should contain NO mildewcides. Can often be obtained at your local fish store.> Thanks in advance. Jay <Cheers, J -- >

Glass hole driller in San Diego Hello, Can anyone on your crew recommend someone in San Diego that can drill a couple holes in the back of my glass aquarium for a closed loop circulation system. It's non tempered. Thanks. Peter <Well, we actually live in SD and I still don't know... but do know how I would proceed. Check the "Yellow Pages" or their equivalent under "glass" and call the suppliers... IF the tank is not built yet.... do consider having it constructed by Lee Mar... they do a great job... and are reasonable for what you get. A bunch of retailers can help you here... but I'm most familiar with Ron Elander, Octopus' Garden... Oh, do go by and check out his new re-location. It's fabulous. Bob Fenner> Plastics Suppliers 2/15/05 Hey all, <howdy> Do any of the Pittsburgh folks know where I can go to buy acrylic scraps and/or sheet material? I am looking for pieces to build a sump. Thanks! Ed <locally is a bit expensive at places like Cadillac Plastic if still in business. You may want to simply do mail order. US Plastics Corp (Lima, OH... Google them) has a big inventory, not the cheapest prices though, but great customer service and fast shipping from OH. Anthony>

Pittsburgh Marine Aquarium club: PMAS.org 2/17/05 Thanks Anthony. I am planning on coming to the PMASI meeting on Saturday and becoming a member. Talk about a wealth of knowledge!!! Ed <excellent to hear my friend... indeed our local hobby clubs are one of the very best places to get accurate, current and unbiased information. Do be sure to find Adam Cesnales at the meeting - he is very experienced with acrylic and can suggest better local vendors for you. Best of luck and life to you. Anthony>

Live Rock Curing/Holding System <Hello, Ryan with you today.> I'm thinking about importing live rock for resale and I need info. on the best way to keep the rock. I would like to build my own holding tanks. <Before I get into your query- Please do your best to take time and use proper grammar and punctuation. After all, these are posted for aquarists to read, take note of, and search within.> I'm thinking about two tanks 8'x8'x18''to 24'' deep made out of marine grade plywood and epoxy coated. One tank for curing and one for the cured rock. What is the best way to heat the tanks? I know I'm going to need some big skimmers, lots of sand, saltwater and some good MH lighting. I have a 2000sf. building to house this in so I have plenty of room. Any help with lighting/filtration/heating would help out greatly.  <Ed, the best thing you could do at this point is go out and grab a copy of the Book of Coral Propagation, by Anthony Calfo. It's the best layman's guide to building these types of systems that I have seen. 20 bucks on the book is a drop in bucket if you nail this system on the head. This is a pretty serious setup you're talking about, and I don't believe that a quick paragraph of answers from me will suffice! Good luck, Ryan>

Another acrylic thickness question Hello to all. I stumbled upon your site about 6 months ago and now read it daily ... a wealth of information and a joy to read. I am in the planning stages of my dream tank: a 300 gallon (96" x 24" x 30") FOWLR (I love angels and butterflies!) Most of the inhabitants and some equipment will be coming from an exiting 125. I have everything planned, including equipment requirements, plumbing diagrams, even my livestock wish list. When I went to order the tank, I realized I had one unanswered question. The tank is being built by a company called Tru-View and will be made from 1/2" acrylic for the sides and top and bottom. My existing 125 (72" x 18" x 20") uses 3/8" on all sides except the back which is 1/2". The thickness of the new tank has me concerned.  I spent several hours reading you posts regarding thickness recommendations and am still confused. I don't mind a little bowing, but I do live in earthquake country (Northern California) and want a tank that will be as safe as possible. The tank will reside on concrete slab in a finished garage / playroom. So, is 1/2" good enough? Or would you recommend 5/8" or 3/4"? Thank you for your time. Dana  >>>Hi Dana, I'm very familiar with TruVu, and have owned many tanks made by them over the years. They are actually made locally not far from my house. I've also had a number of tanks custom made over the years. What you need to be concerned with is "thrust" which is the pressure the water exerts against the inside walls of the tank. This is a function of the height of the tank, and the width. As long as you stay below 26", and no wider than say 32", 1/2" works, even if the tank is 10 feet long. Although 1/2" is standard on certain tanks, and will work just fine on a 24" high tank, any higher and I'd go up to 5/8". Since it's only 24" wide, no reason to move up to 3/4". It will NOT provide more earthquake resistance (I live in California too) but it will not bow nearly as much, and it will be stronger. The thicker the acrylic, the more surface area on the joint. Just a piece of mind thing. In general, even on smaller tanks, I always kick the thickness up a notch. Cheers Jim<<<

- Can't Seal the Monster - Hey guys, I work in a glass shop and awhile ago a guy came in to our store with plans and steel frames for 2 octagonal fish tanks. 32dia 72tall, so we ordered 8 3/8 glass pieces for the sides of one tank, 1/2in for the bottom. Well it started to leak of course. I'm guessing its got to be around 200 to 300 gal range. Well we used a whole case of aquarium sealant on it [twice] no such luck. So I was wondering if you had any input to get it to seal properly. <Well, it's my guess that 3/8" glass is too thin for a tank this tall - height makes all the difference in the thickness you need to use, and I'd be willing to bet that the vertical panels are flexing when you add the water. I'd use at least 1/2" for a 72" tank, if not 5/8" for safety reasons. Of course, you should also bevel the edges a little bit too, just to get a tighter edge to edge fit, but first and foremost you need panels that won't flex with all that water weight against it. It's all good and well this guy has an insane [read as un-maintainable] size for a fish tank, and that he's asked you to build it for him, but if/when it fails a couple of years from now, his lawyers are going to come looking for you. If it were me, I'd overbuild the hell out of it. If he complains about the cost or the weight, then let him move on to someone more foolish. Cheers, J -- >

Aquarium Bracing Hi there <Hello> I have read articles on your site regarding the "Euro-style bracing" and have decided to do the following. The aquarium is about 41"L x 36"W x 30" t. <Mmm, a bit tall...> I am planning on putting the braces in about 1" from the top.  The braces are about 3" wide (10mm thick). Can the front brace be, say 2" for easier tank maintenance. <Mmm, I would make it at least three inches wide/thick for 3/8" thick glass, this height of a glass system> Now the other thing I was con fused about was where the braces go? ( yes I no they go in the tank) If I first attach the front and back brace 1" from the top, then do the two side braces go on top of the front and back brace, so at the corners the thickness of glass would be 20mm? or Does the bracing all sit flush? <The former... they should overlap... with them overlapping, touching at the corners, faces> can you give me a link or tell me the easiest way to attach the braces? (stands, clamps, tilt the tank?) <Maybe look on Ozreef.org> I think you guys and girls do a great job, this site would have to have some of the best content, regarding aquarium life etc on the net. Keep it up Regards Tim NEW ZEALAND ( no we are not part of Australia) <Heeee, the Land of the Long White Cloud? Not hardly. Bob Fenner, who has been to Rotorua... stinky air, great folks and beer>

Re: Aquarium Bracing Thank you for the reply <Welcome> <<Heeee, the Land of the Long White Cloud? Not hardly. Bob Fenner, who has been to Rotorua... stinky air, great folks and beer>> Don't judge the rest of New Zealand for Rotorua's mistakes Cheers Tim <Ha! And to you. Bob Fenner>

Constructing Aquarium Question I have been doing a lot of research in building aquariums. I also am a ceramic potter, and have worked a lot with tile. My question is, would it be safe to use food safe ceramic tile and instead of grout seal it with silicone? Underneath the tile would be a plywood box for support of course. I looked for epoxy paint, and it is a) expensive b) hard to locate and using all glass is expensive if you want to make a large aquarium. (I intend to make a large shark tank with a glass front). <Mmm, could place ceramic in the tank... but you can just make it out of plywood, fiberglass (strips for the corners only if you like) and resin... and the viewing panel of glass, acrylic... Bob Fenner> 

Acrylic question Hey, WWM-ites (particularly the acrylic construction experts), <Hi Glen, I don't know what you consider an expert. I just delivered a six foot acrylic tank so my family builds them. Hopefully that qualifies me.> Things are plugging right along with the 55 gal community tank.  We're stocking up, and nearing our piscine limit.  Chemistry is performing nicely, pH running 7.0-7.1 and our weekly 20%+ water changes are keeping the nitrate levels at just over 10 ppm.  We've moved the eight surviving baby Swordtails to a 5-1/2 gal tank, along with a Panda Cory and a really cool Mayan statue head (just to irritate my wife!)<I LOVE IT!>  In the big tank, we've replaced the fake driftwood arch with a real cypress driftwood arrangement (for the Otocinclus to gnaw on), and have replaced most of the fake plants with real ones, including a line of Vallisneria, quite a Cabomba forest, dwarf and giant hair grass, planted (huge) and floating watersprite, java moss, and red Ludwigia and Alternanthera. We're waiting for the plant-carrying LFS to get a red water lily to finish our live plant assortment. <Get a dwarf lily or you might have size problems lol.> We've upgraded to a four-foot 110-watt AGA compact fluorescent fixture, which really makes the colors snap. The plants are doing well with the higher light level (duh!), and I'm hoping their consumption will start reining in the rather amazing algae growth. <It will, I know its got to be frustrating though.> I have roundly chastised myself for overfeeding the fish (new owner, poor-starving-fishy syndrome) and causing the algae bloom, but I'm going to let nature take its course (thanks, once again, to the advice on WetWebMedia!)  I haven't decided whether I'm going to do any CO2 augmentation for the plants.  Maybe in the wet-dry, which brings me to the topic of this query. <Bring it on!>   I've designed a DIY wet-dry filter, big enough to support multiple tanks when we get into our non-rental in a year or so. <Ooooo nice.> The sump portion will be 24x13x13, and the removable biotower will be 16x16x12 (biomedia capacity just over 7-1/2 gallons).  2" deep floss/media/drip tray drawer, Mag 7 pump, Durso standpipe fed by a Busko surface extractor, etc. etc. etc.  Investigating the types and recommendations for the acrylic has me going in circles. <Ahhh that one I can help you with, we've made many, many sumps and wet/dries.> Questions (and please don't be gentle - if the answer is "quit obsessing, buy the cheap/expensive stuff and build it", feel free to say so!): <I would never say it in that way, to my way of thinking you simply cannot do enough research when you are doing something for your tank!> I'm leaning toward 3/8" acrylic, but 1/4" is sure cheap! <You really do not need the 3/8, with what you have designed you won't get any bowing. Your height really determines the stepping up in size of the acrylic. If you keep each piece cut under 24 inches tall you should be just fine.> I've designed in 3/8" square cross braces in the biotower and sump, to control bowing in the longer spans of plastic. <The bowing won't be significant enough that you'll need the 3/8ths, simply brace with 1/4 and you'll be just fine.>  Total catastrophic power-outage water load will be a bit under twelve gallons.  I know the 3/8" will provide structural integrity and the "gee whiz, look at the pretty acrylic" factor, but would 1/4" really work just as well?  Of course, this ignores the 5/16" and 9mm stuff! <I promise you that it will work as well.  Now just a few hints.  Route the edges because plexi is sharp and it will cut you, if you route the edges or you flame polish them regardless of the size it will eliminate most problems in cutting.> Most of the tank-building sites say (essentially) not to think about anything less than cell-cast acrylic.  I've seen all the reasons why - superior clarity, harder surface, nicer machining characteristics, etc. In small quantities, cell-cast is danged expensive - I haven't found it for anything under $7/sq. ft. for 3/8" material.  Continuous-cast, on the other hand, can be had for just over $4/ sq. ft. for 3/8", and extruded less than that.  Other than the "gee-whiz" factor, is there a compelling reason to go with cell-cast for this project? <Cast acrylic, continuous cast acrylic and extruded acrylic are types of manufacturing processes. Each process is made from acrylic with different properties and subsequently show different characteristics in the fabrication process and in the finished products. Cast acrylic is the most dense and therefore the strongest. It also tends to bond with the strongest seams. For aquarium applications use domestic brands (Polycast, Acrylite GP, Plexiglas G material) I use the Plexiglas G most frequently. Continuous cast material have a density close to Cast materials. (Lucite material) Good for small aquariums, filters and museum quality display cases. Extruded is an inexpensive low-density material for Point of purchase displays, signs etc. I just don't think with extruded that you will get the attachment you need with the water pressure.> What will be the disadvantages if I use continuous cast?  I'm leaning away from extruded - is there a particular brand that would justify my rethinking this?  If cell-cast is really that much better/easier to work with/more stable over the long term/other, I can convince myself to spend the extra money (over continuous-cast), but why spend unnecessarily?  Should I spend any time looking at Lexan or other polycarbonates, or is that super-duper-extreme overkill? <Lexan is beautiful but sooooo expensive. Frankly I can't touch it here.> If you have any other suggestions, comments, guidance, or whatever, I'd appreciate hearing them. <I think you'll be happy with the thinner Plexiglas for this particular project.> Once again, thanks for your fantastic site!  I noticed your "support this site" link at the bottom of the homepage.  Is it new, or have I been that inattentive?  I'll be chipping in as soon as I clear it with the Bride. <We are trying hard to keep the site free and of course the answers. But it takes a large amount of money to maintain this site. I'm glad you find the site helpful and please let me know what you do and how it works. MacL> Glen Building  a large glass tank I am planning to build a 180 gallon glass aquarium. <Hey Mike, MacL here with you today.> I am new to the hobby and have tried to read as much as I can on water circulation/overflows. <Very smart.> I plan to do FOWLR, but would like to plan for the eventuality of going reef.  There is a lot of articles discouraging the use of hang on overflows. <I think that's because many of the overflows have problems.> I have read a little on Durso overflows, horizontal overflows, some of the DIY overflow designs.  It has all become a little confusing. <I can see where that would be.> In your experience/opinion, what are the best options for high flow, and as silent as possible overflows. <Personally I would drill the tank for optimum overflow and I'll be honest and tell you that my first tank originally was set up with a corner overflow and I will NEVER do that again.  I have ended up with a lot of detritus that I cannot get to clean it up in the overflow and I hate it. My newest tank will have the holes drilled into the main part of the tank and on the back. Let me know what you decide and if you have any more questions. MacL> - Building My First Acrylic Tank - Hi There, First off, I've been addicted to your site and check the new FAQ's daily for useful info.  Anyway,  I want to start building my own acrylic tanks and I have found a detailed instruction book on the web which shows exactly how to design right through to how to use the solvent's properly.  The only thing is I not completely sure on thickness.  Since this is my first tank I am starting small and would like to build about a 30-40 gal tank for my 2 dwarf gouramis, yo-yo loach and red fin shark.  My problem is that the instructions say that 1/4 inch is good enough for tanks up to I think 12 inches (I have misplaced this valuable info right now) and 3/8 inch is good up to 18 inches high.  I have read on your site that length of a tank doesn't matter only height but can I really build a tank that is 12 inches tall and 48 inches long out of 1/4 inch? <I wouldn't... it's always worth while to overbuild, have a margin of error. Likewise, the thickness will really be determined by the materials. You can get specifications from the acrylic manufacturers that will serve as a guide.> This wouldn't be the an ideal tank but for argument sake is this actually realistic.  I am obviously asking because 1/4 inch is so much cheaper but it will cost a lot more to clean up all the water when it lets go. <True.> I am still planning to use 1/4 inch for my first tank just so I don't waste a ton of money on a failed tank.  I will build a tank smaller with a divider (basically two separate tanks in one)  for my feeder fish (I know they're not the best but my red bellies refuse dead food) so that one side is QT for a month and then get moved to the "safe to eat side ". This would be about a 20-25 gal tank.  Your expertise would be greatly appreciated. <Well... as an experimental build, I'd encourage you to hone your skills with the cheaper materials. Tanks can be placed outside on a flat surface and filled with a hose to see how they hold up. Once you have your design and technique down, then go for the more expensive materials.> The real reason I want to start building my own is my piranhas are going to be needing a bigger tank soon (next 3-4 months) and I would like to build a tank for them which is going to be around 60-75gal as I only have two. Thank you in advance Mike P.S if you know of any ways to get my piranhas to eat anything but feeders that would be great.  I've tried mixing live with salmon chunks, krill they eat sometimes, but usually they refuse and then the fin nipping and body wounds begin.  Starving is out of the question as one has just recovered from an eye injury caused buy the other during my attempt to starve them so they would eat something else.  They are about 4 and 4.5-5 inches long right now and GROWING!  Thanks! <Is perhaps the major drawback of piranhas... think your plan to quarantine feeders may be your best bet, that and continue trying to mix in other foods from time to time. Cheers, J -- > Bonding Silicone/Lexan Plexiglas Could you tell me if silicone will attach Lexan Plexiglas to a glass aquarium or if you can only attach glass to glass with silicone? Thanks, Amy <Silicone will weakly bond Acrylics, but are not to be trusted in aquarium applications of any real size/depth. Solvents for this purpose are the route to go. Bob Fenner> Finding Aquarium hardware/gadgets Dear Sir or Madam: I am looking for a clamp or bracket that will secure a drain hose to my refugium sump.  The bracket must fit over the top of the glass tank and must have a ring or clamp that I can use to secure a 1" or 1-1/4" drain hose.  In most refugiums, this function is performed by a bulkhead that is secured by a horizontal plastic or glass cover over the tank.  Such a horizontal cover is impractical for most do-it-yourself downstream refugiums and I am looking for a simpler solution.  If you know where I can obtain such a bracket or clamp, I would appreciate it. Thanks very much. Regards, Paul. < For any kind of bracket or gadget I always check out aquatic eco systems @ aquaticeco.com. This is a great site for DIY aquarists. Get their catalog.-Chuck> DIY 180 all glass tank 72X24X24 I am considering building an all glass tank 72x24x24.  I have a relative in the glass business with access to automated cutting equip, drilling, sanding, tempering, etc.   <Great> I don't think he personally knows much about the aquarium industry because they don't specialize in that. <Many uses, subspecialties>   However, based on the above info., I think I can get a good deal on glass.   It would cost no more for tempered glass vs. plate glass.  If I decided to have it drilled, he could do that before tempering.  My questions:  Is it advisable to do an all tempered glass aquarium instead of an all plate glass? <Mmm, not necessarily> If all tempered is o.k., then could I go 3/8" tempered glass instead of 1/2" plate since it is 10x stronger?  Is it safe to use 3/8" plate glass on 180 gallon? <The 3/8 tempered would do, especially if you're building a frame to set it all in, but if it were me, mine, I'd go with the 1/2"... likely no more expensive, and will bow much less> Would the answer to any of these questions change, and if so how, if the tank dimensions were changed to 72X30X24 (L X W X H)-225 GALLON? I have heard, if you exceed 30" in H and/or W that it requires special engineering.  What is your take on that question? <Theoretically the width is structurally unimportant... as long as the bottom is supported evenly (perhaps a bit of foam sheet over a piece of ply, supported underneath... Only height increases stress on the glass. Bob Fenner>

Re: DIY 180 all glass tank 72X24X24 Thank you very much for taking the time on these questions.   A couple of follow-up questions: If it were you, would you go fully tempered 1/2" tempered tank or fully 1/2" plate glass tank, or some other combination? <If the same price, take the tempered for sure> Is Starphire glass or lamination significantly any better visually viewing tank inhabitants than tempered or plate glass? <Yes, it is> Is tempered vs. plate significantly any worse visually viewing tank inhabitants? <Virtually no difference> Lastly, for a beginner like myself, would you recommend constructing a tank of the dimensions listed, or is it simply too risky? <Not very risky... but might get some help with your first try at siliconing... or practice making a smaller tank/sump, or two... build the top (sides, front, back) on top of the bottom... use either wood working clamps or substantial strength tape to hold the pieces together, taking apart, doing one joint at a time, re-securing it with clamps/tape... allow to set for a day, invert and re-square with the bottom, have some friends help you lift the bottom for the bead there... allow to set... run a bead along the entire inner seams. Bob Fenner>

Re: DIY 180 all glass tank 72X24X24 I'm sorry about the over-kill, but I want to get this right.  Let me read back to you what I think you are saying with the construction.  The final tank will have all plates resting on top of the bottom plate.  The ends will be on top of the bottom plate in between the front & back plates. Step 1: silicone- "joint" is where the bottom edges of (Front, Back, Side) plates touch the bottom plate & the end plate edges touch the ends of each side of the front/back plate- let cure.  Step 2: silicone "joints" -the bottom plate to the previously siliconed front, back, side plates-let cure. Step 3: run a bead of silicone to all interior 90 deg angles where glass meets, running finger along in one continuous motion to smooth into corners- <Or a tongue-depressor, popsicle stick... and then after curing (a day or so) trim off the excess with single-edge razors> let cure for 48hrs before water test.  In other words, there is silicone on all glass surfaces where glass meets glass.  Would you recommend putting 2" strips of glass all around the top edges (not resting on top, but within the tank)  AND/OR  2  6" pieces of glass 1/3 of the way in from each side, connected to front & back panes for support? <Yes... even if building and setting the tank within some sort of frame. Bob Fenner>

Re: DIY 180 all glass tank 72X24X24 Thanks for spending so much time with me on this.  I tend to be a little retentive, but I don't want this blowing out all over my floor. Thanks again!! <Glad to help. Bob Fenner>

Acrylic pricing In my never ending search for better pricing on acrylic sheet, I have noticed a great difference in pricing by web searching. Is the only difference the competition between companies in their area? Or are there other circumstances that I should be aware of. <There is some local variation, but the trade in acrylic is highly layered in terms of master distribution, volume discounting> I have found one company out of Utah that sells a 4x8x1/2 sheet of cell cast for about $195 + shipping (truck line) and free cutting down to 24 x 48 for UPS shipping. So far this is the best deal I have come across. <This is indeed a deal... do check re the quality of the sheet however... buy brand name/s if you can... as there is some important variation in this product... some is quite flexible... some more soft, easier to scratch> From a business point of view, are there any lower prices out there to either maximize the bottom line or sell the end product at a lower price than the competitor? What info if any can you give me? Thanks again for your glorified answers oh wonderful master. <Good questions... as I don't have ready answers (!)... if you can deal in volume (not likely), there is quite a bit of "wiggle room" in negotiating. Bob Fenner>

Re: acrylic pricing I emailed this company in Utah and they wrote back they carry Lucite L, Chemcast and an import sheet. What is the best of the 3? and are they good for aquariums? <Very likely the Lucite L... there are specifications for all acrylic... you should request these spec.s and endeavor to understand what they represent. Bob Fenner>

Acrylic pricing update would I contact the manufacture directly for the specs? <Joe, not to step in here but just wanted to let you know some things. I'm sure Bob will also jump on this question.  Acrylic pricing is currently going through the roof because as you know it is an oil based product. I know that the cost of the custom tanks we've been making has pretty gone up simply because prices of acrylic have gone up so high. Most local plastic places will meet online prices or come pretty darn close and its pretty standard for most acrylic places to do at least three "cuts" per sheet. Also, generally if you buy more than one sheet you can get them for a much better price than if you just buy one sheet. They generally have prices for one sheet, two to nine sheets and then nine and above sheets.   Most of the specs on acrylic brands can be found online because most of these companies have gone on the web. But let me also make you aware of something that's out here recently and I'm not telling you that this company is guilty of it, just making you aware of what to ask. Make sure you know the age of the acrylic.  While acrylic doesn't really age there can be problems with what's been on the acrylic while it is sitting around so be sure and ask the AGE of the acrylic that these gentleman are selling.  Also, there are rumored to be problems with the imported acrylic and gluing. I personally haven't used it so can't tell you whether that is the case or not. One thing I look at closely when I look at acrylic specs is the ability of light to pass clearly through it. Just my two cents.  MacL> Re: acrylic pricing would I contact the manufacture directly for the specs? <You could, yes. They should be available on the Net though, and distributors have these as well. Bob Fenner> Re: acrylic pricing I went to the manufactures websites for Lucite and Chemcast and Lucite seems to be the better of the two products. Chemcast as far as I can tell is an import from Mexico. <Yes. Bob Fenner>

DIY Plywood tank Finally, I found someone to answer a couple of questions.  I want to build a 180 gallon plywood aquarium and have bought 3/4 inch plywood for the frame, but the tank height is 24 inches, width is 24 inches and length is 72 inches. <Mmm, I'd trade in the three-quarter for one inch ply... much less bowing>   Not sure of the proper cutting measurements for exact fit for the lighting <Mmm, what? Light fixtures will likely be four feet in length if fluorescents are used... you could overlap these> and to order the glass which I think is 3/4 inch thick, right? <Glass or acrylic, with how much "edge" to it? That is, the border wood that you will cut out for fitting the viewing panel? Likely four inches or so... you could use half inch> It should weigh 2100 lbs.  But before I put the epoxy coating on can I use a wood filler that is all season durability with one fill application for no shrinkage, stains and sands will accept screws and is water and mildew resistant.  It is made by Lepage.  Then can I put an epoxy coating over it.  Or will this be poisonous to my fish. <The label should state yes/no... there are epoxies that are entirely safe once cured> The 4 by 8 sheet is still in my living room and I need to get it cut to the proper dimensions very soon or I will be sleeping in the dog house. <Trade it in!>   I never built one before and I can only get cutting dimensions for the 140 gallon aquarium. <Uhh, draw all out in paper... make the two side panels fit inside... have top pieces (four) fit on top of the bottom... how about braces? I would run two pieces... four inches thick, on the inside near top (down a couple of inches) on the front and back...> I will need a stand to put this thing on somewhere and all the ideas for the pumps and everything to go with it. <Either get some help here... four by four wood and carriage bolts or welded metal... powder coated...>   I am not very computer oriented so if you could help me get this built it would save me on building a bigger doghouse. Thanks. ASAP please respond! <Read through Ozreef.org for much more DIY input here. Bob Fenner>

DIY Aquarium Construction Books? 11/26/04 WWM Guys...Great job!  Thanks for all the information I have gathered over the years.  Funny this is only my second time requesting info.  Hmmm. <all good... a resourceful person - great to read/know :)> I have combed every page of the internet (literally, short gentle strokes) and cannot find a direct reference to a book about/containing information on glass aquarium construction.  I see indirect references on WWM about such books existing, but I just cannot find one.  Does anyone have such a reference? Thank you, Chris <there is an excellent aquarium reference called the "Living Aquarium" published at one point by Crescent Books (hmmm.. back in the 1980's as I recall, though reprinted more than  a few times). It includes a VERY thorough address of building all types of aquaria: glass, fiberglass, wood, insulated, etc. I have seen it for sale recently on Amazon, Aldibris, etc. Anthony> Re: To brace or not to brace, actually to use or not to use Hi Bob <Chris> Thought I'd do this as a reply to your last email, rather than a new email, so you can see the texts of our previous exchanges. <Okay> Well, as of this evening, tank construction has finally begun. But problems have emerged, and I would really value your advice. I have used this glass supplier for a number of projects, but never for aquarium glass. I've always found their cutting accurate, and therefore this time I just quickly checked for overall dimensions, not for right angles on faces or edges. MISTAKE! A number of the glass edges are not at right angles to the face, and two of the sheets - a side and a front - are not perfectly rectangular. This means that the front glass - the final piece, and therefore the one where the mistakes accumulated - has masses of air bubbles in the silicon seal which I could not eliminate - even when banging pretty hard with a rubber hammer. <... not good> Where some of these bubbles reach the outside of the seam - inside and/or outside the tank - I intend to run more silicon into the gaps tomorrow. But numerous bubbles will undoubtedly remain. How disastrous is this? And if you think it is disastrous, what can I do about it? <Can be real trouble... the only real strength in these constructs is the silicone between the glass to glass surface area... less of this area, or more gap between the sheets, bubbles... equals less strength. And just for future reference, was I wrong to keep my bead of silicon to 1/4 inch for 1/2 inch glass? Should my bead of silicon have been of the same thickness as the glass (1/2 inch)? <Mmm, nope to all... as stated, the real strength of these joints is just a smear of silicone... the rest of the material is to protect, more or less, cutting into this area (between the glass sheets). Some tank manufacturers in Europe like Juwel, actually leave off any "extra" silicone... and folks who know how to use silicone really well, can make a whole bunch of tanks whereas sloppy folks (like myself) don't get near as much per volume of silicone> At the back left of the tank, where the side piece of glass is not perfectly rectangular, the gap at the bottom is 3 mm (1/8 inch), but that can be filled with silicon. Again, how disastrous is that? <Can be tremendous... I encourage you to make the current tank into a terrarium... or a snake et al. enclosure... really... and start over with panels that will leave NO gaps> And just to end my tale of woe, the left side piece is 4 Mmm (3/16 inch) above the top edge of the back glass, and the right side piece is 3mm above the top edge of the back glass. Which means that if I run my bracing strip along the top edge of the glass (as we discussed earlier), there would be a 3-4 mm silicon-filled gap between the bracing strip and the top edge of the back glass. Any thoughts on this? <This is not so much of a big deal... and some more bracing can be cut, fit, siliconed to fit inside and attached to this "on top" bracing if so desired. HOWEVER, I would NOT use this tank with the gaps stated as a water-filled container. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Bob Fenner> Thanks in advance for your help, Chris

Will people buy dosing pumps? I recently started shopping for dosing pumps and it has been somewhat frustrating.  I wanted a good dosing pump for adding calcium and buffer while I am out of town... which is almost every other week.  My wife doesn't like messing with my tank!   There is really only one good pump on the market that I could find...made by SpectraPure.  It does appear to be a great pump, but very very expensive!   And it only comes with one pump head!!!  You have to pay even more for a second pump to connect to it. However, even this great little pump from SpectraPure has its limitations. The lowest volume it can pump per day is a lot more than I need to dose for my little 26 gallon reef tank.   So really there are zero options available for small tanks.  I looked at a lot of the medical dosing pumps being sold for aquarium use and even those will not work for me without modifications, they pump too much per day too... even at their lowest settings.  So I decided to design my own system. << Risky, but I love people willing to put forth effort to make their own items. >> It didn't take long.  My design has a two channel timer which allows independent control of two little peri pumps. The pumps are pretty cool.   They are tiny!   They only deliver .05 ml / minute.  They are extremely accurate for dosing.  The motors are continuous duty and they are almost silent.   So basically my system will allow anywhere dosing from .05 ml per day all the way up to 72 ml per day...per pump head.  My timer will allow for up to 112 on/off cycles per week.  More than sufficient for what I need it for.  The timer I am using just happens to be perfect for this application, most people would think it was purpose designed for my system, but it is actually made for controlling Air Conditioning systems.  No one would ever know it though, it is perfect.  You would swear it was made for controlling two pumps.   Anyway, I have figured out that this would be a unique product for me to start marketing and manufacturing.  I have already negotiated discounts with the manufacturer of the timer, the pump, and I am working with a company on designing and manufacturing the injection molded cases for this system.  Right now it looks like I will be able to sell the units for around $175 and make a very hefty profit even at that low price.  It will be easy to make over a thousand units per year just as a side job for me.  Production could go way up with just one employee.  The way I've designed this thing I know it wouldn't take more than three minutes to assemble each system.  I am trying to figure out what the demand will be for this product. << Very low.  I know that serious aquarists like the idea, but I think the general consumer will not be interested. >>  How can I define my market? << Well this needs to be market to people with money.  Some pet stores gear towards cheap new systems, other stores gear towards high end retail.  You'll definitely want the later. >>  With good advertising how many could I expect to sell per year? << No idea.  I guess this is a new frontier. >> What does it cost to advertise on your site and others? << Now that is your best move.  We have that info on the home page here, or you can just email back with advertising questions, and Bob can help you.  I know we are accepting new sponsors for the Conscientious Aquarist online magazine, so that would be a perfect place to advertise. >> I want to know your thoughts...you have helped me before and you obviously know your stuff about the aquarium industry.  Does this idea/product sound like the basis of a good company. << It does, especially as a small home scale product.  You will have a very small market, but you'll be the only one in the market. >> Jeff Hutcherson        <<  Blundell  >>

Diy tanks Hi Bob! <Hi Joe> I am in the planning stages of setting up a reef system.  I have read most of your Conscientious Marine Aquarist and have been engrossed in the FAQs on Wet Web Media.  Both of which have been of great help to me in planning a system for my small world. <Glad they're of service> First question:  I am a diy guy and would like to build a tank myself.  Can the acrylic used for a salt water tank be Plexiglas or must it be Lexan? <Either one... more a brand name than a different formulation> I plan on incorporating a above tank refugium with a 75 gal. reef tank.  In it I plan on having a 3 in. sand bed, a piece or two of live rock or plant rock, a mangrove or two and some sea grass.   <Mmm, do (re)consider the mangrove... really needs more sand depth> The Refugium will be 24 in. X 18 in. and Have about seven inches of water over the sand bed and overflow into the main tank.  This would give me about 10 gal. of water in the Refugium. <If space permits, do make the refugium sump MUCH larger... can't be too big> Is this big enough to use as a biological filter for my main, and besides cucumbers and hermits what else should I put in the second tank to either act as filtration, maintenance and food source for a reef and some fish? <Honestly... you'd be better off switching the tanks for function... with the 75 as the refugium... I say shoot for at least about half the volume of the main/display tank for your refugium> I plan on Having protein Skimmer to help carry the load.  Probably a Red Sea Berlin turbo or classic. Thank you for this great site. Joe <Thank you for being part of it along with me. Bob Fenner>

Re: diy HI again! How much sand would the mangroves require?  Are they a good source of filtration or would I be better off with a variety of other plants? What in your opinion is best suited for a refugium that functions as a filter and food source? <All this and more is archived on our site, WetWebMedia.com, pls peruse the articles and FAQs there> thank you for sharing you insight! Joe <Glad to share. Bob Fenner>

Help (looking for aquarium silicone) Sir:  Can you help me to find silicone glue to fix a big glass aquarium  as size [320*120*40]c.m. Please?   (L.H.W) Thank you.  Regard Wadi Almustaqbal Glass Co .                     <Hello.  I don't know of a specific source outside of the USA, but GE brand makes a pure silicone product that is widely available here and should be outside of the US as well.  Be sure that you find the type that does not contain any fungicide (generally, you want the kind for windows, not for bathrooms.)  I hope this is helpful.  Adam>

Looking for name of acrylic solvent Dear Sir,       I  am a manufacturer of aquariums in India, of glass and like to go for acrylic aquariums as acrylic are very clear visibility , kindly can you help me with the name of solvent used to  fix the acrylic sheets, if any reputed company brand like 3m or Dow corning, for which I will be most thankful thanking you, yours sincerely, Nahid. <Most folks, companies "in the States" (U.S.) use Weld-On products... they come in different viscosities (thicknesses)... For many projects I use the # 80 (more gel-like...). Bob Fenner>

- Aquarium Paint - I am planning to add a custom spillway (overflow) to my tank to keep the surface of the water clean. I am unable to find colored acrylic locally and was wondering if I could paint clear acrylic to match the back of my tank. <You certainly could.> Both sides of the acrylic are in contact with the water, so do you have any ideas what kind of paint is fish-safe for such a thing and where I can get it? <There are epoxy paints that are suitable for pools... not sure where you would get it, I'd start looking in the yellow pages, I found several putting the phrase "epoxy paints" into Google.> I though maybe 100% acrylic paint or the same paint used for colored gravel and aquarium ornaments, but I don't know where to get the later. <Colored gravel is usually coated with an epoxy-based paint - that's what you need to find.> Thanks, Josh <Cheers, J -- >

- Drilling Advice - Hi crew members I am going to buy a 20 gallon long tank and have it drilled. <Hmm... this is not an ideal tank for drilling. The glass used in smaller tanks is rather thin, and even 'cheap' [float glass rather than rolled or tempered] which tends to make the panels brittle. Your best bet for getting the holes cut is to disassemble the tank, then re-silicone it together once the holes are cut.> I would like one hole for an overflow down to my sump. Then have another hole drilled for a closed loop. I do not want powerheads in my tank as you can see. <It wasn't obvious until you mentioned it ;-) > The sump will be 10 gallons. Would the hole for the overflow to the sump be ok at 1". <I think so.> And when you drill for a 1" bulkhead what size should the hole be? <1.5"> Is the same size hole for the closed loop ok? <Sure, but you could size it down to 3/4"> Or would bigger be better. <Larger would likely give you trouble - weaken the panel.> I want 15-20 times turnover. So I was going to get a mag 4 to use as the closed loop pump. Is that too much or too little? <It's going to be quite a bit - you may be challenged to keep the water in the tank rather than have it slosh over the sides. The fluid dynamics of such a small box are going to be a challenge. Any chance I can convince you to try all this with a larger tank? Your overall plan is good, but I'd really like to see you attempt this with something larger.> The tank is going to have zoanthids mostly. No fish. Also would it be ok to drill the overflow in the side pane of the glass just about 1/2" below the top of the glass? <Sure.> The hole for the closed loop can go anywhere right? <For safety's sake, I'd put that just below the water line. If you put the bulkhead in the bottom of the tank and something in your plumbing fails, you will be quite sad.> Thanks, Karl <Cheers, J -- >

- Drilling Advice, Follow-up - Hello JasonC <Hi.> Thank you for the fast reply. <My pleasure.> My hotmail account is not working good and I was afraid you guys didn't get my last email. I know the 20 gallon tank is not a great size to work with. It is all I have the room for and am allowed in my rental. <Fair enough.> It is an acrylic tank so drilling should be better right? <Oh sure, much better.> And if I went for a 3/4 hole for the closed loop and used a Mag 3 (350gph) would that be better or more safe so that water does no splash around. <I would plumb it in externally at first so you can experiment before you commit to drilling the hole. The Mag 4 isn't really a beefy pump and if I recall the outlet is 3/4" so you're not really going to be holding it back much.> Thank you again Karl <Cheers, J -- >

Silicone and Acrylic Hello Bob, Anthony, and Crew. I hope things are well with you all. <Yes. Thank you> I have a quick question about sump construction. I have a large glass sump plumbed for use as a wet/dry filter, and I want to add some features to it (baffles, etc.). Is it possible to make those baffles out of acrylic and just use silicone to adhere it to the glass? <Yes. It's fine for the use you intend... not so for just adhering acrylic to other acrylic (as in an all-acrylic sump)> Thanks for any help you can provide! P.S....... Anthony, I like the fact that your book is spiral bound. I wish more books were finished in that fashion. I know that's not a major point, and it is probably viewed as less preferable in some circles to bind it that way, but it surely is convenient as is. Thanks again. <I really like such guide books to "lay flat" and stay that way (for use). Bob Fenner>

Glue problems inside aquarium Hi, I am currently building a 400 liter cichlid aquarium (1200mm x 650mm (height) x 550mm from 10mm plate (secondhand but in good condition).  I have a few problems… <Okay> 1. The manufacturer of the RTV sealant has advised me that their product while being a great sealant does not have the structural strength to hold together & will tear under load… as I live in New Zealand I have the consumer guarantees act which may help recover some of the cost of building an alloy frame (shop manager is prepared to negotiate on the solution ($400 NZD alloy frame) as his staff insisted I use “this product (FOZROC)” it is rated as safe for aquarium use).  I am hoping this is not pushing the envelope too far for the structural strength of the glass, if it is I have only one option available which would be to under fill the tank. <... you are too close to comfort IMO/E with this height and thickness of glass... the RTV (732 designation in the U.S.) is not so much an issue (along with a frame, but the glass itself... is it simple "float" or something more tough (tempered, laminated)?> 2. I am using schist (slatey stuff) for building the inside of the tank but I don’t know what type of glue I can safely use to hold it all together.  The rock is safe for fish as I have been using it for years no problem.   The silicone manufacturer told me some type of epoxy resin may be ok once fully cured…  I phoned Selleys (an epoxy resin & sealant manufacturer) to ask their advice and they said none of their products are suitable.  Can you help.  I’m falling further & further behind with this project due to these setbacks (among others) and my flat’s lounge is a bombsite of fish tank & rock etc…, you know the drill I’m sure. <Yes... am familiar. Aquariums were made with slate bottoms in the States years back, but I encourage you to have the entire tank fabricated of glass and silicone in the slate in areas where you wish onto the glass itself...> 3. I had been going to use polystyrene under the tank but… am thinking of using a um foam rubber sleeping mat instead it compresses under pressure and is approx 10mm thick it will hopefully compress inside the base of the new frame if I cut it to fit perfectly.   <Good idea> The tank will have rock towers etc… & is going to contain a lot of rockwork which I had planned to use silicone on the points which are load bearing on the glass base of the tank (prevent scratches & avoiding hard point loading). <Also a good plan> 4. The rock I am trying to glue together is porous hence one of the reasons for seeking something which will handle that task in a wet environment.  We have been having a number of earthquakes (up to 7.1) lately which is another reason for wanting to ensure structural security. <Yikes... am writing you from California... where the ground shakes occasionally as well... Any possibility of your going with Lexan/Perspex/Acrylic instead? Do arrange a "three dimensional" stand and attachment of same to the building where the tank is going> I will be asking the glue to hold things which otherwise would not ordinarily be possible (some very intricate rockwork & big ledges). <These should not prove problematical with your care in building them... even if they should fall in the filled tank. The aquarium itself and its placement (due to quakes) is much more of a concern. Let's keep chatting this back and forth if you'd like, till your options and their apparent potential troubles are clear. Bob Fenner> Cheers Jim

Re: glue problems inside aquarium Hello again, <Howdy> Tank construction technique: I am planning on putting a 10mm glass re-enforcing strip inside the top of the tank so although the height (front pane not including tank bottom ie glass dimensions) is 655mm overall the strip will be from 625mm to 635mm from the bottom as that should give better strength.  Possible I could go to (bottom edge of re-enforce strip) as far down as 600 from the bottom but I would prefer to stay up a little more. Framing is not going to happen.  The goo supplier has told me they will replace existing Fozroc with Dow Corning 1080 translucent (due in today). <Much better> 10mm glass is the only option available it is standard shop window glass unlaminated & untoughened.  First time round gluing I had 1.5mm glue joints to allow for irregularities & some flexibility. Side panels sit on top of the bottom with a re-enforcing strip inside (12mm strips along front & rear), end panels fit inside the sides. <Mmm, this height is fine for the suggested application... something like (equivalent) to 7/16 inch thick for a tank twenty four inches tall...> Water level will likely be at around 600mm (610mm if you measure from the underside of the tank). I am unable to glue the rockwork together as with test pieces both the bond and the rock structure failed tests. <Good idea you tested. You can use epoxies, silicone rubber...> I am now planning getting a tree stump and using limestone (dolomite) and terracotta pots for the interior. Orange ish  terracotta & white limestone should give good contrasts If I put in half a tank worth of plant pots (local shop has offered me clearance stock which is half price at a further 80% reduction) is this likely to give me water quality problems? <Not the terra cotta pots. They're used as spawning media for various freshwater species around the world> The shop deals in el cheapo bulk junk quality goods.  Basically I'm planning to stack them over 300mm deep along the back of the tank & around the roots of the log (if I can access underwater cutting equipment to retrieve my stump (from 2 - 10m in depth there is a choice from around 100 stumps all handy to vehicle access all submerged, willow I think). <Quite a project!> Earthquake proofing.  The guy building the stand reasons it should be fine as the stand is only 620mm high & will be 600mm wide.  My 3 foot tank is very precariously perched on small drawers (only the front corners of the tank fully supported & 2/3 of the sides (against a wall though) all this perches on bricks & I've had no problems, he will be building the base for maximum strength and stability.  The last few quakes (we've had heaps lately) haven't been sharp here more steady shaking.  Enough to empty supermarket shelves but not cause serious damage as there is no high-rise here. <Yikes> Cheers Jim <You should be okay all away around here. Bob Fenner>

Glass Thickness Usage... Hi, Ok maybe this will help, it seems mm to inches may not be helping us here. Glass thickness 10mm = 6/16ths (remeasured in imperial) 7/16ths is 12mm from what I can figure.  I had wanted to use 12mm but it was very expensive and hard to source. <Okay> I have previously had (from the same glass 10mm (6/16ths)) a tank which measured 72 inches by 24 inches by 24 inches, (or 1830mm x 610 x 610mm) this tank had a 10mm strip right round which sat on top of the glass with a crosspiece across the middle to prevent bowing, it was full to within 2 inches of the top.  Tank now sold due to relocation issues.  I have not planned a crosspiece for this new aquarium. <I would> Hence it was on this which I based 50mm extra height minus 600mm length should be a significant reduction in stress over length therefore it should be fine (well that was my reasoning / guesswork). The tank is therefore in inches 26 inches high at the rim and 47 1/4 inches in length. <I would still brace it... front to back> I have an equation for calculating to various dimensions however I can't drive it (I sucked at physics) http://www.fnzas.org.nz/glassthickness.0.html that link takes you to it should you find it interesting. I would be very curious to know the safety factor on the current plan. <Yes... very interesting> I take it by <much better> you are referring to the Dow Corning 1080. It may (still hasn't arrived days late) be neutral cure as they got the wrong one in (white) earlier in the week which is neutral cure. I've yet to decide on what species and how many algae feeders I will need (the tank will be brightly lit without CO2 injection but with potted plants e.g. Java Fern (no pot) and Vallisneria plus whatever else I can get which will handle hard water ph 8.2. Any suggestions on species for algae (many fish are unavailable here) feeders? <My opinions on such are posted on WetWebMedia.com, under the freshwater subweb (linked on the homepage)... you can follow the index from there> I've still to decide on additional species of cichlid & the total number of fishes the tank will support. Current 3 foot tank (1 foot wide) has 7 fish. Filtration:  2 canister filters doing 1000 liters per hour each.   Media at this time unknown but bio mechanical, chemical e.g. carbon or similar. Possibly an air stone but undecided. Fish stock on average 6 inches in length. I've heard 1 inch of fish per foot of surface area but... that theory allows for 1 or 2 fish only which is not applicable for a 400 liter tank. I want to go to 80% of maximum capacity for stock. <Less is better as the saying goes> Plan B on the log retrieval cutting gear is going to cost me $300 per hour which is way excessive.  I will likely find something dead & sink it in a lake to 100m depth to saturate or use baking soda or both. <You might look about for artificial or real submersed wood... such is sold (like "Mopani" wood out of Africa) in the interest> Dunno it depends on what I find when I re-dive the log jam.  Hand saw will jam & be a pox to drive in a current (its in a river). Gotta go to work <Very interesting project indeed> Thank you so much for your help thus far. Cheers Jim. <Thank you. Bob Fenner>

Aquarium of size 14ft x 3.5ft x 5ft Hi, I am Meeta Rao for Mumbai - India. I want to build an aquarium of size - length 14ft x width 3.5ft x height 5ft. I want to know what thickness of glass will be required to make this aquarium. Also approximately how much it will cost in US$. Since this is going to be a marine aquarium, if you could please tell me what kind of filtration would be required for this aquarium. Waiting for your reply. Thanks Meeta. <There are a few ways to build such a size system (different materials like block, metal-frame, acrylic... glass viewing panels...) with varying costs, need for specialty help. Do you want to be able to see into all four sides? Or just one? Is this to be a permanent install or do you want to be able to move it at some point? If money is no object, I would have it fabricated out of acrylic... about 1 1/2" thickness all the way around (including a top with cut outs for access). Much to be said re your possibilities for filtration. What sorts of life do you intend to keep? What is your background in the hobby? Bob Fenner>

Drilling Acrylic Can anyone offer some experience/advice for the placement of holes in acrylic tanks in relation to the seams? I'm setting up a large reef system and I'm plumbing 1 inch bulkhead returns (two per end) in the ends of the 3/4 inch acrylic tank. I want to place the bulkheads as high as I can and was wondering if I can drill the holes right next to the top seam? My understanding is once acrylic is solvent glued it's essentially all one piece, yes? Thanks! Eric <My general "rule of thumb" is to leave gaps at least as wide as the cut out diameter from seams. You can adjust the water height in the system with plumbing distal to the tank if this is a/the concern... either ell's, tee's or valves. Bob Fenner>

Liner, glass, sealant I figured you might be the guy to know the answer. :) Does silicone bond glass to rubber pond liners, so you can make a plywood box, line it with the liner, including the front braces, and glue a front glass panel on? <Not really... the short answer: No. For practical purposes one needs to build/have built a "nestable" race that can be "pulled together" with fasteners to "pinch the liner to the viewing panel (better acrylic than glass). THIS can/should be filled with 100% silicone sealant... without the structure to hold glass and liner together though, all will pull apart in time. Bob> David E. Boruchowitz

- DIY Calcium Reactor - Dear Sir,                                                                       28-07-2003 I am a marine hobbyist from India, and like to go for a reef aquarium, as you know keeping reef aquarium is very difficult, as we do not get calcium reactors or any marine equipment, if we by chance get, we have to pay heavy price for it. <Understood.> Pls guide me can we make calcium reactors of our own , for which I will be much thankful. thanking you, yours sincerely Mr. Nahid <Please check here: http://ozreef.org/diy/calcium_reactor_caco3.html http://ozreef.org/diy/calcium_reactor_ca(oh)2.html http://trickstr.tripod.com/c_reactor.html http://home.comcast.net/~76fxe/reactor.htm Cheers, J -- >

Tank Construction, Glass Thickness, Etc. Hi crew <howdy> Thank you for all the help you provide us making it easier to survive this addictive hobby. <our pleasure> My questions are:  I'm building a new FO marine aquarium. the sizes are in cm 250x80x50 LxHxD I have already a protein skimmer and a UV . 1) How thick should my glass be? <because of the height exceeding 60cm, this will require much more expensive and thicker glass. Truly a custom specialist needed here for structural integrity. For width and heights under 60 cm, 15 mm glass is possible.> 2) What size of sump do I need if I will use it with bioballs? <sump size 20% minimum of display (closer to 40% would be far better)... and bio-balls should be held above water in a trickle tower (10% of tanks volume in media is recommended here)> 3) Is it good to have a plenum for a FO system in the sump or its not a necessity? <not necessary at all unless you expect a large fish load and the need for natural nitrate reduction. In which case you may simply need to investigate deep sand bed strategies (10-15cm sand minimum)> Thank you Viken <best regards, Anthony>

Hi, don't know if you can help me with this. tank builders in new York I would like to have a large tank built in my basement it would be 12 feet long 4 feet wide and 3 or 4 feet tall. the problem is it would have to be put together in the basement. <Can be done... hopefully you have access... a big-enough opening to move the viewing panels in...> I have checked a couple of place but the  prices I have been quoted are $16000 to  $20000 <Might seem reasonable soon> is it possible to get a system built like this for under $10000. <Mmm, yes. Especially if you do some of the work yourself. Materials can be had for less than ten k> my other option would be a indoor pond but then I would not be able to see through the side. it will be a marine system by the way. and I have noticed that you had mentioned to a few people that a shark system would cost at least $5000.00 <Consider making the structural "shell" out of block, rebar, concrete and mortar, with only the viewing panel/s of acrylic (my choice) or thick glass... with a "race" of sturdy plastic set in the tank to nestle, silicone the viewing panels against... Keep drawing up plans for this work, filtration, how you'll rig up electrics, lighting, change water... and the project will become clear. Bob Fenner>

The Bulkhead Question I am DIY-ing a filter for a 30 gallon.  I am considering this to be a practice run for the future and also a good way to understand the mechanics of filtration.  I am making a prefilter box out of Lucite CP.  I need to know for a 30 gallon what is the diameter of the hose I need from the prefilter to the input to my future sump. <1" hose is usually the way to go, and would be my recommendation> This might seem like a mundane question but I need specifics to draw things out. <best, Chris> Patrick Hand

- From Speaker Box to Aquarium?! - To whom it may concern: <Concerning Kevin today> I am a novice when it comes to acrylic tanks and I was wondering if you may be able to help me? <Shua, but I'm gonna warn ya, I'm a glass man all the way!> I recently acquired a 21in x 23in x 29in tank and I had some questions. I have been interested for quite some time in starting a fish tank, and was wondering if I could use this tank. Its previous use was to enclose a speaker which worked, to muffle some of its sound. in short it was a cover for a display piece. The size of the tank will allow it to hold about 60 gallons of water not including substrate or any other equipment. The panels of the tank are 3/8 inches thick. I believe the tank is made up of multiple panels rather than a molded or seamless piece. <They all are> my questions are: 1)Will the make up of this tank support this type of use.... is it strong enough to hold water? <Dunno, you may want to add some top bracing around the top. 2) Are there different methods of putting these tanks together... is one method better or stronger than the other?? <As in the construction of the tank itself or about filtration methodology? If it's the former, I'm no tank builder so I can't help you there. If it's the latter, the natural method (in its simplest terms) of live rock, live sand, and a protein skimmer is the way to be.> Any info you can provide me will be greatly appreciated!! <If there is any doubt about the structural integrity of this "speaker box", just go out and buy a brand new glass tank. They're cheap and come with warranties, no use spending lots of money to have this thing burst open and kill everything to save 50 bucks... -Kevin> Thank you for your time and consideration. Sincerely, Ebbie

What Paint to Use - 07/09/03 Hi guys, <Hi Jim, PF with you tonight> I've just recently purchased a 125 gal. aquarium, and I'm custom building a tank for my iguana that will sit above the aquarium, I'm using a combo of pre-laminated mdf and plexi glass sealed with 100% silicone sealant, I was wondering what kind of paint I should use on the MDF to completely seal the wood.  I was thinking of the 100% acrylic latex paint, but after reading some of the FAQ's I'm not sure if I need an epoxy paint to seal the wood.  If you could shed any light on the subject it would really help!! Oh sorry but one more thing, Filtration- I bought (2) Marineland magnum pro series with the two bio wheels which filter 60gal between the two bio wheels, is this enough or do I need another one or two of these filters Thank you very much Jim Eul <Well Jim, the acrylic sounds good, but the tank on top of a tank could be hard to get into. As for filtration, that depends on what your doing with your aquarium, the filtration needs for fresh water, and salt water vary greatly, heck, the filtration needs for different kinds of salt water tanks are numerous. I can answer your filtration question better when I know what you're doing with your aquarium. Have a good night, PF>

DIY Glass Tanks Bob I am new to your site and have looked through several of the FAQs but do not know where to post a question that you might be able to answer.  So I hope you do not mind the email.  If there is an appropriate place on your forums to post this please let me know. <Hey Stuart, you've got Gage today.  Feel free to shoot us emails with questions, there is a ton of info archived in our FAQs and many knowledgeable folks on our forums as well http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/  > I am interested in building a large tank, 94 by 36 by 48 inches high. Preferably out of glass. <Never done it myself, I am considering plywood and glass myself, GARF does not recommend making the tank taller than 36inches.> I am having trouble with the glass requirements.  Different tank builders have told me different specs, and I do not know which is needed.  One whom I am not sure I trust would uses standard ? inch glass.  2 others whose prices were in the stratosphere said they would use ? tempered glass.. <Error on the thicker heavier side.  From what I understand you cannot drill tempered glass, are you going to want drilled overflows?> So my question is; making the tank out of glass, with additional ? by 2inch gluing doublers, is ? inch glass adequate, or is tempered glass or thicker float glass needed?  3 top braces are planned.   If so would an additional steel frame around the tank be required? <Let me give you some links to some people who have more experience with this than myself. http://www.garf.org/ http://www.ozreef.org/diy/index.html#TANK  > Thank you for your time.  Any additional recommendations are welcome (I know don’t build it yourself :-) )  Thank you, Stuart <No way, Go for it!  Just be sure to test outside, thoroughly.  A carpet cleaner with good extraction power is always handy.  Best Regards, Gage>

Home-made Ecosystem Hey I just had a quick conceptual question concerning home-made do-it-yourself aquariums. Is it possible to set up a tank outside (to ensure lots of sunlight and rain) with some plants and algae to provide oxygen, and successfully keep fish without a filter? If so, what types of fish would be most suitable for such an endeavor? <Umm, sounds like a pond to me <G>. See here for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/Pond%20Sub%20Web.htm. Most ponds have some type of filtration.> Also, do you think that introducing some sort of quickly-reproducing insect larvae could eliminate the need for regular feeding (of flakes and other manufactured foods) <Refer to the link above> Thanks for your time,  Robert    <You're welcome, Don>

DIY: Acrylic thickness for 'fuge. Would 1/4" acrylic be suitable to build a 32l x 11w x 14h refugium/sump. <Should be fine, just use top bracing as well.> Manufacturers sites only consider tanks fully filled in their calculators, in which case this would call for 3/8. But The sump is essentially 3 smaller tanks( 2 dividers) plus baffles and a lid. <The dividers and baffles will help keep the tank from bowing, but you'll still get more bow than if you used 3/8. No biggie since it's going to be a 'fuge.> Just wanted your 3cents worth before I started gluing. <Good luck with the 'fuge! -Kevin> Thanks, Ken

Glass Thickness Information Hi Scott F <Hi there!> I think I found the glass thickness article you were trying to think of. It is from New Zealand (who would have thought it! (little bit of Australia vs. New Zealand rivalry is always fun :p (I'm an ozzie BTW))). <Oops...my "Seppo" ignorance strikes again...!Well- at least I was in the right hemisphere! LOL> The article is EXCELLENT. It has comprehensive explanations and equations and for those that are lazy they can just download a spreadsheet to do it all for them. The address is: http://www.fnzas.org.nz/glassthickness.0.html Cheers, Adam L <Yep- that's the one! Thanks so much for sharing it with our readers! Regards, Scott F>

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