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FAQs about DIY Tanks, Sumps... for Marine Systems 1

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 2, DIY Tanks/Sumps 3DIY 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 Tank: Design, Shape, Materials: Acrylic, Glass, Other... Tools, Location, By Make/Brand/Manufacturer Name, & Acrylic Tank Repair

A good idea to use a bit of foam for evening out surfaces

Aquarium Sealant, Epoxy  9/29/05 I have a tube of DAP silicone that is rated as suitable for aquariums.  However, it says on the tube that it is only good for aquariums that are less than 18" deep and 35 gallons. <An issue of implied liability limitation>    My tank is considerably larger than that.    Who makes a silicone that is suitable for deeper tanks?   <Nothing really>   When one visits the shark tank at a public aquaria, the corners seem to be sealed with silicone.    Which brand? <Brand is unimportant... 100% is 100%... I have used many different makers/licensers...> Are fish and aluminum incompatible?   <Mmm, not in all cases... with certain water quality, the presence of this metal can be quite toxic> And if so, what kind of epoxy would be suitable to coat the aluminum? Thomas W. Warner <Mmm, those made for underwater use ("boat") that lack anti-fouling compounds. Bob Fenner> Drilling an AGA follow up 10/7/04 Thanks for the response.  Is drilling the back of the tank something I can attempt, or is that best left to professionals? <It is fairly simple to do if you have a drill press (possible, but not recommended with a hand drill).  Most of the professionals have tripod mounted drills that avoid the problem of the depth of the neck on a drill press.  Price this service against the price of a diamond edged hole saw for drilling glass, and you will find that it is often cheaper to pay someone else.> Alternatively, I was thinking of upgrading to a 65 gal (36x18x24) which would fit my stand, with some modifications, and use the 40 gal (36x12x20) as a sump (plumbed thought the wall in my finished basement).  Any thoughts on that?  <Sounds like a nice plan.  Putting the sump in an basement or adjacent room cuts down on noise and often allows for much easier access.> Also, you say that MH are not necessary...I know, but I love the aesthetics that they deliver over VHO, PC (fluorescence in general).  Kind of like a computer...what's a kick-@#$ computer if you're staring at a 15 in Kmart special monitor!<Too true!  I certainly wasn't knocking MH or recommending against their use (I use them), I have just seen way too many examples of folks that think they need 1.21 Gigawatts of light over their tanks!  If you like the "glimmer lines" or other aesthetics of MH, go for it!> Although, someone from the LFS told me he didn't like MH because they Hum too loud (along with the sound from a couple of fans for cooling).  Then he says I'll need a chiller. That may be true, but the Chiller would be in the adjacent room anyway. <Most ballasts produce very little noise, and electronic ones are silent.  Super quite cooling fans can be had, and since you are plumbing through an adjacent wall anyway, you could put an exhaust fan in your "fish room".  If you have central AC and give some consideration to ventilating your hood, a chiller is not likely to be necessary.>  Personally, I like the hum of POWER...just not TOO much sound! Just can't beat the shimmer MH produce and you must admit, most corals benefit from MH...or is that not true? <Ahhh... the soothing sound of 60 cycles!  Some corals benefit from MH, some it doesn't matter and some may be harmed.  There is not lighting scheme (or any aspect of husbandry) that is ideal for all animals.  Be sure to acclimate low light corals to bright lights carefully.> Any preferences on in-sump skimmers? <Euro-reef, All-seas G series and Aqua-C all make very fine products.  Euro-reef (and the all-seas knock offs) are pricey, but keep in mind that they include a pump).> Thanks for the advice. <Always a pleasure.

Tip for checking for tempered glass Hello all: Reading the attached response I recalled a nice tip that I used when drilling my own glass aquarium. You can easily identify whether a piece of glass has been tempered or not by using 2 polar lenses. I used a camera polar lens and a polarized lens from a pair of cheap sunglasses. Place a lens on each side of the glass and rotate one while looking through it. If the glass is tempered you will notice a distinctive pattern that shows as you rotate the lens that was formed when the glass was tempered. If it isn't tempered, it will just look clear.   Try it out on an automobile window that is marked as safety glass to see what the pattern is like that you are looking for. Works like a charm. On my 90 all glass, none of the panels were tempered, I had the bottom drilled by a glass company for $10 / Hole. The glass company was even unaware of this little trick. Just thought I'd share. Have  a good day! Bill <Thank you for this. Will post for all's edification. Bob Fenner> Plywood tank Hi guys.. <A.J.> Thanks for putting your time and resources into the best aquatic information website ever...So many of my questions have been answered (some I didn't even know I had) by happily perusing the posts on your web site. I do have a question I could not find answered anywhere though... <Okay> I am planning on building a large plywood tank and do have some experience building them, as well as glass and acrylic tanks/sumps etc. I think I have looked at every plan available that I could and that find that many of them are structurally sound and tested methods. The main problem I see with building these tanks is of course sealing the non glass portion of these tanks. There are many methods the best I've used being several layers of epoxy or fiberglass resin, all of these work for sealing the wood but are very labor intensive. <I've used a few methods with plywood constructed tanks... like wood-glue or such jointing of corners along with good metal screws, then pre-made rolls (usually four inches wide) resined into the inside joints...> I had an idea, as yet untested that I thought I'd run by you. Basically it consists of structuring the plywood box with a glass front, but instead of sealing the inside with epoxy, line it with a 1/8 inch layer of acrylic or pvc. structurally this thin layer would do nothing. It is only to seal the wood. this would have the advantage of being easily drilled for overflow/bulkhead fittings. The obvious problem I see is what to do the actual sealing of the front glass to the acrylic sides and bottom. I don't think silicone will do the trick. Do you know of any kind of sealant product that will adhere to both glass and acrylic well enough to be used in this type of application? <I don't... though if you use PVC sheet instead (cheaper, and just as strong, serviceable for what you have in mind here), there are reasonable "welding" options for making the "shell" within the plywood/structural box as you describe... BTW there have been a few companies that fabricated tanks in a similar fashion (Aqua Decor and their mainly "bubble" tanks, our old company's Nature Etc, Inc. spun polyethylene tanks within furniture stands... They can/do work> Please tell me if you think this is impossible so I can get it out of my head, Thanks. A.J. Ginther <Look into the PVC sheeting possibility... a few folks use this material as a stand alone structural component (Quality Marine in Los Angeles most innovatively). Bob Fenner>

Re: Plywood tank Thanks for the reply.. <Welcome> Am I understanding this correctly? Are you suggesting I do the whole inside with pvc including the front piece, or are you saying I can adhere a front glass panel to the inner pvc panels somehow? <The latter. The glass/viewing panel (acrylic if you want) can be nestled into a bead of silicone, against the PVC sheet, with the PVC sheet in turn being supported (all but the cut-out for the glass) by the structural frame> I looked at clear pvc panels for the front and they are a little pricey for my needs. I already have the glass. <Look at the opaque sheets... you don't need the clear... and shop around (maybe online) for larger distributors. They're much cheaper. Bob Fenner> Thanks again A.J. Ginther

How to: build your own glass tanks    My name is A.J. and I am looking for some helpful info on building my own glass tank. <Okay>   Particularly in the aspect of placing the sides, front and back pieces on top of the bottom piece or the sides, back and front along the edges of the bottom. <I used to build these (back in the late sixties to the early seventies, with the advent of Silicone and cheap triple strength (replaced glass from companies doing such repairs) quarter inch... building the tanks on their bottoms (mainly to assure flush joints there) and the sides inside (for ease in holding all together while assembling... with or w/o wood-clamps... we used to use tape or nothing (!) on smaller tanks while assembling)> I read an article that told people to put a wooden dowel underneath the bottom piece of glass and assemble the all of the sides on the ends of the bottom piece to make sure that none of the weight would be on the bottom pane thus raising the bottom pane 1/8- 1/4 inch higher to prevent it from cracking. I am sure I have every thing else down pat except that one thing.  I would really appreciate your help in this matter <Raising or more popularly "floating" the bottom has a few advantages, mainly per the issue of how level and planar the device is where the tank will eventually be placed, filled... if you can be assured the "stand" bottom is both planar and level (I would still place a thin piece of foam under it...) then I would do away with raising/floating the bottom. Bob Fenner> A.J. Sacco

Tank Material Questions <Hi, MikeD here> we are building  a tank .we are getting quotes on  acrylic sheets. my question is do you prefer  glass or acrylic? I know there are pros and cons  to both .I would your preference <for me that's an easy one. My 300 is severely scratched, and personally, the only way I'd ever have another acrylic tank is if it was given to me! well, you asked!**grin**...that one almost caused a divorce all by itself and definitely contributed!)>. these  are  the measurements we are  getting  quotes on. 1 piece        1/2" x 35" x 47"     2 pieces      1/2" x 30" x 48"     2 pieces      1/2" x 30" x 35"    2 pieces      1/2" x 2" x 47"       2 pieces      1/2" x 2" x 35"

Can I build a 400 gal tank? Hi, could I construct a glass aquarium 72in. by 36in, by 36in, according to garf.org's directions? << I believe you could. >> I really want to build a huge aquarium so that I wont have to pay as much for a manufactured one, and so that I can keep huge marine fish. On GARF's calculator on aquarium capacity, this size tank came out to be 404 gallons I think. Do you think building a tank this size according to their directions would break? << Well it all depends on glass size.  I would consult a glass shop before purchasing the glass, and get their input.  Obviously 1/4 glass would break, and 8 inch glass is way too big.  So the key is finding that intermediate. >> I want to set it on the carpet floor. Is this possible? << Yes, but I prefer to put large tanks right on carpet padding, not on the carpet. >> Would 2 400 watt metal halides hanging over the tank be enough lighting for live rock, and to light up the tank? << No way.  Not to me, it wouldn't.  I would have more like six 400 watt bulbs on a tank that size. >> Thanks, Adam <<  Blundell  >>

Acrylic Wall Thickness for Large Tank 7/17/04 I am building a very large tank in the shape of an equilateral triangle.  The dimensions are 24 feet long by 8 feet to the point of the triangle by 4 feet high (or deep).  It will be placed on a strong 18 inch concrete floor.  I am guessing that 2" for the sides and 1 inch for the top and bottom should hold well but I am just basing that on my limited engineering experience.  Do you know how I could find out if these dimensions will be OK.  Can you recommend any structural engineers if I need one or is it not that complicated if I know how to figure it out.  Thanks Dimitrios <Hi Dimitrios!  I hope when you say that you are building this tank, that you mean you are having it built.  This is not a DIY project!  I would begin by contacting some of the following:  A large public aquarium, Reynolds Polymer and San Diego Plastics.  I would consult a structural engineer about the floor.  A public aquarium should be able to direct you to large tank manufacturer (SD Plastics is one, but this project may be beyond even their capabilities).  Reynolds polymer makes very large, very thick acrylic material for public aquariums.  They can probably direct you to a manufacturer that deals in large display tanks.  There are wall thickness calculators on the 'net for acrylic tanks, but they only apply to rectangular tanks.  Good luck!  Adam>

Fish room 3/26/04 Hello crew, <howdy> It's been a while since I've spoken with you guys and gals, but I've been keeping myself busy. I've been doing research and design for a large in-wall marine aquarium system for almost 2 years, and now that my wife and I are ready to build a house, I need to finalize my plans. As you can see from the attached layout, I've included enough room behind the scenes for two large sumps and a water reservoir for weekly water changes. I also plan on having a top off reservoir. I've included a utility sink and cabinet space for quarantine and hospital tanks, and I plan on putting a drain in the floor in case of flooding. The tank will sit on a custom metal frame (painted to resist corrosion), which will sit on a slab of concrete that makes op the floor of the room. I decided to have the whole thing on the ground floor because of the large amount of weight involved in this type of setup. All electrical outlets will be GFI and wired to their own box. I may get a gas generator to run outside of the room in case of power outages (which happen frequently in my area). On to my questions. I am mostly concerned about the tank dimensions at this point, as I plan on getting it custom made by Tenecor or another reputable manufacturer (any recommendations?). <freight/shipping is a significant matter... plenty of reputable mfgs across the country, do pick one close to your state/region. Tenecor if you are West coast... Inter-American if you are North central/East, etc Be resourceful my friend> Is 36 in. too wide to allow for adequate water movement using the pumps indicated (Iwaki MD 100 RLT)? <the question cannot be asked/answered in those terms... a pump cannot be sized/rated by the mere width of a tank. Distribution of water flow is finessed by other aspects/outlets and at best should be rated here by tank volume: seek a pump that does around 20X turnover of the tank (or better) and then deliver the flow through a closed loop manifold (see our wwm archives for my article/illustration on this subject)> I plan on purchasing the Aqua C skimmers with Iwaki 55 RLT pumps (in their respective sumps, not shown), rated at 1080 gph. Is this overskimming, especially with the large area of natural filtration? <not at all... in fact, for larger marine aquariums it is best to run two skimmers at the same time but clean them alternately so as to minimize the interruption of skimmate> I will tee off one of the external, shelf-type overflows to send raw water to the refugia (I'm in the middle of plumbing design, based on info from Aquatic Systems Engineering by Escobal). <an excellent book... but do check the copyright - it is getting dated. Please do include other recent works in your research> I may alternatively go with a couple of the stand alone ETSS skimmers, but they are pricey. <pricey and over-engineered and inefficient IMO> I'd like to stick with 2 so I can clean them alternately, and the Aqua Cs are more cost effective. I want to keep SPS corals and clams eventually, and I don't plan on having a very large fish load. My calculations show that a tank with the dimensions shown that is 36in deep will be able to hold ~650 gallons (minus the amount displaced by a 6in deep sand bed). The total flow with skimmers and closed loop pumps is around 6000 gph. This flow rate is less than 10x per hour, and even less when you factor in the total volume of the system. <for keeping SPS corals, and for success overall... you will need much, much more water flow here my friend!> I could add another Iwaki 100 to increase the overturn volume, or go with Dolphin Ampmaster 3600s for more flow at a cheaper cost. I am partial to the Iwakis. <agreed... Iwakis are one of the very best and get my vote for such a bog (log term a and $) commitment as you have here> I've used them for cooling systems in a research lab for years, running 24/7 and not one has failed yet (I know, that doesn't mean they never will). Is this flow rate enough, and more importantly, will it be a pain to place returns to minimize the dead spots in a tank of this size (no powerheads will be used)? <much more water flow here please (to 20X or more) and do consider using my PVC manifold idea> I'm not hard set on any aspect of the design at this point, and I'm willing to reduce the tank width if I have to. I suppose the width could play a role in lighting as well, but I haven't crossed that bridge yet (for instance 400 or 250W MH, and at what spacing? <you can pick your lighting when (and only after) you have make a very specific list by species of compatibly grouped animals you expect to keep. Evaluate their needs and then pick lighting> How do I handle sump lighting? These can wait 'til later). Thanks for putting up with my rambling, I'm sure you'll be hearing from me with more questions as things progress. I'll try to send pictures as construction happens as well. I hope the new 'reef fishes' book is out by the time I'm ready to stock this thing! Cheers, Jeremy M. Dawson <best of luck! Anthony>

Fish room and good WV beer 3/26/04 Anthony, <cheers my friend> Thanks for the info, I suspected as much. I plan on using return manifolds, but I didn't indicate that in my previous email. I just wanted to be sure that, if I'm creative enough when designing my manifold layout for the closed loops, I won't have to be concerned about the tank dimensions. Taking your sage advise, I'll add 3 more Iwakis to the budget, and maybe the guy I used to buy them off of for the lab will give me a volume discount (pun intended). <excellent!> Here's a tip for you in return, knowing your love of a fine draught of ale. If you ever travel south on I-79 and pass near Morgantown, WV, take a detour to the WV Brewing Co. on Don Knott's Blvd, at the bottom of Walnut St. Their house-brewed, 'high-octane' Blackwater Stout is Almost Heaven! And you'll get to see what a mash tun is!! Thanks again, Jeremy D. <better advice given to me than I gave to you :) Thanks kindly! Anthony>

Building aquarium Hello, I have some questions and wondering if you could help. <I'll try> I want to build a 10 - 12 foot long by 3 feet high and 2 ft wide aquarium for reef / saltwater. I have fish that are getting big and have the room to do this. I'm just not sure where to go from there have read about plywood, glass , and others, this is all too funny about 5 years ago i didn't even think about fish it all started with my Koi Pond outside. <Most folks with similar serendipitous experiences... often two "free" goldfish from a fair, store...> I am very handy and think i can do this ( all though don't we all) can you give me any advice. I know this is silly because i only have about 5 fish and most are small, perculas, but i have a Naso tang that was small now he's medium, he is very healthy and loves to swim. <Yes. Large Nasos are almost open ocean pelagics> I really don't plan on much more fish but love the beauty of the reef. If i wouldn't of listened to pet shops and given what i know now id rather see the fish where they live instead of a home aquarium, but this hoppy is really addicting. <Why not do both? Come and visit the "real world" environments and husband them in aquariums?> I guess since am divorced and have no kids but 1 large Newfie (Dog) i will use my money to have dog and fish. <Become yourself my friend> I have another unrelated question. About 3 months ago my brother had got very ill, he had a saltwater tank i broke it down and sold it for him but i took his rock. I put it in my 140 gal aquarium and the rock is fine. about a month ago i started to see the rock move thinking it was a clam didn't pay much attention to it. Well went to my brothers and he still was not too coherent after operations etc. and he made a comment he wondered what ever happened to the Shark. ( you see were this is going now am sure) i thought he was nuts, That night i got home and low and behold it wasn't a clam, a Baby Bamboo shark had hatched, it was bouncing all around looked like it was dying, ( I assumed cause it had never breathed saltwater and swam before.  I talked to some LFS and they said oh don't worry most of them don't live anyway they don't eat good. well in i got news for them the night after he hatched he was eating shrimp and fish (Prepared ) Out of my hand. Of course my hand is shaky because am scared of him. <No need to worry. Very small teeth> any way in 1 month he is now 8" long, i always try feeding him ghost shrimp and live food but he will only eat what i feed him from his stick. He eats every other night ( every night if i let him. But only when i feed him and from his stick. if i come around the tank he comes out and sits up like a dog , its almost like he knows it's me. <Indeed he does> Anyway (way too long email am sure) I'm not sure where to go from here. I really like him a lot, but am trying to plan ahead hear because am attached to him but don't want him to suffer. He's in the same tank as my tangs, Clowns Scooter blennies ( They sleep together in the same cave) all the fish seem to stay away from him but he loves laying with the blennies and the star fish which were the first things he had contact with when he hatched. He lets the cleaner shrimp clean him and seems very uninterested in live food. How long do i have before he starts trying to eat my clowns or the blennies or anything. <Perhaps months, maybe only weeks> the tangs are BIG so i assume he wont mess with them. I know he should be in a predator tank ( Actually Left IN THE OCEAN) Can you give me your thoughts on this... Thank you soo much for your patience Scott... <Do use the search tool on WetWebMedia.com to browse the questions you have here. And do have some folks who have built large tanks (perhaps a glass or plastics company locally can help you locate them) assist you in your design, construction. Bob Fenner>

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>

Paint for an aquarium Hello Crew! I am setting up a 180 gal tank and I would like to paint the back of the tank. Spray paint is out of the question as I cannot bring the tank outdoors. Is there a regular paint I can use? <Glass or acrylic? With glass, enamel or latex depending on cure time. Latex is safer. With acrylic, only latex.> Should I use a gloss black or a flat black? <It won't matter, the surface will be the inside of the glazing, not outside, so it will be as glossy as glass or acrylic from what you will see.> What should I clean the surface with? <Depends on surface. Ammonia window cleaner will be fine for glass. I would use soap and water for acrylic and rinse well. This will help paint adhere.> Great site! You do a great service to aquarists around the world. Thank you, David Waitt Glad you are enjoying yourself!  Enjoy!  Craig>

DIY Acrylic Tanks Hi this is Abraham, my first time here. I'm looking to utilize acrylic sheets for marine fish holding systems. My question is how do you cement the sheets together, meaning which material is aquarium safe? In addition, which silicone sealant is aquarium safe? One more question, how do you figure the thickness needed of the acrylic sheets needed for reservoirs for the sump tanks? I understand that it depends on how much water is being held in one given place. So for instance, a holding system of 8 feet long by 2 feet wide and making several of these units tiered one above the other in relatively shallow pools, no more than a foot high. For example; what thickness of acrylic sheets is minimally needed. Understandably braces are needed on top as well. Please try to help me out with this as soon as you guys can. Thank you and I am gratefully appreciative of your time and efforts. <Please begin here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diytksfaqs.htm and follow on through the related FAQ files for the answers to your questions. You can also use the Google search engine at the bottom of each page to help you locate topics quickly. -Steven Pro>

Plywood Tanks What is the best way to clean algae off of plywood epoxy sealed tanks and also acrylic fronts without scratching it? <There are special acrylic safe cleaning supplies available from any fish store. The wood is another matter. I doubt anything in reason would scratch it. I would not use metal razor blades for sure, but any standard aquarium scrubbing material should be ok. -Steven Pro>

Large Reef Tank Design Questions Gentlemen - I have written to you in the past with questions concerning things in one of my tanks ( I have 4 - 1 large predator, Two Reefs, and a micro reef). I write today on a different topic and hope either you can help me or point me towards those who can assist me. Feel free to forward this to anyone you deem appropriate I'm a high tech guy or had been for the last 15 years (until this years layoffs - No I opted out instead of fighting it out with the rats on a sinking ship, you know eventually they will turn cannibalistic). Any who to make a long story short, there are 9 of us good friends and coworkers who all sold their souls for stock options and cash for a minimum of 10 years each. After opting out of this each of us was tired of the rat race of that lifestyle ( constant travel to exotic foreign cesspools - Aah vacation is so much different than work isn't it). All of us spent this time transferring the industry from the US to everywhere else it was cheaper to do it (quite a few strange places I will admit - Japan, Korea, Malaysia, France etc) so it is truly a sinking ship here domestically - We decided to form a group to build a business just for fun but that we could experience our old sense of self worth - So we created the Los Vatos corporation to build something similar to a Dave and Busters but less glitzy and more affordable to the average man (because even though each of us made 6 figures we all complained that a $250 night out with the wife and kids to have a good time is just plain outrageous). I digress though so on with it - We created this corporation and are in the process of designing our first family entertainment center with the concept of letting everybody have fun at a fraction of these other places, while introducing our hobbies / interests to the world at large (cold beer, nice cars, video games, billiards, good food, water, fish). All but 2 of us a coastal creatures who grew up on or very near the water 4 from the Texas gulf coast and one each from Northern and Southern California. The poor guy from Phoenix doesn't know what he missed). Where do you guys come into it ??? Well my partners know of my fascination with Saltwater (another partner is a freshwater guy with multiple biotope aquaria his best is a local Texas one) as such they gave me a space 40 feet long by 15 feet deep in our restaurant waiting area / entry bar to create an aquarium of large scale - Here is where you guys come in - I have this big space and a general idea of things, however I would like to do a more natural setup sliding away from technology as much as I dare to ensure my charges well being - I am collecting information on the "Ecosystem Approach" as my micro reef works this way - It had been running as such for about a year before I ever heard of it and it is generally agreed between my friends it is the best looking of all my tanks. Size constraints do not allow me to convert the other 3 tanks to this method to test it on a grander scale. All these run just as is Bob's book. In short while not on par with you or your cohorts I may actually know a couple of things, but I am smart enough to know what I don't. I've read about Richard Harker's 2000 gallon aquarium and envision it's construction along similar lines, but I wanted to pick you guys brains with the question -- <our pleasure to help> If somebody walked up to you and said here is this space 40' X 15' X 12' - I want to build and aquarium for myself - What would you do? <many possibilities here. I take great pleasure too in system planning and conceptual designs. I covered some such dynamics in the first chapter of my Book of Coral Propagation... even more dramatic designs in the second volume (early 2003). I have also consulted a few large public aquaria on top of many private systems as well. It would be my pleasure to dream with you. Without haphazardly spewing stream of conscious fantasy designs... let's do this up right. Let me trouble you to send me a simple photograph of the allotted space (or draw a diagram if you like). I'm looking to get an idea of the surrounding environment and its likely integrity/functionality with the system and its application... looking for access to drains, water supply, electricity, etc.> I eagerly await your input or direction and fully respect that this is not a question so easily answered <agreed... not in a simple e-mail. Lets see a basic floor plan or photo of layout and that will open the floodgates for the imagination. Fair warning... expect dramatic from me :p > and I also want to add I want to do this myself not to save cash in a commercial venture but more along the lines of I dream of it. <understood and admired, my friend. I believe this to be true for what so much floor space could otherwise be used for commercially. I'm looking forward to chatting more. I also noticed that you are in Texas... I'll be in Dallas 9/26-9/30 at MACNA (www.dfwmas.com). Perhaps we can chat even more there if you'll be making the trip to that great marine conference.  With kind regards, Anthony Calfo> PS: feel welcome to call me at 412-795-XXXX. We can chat more So you don't think I'm a crank with nothing better to do than waste your time - Here is my personal information - (512) 257-XXXX if you call I will be happy to call you back and expand a little on things - It's tough to catch my vision in an email. 37 years old Electronics Engineering degree (specializing in the manufacture of semiconductor chips from sand to Pentium 4) XXXX North Cannes Drive, Cedar Park, Texas (Austin suburb) 78613  Ric Raley <Do not be afraid to try new things Amateurs built the Ark Professionals built the Titanic>

Building a tank (particularly coloring the back/ground) To WWM crew, I am planning on building a large tank, by my standards, (at least a 8x2x2). I was planning on building it with plywood. More than anything else I was concerned about how I should paint the inside of the tank. I was thinking about an epoxy based paint, I am really not sure which one would be safe to do this with. I would like to use the tank either as planted freshwater tank or a saltwater shark tank. In the case of the saltwater tank I am even more concerned about the material that I can use to build the tank. I do realize that I have to have no metal in the construction of the tank if I want a shark in it. But I am not sure how to put the tank together without the screws being made of metal. My other concern is the metal in the lighting system how would that effect a shark. I would appreciate any input you may have. <I would skip on using any sort of paint here. Instead, look into the colors that can be added to resins... and coat the inside (and maybe out) with a good quality of laminating type... along with placement, lapping of fiberglass cloth stripping in all corners/joints. Bob Fenner> Thank You, Ali

Homemade Aquarium Supplies Robert, <Steven Pro answering today.> I've been researching through the internet to find tips on do-it-yourself or make-it-yourself aquarium supplies, mainly to cut down the cost of some of the manufactured products like filter bags/cartridges, gravel/substrate, and decorations. I have lots of different types and sizes of filters (Marineland Penguins, AquaClears, Whispers and recently 2 canisters: a Fluval 303 and a Magnum 350), but I don't have any filter media or cartridges for them. I'm also pretty short on substrate material and decorations like rocks and wood. Do you have any recommendations for books or websites addressing make-it-at-home aquarium supplies and decorations? <There are plenty of DIY sites, but those are usually about actually building something like a light, tank, sump, overflow, etc. not a filter cartridge. You are probably best of buying mail-order in bulk.> Any advice on creating my own filter bags/cartridges/media? <I have used polyester pads and other materials used for HVAC applications for prefilter material in aquarium trickle filters and pond filters.> How can I get or make activated carbon in bulk? <You can buy it many places, making it is a completely different thing. It is processed at extremely high temperatures and for part of the process in a vacuum, not something you could do in your kitchen.> Can you offer any tips regarding gravel, rocks, wood, metals, etc. that are easily obtainable, cheap, and safe for fish? <Metals are categorically bad. Many rocks and gravel contain metal as a contaminant. You will need to research the rock you want to use and identify their makeup to see if they are safe. You may also want to consider doing a bio-assay (as Bob says) and test the material in a tank with a few inexpensive fish.> Thanks in advance for any help you can give. <Your best bet is to look in the back of trade magazines for ads aimed at freshwater hobbyists with fish rooms, buying in bulk. -Steven Pro>

Re: Glass Weight Steven, Good link RE glass thickness, tank building etc. <You are welcome.> What is your opinion on building plywood - glass tanks? It just seems too easy and cheap to be true. <I have had the same thoughts.> If I thought I could make it from plywood in this manner, I would construct something in the order of 6x3x30"....... do you think they are a good idea? <I don't know. There are a lot of people on GARF that have built similar tanks. You should look at their plans and experiences regarding.> Cheers, Matt <Good luck! Please report back with your results. -Steven Pro>

DIY Glass Tank Hi Steven, Thanks for the reply Re the maculosus angel. <You are quite welcome!> Quick question..... do you know a site where to read up on DIY all glass tanks etc, design including how to calculate the weight of glass required etc..... <I would look at http://www.ozreef.org/ They have a ton of DIY plans and links to other peoples' plans.> Cheers, Matt <Have a nice weekend! -Steven Pro>

Frag setup Anthony <cheers, my friends> My name is Carl Newbar. My wife Lacy and I are very thankful for you last email and the input you provided. We both agree that if we do go for autotrophic coral we will use a refugium for them. We believe that our current design will provide ample space for the addition in the future. <very well, and still consider that inline with "low-nutrient" heterotrophs may still be a bad/challenging idea. A dedicated display is likely best> As an attachment I have sent a document of my cheep-o design. Please look over and be brutally honest if you must. I just made a take off of the design for an aquarium stand you would find at many stores. The first picture is a front view looking at the finished product. More importantly I wish to have an dialogue about the second picture. That is looking at the base from above. I would use 1" thick particle board or MDF (what ever is cheapest) as a base. 48"X18" that will be framed by 1 1/2" thick board (again what ever is available for the right price) that will be a good 1 1/2" above the base board. <do resist the particle board entirely (despite mfg common use)... it absorbs water plain and simple. A laminated plywood will serve you much better in the long run> With that framing around (dark brown in the picture) I will use blocks to support the 1" side, back and center wall (the sand color in the picture.) That would be more then enough to support the 20 long tank above I hope. <if blocks means "blocking" with 2X4's then I agree and it looks sturdy indeed> The third picture is of the top piece looking from above. The top piece will not be nailed to the wall supports.  <this is arguably a flaw... much strength to be had by tying the top into the vertical walls. Create a decorative "lip" above that if you still desire> It will have a lip to frame a 48" X 18" piece of 1" thick board. The same dimensions as the base really, only this will have a lip that will go down and "hug" the walls. In theory I hope that is what they will do. <hmmm... do consider a simple 2X4 framing project that you dress with a facade afterwards. It is stronger (built with screws) and gives you a lot of freedom on the decorative dressing> As far as adding a refugium I could see doing it for the 20 gallon long tank. To the right there will be space to add on. I could build a stand that would let a 10 gallon tank be above and to the side of the 20 long. Right now we think the Montipora will be in the 20 long, the Ricordea (Yuma I hope!) in one cube and the xenia and possible other softies in the other 20 gallon cube. <are all three of these tanks tied together? If so... the two lower tank being on the same plane will be a small plumbing nightmare> Lighting will be a 175 watt 10K MH bulb for the 20 long along with 55watt actinic VHO. We thought the same lighting could be done with the Ricordea because the lighting would be 12" + above the waters surface. The other cube that would hold the xenia would have 110 watts of VHO lights. Would that be sufficient? <sounds like a fine beginning... some experimentation to be had, but very good> No rush on a return reply. I would like to thank you myself for you willingness to help. It is an honor to have you thoughts and input. Carl & Lacy Newbar <my great pleasure... and since you are inclined towards DIY, do check out www.ozreef.org (Australia)... they have a great site with a serious collection of DIY plans (http://www.ozreef.org/diy/index.html). Keep in mind that the est prices quoted are in inflated Australian dollars (2-3X). Best regards, Anthony>

DIY reefing and MACNA Anthony- Thank you so much for the last email. My husband is at H.D. now getting supplies. We have found a acrylic DIY page that shows how to make HOB refugiums. We will be making one for each of the tanks. I just hope we are savvy enough to make them work. We should be done by the end of the weekend with the stand and we hope we will have the refugiums done by then end of the following week. We will send pictures soon. <excellent... I'm looking forward to it> Another question that has nothing to do with our setup. My husband and I wanted to know if you and Bob and other WetWebMedia workers will have a booth at MACNA next month. I think my husband got a hint of an idea from reading your daily Q&A that your group will be attending. >yes... in fact, Steve and I are confirmed, Di Fenner and Daniel Knop too (!), Bob has several places to be and hasn't worked out his schedule yet> We would love the chance of taking you and your significant other out for a drink in thanks for all that you are doing now and for what you book has done for us.  <Aww.. thanks kindly, but your company will be more than enough. Do stop at our booth and say Hi! Steve's wife has been given a reprieve from Steve that weekend and I am just an unmarried orphan :) We will be hunting for a sushi bar however (heehee... in Texas, that's funny)> We just decided to go now that we want to learn more about the business part of this hobby. What better place to start. <it will be an incredible eye opener for you... I assure you that you will be hooked. Bring lots of notepaper and pencils, laptops, whatever!> Lacy & Carl <best regards, Anthony>

Custom Aquarium Bob, I am building myself a custom aquarium. It will be 100"Lx 48"H x 42". The back, bottom, and sides will be made of pre-laminated 1" plywood. All the seams will be reinforced on the outside with Steel Angles. The front, viewing area, will be a sheet of 1" prelaminated plywood with a window 92"L x 44"H and a 96"x48" sheet of glass "siliconed" to the inside of the "window". Finally there will be 3 evenly spaced 3" cross ties tying the front of the tank to the back. I am struggling with determining the thickness of the glass. Is 1/2 sufficient or should I go with the 3/4? Any insight you can give would be greatly appreciated. <I would spend the extra money on the thicker glass... Look into some of the fancy laminated brands (Starbrite for instance)... as these may be fine at 1/2", though not cheaper than 3/4" cast... Bob Fenner> Please respond to my home email address. Thanks, Mike

Marine Goop Guys, I am at the stage where I am going to be bonding my acrylic baffles to my 40 gallon breeder sump. I would like to have something a little stronger than silicone as I have had a baffle come out, in the past, while using it. <More likely due to the acrylic and its bowing than due to the silicone.> I have had mixed reports that Marine Goop is a good bonding agent for this application. My question is, do you think this stuff will leach chemicals and cause any toxic stress on reef inhabitants. <I am unfamiliar with "Marine Goop", but have read several reports of various marine life showing adverse reactions to underwater epoxy. I am guessing this "Marine Goop" is something like the epoxy.> If so, do you know of any other materials the would be better for bonding baffles to glass? <Why don't you try glass instead of the acrylic? It is cheaper than acrylic and works just as well. This is one reason I prefer to use glass tanks as sumps vs. Rubbermaid tubs and such.> Many Thanks. Jeff <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Plexi glass glue Hi there once again, I have a question about the type of glue people use to put together plexi glass.  <Most folks use a commercial acrylic solvent... like Weld-On> I hear that the best way to glue two pieces together is to use a solvent called Methylene Chloride.  <This is a principal ingredient. Toxic, flammable, not generally available to the public.> can't seem to find it in Home Depot or Lowe's. Do you know where it might be available?  <Check with the businesses listed in your phone directories who sell or do plastic fabrication> I also wanted to ask if you know whether this solvent (Methylene Chloride) can be used to glue plexi glass+regular glass together, or is it just for plexi glass+plexi glass? <Only the latter> On another note, I'd like to thank you for responding so quickly, and for being real informative. It's advise like this, that I wish I had for everything I come across. Your help is greatly appreciated. Thanks, Hamilton, Riverside, CA <Glad to be here helping. Bob Fenner>

Re: plexi glass glue Thanks for your help, but I'm not quite sure about what you meant by (only the latter).  <The last statement... these solvents are only for acrylic to acrylic bonding> Can you describe this in another way? And is (Weld On) safe for fishes. Well I guess it is since you said everybody else uses it. Thanks for your help. <Safe after cures (a day or so)... it actually "leaves"... melting/melding the Plexi as one piece. Bob Fenner>

DIY Overflow Hi, <<Hello,>> I've been reading your FAQs since I started my first marine aquarium this year. It's just a 29 gallon tank with a couple fish, some crabs, and just recently 2 anemones. I figure that this is my learning tank before moving on to something larger. I have a Prizm skimmer, Penguin Bio Wheel power filter with a Fluval surface skimmer attached, and a Zoo Med powerhead behind the rocks for extra circulation. Anyway... I just added a new 200 watt Ebo Jager heater (also behind the rocks), and a CustomSealife SmartLite to the mix, and I realized that space is getting tight... Because of the light I can't reach the skimmer to adjust the flow without removing the light, and I don't like the heater laying across the bottom of the tank. I realized that I have several 10 gallon tanks collecting dust in the garage, so my natural thought was that it's time to add a sump to my learning experience. That would allow me to move all the mechanical devices below the tank except for the power head (which is the only piece I've really been able to conceal well anyway). I've been looking at overflow boxes, and the ones that are available are way too big for this little tank, and too expensive to boot, since when I do get a larger tank it will be drilled for a sump anyway, so why blow $70 on something that I won't be able to use on a new tank down the road. After looking through the DIY plans online I just had an interesting idea about making an overflow box, and am seeking an opinion as to whether it would be a good idea. I read one of the plans where a person used an old power filter as the outside box. all the parts were gutted, and the hole where the pump goes was used to place the bulkhead for the plumbing. My thought was... Why gut the filter??? Add the overflow box onto the front leaving the filter tube in place so that it's inside the box (cut down if too long), and why remove a perfectly good pump??? Just add a piece of acrylic to divide the media chamber drilling the opposite side from the intake for the bulkhead. Now you have an overflow with a priming pump built in... Just plug it in until the siphon starts, and then unplug... If the siphon breaks you can just plug it in to re-prime it. Any problem with this that I'm missing? <<Only if you forget to unplug the pump... the pump mechanics would also reduce flow when the pump is shut off. Although this is a neat idea, it's probably not optimal.>> Aside from the fact that it would be limited by the diameter of the intake tube, but for a small tank it could be just the thing, and who doesn't have an old power filter or two laying around wasting space?  <<True.>> Thanks, Jeff Cowles
<<Cheers, J -- >>

Building an acrylic aquarium I was wondering if you could help me with a few questions. I am thinking about building an aquarium about 55 gal or so and I have read many articles about what thickness of acrylic to use for what height aquarium and so forth. I was wondering if you could use thinner acrylic if you were to frame the tank with a plywood box. (please see attached drawing)  <Not really... the thickness should be about the same or the same per height... If this is a "typical" 55 of 22" height (or even twenty inches), I would opt for a minimum of 3/8 inch (even half if you can afford it)... the bracing may well help to prevent bowing, even breaking... but the mid front and back will bow badly and result in noisome distortion if you try 1/4... or yikes, less thickness> For example, could you use 1/4" acrylic on a 24" high tank in this manner. I have also read about the wood and glass tanks but I would like to keep at least 3 viewing sides open. The wood I could get free and the 1/4" acrylic costs significantly less than the 1/2" so I figured I'd ask someone else what they thought before I flooded my garage. If it is possible to do this how substantial do you think the frame would have to be? Thickness of the wood 5/8 or 3/4? <Not really practical here... though I have made many (hundreds years back) of glass fronted (and you could make cut-outs for the sides as well) and plywood, resin and fiberglass (stripping is best here, pre-made and available in rolls) tanks... with 3/4 and 1" ply and good brass screws (2 1/2 or three inch)> and how much of the viewing area would I have to cover? <For the glass et al. structures, a good three or four inch edge is good all the way around> Would it be a good idea to pad the inside of such a frame and to give it rounded edges? If it did work it would then be very easy to incorporate a nice wooden hood. Thanks for you time, Great website! Christopher C. Hehn <I like the way your mind and writing presents it/themselves... do keep investigating. Maybe Oz' Reef: http://www.ozreef.org/ Great, one-stop DIY site for pet-fish types. Bob Fenner>

DIY Tank Hello I am planning on building a small tank to fit in the corner of a bar. It will be made out of acrylic not sure if 1/4 or 3/8(your advice) it shouldn't be any more then like 30-35 gallons I think. <Can be calculated... take half the width as the average of the side lengths... multiply it by length, height, divide by 231 (cubic inches per gallon)... voila, gallons> Because of the design (which I e-mailed an attachment) I don't think bending would be possible cause of the sharp angle or would it be better to bend the acrylic as opposed to having cut joints. <Mmm, could be bent... or jointed. You might have folks in the fabrication business bid on this... look under "plastics" in your phone directories... or on WetWebMedia.com's links pages for long distance suppliers> Everything I have read said bend to 90 degrees and have never read anything state a smaller angle like 45 or what ever. I have a rotozip cutting tool with a acrylic cutting bit, I was told these are one of the better tools to cut acrylic with (Do you know?). Any info would be great... <Mmm, not familiar with this tool/line. Not a cutting issue though... but one of heat-bending. I would like to continue this discussion further. I encourage you to brace this design more fully at the surface (if it were me, I'd use at least 3/8" material all the way around, router an oval in the top for access welding the top edge onto the top all the way around... and would like to chat over filter ideas... cut outs for overflows, returns... lighting? Bob Fenner> Great site, keep up the good work, James

Re: Hello ? on DIY Tank Hello Bob, Thanks for the fast reply to my question, I have got in touch with an acrylic fab business here in town (Kalamazoo, MI) about bending the front and side panel. So far it sounds like it won't cost as much to have them do it and put it together then what it would have cost me for the 3/8th sheet($147).  <Yes... as I thought... much better> As far as filtration I'm looking at a compact power filter (H.O.T) type. There isn't space for a sump unfortunately cause of the way the bar was built. I was even thinking of trying a Skilter filter (not the best) but I had one on a 30 gallon a few years back and it seemed to work well for the smaller tanks. Plus it has a protein skimmer in it, But I also have a larger one for maintenance. This will be saltwater with mushrooms and a max of 3 fish and maybe a few low light corals. <A shame there isn't room below for a sump...> Lighting I was thinking of having 2x30 watt bulbs in a 03 and 10,000k combo or 2x 50/50 for the corals as the fish don't really need intense light. There won't be a deep bed if substrate inch tops and the live rock and substrate will be seeded from my 40 gallon reef that I have now. Let me know what you think about this stuff I have been doing saltwater for about 18 years, and sometimes we over look the obvious, know what I mean? Love the website!!! <Do know what you mean (do so all the time)... the lighting should be fine. Bob Fenner> Thanks again, James Wesley

DIY Tanks, Lungfish Is there a web site or information I can get to build a 250 gallon aquarium and what about the filter system. I would only have tropical freshwater . Also I bought a African Lung Fish, but I can not find any information about this. Jack Blake <Mmm, I would read over/through Oz' Reef (link on WetWebMedia.com's links pages) re the tank construction et al... and the fish... please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/dipneusti.htm re the scientific name, onto fishbase.org and your search engines, likely BB's, chatforums (ours: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/) re captive husbandry... Quite an investment to make w/o prior knowledge of its care. Bob Fenner> Tank building Is there a web site or information I can get to build a 250 gallon aquarium and what about the filter system. I would only have tropical freshwater.  Also I bought a African Lung Fish, but I can not find any information about this. Jack Blake <hmmm... many sites/books on tank building. Many types of tanks, acrylic, glass, wood and glass, fiberglass, concrete, etc. Starting the endeavor with a 250 gallon is ambitious if you do not have any local help to support you/walk you through. Do seek a local aquarium society (keyword search by city on the internet)... many members with such experience likely. As far as specific sites... have you simply tried a keyword search on Google? Please do... the journey of enlightenment. Best regards> 

Acrylic Thickness I am looking into building an Acrylic Aquarium with the following dimensions: L=48" X W=24" X H=20" which will have a capacity of 100G. What would be the thinnest Acrylic I could use? <1/2" with a capture/top piece.> I would like to use 3/8" (.375 in) if possible as I can get a good price on 48"X48" sheets. Gregory A. Maher <I would build a smaller tank. Something in the 36" long, 30 gallon range. -Steven Pro> <<RMF thinks the 3/8" would be fine here... used for this height tanks in the industry>>

Most Everything You Ever Wanted To Ask/Know About Acrylic Aquariums Dear Bob, I have tried to put all my questions in one list. Can you help me with any of these? Thanks for your help. Mike <<Greetings, Mike. JasonC here, and I will do my best... >> 1) What thickness of acrylic is used for 20 gallon, 50 gallon and 100 gallon tanks?  <<Well... the answer depends on the actual dimensions of the tank. On a general rule of thumb, perhaps 3/8" for a 20 up to 1/2" for the 100 - if there were one long panel, perhaps 5/8" or up to 3/4" for larger tanks. Probably best to break out the calculator and the acrylic manufacturer's spec sheet and do some homework.>> 2) Are the top, bottom and sides of the tank all the same thickness? <<Again, this depends on the desired dimensions of the tank. The safe assumption is that IF you are making a perfect cube, all walls can be the same thickness. If you start stretching the cube into a rectangle, then the assumption changes.>> 3) Do they use regular acrylic glue or a special glue? <<As far as I know, it's a standard acrylic glue - creates a molecular bond.>> 4) Are the corners bent to a different radius for different size tanks? <<Corners are bent to a different radius for different thicknesses of material and visibility.>> 5) Can a small tank be made that has glued corners instead of bent corners? <<Sure.>>  Why are bent corners usually sold?  <<Easier than jigging up and adhering four walls with perfect 90 degree joints.>> 5.5) What is the radius of the bend of 20, 50, and 100 gallon tanks? <<Depends on the material.>>  6) Is the radius of the bend for strength or for looks? <<Both... the material would maintain is strength for a while beyond a bend that ceases to look clear.>>  7) Is the acrylic bent on a specialized machine or is it heated with a local heating element and bent over a mold? <<Depends on the application. On smaller panels, I have seen a blow torch used. On larger, curved aquariums a large walk-in oven is used.>> 8) Can the acrylic be trimmed to fit after it is bent or does it have to be bent perfectly? <<Well... the whole job has to be done perfectly. Cuts, joints, bends, you don't really get a second chance on the same piece of material.>> 9) Is it very hard to bend acrylic over a mold and get a perfect bend? <<Let's just say that it is a skill, and one that can be learned. But not so simple that you'd get it on the first try.>> 10) Are there any special tricks that you know that help in bending the front piece of acrylic?  <<Patience, lots of patience, that and a fairly exacting eye for detail.>> 11) After the front piece is bent, are there any special difficulties gluing on the top, back and bottom?  <<Well, you want the thing to hold water... it's not as easy as it might seem.>> What order is best?  <<Probably front to the back, and then that assembled piece to the bottom.>> 12) Have you heard of someone setting up a small shop to make acrylic aquariums?  <<Uhh... Jason Kim of Aqua C comes to mind. He makes a fine line of protein skimmers, but also makes custom tanks and sumps. If I'm not mistaken, he started out as a one man operation. His skimmers are quite popular, and so he's not a one-man-show any more.>> 13) What fraction of aquariums sold in the US are acrylic now? <<Couldn't tell you... but a quick mental survey says: depends where you live. If you live in an earthquake zone, you might not have a choice. Acrylic tanks are more expensive than their glass cousins so income plays a factor.>> 14) What is the difference in wholesale price of glass and acrylic aquariums in the US? What is the difference between the internet price and the wholesale price?  <<I really don't have that information. You'd do best to ask the actual wholesalers and retailers.>> 14) What are the major advantages of acrylic?  <<Two come to mind... acrylic is a better insulator. That and it is also much more clear than glass tanks which become more green as the glass gets thicker.>>  Disadvantages?  <<There are three disadvantages. One, price - acrylic tanks are much more expensive than glass tanks of the same size. Two, acrylic is easy to scratch and it's easy to do with a large chunk of live rock. This also means you need special cleaning pads. Third, and if you keep a reef tank, coralline algae has a strong attraction to plastics, acrylics included. This means that you either need to clean the viewing panels constantly, or go after them with special scrapers when you can't see the inhabitants any more like I do ;-) >> 15) Approximately how many manufacturers of 20-100 gal stock acrylic aquariums are there in the USA: 5, 10, 25?  <<That's a good question, but I just don't know the market that well. I'd bet there are more than five, but not 25. Maybe more than 10 but not many more. Just a guess though.>> 16) Is it better to use a router, table saw or a panel saw to cut the acrylic? <<A precision table saw with special blades for cuts. Router for cleaning the edges. Hope that helps. Cheers, J -- >>

Aquarium Frames I was thinking about building a 20 gallon long aquarium to use as an Hospital/Quarantine tank. The only problem is I don't know where to find an aquarium frame for the tank. <A frame...> Would you happen to know where I could find one? <Such plastic edging can sometimes be purchased from manufacturers like All Glass Aquarium, Oceanic... perhaps by way of your retailer...> Are they required to have a tank like that? If not is there any other way I could put my hood on the top? <Not required... by and large not functional... used more to put the glass, silicone together (like a jig)... you can build a system w/o such a frame, insert/silicone some glass strips to support a light unit. Bob Fenner>

I used the wrong Silicone sealant Hi Bob, I was just reading the articles on "One hundred percent Silicone... no mildewcides, other additives" under Building your own tanks, enclosed is a picture of the tank setup I made using 3/4 marine ply oak faced, then fiber glassed, epoxy painted and then I used silicone for Bath and Kitchen. <To just place the viewing panel?> It of coarse made me sick when I read the thread on mildewcides. My question is the equipment, base rock and live rock which was in this tank , I have the rock in a new tub with fresh saltwater "hoping" and the equipment has been clean completely What is your feeling on any of these items being reused in another tank ?? Thanks Tony <Mmm, should be fine. But I encourage you to cut away the exposed sealant and silicone over the old with 100% if/when you have all out of this aquarium. Bob Fenner>

Re: I used the wrong Silicone sealant Hi Bob, Yes the viewing area as well as a skim coat over the rest <Really? Over the rest? I/we've made a bunch of wood, fiberglass and resin tanks over the years... if a couple of feet or less in height we only applied strip (can be bought as such, thank goodness) cloth and applied in corners... applying resin (and hardener natch) over all...)> :( I'm thinking of lining the rest with glass which is the way I should of gone in the first place . It certainly wasn't a cheaper way to go doing it the way I did "Could of bought two 180gals by now" heehee But live and learn. Thanks for the info awesome site by the way, I wish I'd of know of it before my giant screw up. The size of the tank is 30"HX30"WX96"L forgot to include that last email. Again Much Thanks Tony <Thanks for the follow-up... Silicone is almost impossible to get anything to "paint over", stick to it... Your suggestion might be the best... alternatively you might save some money using very thin acrylic sheet in its place. Good luck, life. Bob Fenner>

Building Tanks Hi everyone, <everyone in my head? or are you just referring to the WWM crew at large?> First off I 'd like to say thanks to Anthony for previous advice about my flower pot (Goniopora). I have a new refugium and the coral is doing really well. No more dark spots and even some polyp extension. <ahh... great to hear success/progress> I read the FAQ's daily and absolutely love you sense of humor .. you were in rare form today/yesterday. <HA! Thank you... that makes two people now that understand and appreciate it> We have a 125 gal. tank which we have maxed out, so the natural answer is of course to get a bigger one. Would like to build one "in the wall" when we finish our cellar. I have looked around and can't seem to find any really good info on building the big (500-600 gal.) tanks. (Of course I found the 4,000 gallon tank with the scuba diver ... not quite what I had in mind!!) Curious about building the tank with cinder blocks with just the glass/acrylic for the display window. Any info you could point me to would be great. <yes... I have a great friend who manufactures custom aquaria who has shared/taught much on this matter. Truthfully... what you would like to attempt is actually a difficult task for even experienced folk. I would strongly advise you against it (for perspective... I have personally built more than 100 aquaria 200+ gallons and I wouldn't try a concrete and glass structure). Such aquaria are dependant on a very thick flow that is EXTREMELY solid... no chance of even the slightest settlement (engineered/reinforced concrete, etc). Then we are talking about some skillful maneuvering of a viewing pane that is to be suspended/mounted as "floating" (not resting on the floor and rocked into place but literally swung, siliconed and clamped). Many public aquaria with older displays employ this type of vessel... in some cases the tank was filled just after the silicone and glass were set to use the mass of the water to support/hold the clamped pane in place! In many cases they leak and have to be resealed several times (although once a good seal is made they will go for many years assuming the blocks don't shift/crack). Even if this tank is in a basement where you can afford the leaks... it is a pain and an ancient technology. I would sooner see you make a wild saltwater pond with an island in the center (one tree island with a mangrove tree under a spotlight... and a miniature shipwreck of the USS Minnow beached... Hmm... perhaps we'll have to rename the island then?!). Anyway... all glass 500 gallon aquariums can be made easily or even fiberglass units with a viewing pane (although also a little tricky). See if you can scavenge any good deals on 5/8" or laminate glass, or barrels of fiberglass resin <VBG>. I just saw a cool thread on Reef Central about a 1300 gallon glass aquarium...yeeha!> Once again, can't say enough about your site! Thanks, Beckie <best regards, Anthony>

Tank size (math puzzler) Question: On a 4 x 8 sheet of 1/4" acrylic, what would be the largest tank that can be made and what would be the dimensions... if possible. <Ah, a bit of a mathematical question... let's see, you need a top and bottom... front and back... and two sides... I would make the height 18 inches (about the best, "average maximum" for this thickness of acrylic, or glass for the matter), and the length 4 feet for the front/back, top/bottom (to cut down on "cuts"...) and the sides 19 1/2" wide (and 18" tall) to fit inside the top/bottom). Outside dimensions: 48" X 20" X 18 1/2" Bob Fenner.> Thanks.

Acrylic Thickness Are there any guidelines to follow when building an acrylic aquarium or for a 90H measurements of 48x18x24 what would be the acrylic thickness needed? Thanks <Yes... some for structural strength... at least 3/8" (with an annealed top that serves as a brace), better 1/2" for the sake of cutting down of deflection/bowing. Bob Fenner>

Making a Fish Tank What does one use to make a 2'x2'x5' fish tank? Glass or plastic thickness and type? Adhesive type and where to get it? Thank you for your time. Bud Davis <You can find your answers here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diytksfaqs.htm -Steven Pro>

Pond Liner for Salt tank set up? Bob, First off, LOVE THE site!! Just found it and it's a wealth of info. I have a quick question for you. I'm considering making a large salt tank and was wondering if the normal pond liners would be ok for constructing a salt tank used for sharks and rays etc..... If pond liner won't work is there any other material other than the Rubbermaid tanks etc...... I want an indoor pond but with sharks I figured the cheapest way to get a 6x12 tank would be to go pond liner.. Thanks and keep up the good work. and thanks in advance. <You are welcome. I have built such "shark tanks" (and more) out of pond liners (nominal 20 mil. polyethylene ("water bed") types to 32 mil re-inforced, EPDM, Butyl Rubber... with good utility. The large Rubbermaid tm oval "troughs" are also very useful. A note of caution: Do make a complete, secure cover over either, as even apparently sedentary sharks can/will launch themselves out... Bob Fenner> Regards, Robert C. Taggett

Suitable Epoxy Paint for Plywood Aquariums Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service while Bob travels> I've been looking over your fine website and have not yet been able to pin down any brand names for epoxy (or otherwise) paint to seal plywood tanks. I've made inquiries to various paint dealers here in Kansas City and they're all very gun-shy about selling epoxy paint for an aquarium--Sherwin-Williams wants me to have a meeting with the tech rep before they'll sell it to me! Thanks for any assistance! Mark Lynn <Mark... for smaller aquaria under 200 gallons, tub&tile epoxy (advertised as Baby safe once cured) is commonly used in aquaria. Available from your local DIY store, it is convenient if not inexpensive. For a larger project, I would take the paint rep up on the offer to protect your investment. You'll want to avoid paints with anti-fouling agents in them (for mold and mildew...very toxic to aquatics). Best regards, Anthony> Suitable Epoxy Paint for Plywood Aquariums II Thanks--the tanks I'm working with are around 100 gallons. Is this a paint used for repairs to tubs, etc? MRL <exactly, my friend. For cement laundry/wash tubs and the like. You may be a little restricted by popular home decor colors (grey, tan, white, black) but as long as it says Baby safe when cured as most do, you will be fine. Even if it doesn't you are likely safe if you are willing to test. Worst case scenario is you have to give another good coat over it. Best regards, Anthony> Suitable Epoxy Paint for Plywood Aquariums III Thanks, Anthony--I'll check out Lowe's and Home Depot tomorrow. I've also considered lining them with countertop laminate ($2.00/sq ft) and sealing the joints with silicon. I'll do some price comparison and go from there. Thanks again, Mark <For what it is worth... I have used Olympic brand swimming pool paint in concrete ponds and know that they at least have a product that is fish safe. I'm just not sure if it adheres to wood as well. It was designed for concrete applications specifically.>

Suitable Epoxy Paint for Plywood Aquariums IV I tried some UGL --formulated for concrete-- it seemed to work fine for several months, then I got a small leak. It looks like the paint cracked along some grain lines and the plywood got soaked. I let it dry for a couple of weeks, the gave it another couple of coats. Worked fine for a couple of weeks--until I added the rock--I think the extra weight of the rock caused the wood to flex just enough to make the paint crack again. MRL <Ahhh.. yes, thank you. I'll remember that for the next query on the subject. We'll stick to ponds with it <wink>.>

Big ass aquarium Hey Dogfish - <Hello Henry> Remember that huge aquarium project that I wrote you about a few years ago? <yes> I've got a large piece of land to build a place on and am ready to go into some initial design work. I'd like to get together with you sometime and pick your brain regarding design issues, cost, filtration issues, lighting issues, water circulation issues, etc. <okay> I'm planning on using industrial building techniques, so I'll have a very large amount of square footage available (100'x100'x 30' high). Hope to speak with you soon, it's been awhile, Henry aka EatMe (piano playing hasher) <Chat with you soon. Bob/Dog F>

Aquarium manufacture Bob,  I live in Australia now and I noticed that all the aquariums for sale here are glass. I am wondering how hard it would be to set up a small facility to manufacture acrylic aquariums.  <Not hard. A few thousands of dollars on the low end to a few tens of thousands for more serious investment, production> Do you know much about the manufacture of aquariums or do you know anyone that I could contact by e-mail who might know?  <We used to fabricate up to two inch thick acrylic tanks. Have several friends in the trade who do this> I need information on how the front piece is bent, jigs and fixtures for manufacture, on exactly the type of plastic used (do they use regular acrylic or is it coated to be scratch resistant?), <Not coated... some "brands", makes are a bit more scratch resistant, none totally> the thickness of plastic for various sized aquariums etc.. Do you think it would be possible to set up a manufacturing facility?  <Possible, sure> I think that it would be too expensive to import the tanks because they take up so much space, and the Australian dollar is very low so anything from the USA is too expensive.  <I do understand this. We're headed that way for a few weeks next month. Land, food, diving... a bargain>> I like the pictures that you send out every day. <Ah, am glad to hear>  Good luck, Mike Sweet <Mike, a very good idea for you to investigate, invest your time if serious at this point. Here on the West coast of the U.S. or the U.K... (where friends are who will help), to learn first-hand what is involved. Let us keep talking this over. Bob Fenner>

HI AGAIN. (tank shapes) Hi again, it's Amilton. I was thinking of using Art Deco style or Post modern I don't like square things very much I like triangles and Smooth Shapes. What do you think? <These shapes can be made to work on aquarium designs, construction. Bob Fenner> DIY info Hello <Cheers.. Anthony> Do you know were I can get some info. on building a acrylic self-contained tank with a sump and skimmer all in one. Thanks for your help and your time. Frank Thomashefsky <many places on the Web... please try the DIY link on www.ozreef.org best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Tank Modification Hey Bob, Bryan here. <Hi Bryan, Steven here.> I am in the process of redoing/upgrading my 75 gal tank. The last few days I've been coming up w/ some ideas. The main one I want to run by you is this. I was using a CPR overflow down to my sump. I would like to drill a hole (or someone else) in the glass tank, attach a bulkhead with pvc and let gravity do the work, plus it would clean up the inside of the tank. I was thinking about a hole to fit 1" bulkhead w/ 1" pvc to the sump. Does this sound fine? Big question is how far up on the back should the overflow hole go...clear towards the top or about 2/3 of the way up going to use a mag drive 9.5 for main pump. Last and most important question.. can my glass tank even be drilled, I believe it is tempered glass. Thanks again, Bryan <Tempered glass cannot be drilled. Check with the manufacturer as most do not make the entire tank out of tempered glass. Most times it is just the bottom or the long sides, but it varies by brand and model. Each 1" bulkhead can comfortably handle about 300 gph. I have and would recommend drilling 3 holes in a 75. -Steven Pro>

Acrylic Real quick. With acrylic to glass contact, the 100% silicone I have read about in the F&Q's will work right? <I wouldn't trust it for aquaria... but for little troughs/trays/filters...maybe> And definitely for acrylic to acrylic.  <do use proper acrylic glue for this> About cutting acrylic for bulkhead fittings. I have hole cutters for doors and such. this will work fine, <yes if sharp> and put the silicone on either side of the bulkhead and let stand 24 hrs.  <OK... but neoprene gaskets that come with many bulkheads compress nicely and are more reliable> Great job guys, Bryan. <thank you kindly, Anthony>

Cleaning magnet in tank, Eclipse Modification Hello Mr. Fenner, I just finished reading today's Q&A's & the last one about lighting for the Eclipse system. I started an experimental 25g Eclipse system a few months back & am thoroughly happy w/it. The CustomSeaLife retro powercompacts are terrific lights. And very easy to install. I cut the back of the plastic and have added a protein skimmer and a couple of power heads. <Thank you for this input> This little tank is supporting (I know you wont like this)-A mated pair of true Perc's, a flameback angel (African), a yellow assessor, a orange spotted blenny. All very small fish. Also, a torch coral, a hammer coral, an Alveopora, a frilly mushroom and a small bubble tip anem. Everything is thriving! I highly recommend this lighting setup. On another note-My brother leaves his algae cleanup magnet in his 180g reef tank, set up in Nov.01, & now he is noticing that the corals are dying or not looking as great on the left side of the tank (where the magnet is). Could there be a chemical reaction of some sort going on in that portion of the tank? <Yes. Most aquarium magnets are safe for leaving in a system... but not all. I would pull these out when not in use... Please have your brother contact us re water chemistry checking, use of Polyfilter... as moves to correct the situation. Bob Fenner> Welcome back & thanks in advance. Craig

Building a fish tank Good Day Bob I have decided to now build a 6 foot tank and just wanted to know if you have any suggestions as to what thickness the glass should be. I custom built my 4 footer and used 7 mm glass. But I just don't know what the stress factor will be on a tank of this size. Any other suggestions would be more than welcome e.g.. sealant etc. <Please see WetWebMedia.com re Custom Tanks... starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diytksfaqs.htm and following the links outward. Bob Fenner> Kind regards, Gavin Smith

Larger Aquarium questions Bob, thanks for the repository of information and book. <You are the reason for their making my friend> Several questions. We're looking at setting up a larger FOWLR tank in our office. We're looking for the visual wow factor, so we're projecting it to be it at eye height (65-70" off floor). <Wow! Nose-bleed heights> To accomplish that, we're probably looking at tank stand of 36", and tank height of 30 to 36". Length will probably be 96" to 120". The question now is depth. It will be viewed on one side only (blue black against a wall), so we're trying to gauge what the best depth will be. Do we need to go to 36" or is 24 or 30" ok.  <Wider is better... but 30 inches is fine> Obviously we like to give fish as much room as possible. 30/36 gives you the ability to give them a front and back area, but it may encourage too much unseen activity in the back ?? <Not likely a problem... one that will be solved by the livestock... they will learn to come out> Any recommendations on depth at that size? Tank designers (most) are pushing for 36" (besides the additional cost, but that's minor) saying it gives a greater feel of 'depth'. <It does... and for the height of the system, a pleasing space to aquascape the back wall... If you can afford the space in the room and cost... I'd opt for the wider system> Also, the bio-load will probably be a bit heavy with a predator/carnivorous fish tank (lions, triggers, groupers, box/puffers, possibly an eel) - but we'll have a 540 to 675 gallon tank to work with. We do plan on having several hundred pounds of LR (probably not live sand though) supplemented with filtering. Do you recommend the CSR wet/dry (do they make a size that can handle this size) or possibly the CSR Cyclone line?  Also, what model Protein Skimmer (probably venturi based) do you usually like in this size <I would build or have built your own... sump system.... a Euro-Reef Skimmer...> (it'll probably be two here, possibly three). At this size, is ozone recommended? <Yes> Lastly, for acquiring livestock, say lions, triggers, groupers, boxfish, puffers, Tangs, is there an recommended size for acquisition in relation to the rest ? e.g. lions, groupers, triggers, box, etc, etc (in terms of smallest to largest). Thanks for any help. Ed <Yes... all this is posted on the species, groups coverage on WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Re: Larger Aquarium questions Bob, thanks for the responses. I thought I was deleted out of there :-), but read that you were on a trip. Hope your trip went well. <Yes, thank you... am holding off further sorting, labeling, scanning, placing of images/slides shot... as a "treat"... Must first "eat my Lima Beans here..."> Actually the aquarium specs have gotten larger. We're now at 10 x 3 x 4 (H). So its going to be a large one. We're got three overflows, and returns going through the overflows (probably two out of each Overflow in different directions). <Four feet high, starting at three feet from elevation in the room? I hope/trust there are more than eight foot ceilings... I encourage you to stop at three feet of height... for ease of set-up, maintenance... and cost. Every foot taller about doubles the expense of the tank itself> I'm worried that we're going to be creating all sorts of currents in various directions, but have been told that that doesn't make a difference. . . <Correct, no difference> We are having some issues with circulation. It looks like 8x is what you want to achieve in terms of water turnover. Using Marine Concepts top of the line skimmer, we're looking at a 2x water turnover for protein/fraction skimming. It'll draw from the 80 gallon sump and skim what it can I guess. The returns are probably going to be 2x AmpMaster 3600, or possible 3. That'll give about 4-5x water volume circulation. I presume that's enough on a larger tank. . . . Marine Concepts also indicated that they recommend the Iwaki 100, but the larger AmpMaster is usable as well. I was going to spec the Iwaki, but the AmpMaster looks to be a bit quieter, no reliability issues that I've heard of yet, and a bit more volume. If I can get away having 3 of the same pumps, it gives me some redundancy that I can switch around in there in case a pump fails. <Yes... though there are other choices> The width problem is still there. We're still debating between 30 and 36. At 36, we'll have a foot of working room behind the tank. At 30, it'll be 18". <Make this at least eighteen inches> Since most of the plumbing is underneath, the tank maintenance guys have told me there is minimal need to get behind the tank, if at all. I may just go with the wider one at that point. <Depends on what you want to do from back there...> I'm getting a medical tank and a acclimation/q tank ready now. Having some issues with temporarily holding my livestock :-). Not sure how, but somehow I cycled a tank in like 3-4 days using liverock from another tank of mine. I figured there would definitely be an ammonia, nitrite spike, etc. I also have a massive CPR cyclone biofilter/skimmer on a 50 gallon tank (overkill, I know but I'm moving things around). Never saw the ammonia pass 1 ppm, nitrite never exceeded 0.5 (at least that I could see/test). Then again all the filtration could be in the LR and my 'bio filter' (which you advise taking out, I know, but I'm keeping it in, in case I have to medicate the tank and it may kill the LR), may not even be doing much.. . . <Not much> One issue I do have is a space crunch - I have to hold a 12" dragon eel, a 4" grouper, 4" clown trigger and 3" bursa trigger, and a lionfish (Volitans 4") for about a month. I have a 45 gallon tank and a 20 gallon medical tank. I know I can put the eel, the grouper and one of the triggers in the smaller tank. Do you think it has enough room for the small lion as well? <Put a piece of large diameter PVC pipe or a fitting in there for it to hide/rest in> This is not long term, only until I can get the larger tank set-up/cycled. The eel shouldn't be an issue as he's small and pretty much sits at the bottom and there are plenty of LR for him to crawl around in. I think the grouper and trigger should be ok as they are both about 4" or so. <Keep a sharp and continuous eye on the Clown Trigger, now and ongoing> The lion mostly uses the top third of the tank and floats up there away from rocks anyhow which the trigger/groupers float in/on top of. Then with the last small 3" trigger I can put him in the small tank or 'loan' him to a friend to terrorize his tank for a few weeks. . . I don't think a 45 is enough space for the two triggers together and that may be problematic. . . Your thoughts ? <Only able to be ascertained through experience. See triggers coverage on WWM> I'd prefer not to use the 20 as it doesn't give them good space to move around, whereas the 45 is quite roomy. . . your thoughts? <Worth trying if this is your alternative> Lastly, how does WetWebMedia sustain itself ? Are you guys predominantly just hosted and revenues are from advertising ? Thanks <The "labor" is voluntary (none of us are paid directly), with income from our Sponsors. We spend the proceeds on web management and traveling together. Do have a few other related sites coming up... selling image work... Bob Fenner who is asking another large custom tank friend, Dan Freeman to respond to your queries as well. Dan?> regards, Ed

Re: Larger Aquarium questions, Dan pls take a look, respond Bob/Dan (don't have his email). Thanks again. We'll look at the 30" possibility. The design of the stand has actually been lowered to 30", for a total height of 6'6" at 4' aquarium height. The ceiling is 10' high or 10'5" (office lobby).  <Very impressive dimensions for a tank... mainly intended to be viewed while standing?> It was actually recommended to me to keep the height above 6' in a lobby environ unless its built into a wall (another guy who has an aquarium in his lobby). <Yes, agreed> He basically indicated, that people try and reach into the water if its not high enough and also try and put things into the tank when your receptionist isn't looking. That and having lionfish stings when people place their hands in the tank. . . . Now, he has a nice and high tank, the only thing he sees is cigarette butts, potato chips, Cheetos, bubble gum, and mints on top of the tank that people tried to toss in (but failed because of the enclosed top). He just has his maintenance guy clean that off every two weeks making sure nothing gets into the tank.. . . . Wonderful human nature isn't it ??? <Devise a complete cover> Usually the additional ft in height from 3 to 4, increases the cost significantly as it moves up in acrylic thickness (from 3/4 to 1"). However, since we're at 1" now anyway for the tank due to safety and it being 10' (8' tanks are usually at 3/4 which is much cheaper), the additional cost for 4' vs. 3' is quite mile (5% more).  <Cheap> That and I've been told acrylic comes in 4' sections anyhow. . .  <Yes, stock sheets are four by eight feet... like plywood> Yes, the maintenance could be an issue, but the maintenance guy pretty much said, there isn't much difference between 3' and 4'. he's probably going to have to go in there every once in awhile anyway, and he'd rather have 36" width and forgo the additional 6" in the back rather than 30" and having 18 back there. I agree with you that 18" makes it almost workable back there vs. 12" which means you can only slither. . . its going to be dark blue do you like blue or black for fish tanks ??) <Both... but Blue is better in general> back anyway back there and plumbing is coming up through the bottom 2" thru hulls, sorry bulkheads (I'm used to boating terms). <Equivalents> Overflows are sized at 8 x 10", so I've got plenty of room to do anything in them, and are placed in the back corners and middle of the tank. <I strongly encourage you to fashion/have fashioned overflow weirs/towers in the corners... with the through puts arranged under/in the corners> The 4' height is going to make it a bastard to aquascape though isn't it? Vertical height is always a pain to fill in, otherwise you end of with dead space.. . . <Not hard to do> Regarding the holding tank. Is it possible that this tank is fully 'cycled' after 4 days ? <Yes... please read through WWM> I guess it doesn't really need much cycling since we're importing 6 big pieces of LR from another tank. . . If I get an ammonia increase, it should have happened or started already ? I don't see it and I have a trigger (who is eating and generating ammonia) and two small damsels (which the small trigger can't swallow, yet. . . .) in there, there should be good measurable traces of ammonia. Salifert tests are reading <0.5 ppm (white results, no yellow). The eel, grouper and lion are zero problems. The clown so far is fine. I will be watching him now and ongoing. Obviously with the larger home later, lesser problems are probably going to arise just from space. He hasn't picked on the lion yet, which is the thing I'm concerned about if I move him to the 45 gallon holding tank. In terms of space, the 45 is plenty for these small guys, just don't know in terms of 'attitude' just yet, so we may have to play as you suggest. Thanks for the responses. You can forward to Dan as well, since I don't have his email. I was inquiring into your hosting as I can usually get/give good deals on dedicated hosting. Not sure how you were handling the sponsors and how you managed your servers or who does. Again, many thanks. <I don't make others e-mail addresses available w/o their express consent... Dan is a very busy neurologist, but does indeed have many important things to say to you, your situation, having a spectacular system in his waiting room. Bob Fenner> regards, Ed

New idea for Tank Dear Bob This is the first time I have ever sent an e-mail, so I hope it reaches you! <Yes my friend, welcome. We are strangers but once> I have a new idea, or you could say old idea, for constructing a tank. I plan on building a new reef tank to replace my 70 gallon all glass tank. It will be 5.5' long, 2' front to back and 2.5' high. <Quite a structure> Because acrylic is so expensive and easy to scratch, I am going to use glass. Instead of using very expensive 15mm glass, I want to use 10mm glass.  <I encourage you to investigate the suggested maximum height with this thickness, make of glass... and not approach it... I would not make this aquarium taller than two feet... for looks, function and safety> So my idea is to construct a stainless steel welded frame from 40mm angle and line it with 10mm glass. I think this will look original and be more robust especially where the kids are concerned! <Yes> I've already constructed the 40 gallon sump with Plenum and built the cabinet. My wife is now eager for me to finish the system so that we can bring the other settee back into the lounge! What do you think of this idea? Have you seen it done before?  <Making tanks with angle metal? Yes... have done it myself even> The only thing I can't decide on is how to place the bottom glass, either siliconed to base frame with 5mm ply taking up the void between base of frame when it is placed on a polystyrene bed. Or, to use 3/4" plywood in the base of the frame with polystyrene on top and then place the bottom glass on this. What do you think? <The former. Do record your efforts in writing, images... and consider writing all up for the hobby press. Bob Fenner> Eden Maddocks

Thickness of the glass Dear Bob, Thanks for your quick reply again. Yes I am thinking of a frame of sorts running lengthwise would be a similar 14ft x 5" bracing. (21.5mm laminated also?) <If can be cut in one piece, entire length, yes, but would cross-brace as well (over the top, front to back)> So with this how thick should the front to back bracing need to be? Will 4" at one ft interval be enough? <Would rather it was eight inches at two foot intervals myself> When you are talking circumference that only includes the top right? Do I need any bracing for the top to bottom bracing at the 4 90 degree bends? I have seen people use glass rods..? <External... a good idea for a few reasons. Yes, I would have a/the "frame" run all the way around, but not underneath the structural tank. Hope this is clear. Bob Fenner> Also do I have to repeat the same thing at the bottom of the tank to be on the safe side? <No> Okay just checking because I once had a tank 4' x3' 2ft wide. The tank maker repeated the same kind of circumference bracing at the bottom too.... Thanks again for your quick reply, John

Re: Thickness of the glass ><External... a good idea for a few reasons. Yes, I would have a/the "frame" run all the way around, but not underneath the structural tank. Hope this is clear. Bob Fenner>< Dear Bob, I sort of lost you on the last statement It is quite difficult to find glass rods for the four corner. What I mean is you know the internal 4 corners? <I wouldn't be so concerned re bracing the tank (made of glass versus acrylic) internally, or in this fashion... The external framing will lend some strength, but mainly protection to the glass edges...> Where the four pieces of glass of the tank join together, do I need to reinforce with additional material like a small piece of glass plank? <I would, on the top... run a width of glass... the four inches you stated... with the top cross-bracing on top and set inside the top front and back bracing strips... and the other cross bracing siliconed to the top of the front and back top bracing. If you have a drawing, please send this along here or fax it: 858-578-7372 in the USA.> So with all the bracing running at the top I suppose I have to get a slightly taller glass as it will eat into my 30" viewing space right? <No... the bracing is on top of the top edges of the tank... and on top of each other...> Also with laminated glass the clarity is sort of diminished right? Like I would need more light to sort of see through the tank compared to a normal 12mm float glass? <Much better clarity and strength with laminated glass> I think when the tank is done I will snap some pictures for you to see, before I fill it up. Like that if you think I need extra bracing you can tell me..........safe than very sorry :) <Yes. Bob Fenner> Thanks again, John

Thickness of the glass Dear Bob, Here I go again.........!:) I have been doing some last minute digging around and found out that so far most of the big tanks that I know of like a 14ft x 2.5ftx2.5ft and a 8'x4'x4' are all using only 19mm tempered glass. So am I going overboard by spec.ing 21.5mm laminated glass? the size I am happy with is 14'x2.5'x2.5'. <Not overboard> So how, please advice because if I can save a bundle I will like to . <Better as the saying goes "to be safe than sorry"... theoretically (I always feel ill at ease starting off with this adverb) only height of a given system determines (or shall I preface this word with "should") what thickness of a given material viewing panel need be... the length and width of a system not figuring in as translatable torsional force... such is not the case in actual practice... longer, wider tanks do generally present "additional" stress on viewing panels... I'd go with the thicker material if it's not too dear> Also the island where I live, there is so far only one group of people that I know that can get the tank together (experience I mean) They want to charge me $1700 US just to glue the tank like labor charges. Is that too much? <If you have the money, no> I have to supply the rest like the reinforcement bars and silicon. Sigh..... <I would, to make sure they're up to specification, yours> The reinforcement bar I am told cannot be 12mm because that will not be thick or strong enough to do this job is it through? <No... if I understand what you mean... I would at least double the thickness of the glass for the top braces, silicone together> So for the top how wide a bar do I need, like usual I see for a 6ft is 2 additional front to back glass beams with a width of 2 inches For my 14' do I have to have wider bars at every 1 ft interval? to prevent the front from bowing out? Can you recommend a design? <Better to have fewer, but wider supports... is this entire system going to have a frame of sorts about the circumference/edges? If not, you need to have substantial bracing (like two feet wide for every two, three foot "gap" to prevent bowing> Also do I have to repeat the same thing at the bottom of the tank to be on the safe side? <No> Sorry for the long one........... Problem is here those who know how to do it will never tell me, sort of like a trade secret........... <Not really secrets of this trade, but of structural engineering. I would contact my friends at RK2 for a further referral: http://www.rk2.com/ as well as the other "custom aquarium manufacturer" companies listed on WWM's links pages: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/links.htm and possibly who you can find there who is a real engineer. Bob Fenner> Regards, John from Marineangels.com

Aquarium manufacture Dear Bob, I knew you a long time ago at the fish club in San Diego. Currently I live in Australia.  <Ah yes, you lucky pug. Which part?> I have noticed that most of the aquariums for sale there are glass and look like they were made in someone's back yard. I was wondering how hard (and expensive) it would be to set up a small facility to build acrylic aquariums.  <Not too hard... considering/stipulated you can secure the sheet, solvent to meld... and relatively simple tools (for a small volume of business) like a table saw, blades for cutting plastic, clamps, propane burners for burnishing...> Most of the small aquariums for sale in the USA have bent corners instead of glued corners. Is that for looks or for some other reason? <Mainly looks... (though time to make tanks reduced, a bit stronger... like castle keeps.) heat-bending is simple once you have the heating gear, jigs made up, timing down...> I think that it would be too expensive to import aquariums to Australia from the USA due to the low value of the Oz dollar. <How about the cost of acrylic itself...? And is there some sort of market currently, one you could hope to create... within a few years?> Do you know anyone I could contact about this subject? I will be in the USA until December 29. <A bunch of folks... who would likely help you themselves. Please contact Craig DeWalt of CASCO/SeaClear: c_dewalt@seaclear.com, check out their site, www.seaclear.com on the net re your wishes, visit. We are old friends/associates... make that middle-aged ones, so please do mention my name.> Are you still living in Mira Mesa?  <Yes... moved a whole couple of miles to the north recently... sigh. But we're hauling down to the "land down under" this March...> I was in Fiji two years ago and went out diving with Walt Smiths' collectors a lot. They were very friendly to me. I heard that you came out to give a talk.  <Yes, folks so nice they put up with even me...> Unfortunately, I couldn't attend. I hope that all is going well with you. I like your web site.  <Hope to dive with you soon! Bob Fenner> Mike Sweet

Silicone sealant... Bob- Do you know of a specific brand of sealant in cartridges that is safe for use in a tank. I bought one at Home Depot that is made by GE and is 100% silicone. Since it did NOT say mildew resistant on the tube (where others do specify it) I thought it might be ok. Once I got home and put my glasses on to read the fine print on the back, it says not for use in aquariums. Thanks. Happy Holidays! Andy <Mmm, my long standing point on such matters... 100% is 100%... though the label may state something like "not for aquarium use"... have used the HD re-labeled products, RTV, other 100% silicones for aquariums for decades... One hundred percent... no mildewcides, other additives... Please take a stroll over the WetWebMedia.com site using the Search Tool and the word: silicone. Bob Fenner>

Tank Construction Greetings from Arizona, <Hello from sunny Southern Cal.> I've searched the net high and low, and I still feel "lacking", perhaps you could answer this question for me. Can Acrylic be "bonded" or make a water tight seal with Plywood? (can I use screws/bolts in the acrylic?) <Mmm, not "bonded" at the molecular level as in melded to other sheets, but can be drilled, bolted, nestled in a bed of silicone... best on a flat panel with a cut out if using wood for the structural component> Here's my situation - I'm constructing a Plywood Tank and I want to insert either an Acrylic or Glass front. Current Dimension - 96"L x 30" W x 24" H (approx 299 Gallons) Plywood Thickness - 3/4" AC Grade Plywood Glass Thickness (IF USED) - 1/2" Plate Acrylic Thickness (IF USED) - 1" (do you think I could go THINNER HERE??) <Mmm, half inch would bow too much for my liking, appearances... 3/4" should be fine... if supported all along the face of the viewing panel> Waterproofing Agent for Plywood - Epoxy Paint Waterproofing Agent for Glass to Wood - 100% pure Silicon<e> Waterproofing Agent for Acrylic to Wood - 100% pure Silicon?? <Yes, 100% silicone sealant> I'm still in the planning stages, but I want to make the "right" choices the FIRST time. I know the differences between Glass/Acrylic and I think I would rather use Acrylic in this situation, but COST is a factor and so is the "waterproofing issue". <I understand... and have made many such tanks over the last three decades> Ohhh one last comment/question. IF I use acrylic, would you recommend that I attach a sheet of Acrylic or Wood (maybe 3"-4" wide) running the length of the tank on TOP of the Front of the tank for added support for the Acrylic front?? <A good idea, yes, drilled, screwed about every four inches... and such a brace on the back, inside sides as well.> Thank you in advance for any advice you might give!! Soren <Please contact me if you have further questions, concerns. Bob Fenner>

Tank building questions Hello - First let me say that you site is packed with great info. I have been reading it for days. <Wow! Glad you find WWM of use> I like keeping large fish, and they require large tanks. I have built several on my own using 2 part epoxy floor paint over 3/4 plywood and sealed 1/2" glass to the front with 100% silicone (usually GE door and window - never kitchen and bath as it is mildew resistant). <Neat, good for you> Glass has become hard for me to get a decent price so I have been working with acrylic. I have two tanks with acrylic "windows" that are leakers. The first is a 360gal with 1/2", the second is a 630gal with 1". <Mmm, I'd likely try resealing them...> I have been talking to people about this for months and I think the problem is the sealant. Silicone doesn't bond to acrylic very well. Options that I have come up with are drilling the acrylic and frame every 4-6" and bolting it in place, or looking for a better sealant. The better sealant I have found is Sikaflex. It is used on boats to seal windows at depths up to 10'. My original plan was the bolting but the acrylic shop recommended against it as it could stress the acrylic on the holes. What do you suggest? <Hmm, how tall are these tanks? I would likely drill and screw the acrylic, coating over the hardware in the tank with two-part water-proof epoxy, cut away the existing 100% silicone, let it dry for a day or two... wipe the surface down with an organic solvent (we used to use toluene, xylene...) in a well-ventilated setting... and then re-apply a nice, thick bead of silicone... maybe "feathering it out" with a plastic trowel (small ones available at Home Depot, Lowe's...). IF the tanks are only a couple (as in two) feet tall or so... Otherwise, I'm a bit nervous given the width of the wood and acrylic sheets myself. BTW, do look into used glass... especially "old glass doors" for your "humungo tanks"... sometimes these are available from companies that take down old buildings... for very little money> For sealing the wood I have been using 2 part epoxy floor paint. I have been looking at using fiberglass. What are your thoughts on this? Epoxy or Polyester resin? Should I cover the tank with fiberglass mats or just pour the resin and hardener on? <I have made many (hundreds) of tanks for science and industrial purposes using fiberglass cloth stripping (you can buy it as such... I would), and polyester resins... mix the hardener (likely MEK based) with the resin/s as instructions call for (do allow for temperature, time...) and lots of air circulation (have had the worlds worst "highs"/headaches from breathing in too much, too long... One coat, wetting the inside corners first, then apply cloth... wear clothes you really don't like, intend to keep... gloves... Have someone there to help "hand" you things...> I'm also planning a large tank of about 16' long, 4' deep (with 30" window), and 6' wide. Should I go to cement for something this large? <I would consider this approach... and gel-coated fiberglass shells, spun-cast polyethylene forms you might cut out, place a viewing panel in... Bob Fenner> Thanks, John

Re: tank building questions Thanks for the fast reply. The current tanks are 2' deep (360gal) and 3' deep (630gal). I like the idea of using the screws/bolts.  <Do apply another 3/4 sheet to the front/face of the 3' deep tank for strength/rigidity... I would drill pilot holes every six inches use 2 or if you can find them 2 1/4" brass screws, counter-sink the heads in the acrylic...> What size would I need and how often do I need to bolt (i.e. every 4"?) I think the acrylic is thick enough. There is no bowing. The acrylic over hangs onto the tank by about 5" either side. Again, Thank you for the help. John <Perhaps you should consider a career in the public aquarium exhibit design, fabrication business? Please take a look at the book reviewed here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/afascfishpowell.htm Know you would enjoy, gain by reading it. Bob Fenner>

Acrylic questions Bob, A couple of questions for you regarding acrylic and its use in sump/tank construction: 1) What type/brand of acrylic would you recommend for aquarium construction. There are many types: Plexiglas, Acrylite, Optix, etc, and I'm not sure which one (if any of these) are appropriate for aquariums (i.e.. transmit PAR light, maintain rigidity-avoid warping, avoid discoloration, etc). <Hmm, actually most acrylics are pretty much the same. What people call them are more brand names then different formulations. I am a big fan of Reynolds as a manufacturer...> 2) What type of acrylic cement is best for capillary bonding acrylic in aquariums (Weld-on#3 ?). <Weld-on for sure... Number three is okay... look for/use a "gel" type if this is one of your first tries at making acrylic anything> 3) What type of acrylic would you recommend for filtering UV while allowing other light to transmit freely (esp. PAR). <Again, just whatever type you can find that is reasonably inexpensive of about the right thickness. I would not transmit "useful" light through the acrylic... shine it directly into the water> Lastly, I've found a fluidized bed filter used in the shrimp aquaculture industry that's rated at handling 2 lbs of shrimp feed per day. Any guess at how much raw live rock this filter could handle if I used it in the curing process - along with heavy skimming (i.e.. skimmer output set to 5 times the number of gallons of water, with 1 gallon of water per lb of Fiji rock in the curing tank). <A guess is "a bunch"... Shrimp are very dirty animals to culture... I'd guess if the folks who engineered this are saying "two pounds of shrimp feed", this equates to hundreds of pounds of live rock. Really. Bob Fenner> Thanks!

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