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Ajmckay's contest thread - w/Water!


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#51
seabass

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Pics tomorrow.

Tomorrow? :P

When I feel bad about how far behind I am, I think to myself...at least I'm not that far behind Ajmckay. :lol: But I'm still liking what I see.

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#52
HiImSean

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i wanna see more :D im contemplating a sump similar to yours with a macro display/fuge in the front

#53
bitts

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thats it AJ hates us. he never posts, there no new pics. we've been dismissed to the lounge, for the rats to have their way with. :tears:

#54
animalmaster6

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:mellow:

#55
bitts

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yep he definitely hates us.we come by, we make time for him, so on blah blah blah...
he blows us off. hmmmfffff...

#56
ticklem

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Man I really love your fuge!!! I wish I had the money to invest in one like that. Stand is comming along nicely I bet its going to look pretty cool with those tiles.

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#57
ajmckay

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Okay guys, I've abused your feelings for long enough!

Tonight I have some updated pictures. First off, it doesn't look like much has changed. I have added a few things though. If you remember in an earlier picture I was just going to have the slate tiles going across the stand. Well I was thinking that since the stand is heavy most of the carrying weight would have to be supported directly by the slate, which is weak. So I added some 1/4" oak boards under the slate tiles. This also means I have to re-cut the slate and shave off a little. Time to bust out the wet saw again. Brrr it's cold out!!

I've also finished adding all the trim pieces. They look really nice! So in the meantime I've been severely limited in my time to work on this thing. My wife and daughter take up pretty much all of my extra time. And now with crappy daylight savings time it seems like I have even less time now.

Still, I've been messing around with stain colors. I tested like 6-7 different stain colors and also just plain polyurethane. I think I'm going to end up with a lighter color, with a reddish tint. One huge problem I ran into though was the wood putty I used to fill the nail holes (elmers probond wood filler in the tube). When dry it looked exactly like the wood. Once I stained my wood samples or just polyurethaned it, the nail holes stuck out like red monkey butts. So today I gouged out as much of it as I could and I'm going to instead use the minwax stainable wood filler (in the tub). I also tried DAP plastic wood, but it's too hard to sand down and it still doesn't look as good stained as the minwax stuff.

Today I sanded the stand down really good with some 80 grit. Tomorrow I'll re-fill the nail holes and re-sand it with 220.

Here's the pictures!
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In this picture I placed a scrap piece of slate so you can see what it looks like.
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Edited by ajmckay, 14 November 2010 - 08:08 PM.


#58
bitts

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I'm sorry who are you.

we kd we kd



that sucks about the putty. will all the coats be the same or do you think it will be a combo.

#59
Arkayology

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Sweet build.

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#60
ajmckay

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Right now the current champ is "pecan" by minwax. I'll probably just do 2 coats of a single stain and then a whole ton of poly. I like the mahogany gel stain, but my wife thinks it's too dark. I suppose I do want the slate to "pop" though, so I'll probably keep it light. The slate has plenty of red and yellow in it.

Their website is only okay...
http://www.minwax.co...ts/color-guide/

Now here's one question though... I'm using a minwax satin polyurethane to coat it. The can is 90% full and I've had it sealed for probably 1.5yrs. When I tested it on my wood test strips the finish wasn't very smooth. It was actually pretty bumpy. I'm not sure if it's because the can might have been a little shaken up (bad habit of mine working with a lot of latex paint, where shaking works really good). I'm going to run some steel wool over some of the test strips and see how smooth it comes out. My question is if anyone's had that happen, or if you think that poly has a shelf life. I'm pretty sure the can is free of moisture.

Edited by ajmckay, 14 November 2010 - 08:43 PM.


#61
ajmckay

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Update! I have stained the stand!!

So I finally finished re-filling all the nail holes, I sanded 80 grit, then 150 grit, then finally 220 grit. Everything's super smooth! I ended up using the Ipswitch Pine as it had a little less red and more brown, which I think will go well with the grey in the slate tiles.

Posted Image
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Tomorrow goes on the first coat of satin polyurethane. Then I'm going out of town on Tuesday and hopefully finish the poly on next Sunday.

#62
bitts

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your right it does look good with the slate. nice job AJ.

#63
ajmckay

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Thanks bitts...

It's warm out today so I'm going to try to cut down the slate (the piece above is just a scrap) to the right size. It's like 60F today... probably won't see any more of those for a good while to run the wet saw...

#64
animalmaster6

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Looks great AJ! Time to get this thing going!

#65
ajmckay

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Looks great AJ! Time to get this thing going!


I agree! :D You realize I started this September 2009... I bought some of the wood and did most of the design at that time. Then I bought a house, had a kid, and worked a lot... Hunting season didn't help either (deer hunting is a big deal in Michigan - and takes up most of my Saturdays). Of course I didn't do a thing on it for a year, but I picked it up again this last August/September.

It's definitely looking like it will be wetted soon.

Edited by ajmckay, 22 November 2010 - 03:19 PM.


#66
bitts

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congrats on the little one.
AJ

#67
AlisaMac

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Sterling heights? I used to live in Midland.. Roughly the same weather we get here in Rochester, and it was nice today (minus the rain).

#68
ajmckay

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Haha I drove though Midland all the time when my wife (then GF) went to CMU in Mt. Pleasant.

Thanks Bitts.


So today I got home too late to cut the slate, but I will be doing some polyurethaning tonight.

#69
sayn3ver

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How did you find working with the minwax wood filler (yellow tub;tube?) Was it the gritty sand like texture stuff? I just finished my tank stand and was disappointed after staining that the filler which was "stain-able" and "just like wood" hardly took the stain and stood out rather well. After putting a lot of time into it and seeing no way around it I finished it with my topcoat and was done with it. (Only had a handful of brad holes a some 23g pin holes). I tested stain and topcoat samples prior to staining but never thought to test how the wood filler would look like you did. My biggest issue was the stain in the "grain of the wood" making a few areas look smudged.


In the future I will use traditional wood joinery or glue and pocket screws for any future furniture like projects. I am rather new to wood working and my finishing leaves a lot to be desired (second piece ever).

As far as poly, it shouldn't be rough/lumpy. Applying the coating too quickly or with a foam brush tends to leave a lot of air bubbles that will need to be addressed between coats. (adding a little solvent will help reduce this). I am unsure of the shelf life of an open can of poly and I am pretty sure polyurethane varnish is a reactive coating and probably won't be worth using after a year. I am not positive on that but is it worth risking your project over a can of old poly?

If it was shellac or lacquer then you would probably be alright though you might have needed to added some additional solvent if too much escaped the can over all those years.

I used a modified tung oil product on my stand and was quite happy with it. I still have to finish the door however.

I really like how you trimmed the top of the stand and the top corners. It looks really classy.

Edited by sayn3ver, 22 November 2010 - 10:27 PM.

never say never

#70
ajmckay

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Thanks for the comments Sayn. I'm pretty happy the way it came out. I'm not an experienced woodworker and this is really my first major piece. I did take a lot of time to make sure everything went together and fit perfectly. I'm still really thankful for sand paper though!!! The trim is to hide the edges of the oak plywood. I was considering either attaching an outside trim piece, but I could only find one that was like 3/4" and would have made the stand look bulky. I was also considering cutting the plywood at a 45 deg. angle and having a flush corner, but I just got a table saw and I'm not an expert at using it yet. Also I would need a perfectly sharpened $100 blade to make it look good that way.

I had a tough time with the wood filler... The ones I used were:

1) Elmers pro-bond (red oak, golden oak, and the standard stainable in a tube)
2) DAP plastic wood
3) Minwax stainable (yellow tub - I use it a lot and the nice thing is that if it gets a little dry you can mix in water to right the consistency)

Because I was going to top-coat I didn't want to use the minwax wood putty, which you apply after top coating. So out of my tests believe it or not the minwax worked the best. The elmers stained really dark, and was noticeable even with dark stains (mahogany). The DAP plastic wood stained lighter (which could be an advantage as I believe you can actually mix a little stain into the product) but was a pain to get into the holes and if you have any overfill, be prepared to sand a lot. I think that with more effort you might be able to get really good results with the DAP.

The key to the minwax I found was to really sand it well. It stood up to the power sander really well compared to the elmers, and while sanding the wood I spent a little time on each hole to sand away any overfill, which tended to be a little yellow.

Finally, thanks for your suggestions on the poly. I used a foam brush initially to apply it and by habit I shook the can instead of stirring it. I ended up not applying the poly last night (busy packing for the long weekend) so when I get back I'll test it again on a scrap piece to see if it's still bubbly/rough. If it is I agree it's not worth saving a $10 can of poly as you really only get 1 try at this.

#71
bitts

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Well, far from a "veteran" reefer, I do have a decent amount of experience.

First thing, there is no single theory, rule, or formula to estimate a good bio-load for a tank. But, I believe there is a proper method to figure it out during the tank planning/conception stages.

1) You need to decide on what type of tank you want (reef, FOWLR, FO, etc...).
2) Then you need to decide on the amount of time you're willing to devote to the tank, including potential vacations, power outages, etc. Also consider who else in your house is capable/willing to help out.
3) Draft a list of compatible livestock, obviously this will probably be larger than what will eventually inhabit the tank.
4) Once you begin to know what livestock you want, then you need to figure out how to provide the best conditions for that livestock. The best tanks IME are designed around the livestock.. At this point you'll continue to narrow down the choices based on:

A) the capacity of your bio-filter. The more rock and the more flow you have, the more livestock you can safely support (in theory). Having a sump allows you to "cheat" in a sense by having more rock and more water volume. Keep reading though as this isn't a free pass.

B) your maintenance routine. Will you be doing 10%, 20%, 50%, or some other % water changes every week? Larger water changes mean you'll be removing more waste and so theoretically you can support a higher bio-load. Remember that this is only as long as the water changes are consistent and sufficient. Thinking you can have a high bio-load by doing 50% weekly water changes and skipping it even once could potentially cause a crash. I would call this living on the edge. If you're going to play the overstocking game you need to know your stuff and have a QT set up at all times as well as take proper precautions and have a thorough understanding of the biology of your tank. There are people who get away with this for years though because of their skill and understanding. Filtration, such as a protein skimmer, can help as well but IMO shouldn't be relied upon as a means to achieve a higher stocking level. Skimmers fail, and what then? Unless you have an extra humongous skimmer lying around it doesn't sound like a good idea. Actually this goes for all equipment. Try not to be too reliant on your equipment. If you keep a lighter bio-load you'll survive equipment failures much better (in most cases).

C) the requirements of livestock. Ultimately this is what limits us the most IMO. Most marine species are territorial. As the amount of territory diminishes in a tank the aggression rises. As the aggression rises (doesn't even have to be to the point of causing physical harm) the stress rises. As the stress rises fish get weaker and susceptible to disease, and so on. Also remember that you need to feed the fish. The majority of marine fish do best when fed small amounts multiple times per day. We nano-reefers tend to err on the side of feeding too little in an attempt to keep the available nutrients in the water to a minimum. Yet numerous studies have shown that the healthiest fish are fed multiple times per day and this creates a lot of potential waste. Some fish need a lot of rock for foraging. Others need a lot of open water to swim. We as aquarists need to be aware of the natural behaviors of our fish because when we create the proper environment the fish are healthiest and behave naturally.

What about corals? Many corals have a small margin of water quality tolerances. Finally there is your CUC. You need a sufficient CUC for your bio-load.

In conclusion, people on the forums usually give recommendations to beginners that limit the # of fish they put in their tank. Truth is that this is mostly so the beginner can get a "feel" for the hobby and learn how to react quickly. The survival rates of our animals really needs to increase. We need to get rid of the mentality that we can accomplish whatever goals, dreams, or ambitions we have and get back to understanding the biology of the marine ecosystems we try to recreate. We really don't need to know the max bio-load a tank can support. Sorry this probably isn't the answer you wanted to hear, but it's what I've learned through my own trials as well as those of others who share on the forum.

It seems like there aren't very many good discussions on here anymore on the biological aspects of the hobby. We're enthralled in all the new fancy equipment we can buy, or the increased selection of fish that are available, or how LED's look on a tank, etc...


AJ
just wanted to say this is one of the better posts I've seen in a while. nice job.
oh & I did find a differential equation to help answer the question, although you cant determine half the variables needed for it. most notably the flow rate through the sand bed.

#72
gutterguy

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Updates AJ?
The smokin reefer... just add pork!
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Or you could have kept your mouth shut and not dicked up his thread.


#73
ajmckay

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Yeah you guys are probably owed some updates. Well the stand is basically finished. There's only a few things left. 1) It still needs doors, but I can attach those anytime. I need a router first to finish them. 2) I need to grout it, but that's easy. I just wanted to be sure I gave the adhesive enough time to dry. 3) I need to decide is what to cover the back with. If you recall from earlier drawings, the bottom will be completely enclosed. Probably some cheap 1/4" plywood over the back, and doors on the front and sides. The middle section will only be partially covered, due to the 30b sump being split in half horizontally (when looking down on it). My original idea was to cover the back completely, make 1/2 width doors for the sides (in other words not covering the entire side openings, only 1/2), and finally to have a sliding, hanging (from the bottom of the top shelf) divider which would basically separate the filter half of the sump from the display portion. This is just as much for noise control as it is aesthetics.

So my final problem is: What should I use for the back of the middle section? I don't really want to go out and buy another $30 piece of oak plywood... But at the same time I'm thinking that 1/4" particleboard might look tacky... I'd paint it black, but still... Maybe I should just get a $6 piece of 1/4" ply and cover the entire back of the stand... I'm not concerned about the torsional rigidity (though it wouldn't hurt), but more about containing the sound and keep the looks up. It would need to be a smooth piece of plywood though.

Also, my wife has decided to paint the dining room (where the tank is going) and she want's to do it before I set it up... Soooo... As long as she can pick out a color quickly, I'll be painting this weekend...

I'm also putting together a shopping list for plumbing. That's really the final piece to this puzzle.

Posted Image
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Edited by ajmckay, 08 December 2010 - 09:34 PM.


#74
bitts

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wow aj thats looking really good. there are benefits to doing things right even if it takes longer.

#75
marc3lo19

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great job on the stand
keep the photos coming

p.s I think particleboard painted black for backing will work fine

Edited by marc3lo19, 30 January 2011 - 12:41 AM.

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