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Jims temperate pico


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It always seems to take much longer than you ever thought to get a specialty tank put together!


This projected started out as a pico, then I thought about making it a 20gal tank. In the end I wanted to keep it small & simple. Plus if the pico goes well I can always upgrade later.


I wanted to use thick acrylic so I would never have a condensation problem. I was going to build it my self but was having trouble finding the material & found a DIY thread on RC that was hosted by James from envision acrylics in Oregon. Long story short he was very helpful & ended up building it for me. The tank is 2 1/2gal display area & basically a 1/2gal permanent HOB filter area. There will be a iceprobe mounted up from the bottom of the filter area which will also house the return pump. If I have trouble holding 55 degrees in the summer I can bring another iceprobe down from the top of the filter area during the hot weather. Here is a pic James send me of the tiny tank. He will be sending it out next week along with a 28" diameter round tank that will house a large nem & clowns one day (that's another story/thread).




I glued several pieces of dry rock together to go in the tiny tank. There will be only the one rock so if & when I need to do some work in the tank I can take the one rock out & put it in a small bucket & be able to work in this small space. I have had the rock & sand in a 3gal vase at room temp. It has been running for about three weeks now. Getting a head start on the cycle. Seeded it with sand & water from my nano I put a few tiny pieces of fish food in every day so the bacteria have something to work on. There are spaghetti & bristle worms already, but guess they wont make it when the temperature drops.




A small cylinder distorts the view but you can kinda see what the aquascape will look like.




I built a new filter for the 3gal vase. It has an overflow & I'll get a pic of it installed in the next day or two. I am a little embarrassed at how messy the glueing is but it's a prototype. If I ever set it up permanent I'll build a nicer looking one like it.


I'll be calling Stuart at Coldwater Marine when the slow cycle is done. The wait will be the least fun part!


That's it for now


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  • 2 weeks later...

No the tank is done & in a crate, should be on a truck along with my round tank but not sure. Rock, sand & some media still cycling in the holding tank. Also I have a prototype LED light in route from Build My LED. Be glad when this starts coming together!



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  • 4 weeks later...






James did a fantastic job building this tank, much much better than I ever could have. I am so happy with it. Only thing I did was do the fishing work on the edges to save some money. I now know why that part cost so much.



Nice lids too



Inside the filter, return pump & ice probe chamber. 120gph Rio pump, seems to be a good flow rate. Will shorten the pipe from the return pump when I get the rock in place.



Doing a temp check with fresh water. Looks like about 58 degrees running ice probe 24/7. Looks like I'll need to run two ice probe at least in the summer. I'll make a filter chamber lid to mount the second ice probe on this next week.



The holding tank with rock & sand for new tank has been running at room temp for couple months now. When I put the rock & sand in the new tank & drop the temp slowly I'm hoping it wont be long before it will be ready for some start up critters.


I got the first of two prototype LED lights from a new company I have been talking/working with. I think they are going to be perfect for pico tanks. Very small, dimable & custom spectrums. when I get the other one I'll take & post a bunch of photos of them.


That's it for now




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  • 2 weeks later...

Some progress



I made the canopy with 1/8" acrylic.

Mounted the second ice probe in the lid of the HOB area.



The lights are prototypes from Build My LED. Check them out, their housing is the heat sink. They can put together any spectrum you want, & they are very small!!!



The optics are a strip that runs the length of the unit. These are 6" long & have four channels. They will be offering the multi channel option soon & right now a 12" unit is the shortest they offer, but I think if they get request for shorter one they will off them too.



These have 6 RB, 2 NW, 2 UV, & a red & green, each on their own channel. Maybe a couple less RB & a couple more whites would be better? The green is a bit strong with a small light like this. The next one will try cyan instead (a little less green). Randall is working on one more for me, a single unit, multi channel, 8" long with a little different spectrums.



Shot of the second ice probe mount & frosted/sanded lid over display. The frosted lid loses the shimmer effect of shallow water, but I wanted to get that deep water less light look. Will need to get some live stock established to see how well the spectrum & deep water look will work out.



My aquascaping.

Glued a half dozen pieces of dry rock together. Used superglue & sprinkled some fine reef sand on the glue while still wet to camouflage the joints.



As you can see this little guy is not in a prime spot. On a self in the back room/filter fish room get the ugly stuff out sight area. I hope when there is some nice livestock established my wife will want it in the living room, we'll see. I wanted but could not find some acrylic disc to set this tank on. both to looks nice & to make picking it up & cleaning up spills easier, will have to make some I guess. Right now it just setts on some plywood strips.


Temp is at 68 ATT, will drop it one degree a day till it hits 55. The rock & sand have been cycling for months now at room temp, so should/hope when it's at 55 degrees it will be ready for start up livestock. Only thing to do till thin is make the acrylic disc & I think I will remake the canopy. I don't like the gap between the waterline & the bottom of the canopy. I didn't think it would bother me, but it does.



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I maybe could try to modify the canopy some way. But it is not that hard to build. Cut the pieces out on table saw, run them over a joiner once, tape it together & glue it. Most work of all is finishing the edges.

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No new pix, but did remake the canopy (no gap between the water level & bottom of it now) & so glad I did. The temp is almost there & will start checking perimeters tomorrow but pretty sure it's pretty close to cycled (maybe wishful thinking).


Been adjusting the spectrum with the multi channel LEDs. It is so nice how it can bring out certain colors with different adjustments. Can't wait to see the tank & how the lights work with some livestock in.

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How cute!!! He looks like he might be where they got the idea for some of the Japanese cartoons.


Unfortunately one of the ice probe has blown a fuze & looks like it may have to be sent back to the manufacturer to be replaced. I had just test all the perimeters & every thing was right on & ready to go too. Now the temp is only 60 degrees. I may get another one for a spare, don't know how often this happens. Going to have to hold off on livestock for now. But who wouldn't love to have one of those?

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