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37g custom acrylic "cube" full build process


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this will be my official tank build thread charting the progress from the beginning


this first post will cover the basics of my stand and planned plumbing


here are some renderings of the stand done by my little brother (a mechanical engineer) on pro-e and ansys


the first rendering is just a simple layout of the stand


yellow and brown = 1x6

black = 1x10

green and red = 2x4

blue = 1x4




it will be skinned on the sides with plywood and the back will be open to allow for cords/plumbing, blah blah blah


the front has no center brace to allow for maximum access to the sump/fuge area...since I am very bad at making doors I will have one giant sliding panel in a track


the top (since the tank is narrower than the stand) will have two wood boards inserted beside the tank (to cover the area between the green 2x4s and the edges) to produce a table top look with the tank sunk down 3/4" into it




the next rendering shows an ansys simulation in order to calculate stress on the materials...since this stand will be made out of pine, the properties of pine were inserted into the software


we estimated the weight of my tank at 500 pounds, so for this test we used a tank weight of 1,000 pounds to be on the safe side


the rendering shows areas of stress, the red does not indicate danger, it only indicates the location of maximum stress...DMX stands for "max displacement"




as you can see from the rendering with a weight of 1000 pounds on the stand the maximum displacement is .003 inches, so that is safe enough for me...hehe


but what about forces from the sides and front to back....running a similar test with a lateral force of 500 pounds applied, the maximum displacement in any direction was .017"


I am including all of this jibberish in case anyone wants to copy the design and wonders if it is safe


details and additional pics of the stand build process can be seen in my thread in the DIY forum located HERE


enough of the stand...on to the plumbing


in this diagram (mine aren't quite as good as the engineer's) the neon green indicates the return pump...


in the sump the huge middle area void is just there to indicate that I have space in case my fuge idea doesn't fit I can redesign the sump since it is large enough to do so (20 long)




a few notes about the numbered areas on the diagram


1. number 1 indicates a reducing elbow from 1" to 1/2"...this will then connect to a 1/2" ball valve then into 1/2 pipe then to 1/2" flex tubing, this is how I will do water changes....through a door on the side of the stand I will access the tubing, open the ball valve (after closing the other valves on the return line) and fill my buckets that way...I might even get ambitious and hook a 50' hose up to it and put it in the bathroom for draining


2. since I couldn't show the design any further than the top of the tank I would just like to mention that the two 3/4" lines will be Y'd into 4 loc-line flare nozzles to provide plenty of flow to the tank


phew..that took a long time to write


please leave comments and questions...I do pretty much everything DIY so hopefully my thread can help someone out there trying to do the same thing

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my second post will be discussing the tank itself and the lighting


the tank is 1/2 acrylic rimless w/ center overflow...overall tank dims are 24x18x18


here is a shot of the tank (empty as it still is)




the overflow has a hole drilled for a 1" bulkhead but I think I am going to enlarge the hole to accomodate a 1.25" drain




I will be attempting 6x24 t5ho lighting, I may be cutting it back to 4 bulbs, havent decided yet


here is a shot of the tank with the lights on



for more info on my fixture and lighting plans check out my thread in the lighting forum, found HERE


thanks for looking, as usual, all comments and questions are welcome

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It's a lovely tank, I have something similar 18x18x18. I would be careful with the bowing on it though. Mine is smaller than yours but uses the same thickness acrylic and I still have to reinforce it. Keep me posted. I'm glad the states are starting to catch up with the rest of the world and ditching the the unsightly frames



2002 whoop it up.

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I am thinking that the canopy will protect against bowing hopefully


here in the states there is not necessarily any established tank frame policy


thanks for the feedback, how did you reinforce it?

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i have a eurobracing. since it's 1/2 inch thick, u can pretty much hide the whole bracing. I'm from california btw and as far as I've seen, most commercially available tanks have a frame.



Also, on the t5, do they have individual reflectors? If not, I think you've defeated the purpose by using them. 4 is more than enough imho. You have to take into consideration the light spread. if half of it goes into the back of the tank or out the tank, uselessness abound. good luck with your project though. How are you gonna do the return lines?


I find that with such a clean tank, seeing any kind of wiring bugs the heck out of me. The thicker acrylic does look so much like glass doesn't it? You're just so tempted to leave the tank empty. Nothing as beautiful as a fresh fish tank =D



edit: sorry didn't know you were gonna have a canopy. But why would you want a canopy on such a pretty tank? I think you should forgo the canopy. It will help with heat and create a much more open look. It's the way to go grasshopper

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I like the engineering analysis of your stand, perhaps you should also do one to simulate the fluid dynamics and lighting of your tank too :) Would be very interesting to see.


If you are doing everything right, you will get much less replies. Therefore, I suggest screwing something up :D Say something like "I have 12w of PC and I want a BTA!!", that should get everyone started!


Nice tank by the way, I would love to see how this one turns out. Perhaps you can make that a display refugium while you are at it.

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looks like it will be amazing, i really like the look of the tank, and i too would not put a canopy on it.

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thanks for the responses everyone...


the bulbs each have their own reflectors (they aren't the fancy SLR's but they are individual nonetheless)


about the fluid dynamics...everytime I ask him a water flow question he begins to get too technical, he includes friction caused by the pipes, etc etc...my main concern was that my 1" drain would not handle the flow from the q1 4000, so I sort of have the "luxury" of inefficient plumbing since I need to cut that down anyways...but IM still going to enlarge the drain to a 1.25" instead of the current 1"


the lights DO have the 4 legs available, but I just dont know about going w/o a canopy....doesn't ###### get in the tank when its just sitting there open? and don't fish jump out?


thanks again everyone

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about the fluid dynamics...everytime I ask him a water flow question he begins to get too technical, he includes friction caused by the pipes, etc etc...

Don't you just love them engineers? (I am one myself). At least you know you are getting your beer's worth :D


but I just dont know about going w/o a canopy....doesn't ###### get in the tank when its just sitting there open? and don't fish jump out?

Dust can get on the surface and so can flying insects. If you are skimming the surface you won't see any of that. Some fish have a higher tendancy to jump, but most stay. If you are really concerned, then you can use egg crate as the cover. Topless facilitates good gas exchange across the surface of the water and also dissipate heat faster.

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about the fluid dynamics...everytime I ask him a water flow question he begins to get too technical, he includes friction caused by the pipes, etc etc...

That's why you get him a case of beer and tell him he can put together your tank's piping as you can't understand the engineer's jargon.


I agree with everyone else and say you should go open top. Much cleaner look to the tank, better co2/o2 gas exchange, runs cooler, ect. You could also put some sort of window screening mesh material to keep bugs and chit out.

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here is my main concern about open top tank...I dont care if a bug gets in because the fish will eat it in about .001 seconds



but dont the lights shine in your eyes when you try to watch TV or anything like that?

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Most of the light ends up in the tank, the rest is more like ambient lighting. ime, not enough to distract from watching tv, reading, ect.

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yep, you're exactly right, thats' what it is


the cross that goes left will always be shut off except for water changes, the cross that goes right (that you asked about) has a ball on it and will just be a return loop to the sump


this is so I can run the pump full blast, but still control how much makes it to the tank...without using a ball valve to restrict it directly...


the gate valve I am expecting to always keep wide open, if the rest of the system works properly....basically I am attempting to make sure there is an un-impeded route from pump to tank for the water, but that outlet allows some of the flow so that I dont get the full force of the quietone 4000 to the small tank that I have


basically I bought the wrong pump, so I have to modify my plumbing a little

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well Ive been working on the stand and so far all is going well...only problem is that I made the trim too short to accomodate my huge styrofoam pad, so Im gonna try to find some thinner stuff...here are a few pics of the stand so far...its not quite done yet, but you can kind of get the idea


here is a pic of the trim area, this is a view from the bottom up, just showing how I did it



adding the cross braces and test fitting the tank



legs and base added



"floor" added



additional tank support added on top



and top skin added



so far that is my progress after one day, hopefully I'll get it finished up tonight


thanks for looking/posting

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well the stand is finally done....full details and a bunch more pics in my DIY thread over at reefcentral http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthre...threadid=904230


here are a few pics of the finished stand






the stand turned out great (as far as what I was expecting) and it ended up costing me 100 bucks, twice my stand's budget, but 1x10s and 1x6s killed me...I was hoping to find crappy quality lumber thats all curved and crappy, but they only had those sizes in "premium" so I had to pay 10 bucks each for 1x10s....just the 1x10s and 1x6s alone cost me 40 bucks...destroyed my budget




I am now on to my next challenge...I am trying to figure out a way to suspend this light fixture that I got...I really really really really really do NOT want to hang it from the ceiling


here is a shot of the fixture with the legs on it (I think the legs look absolutely ridiculous)



IM thinking about connecting a vertical 2x4 into the back of the stand and then connecting a triangle brace or something out from that to connect the lights to...I havent ironed out the details of that yet, but I'd really like some suggestions for suspending this light fixture


at this time Im not interested in building a canopy


thanks for looking, and as always comments and questions are appreciated

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the tank and stand looks great. but man that light is way up there! you could maybe suspend it from a bookshelf above the tank? or from the ceiling... if you have a stud above where you intend to place your tank.

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thanks for the comments guys




I have finished the stand and light suspension system (for full details, check out my thread in the DIY forum about this (link in my above post #22))


here is a shot of the final stand w/ lights in the lowered position




here is a fully current and updated plumbing and flow plan, I have taken advice from others and decided not to drill out my drain hole, because I dont want that much flow goign through the sump anyways....also, the fuge I got was too tall and wont fit inside my stand (dumbass), so I will have to build the fuge into my sump


here is a pic of the diagram



so, this is what IM going to do, Im gonna order my savko plumbing tomorrow and get started on that as soon as it arrives


thanks again everyone for looking, comments and questions are appreciated

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