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Current Tank

tranquil_anteater

New Member
Joined
15 Dec 2020
Messages
11
Location
UK
HI, just a quick preview of our current tank; I'll hopefully add some more pics and notes of how it got put together later on.

- I originally built the whole bookcase, tank, and cabinets in 3D. The glass, woodwork, and structural steel underneath were then built to that design. I designed and welded up a lighting rig myself to fit the space, designed and built all of the plumbing and the fail-safe system.

- The filtration/heating/lighting units were purchased off the shelf or recycled from old tanks. There are four LED lighting units recycled from my old tanks in the top to create enough light to penetrate to the bottom when its filled (don't be fooled by the photo, I turned them down as far as practical to minimise the glare on the photo). The full lighting output is probably overkill (even for a tank this deep) but it didn't cost me any more because I already had them spare so i've left them all in for now to give flexilbity.

- There is dual redundancy on all filtration, heating, and plumbing in the event of failure (except a complete power outage, but lots of water in the system to keep the temperatures, chemistry, etc stable longer). The water circulation works by two submerged spraybars forcing water downwards at the back of the tank, this creates a big slow circulation which rises up at the front (ish), runs across the top surface, then into four outlets which go back to the external filters and heaters. It is capable of 10x turnover an hour but whether we actually use all of that will mostly depend on the planting choices.

- Its around 1.2M/4ft high (approx 1.1m actual water depth), 0.6m/2ft wide, and 0.75m/3ft deep. The glass is 15mm thick. It is fully integrated into our house with bookcases either side, the wood of the bookcases extends round. It has a small hatch for feeding and a fully removable cabinet for access/maintenance above. There is a permanent cabinet below which houses the structural steel, the fail-safe system and provides general storage. All up including the pipes/filters, etc, the system holds around 500 litres/125gal of water.

- The system extends right back into a large chimney stack. This was the only space we had; it was a choice of this shape or no tank at all). As you can imagine the whole thing filled with water weighs a lot; so it floats on a polystyrene sheet plus some serious structural metalwork and concrete/brickwork hiding underneath it (which i'll hopefully add pics of some other time). I also added a fail-safe sluice which allows the water to run down the sides of the structure and out under the house in case of catastrophic failure of the tank side seals (one of the great advantages of building into a chimney stack which extends right below the house).

- The filtration/heating/lighting control etc is in a cupboard in the room behind it with a cavity knocked through for the pipes and cables. The piping system is fitted for (but not with yet) a heated water tank upstairs connected to the main water supply and drainage for easy refilling and disposal of water. This gets to the upstairs via the chimney stack (very convenient). We are not connected to the municipal/mains water supply so our extracted/collected water (after warming) goes straight into the tank without treatment.

- I finished the main plumbing and fitted the main piece of hardscape wood recently and it looks great. The photo does not do the wood justice; it took a lot of patience to find a piece this big and beautiful; we found it being used as a display stand in a local wool and fabric shop. Its a lovely piece of old teak driftwood with great branches, textures and large holes for the fish to swim in and feel safe. We would never advocate cutting down such old solid trees for something like this but this was repurposing something which the shop was selling anyway so it seemed like a great use for it and being teak I doubt it will deteriorate at all during the time we have it.

- The next step is going to be to add the substrate; then probably some more hardscape to give as much illusion of depth (into the wall) as practical. In terms of our operating philosophy, its keep it simple, reliable, and stable. Every choice we made on the design, equipment additions, maintenance methods was compared against Diana Walstad's low tech model of a full balanced ecosystem as our baseline. We don't want it anywhere near as extreme as her model because we like cleaner looking water and nicer plants but hopefully when I add more detail to this journal you'll get an idea of why we chose the equipment and management methods which took us away from her model. It won't be having CO2 nor be messed round with on a regular basis. There is lots of water in the system to keep it stable for long periods. The planting and substrate will need to be sufficient to create a 'good enough' chemical/biological balance to look clean but still look natural.

That's about it for now. I'll hopefully add more to this journal in due course.

Cheers
 

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tranquil_anteater

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A flying visit to a local well-known scandanavian furniture retailer today resulted in going in for one christmas present and coming out with a load of things we didn't know we needed. One of which was some artificial plants, because cheap artificials are proving really handy to test different compositions and best plant combinations/leaf -shapes to suit this tall style tank. It also means we can manhandle them about until the composition looks right before plunging for the real plants. There were quite a few in the store which looked tacky and shiny/plasticky but some were really excellent with nice natural shapes, fine leaves, and subtly blended colours. There were good look-alikes for java fern, anubis (even with the rhizome on the bottom), fine-leaved bushy plants, floating plants, fore/mid ground blade grasses, and a nice tall sedge-like grass. Might end up keeping the tall sedge-like grass one in the tank longer term as its proved nigh-on impossible so far to find something similar to this amongst the real aquatic plants which grows tall and fine enough for this tank (we're not fans of vallis). See example pic of how we're using them to get an idea of possible compositions.
 

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