New tank, New scape, coming in the New year.

Carpman

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I started my aquascaping journey with possibly the hardest style/type of tank Juwel Trigon a few years ago, I've had my issues and learned some lessons, and now it's time for it to go, my reasons to make life easier for me when it comes to the regular maintenance and hopefully cutting down on the on-going current flow and light issues.
This has been a long time coming, I purchased a 90/45/45 with help from @Iain Sutherland nearly a year ago now, when I got home I promptly put the new tank (to me) in my shed with every intention of doing a new scape within the next few months, obviously, that didn’t happen did it ☹. My first dilemma, do I buy a new unit or do I build/try to build a bespoke unit. I weighed up the pros and cons, cost approx. £400 v-time x effort x minimal cost well T x E x MC won, not really any competition as an avid DIY-er. I will say that it was a lot of hard work and took a lot more time than originally estimated in my head (solvent paint drying times) plus the added cost of some extra tooling that I didn’t already have, all in all, it has probably cost more than a readymade shop-bought unit. I am however happy with my bespoke unit; I just need to topcoat the main cabinet now and it’s all done.
Apologies image-heavy while I play catch/bring you up to date.
My homemade multi bench partially created for this cabinet.
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New tooling, Router always wanted one for DIY stuff but could never justify the cost, hover because I decided to use dust extraction (my lungs are not getting any younger) as I was using MDF and the dust is nasty.
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My first attempt at making my drawers from scratch, showing 2 errors the first was the side channel for the runners didn't go all the way and the drawer back the drawer base channel goes all the through. Nothing was screwed at that stage.
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This has to be the most expensive paint I have ever bought for a DIY project but I was told that this stuff was the best on the market.
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After I put the main cabinet together I decided to test it for the load it was liable to carry outdoors, of course, first was to fill tank, I did this with the help of 2 spirit levels showing any movement left to right/front to back making sure it was going to carry the weight of the tank full of water. There had been no movement so I left it to sit there overnight, before draining the tank I thought I would add some more weight to simulate added rock soil and so on, I put a piece of 6x2 across the top of the tank and climbed on top I did have a little wiggle while there but I don't have any pictures of this though.
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The cabinet has now passed weight testing so let's crack on with the rest of the build the drawers, they created a lot of heartaches and headaches trying to get things the way I wanted them to look and fit with plenty of swearing.

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Deano3

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Great job, looking forward to see more, its always more work than anticipated and your worry wont be strong enough etc but most bought cabinets arnt up to much and cost so much money. I have built both mine but maybe one day i will buy cabinet and tank set. Great job anyway.

Dean

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Carpman

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I had to bring the unit indoors a couple of months ago prior to finishing the painting (exterior) because I had noticed that the doors were turning yellow, they were repainted again. I started googling about my paint brand and found that it turns yellow due to lack of natural/UV light so that was that unit had to be moved, this prompted me to move tank indoors also to see how it would look together (very close to their new home in my front room).
I put my old bit of redmoor into the tank and realised I would need more for it to work so after purchasing another couple of nice pieces from eBay and putting them together this is what I have come up with.

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Are you wondering why I have the pipes hooked up on end of the tank? I know I would be. I was hoping that they would drop naturally with the heating from the house but I don't think that's going to work.

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The scape will be a cross between a Diorama and an island, not going to say too much hoping you will guess after the next install of images taken at @Aquarium Gardens while using their sand tanks.
 
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alto

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I did have a little wiggle while there but I don't have any pictures of this though.
:(

with plenty of swearing.
it’s always nice to improve upon one’s vocabulary

The paint pictured is a fantastic primer/sealer, but what are you using as a top coat?

The cabinet design is grand and the glass box looks to be in excellent condition :D

I was hoping that they would drop naturally with the heating from the house but I don't think that's going to work.
:confused:
 

Carpman

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@alto I was using Dulux Professional Liquid Gloss!

All of the insides of the cabinet were painted before putting it together for ease, I tried numerous ways to try a get a smooth coat different gloss rollers and even a brush but to no avail so I just gave up :grumpy:, the finish wasn't bad but I wanted better. It was only after the cabinet had been put together I was thinking of a spray finish but that would cost even more money :stop: I cant keep throwing money at this, then I decided that because my woodwork in the front/living room was Dulux white satin I would use that instead.
 

Carpman

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Next instalment, A visit to the lovely folks at @Aquarium Gardens to play in the sandpit and pick up some stone/rocks for the new scape plus a good chat with free advice and a CUPPA of course...
I would like to say I did make a blunder though (when I first arrived and spoke with 1 of the female about my plans and size of the tank, I said a 900) so after a quick chat with Dave about my plans I went to the sandpit, the young lady had measured and placed a layer of card giving me my tank dimensions see the last image. I started picking rocks from the crate picking out those with the most character looking for the archway primarily, I was expecting the archway to give me some problems, finding stones that would form it and look as natural as possible but I think it took me about 5 mins to find compatible rocks, now time to make the cliff before and aft the arch. This is when the blunder was made by me and I didn't even realise I had done it until the next day when I tried to replicate the shots below, why would they not fit in my tank everything was the same but still I could not get the 3rd of the wall rocks in, I came to the conclusion that the sandpit must have been deeper than 45cm dam. I thought I must phone Dave @Aquarium Gardens and ask the question How deep was the tank I was in yesterday and he promptly said 58cm.
I had made the fatal mistake or schoolboy error "measure twice cut once" for not checking the depth (front to rear) of the sandpit, this has now left me in a bit of a predicament know how am I going to finish the wall my now selected rocks.
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You know what I am so glad I took the above images because last night I was playing with the rocks and couldn't figure out why the wall/cliff was so straight or un-natural looking. While editing these group of images I was looking at the ariel shot which had a more natural shape and realised that the first stone was in the wrong orientation forcing me to come off the back of tank at a 45°.This has now been rectified and looks a lot better and giving me a bit more room at the front of tank to play with unfortunately you will have to wait for the next episode to see how it went...
 

Carpman

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Here are a few new bits for the tank and cabinet.
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Nothing worse than trying to find something in the cabinet or read the dials on your FE, so a nice set of new white LEDs to show the way and you won't even see them unless you stick your head in the cabinet and rotate it like Regan from the Exorcist.
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Carpman

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HELP needed from the more experienced! I'm creating an Island with an archway and a beach. I want to bank my rocks from front to rear same as the substrate, I like the base features of the rocks and don't want to bury too deep into the sand. Obviously this is going to create issues with try to keep sand and soil separate. I have thought about Egg crate but think it would be too rigid (trying to get the rocks to marry up beside each other). I have thought about putting in a divider but I won't know where the rockwork will finish at the front.

What way would you do it?
 

Carpman

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Latest pics. Still playing with it because of initial mistake on tank size. The archway will stay the same it's just how to put the rest of the wall/island together in front and behind the archway with the stones that I've got, I have not found a combo I'm happy with so far.

I'm hoping not to have to travel to back to @Aquarium Gardens because I will have to carry my stones with me as well and then match them all together again.

.
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You have to excuse the reflection day time and directly in front of the tank, on the bright side at least my sides were clean.;)
 

Delirious

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(when I first arrived and spoke with 1 of the female about my plans and size of the tank, I said a 900)

Hello! I was the colleague that helped you make your arch :D that's a real shame that the dimensions were wrong! Not sure how precious you are about your rocks but maybe try hammering them to get a better fit? If not, its always worth phoning the shop and asking what options you have :)
 

Carpman

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Hello! I was the colleague that helped you make your arch :D that's a real shame that the dimensions were wrong! Not sure how precious you are about your rocks but maybe try hammering them to get a better fit? If not, its always worth phoning the shop and asking what options you have :)
Hi Delirious, let me say thanks for your help and the coffee on the day in question:thumbup:. I have thought about taking a hammer to 1 or 2 but they have such lovely features it seems a shame to take a chance on them breaking right, I will speak to Dave if i cant find a nice fit with what my options are... and if need be I will travel up with my main stones and wood and try again for a good natural marriage of the rocks.
 

alto

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I don’t know how far away you are from AG, but I’d just work with the selected rocks - unless they have a pallet full of suitable stones, chances are you will continue to prefer the rocks you’ve chosen already ;)

Yes, breaking of the stones is really meant for when you have LOTS of suitable stones :p

Assuming you’re trying to reformat stone from a 50cm “spread” to a 35cm “spread”, look at angling/tilting some of the stones into the substrate - unless you’re planning a layered substrate, it’s fairly easy to add soil, then carefully adjust stones
You can then easily brush back soil, in order to add nutrient capsules (re Jurijs mit JS with Tropica substrates) or clear areas for sand


Have you watched David Chow Phoenix reborn aquascape at Aquaflora

As long as you wait to add Amano type shrimp, Cory’s etc, the MC carpet (and other plants) will have secured the transition zones - you can add Clithon snails (no white eggs in my tanks after 1-2 years, BUT make certain they are Clithon and not the (apparently) similar, larger horned Nerite snails
(I’ve also found “Batic” Nerite sp to be quite well behaved - a few relatively small white eggs below the soil line and occasionally on the underside of driftwood BUT still easier to remove than those deposited by the Zebra etc sized Nerites)

Smaller shrimp tend to not move much soil ;)
 

Delirious

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unless they have a pallet full of suitable stones, chances are you will continue to prefer the rocks you’ve chosen already

We do still have plenty of great millennium stone available so even if he did come back I do believe he would find what he is looking for :D

Hi Delirious, let me say thanks for your help and the coffee on the day in question:thumbup:. I have thought about taking a hammer to 1 or 2 but they have such lovely features it seems a shame to take a chance on them breaking right, I will speak to Dave if i cant find a nice fit with what my options are... and if need be I will travel up with my main stones and wood and try again for a good natural marriage of the rocks.

My pleasure buddy :) i look forward to seeing you again if that's what it comes to!
 

Carpman

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Episode 6 still trying to get a natural-looking front edge to island/wall, sorry pic heavy from here...:sorry:
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@Delirious does dave sell bags of shards of rock just realised that have some smaller pieces to transition from cliff to med stone but noting from the smaller stuff to beach?
 
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I have found filter floss very effective as a means of stopping soil leaching out onto sand. I also recently increased my sand level which stopped a lot of it too...
 

Carpman

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Episode 7, got my filter bags the other day and used some old sand to fill them, now I can place rocks in a semi permanent position. Tell me what you think. I think I got most angles for you to peruse;)
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Carpman

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Episode 8, I'm finally up to date, got the sand in now and its starting to feel and look more natural very pic heavy.
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Carpman

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Latest news, the cabinet carcass has now been finished finally with 2 lovely coats of satin white paint, between coats I managed to install the lights and 2 4 way extensions without to much hassle everything is nice and tidy and out of view. I will put cabinet pics up when I get it back in front room in the meantime here a few of the installs...
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