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    Full Tank Friday

Lee's 125g Basement Bar in-wall tank, LED's, etc, begins...

Discussion in 'Reef Chronicles' started by Lee, Feb 21, 2012.

  1. Lee

    Lee New Member

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    Since buying our new house 3 years ago, I had always planned to build a 6 foot aquarium into a basement bar. Since then, I've been very slowly working to achieve that goal. I am starting this thread because I am hoping that documenting my progress will help me gain a little more ambition to find the time to complete this project. Also, I want to share my work with somebody who might actually care to see it :)

    My current fish tank has been nothing but tragedy after tragedy since we moved to this house. The transition was very difficult; I lost almost all of my prize fish and a handful of great corals. With those losses came demoralization, which led to decreased care for the tank, which led to more losses. On top of that, apstasia outbreaks, algae outbreaks, and WAY WAY overgrown corals became prevalent. The straw that broke the camel's back was when I was at the LFS shopping for some Algae killer and I accidentally walked out with the FRESHWATER algae killer instead of the MARINE algae killer. That mistake cost me two of my favorite remaining corals, bleached out the rest of the corals, and undoubtedly killed some snails. (It did take care of the algae though!)

    This was my tank when we first moved into the new house. I'm not going to post pictures of it now because it's just depressingly boring.

    [​IMG]

    Current tank in its prime:

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    So now is the time. I want to return my tank to its former glory. I'm going to have the water and equipment right next to it, so water changes will be automated and easy. No hauling a half dozen five gallon buckets up the stairs. I will do water changes weekly, I will have all the best equipment, I will have natural algae control with a few hundred snails, yadda yadda yadda.

    Anyway, so I'll begin with some preliminary designs. The first one is around 2 years old.


    Very boring design, I hadn't really had a whole lot of time to think about it at this point, but the basic idea was an L-shaped bar with a fish tank on one wall and a TV on the other wall. The Left wall had a structural support beam that was being relocated to just behind the wall, making a 6 foot fish tank impossible. For that reason, the fish tank was originally placed on the Right hand wall.

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    As time went by, I kept modifying my design and settled on something like this:

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    For over a year, I ran with this layout, and refined the idea a little more (and as you'll see below, the construction process followed this layout as well). This design featured open shelving and a sunk in TV

    [​IMG]


    Now by this time, I had already been "working" on this basement for a year or two, and needless to say, I had had plenty of time to question the design and layout. At some point, it dawned on me that the whole design sucked. It was horribly flawed. The TV was too high, the bar shape didn't flow with the basement design, and the fish tank was on the wrong god-damned wall. So I thought about it, consulted some other construction buddies, and we decided that instead of having a vertical post supporting the giant engineered beam directly behind the left wall, I could run a giant header to support the beam. So basically have a beam supporting a beam. Why didn't I think of that??

    So I removed the support post, installed the header, and now I had an 8 foot wall of unobstructed space for which to install my fishtank! And thus, a new design was born:

    [​IMG]


    This mockup is an actual to-scale layout for the cabinetry; my blue prints if you will, since I will be hand building all the custom cabinetry myself.

    [​IMG]



    So now onto some construction pictures. These pictures closely follow the evolution of the Sketchup designs, as you will see below.

    [​IMG]


    Fish tank wall all prepped for masonry work

    [​IMG]


    Right around this next point was the "holy ****" moment, when I decided to flip the design

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    Aaaaannnddd..... Reversed!

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    Construction of the aquarium stand behind the wall. (the legs now have double 2x4 posts)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    About two weeks ago, a little present came in the mail from Steve's LED's (Home Page - I hope that link is ok to post). 84 Luxeon ES 3-watt LED's (48 blue, 48 white), dimmable drivers, and two modular power supplies, along with Steve's simple, yet astonishingly brilliant heatsink/cooling system). Took me a couple days of working to get all the lights mounted and soldered (I think I made 250 solder connections... only burnt myself once!)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    I know posting pictures of the lights on is pretty pointless because the camera can't even begin to capture the intensity, but HOLY CRAP are these things bright! Here is one PSU running HALF the lights at the lowest brightness setting:

    [​IMG]


    And one PSU on full blast. The pictures really don't do it justice. You really cannot look directly at these things; they are too bright.

    [​IMG]


    In case anybody wants more information on these things, this "retrofit kit" utilizes Luxeon ES 3 watt LED's (not the cheaper self branded "steve's LED's.") These LED's are comparable to if not better than the Cree LED's that everyone seems to be using. The drivers are modular and dimmable; installation was a breeze. A simple potentiometer functions as a dimmer switch for each driver. I have 4 drivers powering 84 lights, so I have two dimmers for each color, meaning I can really make the tank whatever color I want. The power supplies are modular, unlike some of the other designs, meaning replacing is much cheaper/easier. The heatsink design is cheap and incredibly efficient. Why spend hundreds on custom heatsinks when this heat/cooling system works just as well at pennies for just a fraction of the cost?

    Anyway... So here is the upper portion of the fixture all wired up and ready to be hung. (If it was going to be seen, I would put some trim on it, but there's really no need with my setup.

    [​IMG]


    And here's a shot of the board that I mounted my PSU's and drivers to

    [​IMG]


    And here is the above board mounted to the wall next to the tank. I'm planning on running the dimmer knobs through the wall so I can dim the lights from the bar area

    [​IMG]


    And the last photo that I have to share with you today is a picture of the bar taken this morning.

    [​IMG]


    The drywall is almost finished, and then I'll move onto the behemoth of a project that is building all the custom cabinetry! But first, I do intent to get this fish tank up and running. I am considering doing some kind of custom aquascaping for the back wall, possibly using DIY live rock or maaaaybe spray foam... But I have to do some more research on those things, and I really need to come up with a aquascaping layout plan so I can figure out the best way to make it. I don't really want to spend a grand on real live rock, and I don't want to reuse the live rock in my current tank, as I am convinced that its contaminated.

    Anyway, thanks for viewing! I'll be updating this thread as the project progresses further!
     
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  2. jpsika08

    jpsika08 New Member

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    Nice setup :)

    Where did I saw this thread before?
     
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  3. dmatt88

    dmatt88 Has been struck by the ban stick

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    One word? Awesome. Another? Jealous! That's a great project.

    I'm Matt n I sometimes water my carpet.
     
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  4. Bearjohnson

    Bearjohnson Well-Known Member
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    OMG! Dude I'd hate to see you when you aren't depressed and not too motivated. LOL

    Well what ever I can do to keep you going just shout my way. I can't wait to see this develope. I'm tagging along for sure.

    So far I think I want to rent out your basement (provided the bar is stocked of course) and work for free at nights. LOL

    Looking Great!
     
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  5. PSU4ME

    PSU4ME JoePa lives on!!!
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    That looks like a great plan and it seems like you have some great handywork skills so the end product should be even more impressive!

    Thanks for sharing
     
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  6. sk8rdn

    sk8rdn Has been struck by the ban stick

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    Great designs! I love it!

    ....Broadcast in High Fidelity Stereo Sound where available....
     
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  7. BLADEYAMAHA

    BLADEYAMAHA New Member

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    Wow, this is blowing me away, cool, super cool!
     
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  8. sasquatch

    sasquatch Brunt of all Jokes~
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    NICE! glad you figured out you need an entrance to the bar, sheesh that would have been bad
     
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  9. brandon

    brandon New Member

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    Well played sir.
     
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  10. immerume2

    immerume2 New Member

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    This is by far the coolest tank build thread I have seen so far. Very cool stuff thanks for sharing.
     
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  11. tnwillia

    tnwillia New Member

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    Great work!
     
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  12. Lee

    Lee New Member

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    I believe I posted a screenshot of one of my older Google Sketchup models a while back. Probably in one of my threads about controlling algae, apstasia, or something else that has run amuck lately.


    Thanks! My wife waters our carpet and wood floors occasionally when she dumps 2 gallons of water into a plant that's in a 1 gallon pot.
     
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  13. Lee

    Lee New Member

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    Haha, that's a little exaggerated; the only depressing thing is my current tank. I'm very happy for the most part... But my current tank is upsetting. The whole tank has just spiraled out of control downhill for the past 3 years, which makes me want to fix it even less, which makes it worse. And knowing that I'm planning this basement tank doesn't help either. All I need to get this basement done is time... I need to take some time off work I think!

    And yeah the basement will be stocked. I'm still undecided on kegerator or just a fridge. Kegerator won't help my recreational alcohol "problem" at all... Plus I like drinking a variety. I live down here at night basically, so I'm not sure I'd want a renter, but there will be plenty of chairs for drinking company! :)
     
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  14. Lee

    Lee New Member

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    LOL! There's an entrance on all those pictures... Hard to tell from the angle, but I'm pretty sure I was planning on having access to the bar area the whole time ;)
     
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  15. sasquatch

    sasquatch Brunt of all Jokes~
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    yeah but you know, if your locked in a bar your not responsible for inventory shortages.
    So.. have you considered a changing background for the display, maybe some diffuser panel and random leds???
     
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  16. Lee

    Lee New Member

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    A changing background? I'm not sure if that was sarcastic or not; sounds goofy but I suppose if you really wanted to go gung-ho with the bar theme...

    I'd like to get a full wall of rock I think. I hate the look of the back glass and plastic overflows after a couple years, when they get all full of coraline algae. So I would like to cover the wall, possibly filling the gaps with spray foam and live rock rubble so its literally covered. Or I might just make a huge wall of LR and probably some DIY LR, because I'm going to need several hundred pounds.

    I've been lurking around the forums looking at other people's aquascaping trying to get ideas....
     
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  17. sasquatch

    sasquatch Brunt of all Jokes~
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    hmm, youve been nice and I don't know you that well yet so not sarcasm, goofy? ok lol just trying to see how far I can stick the pin to you hehe, as for foam? be bloody careful what you use, some of it is beyond nightmare potential
     
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  18. Lee

    Lee New Member

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    Ok if you weren't joking, then I obviously don't understand the idea at all. :smack: It made me think of one of those slow moving back-lit beer signs that has the revolving picture; something you might see at a really old bar. I'm sure this is totally off; care to expand on the idea?

    Yeah that's kind of what I'm worried about.

    But then again, I watch this show on Animal Planet "Tanked," and they put just about anything in an aquarium; they just basically clear coat it first. So I'd like to find some more info on that process. I'd consider doing a non-living wall; decorative only, and then build specific rock structures out of a couple hundred pounds of LR. I'd still get the look I'm hoping for with much less LR
     
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  19. jpsika08

    jpsika08 New Member

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    Welcome to Sas world LOL

    What's your next step?
     
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  20. sasquatch

    sasquatch Brunt of all Jokes~
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    I used great stuff and it looked like a wet cat within weeks, HA was unreal, as to urathane or sweet water over it? I really couldn't say, the budweiser logo lol uh no haha
     
    #20
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