View Full Version : Bignellm's 50 Gallon Acrylic Project

02-27-2012, 02:18 AM
As discussed in my blog, now brought into the public with this blog creation in general blogs.

Been working on upgrading from a 10 and 16 to a 50 gallon+, with little success until this fall. Went out after getting frustrated and ordered a full custom 50 gallon acrylic from a local fish store/tank builder.

Got the tank on Jan 25th, and rounded up last of the equipment in Feb. Went about and created some hand drawn designs and then today, decided for laughs to do a test fire of the system.

A 20 Gallon Storage Tote w/ Driftwood Piece for tank
Front Tote ____Back Tote ____Rena Xp3

Upon installation of the 200W heater, 2x39W T5 HO, Rena, and LED bubble wall; I was pleasantly surprised by the shimmer of the lighting off the surface, which was rippling from the upwards pointed Spray Bar attachment. It was a mini fountain effect and I will certainly install the system like this again, for that shimmer effect on the 50 gallon.

The only hitch on today's "Test Fire" was a little water build up in the motor compartment of the Xp3. I'm about 40% certain, it's not a huge deal, as the water line was only 40" above the top of the canister. Can anyone with Rena Filstar experience tell me if a little water build up is normal? I figure I'll just need a water tray under the canister to catch any drizzles and to catch spilloffs from the disconnect on maintenance day. It wasn't a huge gusher buildup, just about 5 or so tablespoons of water which was trapped in the assembly after test was over. It came out from the power cord area, with prodding. Overall, today was a gleaming success and bumped up my excitement to install this for real. :hmm3grin2orange:

Till then, took the bio-media rings that I bought and stuck some in the Fluval C3 I have on my 16, in the empty carbon basket--to build up a little colony for the Rena.

02-27-2012, 02:46 AM
Location of equipment in the pictures to be reconsidered on location. Am likely to swap the intake to the opposite side and install the out flow to the middle and direct turn it to face the original side of the intake. Then again, I don't want the Rena to suck up bubbles. It was quiet on the test.

Layout of Equipment/Substate, Plant Identification, and Plant Locations


Rena Xp3
Aqueon Pro 200 W Heater
Fusion 500 Air pump
Cora Life Timer system (Day/Night electronic timers)
Hagen Glo Lite 2x39w T5 HO
Plant Spectrum T5 bulb (spectrum escapes me atm)
Marine Spectrum 10000k T5 bulb
18" LED Bubble wand (Not Marineland, brand escapes me atm)


Black Flourite 3-20LB bags
Colorado Color Carib Sea Gravel
White crushed Carib Sea Gravel

Possible Livestock changes:

Rehome single Danio (most likely to occur tomorrow)
Consider adding a Mated Pair of Blue Rams (LFS has one, saw them today)
Add Flame Moss to Driftwood, upon arrival.

02-27-2012, 03:08 AM
Next Item of business, to design the stand for this tank. Got by my figures, 5 20LB bags of substrate, which will probably displace an area of water 36"x17"x1.5" or 4-5 gallons water. Making this 45 gallons water approximately for water weight. This should be approximately 375 Lbs of water and 100 Lbs of substrate. So, on the low side, the stand will need to be able to hold 475 Lbs. This shouldn't be a problem. I even have an idea for installing parts to make this a tank with level-able feet, via adjusters.

03-14-2012, 12:14 AM
Well, here we go. Everything's finally in motion and am now reciting the past 24 hours of work.

Below is the planning stage and first Dado Cuts:


Below here is the last of the Dado cuts and Stage 1 assembly:


And this is the result of what I looked like after Dado Cutting with two of my tanks in the background. The "Holding Pens".

I learned pretty quick that the Dado Jig disabled the dust collection capacity of my table saw.

All this work took about 4 hours.

03-14-2012, 12:23 AM
And here we go with the next few hours.

Below is the addition of a floor and the resulting jungle gym my oldest thought I was building:


And below in these stages, the addition of a side and a back panel:


And in stage 6 here, the fitting of a top and the beginning of piecing together of trim pieces:


All in all, these steps took me another 4 hours.

03-14-2012, 12:30 AM
The above was finished by the end of the first day. Below is the completion of the work up to this point in time.

Stages 7 and 8, completion of trim and doors:


Stage 9 and my children still treating it like a play thing:


Close up of Jungle Gym antics:


03-14-2012, 12:35 AM
That's some nice wood working there

Any thoughts as to how you want to finish it ?

03-14-2012, 12:38 AM
Below is the final step I've taken today.

Stage 10, Affixed the top with screws and construction glue:

This leaves me with an unfinished aquarium stand, that needs some veneers for the paneling I used, on hand, and staining. I'm opting for the 2 in 1 Minwax Polyshades. The color I'll be using with be American Chestnut Satin.

Time to date on this project? About 12-16 hours of real work. Cost? Lost count. Weight of stand? Heavy! Two man job or one man with dolly. Stable? No fear of collapse from aquarium.

Anyway. Was fun to build to date and hopefully looks awesome with aquarium on top too. Let me know if there's any issues I don't seemed to have addressed. thumbs2:

03-14-2012, 12:40 AM
That's some nice wood working there

Any thoughts as to how you want to finish it ?

Turned out well. Looks better in person. Going with iron on veneers to hide the plywood edges and using Minwax Polyshade American Chestnut in Satin finish.

03-14-2012, 12:57 AM
Nice choice of stain

I'm looking forward seeing pics of the finished stand

03-14-2012, 01:02 AM
Should be stained in next few days. Going to tackle it on my next day off. thumbs2:

I'm really getting anxious to see it with the aquarium all set up on top :hmm3grin2orange:

03-14-2012, 01:02 AM
Looks hella good! Kinda inspires me to try my hand at something similar, unless you have a particular itch to build one for me hahathumbs2: :hmm3grin2orange:

03-14-2012, 01:09 AM
Looks hella good! Kinda inspires me to try my hand at something similar, unless you have a particular itch to build one for me hahathumbs2: :hmm3grin2orange:

That would be a heckava haul for me, with my sportscar, LOL (MI to NY). You'd have to come pick one up, if I could afford to build another.

03-14-2012, 01:12 AM
Well hey, if its even half as good as that it would be worth the trip. thumbs2:

But lemme find some space for the second tank before we move on the stand haha...:hmm3grin2orange:

03-14-2012, 11:51 AM
Well hey, if its even half as good as that it would be worth the trip. thumbs2:

But lemme find some space for the second tank before we move on the stand haha...:hmm3grin2orange:

Will do. :22:

Going to stain this and move the tank on top today. Can't wait.

03-15-2012, 12:00 AM
Just had to do a dry fit for this today!!! I am very pleased with the visual appeal of my set up. Can't wait to get this up and running with fauna and flora! thumbs2:


03-15-2012, 04:31 AM
The stand looks great! cannot wait to see the finished stand showing off your tank.

03-15-2012, 11:17 AM
Going to happen real soon. Doing wood preparation today and going to stain for sure this afternoon with my wife. She's really wanting to do the staining, so not stepping on her toes. So can't wait.

03-19-2012, 01:32 AM
Well, here we are; just about to start the victory lap on this project and start up the new 50 gallon.

Below we are pretreating the wood and starting the staining process:


And here we have the stand coated in it's first stain/finish:


Only 1 more coat to go and then I can fill the aquarium with water. I soo cannot wait :hmm3grin2orange:

03-19-2012, 01:56 AM
Looking good thumbs2:

03-19-2012, 02:02 AM
Thanks Cliff :19:

So cannot wait. Tomorrow's the final coat and finish. Walls done behind where the tank'll go and only the floor to do. Then can fill the tank. :hmm3grin2orange:

03-19-2012, 02:51 AM
very nice stand. i like that color!

03-19-2012, 08:21 PM
Coming off third base and on my way home. thumbs2:

Below is the final coat.

Only things left for me to do are to buff this with a finishing pad and wax coat it.

Then it's 50 gallon set up time. :hmm3grin2orange:

03-19-2012, 09:33 PM
I'm looking forward to seeing it all set-up thumbs2:

Likely not as much as you tho :hmm3grin2orange:

Fishin Phil
03-19-2012, 09:34 PM
Very nice work!

03-23-2012, 11:47 AM
Well, hit home base on this job. Spent better part of yesterday setting this tank up. I scrapped some of my overly ambitious plans for something a bit more modest and very visually appealing to me.

Setup tank with Fauna and Flora, Lights off, no flash:

Setup tank with Fauna and Flora, Lights off, with flash:

Setup tank this morning, with lights on:


Tank has 2 differing substrates and an Slow color change LED Bubble wall.
Is a 50 gallon with Hagen 36" Dual Glo-Light (Power Glo and Life Glo bulbs).
Has a Rena Xp3 Canister with Seeded Bio-Max Rings (Seeded in bags in other two aquariums for 3-4 weeks).
Is power managed by Cora Life Programmable Timer System and one stand alone click timer for LEDs (Don't need on all the time).

Only issues I see right now is the unexpectedly faster water movement in the tank. Some seem to be not used to the flows yet. Am still tinkering with spray bar for optimal flows. Other than that, fish seem to be enjoying the left side of the tank. Can't wait till water ages well enough to add my Rams. thumbs2:

03-23-2012, 03:06 PM
The stand really looks good, it turned out great

Getting the right flow can take time as it is mostly trial and error

03-23-2012, 09:25 PM
Wow the tank looks really good! I love the plant placements. :)
What type of plant is the long skinny ones in the middle?

03-24-2012, 12:36 PM
Need more specifics. Got some Narrow Leaf Ludwigia or Ludwigia Repens (not sure which it is offhand) there I believe, along with Cyperus Helferi. Also have a Red Star Ludwigia (got this at a Meijer supercenter for real cheap and wasn't labeled).

Old Marine
03-24-2012, 07:20 PM
Very nice looking tank! Job well donethumbs2:

03-24-2012, 07:34 PM
Thanks. Been itching to get this up and now is up. Now got an itch to get my Pair of Rams introduced. Just not sure how old the water needs to get first. Taking it slow in any case.

03-26-2012, 07:53 PM
Projects been fun and now's the time to see my new tank mature. Will be logging this progress on my new Blog: "My 50 Gallon South of the Border Community". Link bellow:

Thanks for reading.