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My 1500L plywood/polyester coated kitchen tank

For those who waited all the time to hear that I finally built my 4000L kitchen tank... sorry, my most upright apologies, but I built a 1500L tank instead! Seriously now... I only used half of the width that became available after the kitchen rebuild because of several reasons. The main reason is that I have 2 kids now who need room to play, so the other half is occupied by a small play desk with matching chairs. Also a special shelf underneath the tank for the toys is a quite welcome concession to the kids. They utilize this cosy corner most of the time, although they also have much room to play in other parts of the house! A second minor reason is that I got tired of the water changes of the 3000L cellar tank which always lasts several hours an took proper planning to avoid to get in trouble. There is also another asset to such a smaller tank: Now I can look at the fish through 2 full sides, what's extremely handy for photography purposes.


A foretaste of what would come... the 200L Mbuna tank in February 2002

1. The planning

I started to measure, calculate, think, measure again, make more calculations, rethink everything, talked to other people including my wife, took some last measures and came up with a 155cm x 125cm x 85cm / 1500L  monster tank. I won't say how many times I finally changed my plans, because it was really too much. To illustrate this I only need to tell that I Initially wanted to be ready by July 2003, but due to practical problems and the brooding on solutions the first fish were ultimately introduced in November 2003!

Where did we begin? The material that we were going to use of course! I talked to some people who praised full glass tanks as being the only reliable solution for monster dimensions, but I was not convinced, mainly because of price considerations. I knew there could be leakage problems with poorly constructed plywood tanks, but my 3000L cellar tank proved that it was possible to do it perfectly. In the end I decided to take the safe route, and build a plywood tank with a fibreglass/polyester coating, what combined the low weight of the normal plywood tank and the 100% leakproof quality of a full glass tank. For the strength I chose 25mm plywood that was bought and cut to size in my local wood shop. A sturdy stand was also ordered in the meanwhile.


Everything relies on the support. Would this one be capable to carry 2 tons?

2. The construction

Once I got back home the real works were about to begin! As a fibreglass/polyester coating needs a rough and clean surface, I started sanding off the protective layer on the inner sides of the tank. I did this rather thorough and wasted a lot of time on it, as afterwards some people told me that this really wasn't needed. Removing the gloss would have been more than adequate <sigh>. Never mind that... on with the assembling! I used the same polymer glue as with the build of the 800L cellar tank and used hefty screws to mount everything together. At that time I also made the frame for the windows out of wood, what turned out to be a mistake during the polyester job.


Sweat and dust... all for a stupid tank?


Assembled and ready for the polyester job. The wood window frame was removed afterwards.

 Continued in next page

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