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Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

PostPosted: Fri Nov 26, 2010 10:56 pm
by VeipaCray
My turtle, "Moe" is a 1.5 year old 2.75" RES. Moe is currently in a 20 Gallon Long tank that he has outgrown.

This is moe in his current tank....
(the underside of the bottom of the tank was spray painted with rustoleum stone paint to look like sand even though it was a bare bottom tank)



I found a good deal at a local pet store on a 75G Aqueon (formerly AGA/Oceanic) tank. Aqueon tanks larger than 55 Gallons come with a lifetime warranty IF they are placed atop a Aqueon stand. I opted to buy a black Aqueon stand along with the 75G tank. I chose black over what Aqueon called "oak" for the simple reason of matching. I knew Moe would get a new ATBA and would need a hood for the tank. I figured matching the satin black finish on anything I build would be much easier than trying to match the fake "oak" with any kind of stain or wood dye.

Moe's current tank has a ATBA platform made from a piece of slate tile I cut. His ATBA ramp is made from sheet acrylic (plexiglass) that I drilled a bunch of holes in for him to grip. The acrylic ramp and basking platform are easy to clean and do not take up much swim space in the tank. I plan on repeating this setup on this build.

I wanted a hood for the tank, but I also wanted a window to view Moe on his basking platform. Looking through the ATBA pictures thread on this forum, I borrowed a few ideas and combined them. I wanted the front of the hood to have an acrylic window inlayed into the hood.

I started to build the hood...

Re: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

PostPosted: Fri Nov 26, 2010 11:14 pm
by VeipaCray
I chose to use pine as it's cheap and plentiful at Lowes. Since the tank will be painted black, no one will see the grain of the wood.

I cut tongue and groove to fit the frame of the hood front together and to allow a slot for an 8x10 piece of plexi window to sit in.

The tongue was cut with a router table...

The groove was cut with a tablesaw...

That stupid table saw sent me to the hospital mid build. :cry: I was cutting a groove in one of the pieces and the wood got bound between the blade and the fence of the saw. The saw flung the wood backwards and it smashed my fingers. I got six stitches. DOH! I was wearing safety glasses, using a push stick and a feather following all shop safety for those of you wondering. This is just a reminder for anyone younger on this board planning on building something to be very careful with tools, follow all safety instructions and TAKE YOUR TIME.

Here's a closeup of the window for the ATBA viewing...

Re: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

PostPosted: Fri Nov 26, 2010 11:33 pm
by VeipaCray
After smashing up my fingers, I got fed up with cutting the tongue/groove. I couldn't find my dovetail jig for the router, so I decided to take the easy route and edge glue the box together. My fingers were smashed up and wrapped like a mummy so trying to setup the router and jigs for a dovetail joint would have probably proven to be more frustrating than anything. I glued, brad nailed and clamped the box together.


In the middle of the hood build, I got a wonderful surprise.... my wife went into labor a month early and we had our first son, Derek this past Saturday.

Obligatory baby photo...

After spending a week in the hospital with my wife and son, we brought Derek home the day before Thanksgiving just in time to celebrate with the family. A VERY thankful Thanksgiving for us this year.

Today I got a chance to work on the build again while my son slept and my wife was resting. I got the box assembled and it fits well...
hood on tank-ps.jpg

Re: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 12:26 am
by VeipaCray
I added some trim to basically cover up the lazy edge gluing that I did to joint the hood. I gave the hood a light sanding to clean up some of the glue. The hood will have two parts on top. The left side will have a lid on hinges like a traditional aquarium hood. The right side will be open but with a piece of light diffuser (eggcrate) to let light into Moe's basking area.


You can see a square hole in the back of the hood. This is to allow the return plumbing from the canister filter over the back rim and into the tank. There's two of these holes. The hole for the intake to the canister filter is not visible in these photos but is on the far left side of the tank. I wanted some separation between the in and the out of the canister filter.

Re: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 12:45 am
by VeipaCray
On another thread in this forum a user named Ashley turned me onto a product called sea view. It's a goo that you spread on an aquarium background so it sticks. I usually paint the backs of my tanks. I've used a background product called watercolors. The watercolors stuff is applied with soapy water and the soapy water activates some adhesive on the background. The background sticks to the tank like window tint. When it's dry, it's some serious work to pull it off. I WAS planning on using watercolors for this tank. The product only comes in solid blue or solid black. No prints. I tried the seaview background adhesive per Ashley's good experience with the product. I ordered a background from seaview also. I tried to pick something natural for a turtle.

Here's the background. I reverse rolled it and taped it to a door for a few days to straighten out.

Here's the background stuck to the tank with the seaview goo. It doesn't stick anything like the watercolors backgrounds do. The watercolors backgrounds are a million times better for adhesion to the tank but like I said they only come in two choices - solid blue or black. Thanks to my wife for the help putting the background on the tank. This is much easier with an extra pair of hands... especially hands where the fingers work. DOH! stupid cheap table saw.


I need to clean the tank and the stand. Apparently this stand has been sitting around in the pet store for some time. Must have been why I got a good deal on it. I didn't notice how dirty the stand is until I look at these photos. The oily fingerprints on the rim are from the seaview gel. It's kindof like baby oil (might even be baby oil in a fancy tube and packaging for a premium price).

I found it easier to apply the background to the tank full size, then use a razor to trim the background once it was on the tank. I still had to tape the edges of this background to the tank. I hope this thing holds up. I was going to return the watercolors background that I got. I think I'll hang onto it just in case.

Re: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 12:00 pm
by VeipaCray
Here's the tank with the background and hood in place.
tankhood.jpg (88.3 KiB) Viewed 21809 times

I need to figure out the lid for the hood, give the whole thing a good sanding, prime and paint it yet.

I chose the Fluval FX5 for this build for a couple of reasons. First it's a very large capacity filter with a good flow rate. It's a good enough filter for any sized adult RES. No matter what size tank is in Moe's future, this should be the last filter I buy for him. Second, the FX5 are available on Ebay stores new in box for 190-200 + Shipping. Local retail stores sell this filter for $360 in my area + sales tax.


The FX5 fits well inside the very dirty 75G stand. I'll clean the stand later.


Moe has a Fluval 305 on his 20 long tank today. That Fluval 305 will get moved to my wife's cichlid tank replacing a marineland magnum 350. That magnum 350 has been a workhorse. I've been using that same filter for 15+ years now. It's loud, it's cranky, it spews more water than niagra falls when you go to clean it, and it has the media capacity of a dixie cup.. BUT it's run darn near non-stop for 15+ years. While I'm very anti-marineland these days due to their exploding stealth pro heaters (see other threads on this forum) and Marineland's wishy-washy customer service...I have to give credit to this filter for working so long. It's not a good filter by today's standards, but 15 years ago you basically had choice between the magnum 350, a not so well liked 03 series from fluval or the king of canisters - eheim. Eheim's were like 3x the price of the magnum 350s back then.

Re: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 12:07 pm
by VeipaCray
For anyone reading this thread, please feel free to post any comments / thoughts / questions. I'm actively working on this build and will keep posting as I go. Your thoughts, opinions, and questions are helpful to me... and Moe. :mrgreen:

Re: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 12:24 pm
by steve
This is a great post, thanks for sharing. I liked the fake substrate, what do you plan for this tank and what type of lighting are you going to use?

Re: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 12:52 pm
by VeipaCray
steve wrote:This is a great post, thanks for sharing. I liked the fake substrate, what do you plan for this tank and what type of lighting are you going to use?

The fake substrate looks nice and is easy to keep clean... but got kind of boring. Moe has nothing to grip on a bare bottom tank and struggles a bit to get going. I think sand would make it easier when he wants to lunge and capture a guppy. I read through the sand sticky on this forum and decided to give some play sand a try. Let me tell you how nice it was being able to buy a $4/50 lb bag of sand versus buying aragonite calcium sand for my reef tank.

For the basking area Moe has an exo terra 125W MVB on his basking area today. It's in a dome hung from a stand. I'll be moving the fixture and the bulb over to the new setup. When this bulb goes, I think I'll replace it with a 100W megaray.

The problem that I have is this light stand is made to sit under a tank. It looks like this...
lampstand.tiff (236.33 KiB) Viewed 21802 times

The Aqueon stand for the tank only supports the tank around the bottom rim. The middle of the top of the tank stand is hollow. If it were flat like a table, I could use the same lamp stand no problem (would need to verify height). I'm thinking about taking the vertical piece of the lamp stand off of the foot and making some kind of bracket to hold the vertical arm to the rear of the hood.

Worst case, I could get a bracket and hang the lamp from the wall but I'd really prefer not to do that.

If anyone has ideas or suggestions on how to mount this stand to the hood...let me know.

Re: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 3:18 pm
by VeipaCray
I started painting today... Here's the first coat of primer.


Here's what I'm using:

Now the boring part.... waiting for paint to dry. At least primer dries relatively quick. Time for a beer.

Re: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 5:55 pm
by VeipaCray
A light sanding and the second coat of primer. I switched to a darker gray based primer since the final coat is black. Still the same valspar primer. I like the way the Valspar products cover. The can sprays nice also.


Re: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 6:53 pm
by VeipaCray
Here's what I'm thinking about doing with the lid. Hinges in the rear, entire thing flips up which means if I mount a light onto the lid... the light would have to flip up also. The right side is open. There will be a piece of light diffuser / eggcrate to keep Mr. Moe from somehow climbing out but will also allow light in.


Here's the same lid getting a coat of primer..

Here's the first coat of black going on. I am being lazy again and using a can of spray paint. I wasn't in the mood to mess with setting up the spray gun, thinning paint, and cleaning the gun afterwards. If the spray can comes out crappy, I'll sand the piece a bit and hit the final coat with the HVLP spray gun.

Re: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 7:05 pm
by VeipaCray
I ordered in a turtle drawer pull for a lid handle. I'm wondering if I should order two more and use them for the doors on the front of the aquarium stand.

What do you guys think? Should I get two more?



Re: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 7:44 pm
by theartbook35
Wow, great minds think alike! That's how my ATBA's for my two tanks will look when they are finished too. Coolies.

I love when people make their own stuff. It looks great! And I love the obligatory baby photo. Most awesome baby ever ^___^

Re: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 8:27 pm
by VeipaCray
Theartbook35> Thanks for the kind words. My wife and I think Derek is the most awesome baby ever as well. I stole most of the ideas for this hood from the ATBA sticky on this site. I spent a few weeks planning this in my head, a day or so sketching it out, then build time. I too am happy with how it's coming out.

I'm also very pleased with the Valspar spray cans. I usually use Rustoleum universal spray cans. I like how Valspar paint covers in the house, so I thought I'd give their spray cans a shot since they were on sale for 1/2 the price of the Rustoleum. I think they spray as good or better. A bit narrow of a spray pattern, but for $3.78 a can there's not much I can complain about.

I have a heater on and rolled a portable dehumidifier into the garage to speed up dry time between coats. So far so good. I hate painting projects. I'm impatient and hate waiting for anything.