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Thread: 75g stand & top build for SW tank

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2005

    Default 75g stand & top build for SW tank

    Don't get me wrong, I still love cichlids, and still have cichlid tanks going... but I've always known that sooner or later I would do a saltwater tank. In part for the different experience, the extra variety of critters, and yes the colour, but also because as an inland, infrequent sport diver who only rarely gets to visit reefs I've always wanted to have a little piece of that world at hand. I've probably delayed it this long because of the dreaded expense of it.

    I've given up on commercial stand/canopy solutions long ago as I've learned that with a little thought, planning, patience and care even an amateur like myself can usually build something perfect for their needs that could simply not be found anywhere in a commercial offering. The actual tank is still early in the maturing process, and so doesn't look great at this point; I just thought I'd share the stand/top idea in case anyone is curious.

    The basic approach to the stand was to have no center support in the front in order to make the addition, removal and maintenance of sump and equipment as convenient as possible. And also to avoid bulky overbuilding, within reason. I'm not going into a ton of detail on the basic structural approach and technique here because I have already documented that in this thread:

    The only thing to mention here is that because this is a 4’ stand instead of 3’ I decided to use 2x4’s instead of 2x2’s for the posts and beams. It’s still not too heavy – I was able to move the finished thing downstairs myself.

    Basic jigsaw puzzle frame as described in the link above:

    The workmanship in the finishing department is a little less than perfect, but that is because this thing is mostly made of scrounged leftovers from other projects, and when it came to the finishing plywood I was really down to scraps.

    Who would've though those door panels would match the finishing plywood once stained? It's actually all birch - just not all from the same continent! (to be honest I knew from a previous experience they would come pretty close)

    So the idea was to be able to fit a nice spacious 30g breeder in there for a sump, without any post to work around. (This is actually a 40 Br in the pic - temporarily, I have the 30 Br partitioned and in place now)

    As with the prototype 3' design I was concerned about whether the front span would support the weight without too much flex in the middle, with no center post. The design seems to have worked - applying my 185 Lb weight directly to the middle of the front span caused less than 1 mm of flex, and the evenly distributed 800 lbs or so of the full aquarium does not cause it to flex measurably.

    On to the top... I had picked up a 48 x 3W LED fixture at a boxing day sale at my LFS; a bit of an impulse buy I admit, but it looked good and they caught me in the holiday mood. Anyhow the LEDs on this thing have a fairly narrow beam and even the manufacturer recommends raising the fixture off the water 6-8" for even dispersal. I didn't want to suspend the fixture over an open tank from the ceiling though, and neither did I want a blocky rectangular monolith of a canopy over a 4' tank. So I came up with this trapezoidal concept:

    There are deliberate gaps below and above the door, and the top where the LED fixture sits is otherwise 'open' so there is some natural air circulation by convection happening (a concern with all tanks, but especially salt tanks). If need be I can always drill a couple of holes in the ends and screen them or even add a fan, but for now this seems to be working well. It definitely achieves the goal of distributing the light well and makes me not regret the purchase of the LED fixture.

    Since this setup is below basement windows I decided to let some indirect daylight into the tank via acrylic panes I epoxied into place as the backside of the canopy, shown below. It produces a soothing effect during the day with the lights off and a downright psychedelic reflective effect on the ceiling a night with just the actinic LEDs on.

    On the subject of epoxy, the entire canopy, inside and out, has two coats of two-part clear epoxy for a finish (except the acrylic panes, although they are glued in place with epoxy). Despite being made of wood and sitting above open saltwater I guarantee this thing will never warp or suffer water damage. And nothing short of an octopus or an eel (neither of which I intend to keep) will manage to jump out or escape.

    Well, that's it for now; as this is a cichlid forum if I get around to posting any further pics on the progress of the setup they will be on the Non-Cichlid board.
    Last edited by DogWalker; 07-23-2013 at 07:45 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    loveland colo.


    looks great dw ,i especially like the color of the stain and the design of the canopy ,great work thanks for sharing!!!
    125 gallon male aulonocara peacocks
    125 gallon male haps.
    90 gallon grow out tank
    90 gallon demasoni,cyno,afra,hongi srt.
    90 gallon planted apisto.tank
    2-10 gallon med. quarintine tanks


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2005


    Thank you geneyes!

    Actually the 30Br sump I put underneath has started leaking a bit - that bare 40Br in the pic has not leaked. I swapped in the 30Br as a sump after I had configured it with the acrylic partitions I wanted. Someone suggested to me that I may have cut the baffles to fit too snugly (and I did cut them to fit tight). I did not realize that acrylic expands a bit with heat & moisture. May have been that, but just in case I am going to reinforce beneath the front-center of the stand in case the issue is related to flexing I can't see. Live and learn...

  4. #4


    Nice! Any more pics and or info about your SW setup DogWalker?
    -Male Peacocks: Bi-Color - Flametail - German Red - Blue Regal - Benga Yellow - Sunburst - Firefish - Masoni - Sulfur Head - sp Hybrid
    -Male Haps: Makonde Yellow Blackfin - Fireline Mloto - Taiwan Reef - Yellow Blaze - Mbenji - Ericotaenia - Star Sapphire - Livingstonii - Spilonotus Tanzia
    -Mbuna: 3x Yellow Labs

    “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

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