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Barracks Project


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This thread is most likely just going to work as a place for me to jot down my thought process on the whole thing and, well, record keeping. Feel free to join in for what will undoubtedly be a very exciting ride. (dry sarcasm alert)

I went to Bunnings last weekend. I picked up a 5 tier steel shelf with 9mm MDF shelves. It's designed to hold 750kg 'evenly distributed'. It's 1830mm H x 910mm W x 400mm D.

Thanks to the weather I spent this weekend painting the shelves with lacquer. I will be getting no compliments on the paint job. :P

I also bought a 2nd hand 2ft sump with some media, and had it delivered along with spare pipes which will come in very handy!

The lacquer dried not long ago and my dad deemed it good enough to assemble the whole lot.

The whole thing stands nearly a foot taller than I do (mind you, I am rather short) so unfortunately the top shelf will just have to be storage. The bottom shelf is where the sump will sit which leaves me with 3 usable shelves. Height of the shelves is also not very adjustable thanks to the top, bottom and middle shelf not being able to be adjusted. The middle shelf holds the top half in place. All in all, it seems pretty sturdy.


Top shelf not in view because I couldn't stand far back enough.

Now because of the measurements of the stand, you would think I could get a standard sized 30 inch tank in there. The only problem is standard sized 30 inch tanks are 14 inch high. I need to it be 12 or shorter to allow clearance for the plumbing and hands, of course.

This means once again I am looking at custom built tanks.

Now if I go with a custom tank it would most likely be a 30 x 12 x 12. Dividers 4 inch apart. That gives me room for 7 fish with the last fish getting 6 inches instead of 4 (room for a giant ;) ). So 4 x 12 x 12 gives each fish about 9 litres, realistically probably about 7 litres. Also at this size if for some reason a fish needed to be taken out of the system I can just turn off the taps and easily fit in a 25 watt heater.

So all up I would have room for 21 fish. Considering this is a barracks, that really doesn't feel like a lot. I've gotten up to 16 before with individual tanks. Sigh. At least it will dramatically decrease the electricity bill and I can always build another barracks later on.

Here's a very, very crudely drawn plan for how the water will be pumped around. It's linked instead of pictured because your eyes should be prepared for the hideousness of it. Measurements and shape of tanks are not accurate. LOL

Hopefully I'll be able to find someone willing to build the tanks within the week. Then I can hopefully find someone who will divide and drill them for me. Whether or not it's the same person who constructs the tank, I don't know. :P

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Looks good to me.. don't be harsh on yourself with the drawing, I like it. :D

Can't wait to see what the finished project looks like!

Are these for Bettas or other fish? How many fish do you think this could hold with the three usable shelves?

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I put in my order today and my tanks will be done.. TOMORROW!

The only problem is that after placing the order for all 3 tanks, I learned they're 6m glass, which cannot be drilled. Well $#@:censor:@#$!!!!!!!!!!!

So now I am rushing around trying to come up with an alternative. The only real solution I can think of is a marine style overflow filtration system. This means less swimming room for the fish and shared water. No way can I do completely divided tanks with the capability of turning off the taps now. If the tanks can't be drilled, it just can't be done. I would have no way to heat it properly nor am I willing to do water changes on that many little tanks so often. SO... marine style overflow it is. I still need to figure out exactly HOW it will work and how much space the whole thing will have to take up in the back of the tank.

I've drawn up a plan on paper and given the back compartment 4 inches, giving 6 fish 4 x 8 x 12 = 6l, and the end fish gets 9l.

As I said, this means it's shared water. There is NO turning off one compartment if a fish gets sick, it needs to be removed from the system completely. Arrrrggghhh. This is what I had hoped to avoid.. Total change of plans, and a total waste of money buying the sump. Well not total as I'm sure I'll be able to use it on my future cichlid tank, but for now I am just gonna glare at it and mutter under my breath.

It's my own fault though, I should of seen it coming and asked about drilling FIRST..

Anyway, I am hoping I can pay my LFS owner to construct the insides of the tanks for me, he did offer to show me how to divide them and said I could do it there and use his glass just for the cost of it, but that was before we came across the drilling issue.

So.. I am in general displeased with myself. But excited at the same time. I'm getting closer and closer to getting this barracks done. I am seriously hoping I can get this done before batch testing so I can import what I want.

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6mm glass can be drilled.... just takes a diamond bit and some patience.... gee they drill 10mm, 12mm and 15mm glass in 6x2x2 tanks or larger to sump them!!!!

to put a small hole in 6mm glass get yourself a diamond drill bit (plenty of cheapies that work fine on ebay) and use a template to make sure you drill the same place at each location... just take it steady with a variable speed drill (cordless works well)... best if you can drill into the glass from both sides and meet in the middle to avoid splintering round the hole as you break through.... use some sandpaper on a pen or pencil (or thinner bit of wood) to sand the edges of the hole and you're in business....

Do the drilling before the insides are siliconed in....

The only reason they wouldn't be able to drill glass is if its something like toughened glass which I would hate to have a tank made of (it won't just crack - it will shatter!)

Edited by fishbites
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See I was going to have my LFS guy drill the tank for me as well, and he won't do it. Says the glass is too fragile. :( I don't trust myself to do it, but my dad might be able to.. but my LFS guy has done stuff like this for 30 years and if he won't do it.. I don't know. If the tank cracks, I'm out the amount on the tank and any work that gets done to it before hand. I dunno.. I guess I'll hope he's in tomorrow and go over everything with him.

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  • 1 month later...

Well, my tanks are finally 99% done. A bulkhead was drilled into the end chamber of each. Dividers cut and siliconed in with a small (about 2mm) gap in the front. It took a lot more glass than either of us had expected, my bank account is sobbing quietly. We decided we'll cut the lids into strips to sit over each chamber, interestingly enough a marble is going to be the handle. Saves on fiddling around with cutting scrap glass. :P

I'm not sure when I'm going to be able to pick them up but it should be soon. Then I just need to buy a pump, a bit more filter media and.. hoses for the plumbing lol

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Finally picked up my tanks today. Lids aren't done yet, I'll get my dad to help me with that. :P

I now will have to drain a 100lt divided tank and find a spot for 6 fish so the tank and stand can be moved and my new shelves and tanks go in. I'll just save the old water and run them on sponge filters until I get all my plumbing, sump, pump, etc sorted. We can't decide exactly which pump to use at the moment because the water movement in these tanks is going to be quite limited. Pics will hopefully be up later. Depends what I can get done today.:D

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