My DIY aquarium build, the good the bad and the ugly! (Anoxic Filtration)

Rockfella

Staff member
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OK finally..!
This madness started in mid april 2021 after an old school friend of mine gave me her small aquarium as she was fed up cleaning it regularly and burying dead fish. It looks like a 30/35 liter small tank. It had everything so I added Seachem Matrix (popular biomedia) and bought 5 small Danios from my LFS (local fish store). They are alive and very happy in a bigger tank now. Why Danios because they are small so were suited for the small tank and they are very hardy. I used to catch these fish when I was a kid in the late 80s/90s in West Bengal/Assam. My dad used to work in tea gardens there. Since I got into the hobby again after decades I had no idea they were easily available here in aquarium trade.

More on Danios:

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Since my dad built one in 1995 IIRC at that time my thoughts were : Get 5 panes of glass apply silicon and stick them together add water after 48 hours and dump fish: Simple!


This is what happened !
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The aquarium leaked. It was an epic PHAIL!
I soon realized it is not easy as it looks because of the weight of 10mm glass handling them alone and putting vertical panes on TOP of the bottom pane squishes out a lot of silicon out of the joints. I also thought the glass panes should be as close as possible and stuck firmly together with the least possible silicon in between.
 

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Rockfella

Staff member
Patron
I was digging more and more info on DIY aquarium builds and finally found out about the silicon injection method. This method made sense to me. The only extra tool I needed were corner clamps. This added 1k to the budget but they changed the game altogether. It just holds the panes together so that silicon can be injected between the gaps of glass. I also found out the commercial tank builders don't stick the panes together. In-fact none of the panes touch each other anywhere. This was opposite of what I thought. Gaps of 2-4mm is good enough.
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You should edit the title to say "the good the bad and the nemo!".

Do post more!

By the way what fish is nemo? I'd like that in an aquarium.
It is a saltwater fish. Bit expensive and saltwater aquariums are next level game.
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These 3mm tile spacers work best IMO.
Once I started injecting I never looked back... A lot less silicon was needed to do the same task, clean seams, less wastage, less anxiety. I call it the "Geek Method" lol.
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Silicon injected in braces too!
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Meanwhile I stumbled upon this:


I liked the idea.
My hunt for kitty litter/cat litter/baked/roasted/klin fried natural clay started. I tried a few from Amazon.in but they all failed (they dissolved in water) finally got Oil-Dri from cart2india 2 bags of 8 lbs each.
Luckily I found laterite in flipkart. Rs. 500 for 5 kgs IIRC.
Got Makita zigzag and some pumps.

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More stuff ... while building this SUMP I forgot to tape it and messed it up... later I cleaned it like new with buff pad.

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This is for "tooling" silicon.
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We are looking at 2 aquariums ... the first one leaked so I got new glass to build a new one from scratch. Later I dismantled the leaking one (some glass shattered) and got the glass cut further to reduce the size and made a smaller one!
25 mm test tubes hot glue gun marble pebbles (85 kgs) washed like 10 times in 2000 liters of water... I got rid of it later as it was still dusty and did not look good. Black privacy window sheet that I kept on for few week, later took it out and I regret it now lol.
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I "painted" this 30+ year old teak wood box with MarineKoat which makes wood waterproof and looks great! Before and after pics.

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More progress ... baskets set for clay, ammonia for fishless cycle, API test kit, laterite etc... Fishless cycle was great ... kept on changing backgrounds, gravel and themes finally settled down to coral. Got more recently ... a third sump built recently for better faster filtration.
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Got mixed reviews on this chatkeela theme lol.
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25% ammonia for tank cycling.
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High quality gravel, prewashed looks great! Rs. 85 per kg. I got 62 kgs for 2 tanks.
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4th silicon gun. 3 broke!
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To measure ammonia ...
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NOTE : 8 PPM (part per million) Ammonia is very toxic to fish. The filtration system wiped it out in 48 hours. Regular filters usually take a week to get rid of 4/5 PPM ammonia! So this was awesome!

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Old SUMP. Bulky with only one drain/out.
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This fish was sick when I got it. Died within a week. Never ate a pellet unlike other who had a blast from day 1.
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Plenum set on smaller tank.
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3/4" substrate!
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Small SUMP for tank 2 (Smaller)
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Broken test tube used in SUMP 3

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This SUMP has 3 drain/put and can hold 3 TOP filters. Heaters also go in the SUMPs.

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I wanted to be as detailed as I could but I can't type so much... there was a lot done besides this lol. Mostly in may/june when covid was all time high.
All this was done for these Yellow labs.

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Albino Pindani (Snowflake cichlid)



They do like the caves.
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Hikari pellets. They love it.
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Either one of these is the tank boss!
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Powder blue cichlid (Pindani)
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In both tanks the front and side panes are of extra clear glass. Extra clear glass has very low iron and does not have that greenish tint. Not all glass shops even stock it!
10mm regular glass in april/may was Rs. 140 per sq foot and Extra clear was Rs. 270 per square foot for 10mm. Prices are higher now.
 

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rdst_1

Skilled
Are you using normal silicon. Usually there are some additives in the normal silicon available so it has been suggested that one find pure silicon for an aquarium but my friend and I had hard time finding it in the market. There was a product but not carried by the distributor of that brand.
 

Rockfella

Staff member
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Are you using normal silicon. Usually there are some additives in the normal silicon available so it has been suggested that one find pure silicon for an aquarium but my friend and I had hard time finding it in the market. There was a product but not carried by the distributor of that brand.

IDK what you mean by normal silicon. I use this one:

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There are mainly 2 types. Acetic cure (cures faster/smells like vinegar but has less work time. One needs to be fast while applying it) and neutral cure (does not smell like vinegar while drying takes more time to cure has 50% flexibility once cured) Acetic silicon is more rigid once cured and better suited for glasswork. Neutral is meant for construction work mainly and does not react with metals.
PFA technical pdfs from Dowsil official site. These are the two most common ones you will find online and offline (there are many knockoffs and cheap ones but it is not recommended to use them for aquarium building)

If you want to get the best "Aquarium grade silicon" then it is this one:


This is the only silicon which the company claims is good for aquarium. It is very thick. I tried it and I simply could not inject it with a pinched nozzle. It simple did not oooze out. The gun broke lol. It seemed of very high quality. Acetic cure, best for aquariums.
 

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Rockfella

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Kudos. Awesome build mate.
Reminds me of the old days, where i used to have aquariums. good old days.
Give it a try now. You will be surprised how things have changed. 90% less work needed now. I remember thoroughly cleaning my aquarium in the 90s and the fish barely survived lol. Now I know I was doing it all wrong and 10 times more work than needed.
 
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Jeeeez dude... Hats off to your dedication and effort...!!!
Lots to learn from your post for me.

Was looking for cheap aquarium substrate than costly ready-made ones. Needed external canister filter with U/V because natural water from our well is supposedly root cause for acute algae infestation in my aquarium and nothing works than U/V cleaning. Tried that underwater filter you used, reported as good old method by many but did it nasty in my aquarium by accumulating tons of waste and algae.

Aquascaping art is a money pit. Though I like it, I don't have time and patience to spend on it, my family members are not that crazy to support me with my madness.

Wondering why you didn't think about planted tanks, those looks beautiful, as if you have a piece of nature next to your desk.
Was looking for Celestial Pearl Danio (Galaxy Rasbora) which seems difficult to find in south these days.

btw, there is this ongoing thread for aquartists: https://techenclave.com/threads/any-aquarists-here.48318/

Pic of nano tank (24cm long, merely 1 gallon, aka ~9.9ltrs) of my friend currently under my watch for few days. He put tons of effort, monies and pain to make this nano tank looks like this, working around 8-9 months during Corona WFH period.
 

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Rockfella

Staff member
Patron
Jeeeez dude... Hats off to your dedication and effort...!!!
Lots to learn from your post for me.

Was looking for cheap aquarium substrate than costly ready-made ones. Needed external canister filter with U/V because natural water from our well is supposedly root cause for acute algae infestation in my aquarium and nothing works than U/V cleaning. Tried that underwater filter you used, reported as good old method by many but did it nasty in my aquarium by accumulating tons of waste and algae.

Aquascaping art is a money pit. Though I like it, I don't have time and patience to spend on it, my family members are not that crazy to support me with my madness.

Wondering why you didn't think about planted tanks, those looks beautiful, as if you have a piece of nature next to your desk.
Was looking for Celestial Pearl Danio (Galaxy Rasbora) which seems difficult to find in south these days.

btw, there is this ongoing thread for aquartists: https://techenclave.com/threads/any-aquarists-here.48318/

Pic of nano tank (24cm long, merely 1 gallon, aka ~9.9ltrs) of my friend currently under my watch for few days. He put tons of effort, monies and pain to make this nano tank looks like this, working around 8-9 months during Corona WFH period.
Hey thanks!
The undergravel filter/plenum for Anoxic filtration requirements:
Substrate size 1 to 3 mm. Anything bigger does not work good. Something to do with permeability IIRC.
Substrate thickness minimum recommended 2" best 4"!
A low power cheap air pump/bubbler to move water slowly from the UGF.
Up-lift tube of UGF same size of substrate thickness. So if you have a 3" deep substrate air lift tube should be same size. PFA pic.

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Patience : As per the inventor Dr. Novak those special bugs take 2/3+ months to start working. I am yet to see nitrate reduction in both my tanks lol! So you need to wait for it. Once it is set avoid touching it, folks who use this method for years don't even gravel vacuum for years.
I might try planted in the future, right now I am all about fish. Yep DuPla and ADA makes a ton money selling "Aquascaping" to the world.
 
Thanks so much for heads up, anyways I think I will need external U/V canister filter due to chronic algae issue.
By keeping plant trays embedded into such a thick layer of substrate, you can hide the trays and grow kind of plants which can easily thrive, some are also good at processing nitrates.
Heard UGF is a mild hindrance in plant growth, though works okay for some.
 
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Rockfella

Staff member
Patron
Thanks so much for heads up, anyways I think I will need external U/V canister filter due to chronic algae issue.
By keeping plant trays embedded into such a thick layer of substrate, you can hide the trays and grow kind of plants which can easily thrive, some are also good at processing nitrates.
Heard UGF is a mild hindrance in plant growth, though works okay for some.
It works but not because of the reasons you stated. If done properly it works for decades. Without root tabs!
 
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Natural is best. I've learnt the hard way. Tried so many.
Fully agree with this. Will try one, don't know when I can :)
Btw, you can buy few sqfts of thick transparent plastic sheets to cover and insulate the underside of that wooden cover. Varnish alone is not going to help with wood petrifying, fungal growth, etc. in long term.
 

Rockfella

Staff member
Patron
Fully agree with this. Will try one, don't know when I can :)
Btw, you can buy few sqfts of thick transparent plastic sheets to cover and insulate the underside of that wooden cover. Varnish alone is not going to help with wood petrifying, fungal growth, etc. in long term.
I did that blunder while setting it up. Can only happen if a do a total tank reset. Maybe bigger tank in the future.
Jeeeez dude... Hats off to your dedication and effort...!!!
Lots to learn from your post for me.

Was looking for cheap aquarium substrate than costly ready-made ones. Needed external canister filter with U/V because natural water from our well is supposedly root cause for acute algae infestation in my aquarium and nothing works than U/V cleaning. Tried that underwater filter you used, reported as good old method by many but did it nasty in my aquarium by accumulating tons of waste and algae.

Aquascaping art is a money pit. Though I like it, I don't have time and patience to spend on it, my family members are not that crazy to support me with my madness.

Wondering why you didn't think about planted tanks, those looks beautiful, as if you have a piece of nature next to your desk.
Was looking for Celestial Pearl Danio (Galaxy Rasbora) which seems difficult to find in south these days.

btw, there is this ongoing thread for aquartists: https://techenclave.com/threads/any-aquarists-here.48318/

Pic of nano tank (24cm long, merely 1 gallon, aka ~9.9ltrs) of my friend currently under my watch for few days. He put tons of effort, monies and pain to make this nano tank looks like this, working around 8-9 months during Corona WFH period.
Are those Siamese algae eaters?
Final backgrounds. Natural FTW.
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> Are those Siamese algae eaters?

No, they are pencil fish, very peaceful and calm ones. Have a good red candy nemo plakat betta, he is lurking in the background.

Few weeks earlier there were siamese algae eaters, but once they became ~3" long started hogging all the food making betta jittery and slightly bullying each other. So, gifted to a friend where they are happy in comparatively bigger sized tank.

You can use small paper pin like nails to fix plastic sheet, does not take much effort, can do that even now I think.

btw, still pining to see your tank as a planted tank :)
 

Rockfella

Staff member
Patron
> Are those Siamese algae eaters?

No, they are pencil fish, very peaceful and calm ones. Have a good red candy nemo plakat betta, he is lurking in the background.

Few weeks earlier there were siamese algae eaters, but once they became ~3" long started hogging all the food making betta jittery and slightly bullying each other. So, gifted to a friend where they are happy in comparatively bigger sized tank.

You can use small paper pin like nails to fix plastic sheet, does not take much effort, can do that even now I think.

btw, still pining to see your tank as a planted tank.
Might go for few plants in the future. I am having a hard time with tank 2. It has fish that prefer low PH and my tap water is 8, along with coral PH increases to 8.2. Although fishes adjust to high PH and fluctuation is worse than stable high PH but this situation is not optimum. Driftwood will make the color brown I don't want that. Might have to give the tank to a friend and hope his water is not high PH.
 
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Coral skeletons that make up crushed coral consist of calcium carbonate, which helps increase your aquarium's pH level up to 7.6 without the use of any chemicals.

Copied directly from google search result.
 
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