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  #41 (permalink)  
Old 09-10-2020, 11:04 AM
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Default Re: 4 Foot Vivarium Build From The Ground Up

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Originally Posted by Tihsho View Post
The perk of the canister is that currently it's a 'free to you' situation which is always good. The canister running dry will inevitably either overheat the motor head or damage the impeller then you have that cost. Overall a sump is just cheaper to repair in the future. With the dimensions of the stand, plus the low flow you're probably after, you're just after a pump that has the head pressure to reach the height of the outlet. As for calculating the volume of water, that's easy. Just go through and measure your calcined area and do the following:

L x W x H = (cubic inches)/231= gallons

ex:
48" x 12" x 6" = 3456 cu in / 231 = 14.96 gallons

Obviously you will have displacement of the calcined media, but if you get that total volume in gallons + what ever your top off reservoir is you should be more than safe. In my example above, that 14.96 gallons + 5 gallon reservoir would be just shy of 20 gallons. So a 20 gallon long should provide more than enough space since the area calculated to be 14.96 gallons will have displacement due to media which will reduce the volume of water. ATO's are pretty reliable these days, so if the mechanical float switch is not giving you the warm and fuzzies, a simple electronic ATO with water level monitoring (around $100) will be more than safe. I've used some simple ones for years with no floods. Only floods I get are when I forget I'm filling a tank and walk away during a water change... Yay fishroom with concrete floors!

I'm not only recommending this to save a pump, but in actuality you're probably going to be away from home at some point. Say a vacation comes up. Having this knocked out now means one less thing you have to worry about/train the pet sitter to do when they swing by. Perk of the ATO res is you can also use it as the same res for your auto misting system. Win Win.

Also, let me add that whatever you're going to stock in there has a chance of producing offspring... Couple breeder boxes in the sump = simple way to raise tads without setting up a rack or table for cups before they sprout front legs.
I have no issues with the math but it gets a bit more complicated when you dump the calcined clay in. To be clear I am talking about taking calcined clay (think fine grain aquarium gravel) and putting somewhere between 40 lbs and 80 lbs into this tank. This will fill the bottom and make hills in the back. So yeah, definitely not going to have 14 gallons of water in this tank. If I can dump 3 gallons in there without overflowing I will consider it a big success. Another thing to consider is the water filled false bottom of this tank will not be rectangular. It will be triangular. I have a slanted false bottom and that slant changes angles as it gets closer to the front. The exact size and depth of all of this I haven't figured out yet. I cut some wood for a 45 degree angle and just shy of 4 inches wide but when I stack the pieces up it looks a bit small to me so I will need to redo it.

The good news is that 1) I don't have to make this decision now. I can set the whole thing up and see how much water it actually holds before making a decision. 2) No matter what I start out with I can always change it down the road. Nothing in the tank changes regardless of whether its a sump or canister filter, all of those changes happen in the stand so it won't be a big deal to swap one for the other.
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  #42 (permalink)  
Old 09-10-2020, 06:03 PM
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Default Re: 4 Foot Vivarium Build From The Ground Up

With the slope being at 45 degrees you can effectively deduce that the volume of capable water would be 50% of the math I provided. As for drains, on any project, I always recommend running a double drain. This will provide you a backup drain if something clogs. Also, you can run the second drain at an alternate height, so if you get a small restriction that raises the water, you won't have to worry about an overflow if the secondary drain is above the primary.
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Old 09-10-2020, 06:11 PM
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Default Re: 4 Foot Vivarium Build From The Ground Up

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Originally Posted by Tihsho View Post
With the slope being at 45 degrees you can effectively deduce that the volume of capable water would be 50% of the math I provided. As for drains, on any project, I always recommend running a double drain. This will provide you a backup drain if something clogs. Also, you can run the second drain at an alternate height, so if you get a small restriction that raises the water, you won't have to worry about an overflow if the secondary drain is above the primary.
I don't think I've done a good job explaining the situation. Let me use a different example. Lets say you have a pint glass. It holds exactly 16 oz of water. Now fill that pint glass to the brim with fine gravel. How much water does it hold?

A lot less then 16 oz that is for certain. The easiest way to find out would be to pour water in till it reaches the brim. This is the scenario I have in my tank. My substrate and false bottom will be homogeneous. So I won't be able to calculate how much water my tank holds without actually filling it up. It won't be much though.

One reason to use a canister filter over a sump though is that a canister filter doesn't rely on gravity to drain water. A canister filter can suck the water out of the tank. This will be useful for me because my bulkhead due to practical build considerations can not be at the lowest point on the viv. I wouldn't have any room to install it there. Instead it will be a little higher up and I can run a tube down to the lowest point in the viv and thus be that much more protected against running dry. Hopefully I will be able to dial in my humidity and misting to such a degree that I will be able to ensure my canister never runs dry but I won't know for sure on that point until after its setup and running for a bit.
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  #44 (permalink)  
Old 09-10-2020, 07:09 PM
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Default Re: 4 Foot Vivarium Build From The Ground Up

I understand the displacement part 100%, as for the bulkhead location, that I didn't know.

I understand the difference between a closed loop pump and a sump being gravity fed, but I'm just pointing out ways to get around accidents, both over flowing of water and lack there of for a canister. Depending on how much misting you have and ventilation, you may have an issue where there is more water going into the Viv than is being pulled out due to evap and exchange of internal Viv air which should have high humidity and external Viv air which should be lower. Just something to consider.

In big projects like these, especially with as much work as you're putting into it, I'd hate to see you have to tear out the substrate and re drill for bulk heads.
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  #45 (permalink)  
Old 09-10-2020, 07:31 PM
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Default Re: 4 Foot Vivarium Build From The Ground Up

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Originally Posted by Tihsho View Post
I understand the displacement part 100%, as for the bulkhead location, that I didn't know.

I understand the difference between a closed loop pump and a sump being gravity fed, but I'm just pointing out ways to get around accidents, both over flowing of water and lack there of for a canister. Depending on how much misting you have and ventilation, you may have an issue where there is more water going into the Viv than is being pulled out due to evap and exchange of internal Viv air which should have high humidity and external Viv air which should be lower. Just something to consider.

In big projects like these, especially with as much work as you're putting into it, I'd hate to see you have to tear out the substrate and re drill for bulk heads.
All true, but if I do decide to go with a sump at some point I won't need to redrill for bulkheads. There will still be 2 in the tank sloped floor. One going to the canister and one to the reservoir for overflow. So if I do decide to switch to a sump I won't need to change anything in the tank, only on the outside.

I do appreciate all the time and thought you put into your responses, I like to get critique especially on big projects like this. If I were dealing with a larger water volume I would go the sump route as well since they are just so much easier to manage. But since the water in the viv is going to be quite small (even though the tank is pretty large) I am still of the belief a canister filter is the better way to go. I originally thought of making a DIY canister filter to do the job actually since filtration is not really that important and any old bit of sponge next to a pump would do the trick. But with an actual canister filter sitting dry with no plans for future use it didn't make sense to build something new.
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Old 09-10-2020, 08:49 PM
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Default Re: 4 Foot Vivarium Build From The Ground Up

You're welcome. I'm an engineer by trade, so I try to look at the big picture, but then work out the smaller details as problems appear in the design.
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Old 09-15-2020, 04:39 PM
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Default Re: 4 Foot Vivarium Build From The Ground Up

Update!

I have been picking away at the viv construction and decided to post a progress update now that it looks a bit like something ;P

First up was making the front piece complete with vents. This is the most 'difficult' part of the build not because it is super intricate but because I am not super talented when it comes to anything that is done by hand. I much prefer setting up a jig and using power tools to create straight lines guided by my jig. The easiest way to make this piece though involved drilling a few starter holes then free handing it with a jig saw before following it up with a router. The corners would be free hand though so of course that is where it was roughest.



From there I cut out the short side pieces. Again I needed to rely on my jig saw skills so... yeah could have been better ;P

Here are the pieces just propped up to see how it looked:



From here I could begin gluing the reinforcement pieces in place. Since this viv will be epoxied on the inside and painted on the outside I have a LOT of room to smooth over rough edges and generally fix booboos that would be difficult or impossible to fix if I left it as stained wood.



After gluing the reinforcement on I could start the rest of the glue-up. The next step was figuring out the bottom. This could have been done before this point but I find it is a LOT easier for me to use the actual pieces I will be working with to figure out things like angles and sizes so it wasn't until I had all the pieces lying next to each other that I could take final measurements.

I originally planned for the bottom to be made from 2 pieces with different angles to create a kind of trough. This design makes sense when working with something like plastic (like how my insitu is made) but it didn't make sense when working with wood so when it came time to actually build it I abandoned the multiple angle bottom and instead went with a single piece slanted bottom at a 15 degree angle.



Once the glue set I could glue on the opposing side. I did have a another whoopsie before this step when I glued the reinforcement onto the wrong side of this piece.... twice.... but I got it sorted.



Around this point I realized I messed this whole thing up. Not so much that I can't fix it, but it does complicate the entire build. You see I made my sloped floor run the full 20 inch depth of the vivarium instead of stopping at the front wall and the back. This meant that I needed to glue-up the front wall and the back ONTOP of the sloped floor instead of against it. Whoops. Oh well its not the end of the world it just makes things more difficult. In this case it meant cutting 15 degree angles in the front and back pieces. The back will also need to be in 2 pieces.

This brings me to gluing up the back:



And that brings me up to current. Next will be gluing up the front and then I will be adding more reinforcement pieces to overlap the various joints.

Overall I am pretty happy with progress. I was originally a bit wary of using only 1/2 inch plywood simply because it felt a bit wobbly when handling it in long pieces. But once I started adding the reinforcement pieces that worry went away, they really add quite a bit of stiffness.
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Old 09-15-2020, 05:22 PM
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Default Re: 4 Foot Vivarium Build From The Ground Up

You may want to consider picking up/borrowing a hand router, it will save you a ton of time when it comes to making slots, plus with the right bits you can chamfer edges.
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Old 09-15-2020, 05:29 PM
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Default Re: 4 Foot Vivarium Build From The Ground Up

Quote:
Originally Posted by minorhero View Post
Update!



I have been picking away at the viv construction and decided to post a progress update now that it looks a bit like something ;P



First up was making the front piece complete with vents. This is the most 'difficult' part of the build not because it is super intricate but because I am not super talented when it comes to anything that is done by hand. I much prefer setting up a jig and using power tools to create straight lines guided by my jig. The easiest way to make this piece though involved drilling a few starter holes then free handing it with a jig saw before following it up with a router. The corners would be free hand though so of course that is where it was roughest.







From there I cut out the short side pieces. Again I needed to rely on my jig saw skills so... yeah could have been better ;P



Here are the pieces just propped up to see how it looked:







From here I could begin gluing the reinforcement pieces in place. Since this viv will be epoxied on the inside and painted on the outside I have a LOT of room to smooth over rough edges and generally fix booboos that would be difficult or impossible to fix if I left it as stained wood.







After gluing the reinforcement on I could start the rest of the glue-up. The next step was figuring out the bottom. This could have been done before this point but I find it is a LOT easier for me to use the actual pieces I will be working with to figure out things like angles and sizes so it wasn't until I had all the pieces lying next to each other that I could take final measurements.



I originally planned for the bottom to be made from 2 pieces with different angles to create a kind of trough. This design makes sense when working with something like plastic (like how my insitu is made) but it didn't make sense when working with wood so when it came time to actually build it I abandoned the multiple angle bottom and instead went with a single piece slanted bottom at a 15 degree angle.







Once the glue set I could glue on the opposing side. I did have a another whoopsie before this step when I glued the reinforcement onto the wrong side of this piece.... twice.... but I got it sorted.







Around this point I realized I messed this whole thing up. Not so much that I can't fix it, but it does complicate the entire build. You see I made my sloped floor run the full 20 inch depth of the vivarium instead of stopping at the front wall and the back. This meant that I needed to glue-up the front wall and the back ONTOP of the sloped floor instead of against it. Whoops. Oh well its not the end of the world it just makes things more difficult. In this case it meant cutting 15 degree angles in the front and back pieces. The back will also need to be in 2 pieces.



This brings me to gluing up the back:







And that brings me up to current. Next will be gluing up the front and then I will be adding more reinforcement pieces to overlap the various joints.



Overall I am pretty happy with progress. I was originally a bit wary of using only 1/2 inch plywood simply because it felt a bit wobbly when handling it in long pieces. But once I started adding the reinforcement pieces that worry went away, they really add quite a bit of stiffness.
Good update!
I look forward to seeing this completed.

Can you do us a favor and keep track of what the project (particularly the vivarium build), costs? This might help other people make a decision in the future. I've stuck with pre-built , commercially available terrariums because getting glass cut to size is quite expensive where I live.
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  #50 (permalink)  
Old 09-15-2020, 06:18 PM
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Default Re: 4 Foot Vivarium Build From The Ground Up

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tihsho View Post
You may want to consider picking up/borrowing a hand router, it will save you a ton of time when it comes to making slots, plus with the right bits you can chamfer edges.
I own a trim router and the router in my router table is a medium sized machine so I could take it out and use it as a hand router if needed. I also own a few roundover bits which will be making an appearance later in the build. That said, I'm not very good at using a router ;P In the corners is where things got a little wonky. I used my mortiser to square up the corners and from there reinforced the entire top section of the front piece with straight cut bits of plywood from the table saw so once I sand it, fill in any gaps with paste, and paint it, it will look pretty smooth. Till then its rougher then I would like.


Quote:
Originally Posted by fishingguy12345 View Post
Good update!
I look forward to seeing this completed.

Can you do us a favor and keep track of what the project (particularly the vivarium build), costs? This might help other people make a decision in the future. I've stuck with pre-built , commercially available terrariums because getting glass cut to size is quite expensive where I live.
I actually have a pretty good idea right now of how much the whole thing will cost. I bought 2 sheets of plywood, one is 1/2 birch and the other is marine grade fir plywood. The marine grade is being used for the sides, bottom, and front (the parts that will be underwater). But this was an uncessary expense, you could do just as well with 1/2" birch plywood.

Anyway the cost breakdown is going to look something like this:

Plywood 150 dollars (could shave 50 dollars off of this by using regular plywood instead of marine)
Glass 250 dollars (this assumes I go with 1/4" thick glass for the doors which I am actually undecided on, it would be about half as much if I go with 1/8th inch for the doors)
Pond Armor 70 dollars
Paint and Primer 50 dollars
Misc Costs 80 dollars (screws, silicone, door track, fiberglass, wood glue, bulkheads, tubing)

Total cost 600 dollars before planting, lights, plumbing, misting, substrate etc. At the end of the day its not much if any cheaper to make it all glass, but I don't think I could make it look as good if it were all glass so /shrug.
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  #51 (permalink)  
Old 09-15-2020, 07:33 PM
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Default Re: 4 Foot Vivarium Build From The Ground Up

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Originally Posted by minorhero View Post
I own a trim router and the router in my router table is a medium sized machine so I could take it out and use it as a hand router if needed. I also own a few roundover bits which will be making an appearance later in the build. That said, I'm not very good at using a router ;P In the corners is where things got a little wonky. I used my mortiser to square up the corners and from there reinforced the entire top section of the front piece with straight cut bits of plywood from the table saw so once I sand it, fill in any gaps with paste, and paint it, it will look pretty smooth. Till then its rougher then I would like.
It will take practice, but it's worth it for the time savings and material savings than post processing. Looks good so far with what you did though! Just trying to save you some time.

Have you decided what are you planning on sealing everything up with? Siliconed joints and then epoxy coat everything? Working with wood is making this a very interesting project to follow, I'm taking some notes for a custom viv.
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Old 09-15-2020, 08:46 PM
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Default Re: 4 Foot Vivarium Build From The Ground Up

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Have you decided what are you planning on sealing everything up with? Siliconed joints and then epoxy coat everything? Working with wood is making this a very interesting project to follow, I'm taking some notes for a custom viv.
If you apply a couple of coats of pond armor and then go over it with silicone it can seal the vivarium up but this is considered the slap dash method. The gold standard is using fiberglass weave in the corners. Apply a coat of pond armor, then put down the fiber weave with more pond armor on top. Followed by a third and final coat of pond armor. This is what plywood aquariums use and they need to withstand a lot more pressure then a vivarium.
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Old 09-15-2020, 11:01 PM
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Default Re: 4 Foot Vivarium Build From The Ground Up

Ugh, fiberglass... My arms itch at the thought already! I've seen it done for plywood tanks, but I figured it might be a bit overkill for a Viv, but I guess you could also work the fiberglass in for the structure of the background as well. Can't wait to see this thing done structurally, it will be a nice display for sure.

Thoughts on a stain or paint job on the exterior?
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Old 09-15-2020, 11:15 PM
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Default Re: 4 Foot Vivarium Build From The Ground Up

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Thoughts on a stain or paint job on the exterior?
Definitely paint. I will be using wood putty to fill in screw holes, and imperfections in my build. So wood stain simply won't work. Not to mention I have 2 different types of plywood going into it heh.

I am debating either an off white or light gray color. The walls in the room are light gray so either could work for me. Right now probably leaning towards off white. I will put down a coat of killz primer first and then follow-up with a coat of some kind of exterior paint bought from a big box hardware store.
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Old 09-15-2020, 11:22 PM
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Default Re: 4 Foot Vivarium Build From The Ground Up

Ah, wasn't sure if you were going to veneer the exterior or not. I'd be curious to know what this thing weighs empty.

Just an after thought, but are you planning on adding adjustable feet to the base to level out enclosure in the room?
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