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Old 01-12-2020, 04:26 PM
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Default 55Gal Sliding Door Conversion

Build log for my 55gal aqueon converted to a sliding door. I'm planning to put a colony of leucs in it this year. I've skipped some details, so feel free to ask if something is unclear.

Drilling



Adding bulkheads


Glass Assembly


Leak test (in my house on carpet, yes I take risks)


Slime mold I found in one of my other tanks


Sliding door assembly


I created some super wide clothespins to hold the track in place on the glass while the silicone dried.


Ventilation ports


Siliconed in the back wall cork


Tank placed for final assembly


Added drainage layer and screen


Added soil layer (neherp gen 1 substrate), and created water area with cork and river stone


interesting spider egg case I found after collected magnolia leaves for the leaf layer.


plants cleaned


plants and broms added, sphagnum added to back wall, doors added


Interesting note with the doors: I made the silicone seal for the doors too thick, but i was able to use a single blade disposable razer to shave it down evenly bit by bit to the right thickness.

lighting added, cree 5000k daylight, and leaf litter added


Manzanita added


Close-ups of final (minus magnolia seed pods I added later)








Magnolia seed pods added


Plants - 55gal plant pack from josh's frogs, plus some extra broms I had. I took pictures of the names with the plants, but I was doing it as quickly as possible just for reference so a lot of names a blurry. If you can't make it out, let me know.









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Old 01-12-2020, 06:54 PM
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Default Re: 55Gal Sliding Door Conversion

Love the look of the tank.

How did you create the sliding door and track? I'm hoping to try something similar but I'm not overly handy/able to design something
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Old 01-16-2020, 03:08 AM
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Default Re: 55Gal Sliding Door Conversion

Thanks!

The sliding door wasn't too bad. The most difficult part is estimating the measurements on the glass to be cut for the doors.

The track can be a little tough to find. I used: https://www.outwater.com/products/180-bk/

For the doors, I used 1/8" glass cut to my designated dimensions by a local glass shop (they do custom commercial and home glass). I'll describe the measurement difficulties further down.

When looking at the front of the tank that has the doors, note the glass that runs along the bottom (for my tank, it was about 7" tall, 48" long). It's essentially a retaining wall that holds the substrate layers in the tank.

With some tank designs, 2 pieces of glass are placed in that retaining wall position, with a third piece of glass running over top of them. This acts as the shelf for the lower track, which bears the weight of the glass doors. If this is unclear, I can find a picture for you.

In my case, I have only used a single piece of glass, 1/4" thick (I would not use smaller). I have found that the bottom track, when centered on this retaining wall, will support the weight of the glass doors without issue. I use a generous amount of silicone directly under the track and along the 90 degree angles it makes with the glass (as if my intent was to seal it like the vertices of a tank).

The sides of the doors are simply more track aligned to the bottom track and adhered to the glass (some strategy as the bottom track). I hold it in place with my special clothes pins while drying.

The top track is aligned to the side tracks and adhered to the glass (same strategy as the bottom track). I hold it in place with my special clothes pins while drying.

The tricky part about sizing the glass for the doors is measuring the total width/height of the opening and then with regards to the height:

- SUBTRACTING the total height of the bottom track (plus silicone, which takes up a mm or so without fail)
- SUBTRACTING the thickness of the plastic (not the whole track height, but the actual plastic) of the top track
- SUBTRACTING an extra mm or 2 to ensure you can get the track into position.

All this may be fairly obscure in writing, so let me know if any or all of it is too vague. I can take some pictures and make a drawing or 2. I draw all this out anyway for my builds.
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Old 01-16-2020, 11:06 AM
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Default Re: 55Gal Sliding Door Conversion

Quote:
Originally Posted by macg View Post
Thanks!



The sliding door wasn't too bad. The most difficult part is estimating the measurements on the glass to be cut for the doors.



The track can be a little tough to find. I used: https://www.outwater.com/products/180-bk/



For the doors, I used 1/8" glass cut to my designated dimensions by a local glass shop (they do custom commercial and home glass). I'll describe the measurement difficulties further down.



When looking at the front of the tank that has the doors, note the glass that runs along the bottom (for my tank, it was about 7" tall, 48" long). It's essentially a retaining wall that holds the substrate layers in the tank.



With some tank designs, 2 pieces of glass are placed in that retaining wall position, with a third piece of glass running over top of them. This acts as the shelf for the lower track, which bears the weight of the glass doors. If this is unclear, I can find a picture for you.



In my case, I have only used a single piece of glass, 1/4" thick (I would not use smaller). I have found that the bottom track, when centered on this retaining wall, will support the weight of the glass doors without issue. I use a generous amount of silicone directly under the track and along the 90 degree angles it makes with the glass (as if my intent was to seal it like the vertices of a tank).



The sides of the doors are simply more track aligned to the bottom track and adhered to the glass (some strategy as the bottom track). I hold it in place with my special clothes pins while drying.



The top track is aligned to the side tracks and adhered to the glass (same strategy as the bottom track). I hold it in place with my special clothes pins while drying.



The tricky part about sizing the glass for the doors is measuring the total width/height of the opening and then with regards to the height:



- SUBTRACTING the total height of the bottom track (plus silicone, which takes up a mm or so without fail)

- SUBTRACTING the thickness of the plastic (not the whole track height, but the actual plastic) of the top track

- SUBTRACTING an extra mm or 2 to ensure you can get the track into position.



All this may be fairly obscure in writing, so let me know if any or all of it is too vague. I can take some pictures and make a drawing or 2. I draw all this out anyway for my builds.
This is great! Thank you. I think I understand.

How do you find the sliding door as opposed to a hinged door?
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Old 01-16-2020, 06:19 PM
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Default Re: 55Gal Sliding Door Conversion

I would make sure that hooded lighting doesn't raise the tank temp too much.
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Old 01-17-2020, 02:02 AM
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Default Re: 55Gal Sliding Door Conversion

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Originally Posted by Philsuma View Post
I would make sure that hooded lighting doesn't raise the tank temp too much.
That's a good observation. These pictures don't show the standoffs for the lights I used for this tank (some plastic deli containers :-))

I usually select the standoff distance from the tank based on the lighting. If I suspect it's going to fry a plant or the light distribution isn't quite right, I'll adjust their height (for me, I just choose different size deli containers :-))

This selection process can sometimes take a few days (I'm OCD about it).

The temps in my tanks are a pretty consistent +2.5 to 3F compared to ambient. I've taken periodic measurements for a few years now with different lighting, and I've gotten lucky that the lights I've chosen have been consistent in that arena.

These specific cree bulbs are safe for enclosed fixtures, which most likely explains why they don't turn the tank into an oven when there is at least some airflow between the lights and the tank (and I would be curious to measure tank temps when they are right against the glass). The energy lost as heat has a difficult time transferring to the tank as cooler air flows in the bottom of the fixture and out the top holes.

If someone would like their lights closer to the tank, I would recommend the 60w. I like and use 75w because they can be raised a little higher, and the light spread seems more natural to me.

This was my final choice on light height:

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Old 01-17-2020, 02:23 AM
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Default Re: 55Gal Sliding Door Conversion

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Originally Posted by fishingguy12345 View Post
This is great! Thank you. I think I understand.

How do you find the sliding door as opposed to a hinged door?
Also a good question.

Sliding Doors
Pro
- they work very well on long tanks.
- You can open a small % of the tank, so the risk of escape is lower when feeding, maintaining, etc
- In my opinion, easier to make
- In my opinion, easier to make them look good

Cons
- More difficult to clean
- If a frog is on a sliding door, sometimes you can't open it without risking injury to a very stubborn frog :-)
- Don't work quite as well on very tall tanks (assuming height to width ratio is high)

Hinge Doors
Pro
- They work well on tall tanks when using a hinge on the vertical axis
- Easy to clean

Cons
- You'll essentially have to open the entire front to work effectively (unless you have a double door, then 50% min), raising risk of escapees.
- In my opinion, harder to make (get your hinges aligned, select add your handles, and some type of mechanism to hold the door in place)
- Don't work as well with long tanks as the hinge must be on the horizontal axis (or you have strong hinges/adhesive and don't mind the door sagging when open due to the high torque from gravity). A horizontal hinge means losing your grip on the door could send it falling, which could shatter your entire door (assuming it is made of glass). Then what are you going to do? I built one like this, and it makes me nervous.

I'm sure others have additional opinions and contributions to the pros/cons. The deciding factor for me in the end was the shape of the tank (long) and ability to open a small % of the tank at a time that led me to sliding for my past 2 builds. When I do a vert, I will probably go with a vertical axis hinge.
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