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Old 01-09-2012, 12:43 AM
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Default Planning to build 24x24x36 viv

So I want to build a large vivarium to house my White's Tree Frog and orchids.
I want the living area to be roughly 24"x24"x36" tall. Plus a space for a sump on bottom, and area for lights up top. Total height of the entire enclosure will be close to 6 feet.

I could use a 75/90/120 gallon aquarium, stand it on end, and do a vertical build but I have some issues with that. First my frogs current home is a 29 gal vert terrarium and it leaked, twice. So I'm a little hesitant to try it again when it didn't work out the first time. Secondly a custom build would look cleaner and probably weigh less (I'll have to move this thing to a diff house at least once in the near future).

The problem I need to solve first off is what material to make the tank out of. I've sorta narrowed it down to two options: Plywood with aluminum angle corners; or all plywood.

Aluminum
On bottom would be a 24" square piece of 3/4" plywood. In each corner would be a 1.5"x1.5" 1/8" thick aluminum angle iron uprights. Then a watertight plywood box for substrate. On top, another plywood box to house the lights. This would take 4 aluminum pieces plus plywood, I might have wood laying around.





Upsides of doing it this way are not having to route out window holes, easier construction, and the corners of the structure would be stronger (I think).

Some issues with this build would be attaching the plywood pieces to the aluminum corners, I'd probably use bolts and gorilla glue. Also attaching the glass windows to the aluminum. Also screwing in the hinges for the front door.

Plywood
I'd start by building a 24"x24" by 69" tall box out of 3/4" plywood. A 19" tall section of the bottom front cut off to open up the sump cabinet. To support the substrate a shelf of 3/4" plywood which would also be the top of the sump cabinet. Then a piece of glass 7" down from the top to separate the lights from the living area. I'd router out holes in three of the sides for glass windows and the door. I'd need about 5 sheets of plywood to build this.







For sealing any wood/metal parts I would use this stuff: 635 Thin Expoxy It's been used to build plywood reef tanks so it's non toxic and holds up to water.

I'm going to check on prices for everything tomorrow. The aluminum pieces I need would cost about $100 shipped to me. Anyone got suggestions criticism on my plan so far?
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Old 01-09-2012, 01:36 AM
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Default Re: Planning to build 24x24x36 viv

I am in the process of building a very similar build (that i ended up modifying from the original, which looked almost identical to that)


I won't say that it is at all necessary, but I would recommend that you consider building your frame of 2x4's and a plywood "shell"


My build is 3'x3'x8' (overall frame size) and made of 1/2" plywood AND 2x4 shell and it is still NOT STURDY (it wobbles) so i am adding a few angle braces just incase.


I'm not sure why you are using the aluminum? If you want the front to be completely glass/open you can use wood dowels for the same effective without ruining the consistency of the outside "look"


Are you planning to put epoxy on the wood and thats it? pour your water straight over it ? I know theoretically that should be fine, but I always over-design failsafes.....just in case it fails in the future...

Here is a pic of my current build for reference: https://plus.google.com/photos/11015...jAE&banner=pwa

I am using wood "mounts" attached to my back wall to elevate my foam false wall pieces slightly off the wall. This way I can easily run my tubing, but also I wanted to avoid screwing directly into the wood to leave a little air (and further eliminate mold issues....I will be installing a low-speed fan to move the air behind these walls at a later point)

If you are planning to screw directly into your main wood frame, realize that you must either a) PREDRILL all your holes BEFORE you epoxy OR b) use neoprene washers/etc (personally I don't know how much/long i'd trust these, but again I overbuilt mine). If you epoxy first, and then drill your foam wall pieces to the wood without any water-protection, you will be drilling a hole through your epoxy layer and into the unguarded wood....water droplets will be able to seep into this eventually causing rot/mold/etc.

I have also run an extra layer of plastic behind my false wall units and have all the plastic collect onto a plastic drip tray that sits on the wood (so the wood doesn't directly get wet pretty much ever).



On my wood itself I used 2 coats of WEATHERPROOF WOOD STAIN and on top of that 2 coats of DRYLOK (only on the inside where water will be). In hindsight, I should have gotten the epoxy you linked and I would recommend using that (and I personally will use it over the drylok for future builds).


EDIT: I know my pics are a bit out of date, I've been working so much on building I haven't bothered to upload my pics; I'll throw some new ones up soon if it'll be of help to you, otherwise i"m prob just going to wait till I'm almost done with the whole build
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Old 01-09-2012, 01:56 PM
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Default Re: Planning to build 24x24x36 viv

Thank you for replying EvilLost, looks like your build is coming along nicely. Why did you not make a complete 2x4 square around the top? If you could connect the two free corners of the walls it would be much stiffer. What are you going to do for the windows?


Quote:
Originally Posted by EvilLost View Post
I won't say that it is at all necessary, but I would recommend that you consider building your frame of 2x4's and a plywood "shell"

I'm not sure why you are using the aluminum?
I wanted to stay away from 2x4's because of the weight and how uneven most pieces are. There won't be much weight to support so 2x4's would be way overkill and just wasted space. Also, two smaller pieces, like 1x2's, glued and screwed into an "L" shape resist twisting and bending lengthwise better than a single piece of wood, from what I understood when researching aquarium stands. I thought that using aluminum angle to replace the "L" shaped wood supports would be less work and stronger, but I'm not sure if the cost/looks would be worth it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EvilLost View Post
Are you planning to put epoxy on the wood and thats it? pour your water straight over it ?
Yup. The expoxy I linked to is what's used to make fiberglass boats and stuff, so it cures hard and waterproof. At least one person has used it to seal a plywood reef tank: 360 Plywood Reef Don't know if I'll do a "pour method" like in the link, or try just painting it on. There will be about half an inch of water in the bottom of the substrate box, and a small water feature, plus the enclosure will get misted every now and then. Maybe I should put pond liner in the box and on the back for added safety?


Quote:
Originally Posted by EvilLost View Post
If you are planning to screw directly into your main wood frame, realize that you must either a) PREDRILL all your holes BEFORE you epoxy OR b) use neoprene washers/etc (personally I don't know how much/long i'd trust these, but again I overbuilt mine). If you epoxy first, and then drill your foam wall pieces to the wood without any water-protection, you will be drilling a hole through your epoxy layer and into the unguarded wood....water droplets will be able to seep into this eventually causing rot/mold/etc.
Yes I realize this, and probably won't be screwing anything in on the inside of the tank. So far the only thing I will have to screw in after the frame is sealed are front door hinges and clasps. The side windows and top divider will probably be 1/4" glass (maybe plexiglass) so I should be able to just silicone them on to the frame.

In the bottom of the substrate box I'm going to put a bulkhead, thinking 1 1/2". So water will drain through the substrate, under the false bottom, through the bulkhead, and into the sump. Then a small pump will circulate water from the sump to a small waterfall. The waterfall will overflow on container filled with gravel so the planting media doesn't get soaked. I'm thinking I can run the feed for the waterfall up through the drain bulkhead, or drill another hole somewhere.
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Old 01-21-2012, 02:14 PM
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Default Re: Planning to build 24x24x36 viv

Well I revised my plan and now I think I'm gonna do this:







It'll be made from 3/4" birch plywood and 1x2" pine boards. The overall height is 6'. It is 25 1/2" front to back, and 24" wide. The substrate box part is 7 1/4" deep, and the side windows measure 21"x37".

Questions I have, is 7.25" deep enough for the substrate? I'll have a 1.5" or so false bottom with a drain to the cabinet underneath. Then the top of the substrate will be about 2" below the rim, so there will only be about 3" of soil. I plan on putting a jewel orchid, sinningia, and misc other terrestrail plants in the bottom, so I want to be sure I have enough soil for them.

Also how would you suggest adding ventilation to this thing? Only idea I have is to drill some holes/slots along the top of the substrate box part. How big and how many holes would I need?

And, anyone have suggestions for making a door for the front? I'd prefer a single piece hinged along one side. My idea is making a frame out of 1x2's and fixing the glass in it somehow.


I haven't started building yet but I have all the materials (not the glass), just waiting for a warm day to go outside and cut all the wood.
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Old 01-22-2012, 08:12 PM
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Default Re: Planning to build 24x24x36 viv

I like your design but im with Evil in a way. I think you're over rating the strength and ability of a plywood corner. There's a reason that most furniture implores the use of nailers or larger square corners. I would suggest the use of at least a substructure in your sump area and another structural crown to help hold every thing together up top in the lighting area.
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