Dendroboard banner

1 - 17 of 17 Posts

13,229 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Making a PDF vertical tank

Ok, you can do this:

You need:
1. Fish Tank. Sizes that work well include 10, 15, 20H
2. Media mix: coco husk chips/chunk peat/ or "Jungle mix". I often combine some sand, loose tree firn and fir bar chips into the mix. Possible additions include pumice stone or other similar products as well. You can be creative here, and also try and incorporate natural calcium containing substrates as well. The goal is to obtain a LONG LASTING mix that will drain well, absorb water easily, and hold up to years of misting and moss build-up.
3. Tubes of brown GEII silicone. I find brown works best for me. I use typically 3-4 tubes on a 20H build
4. 1 can of Black Touch & Foam pond foam(or Great Stuff, but I prefer now the T&F)
5. 2-3 pieces of small, or 2 pieces of medium, Malasian Driftwood.
6. 1 bag of Schultz Aquatic Plant soil or similar natural aquarium stone (I dont use false bottoms, but you can use a false bottom design or other substrate.
7. One brick of dendrobedding or coco block.
8. Clear aquarium silicone for the screen insert and bottom glass.
9. Sandpaper.
10. A glass front (I make mine with glass, hinges from US plastics, and a screen insert I make from screen trim, mosquito screen ect). Learned it from Ben Green (DB Bgreen).
11. Patience and confidence. If I can do it, so can you.

The Build Out:

Put the tank on the floor and lay out the driftwood in a pleasing way. use a bit of masking tape to hold it temporarily in place and foam around it. Putting on enough to keep the DW in place after it dries and you stand it up.

Let it sit 1 week, in case the GS decides to shrink and you need to do more, or silicone the pieces onto the glass for added strength.

Work from bottom to top, spread the brown silicone using gloves and a pump over all the GS and back glass, generously. Like 1/4 inch thick. Work real fast, and cover with the background matterial of choice. Squish it in place to adhere to all the silicone. Be generous with the mix so you dont get silicone coming out all over your hands. Done right you dont have to repeat this step as you can get 100% coverage the first time through.

Sometimes the step of coverage takes me 2-3 days, a bit of space at a time. I might do 1/4 of the tank, let it dry and do another section the next day, ect. Often doing 4 tanks at a time like an assembly line.

Glue in the bottom 4inch glass insert (I get the local hardware to cut it for a buck)...using clear aquarium silicone (I sandpaper the black plastic tank rim first to get a water tight seal for the silicone to adhere to). And silicone the tank rim from behind to make sure everything is water tight.

Use appropriate sized piano hinge from US plastics for the thickness of glass you are using. I think some of DB sponsors sell a similar product.

Use the U channel to cover the top edge of the glass door. This prevents FF escapes and protects you against the sharp glass edge. I usually lightly sand the edge before applying the U channel. I tap it into place gently with a rubber mallet, and notch out the corners to fit snug into the tank frame.

Put in another insert as the door. I leave 2.5 inches open at the top to cover with a screen. I make a custom screen to fit the remaining 2-3 inches on the top.

The base media is a thick layer of Aquatic Soil (or similar products can be used) and a top dressing of my backgroud media mix we used on the wood and tank interior earlier, with some additional Dendrobedding coco and sand added.

I typically plant it after a week drying time and let it sit nice and wet for a month or 2, before adding frogs.

This gives me ample time to build the screen frames:

I use supplies from the local hardware store. Frames are cut to size with a 'chop saw'/ radial arm saw/ or hand hacksaw. I like to use the metal 'internal' elbows [shown], but they require a precise miter cut. There are plastic elbows/corners also available that are less forgiving and you only need to make cross cuts [not shown].

I use a mesh netting meant for camping, standard 'No See 'um' netting. The larger holes in typical screen net allow ff's to escape so getting some No See 'um netting is worth the effort.

I use standard screen repair tools to make mini screens. A hole is drilled in the center for a plastic latch [many available in the screen repair section of hardware stores and Home Depot].

Silicone the ribbon in once you are done helps protect against it ever coming loose.

:) That should do it!

Written by:
Shawn Harrington(sports_doc)

Last Updated: 3/27/2008

437 Posts
Thanks for posting this! I was wondering how you all built those!

Premium Member
5,602 Posts
Should there be some sort of format to this?

Or can/should I just post Step 1 text with pic, Step 2 text with pic, ect.??


I still need screen and lock photos, but will need to make some more tanks first. The last ones I made, I forgot to photo while doing it....oops.


13,229 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Re: Making a PDF vertical tank

Looks good... I will need to get the pictures added to the directory. Lets see if anyone else has any ideas, but I think it is about ready.
1 - 17 of 17 Posts