Habitat - Indoor :: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

Turtle tank setups and other indoor configurations.

Post Posted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 6:07 pm   Re: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

Our cat Phantom misses his turtle buddy Moe. Part of the reason for building the ATBA is to give Moe a better living environment. Part of the reason for building the ATBA is to keep Phantom OUT of the tank.
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I started with the same 1x12 pine frame for the sides and rear as in the video above. I like the idea of having the open space behind the wall to hide filtration, auto feeders, and lower tank lighting. The stand is from Petsmart and is their store brand, "TopFin". DO NOT BUY THIS STAND. Probably the worst item I've ever had to assemble. Nothing lined up and we had to resort to using spreader clamps and a rubber mallet to essentially whack this sucker into submission. I wanted to return it but my wife really liked it - so we spent about 4 hours putting it together.

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I remember buying those 90 degree clamps to build the previous ATBA. I remember telling myself you'll be able to use these again one day - worth the money. This new build 7 years later is the second time I'm using those clamps.
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Post Posted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 6:19 pm   Re: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

The build is going slow because of the paint. It's 20 degrees F today and too cold to paint out in the garage. I've resorted to painting in two large furniture boxes in the basement.
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Painting is not a strong skill for me. The paint on my previous ATBA wasn't stellar, so I've decided to cheat this time. I'm applying a few coats of black paint/primer from a rattle can then covering the entire thing in a few coats of black gel stain. I've never done this before (gel stain over paint) but am told its easy to get a decent finish. This is after two coats of black semi gloss spray paint and one coat of gel stain (still wet in photo). I'm applying the gel stain with a foam brush to avoid brush marks and because they're ~50 cents so easy enough to buy a couple and not wash them.

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Post Posted: Sun Feb 04, 2018 1:34 am   Re: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

Sorry to hear about the accident! I've seen that style topper a few times before, but this is the first video I've seen one in and he did a real nice job on it. I haven't heard of gel stain over paint before, this looks pretty interesting! Rebuild is looking good, keep us updated :)
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Post Posted: Sun Feb 04, 2018 5:14 pm   Re: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

Thanks Steve. I’m super happy with how the gel stain over paint came out. Right now I’m applying a second coat of General Finishes brand gel based topcoat over the stain to protect it. I got the sliding glass doors in yesterday and will post a pic. I’m starting to build the basking platform and ramp today. I’m going to use the same acrylic ramp with holes but am playing with some Trex composite decking material for the basking platform instead of tile.
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Post Posted: Sun Feb 04, 2018 11:10 pm   Re: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

Oh man what an unexpected large project! Can’t wait to follow it though. I’m quickly finding out how easy it is to get sucked in to turtle tanks! I’m doing some upgrades this week. I saw your post a page or two back about magnets instead of suction cups. That’s genius...and I LOVE your mischevoous kitty. :) it’s cute they are friends.
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Post Posted: Mon Feb 05, 2018 10:34 am   Re: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

I HATE that suction cups eventually become brittle and useless. The magnets work very well and never go bad. The zoo med magnets are fairly strong and work very well. With this new stand, the FX5 doesn't fit and it's probably a bit too much for the 40 breeder. I'm just using the XP4 canister and purchased more magnets to replace the suction cups. Nothing wrong with the magnets I was previously using but I must have thrown away the extra U clips that screw into the magnet base. I didn't have anything that fit the Rena filter's pipes.

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Thanks for the kind words on Phantom. Here's a collage of our entire zoo (photos taken a while ago):
Sammy - brown/white boston terrier
Butch - brindle boston terrier
Phantom - cat
Moe - RES
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I measured Moe yesterday. His shell is 4 7/8".
He needs a good shed.

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Post Posted: Mon Feb 05, 2018 10:48 am   Re: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

The body of the ATBA is just about done with all of the paint/stain/poly finishing. I'm very happy with the outcome of the process.

Here's the gel topcoat I used - applied with foam brush:

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It's hard to see but after the first layer of topcoat and before sanding:

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As I've mentioned this stand is awful and will rock forward if pushed hard enough. I anchored it to the wall with some anti-tip furniture straps. Each strap was rated for 400 lbs so I put 2 in just in case. I used a lag bolt and screwed the strap into the wall studs. I drilled through the back of the stand and attached the strap with a bolt that runs through the wood. The stand is made from particle board and I was afraid the screws they supplied would just rip out if something happened. $12 for a 4 pack of straps on Amazon.

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Post Posted: Mon Feb 05, 2018 11:03 am   Re: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

While waiting for the various layers of finishing to dry, I started on the filter to get Moe back in the tank. The XP4 has been tasked with the job and I decided it would be smart to replace the o rings since this filter has not been in use for a couple of years and they dried out. I was also missing a few parts of the plumbing. Luckily it's all available on Amazon.

The filter is setup like in the filter media thread http://www.redearslider.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=30145#p288911

Two baskets of bio media on top
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1.5 baskets of foam. 20PPM on the bottom. 30PPM on top.
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Purigen on top of the foam in the second basket. I may add some carbon if needed - going to let it run with just a little bag of purigen and see how it does first.
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An dirty bag of purigen next to a new one. Hoping to regenerate one while there's an active one in the filter and just keep swapping them back and forth.
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Because this is a 40 breeder I wanted to get as much clutter out of the tank as possible. It's bare bottom - the underside of the glass is painted with sand textured spray paint. The heater is an inline Hydor so that it's out of the tank as well. I've only had this thing a few days. It's physically much larger than I was expecting but it seems to be working well.

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Post Posted: Mon Feb 05, 2018 7:05 pm   Re: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

Had some time in between calls to work on the ramp a bit. .220 sheet acrylic drilled with a 1/2" Forstner bit. If you've never worked with sheet acrylic (Plexiglass) before here's a few tips: The cutting tools they sell in the store - the cutting wheels and the score and snap type tools are absolutely worthless on anything but the thinnest acrylic. Thicker sheets are MUCH easier to cut on a table saw even with a regular tooth wood blade. Leave the protective film on the sheet when cutting or drilling. You can write on it with a sharpie and it will help prevent any chipping as you cut through.

Here's the new ramp in it's current state right now. Cut and drilled, protective plastic still on. For anyone trying to replicate those are 3/4" grid lines and a 1/2" Forstner bit in the drill press.

I'm going to remove the plastic, heat the bend line with a plumbing torch and bend it into a ramp later.

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I'm HOPING by using the Trex decking as the basking platform that I could just screw this ramp to the underside of the decking. The epoxy and tile works well but tile is fragile and the epoxy needs time to dry. If you don't clamp it and get it to bond just right you have a mess.
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Post Posted: Mon Feb 05, 2018 9:05 pm   Re: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

Nice work. I’m looking at making a plexiglass perimeter wall soon just so I can fill the tank more and leave it topless. Then maybe convert one side to an atba. Threads like these help a lot as I’ve never worked with plexi before. My grandpa informed me that ace hardware will cut it to my dimensions though so then I just assemble it. They also have a lot of scrap that’s cheaper if the piece fits what you need.
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Post Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 10:43 am   Re: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

Thank you. Ace & Lowes will cut it for you. Don’t expect it to be exact. They are eighth inch accurate and not much more. Sometimes a couple of dollar tip really improves how much time and effort they put forth. I learned that lesson with the panel saw operator at Home Hepot a few years ago.
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Post Posted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:13 pm   Re: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

The ramp and basking platform are now complete. I used L brackets screwed into the ATBA to hold the platform. The ramp is attached to the underside of the platform. Depending on how Moe does, I MAY take it apart and run those Trex boards through the planar and thin them down a bit so the climb isn't as difficult.

Bending the ramp. I used the heat gun this time instead of the propane torch. The heat gun on high only took about 2 minutes to get the acrylic soft enough to bend. Much easier to control the heat vs. the torch. If you get the acrylic too warm, it will bubble.

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Once the ramp cooled, I screwed it to the underside of the decking. If you end up doing this for your ramp, pre-drill the acrylic and use washers like in the next pic. The screw going through acrylic will crack it. I made holes big enough so the screw would not have to push any acrylic material out of the way when fastening.

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Here it is in the tank... for now.

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Post Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:25 pm   Re: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

Looking back at the previous ATBA build I ran two filters in the old house. The FX5 dealt with the majority of the water and the XP4 was hooked up to a surface skimmer (WAY overkill). I was looking at the Eheim intake attachment that does both surface skimming and regular canister filter intake and stumbled across a newer Eheim product.

I found this little inexpensive guy designed for surface skimming:

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Post Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:46 pm   Re: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

Haha I just caught up here a little... I like how the kids were like "oh we just smashed that whole thing and water is soaking through the floor. Maybe mom and dad won't notice". 6 year old logic?
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Post Posted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:30 pm   Re: Moe's new 75G home - build thread.

Kingbird44 wrote:Haha I just caught up here a little... I like how the kids were like "oh we just smashed that whole thing and water is soaking through the floor. Maybe mom and dad won't notice". 6 year old logic?


Yeah... thanks kiddos. :/


Getting close to being done with this build... FINALLY.
I added a Current USA freshwater satellite LED to the read of the aquarium which really helps.

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I'll probably mount this light to the rear or install L brackets to set it on and get it off the eggrate. For now...
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I also decided to ditch the aquarium controller in favor of a z-wave smart power strip by Aeotec. Not using any sensors or advanced programming all I was really doing with the controller was turning power strip outlets on/off at certain times. This is a task well suited for our home automation system - Samsung Smarthings w/ webcore. It's much less complicated and easier to control from the phone or Alexa vs. a clunky slow web interface from the dated controller. With the single white smart strip on the left, I was able to replace the giant pile of mess on the right = less clutter behind the tank.

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