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55 gal aquarium turns into a viv
#1
I don't usually do build threads. But I figured what the heck. Most of my vivs are more functional than showy, but I want to put a viv in the living room and I might as well make it look nice while I'm at it. This build is a 55 gallon aquarium, which I got for the best price of all...free!!!
I wanted to do a false bottom in this viv with a drain. I've never installed a drain before, I've never even drilled any glass before. I used Pumilo's (Doug) method for drilling the glass and installing a drain and it couldn't have worked better. All thanks and credit go to Doug for showing me how to do this. What I really like about this method, other than being incredibly easy for someone like me of questionable DIY skills, is that you don't have to drill a really big hole for a bulkhead. It's really kind of a pressure fitting.

First I propped up my tank outside and taped the garden hose to it. I turned on the water to have a gentle, but nice steady stream of cold water to cool the drill bit and the glass.
Jon
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#2
I drilled the hole with a glass drill bit on a slow to medium speed. It took a good 8 minutes or so to get through the thick glass of a 55 gal tank. Apparently one of the keys to drilling glass is to use very little pressure as you drill. Let the weight of the drill be your pressure.
Here is the finished hole. Apologies for the horrible pic
Jon
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#3
Now the drill bit I used was a simple 5/8" diamond glass bit. Cheap and purchased off of ebay. Not the best bit around but if I decide to drill more tanks I can always invest in a better one.
I purchased a simple 1/2" pvc connector with hose barbs on both ends. I cut in half and used a bench grinder to grind down two of the 4 hose barns. It should look something like this, except cleaner. When grinding the fitting you want to go past just taking the barbs off and thin down the PVC as much as possible.
Jon
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#4
Now that my hole is drilled and my fitting prepared. I soaked a piece of 5/8" vinyl tubing in some really hot water to make it more flexible. While it was soaking I cleaned the hole on the viv with rubbing alcohol inside and out. After soaking the tubing for 15 minutes I took it out of the water, dried it off, and then cleaned the end of the tubing with rubbing alcohol. I then inserted my 1/2" fitting into the 5/8" tubing. I put a little bit of silicone all the way around the tubing just short of where it attached to the fitting.
The next step is to thread the tubing from INSIDE the viv to the outside. Once I get to where the fitting is I pulled GENTLY and twisted the tubing till the thinner portion of the fitting was inside the hole. Be very gentle as you don't want to pull hard and break the glass. The silicone on the tubing will be pulled up to the hole and in the hole helping to seal it.
Once the tubing is in the hole it will cool off, expand and help to make a water tight fit.\
I simple added another small ring of silicone on the outside of the viv, just as an additional leak precaution and viola' instant drain.
I'll be adding to this thread as I work on the viv. Stay tuned.
Jon
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#5
no bulkhead?
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#6
No Chris, no bulkhead!! That's the beauty of this system. Usually for a 3/4 bulkhead you have to drill a 1 1/4" hole. I only had to drill a 5/8" hole for a 1/2" drain. If you wanted to go bigger you can of course. Basically the hole only needs to be as big as the tubing you're putting into it.
I should also add that I drilled my hole rather low on the tank, towards the bottom. That in combination with the ball valve I'm going to install on the drain line will allow me to somewhat control the water level in the reservoir. If I want to make the viv a little less humid I can keep the valve open so minimal water is in the viv. Or close it to raise the water level.
Jon
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#7
Rusty_Shackleford Wrote:No Chris, no bulkhead!! That's the beauty of this system. Ususally for a 3/4 bulkhead you have to drill a 1 1/4" hole. I only had to drill a 5/8" hole for a 1/2" drain. If you wanted to go bigger you can of course. Basically the hole only needs to be as big as the tubing you're putting into it.

Cool, I look forward to following this thread.
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#8
Very cool Jon!
-Field Smith
Some frogs...
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#9
Thanks Field!! The drilling and installing of the drain was pretty darn easy. Now doing the 75 will take a little longer since the glass is thicker. But I still have to drain that tank and get rid of the fish. Who wants some slightly used cichlids? :lol:
Jon
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#10
i like dougs method for drains and would do that as well if i wanted a side mounted drain. I drain my tanks through the bottom so i install 1/2 bulkheads in the bottom of my tanks. Of course this requires a hole in the stand as well which isnt a big deal for me as i build my stands myself. I house a bucket inside the stand that catches the drained off water. I also have ball valves on the drains but i never use them really. I just keep the valve always open.
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#11
I did some 'rithmetic today and figured out how much my water reservoir will hold. I calculated the minimum amount to be 3.17 gallons and the maximum it would have in it would be 6.86 gallons. That's a doubling of the water volume between valve open and valve closed. Will see how that plays in to cycling frogs in that viv. It might be easy to keep the valve open and lower humidity, we'll see.

J Teezy Wrote:i like dougs method for drains and would do that as well if i wanted a side mounted drain. I drain my tanks through the bottom so i install 1/2 bulkheads in the bottom of my tanks. Of course this requires a hole in the stand as well which isnt a big deal for me as i build my stands myself. I house a bucket inside the stand that catches the drained off water. I also have ball valves on the drains but i never use them really. I just keep the valve always open.

This viv is an old 55 gallon aquarium. The bottom is tempered glass, can't drill that, so a bottom drain wasn't even an option.
Jon
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#12
least you knew it was tempered before you tried it! That would have sucked big time
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#13
It's been awhile since I've done anything on this build....but things are in the works!!! I've made a FB, installed the drain previously, so now I've got my top and drilled ventilation holes.
I used a standard 55gal aquarium glass top. I drilled 7 1" holes in the back plastic piece and hot glued a tough vinyl screen. Actuall I don't know that it's vinyl, it's whatever screen is made out of, I forget at the moment. I also drilled another 1" hole that will be for the outlet of the fogger.

The next step is the BG. I'm anxiously awaiting my order of cork bark so I can get started on it. It's just gonna be a standard GS with a mosaic of CB, some pots for broms and plants, maybe some bits of coco panel. I'm interested to see how broms and other plants will root on the coco panel. I'm gonna use Titebond II and pulverized, mashed, dried up peat. This is the stuff that comes in a 2.0 cu ft bale at any HD, Lowes, etc. The bale I bought was nice and dry already and I've had it sitting in the sun for a week to make sure it's really dry. Thanks to Field Smith for the combination of the Titebond II and the peat. I liked the way his vivs turned out using the peat.
Jon
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#14
I've been busy putting the BG in. Typical GS, Titiebond II and Peat. Here are pics of the BG. I'll post some more pics as I put the peat on and it dries. Stay tuned.
Jon
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#15
Nice Jon !!! That is gonna rock - love the long tanks.
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#16
Thanks Phil! I'm pretty pleased with the way this is turning out. Yesterday while I listened to Da Bearsss dismantle the Colts I did the glue/peat on this viv. I used an old 1" paintbrush to literally paint on the Titebond II. It seems to have worked well as there are hardly any areas I have to touch up.
Jon
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#17
That looks great with the titebond and peat on it!
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#18
It looks great! I agree with Phil and like the longer tanks. Does the Titebond II remain flexible or does it dry hard?
Glenn
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#19
Thank you gentleman I'm pretty pleased with how it's turning out so far.

Glenn, the Titebond II does dry hard. You can feel the foam underneath, but it's not as spongy. One further note the Titebond II states it is water resistant and the Titebond III is waterproof. Unfortunately I couldn't find Titebond III or I would probably be using that. I'm sure the Titebond II will be fine as there will be no misting system on this viv.
Jon
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#20
Here's where we're at today, the background is done!!!......Oh and some broms too.
N. Marble Throat
N. ampullacea "Tigrina"
N. Fireball
Jon
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