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It's a small world :)


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Welcome to the story of my small world tank. This tank is specifically for those little creatures that would get lost in our larger tanks. Things like harlequin shrimp, sexy shrimp, small gobies, pompom crabs and little blennies. I have wanted a tank in my hallway for quite a while, but space is at a premium and the hallway isn't that wide. Well, one day I had a brainstorm....I have this oddly sized little Sea Clear acrylic tank, and wouldn't you know it, it's the perfect size to fit right into that hall. That's the good news. The bad news is, this tank is scratch, BAD. So, before I could actually use it, I had to fix it. This is going to be a slow build, because I have to build the cabinetry for this tank as well. It will be totally enclosed within a custom cabinet, in the picture frame viewer style. The top will be screened, to make sure none of the little creatures escape. It will be lit with two ecoxotic panoramas and three ecoxotic blue stunner strips. I'm going to build a small fuge/sump for it, but this tank will be run skimmerless. A custom foam background will hide the ugly blue acrylic background (eww). So, here we go............

Since this tank was so badly scratched, I had to refinish the acrylic inside and out on the front. I started out with 220grit sandpaper on a palm sander.


I took all the deep gouges out with the 220grit, then moved through 400grit to 600grit.


Right about now is when you go "oh no, what have I done??!!". The acrylic should be translucent over the entire area that you are working on. Inspect very carefully at this point for any missed scratches. If you find some, back up to the 400 grit and get them out, then resand with 600 grit. I can't stress enough to inspect carefully. I missed two scratches, didn't find them until much later, and had to back up and start over. Not fun. I used my palm sander for the 220,400, and 600 grit sandpaper, and all sanding needs to be done wet. Do NOT dry sand acrylic. It will clog up your paper, and the acrylic could get too hot from the friction and warp on you.
For the remainder of the steps, I used my random orbit sander, and micromesh sanding pads designed for hard surface refinishing. These refinishing pads come in kits with 9 grits, starting at 1500 going all the way to 12000. Take your time, do not rush. Use plenty of water (and keep adding water as needed), and clean well between grits with water and a soft cloth. Don't mash down on your sander, let the machine float over the surface and do the work for you. The finer the grit gets, the longer you will spend on each step. Do Not Rush. This is a messy job, don't do it in the house if you can help it, the sander will sling debris everywhere. Wear work clothes, the sander also slings the debris on you. Wear glasses or safety glasses.

Here the tank is after the 2400grit application.


4000 grit


8000 grit



I haven't fully decided on livestock yet, but here are some of the things I am considering:

sexy shrimp
harlequin shrimp
pompom crabs
porcelain crabs
yellow rose goby
panda goby
hectors goby (tank raised)
barnacle blenny
tail spot blenny
candy hogfish

corals will be:
actinodiscus shrooms (supermans, blue pinstripe, bloody mary, pink polkadots)
zoas (various)
small leathers (devils hand most likely)

I'm going with black sand as a substrate, and live rock structures that are going to take me a little while to build. Heater is an inline hydor, cooling will be provided by computer fans. I've still got to come up with a two stage temp controller. Lights will be controlled via timers. I don't want to have to buy a controller for this tank, since I have two larger builds for later this year that are already going to require the purchase of Apex controllers.

Suggestions are welcome! If you know of a small critter that you think would look good in this tank, I wanna hear about it! Keep in mind, this is going to be a peaceful community, so no meanies please emoticon-0100-smile.gif

Next step: Background and drilling for drain and returns. Stay tuned for updates!

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The overflow is basically a silent drain. The cap on top has a small hole drilled in it to allow for air intake. The slotted drain will keep the critters out, while allowing for surface skimming. It will make more sense once I post up the background photos later today. I had to run the overflow like I did because the tank is bottom drilled (it had to set right up against the wall, so back drilling was not an option.

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Background is done. I left the overflow side "puffy" because I want to be able to push frag plugs into it. It also made some cool cave looking shapes that will give my little guys somewhere to hang out. The overflow and return are now hidden on the right side of the tank, behind the foam. I designed the overflow and return so that no plumbing would be visible from the front of the tank (cause it's ugly, LOL).

I had thought about a closed loop system for extra flow, but didn't want to deal with extra holes/bulkheads/pump/possible leaks. So I will be designing a submersible MJ900 multiple outlet system that can be submerged within the tank, and I will hide the powercord behind a piece of pvc coated in aggrocrete (so it will stay where I put it and not float). Or, I may just not worry about extra flow, since most of the livestock really won't care that much about it anyway. It's something I can always do later. What I do NOT want is visible powerheads or cords in this tank. I want the focus to be completely on the livestock.


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