My 750L Amazon tank

By Frank Panis

Last year I sold my 1000L Malawi tank that was standing in our living room. Initially I was extremely glad to notice that the bubbling, vibrating and rippling noise disappeared altogether (I'm also a Hifi fan, so I always turned off one of the pumps when I listened to CD's). Nevertheless I started missing an aquarium in that particular room (where we actually spend the most of our time) very soon. Of course setting up a new Malawi cichlid tank could be very tempting, but since they aren't the only beautiful aquarium fish available, another option could be new world cichlids! Who knows? Also with the Hifi hobby and experience in mind, I could also take up the challenge to make sure this new project would be completely noise free right from the start!
1. The planning  
I could rush to the shops to buy all the new equipment and have the tank running the next day, fishes included, but such an approach simply doesn't work and will only lead to a moderate tank with allot of compromises and a unsatisfactory result and most probably dead fish! No, Plans have to be made first and all important details need to be taken into consideration very carefully to see what I really need to make sure this new aquarium will be a real success and a joy to look at. With all of this in mind I can conclude that a standard sized aquarium won't suit my needs. Although such a standard tank is relatively cheap and really perfect for the average hobbyist, it simply can't please me. No, I need a custom built tank to incorporate all my ideas about filtering and noise reduction. It has to have a glued-in internal mechanical filter for easy maintenance, a hole in the corner of the tank to lead through all hoses to the external pumps and canisters. A moulded in 3D background will cover all visually annoying filtration elements in this tank. The result should be a perfectly naturally looking tank without disturbing elements like hoses, wires and cables visible on both the in- and outside of it, so ONLY the fish will be the centrepiece of attention! 

Some drawings to get an idea of what we want. 

The unequal stand will provide room for a small silencing filter cabinet and a larger storage cabinet.

The stand & tank all dressed up: a minimalist design must keep the focus on the cichlids.

From above: the built in 3-compartment mechanical filter will be positioned on the left. The hoses to the canister and pump will be lead through the last open compartment. The return hoses will run into pipes that are moulded in into the 3D-background.


After many hours of thinking I'm really satisfied with the tank design on the drawings, so this will be the one that's going to be built. I'm going to spend some extra money and order 12 mm thick glass to be sure it will be rock solid. I could consider making it a plywood one, but I 'm starting to like glass again more and more, as it's far more elegant to apply! I can barely wait to have it standing at my home! 


2. The tank finally arrived! 

YES! Finally! The real works can start! The stand arrived last week, so in the meantime I was able to paint it the most obvious colour: black! The tank was also delivered at home on an evening and it found a temporary home on an old table. Before it'll be put in it's final place, I need to prepare some items. An additional thick plywood board is glued on top of the frame to ensure an even support, so the stress on the glass construction will be limited to almost zero! To be completely on the safe side I will add an extra 2cm soft polystyrene foam between the board and the tank. I will also drill a wide gap in the plywood board to make use of the extra open compartment. In order to kill the noise, the pump compartment will be sealed with again...  18mm plywood boards glued in each of the insides of the frame! I first thought of adding sound absorbing foam, but I think that can cause humidity problems. We'll see later on if they will be needed or not. As I have messy experiences with canister filters, I will construct a sort of low reservoir that will be put directly on the floor. This way I'll gain some extra height for maintenance and get rid of noises transported and amplified by the cabinet. All water that's spilled during pump maintenance will also be kept in this reservoir, instead of messing up the living floor (my Hilde will be delighted!) 


The stand and tank ready to be furnished.


Before I can begin with the construction of the 3D background, I first need to prepare all necessary connections. The hoses of the canister filter and the external pump are guided through holes in the glass and 2 watertight  PVC transit elements. Further PVC pipes and connections will bring the water to their destination: the outlets on both rear corners of the tank. These outlets won't release the water directly into the tank, but they will feed large overflow reservoirs. This way I'll avoid loud splashing and disturbing water current, but at the same time a vast water movement is guaranteed, so all dirt will be sucked into where it belongs: the filter! Also the CO2 isn't blown out of the water instantaneously, so the plants will be happy too! This could lead to an oxygen shortage for the fish, but my goal is to understock this new tank, so in my opinion there is a great chance that this problem won't occur.


Pump cabinet with reservoir & canister in place / plumbing prepared.


Now the molding of the 3Dbackground can begin!

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