Beverage Dispenser el Natural Shrimp Tank

  • #1
Enough dilly-dallying! I've finally decided to get around to work on turning my beverage dispenser tank into a dirty, el Natural, Naturally Planted Tank, whatever tank. This will have NO filter. The plants themselves will be the filter.

This thread will chronicle my first attempt at this. Here is the beverage dispenser/tank that I got for free through Amazon, thanks to a $30 gift card I mysteriously found in my account. I haven't siliconed the plug or the dispenser part yet, but I will. -

This is the dirt I'm going to try and use. It's from my backyard that I found after I pulled out a dead bush. This area -

I found this as a way to test the soil to see if it's suitable for my NPT -

In a sample of soil shaken in a jar:
Half or more of the soil should settle out in less than 1 minute. This is the coarser to finer sand.
Another half should settle out in 2 minutes. This is silt.
The water ought to be fairly clear (maybe a bit of a haze) in 2 hours. The larger clay particles have settled out.

If the water is still cloudy the next day it will not really settle well in the tank, either. This is coloidal clay. So fine the brownian motion of the water molecules is keeping it suspended.

So I got a jar, dug up some dirt and picked out the roots, small sticks, and leaves from the dirt, and placed it into the jar. Next I added water and shook the jar. The first photo of the jar is after 30 seconds and the second photo of the jar is at 2 minutes. I will post back after it's been 2 hours and again tomorrow night to see if the water is clear or not. If it is, then I will mineralize the soil, which is baking it several times, etc, to bring out the nutrients in the soil and start on turning this into a shrimp tank. -
  • #2
and I thought I was creative nice job
  • #3
What a cool idea! Can't wait to see how this comes together.
  • #4
I had almost forgotten about this idea! Can't wait to see how it turns out
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
Thanks, guys. I didn't think I'd get any replies since this is in the Blog section, which isn't used often anymore now. I'm glad to see I'm wrong.

Here's the jar after two hours and half. -

It looks like it's settling nicely. You can see the layers of the sediment. The water is still pretty cloudy, but hopefully it'll become fairly clear tomorrow after 24 hours.

There's another problem I've been pondering - lighting. How do I provide lighting to this tank? I intend on drilling holes into the top to provide ventilation. I need to check into different kinds of lights to see if there are any small enough that will fit under the lid. I could zip-tie the lamp securely to the lid if I could find anything. However, that still gives me the problem of a cord and I don't want anything electrical for this tank. The location I have planned for this tank will get direct sunlight in the morning, but only for about 30 minutes to an hour. The remainder of the day, it'd get indirect light from a close window and I don't know if that would be enough or not. I do want some kind of lighting so the tank can be observed at night if I wanted to.

Does anyone have any ideas?
  • #6
This will be interesting to follow.

How about a desk lamp?
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
I hope so as well, but I want to find a way to somehow integrate a lamp into the lid, not separately. The lid is curved, so if I had to use a desk lamp, I would have to leave the lid off. I want the lid to stay on, simply for my peace of mind if it does get knocked a bit, the water won't slosh out.

The majority of small, highly effective LED lamps run over $200 from a quick Google search and from what I've seen so far. I was thinking a LED would be best since it's thin and wouldn't protrude too much from the tank lid but that may be a fool's dream. A light over $200 would totally defeat the purpose of this tank. If anybody finds anything that's compact and isn't expensive, please do let me know!
  • #8
Wonder if you could find a way to charge a solar light? Some of them are small enough that may fit the lid, and would have not wires. Or, how about those small watch battery powered lights that are used in various craft items?
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
I checked into that, Catsma, and solar light kits are pretty expensive too, about $150, from what I can tell. I'm not sure what you mean by the small watch battery powered lights? Could you provide me an example?

However, I do believe I've found a way to effectively light this tank up on a budget. After all, this is supposed to be a cheap tank. I want other people that read this blog to be able to do this on their own if they wanted to, and possibly improve upon my ideas, which I could then see and implement. I believe the only way to truly better yourself and improve yourself is to share ideas.

This is what I've decided to do -

Basically, what this is is a light socket with an off/on switch, a wire, and a plug. That's all that's really needed. I can get a CFL plant/grow light and screw it in. I've decided to cut off the mount and use just the socket and on/off switch. The great thing is it's not the only one that seller has and there are other sellers on eBay that are equally as cheap, so if people on here wanted one, they could get it. This one is only $6.82 with free shipping. Here's what it looks like -

Photo credits: eShopic on

I'd get something like this -

Or I could go with a better name brand but if I did get that, then I would have solved the lighting issue for under $20. Now that's what I call on a budget! Better name brands would range anywhere from $15 to $25, which is still pretty cheap.

My idea is to use both silicone and zip ties to secure the light socket to the tank lid. I'll drill out a hole large enough to fit the light switch flush to the lid so I don't have to actually take off the lid and turn it off. If I can't get it flush, then I can at least drill a hole to fit my finger through. I also think I should get a piece of plexiglass or something similar to make a splash shield to protect the light from getting splashed. I'm not sure how to do that part yet.

All of that will make it look ugly, so I've decided to paint the tank lid and the tank base black so I can hide the light as well as focus the attention fully on the plants, shrimp and whatever livestock I decide to stock it with. I also want to line the bottom of the lid with...

aluminum foil!

On to the jar. This is what I saw when I woke up -

It became pretty obvious that the water was NOT going to clear up. I thought maybe it needed rinsing, like gravel or sand does, so I poured it out and added water again. However, I don't hold much hope, and I think I know why this backyard dirt will not work. North Carolina's native soil is not actually soil. It's clay. Red clay, to be more specific. Obviously, over the years, this topsoil that whoever put down on the ground there, has been mixing very well with the native clay, filling it with very fine red clay dust particles.

Looks like I'm going to have to go to a garden center for soil.
  • #10
possibly check out the home improvement store, they have lights that are battery or plug in, and you can just stick it to the lid, from what I have seen, they come in LED, natural, florescent ect. and cheap.
  • #11
That light thing's pretty cool!

Too bad about soil. Its cheap though. I payed less than $2 for a huge bag that took care of a 3 gallon, a 5 gallon, and a 30 high, and still had left overs LOL
  • #12
I have a bunch of battery operated LED lights. I haven't used them on my tank, but they are nice and bright and have a dimmer. I got them at costco and home deport. They have stickey strips that peel off on the back so you can stick them to whatever you want (as long as it is out of the water of course)

This is what they look like


  • lights.jpg
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  • #13
That's exactly what I was thinking fishnob.
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  • #14
Will that work for plants though?
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  • #15
Today I went out to Lowe's and started looking at dirt... I thought to myself, "This is ridiculous. People actually BUY dirt... I'm standing on dirt. The Earth is made of dirt. That means I'm buying Earth. I own Earth."

Know how much I bought the entire Earth for? $1.38.


I'm currently doing the water jar test with Earth. I'll report back soon. I also purchased DAP Aquarium Safe Silicone to plug up the dispenser and whatever else I need it for.

Okay, so I've come to a decision about the lighting. I will not be going with the original plan or a LED work light like I ALMOST bought at Home Depot's or anything from any of the stores here. On another forum, I've decided to do a DIY LED light. This will be a high powered LED that will light up the entire tank from 1/3 way down.

It will look like this -



Both photo credit: RapidLED

It will have a very thin heatsink since the LED gives off heat at the BACK, not at the front, and the heatsink is a piece of aluminum that will absorb the heat and dissipate it. I don't really need the lens, but it will hide the wires and make things look nice without me having to paint anything black. My roommate will help me solder something called a driver that will harness the power from the wall for the LED and solder the plug to the driver for the light since I don't know how to solder myself. In the end, this will be a very small and relatively cheap but powerful light. The most expensive thing will be the driver.

This way I also end up not having to drill a hole large enough for the plug to fit through, just the wire. I don't know how I'm going to mount this but I'll figure out something soon enough.
  • #16
Cool tank idea. I have been wanting to do one for a long time so this will definitely help. Make sure to post every step of the led diy thing because I have looked into doing that before and I can't do it. Far too confusing for me lol
  • #17
Today I went out to Lowe's and started looking at dirt... I thought to myself, "This is ridiculous. People actually BUY dirt... I'm standing on dirt. The Earth is made of dirt. That means I'm buying Earth. I own Earth."

Very interesting! Any progress? Does the silicone work around the tap?
  • Thread Starter
  • #18
Cool tank idea. I have been wanting to do one for a long time so this will definitely help. Make sure to post every step of the led diy thing because I have looked into doing that before and I can't do it. Far too confusing for me lol

lol, I will once I get the LED kit together, but right now I'm holding off because of $$$... as usual, lol.

Very interesting! Any progress? Does the silicone work around the tap?

No, sadly I've put this on hold because of the light, no $$$, and laziness. However, I should at least silicone the tap, and it should work around the tap.

By the way, that dirt I bought... it's been in a jar for at least three weeks and shows absolutely no signs of clearing up. I guess it's time for me to find a different bag of dirt. Le sigh.
  • #20
I have heard that the organic miracle grow is the way to go as far as dirt goes.
  • #21
I have also heard to avoid the Miracle Grow that contains fertilizers. Just use their basic potting mix.
  • #22
Here is the thread that JerI did on her shrimp bowl a few months back, the first post has all the pertinent info for the planted bowl. It was a self sustaining shrimp bowl last I knew.

jeri's cherry bowl

miracle grow organic choice garden soil, capped with gravel
  • #23
^^^Just read that thread...amazing. Thanks!
Marine Man
  • #24
So how is the project now?!
  • Thread Starter
  • #25
Next month I'm going to get the DIY LED light, so keep an eye on this thread through the next month. I'm not sure what shrimp to stock it with, though. Definitely MTS.
Marine Man
  • #26
LOL! You should get some Fire Red Shrimp! They are cool and kinda look like a lobster.
  • Thread Starter
  • #27
Great news! I met a local guy who's only done saltwater tanks before but is now just getting into freshwater. We got to talking about plants and he mentioned that he makes LED lights!

He was interested in my plants, so I had him come by my house and I told him I would trade my plants for a LED light for this project and showed him the Beverage Dispenser. He liked the idea and said he would make me one sometime this week so I gave him my plants. I'm going to silicone up the spout today and give it 48 hours to cure then I'll FINALLY get to work on this project! That LED light was really stalling me because when I went to order the components, I was at a loss at exactly what to order because it seemed like I was missing a few things so I ended up not ordering at all.

It seems fate has decided that I'm supposed to have this, after all.

I may also have something else in the works for what kind of shrimp will be going into this tank... This may pan out, it might not, so I'm going to keep my cards close for now. So keep an eye on this project over the next couple weeks!
  • #28
Yay! Happy to hear you have a solution for the lighting issue.
  • #29
This seems like such a neat idea! I love seeing fishtanks made out of non-standard things. Please keep posting pictures!
  • #30
nice way to trade man, can't wait to see what he builds.
  • #31
I feel the solution to your dirt is either mineralize it or cap it.
  • Thread Starter
  • #32
  • #33
I intend on capping it with white gravel. Or perhaps pool filter sand.

Once capped it shouldn't cloud up.
  • Thread Starter
  • #34

Very small update. Finally siliconed the spout. The guy has drawn up a design and will be sending it to me Wednesday for approval. I think I should give the silicone 72 hours, not 48, to fully cure because it's in a closed space.
A Sneaky Fatman
  • #35
I have used the miracle-gro potting soil in an NPT before. It works great.

Interested to see how this turns out.
  • #36
So, gotta say.... Not even fair! I was walking through Wal Mart, saw their beverage dispensers, and thought "That... Would... Be... The... Coolest... Tank!!!" This post would be the motivation for me to try my idea out...
  • #37
Not keeping the spout for water changes? lol
  • Thread Starter
  • #38
The NPT wouldn't need as many water changes. Maybe twice a year.

Also, I don't trust people or kids. They might turn it on. This is preventative measures.
  • #39
Yeah I know... plus if might leak and that could end badly too...
  • Thread Starter
  • #40
Exactly, my friend!

Though it would be nice if regular tanks had a spout.

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