Mbuna aquarium 55 Gallon Tank

Discussion in 'Members Fish Tanks' started by klogue2, Jan 1, 2013.

  1. klogue2Valued MemberMember

    I wanted to make a thread following my 55 gallon mbuna build. So far I've built the stand (out of 2x4s), gotten the filters and heater, substrate and some of the decor. I still need to buy the glass tops, two reflector lamps and a background. I want to do a solid black background to match my sand.

    I used pressure treated 2x4s for the stand. I wasn't sure if staining or sealing was necessary so I haven't done anything else to it yet. I read it's hard to stain pressure treated lumber, though.


    Yes, the tank is in front of a door lol... The door has been broken forever and we just never got around to fixing it... the room has two other doors anyways. I may add a sheet around the stand to make it a little nicer looking, but the tank is in my room and therefore not many other people will be seeing it. I don't mind the look of the lumber even if it doesn't match the tank haha, though a black skirt would be nice.

    It's got 3-1/2" of water in it (well, most of it is displaced by the decor) and I'm waiting to see if there's any leaks, just to be safe. Been set up for about an hour and nothing yet but time will tell.

    By next week I'll have it filled up (given it doesn't leak) and partially decorated (with what I have for the moment). I'm going to pick up some more rocks and stones from the nearby landscaping yard after they reopen in a few days, and also grab a garden hose and a faucet adapter to make my own water changer. I'll be sure to run hot water through the hose before using it to get rid of any nasty stuff :)

    I'll update this thread once I have the water changer and the tank is ready to start cycling. I picked up a bottle of "pure" ammonia from the dollar store yesterday. Until next time :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2018
  2. Mer-maxWell Known MemberMember

    Get yourself a old white t-shirt and stain that sucker! :). You could even get some hinges and make doors!
  3. klogue2Valued MemberMember

    Hehe I had considered making a plywood wrap around it, but wasn't sure if I wanted to stay simple or go extravagant.

    I'll have to look up on how to stain pressure treated lumber though :) I do agree it would look nicer stained.
  4. Mer-maxWell Known MemberMember

    I'm pretty sure it's the same as staining a deck. Might require a few more coats. Doors on that bad boy wouldn't be hard. Cut you a sheet to fit, hinge it on and put some trim on the edges for looks
  5. AlanGreeneWell Known MemberMember

    That stand looks great, the wood has really nice grain and is a lovely light color, good handywork!
  6. mmolitor87Well Known MemberMember

    I quite like the stand! It does look like it's begging for doors, though. ;)
  7. klogue2Valued MemberMember

    Thanks everyone! I do have another question though. My floor is unlevel, and I have already put two slightly thick pieces of wood (extra pieces off the cut 2x4s) under the back corners of the tank. I check the middle of the tank for level and it's fine, however I'm just worried about not putting something under the middle-back of the stand. Do you think, being that it's on carpet, it will need something under the bottom back piece?
  8. mmolitor87Well Known MemberMember

    I would use something more like composite shims. They won't crack under the pressure or any form of humidity. The carpet should have enough give to let the tank properly settle evenly with the shims in place. You might even find out you don't need the shims, as I did. My dad was paranoid about the tank looking slightly uneven, so I shimmed it up only to have to remove the shims at the first water change!
  9. klogue2Valued MemberMember

    Thanks! I'll have to get some shims then. My house sits on a hill unfortunately so there will probably always be an unlevel ground; when I set the level on top the first time before adding the pieces under the corners, the bubble went all the way to the side. I had the same problem with my 29 gallon when it was in this room (I've moved it to the living room since). Also, the pieces of wood I used are half an inch thick, it took a couple different sizes to get the bubble in the middle but this finally worked.

    I'll definitely get some shims though before I completely fill the tank :)
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2013
  10. klogue2Valued MemberMember

    ok, I have one more problem haha... and please don't get mad, because I know this is probably very horrible!

    Two of the 2x4s that go as supports between the top and bottom 2x4s were cut too short by the home depot person. My dad INSISTED it would be ok if we stuff a couple pieces of extra 2x4 cuts between the gaps. This was yesterday, and when I really look at it now, I'm thinking this could be what causes my tank to end up on the floor if and when it does happen (because of this, that is).

    I only trusted him because I'm a naive high schooler, and he's the one who has been working with his hands all his life.
    Did he make a bad call on this one? Or better yet, how bad? (I don't think he was taking into consideration that this was going to be taking the weight of over 450lbs of water + extra for decor and the like)



    I have anxiety problems myself and realizing this issue has me wringing my hands! It's only got about 8 gallons of water in it now, but with those little pieces of wood I don't know how much to trust it.
    I just wanted some more input on this before I unscrew and redo with another two pieces of wood. Oh, and another thing, these are both on the left end, on the corners of the front-to-back 2x4.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2018
  11. klogue2Valued MemberMember

    Anyone? I pointed it out again to my dad and he still insists it will hold fine, even after I told him over 500lbs of water will be forcing it. He didn't even look at it and told me it would be fine; I'll make him physically look at it though and see if he changes his mind.

    Edit: oopsy, my apologies, I didn't mean to make so many back-to-back posts and seem impatient... I'm just fretting over this too much I guess.
  12. Mer-maxWell Known MemberMember

    The pictures are really dark. Can you take one with more light. And maybe a larger one then a close up so we can see what were looking at?
  13. klogue2Valued MemberMember

    Oops, sorry! Here are some better pics :)



    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2018
  14. Mer-maxWell Known MemberMember

    Much better! Is the stand level? In my opinion you should be alright if it's sturdy. When you rock the stand does it move?

    It's always better to go cautious, if it really bothers you just cut some new 2x4s.

    Do you have a sheet of plywood under the tank? I'm trying to figure out what it's actually resting on just for my own curiosity.
  15. klogue2Valued MemberMember

    It's level, yes :) Although even so the water on the left is a 1/4" higher than the water on the right...? I leveled the far left, far right and middle of the tank on both front and back edges and they were all within the middle section.
    Also, it doesn't move at all even if I shove it hard.

    I got my dad to look at it and he still says it should be fine since there's support around the rest of it, and all those boards fit snugly. Had to bang them in with a rubber mallet like uarujoey said to, so they should definitely support.

    Those two were the only ones I was concerned about. I decided to look at it this way: If a cheap metal stand with hardly any support can hold up a large aquarium (pet store stands for the most part), why couldn't my overbuilt one do it? I guess I just worry too much haha :)
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2013
  16. klogue2Valued MemberMember

    Alright, it's been about 19 hours if I am thinking right and not a single droplet of water out of place, so I think I'm good as far as leaks.
    I just realized too that I was originally going to paint the back of the tank black instead of using a background, so I'm going to need to drain it (facepalm). I should have painted it first and saved myself the hassle lol.
    Well, I'll tackle that problem when I get the paint. Pay day is merely 5 days away!
  17. Mer-maxWell Known MemberMember

    Hopefully your good then. I would have cut the boards myself or at least made sure they are all the same length prior to shooting screws. I think ill make a stand for my 20 long shrimp tank now lol
  18. klogue2Valued MemberMember

    Ya, that was a mistake on my part, I should have checked the boards... Next time I do a project like this I'm using my dads meter saw :)
  19. klogue2Valued MemberMember

    Today I picked up a garden hose and a faucet adapter and they're working marvelously! Maybe it's just me not ever having such a big tank but the process is a lot slower however. The tank is filling up now as I type :) Then later I'm heading to the LFS to pick up some cichlid food and then the landscaping yard for some "decor" ;)

    Edit: D'oh, there I go forgetting again. I need a background! I suppose I'll just get one of those double sided black backgrounds at the pet store... Man I need to play some brain games lol
  20. klogue2Valued MemberMember

    A pic of the newly set up tank :)

    I don't really love the way the rock formations turned out, but I can always redo it later. Time to start the cycle!
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2018