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Fish and Shrimp Rack Build - First Attempt


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The only progress I made this week was to install the stainless steel air valves. I fired up the LP-20 and it took off flawlessly. Quite happy with the whole air circuit but I would like to work on reducing the noise and vibration from the air pump. The noise could possibly diminished once I connect up the sponge filters? Perhaps a thicker sponge under the air pump? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Now that air is connected, I am very tempted to simply go ahead and flood the tanks to just below the bulkheads and start cycling with sponge filters but knowing that Murphy always prevails, I told myself to be patient and wait until I could do a leak test on the plumbing after I have my sump.

At this point, there is nothing much I could do as I am waiting on things to be made/arrive in the mail.

Things that I have ordered and waiting on:

- 4ft tank/sump is currently being made so I am unable to complete my plumbing and flood the tanks.

- Strip LED connectors have been ordered and on their way so I am unable to work on the wiring for the lights.


Here are some photos of the air valves.




Edited by jc12
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Man I am REALLY liking this set up. You have me really really tempted to build myself a rack and make it all pretty like this so i can 'acquire' some living room space in our next place rather than just the garage hahaha :D The air circuit looks great. and those valves look very neat and professional! Well done.

Following along the rest of the way :)

If you want to kick start the cycle you can run the sponge filters all together in your other tank (or in the sump with the rams) and leave them running until you get everything set up, tested and ready to move stock over. I assume this is probably 2 weeks away to being fully set up and running so you should have the sponges cycled and ready to go by then again, saving you time ;)

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Man I am REALLY liking this set up. You have me really really tempted to build myself a rack and make it all pretty like this so i can 'acquire' some living room space in our next place rather than just the garage hahaha :D The air circuit looks great. and those valves look very neat and professional! Well done.

Following along the rest of the way :)

If you want to kick start the cycle you can run the sponge filters all together in your other tank (or in the sump with the rams) and leave them running until you get everything set up, tested and ready to move stock over. I assume this is probably 2 weeks away to being fully set up and running so you should have the sponges cycled and ready to go by then again, saving you time ;)

Any luck getting an off-the-shelf rack? You can easily put together a wooden rack real quick for the laundry and build another pretty one for your lounge? Just saying... haha.

I already have the sponges in the sump with the rams but not running any air through it. They are just submerged and have been in there since 2 weeks ago. I have read that without connecting the sponges to an air line, they will still seed albeit takes a longer time for bacteria to colonise the sponges.

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Going to go with the RackIT solution as we spoke about off the forum :) Less hassle for me than building it from timber and wife wants it set up quicker than I do apparently ;) No complaints. Haha. Will be easy to pull down come moving time, and extend it at the next house with the same sized rack attached to the end of this one, but shhhh :)

In all honesty I have never tried to seed sponges that way, but it would work I suppose. Same with everything in the tank being covered by bacteria. It would probably take significantly longer however so if you have a spare air pump laying around leave it running on the sponges for a week at least before you use them in the rack tanks? This should ensure you have enough of a colony to keep you going with a close eye on parameters to start with. This is what I plan to do (have a couple already running in my fry tank with minimal fish load though but will build up the colonies slowly as I am not in a rush to set up 5-6 tanks at once anyway).

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Nice setup :)

Wrap your airpump up in a towel or old shirt 

i do this to All my airpumps with out an issue And have done it for years 

we have a big hailea air pump in our room (1metre from our head) running 8 different sponges and it's completely silent ( once wrapped in a towel)

Edited by 2OFUS
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Barring any last minute changes, I would be picking up the 4ft sump this evening. Yay!!! Looking forward to it! :happy:


Finally some progress had been made! The connectors for the LED strip arrived. I had to resist the urge to fill up any tanks all this time while I was patiently waiting for them. However, all this time has also allowed me to think through and try out different layouts, lengths, single or double rows, etc. for the LEDs and how I would like to wire them up.


I prefer to use these LED connectors than try to solder the wires so that should any LEDs fail in the future, I could easily hot swap them out without too much hassle. $3.60 for 10 of these which I cut in half for my purpose.




I used 1000 x 20 x 1mm flat aluminium bar bought from Bunnings for $3.10 each for the LED strip mount and double up as a heat sink. The LEDs do run hot... not burning hot but I would still cool them to prolong their lifespan nonetheless. I cut them in half as I plan to run 2 x 500mm for each 2ft tank.



I will not bore you with how I attach the connectors to the LED strips. There are heaps of instructional videos on YouTube if you ask Mr Google. The LED strip comes with double sided sticky tape on the back. I used cable ties as well because I have read that the heat generated by the LEDs would cause the sticky tape to fail. For the layout, I used 2 x 200mm LED strip on a 500mm flat aluminium bar. From previous testing/trials, I think this lighting level would suit my purpose.




*** This section is IMPORTANT for those using an aluminium (or any conductive material) bar as a mount/heat sink. ***

@s1l3nt please read this bit. I don't want blood on my hands even though a little 12V jolt might do you some good and get you cracking faster on your rack. :grimace:

The double sided sticky tape when peeled off reveals two connecting nodes on the underside of the LED strip. These nodes are the designated points where you could cut the LED strip to size and are the positive and negative connection nodes. When you mount the strip to the bar, you are in effect shorting the LED strip and would cause the power to trip. Would anyone like to ask me how I found this out??? As with any other DIYers, from experience of course. Haha. Good thing I was using a pretty good power supply/adapter with an inbuilt circuit breaker which tripped when I got a small 12V jolt at the same time. This is also the reason I like working with 12V DC rather than 240V AC. Safety first!

My solution?  I was initially thinking of using wire heat shrink wraps to insulate the nodes but it felt too much of a hassle (yes... I am lazy!!! Haha.). After a few minutes of shrimp staring and brainstorming for the easiest (have I told you I am lazy???) and yet effective idea, I came up with this solution. I used 4mm diameter irrigation hose cut to size and spliced it down the length of it. You could use 4mm airlines as well. Let the photos do the talking.








No more short circuits and works a treat.


As I have mentioned earlier, I am running 2 x 500mm length for each 2ft tank. So after a visit to Jaycar to procure some components, this is what I came up with.




Testing 1, 2, 3.



Let there be light!!!



Ok, why the inline switch you might ask? Mainly three reasons. My plan for the rack was mostly for viewing/breeding discus, rams, guppies and shrimps. However, (1) should I wish to indulge in a planted tank at some stage, I could switch off the LED strip for that tank and use a grow light on it instead. Also, (2) some medication for fish are light sensitive and requires total black out. In this way, I could isolate and turn off the lights for that specific tank should the need arise while still running all of them via a single power adapter/supply/plug. The third MOST IMPORTANT reason is I would not be running any excessive lights and consuming too much power... this point alone could be the (3) make or break factor to convince your other half to allow you to expand your fish/shrimp addiction. :Kaboomm:


Inline switch was bought from local eBay camping store... 10 for $14.40.


Some more photos if you have got this far and not bored crap by me yet.






For comparison, the tank on the bottom tier is a 10W LED floodlight. I have a sulky discus currently in time out and just completed its metronidazole vacation. Noted that eBay items might not be of the highest quality, both lights were supposed to be cool white 6500K colour temperature. Go figure.



Some random non-shrimp photos if you don't mind, hope these blue ram fry would grow out in this rack.


Newly hatched few hours old blue ram wrigglers.



2-3 days old blue ram fry almost free swimming.



Edited by jc12
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Good to see the progression is still there on the rack! haha. I hope to see some filled tanks tonight now that sump is done!? :D

As for the jolt, I have had worse :D I have had my fair share of computer power supply blow while I had my hand on them haha. Along with other electronics :D I was a "fix it myself" kind of geek... haha. I like that you enjoyed the little jolt you got though ;) 


You could have soldered the ends that you expose when cutting :D But its more fun to come up with other DIY solutions. Thinking on your feet haha. I also like the inline switch idea, for future reference you can pick up small inline dimmers used for LED setups. Pick them up on your next ebay spending spree :P Something like this is what I mean:

As i mentioned to you already, it definitely looks like they didn't give you cool white LEDs :( So hopefully it isnt too blue once you fill the tanks.

You should also fly me out for a photography session with your fish + fry. I won't even charge you anything for the shooting! Haha. Good luck with the latest batch of fry! I really like your DIY external breeder for them :D

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I also like the inline switch idea, for future reference you can pick up small inline dimmers used for LED setups. Pick them up on your next ebay spending spree :P Something like this is what I mean:


OMG! What an idiot I have been. I have seen these around and thought they were only dimmers and didn't know they could be used as inline on/off switches as well.

Now I am thinking of changing all my inline switches to these ones just cause they look much nicer. Haha.

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Haha time to swap them out :D They have different ones, ones you hold the button which dims the lights for 2 seconds and it turns off the lights, some have a seperate button for off. Looking forward to seeing the changes :D haha.

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  • 2 weeks later...

It has been a while and I have been trying to work on this rack between other commitments. Probably a tad slow but I am thoroughly enjoying the build.

I have completed 90% of the wiring for the LED strip lights and moved the tanks onto the top and middle tier. Current tank inhabitants are a few German White Tail Tuxedo guppies. The tanks are filled and running on sponge filters. The sponges have been seeding in the sump of the 4x2x2 for about 4 weeks.

Here are some progress photos.


Tanks in place with grey foam insulation.



Tape measure fish was the first tank inhabitant but alas it was dead and not moving before I even fill the tanks.




Complete wiring for the top and middle tier. Just need to tidy it up with some cable trunking. I find the LED strip a bit too bluish. I'll most likely swap them out at some point, perhaps with 5630 LED strips or Cree LED chips. That'll be for another day.




Now for the shrimp tank. I used Cal Aqua Labs Black Earth Premium. Base layer around 1" with BEP normal and top off another 1" with BEP fine. Water is a bit cloudy as photo was taken right after I filled it.




All tanks are currently only 3/4 filled as they are not connected to the sump yet.



Some German White Tail Tuxedo guppies. One of my favourite fish and the only strain of guppies I keep and breed. They are only sub-adults at around 15 weeks old.



Hopefully I'll be able to get the shrimp tank up and running soonish.

Thanks for reading.

Edited by jc12
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hows the rack progressing dude!?

Not much I'm afraid. I did manage to move my sulky discus (no longer sulky and eating well) out from the hospital tank into one of the tanks on the rack. The plan is to fatten it up and re-introduce it back to the 4x2x2 once I get on top of the BGA issues there.

Huge plans for the weekend. (1) Manually remove BGA in my 4x2x2 (a real pain). (2) Connect the chiller and canister to the shrimp tank on the rack. Currently it is running on sponge filters with some test cherries (black, red and yellow). I might chuck in some test mischlings too. (3) Move and clean out the hospital tank from the bottom tier so I can install lights, plumbing and sump for the rack.

If I am super efficient and manage to get a leak test done, barring no leaks, hopefully I could get the whole system filled.

Have I mention I am always quite optimistic. Not sure if I could get all this done in a weekend. Haha. Of course photos to follow if everything goes as planned.

Looking good mate :) I still don't think they sent you cool white LED strips! Those are too blue to be cool white IMO. Look to be close to 15k kelvin I would say....

Waiting for you mate to DIY those LED chip so I can decide to swap to 5630 or LED chips! Get moving already would you! :crazy:

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Of course photos to follow if everything goes as planned.

It might be even more entertaining to see the photos of what doesnt go to plan. :p

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  • 3 weeks later...

Finally found some time to install the LED lights and plumbing for the bottom tier, and moved the sump in place.


Filling it up.




As with all good plumbing, a few pesky leaks are bound to be found. There are 6 leaks in total. 5 x leaks are at the joints along the horizontal plumbing for the bottom level above the sump and 1 x leak at one of the joints in the vertical pipe of the sump pump return line. The most annoying thing is that these leaks are like a drop every 5-10 minutes. It wasn't a major crisis but I simply cannot ignore them.



Personally I don't really like rigid PVC and glue. Even though I find irrigation pipes to be a hit and miss when it comes to leaks but I like them as they are cheap and easy to work with using a utility knife. I have tried both forcing the pipes onto the joints directly or softening it first using hot water, but still with similar results.

An alternative that has worked for me is using flex hose. Similarly, easy to work with using just a simple utility knife but they are more expensive than irrigation pipes. All leaks were fixed except for the one on the vertical pipe. I'll try a new irrigation hose again but if it still leaks, then I'll have to use flex hose for that section as well.


Fixed 5 leaks by replacing irrigation pipes with flex hose.



That is all for now.


Edited by jc12
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Not too long now. Really enjoying the journal. Cant wait to see it cycled and stocked up.

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  • 1 month later...

It has been almost two months since I updated this journal. Much progress has been made but at the same time, I could have done more but it was easier to just sit back and enjoy watching the inhabitants than to try complete the finishing touches to the rack. Yes I have been lazy and a bit of a procrastinator... haha.

This is what I have been doing...

I was battling an ugly BGA outbreak in the 4x2x2 tank. The before and after effect of using Chemiclean and siphoning out the dead BGA is evident in the photo below. Weeping moss concealed under that thick sludge of BGA.



My discus have finally decided to pair up simultaneously all within the span of these two months. I was lucky to have six of them paired up out of eight juvies that I grew out. I waited until I could see wrigglers to ensure it was a confirmed pair before I moved my favourite pair to the rack. The other two pairs are left to spawn in the community tank.



I installed a DIY mesh baffle (using SS mesh and poster hangers) on the center divider of the 4ft sump so water from the right section (grow out/hospital/quarantine tank) could flow onto the drip plate in the left section (sump) without having the fish/shrimps take a holiday in the sump.




I added sump media consisting of filter wool, ceramic noodles and marinepure spheres. Also installed a fluid reactor to run Macropore Gold and some K1 which are still floating.

Video of Macropore Gold in fluid reactor.



And... the most problematic and tedious bit...

I connected the shrimp tank to the canister filter and chiller. The plan was for water to exit the tank from the right most section via the SS strainer to the canister filter to the chiller and the return goes to the left most section. Water was to flow from the left sections to the right sections under the glass baffles through the substrate. Unfortunately, the flow through the divided sections was not adequate and this resulted in high water level line in the left sections and low water level in the right section and the outlet SS strainer was sucking in air to the canister filter.



Each section is too small to allow me to drill holes in the glass dividers and I do not want to remove the dividers to drill and re-silicone them in. After some thought, I decided to try an inverted water bridge concept under the glass dividers but I need to test the flow rate so as to find an optimum pipe diameter that can fit under the glass dividers and yet allow enough flow to accommodate the canister filter and chiller's recommended flow rate. Hope my drawings make sense.




Testing in progress using different diameter hose and pipe fittings... anything I could find really.




I was pretty happy with the tests and decided to construct the inverted water bridges using irrigation hose and DIY mesh guard to prevent shrimps from travelling between each section. The DIY instructions can be found here: http://shrimpkeepersforum.com/forum/topic/3041-diy-filter-guard/.

I have decided to use 2 x 19mm diameter hose for each section. This is the end result.




So far the tank has been running for a few weeks and I have moved more shrimps into each section. At the moment, I have moved some yellow cherries (some from @buck... thank you good sir), bloody marys (from my brown/black cherry colony), black cherries, low quality blue bolts, pandas and heaps of CRS, CBS and GB type mischlings. This is how the tank looks now.



I will most likely move some better quality shrimps into this tank for selective breeding in the coming weeks. Some of the candidates are...

Female shadow panda.



One of my better looking male blue bolt.



One of my prettier female blue bolt.



Next step is to install some night lights, run electrical trunking to hide all the wiring, and finally to paint the finishing coats for the MDF panels and mount them on the rack.

Stay tune. Thanks for reading. :)

Edited by jc12
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6 hours ago, NoGi said:

Nice. Now you can take some shots for our grading charts :happy:

I took those photos with the grading charts in mind but changed my mind and didn't offer them as they look crap. I don't have an SLR and was only using a phone camera with a clip on macro lens.

Happy to contribute if you think the photos are good enough to be used. Let me know if you want them and I can send you the original non-resized copy.

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