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Levelling A Very Big Tank - Question?
May 5, 2010
2:05 pm
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bungy
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February 26, 2010
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I have taken delivery of a new 8x2x2 foot tank for my Malawi's - Ive had the cabinet built by an apprentice carpenter and this sits on my conservatory floor. The top of the cabinet has a solid wooden surface and is laid throughout with 1" think Poly. After the tank was first placed on the cabinet I noticed a small 3mm ish void under the right hand front corner which extended to a good way to the back and a couple of feet the the left. I figured that the Poly would take up the slack so to speak after it was filled with water. After several days of filling/draining/adding subtrate, rockwork etc the void had pretty much dissappeared - but disaster struck last Friday when a crack appeared in the base and water ran everywhere. Cutting the story short, the tank is being taken away for repair but I need to ensure that the surface that the repaired tank is going to sit on is 100% level throughout. I may have a dodgy cabinet or an uneven floor but very little is showing with a spirit level. I need to get the surface level and Im thinking of adding a skirting/lip round the top of the cabinet and pouring in something like a self levelling compound which is mixed with water and poured onto the surface to create a flat level area. Research ive done thus far would indicate that this is not actually SELF levelling insofaras you still need to push the stuff around to get the level. I want a product that will be fluid enough to pour onto the cabinet top and will automatically settle rather like water to a 100% level state and harden ready for a 1" thick piece of poly and finally the repaired tank.

Can anyone recommend a suitable product or solution I could use for this purpose?

Bungy

May 5, 2010
6:53 pm
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Eyrie
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I think you need to establish whether the problem is the floor or the cabinet. If it's the floor then you can raise the front right corner by that 3mm to level the tank. If it's the cabinet, then I'd be wary about putting anything on top of it since wherever that joins to the surface will create a new stress line on the base of the tank. I'd think you'd be looking at an entire new top in that situation to ensure a smooth surface with 1" poly on top for any small irregularites.

Remember though that the tank will weigh that much when full that the poly will be crushed flat everywhere and not just away from the problem corner.

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May 5, 2010
7:14 pm
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Plaamoo
Bellingham, Washington U.S.A.
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I think I'd be talking to the cabinetmaker, I am one by the way. There's a difference between level and flat. You NEED a flat top, level is easier to achieve with shims on the floor as Eyrie suggests or trimming the feet. Your cabinetmaker should be able to make the top flat for you with a straight edge and beltsander/planer? Even better would be a laser for a tank that long.
It's easier, IMO, to build the stand without a solid top, just the rim that the tank edge sits on. Most store-bought stands are made this way.

May 6, 2010
8:20 am
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Bluedave
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I would suspect the cabinet more than the floor - if the cabinet is a flat surface then the tank will be fine even if the floor is not level and the fact that it is showing level with a spirit level would point to an uneven cabinet top. The cabinet not being flat will cause stress at a point on the base glass which will cause it to fracture. Is the cabinet top bowing at all - is it braced across the middle or at any other point? I only ask because 8 x 2 x 2 is 720 litres (159 UK Gal) which weighs 720 kg before you've even put decor/substrate in it! A 1" unbraced top just doesn't sound right to me! Even something that thick is likely to deflect over 8 feet.

A 1" piece of poly should take out any small deflection/uneveness in the surface of the top so it must be a fairly big defelction.

May 6, 2010
8:24 am
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Bluedave
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Oh - one thing I forgot to say - plaamoo - do you think a tank this big would be ok with just a rim? I'd be worried unless the glass was particulary thick - especially with rock point loads onto the base glass.

May 6, 2010
9:01 am
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bungy
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QUOTE (Bluedave @ May 6 2010, 09:07 AM) < {POST_SNAPBACK}>
Oh - one thing I forgot to say - plaamoo - do you think a tank this big would be ok with just a rim? I'd be worried unless the glass was particulary thick - especially with rock point loads onto the base glass.

Dave
Thanks for that mate, I agree that a tank 8x2x2 must be braced along the way and not just around the rim...however Plaamoo is a cabinet maker so who am I to comment. Back to your question however and yes the wooden cabinet is built from 4x4 inch uprights, is braced 4 times across the top and a full length centre bar that sits on top of the uprights with additional support in the very centre. 2 sections of 1" thick ply makes up the cabinet top. Once the tank has been removed for repair I will then be able to take a much closer look at the levelness/eveness of the top surface and hopefully make good any irregularities in its eveness - it may be a better option to totally remove the cabinet top and replace making absolutely sure that all the uprights are the right height and no twists/high points etc are present. If this is the case then slivers can be added to make the surface 100% even. A thick piece of something more gutsy than Poly (this simply bends and twists with the cab top) like Xtratherm would be a good choice also.

Bungy

May 6, 2010
10:11 am
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Bluedave
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Good luck with it mate, sounds like a bit of investigation work is required. Keep us updated, can't wait to see this thing full of fish!

May 6, 2010
10:53 am
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bungy
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Will do Dave. I have taken pix from conception to (soon to be) completion, including the DIY background construction, tank drilling for overflows and cabinet construction. DIY lighting installation, Sump construction/installation, plumbing, electrics, auto water change installation etc etc etc. Just as soon as I get my Malawis in there from my fish-house Ill be posting the full project on here.

Bungy

May 6, 2010
11:13 am
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johnpeten
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My tanks are a lot smaller but I had a problem making a flat surface and spreading the load. My resources are very limited, I used new pine boards, slightly green, used for shuttering. They are about 1.5 inches thick and 10 " wide, they provided a perfect flat surface sitting on another not so perfect flat surface..

May 6, 2010
2:30 pm
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Plaamoo
Bellingham, Washington U.S.A.
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Hey Bungy,
I am a cabinetmaker, though getting old and a bit out of touch with new developments.... doesn't mean I know it all /smile.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":)" border="0" alt="smile.gif" />
How is the tank built? Most tanks here have a plastic edge that elevates the bottom of the tank, so only the outer edge is resting on the stand. If the rim of the stand is strong, 2x4 or 2x6 on edge for example with appropriate vertical bracing, it works great. It's easier to flatten as there is less surface area to deal with. I've never dealt with an 8' tank, it would surely take extra effort to get everything in line. You will need a good 10' straight edge, better yet a laser level. Set the stand in place and make the necessary adjustments whether it's shims or shaving the top to get it flat. This would best be done by a tradesman who's done it before. Best of luck! look forward to the pics!!

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