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My Invertz Rack
Article by Milalic :
I have been working on these racks for quite sometime with the help of some friends. I will go through materials as much as I can and why I did it this way and not some other way.
A brief introduction
So I got interested in shrimp at the beginning, then the snails came and then the crayfish. So I decided to turn my house study into an invert room.
To have a taste of it, I bought a 75G tank and two 10g tanks to try it out.
The three of these tanks are part of the setup. The 75G tank might be taken down soon, but not sure. First shrimp were cherries, then tigers, and CRS. From the crays I have had the orange dwarf ones and the orange-brown.
The idea of the rack came on a couple of conversations friends until I decided to go ahead with it.
The First steps
The first step was to identify the rack type I wanted. This was not easy as the racks were going to be in a room that is visible and accessible to people when they come visit. I had to make it look good. I thought about going with wood, but I do not have experience working with it. So after talking with some friends, they suggested the chrome wire shelves.
I did some research and bought one online on www.shelving.com. The shelve size is 48” (in reality it is a little less). Each shelve can withstand 100lbs. I decided to order one online. It took around 7 days to arrive.
While, I waited for this rack, I saw a similar one at COSTO that holds 650lbs per shelf. I decided to buy one and test it with the other to see which one was better.
The next step was to find some tanks that will fit in the dimensions of the shelves. This was really hard. I wanted to have multiple tanks per shelf and I wanted them to be as deep as the shelves and not too high. This way I would have more area in the tank which is what I wanted.
I found someone to do the tanks for me. Since the tanks were custom made I went with rimless tanks. They measure roughly 22"W X 18"D X 14"H. I ordered a total of 14 tanks.
Here is a picture of the tanks in the garage:
Close up of one of the tanks:
Apart from the wire chrome racks and the rimless tanks, I needed to decide what substrate, filter type, lights, etc I would use. Here is the list:
Filters, heaters, air pump, and other air supplies like tubing, etc was bought from www.kensfish.com.
The rack assembly was pretty easy. To put the tanks in the shelves we decided to go with a piece of insulation styrofoam cut to the size of the shelves like in the picture below:
Then, I started putting the tanks in the shelves to see how they look and have an idea of the spacing.
The next step was to setup the shop lights from home depot. I only used one shop light which comes with two bulb spaces for 40w bulbs. I decided to go with just one 40w bulb in each shelves as I thought this was plenty of lights.
After putting tanks in one rack, I filled two of them to see if there was any bowing at all. I saw the shelve bowing and the tanks almost touching each other on the sides. If you look at the pictures you can see the bowing.
A friend gave us an idea of using plywood below the insulation material so it would not bow. We tried this and it still bowed, but a little less.
So we started brainstorming through some ideas and we came up with the idea of using a metal rod (pipe) to push the shelves up. In order to do this, we drilled a whole in the middle of all the plywood and insulation boards. Then the pipe was cut to the desire size, trimmed, and some aperture cut in the top and bottom so it will fit between the wires in the shelf. We also need to use a piece on metal on the top to hold the rod in place.
This is how it looks from underneath:
This helped a lot and solved 99% of the bowing issues.
Setting the tanks and more stuff
As I put the equipment, I took some pictures of them with filters, heaters, etc. Here are some pictures of when I was setting up the tanks. You can see the type of sponge filters, heater and gravel that I used in most of the tanks.
This rack currently has 6 rimless tanks:
This one has 4 rimless tanks and the two 10G tanks:
There are some reflections in the pictures, but they are the only ones that show them while setting them up.
Here are some close up pictures of the tanks with filters, plants, heaters, etc.:
The final Racks look like this (I will update them with better pictures later):
All in all, I have 12 tanks in the racks and the 75G tank beside them
Lessons learned and experiments
Here I am testing a computer fan for when the weather gets hot. It will lower the water temp in one tank 5F. It does evaporate water faster, but not that bad if you do weekly water changes.
Problems and solutions
1. Humidity: With so much water evaporating I was having humidity problems in the room. I bought a dehumidifier and problem solved.
2. Water changes: You can imagine that doing water changes takes some time with so many tanks. I only change 20% of the water in each tank. I reconstitute my water from RO water to the desire level and ph by using seachem equilibrium, tap water and HCL. It is not very easy, but I have some inverts that need acidic water while others need hard water. To change the water I use a bucket, water pump for a fountain, a python hose. I usually divide the water changes in two days, one for the ones with acidic water and the other for the ones with hard water.
2. Noise: There is some noise out of the pumps (I have some old pumps in one of the racks, I had them) and the dehumidifier. It is barely noticeable.3. Dremmel is a very good tool. I used them for all the cutting in the racks.
These are answers to questions I get asked a lot:
Where to buy the things:
1. Shop lights, plywood, foam, pipe, etc: Home depot, Lowe's
2. Filters, pumps, heaters: http://www.kensfish.com
3. Racks: Costco or do a search online for chrome wire racks
I cycled most of my tanks in 2-3 days. How do I do it? I pull mulm out from my 58G tank’s canister filter and spread some of it in the bare tank. Then I fill with gravel and spread some mulm on top of the gravel. I also added a small piece of filter floss with bacteria from the canister to all the tanks. Last but not least, I sank the sponges in some of this mulm as well.
The plants I am mainly using are moss. I have java moss, x-mass moss, taiwan moss, stringy moss, erect moss and peacock moss. I have some tanks that have other slow growing plants like java ferns. I recently acquired some subwassertang, mini pellia and flame moss.
Snails: different time of trumpet snails, ramshorns and nerites
Shrimp: different grade Crystal Red Shrimp / Black Diamond Shrimp, Bumble Bee Shrimp, Red Cherry Shrimp, Snowball Shrimp, Tiger Shrimp, Indian Zebra Shrimp, Minami Shrimp, Purple Zebra Shrimp, Yellow Shrimp, Green Shrimp, Yellow Nose Shrimp, Bamboo Shrimp, Amano Shrimp.
Crayfish: cambarellus patzcuarensis, cambarellus montezumae, cambarellus shulfeldtti, cambarellus puer