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Thread: 20 Gallon Long, Have you popped the top and bottom frames and made them rimless?

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    Platinum Member ODwyerPW's Avatar
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    Default 20 Gallon Long, Have you popped the top and bottom frames and made them rimless?

    Folks,

    I guess the title illustrates my question well. 20 Gallon Long, Have you popped the top and bottom frames and made them rimless? I have 4 20 Gallon Long Tanks. I'd like to remove the frames (top and bottom) and install them on a stand where they appear to float above one another. Key to the effect is pulling the frames off of the aquariums. I hope to stack four high (yes I hear you all shuddering, but it would be a really cool display as 20Ls are really short, not tall at all).

    I can't take credit for this stand design I have in mind, because I saw it in a youtube video that featured the Aquarium Zen store in Seattle. Here's a static image of the design taken from their homepage (http://www.aquariumzen.net). I will make mine out of Mesquite / IronWood and have the luxury of going just a little thinner than he did. Bear in mind, mine will appear different as I'm using 30" wide 20 gallon long tanks and I want to stack it four high instead of the three high design they employ. My lighting is individual Ecoxocit Stunners w/ a reflector for each tank that I will attach to bottom of the shelf of the tank above.

    Aquarium-Zen-Seattle-Fish-Store-Aquariums.jpg

    If you watch the video that I mention (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUItrxB99LI), the stands are highlighted from about 1:30 - 3:30 as the cameraman begins to really focus on them.

    So that's all about the stand. The purpose of this thread to ask about removing the frames. I watched a youtube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1VJ2arDdjM) where a hobbyist removes the frames from, you guessed it, a 20L. He's done 3. The first without a brace.

    So, do any of you have smaller tanks like mine that have been converted to rimless? (or to make up a word... de-rimmed / de-framing?) How are they holding up? Did you get the edges sufficiently smooth using a wet sanding technique?
    Last edited by ODwyerPW; 07-19-2018 at 11:19 PM.
    Peter
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    Default Re: 20 Gallon Long, Have you popped the top and bottom frames and made them rimless?

    I got a rimless tank from glasscages.com that I absolutely love, I think rimless tanks look awesome. Their 20gallon rimless is $209 while their standard 20gallon is $64. Based on that price difference I would assume considerable different construction methods are required for a rimless vs. a rimmed tank.

    I've never done it and would be constantly worried about it failing, even adding the additional bracing shown in the video. Even though 20gallon isn't a huge tank it is a lot of water to clean up if one fails.

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    Platinum Member ODwyerPW's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20 Gallon Long, Have you popped the top and bottom frames and made them rimless?

    A normal 20 gallon is 17" high. A 20 gallon long is 13" high. A 4" difference in vertical water pressure.
    However, the 20 gallon long has 6" more span, thus more bowing potential.

    Jury is still out on whether I will do this. The tanks were purchased during a $1 a gallon sale. So, I'm in for $20 per tank. Perhaps I will try one...and see how it goes. All 4 are the same brand purchased at the same time. Therefore, their construction will be similar.
    Peter
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    Platinum Member ODwyerPW's Avatar
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    Smile Re: 20 Gallon Long, Have you popped the top and bottom frames and made them rimless?

    Small change of plans. I acquired a few more tanks.

    I have 6 20Ls for the plants/fish, with a 7th 20L to act as a wet/dry sump. They will be part of a aquaponics setup, so planters full of lettuce, strawberries and other fruits/vegetables suitable for hydroponics will play a small role in the filtration as well. I'll document all of this stuff later.... It will be a long project, with the wintertime giving me an opportunity to build the stand (still similar to what I described above).

    I have a mixture of Tetra branded aquariums and Aqueon branded aquariums, so I will be able to comment on which of the two are easier to make rimless. All 7 were bought at $1 a gallon sales, so I only have $140usd + 8% sales tax tied up. Naturally I do a comprehensive leak test after. I'm thinking it's better to make them rimless before I start drilling (each tank will be drilled 3 times).

    20Lx7.jpg

    The topmost 20L saw use in Mexico when I was experimenting with Cichlasoma Beani and Gila TopMinnows for a short spell… It's made a number of moves back and forth across the border and will become the wet/dry sump.
    Last edited by ODwyerPW; 10-18-2018 at 07:06 PM.
    Peter
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    Moderator Team Adam S's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20 Gallon Long, Have you popped the top and bottom frames and made them rimless?

    Late to the party, but some thoughts on the rimless idea:

    - 3/16" glass is okay for a 12" tall tank, but I'd recommend bracing it. The brace shown in the video is not as useful as a couple 1"-2" strips siliconed lengthwise across the top. Like you suggested, length isn't as important as water height.

    - You can get the edges safe to touch with sand paper. A couple swipes and it's good to go.

    - I'd be most concerned about the bottom pane. If it's inside but flush with the side panes (semi-floated) or beneath the side panes, you're good to go. Just remember to prep the surface it's on and add some styro or neoprene. If it's fully floated (inside the side panes and elevated), I'd keep the bottom trim on. 3/16" glass is too thin imo for a fully floated bottom.

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    Platinum Member ODwyerPW's Avatar
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    Talking Re: 20 Gallon Long, Have you popped the top and bottom frames and made them rimless?

    Thanks Adam. I'm thinking about bracing both the front and back top edges with 1" strips siliconed lengthwise. That will add additional support that should prevent any blowing out (highly unlikely anyway) and minimize any forces that might separate the vertical seams of the glass panes. But I hate having to clean under that pronounced lip running lengthwise on both the front and back sides ... My water depth will only be about 11 1/2".

    From videos I've seen the 20Ls rest on their bottoms fully. I'll add neoprene matting to compensate for imperfections. Guess I'll know when I tear the first two up (one aqueon, one tetra).

    With two different brands of aquarium, it will be interesting to see how similar the construction is between the two. Subjectively, the Aqueons feel lighter than the Tetras. I'll have to weigh them to see.

    Funny note: My wife dropped me off at my office/lab today and then came in to use my restroom. Of course, I still had all 7 tanks out in the center of the floor. From her reaction, clearly she was not aware that I have HAD all 7 tanks already in my possession for several months. I told her that's what happens when you don't take sufficient interest in the highly scientific nature of my work. Whooppss… I think she prefer I limit my activities to the 10 gal I keep for testing stuff.

    10Rx1.jpg

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    Last edited by ODwyerPW; 10-19-2018 at 07:08 PM.
    Peter
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    Platinum Member ODwyerPW's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20 Gallon Long, Have you popped the top and bottom frames and made them rimless?

    Here is a lesson in 'Impatience'. I knew I was pressing it. I was moving much faster than those folks in the Videos. Shame to waste $20 due to being impatient. A bit irritated with myself because I knew I was pushing it... I knew that I hadn't worked that corner sufficiently. But of course it was the last 6" of the last side of the aquarium and I thought I would just 'pop-it'. Stupid is what stupid does. The next one will go much slower. I've learned my lesson. Don't rush it!

    20Lx1Broken.jpg

    Overall, it went very well... first 3 corners were good.... Just rushed that last one as I became overconfident... I'm going to continue on anyway with removing the base... I'm bound to learn something from the experience..... and if I break it... oh well... no harm....

    20Lx1RimlessBroken.jpg
    Last edited by ODwyerPW; 10-19-2018 at 07:12 PM.
    Peter
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    Platinum Member ODwyerPW's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20 Gallon Long, Have you popped the top and bottom frames and made them rimless?

    Ok, as promised. I removed the base. It went fast (I was taking my time)… about 3 minutes... The bottom is flat. No suspension what-so-ever. I didn't damage the plastic base at all. It's in perfect condition.

    Ok, now that I've learned to do it.. I will continue with another.... Tomorrow... lol. and then fill it and observe it for a week..... before cutting into the other 5. Oh, and of course I have to buy another 20L to replace this guinea pig …. and yup... just called..… another $1 a gallon sale is happening right now!

    20Lx1Baseless.jpg
    Peter
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    Platinum Member ODwyerPW's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20 Gallon Long, Have you popped the top and bottom frames and made them rimless?

    Removed the Rim and Base from a Tetra 20L over the weekend and took photos today. No breaks! It went much slower than the Aqueos for 3 reasons:

    1. I went much slower and was much more patient. I even used a Dremel to cut each of the corners and midway down the sides as a sort of tension relief.
    2. The Tetra tank is about 3 years old. It's never been used, however, the silicon has had 3 long years to cure in Arizona heat (it was stored in the bodega off of my carport with the other 2 two Tetra 20Ls).
    3. The frame material is much thicker and brittle than that of the Aqueon. The top rim came off in 10 pieces. The base came off quickly as one piece.

    I think I will do another Aqueon next just to give myself a break from the really hard Tetras. I found the construction to be identical between the two brands. Once everything is removed, the feel like the weigh exactly the same as well... (I suppose I should remember to bring a scale from the house and weigh them.)

    20Lx1TetraNoRims.jpg

    Here's a photo where you can see the frame thickness difference between the two brands.

    20LTetraVSAqueonFrameThickness.jpg

    Note: The Tetra had much sharper glass edges than the Aqueon. Whereas I never cut myself on the Aqueon, I received about two minor cuts on each of my hands handling the Tetra. Yeah, I've learned what not to do and stopped cutting my fingers eventually. The cuts happen quick. I found taking my safety glasses off and wearing my reading glasses was really helpful.

    Once I do one more Aqueon (without breaking it like the first), I will clean up both tanks... add a little silicon to the top corner of the Tetra... and after a few days... Set them on Syrofoam, fill them both up and let them circulate water for about a week with hang on box filters (Perhaps the marginal vibration they produce is a healthy part of the stress test, who knows?).

    Here's a foto of the tools I use (minus gloves and safety glasses).

    20LToolsForRemovingRims.jpg
    Last edited by ODwyerPW; 10-22-2018 at 06:10 PM. Reason: added a foto of the tools.
    Peter
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    Platinum Member ODwyerPW's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20 Gallon Long, Have you popped the top and bottom frames and made them rimless?

    I tackled another Aqueon. Before starting, I thought, Why am I not using my heat gun to soften things up?

    So out came the heat gun. I slowly heated the top rim, spending much time on the corners. I never used a razor blade or scraper, just a piece of plastic to break the silicon bonds. Within 20 minutes I had the top rim off, in-tact, unbroken. The base, using the same method, was off in 2 minutes. I'm hoping the heat gun will make the next Tetra tank go faster.

    Before continuing with the the remaining 5 aquariums, 2 Tetras & 3 Aqueons (yup, I bought a replacement Aqueon the other day for $20usd.), it would be prudent to clean the tanks I've already de-rimmed and de-based (no pun intended), prep and add a bit of silicon to the topmost parts of the corners (the last 1/2" or so), let them cure, and then leak test them for a week. Will take some patience not tearing into the other 5 aquariums while I wait for my leak test results...

    Anyway here is the Aqueon that went very fast with the heat gun:

    20Lx1AqueonNothingBroken.jpg

    Note: I will repair that first cracked Aqueon (victim of my impatience/rushing), utilizing these undamaged pieces (top rim and base). It won't be part of my project, but perhaps I could use it as an occasional plant quarantine tank, filled with just 10" of water staying below the repair when it's indoors and taking it all the way to 11 1/2" if it's outdoors. Regardless, with this tank, I will have the opportunity to learn something about repair/glass doubling reinforcement.
    Last edited by ODwyerPW; 10-23-2018 at 02:58 PM.
    Peter
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    Moderator Team Adam S's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20 Gallon Long, Have you popped the top and bottom frames and made them rimless?

    Looking good so far. I wish projects like this were more accessible, but the price of glass has become unreasonable. What costs $20 as an aquarium would run a little under $100 in glass from a shop around here.

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    Platinum Member ODwyerPW's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20 Gallon Long, Have you popped the top and bottom frames and made them rimless?

    Agree. The time spent removing the rims and bases, then cleaning up the silicon, could be better spent building a tank from the ground up. However, the costs of the glass is prohibitive (I looked into it), especially when doing 6-8 tanks.

    As an aside. I would love it if the 15L (12"x12"x24") aquariums were offered on the 1$ a gallon sale. I know why they aren't...because they use almost the same amount of glass at the same thickness as the 20L. I'd feel much more confident de-rimming with just the 24" span. The use of 20Ls in this setup will be more impressive, but 15Ls would have given me more options for locating a down-sized version of my project elsewhere in the house. Meh, that's another 6 months down the road. I've got lots of work with the tanks remaining, and then it's off to build the stand, build the emergency water catchment, plumb the water supply and drain at the location, etc... This thread is about the 20L aquariums' frame removals. I'll start another one as the project scope expands.
    Peter
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    Moderator Team Adam S's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20 Gallon Long, Have you popped the top and bottom frames and made them rimless?

    If you're feeling really ambitious, you could cut a 20H down to 12" tall. Just cut the silicone down to the cut height, and leave the rest of the panes assembled. You'd probably get nicer edges after sanding than the factory edges.

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    Platinum Member ODwyerPW's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20 Gallon Long, Have you popped the top and bottom frames and made them rimless?

    I'm definitely too squeamish to cut down an already assembled tank.
    Peter
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    Default Re: 20 Gallon Long, Have you popped the top and bottom frames and made them rimless?

    So far, I've done two tanks that are less than 6 months old (aqueon) and two tanks that are more than 3 years old (tetras). I know I said I would not do any more until I tested, but I wanted to attempt a Tetra with the heatgun. Verdict: doesn't make much of a difference. The tank I did over lunch time today was tough... about an hour to remove the top rim and the base. In the end, I still had to make the relief cuts and take out the top rim in 10 pieces. The base came out as one piece in 2 minutes. I will comment... no chips, no cracks and no cuts (on my fingers). Maybe I'm just more patient and careful, or perhaps the heatgun mattered....

    I can unequivocally declare that I would never remove the rim and base off of a tank that is more than a few months old. Seriously. the older Tetras are about 4 times more difficult than the newer Aqueons. I'll take the rim and base off of my final Tetra, but that's just because I'm an idiot. The rest of you ….. don't do it... Stick with brand new tanks if you are going to remove the rims and the bases....

    Okay, Four Down!, (including the cracked first attempt)
    20Lx4Down.jpg

    Four More to Go!
    20Lx4MoreToGo.jpg
    Last edited by ODwyerPW; 10-24-2018 at 07:43 PM.
    Peter
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