modern design and artistic aquascaping of nano reef aquariums

Saturday, May 1, 2010

DIY ADA Style Cabinet

To start I'll give you a list of parts that I needed for the aquarium cabinet:
  • Paint grade pine - Lowes $50.00
  • 4 Concealed cabinet door hinges - Lowes $10.oo
  • Nails for my nail gun - Lowes $5.00
  • Paint - Lowes $10.00
  • Wood glue - already had
  • Wood putty - already had
  • Table saw - already had
  • Nail gun - already had
  • Electric Sander - already had
If you have to buy the tools for this project, you'll end up spending a lot more money than I did. Wow, $75.00 is a lot less than paying $769.00 for a cabinet from ADA. Of course, it takes time to build a cabinet, and it may not turn out as perfect as one you would by at the store, so you have to weigh out the options. For me, building the cabinet was the obvious decision since I have a little experience cabinet building and am trying to cut costs where possible with my nano reef project.

Here is the wood after I spent a couple of hours cutting it out in the garage with the table saw.

Here is how it will look after I put it together. It isn't nailed together yet in this shot, just set together to give an idea of how it will look and to make sure that all the pieces fit together just right.

The gluing and nailing process is pretty straight forward. Put glue along the entire joint of one of the boards, put them together and nail them together with the nail gun. I highly recommend using a nail gun, it makes the job much easier and you are less likely to split any wood.

After nailing and gluing the cabinet together, putty the nail holes and any gaps you want to fill in with wood putty.  Let the putty dry and then sand it off with an electric sander.

Here is the cabinet after sanding the putty.  It still needs doors and paint, but it is starting to look nice.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Aquarium Plan

So here's the high level plan, keep checking back for updates on my progress with it. :)

I chose to buy a Cube Garden 60-p high clarity glass aquarium from I think that the ADA (Aqua Design Amano) aquariums are some of the best you can buy as far as looks and quality go. They are rimless, which adds to the clean modern look that I am going for with my aquarium system. The 60-p Cube Garden tank is about 24" wide x 12" deep x 14" high which is equivalent to about 17 gallons.

Not only does ADA make great aquariums, they also make really nice cabinets. Instead of forking over $769.00 for one made by them, I am going to build one that looks similar to the one in the picture above for a fraction of that cost.

For the aquarium lighting, I will be buying two of the Evilc66 PAR38 led spotlights pictured above from They say that one is good for lighting a 12"x 12" area, so two should be sufficient for my 12" x 24" aquarium. I haven't decided on a light fixture yet for them.

The filtration system will be all natural, with lots of live rock and and a deep sand bed in an external sump. I will probably add a protein skimmer once the bio-load in the aquarium increases enough to justify using one.

I will be automating the fresh water top off using the sun tea jar method pictured above. You can read more about it at

I will be automating water changes also, but will give you more details on how I will go about that later on.

With automating those two tasks (top off and water changes), maintaining of the aquarium will be much easier.

Inspirational Reef Aquariums

Anyone interested in modern reef aquariums should go through this Reef Central thread. It is long, but there are a lot of good pictures like the ones in this post. The first picture of the japanese aquarium from is my favorite reef aquascape.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Blog Launch

I have been researching nano reef aquariums for the past year, and am now building my own nano reef aquarium system.

I will be posting my progress on this site along with useful information I have found through my research.

While building and designing my nano reef aquarium system, I will do so with these goals:

  • Clean contemporary appearance of the tank, cabinet, and lighting.

  • Bring aquascape layout design principles used with planted aquariums to nano reef aquariums.

  • Automation of manual tasks such as top off and water changes.