Upside Down Aquarium FAIL

I tried to set up my upside down aquarium today.

I failed

Well, technically, the aquarium failed.

I think I have another aquarium I can use.

The broken one will get a new back piece at some point in the future. I never throw tanks out, I just rebuild them.

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Aquaponics Solids Lifting Siphon Overflow Box AKA Johnny Jump Box

It all started with a chat on the homepage of aquaponicscommunity.com with Johnny and Paul. Johnny¬† said he was trying to figure out how to make a solids lifting siphon overflow box. Now, at first I didn’t think it could be done – having built a weir siphon overflow box in the past. But than I got to thinking… Which lead to a drawing…

drawing of a Solids Lifting Siphon Overflow Box
Drawing of a Solids Lifting Siphon Overflow Box

Which lead to a construction project… using only stuff I had laying around.

You see, I had been wanting to add a sump – a smaller tank under a big fish tank that holds water – to my 75 gallon aquaponics system so that the water level in the main tank stays the same level (and to push the water over 100 gallons and the bragging rights that go with it). But to do that, I would need to build an overflow box. This would tank a fair amount of time and work, and more silicone that I have on hand to finish, using the methods I had already tried...

But not my Fountain Soda Solids Lifting Siphon Overflow Box.

Fountain Soda Solids Lifting Siphon Overflow Box
Fountain Soda Solids Lifting Siphon Overflow Box

A solids lifting siphon overflow box will pull water from the bottom of the tank, where all the fish poo settles. This is a big deal for large aquaponics systems. Not so much a big deal for me right now, as there is only 2 fish in this particular aquarium.

The Jack Dempsey
The Jack Dempsey

But, I digress… what happens in a Siphon Overflow Box is that the water level rises in an aquarium to a certain height where the water flows out of the overflow box into the sump.

Plastic tote as a sump
Plastic tote as a sump

What makes mine unique, is that I made it out of a leftover fountain soda cup. It’s what I had for a water holding container. I would have made a plexi box, but I was lazy and don’t have enough silicone on hand to make it. So I drilled a hole in the bottom of a cup that is just a smidgeon too small for the tubing and pushed hard. This gave me nearly a water tight seal, so a dab of silicone finished the job.

Near watertight joint without silicone
Near watertight joint without silicone

The tube that goes through the bottom of the cup (overflow box) is the stand pipe, which sets the height of the water in the aquarium.

The top tube is the stand pipe, the bottom tube the siphon from the aquarium.
The top tube is the stand pipe, the bottom tube the siphon from the aquarium.

Just trim the tube to the right hight, and you can control the water level in the aquarium. I’ve got it set so it’s just above the bottom of the plastic trim on the top of the tank. The water level rises a bit as the grow bed drains into the aquarium, so I wanted it to be as low as I could and still have the aquarium look full.

These nippers made reaching down and trimming the top of the tube easy.
These nippers made reaching down and trimming the top of the tube easy.

So, with the addition of my super-fancy soda cup aquarium siphon, I now have 1 more thing in my Aquaponics system to go wrong and leak water all over the place. Being an expert in making leaks. I have held up the pickup tube for the water pump so it won’t pump all 30 gallons of water onto my basement floor. It should only be about 10 gallons!

Holding the pickup tube up high to minimize flooding when the siphon fails.
Holding the pickup tube up high to minimize flooding when the siphon fails.

I put the siphon out where I can futz with it and it looks tacky as all get out. When I get the bugs all sorted out, it’s going against the wall side of the tank so it’s less visible.

The Aquaponics corner in the laBOREtory
The Aquaponics corner in the laBOREtory

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Refurbishing the aquarium stand for my new used 48 gallon tank.

A good friend of mine is giving me his fish tank(s). Unfortunatly, it’s through a bit of misfortune of his, needing to cell his townhouse.

The tanks have been well used, and so will need a bit of ‘freshening up’.

Tank stand on the back of the trucklet I brought the stand home on my luggage rack.

Tank in the back seat of the trucklet Here is the tank in my truck. I still have to lug the thing out and into my apartment. Maybe during lunch tomorrow…

Tank stand ready to paint Here is the tank stand after I have knocked most of the rust off of it with a wire brush in my drill. I have set up the plastic so I can paint in the house. It’s too windy, humid and dark outside to paint.

Tank stand being painted Here you can see the stand getting painted up so it looks good.

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PHP Meetup & Digital Camera Hacking Part 2

WAAAAaaaay back in Janurary, I started this project. Tonight, I finally finished it – well, I got one of the several cameras hacked.

Just a reminder, one of the guys at my PHP Meetup handed me a few Walgreens Digital Cameras, and some parts and said he can’t solder well enough to give it a try.

Well, it has been sitting on my table for the last 2 months because I couldn’t find my desoldering tools. While blogging about it last time, I remembered where they where. In my RC car stuff, and not in my electronics hutch where they should be. So tonight I dug it out.

  Well, tonight I desoldered the card on the camera. I thought I had broke it when the card came off with a click. I only lifted a single trace, which is pretty good for not having done surgery on electronics in years. I had to tweak all the pins on the memory card socket, as they didn’t quite reach right. I also had to do a ‘stupid’ soldering job for 2 of the pins, as they simply didn’t line up with where they needed to go at all.


 Here is the very first photo I took with the camera. I was trying to see if the memory card I first grabbed was good. It appears it wasn’t. I tried the 2nd card in the computer first. The computer could read it. The camera could too! Here is my poor, neglected fish tank in the computer room. The camera takes 1280×1024 pixel images. The date is WAY off on the camera, back in 2001, with no way to change it on the camera that I see.


 This is the second photo I took. This is a photo of my computer with the card reader with the bad card in the slot.


  This is a pretty cool project, it is self-documenting. Here are the spare parts from this project. 1 Daughter card, 1 card bay cover which can’t be used because it’s not hinged, a couple of peices of tape that probably helped seal up the imager, and 2 screws that held the daughter card in.
I had a terrible time with trying to get the power switch to work with the cameara back together, so I had to ‘adjust’ that area by filing the slot the switch-slide operated in. It now turns on and off fine with that extra play in the switch.

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Mom, why did you email me your weather?

Cold… it was 45 in my kitchen this morning. I went and bought some fish tank heaters for my aquariums last night, but the water was so cold that I am afraid to use them. I am concerned that the heaters will warm the tanks up so fast that it may kill the fish. Fish don’t like drastic temperature changes and I am looking at 15-20 degrees or even more in how ever fast it takes the little heater to work.

It looks to be warming back up a bit for this weekend. So maybe if I am lucky I won’t end up with fishcicles..