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[GUIDE] Make your own Turtle Dock

plan1First of all, I would like to thank everybody for the kind words,
I received a lot of emails concerning the dock and since I get a lot of questions, I finally decided to write a step-by-step guide.
What I’m posting here is a reply I wrote to one reader, hoping it will help some of you guys out:

It would be my pleasure to try and help you out.
I don’t want you to pay me, but thanks for offering.
Instead, Send me some pics of your dock if you get around to making one! :)

English is my second language so If I’m not clear about a certain point, let me know.
see attachments: I have drawn a quick plan, unfortunatly I don’t have the original one.
The measurements are there for reference only. do not use those as this needs to be custom to your tank.

There are basically 5 pieces needed for the job.
I used a sheet of 1/4″ PlexiGlass (Acrylic) and cut* the necessary pieces.
Though I have to say, I wish I did the base a little thicker as it start to bow down from the weight of my fat turtle hehe.

First of all, I took the measures of the top opening of my aquarium. (the top is separated in 2, and I choose the left side because is was better with the aquarium location but could have been the other side)
Now, it is important to measure the inside of the opening but not inside the little lip on witch the cover normally sits on. that will assure you that the box will never slide off or move from side to side.
This will be your base.
Note: I subtracted about 2 inches from the back to be able to put my filter tubes and other stuff. but if you have a drilled tank, you may not need that opening.

This measurement is the base. (say, #Piece1)

I have lights that sit on the aquarium so I couldn’t use all of that space to make the dock. I measures the depth of my fixture and subtracted that to the base.
This gives you the measurements for the actual closed off dock. (#dock) But again, if you have lights that hang from the ceiling, you can use the whole surface.

Now, the idea is to make sides for that. you will need 4 pieces. (2 small ones for the sides and 2 long ones for the front and back.)
Use the (#dock) measurements for the length of your long pieces and choose the desired height. (in my case, 6″)
Take the same height for the side pieces, *but don’t forget to subtract the plexi’s width from the dock’s measurements.* since the sides will be glued inside/between the front and back.
(for my 23″x10 closed dock, the sides are 9.5″…not 10″)

To make the ramp, you only need take the Base (#Piece1) and the cut a strait line from one side edge to about the middle of the platform. maybe a little less. depends on your tank.
The width of the ramp is up to you but if you have a large turtle, make sure it’ll fit haha. Also. I almost forgot… you need to shave off the width for the aquarium lip, from the front side of else it won’t fit.

The rest is pretty easy.

You have to heat up the plexi where the ramp will start bending (#bending line). I used a propane torch but there are ways to do that in the oven or maybe event with a heat gun…may take a while though.
Don’t heat it too much or it will bubble, mine did a little. as you can see on the following pictures, I used the side of a table at the right spot to bend the ramp. you don’t need force. If you have to force it, it’s not hot enough.
http://blog.alexplesz.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/1.jpg

Once the ramp is bent into shape, let it cool a few minutes. and you’re ready to glue the sides. I say glue but it’s more like welding. you have to use acrylic cement. (Weld-on 16 or Weld-on 4) and clamp them in place.
Be sure to “weld” the pieces ONTO the base, with the sides inside the front and back wall.
Let it dry overnight.
http://blog.alexplesz.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/2.jpg
http://blog.alexplesz.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/3.jpg

You can then use silicone, around all the inside edges. I don’t think this is mandatory but I did it.
I also ended up drilling a few small holes in the base just to help water dry / drain from the fake grass.

The next step is pretty obvious, I bought fake grass, cut it to size and dropped it in place. I didn’t glue it of anything because I want to be able to wash it once in a while.
I used plastic mesh (found in crafts stores…You can also use gutterguard) to make some sort of GRIP on the ramp because acrylic alone was to slippery for my turtle.
I originally siliconed it in place but it was a pain to wash.
it is now held in place with small aquarium magnets, I have yet to find a better solution.

That’s about it.

*Actually, I had the acrylic cut by a small company, they charged me 25 bucks I think.
I tried cutting it my self but didn’t have the right tools and the plastic was melting on the blades. it was a mess.

Thanks!

Alex

 

turtledock-plan

I’m making a Turtle Dock

turtle basking
Turtle basking in a dangerous position

I’ve had a turtle for … 2 years I guess, in my office where I spend most of the day.
It’s a female Ouachita Map turtle. It was about 3inches long when I got it and was in a 20 gallon tank. A few weeks ago, I had to upgrade the tank because Contre-Indication (that’s the turtle’s name) is now about 9-10 inches from head to tail.

Since upgrading to a 90 gallon tank, I’ve watched a lot of videos about aquarium setups and DIY projects for decoration and accessories.

Long story short, I decided to take a couple of acrylic scraps from work and create an “over tank dock” for the turtle. That way, I can fill the entire aquarium with water and have a safe basking area.

(I had a store bought floating dock and it worked great but I think an over the tank dock is much better)

here’s a few pics from the making of.
The acrylic cement and silicone are still curing so it’s not ready yet. I have to clean it, remove the remaining protective paper from the acrylic and heum… I think I’ll add some fake outdoor-grass-carpet thing on it so the bottom is not clear. It will create a more -zen garden- look.

I’ll post pictures of the finished product once I’m all done and it’s “installed” on the tank.

I have to thank Joey Mullen from diyfishkeepers.com for his numerous tutorials.
If you are interested in aquariums, filtration and DIY stuff. I highly recommend his youtube channel.

Learning Spanish with Rosetta Stone

Learning a new language can be very tricky but there’s always a few methods and tips that will ease the process.

I was born and raised in a french speaking family (I’m french Canadian) and learned english when I was a kid; mostly by watching tv, movies, reading stuff in magazines, on the internet or by hearing people around me.

I am pretty satisfied with my writing and listening skills but speaking it in everyday situations make me a little uncomfortable; So I don’t unless I really have to. Don’t really know why..I guess the french accent annoys me and makes me feel self conscious.. And since I don’t practice, I look like a douche everytime I talk with an Anglophone. Anyways, the fact is, I didn’t make any efforts to learn English so even though I already have acquired  a second language, I’m a complete newbie at learning a language.

I recently decided to try and learn spanish, (mostly for fun) and wanted something that would make me practice the “speaking” part.

Then I found Rosetta Stone, Here’s how it works.

The method they use is “immersion”. You basically have to associate a series of images, words (or sentences) and sound clips. Sometimes, you have to read out loud a word or complete a sentence (using a Mic).

I think it’s a fun non-cramming process. It looks a bit childish at first but it’s very efficient; There is no translation so everything you learn is by association. They don’t make you learn.. They make you understand. (I don’t know if what I just said makes sense but… meh)

After a few days (they recommend about 1h/day) you can already name objects, colors and food products very easily without thinking about it. the Pronouns, verbs and stuff come a bit later. By chapter 2 you start making sentences.

I’m really happy with the Software. The only “negative” thing I can say is that it may feel a little redundant some times. (Then again… that’s probably what makes it work so I can’t complain)

Here’s a few things I’m currently doing (other that Rosetta Stone) to “immerse” myself even more.

  • I switched my Facebook language to Español;
  • I loaded my iPod with Mexican music (I know there’s a lot of Spanish bands and singers, but I really like Mexican style music)
  • I picked a couple of DVDs that I’ve seen a couple of times. (favorite movies or shows) and switched the audio option to Spanish.
  • I also try to watch real Spanish-speaking movies but with English subtitles.
  • Spanish web pages; don’t understand much but when I “try to read” stuff (move eyes over text), I can already associate some words and see the resemblance between English-french and Spanish words or sentence structure.

It’s not much. I’m not saying this is the Ultimate way / fastest way to learn a new language but it seems to work for me. I never felt like I was STUDYING or taking classes. I’m learning through entertainment.

Any of you have other tips or experience you want to share about learning a foreign language?