Alison Friedlander


3D printing reef tank stuff

I’ve gone into a reclusive hole of doing things, but during that time, I did a bit of organizing in my 10 gal reef tank.

I made a frag rack, a weird giant voroni pillar thing to store my air stone and blobs of free floating macro algae that were wafting around my tank looking stupid and a little basket to store rock chips and mushroom pieces so they can attach to the rocks without being blown all over the tank.

I just learned how to make the voroni stuff in mesh mixer and I got kind of excited and I’ve been making voroni stuff all weekend. It’s becoming ridiculous…

Here’s all the stuff in the tank. The frag rack actually works and now I can make some more room on the sand bed for other stuff and the algae holder is a bit of a tight fit for all my algae (I didn’t realize I had so much) but it totally works for now. The bottom picture is a dorky little ricordea florida hanging out in the mushroom basket – I ended up taking the mesh off because it didn’t seem super necessary? I also really wanted to see the mushies.

If I were to make any of these again, I’d make a little bumper so the back of the frag rack doesn’t butt directly up against the aquarium glass, because that limits the frags I can fit in there (you’ll notice only the really tiny frags are close to the glass). I’d also use a different design for the frag rack. I think this one is super sexy, but I pretty much ripped it off another one I saw someone print on Facebook because I a) wanted a frag rack on the quick and b) didn’t want to spent 8,000 years thinking of a design. It just means I can’t/won’t sell this design 

I’d also make the algae basket a bit wider and not forget to attach holes for suction cups (It worked out fine, but I could have made it fit closer to the wall if I hadn’t forgot the hole. I also had to keep it weighed down with a few rocks in the bottom because PLA floats like a champ.

The shrooms would probably do well with slightly higher basket edges (the ricordea keeps jumping ship because it’s weirdly boyant, but I’ve got it smushed in now…), but this one works totally fine if you don’t put huge rocks in it.

In terms of the plastic choice…

PLA has been shown to degrade in aquariums, especially in areas of high flow, and that’s what I printed these in because it’s all I have. Considering these were mostly just experiments/prototypes, I’m kind of ok with that. PLA is otherwise aquarium safe.

A better option would have been to use ABS, because that won’t erode in aquariums and is used in a bunch of other aquarium stuff (like abs bulkheads which I’m finally done installing in all my tanks). Hatchbox ABS can apparently be printed without any fumes according to a random dude on Facebook I talked to who has a small business selling 3D printed stuff for aquariums.

Some people also use PETG for their aquarium prints, but there’s no long term research done about it leaching anything into tanks or degrading as far as I’m aware of.

Here’s a unsolicited picture of my Duncan coral, which is one of my favorite rubber-looking things to photograph 


I really need to clean all the algae off my glass…