I have been asking questions for a couple of weeks around here, and am very grateful for the answers so far received. I decided to jump in, and start a tank journal.
DISCLAIMER: This is my first try. Mistakes will doubtless be made (I've made a few already!)...Feel free to advise, but please don't be offended if I take a wrong turn.
What I got: A 37 gallon tall, with wood stand. It was given to me with a non-working Aqueon 50, some gravel, and some other junk.
What I've bought, so far:
Two 20lb bags of EcoComplete. Trying to support the LFS, since I know the kid, and he's new in business. $60. YES, I have learned my lesson.
A honking big chunk of driftwood from a garden center, that I have already cut into two pieces. $25
A bag of Scott's topsoil at Walmart $5
A Bag of play sand $4
A bag of red lava landscape rock $5
A clamp on shop light fixture $7, and a HUGE cfl bulb $8. (had NO idea how big this bulb was when I bought it...It is a temp, so I have light to work. A more decorative light plan is in the works.
A few pics:
The tank, as received, with two pieces of driftwood (testing for fit)
The driftwood piece I will be using. It was a saltwater piece...There are remains of small oysters on it. However, it was harvested over five years ago from brackish/fresh water, in the Withlacoochee River, and has been weathering outdoors in a garden center ever since. I then soaked and rinsed it in dechlorinated water for a week.
I made 'sausages' to bank the back of the tank. I took rinsed red lava rock, and packed it into old knee high nylon stockings, which I then tied off and trimmed. Next pic shows how I used them:
The four lava sausages long the back edge of the aquarium. I filled in any space around them, and about an inch over the rest of the tank bottom with play sand.
Driftwood placed on top of the lava. This was tricky: I was not confident that the wood would stay down. So, I used fishing line to attach a lava bag to the driftwood...However, I had to fill the sand in around the driftwood, since I couldn't think of a better way.
So...This could have gone better. I decided not to rinse the topsoil. I KNOW. Had no good way to dry it out after rinsing, no real good way to rinse and strain it. I had read some people had good success with this soil, by basically just chucking it in, and straining wood matter off the top. Sooo, I did that. It was HORRIFYING
Two problems: 1)As I added water, the sand and topsoil ran down hill, so the bottom of the tank is now pretty level (so much for my elevation changes).
2) The gift Aqueon does not work, correctly. It only works intermittently, and not at all with the long pick up tube shown. I had intended to let it run to clarify the water, but cannot do that, now. I also can't buy a pump for another ten days.
I am going to try to rescape the soil once the tank is in place...But I know it is going to turn back into chocolate soup.
That's okay...In the pic, the soil had only been settling for a few hours. It is looking clearer, today. But there is more to do:
Tomorrow, the wall where the tank will be is being painted. I do not want to add any more weight to it before that. So, once in place, I plan to try and 're-scape' the soil levels...THEN add the Eco Complete.
Maybe I should have rinsed the dirt
PRETEST THE EQUIPMENT BEFORE YOU NEED IT
Learn more about elevations in substrate
I expect no further updates before the weekend. I am pretty humble, so don't be afraid to say so if you see me driving off a cliff.