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Old 04-26-2013, 05:40 PM   #31
thelub
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Nice driftwood pieces!!

I"m currently using pool filter sand on top of my peat moss substrate, but in the future I will be going with something darker. The off white washes all the colors out. I like black diamond blasting grit, but I can't find any locally, so I'd have to ship it in. (Pretty expensive for a big tank)

I wouldn't recommend the "black sand" that is sold at petco. I bought a small bag of the stuff for a nano tank and it STINKS of chemicals. Almost gave me a headache just cutting open the bad. Its not actual black sand, they just paint the stuff, and I'm starting to think that is part of the reason why my nano tank isn't looking well ATM.
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Old 04-26-2013, 06:07 PM   #32
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Sorry for the obvious ignorance, but what do you mean by regular dirt? Like, digging up my lawn? Or, purchasing topsoil or some other product?
If you are out in the country you can use dirt outside which has never been sprayed with out any products. You just want to bake it in the sun. If you buy dirt you want to make certain it doesn't have any nitrates or animal by products. Read about 1 whom used plant potting dirt from a dollar store. Many use Miracle Organic Potting soil. I read that ACE hardware store has good top soil without bark in it. I use Scott's top soil. Have to sift the bark out using a colander, though.
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I did a trial run with the MGOCPM and I was disappointed. It seemed to just disintegrate. Maybe I filled the container with water too quickly
Best way to fill a tank is to put some plastic over it and then fill slowly using a pitcher. Saw someone doing a tank on line so.

Last edited by Hilde; 04-30-2013 at 05:16 PM.. Reason: added
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Old 04-26-2013, 06:17 PM   #33
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I like black diamond blasting grit, but I can't find any locally.
Grainger Industrial Supply Co carries it. They have many stores in Washington.

I have used river sand from a landscaper
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Old 04-26-2013, 06:28 PM   #34
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Seriously? I thought I scoured the pages of Grainger with no luck finding blasting grit. Thanks Hilde!
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Old 04-29-2013, 03:18 PM   #35
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More progress. The tank is drained and mostly clean.

I've been keeping it running with livestock that I owed to a few friends, trying to get everyone's schedules aligned. That finally happened so Saturday morning the work began. I wish I had taken pictures but I was more concerned with moving the dozen or so fish and 30 or 40 corals that still remained in the system.

Bright and early I shut everything down and started a siphon to drain the water (with a normal garden hose, it takes a good hour and a half or so). Started a second siphon to fill buckets. As it drained I removed the corals and few pieces of rock that were left.

Once it was down to about 6" of water left (so, about 90 gallons!) the real fun began. I took off my socks and climbed in the tank. With a net in each hand I was able to corner and capture the fish.

The most interesting part was turning over the low, flat rock that my pistol shrimp had been tunneling through and building up daily for almost two years. It's about 18" across and the whole rock is just a maze of tunnels:



Anyways once the livestock was out I drained the rest of the water, scooped out the sand, drained the sump, and called it quits for the day. That was about 6 AM to about 3 PM. And left me with an empty, but dirty tank.

Anyone who has kept marine systems will know my next problem. Coraline algae. Lots of it. And it's not like I can take this tank out to the driveway to hose it out. So I did the next best thing. Brought the hose to the tank.

I've used vinegar and scraping tools in the past but just due to the sheer immensity of this beast I didn't want something that tedious. So I kicked it up a notch and bought some dilute HCL (muriatic acid). I bought a brand marketed as "low odor" which basically means it's sold diluted compared to what you'd typically buy. Of course they charge the same amount. But that's OK with me, because I was going to dilute it anyways and I'd rather buy it already partially diluted vs. full strength and dangerous.

My method of attack was to put about 2" of water into the bottom of the tank to allow for diluting acid as I worked. Then I put a 50:50 mix of the acid and plain water in a spray bottle that could shoot a cohesive stream (instead of anything resembling a mist - I wanted to reduce the amount of acid that was floating in the air). I sprayed down each wall, then went back and scrubbed with a natural bristle brush on a long handle. This worked incredibly well - the coraline just melted, and the brush was more to just push it down into the water rather than having to actually scrub. Other than a few very tenuous spots, it was more or less clean in about an hour.

Then I used the hose to put about 120 gallons into the tank, rinsing everything down, before siphoning it all back out.

So the tank is mostly clean now. As I have been prepping I've been rethinking some of my plans. Earlier I mentioned how I was thinking of converting to an open-top in order to allow emersive growth and potentially some riparium-like plantings. Now, I'm not so sure I want to do that. Mostly because of our cat, who I happen to like almost as much as aquariums. I'm pretty sure she'd be up on top of the tank, reaching into it, every chance she got. She's feisty and (unfortunately, in this case) actually seems to LIKE water, so there's nothing to deter her from making a mess of an open-topped tank. So I'm starting to think I'll have to scrap that whole idea and just leave the structure as-is.

The good news is, that means I can cut several weeks out of the schedule. More to come...
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Old 04-29-2013, 03:37 PM   #36
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To help with the sense of scale, here I am after just netting the fish and finishing the drain-down:



Even with poor light and dirty glass you can see that the side and back walls were nearly black with coraline!
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Old 04-29-2013, 05:10 PM   #37
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That IS a beast if you can just walk around in it like that . Nice strategy to catch everything.
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10G - Low Tech Planted [ Chocolate Neos, MTS, Tracked Nerite / Anubias Nana, Windelov Java Fern, Water Wisteria, Dwarf Hairgrass, Dwarf Sag ]
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Old 04-29-2013, 05:57 PM   #38
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The last time I emptied it (to repair a brace) I did the same thing, only a friend got in with me. Took a few more minutes this time but honestly it's the only way I would de-fish a tank this big. Trying to net the fish when it's full is beyond futile (trust me, I've tried). When you climb in with only 5 or 6" of water in it, they all tend to just hide in the corners and you can just scoop them out. I ended up scooping a few of them by hand to avoid net tangles. It's actually kind of fun. Reminds me of hunting the tidepools while vacationing on the coast as a kid.
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Old 04-29-2013, 06:01 PM   #39
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This is an awesome build! I look forward to seeing it with the planting started.

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Old 04-29-2013, 06:31 PM   #40
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This is an awesome build! I look forward to seeing it with the planting started.
Thanks!

This is the system I was going to use some of those riparium-suitable seeds you sold me on, but now that I'm leaning towards leaving the built-in canopy there instead of converting to open-topped, I may not have the chance to. At least, not in a way that's readily apparent. I'm thinking about still planting some things riparium-style and having some emersive growth, but you'd have to take off the access panels to see them. It would be a cool little hidden surprise.

Another option would be to only fill the tank part-way and do more of a paludarium arrangement, where the above-water stuff was visible through the front glass, but given that it's already somewhat shallow relative to the width and length I'm not sure I want to lose any more height.
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Old 05-05-2013, 10:49 AM   #41
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More cleaning today. Also, I needed to get some creative juices out so I made a bunch of dollar store wabi-kusa. If they turn out well I'll post some photos, right now the plants are all a little unhappy!
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Old 05-17-2013, 05:18 PM   #42
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No progress but I did upload some photos.

Here is one of the dollar store wabikusa I made to keep myself busy:



I made the ball itself from topsoil and moss bought in the floral arrangement section of the dollar store. Wrapped with raffia, also from the floral arrangement section. Then I "planted" it with some java moss and random stems and put it in a tiny glass bowl from the dollar store with some pea gravel from our patio. We'll see how it does. Fun project anyways.

This is the extent of the plumbing on the tank:



It is so nice to not have $300 invested in PVC this time around. As a reef system this thing had close to 40 feet of 1.5" and 2" PVC on/around it. Now it's more like 5'.

From inside the tank, showing the old overflow box which will be converted to an in-tank filter:



Basically the water will overflow into this box, then be sucked through the slotted pipe horizontal at the bottom, out to the external pump, and back up over the rim via the return plumbing. I plan on filling the box with bio media (thread here if anyone has ideas on media).

The overflow box had two bulkheads in it for use as a Herbie drain when it was a reef tank. Now I am using one for the return pump as described. For the other hole, I am incorporating an "automatic" topoff/water change system. I've done many variations on this in past tanks, this is my favorite - because it's so simple. Inside the box, there's an elbow pointing upwards, with a strainer on the top. The opening on this strainer is a hair above where I want the water level in the tank. Outside the tank, on the other side of this bulkhead, the PVC is reduced down to a hose fitting, and I have a hose running to a french drain outside the house through the basement rafters. Effectively, this means any "extra" water will drain through this hose. So, I can handle topoff AND water changes by running a single supply line into the tank, with a solenoid on a timer, from the water supply in the basement. The timer will be set to add enough water for evaporation topoff, plus a little more, so it will basically cause a minute water change every time it runs.

You can barely see the strainer on the bulkhead in that picture. Unfortunately the whole arrangement is partially underneath the 4" wide plywood tank rim so there isn't much room. No commercially available strainers were small enough to fit on top of the elbow without hitting the rim of the tank, so I made my own:



PS - I mentioned a basement water supply for the water change/topoff. I have an RO/DI unit from when this thing was a reef tank. I plan on taking off the RO and DI, and just running supply water through the sediment and carbon blocks, which should at least pull out nasty stuff (chlorine, sediment, etc.). All of my past FW tanks have just used straight tap water for topoff and changes, with dechlorinator.
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Old 06-04-2013, 05:52 PM   #43
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Things have been more or less on hold thanks to some traveling and other activities. But the plants in the temp tank are doing very well (despite almost completely ignoring them - I peek down there once a week, that's all the attention they get!).

I'm starting to think about plant stock ideas again. Anyone have suggestions? I want things that are on-scale with the tank (i.e. large) and things definitely need to be able to survive without the highest-light, highest-tech support system...

I already have some crypts (gecko, wendtii bronze and green), amazon swords, klenier bar swords, unknown anubias, java moss, java ferns, and a bunch of random stems.
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Old 06-04-2013, 07:00 PM   #44
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I suggest at least some hygro sunset. Its beautiful and very low tech. It gets even prettier under high light situations. It illegal to sell across state lines due to its noxious weed status, but I know there are a few members in NY that have it. It starts very easily from clippings. I've also have it grow out of the water and start to gro emersed.
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Old 06-05-2013, 04:40 PM   #45
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I had hygro sunset in the 60g planted tank I posted near the beginning of the thread, I did like it. Is it OK under less light?

Thinking about giant hygro, too.
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