OK, so I'm starting this journal so I can throw out my ideas as I go and hopefully get some good feedback from more experienced people here on TPT. I've always wanted a large, six-foot aquarium and have never had one. (Actually, I do have a six-foot aquarium, but it is one made from the glass "scraps" leftover from building 250 gallon aquariums, and it's only about 45 gallons, so this is my first true "big" tank.) I just bought a house and moved out of an old rental that was, for many reasons, unsuitable for setting up aquariums, so I finally have a good place to get back into keeping aquariums again, after many years out of the hobby. Also, although I have a good bit of experience in fishkeeping, I've never had a true "planted tank". I was just starting one about six years ago, when my home burned and I lost all of my years of accumulated aquariums and supplies (including a fantastic specimen of driftwood I had inherited from my mother). So that's where I'm coming from, and now on to where I'm going.
I just got a good deal on an entire 125 gallon setup, and made the 500 mile round trip to pick it up last Saturday. When I say " pick it up", well, picking up the aquarium was no problem, but the stand? Let me just say that, whoever built this thing was determined that it wasn't going to fail, no matter what size tank was put on it! Among other aspects, it had EIGHT 4x4 treated posts built into the stand and finishing nails every two inches, all over the cheap plywood sheathing that was used to enclose the stand frame. After thinking about re-skinning the stand as it was, since I wanted a more finished, furniture-quality look for it because it's going in the main room of the house, I decided it would be easier to take it apart and rebuild it to my liking. So I've taken it apart.
The aquarium itself was painted black on the back, which I wasn't aware of until I got there to pick it up, and it seemed to be painted with enamel, which I figured was going to be a pain to scrape off, but yesterday I noticed a scratched spot had started peeling, so I took a tug at it and it peeled off in a big piece--it was latex!--so I peeled it all off easily. The only other thing the tank needs is to sand the old paint off the frame (since I don't like it silver and don't know what kind of paint it is, anyway) and paint with Krylon Fusion paint, since I've read on TPT that it's safe to use in aquariums. I'm thinking simply black. The only problem is, now that I need it, my Walmart doesn't seem carry it anymore. I know they used to. I tried Lowe's, but they don't carry any type of Krylon. So here I go again, running all over the place looking for something for my aquarium, like I did trying to find plain old' ammonia without surficants for a fishless cycle. So I can still sand it down, but the painting itself will have to wait. I'm not hurrying, anyway; I don't plan on buying the substrate until next month, in any case.
So what are my plans for this tank? Well, first off, I know I don't want to get into the CO2 technology--yet, at least--so I'm going low-tech, and plan on using Black Diamond blasting sand with root tabs. I'm wondering how it would do to mix it with at least some of the natural kitty litter someone on here mentioned they liked. Or maybe use the kitty litter as a thin bottom layer? Just an idea, and open to suggestions on that.
As for lighting, I have two 36" Coralife double T5 fixtures that came with the tank setup, and they have one Colormax and one 6700K bulb in each one. I also already have an 8000 lumen (0.05w 6500K LED x 168) BeamsWork 72" light I may use either with or without the Coralife lights.
The two filters that came with it are Fluval 305s that are running, but one is noisy and both need a rebuild kit in them. But that can wait at least a month or so, too. They didn't seem to be putting out much when I set them up temporarily in my 55 (newly setup) to be sure I had a good nitrogen cycle going since the three plecos were going in there, so I decided to clean them. They were full of "mud"! No wonder they weren't putting out much; one basket that had the ceramic bio-medium on top of a layer of regular filter medium was so clogged up it actually FLOATED until I pushed it underwater! (I saved the bucket of fishpoop-water I was rinsing everything in so my daughter can use it for her vegetables she's growing. I expect they'll go crazy over it.)
Other things that came with the setup are four convertible powerheads, a 9watt Coralife UV sterilizer and a set of API test kits and two 36" glass tops. Two 300w heaters were also included, but I have them both in my 55 and they stay "on", but don't heat up. (I don't think the guy knew they were out.) I also received a 5" plecostomus, a 6 1/2" plecostomus and an 11" plecostomus in the deal. The fellow had African Cichlids in the tank, but I wasn't interested in them, so he sold them to someone else. Now someone mentioned on here that large plecos and planted tanks often don't mix well. Oh well, he's been in the 55 for a few days now and hasn't uprooted the plastic plants yet, so maybe...?
That's as far as I am on this project, aside from going to Lowe's to get an idea of what they have to rebuild the stand, which I did today. I've got a pretty good idea how I'm gonna build it now, and I have the individual prices of materials written down, but I'm afraid to add them all up! I guess I'll go ahead and do that tomorrow.
BTW, I did take pictures with my phone of the stand before and during the teardown, but I'm posting this from my phone and I'm not sure how to go about resizing them on the phone to meet the conditions of this forum, so I'll post them later.
Until next time,
(Photos added 8/03/216)