I haven’t posted about my tanks on this board in a very long time, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been out of the hobby. I’ve been taking my time setting this tank up, so there’s a bit of backlog before this journal is up to speed.
I’ve been wanting to upgrade the 40 gallon breeder in my living room for a while, and finally decided to bite the bullet. I picked up an Aqueon 125 gallon tank/stand ensemble during PetSmart’s Black Friday sale (Merry Christmas to me!)
I also bought a Fluval FX6 during the same sale. I know it’s rated for a heck of a lot more tank than I’ve got, but it was half off for black Friday and marked another
half off because the box was open. How could I resist?
I have to say, Aqueon/AGA does a much better job of siliconing their larger tanks than they do their smaller ones. The silicone is very even on all the seams, and there’s none of the giant excess globs I’m used to at the top corners. The stand that was included with this ensemble is pretty meh. The cabinet is pretty small and after emailing Aqueon, apparently the shelves on either side are rated for a whopping 5(!) pounds. I was thinking of having some small 2 or 4 gallon shrimp tanks on the shelves, but I don’t know if I trust it now.
I wanted to venture into mineralized topsoil with this tank, so it ended up sitting in my living room for quite a while.
Mineralizing the topsoil ended up being a lot more hassle than I was hoping, in no small part due to these California winters. Cold and wet.
I ended up getting EarthGro Topsoil because the ingredients seemed pretty simple and it was cheap. Reviews complained about the amount of debris in it, so I got 2 cubic feet, even though I calculated that I only needed about 0.8 cuft.
The reviewers weren’t kidding. After putting the soil in a bin and filling it up, I was able to skim several pounds of junk right off the surface. It took a good week and a half for it to completely dry out after laying it on the tarp, so I ended up deviating a bit from Aaron Talbot’s guide.
I’d read somewhere that boiling the substrate and drying it out would achieve a similar, if not ideal, end goal. Since my stovetop is way too small for 10+ gallons of dirt, I put the soil back in the bin and poured four big potfulls of boiling water over it (got some weird looks from the neighbor, haha), put the lid on, and let it sit overnight.
It did stink pretty badly the next morning, though I’m not sure what I should really glean from that. I Drained it the best I could and laid it out to dry again. After that, I broke up all the big chunks and went about sifting the leftover twigs and stones out of it, using a homemade sifter I’d fashioned out of a styrofoam box lid and some plastic canvas.
Afterwards, I was left with a little more than a cubic foot of the good stuff.
Since the only natural clay I could find locally was wet, it didn’t take well to mixing. I let it soak in a bucket for a day until it was mostly liquid, then poured some more water into the dirt to make it muddy and mixed the liquid clay in.
Then it was finally time to set up the tank! That also meant it was time to move the 40 gallon out of the way. I have to say, spending three hours to move a tank five feet to the left doesn’t really give you a big sense of accomplishment.
I used plain black gravel along the sides of the tank to cover up the layering. A light dusting of muriate of potash and dolomite lime went on the bottom of the tank, followed by the dirt/clay mud, and finally capped with the EcoComplete from the 40 gallon. I did mix in some more plain gravel for volume, but I still feel that the cap is a bit thin. I think it’s about 0.5 to 1 inch deep in various places. I might end up getting another bag of EcoComplete for some extra security.
So say goodbye to this
and hello to- well, not much just yet, honestly.
Next comes hardscape. The 40 gallon’s hardscape at the time I broke it down was some landscaping rocks from my yard (well scrubbed and scraped) and a large manzanita branch. I’ve had another large manzanita branch and two logs of mopani sitting around for a long time now, waiting for something to come along for them (promise I’m not a hoarder). I also got a huge chunk of Malaysian wood from a friend for Christmas, and lots and lots more landscaping rocks to pick from in the yard. My Christmas present from my mom was a Beamswork 1W 72 inch light fixture, which is BRIGHT. Much brighter than I expected, in any case.
Since this tank was all about trying new things for me and my fish still have a temporary (if garish) home in their old 40 gallon sans decor, I’ve decided to give the dry start method a shot here.
The only aquarium plants available in town are the tissue cultured bags and tubes at PetSmart, so that’s largely what I’m starting with, in addition to trimmings of from my other tanks. The dwarf hairgrass looked pretty pathetic, with lots of ugly brown roots, so I’m not sure how that’ll do. The rest of them looked as good as I could have hoped for. Many of the plants I plan on putting in this tank are going to be left in the old 40 gallon until it’s time to transfer over the fish, for the sake of giving them a bit more cover in the mean time.
I planted the tank yesterday. I didn’t really intend to plant it on New Year’s Day, but it makes it easy to keep track of things, I suppose.
So that’s where I’m at now!
I have to say I was initially nervous about the humidity staying high enough in the tank, given the large air volume I used painter’s tape and cut up fish bags to seal the top and, granted it’s only one day in, it seems to be doing just fine, and looks just as foggy as when I left it last night.
I’ll be looking forward to updating this as things progress.
Current Full Tank Shot and Stock List
Full tank shot (Taken 1/11/2017, day 11)
Craft Smart Natural Clay in terra cotta
HiYield Muriate of Potash
EcoComplete cap layer
Petrified wood (not in tank)
Aqueon 125 gallon aquarium and stand
Fluval FX6 canister filter
Beamswork LED 1W 6500K HI Lumen Aquarium Light
Eleocharis parvula (Dwarf hairgrass)
Saggitaria subulata (Dwarf sag)
Hygrophila corymbosa “compact” (Temple plant)
Anubias nana “petite“ (not in tank)
Anubias spp. (not in tank)
Salvinia minima (Water spangle) (not in tank)
Pistia stratiotes (Water lettuce) (not in tank)
Microsorum pteropus “narrow leaf” (Java fern) (not in tank)
Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal plant)
Fauna (not in tank):
1x Pantodon bucholzi (African butterfly fish)
2x Mikrogeophagus altispinosus (Bolivian ram cichlid)
5x Synodontis lucipinnis (“Dwarf petricola”)
6x Puntius titteya (Cherry barb)
7x Rasbora heteromorpha (Harlequin rasbora)
1x Ancistrus sp. (Bristlenose pleco)
8x Corydoras sterbai (Sterba's cories)