I was casually lounging on my couch a few weeks ago and snapped a shot of my 90 Gallon planted discus tank with my new iPhone.
I looked at it for a while before I thought to myself: "What a freakin' mess!"
My hastily assembled PVC light rig was not only UGLY, but it was also not particularly functional. Admittedly, it was a short-term solution to a long-term issue. I thought somehow I could make this tank look like an ADA setup if I ignored away the oak trim and stand.
Denial is a terrible thing.
So, I finally drew up the plans I have been considering for so many ages for a DIY hood for my tank. One that at least matches in color the stand. I considered all of the things I wanted it to do.
I hate DIY hoods that double the height of the aquarium. It draws focus from the glass box, and makes the eye wonder why such a tall hat is needed on such a short head (so to speak). So, I decided it needed to be less than 1/2 the height of the aquarium itself. This poses an issue when considering I need to get in there for maintenance, changing lamps, and - oh yeah, the lights. So I spent some time figuring out the best height for my T5 HO lights. fortunately, I had gone a little overkill on the lights. 6x54W T5HO over a 90 is a little much. So, I decided to cannibalize my gigantic hydroponics light to retrofit it under my hood.
I built a 1/2 scale prototype out of foamboard as proof of concept (moving parts and all). This was wise. Sorry, no pics.
Here is the only pic I got of the assembly, as an ill-adjusted fence on a particularly grumpy table saw frisbeed a sheet of plywood at my left hand. Yes, it was a bit messy. And assembling two projects in three days with one hand is a bit of a challenge.
So anyway, after all the fun there, I finished. I stained it in a golden oak to match the stand, sealed the inside with concrete sealer, and finished the piece in a satin polyurethane.
Two issues. First, the top lifts open to facilitate lamp changes and any major access I need to the inside. However, the wires for the light switches are too short to let it open fully. I'll fix this later. Second, the front door only opens straight out, so it's right at head level when it's open. The hinges are less than functional. I used 3 110 degree euro hinges and two friction arms to prop it open. I'd like to replace them with toybox spring hinges that will open wider (closer to 180 degrees than 110) and hold up the lid.
All in all though, I'm pleased with the result.
Next, came the rescape.
I have had a bunch of manzanita that has been sitting around for about 6 months. I knew I wanted to use it, but have had difficulty applying it in a pleasing fashion. I broke down the 90 and relocated all the residents to semi-permanent quarters for the duration of the renovation.
Initially, I wanted to get some seiryu stone, as it's just fantastic. Unfortunately life does its thing, and we had to re-appropriate some funds for the moment. So I used what I had, which was about 170 pounds of basalt. Sounds like a lot, eh? I arranged and re-arranged for three days trying to get the right layout. Here is one shot of the hardscape in one of its later incarnations:
I sat on it for a few days before filling it with water. When I did, the cluster of wood in the middle-right floated as wood is wont to do, so I had to zip-tie it all together. I covered the haphazard joinery with riccia (which will probably be replaced by large quantities of moss, as I want this to be a little lower maintenance than riccia will allow). I added my other plants, subtracted the eyesores, added some new things, shifted them a bit, ordered some bright red stems to accent the focal areas, and let-'er rip.
I had purchased 6 more Congo tetras to fill out my current school of 7. Vancouver City Water didn't like that idea, and proceeded with the wholesale assassination of my fish by chlorine poisoning. I tested the water afterward, and it was off the charts. Thankfully, I age my discus water, so it is not an issue, but the damage was done.
So, for the moment, there are no residents, but just as well, as I'm still stabilizing and tinkering with things. Here is a list of the glass box contents:
AGA 90 Gallon, oak trim
2 XP3 canisters with DIY spraybars
2 300W Rena Smartheaters
Milwaukee regulator and controller (soon to have Ideal needle valve installed)
5x54W T5HO lights retrofitted
R2 moonlights for backlighting
Aged Tap Water
Treated with Amquel Plus
PPS modified fertilization
Seachem Iron 2x/week
Seachem micros as needed
7 Santarem Discus
7 Congo tetras (will be adding to this school)
6 Otocinclus (they leave the discus alone)
5 julii corys
1 farlowella acus
1 BN pleco
1 Long fin BN pleco
5 or so nerite snails (more to come, as well)
Anubias Nana 'petite'
Cryptocoryne wendtii 'bronze'
Cryptocoryne pontiderifolia (?)
Java fern 'narrow leaf'
Java fern 'needle leaf'
Sorry for the crap quality of the pics, but here's the FTS:
And I got my ADA style tank, anyway. It's going upstairs as soon as I move all the discus and congos and such back into the 90, but here is my little aquarium corner:
I will update as everything grows in and fills out. It should be pretty cool when it does. Hope you agree!