After 18 years of continuous use, my trusty ol' 30G has seen and been through a lot, including five moves. I've got lots of enjoyment out of that tank over the years, but the time has come to upgrade. As much as I wanted a 75, being locked into 36 inches meant my options were rather limited. 65G was just too tall, 40G was too short, so I decided to split the difference and ended up with a Marineland 53G with black seams. The total tank height on its R&J 30" stand is just right for me to reach all the way to the bottom without any issues and the extra height over the 40G should keep the taller background plants from flopping over at the surface as well as give more room for mid-water and top level fish to spread their fins out a bit.
Anticipated stocking will be the following current residents of the 30G as well as some additions:
9 x Espei Rasboras
8 x Neon Tetras
4 x YoYo Loaches (a.k.a. MTS Patrol)
2 x Rainbow Cichlids (Archocentrus multispinosus
1 x Bristlenose Pleco
Future residents will include a pair of Apistos (likely cacatoides triple-reds) and possibly a school of Otos.
At this point, the new tank has been leak-tested, most of the supplies I need are in, and I've been experimenting with the hardscape for the past several days. I think I'm pretty close to the final design at this point, though I may tinker a bit more before I lock it in. The current design is below.
3D Background is Universal Rocks 'Ledge' and I'm also using several of their artificial rocks. The substrate will be black sand, sloped down from rear towards the front middle. Filter intake will be behind the background, with a 2" strainer/bulkhead feeding water from the front to the back and a 240GPH circulator behind the background to help keep things moving. Additional mechanical and biological filter media will be placed behind the background to supplement the Fluval 306 canister filter.
Filter return will be via a DIY spray bar made of black 1/2" PVC. I'm currently thinking of placing the spray bar in the middle under the center brace where it should be hidden by the trim, with holes directed in both directions. Also contemplating hiding another 250GPH pump behind the background and plumbing its output through the background to help circulate the water in the lower layers of the tank.
Remainder of the plumbing supplies should arrive today or tomorrow and hopefully I'll then be ready to start cutting and plumbing the 3D background.
Near-final hardscape design (obviously sans substrate):
Some of the driftwood/rock hidey-holes: