75g Native Stream Tank w/DIY Foam Rock Wall and Faux Roots - Page 2 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #16 of 68 (permalink) Old 09-04-2019, 07:13 PM
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Wow, great start to your journal, thanks for providing detailed info on how you put this together. Looking forward to seeing how this all works out, it should be good!
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post #17 of 68 (permalink) Old 09-04-2019, 09:01 PM
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That is a very cool background wall you've built. My husband has a mineral and fossil collection, we have a few crinoid pieces (some self-collected) your use of the spring looks fairly realistic! Looks like a lot of work to build that- can't wait to see fish in it. Does look like it takes up a fair bit of space in your tank? I'm a bit surprised you made it so thick! I didn't know drylock was safe for use in tanks- I've used it on exterior retaining wall for my garden, never thought it could coat something in a fish tank.
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post #18 of 68 (permalink) Old 09-04-2019, 09:23 PM
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That looks fantastic and so much better than the one I did years back (I believe a thread on that exists, but all the photos no longer are hosted). I went much thinner, and eventually ran into floating (and break off) problems. I did mine on the actual aquarium back and it didn't adhere like I'd expected. One day, the whole thing had come loose and was trying to float to the surface. The aquarium frame is the only thing that kept it from just being on the surface. Turned into a big mess that required a full breakdown to scrape the foam off. But I think you may have avoided that possibility by simply using SO much material.

I always wanted to try it again, so subscribing to this thread. Look forward to seeing your progression.
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post #19 of 68 (permalink) Old 09-05-2019, 12:56 PM Thread Starter
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minorhero, I was worried that the site wasn't that user friendly, because of the problems that you detailed, and wanted to make sure that you were able to get what you needed. I'm glad that you figured it out though, because the sight has been very useful for me. I really love that you can find more recent samplings, at certain creeks. Of course, their limited to the amount of manpower available and funding resources, but, still interesting. The funny thing is that they revamped the site not long ago, and prior to that, you didn't have to be so precise with the dot, and clicking out side of the dot got you nothing. If you ever get a chance, the Glen Echo Park Aquarium, public with a small fee, is worth a visit. If you can time it to meet the aquarist there, he can give you tips on how they keep their eels. They've kept several of them. When collecting for my oyster reef tank in the Bay, I sometimes catch small ones. They have to be 9" after a certain time though to be legal unless you have a scientific permit, I think, but don't quote me on that.

Thank you very much Ken and JJ. One day I'll post a lessons learned type thing after it's been in my tank for a while. It is very thick. I wanted realism in the rock, and I think that if I had to do it all over again, I could cut it back a couple inches in thickness. I'd never made a background or worked with styrofoam before, so when I was building it, I didn't know what to expect. The tank is 75g, but after water displacement, is probably more like a 55g now, LOL. But, that's OK with me because it will always house small minnows, dace, shiners and darters.

Thank you Blue Ridge Reef. I will always worry about this background coming loose. I think it will be OK, but, the fear will always be in the back of my mind.
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post #20 of 68 (permalink) Old 09-11-2019, 12:41 PM Thread Starter
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This past weekend, between fishing trips, I made some progress on the 75g stream tank. First, I drained the tank, took out the rocks, scooped out the gravel and cleaned out the silt. When I put the gravel in the first time, even though I sifted it for a couple hours while running a hose through it, it still had a bunch of silt in it.

When everything settled, the silt created a layer of scum that covered everything, including the roots and wall. It actually looked like what you'd see in a real creek. But, I cleaned it off with my hand and a sponge and cleaned the glass as best I could. Some of the silt made it's way into the crevices of the rock wall and root. It actually looks pretty realistic, so I may or may not try and clean them out. I'll wait until I fill the tank again.

I took the gravel and divided it up into two buckets, and decided to clean half at a time. It took me three hours to clean the first half, and it's not perfect, but much, much better. I think that I'll divide the other half in half again, and clean each of those 1/4 amounts one at a time. Maybe it will go faster.

Once I had everything out of the tank and finished cleaning the scum, I put the roots back in, measured where to anchor them, and zip tied them to the stand pipe (picture below). It's really secure now, won't budge, and certainly won't float again. The stand pipe is wedged in there tight to the tank and secure in the wall. I'm really happy how it turned out. There is plenty of room for my standpipe and over the roots current.


If I want to do maintenance to clean out the stand pipe, I need to remove the roots. The zip tie is easy, just cut, take the roots out, clean the standpipe, put everything back together and in, and then use another zip tie. Easy peazy.

After that, I put the mostly clean gravel into the tank, then snapped a pic. Under water, the glare from the epoxy completely disappears. This is the first pic with the new light fixture:


Next steps this weekend (hopefully, I can get them all done)
-wash the rest of the gravel and put in the tank
-redo the rockscape
-fill the tank and reset the circulation pump
-redo my spray bar for the canister filter
-set up and test the canister filter

The only thing else after that is to buy a glass top, cycle the tank, and then catch some fish for the tank.
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post #21 of 68 (permalink) Old 10-22-2019, 03:35 PM Thread Starter
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I was able to pretty much finish the stream tank. I finished washing the gravel as best that I could, added it to the tank along with the river rocks that I collected, and rockscaped the tank. I'm not certain that I'll keep it this way. More than likely, I'll remove some of the river rocks. I kinda got carried away LOL. I also purchased a glass top that didn't fit correctly. But, it worked out, because I was able to trim the plastic pieces that come with it to make up the difference and give it a good fit. All I need to do with that is cut a couple of the corners to make room for the canister filter stand pipe intake tube and the spray bar. Oh, yeah, and I finished the spray bar. Once I get the glass cut, then I'll set up and run the canister filter. This should bring the river effect into full swing, adding current across the top of the roots and across the tank. The roots are cinched down tight and are doing their job well, hiding the powerhead.

Next up, cycle the tank, then collect and add fish.

Below are a few pics.

Front View:


Front Left Side:


Front Right Side:


Front View Sunset:


Here's a video:
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post #22 of 68 (permalink) Old 10-22-2019, 06:40 PM
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Awesome! What do you plan to keep in it? I had a darter tank for a few years.
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post #23 of 68 (permalink) Old 10-22-2019, 06:51 PM Thread Starter
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Awesome! What do you plan to keep in it? I had a darter tank for a few years.
Thank you so much! My plan is to stock it with rainbow, fantail, greenside and tessellated darters, along with various minnows, dace and shiners. Of those, I'd love to add satinfin shiners, rosyface shiners, rosyside dace, and silverjaw minnows. But, I may add more depending on what I catch. For example, just about every stream around me has blacknose and longnose dace.

Sculpins are out as they'll eat darters. I am on the fence about adding a small sunnie. Maybe if I catch a long ear... But, I won't add one right away.

As far as plants go, I want to get some river stargrass. I read that it does well in aquaria, is easy to maintain, and is a nice looking plant.
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post #24 of 68 (permalink) Old 10-22-2019, 10:17 PM
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Cool. All of those fish sound great. I kept dace and shiners with my darters, and I loved them all. Good luck.
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post #25 of 68 (permalink) Old 10-22-2019, 11:30 PM
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Thank you so much! My plan is to stock it with rainbow, fantail, greenside and tessellated darters, along with various minnows, dace and shiners. Of those, I'd love to add satinfin shiners, rosyface shiners, rosyside dace, and silverjaw minnows. But, I may add more depending on what I catch. For example, just about every stream around me has blacknose and longnose dace.

Sculpins are out as they'll eat darters. I am on the fence about adding a small sunnie. Maybe if I catch a long ear... But, I won't add one right away.

As far as plants go, I want to get some river stargrass. I read that it does well in aquaria, is easy to maintain, and is a nice looking plant.
From my readings over at the NANFA forum (I am assuming you are familiar?? if not check them out immediately, they are right up your alley) you definitely do not want to add a longear sunfish to this tank, not unless you want it to eat everything else. In the sunfish family you should stick with something like banded sunfish, bluespotted, or black banded sunfish.
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post #26 of 68 (permalink) Old 10-23-2019, 11:45 AM Thread Starter
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From my readings over at the NANFA forum (I am assuming you are familiar?? if not check them out immediately, they are right up your alley) you definitely do not want to add a longear sunfish to this tank, not unless you want it to eat everything else. In the sunfish family you should stick with something like banded sunfish, bluespotted, or black banded sunfish.
True. If I add a long ear sunfish, then I'll move the darters and smaller minnows to a different tank. Honestly, I don't see that happening. When I had a similar set up years ago (without the foam scaping), I kept various dace, minnows and shiners along with some fantail and tessellated darters and loved the tank. The bully of the tank at that time was a creek chub that eventually went into my neighbor's tank. It ate a couple of my darters and I was not happy.
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post #27 of 68 (permalink) Old 11-04-2019, 11:19 PM Thread Starter
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The stream tank is completely done, ready for fish. Here's a video below. I still need to cycle it, but not a problem. I installed the canister filter and spray bar, and it is working just as planned, shooting current over top of the roots and across the top of the tank. The powerhead is hidden behind the roots and shoots current through the roots. There is an eddy effect, which is what I'm going for, so I'm happy with that. I also pulled a lot of the river rocks out, keeping my favorites, and I added a couple pieces of shale that I collected from a fossil site along a tributary of my river. I layered the rocks so that it appears that some sluff off of the wall (as Andy and Matt suggested) and will add a couple more soon. I have to dig them out of my fossil collection, LOL. I also have a preview of my sunrise to sunset feature of my light.


Bump: The stream tank is completely done, ready for fish. Here's a video below. I still need to cycle it, but not a problem. I installed the canister filter and spray bar, and it is working just as planned, shooting current over top of the roots and across the top of the tank. The powerhead is hidden behind the roots and shoots current through the roots. There is an eddy effect, which is what I'm going for, so I'm happy with that. I also pulled a lot of the river rocks out, keeping my favorites, and I added a couple pieces of shale that I collected from a fossil site along a tributary of my river. I layered the rocks so that it appears that some sluff off of the wall (as Andy and Matt suggested) and will add a couple more soon. I have to dig them out of my fossil collection, LOL. I also have a preview of my sunrise to sunset feature of my light.

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post #28 of 68 (permalink) Old 11-12-2019, 03:20 PM Thread Starter
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Well, no aquarium project is completely finished until it supports life, and in this case, fish. I had a little time late on Sunday to get out to a creek that is only 15 minutes from my house to catch a few fish. My goal was to collect a few minnows of any time, and if lucky, a couple darters. So, I gathered up my hip boots, a bucket, and my net, and headed to the creek.

After about a quarter mile hike, I got to the spot that I wanted to collect. I had about an hour or so before the lost of daylight. I walked the creek bank for a bit and didn't see any fish at all. Either the fish weren't there, or the cold weather had them all hiding. I wasn't sure if perhaps they migrated out of the creek and into the river or were still there.

I climbed into the creek and tried kicking up leaves and, sure enough, the first fish showed up in the net, a small eastern black nosed dace (Rhinichthys atratulus). It was tiny, and I didn't want tiny fragile fish in a new tank. So, I kept disturbing leaves and eventually, found more larger fish of the same species. I kept five of them for the tank. I moved from pool to pool disturbing rocks and leaves with my feet, but, no darters.

So, I decided to start turning over larger rocks with my hand. So, I rolled up my shirt sleeves and began to work. I turned over the rocks, used my other hand to scare anything underneath into my net, which leaned precariously against my leg. After a few rocks, finally, a beautiful male rainbow darter (Etheostoma caeruleum)showed up in my net!

I was so pumped, what a beautiful fish. I should have taken a picture then, but, my phone was in my jacket on the creek bank a few pools back. It was very dark, and his orange/red fins were stunning. I kept turning over rocks looking for a female companion for him.

After a few more rocks turned over, another darter showed up in the net. At first, I thought it was a female, but, on closer inspection, it was a different species. It was a fantail darter (Etheostoma flabellare). I tried for a while more, working down each pool with no more success on darters. I caught a sculpin, but released it, along with several more blacknose dace. Since daylight was ending, I called it quits, happy with what I caught. Not just happy, elated!

I took the fish home, stuck an airstone in the bucket and let it alone for about four hours, so the water temps would warm to room temperature in my basement, about 64 degrees. The creek was quite cold, so it took a while. I tested a few parameters of the creek water and they were very similar to those of my tank. After that, I netted the fish out of my bucket and released them into my tank.

Within an hour, the dace and fantail darters were exploring the tank. The rainbow darter hid and sulked for a long time, perhaps more than two hours before coming out to explore. I fed a few flakes to the dace, and they ate. I didn't expect the darters to eat the flakes, so, I tossed in some blackworms. The fantail darter ate some immediately, as did the dace. The rainbow darter had no interest in food yet.

Last night, I came home from a fishing trip and rushed downstairs to observe my new fish. All of the fish were happy, doing what they do. The darters explore every nook and cranny in the tank, hunting for food. I fed them flakes again first, thinking the dace would get full and not eat the worms. I learned that they are never full.

I dropped in some blackworm with a turkey baster, target feeding near the darters to make sure that they got at least one worm to eat, and that worked. Both darters ate them with gusto. Success! The fish are feeding already, and seem happy in their new environment. I marveled at the personality of both darters, and the brilliant coloration of the male, not yet in breeding colors, but still amazing that fish like that live so close to me.

I put together a video of the clips from the last two days, showing the tank with fish. I hope you enjoy it!

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post #29 of 68 (permalink) Old 11-12-2019, 03:40 PM
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Nice find on that rainbow darter! I definitely want one of those guys at some point though I also like snails a lot so ... maybe not anytime soon.

I also went collecting this past weekend. I was on a mission to find mountain redbelly dace and did, after much work, get 1 of the little fellows. He is currently swimming around with my blacknose dace in my quarantine tank. I agree with your assessment that dace are always hungry, even when spooked from being caught in a net for the first time they will happily chow down on whatever is in front of them.

I also caught 3 juvenile sculpin this past weekend and kept all 3. They are pretty nifty looking though long term I doubt I will hold onto them all. Same for some northern hogsucker I caught and misidentified till I got home ;P
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post #30 of 68 (permalink) Old 11-12-2019, 05:50 PM Thread Starter
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Nice find on that rainbow darter! I definitely want one of those guys at some point though I also like snails a lot so ... maybe not anytime soon.

I also went collecting this past weekend. I was on a mission to find mountain redbelly dace and did, after much work, get 1 of the little fellows. He is currently swimming around with my blacknose dace in my quarantine tank. I agree with your assessment that dace are always hungry, even when spooked from being caught in a net for the first time they will happily chow down on whatever is in front of them.

I also caught 3 juvenile sculpin this past weekend and kept all 3. They are pretty nifty looking though long term I doubt I will hold onto them all. Same for some northern hogsucker I caught and misidentified till I got home ;P
Very cool! I want satinfin or spotfin shiners for my tank. Those are next on my list, along with more darters. I may try and collect some plants next weekend if I go fish collecting. The problem might be that the rivers are too cold and the plants could be dying off.
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