Mech's Planted/Turtle Adventure - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 31 (permalink) Old 05-06-2020, 10:25 PM Thread Starter
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Mech's Planted/Turtle Adventure

Hello TPT,

I've been a member/lurker for some time here. I always meant to post a journal, but, you know how it goes- For better or worse, the Zombie Apocalypse(TM) has had a few silver linings. For one, lots of idle time to dream up ways to spend money I don't have!

I actually embarked on this whole project a few weeks before the Pandemic took hold. I promise this journal will deal primarily with planted tanks, but in order to get that back on track, I've got to do a little re-arranging. So our story won't start with a handful of plants, a tank, and a dream.

Instead, it will start wtih this guy!


He's my little Common Snapper. There is also his roommate, the Bluegill. Those spots aren't on his face, that's just dust on the glass. Improving my pictures is something I hope posting here will help me do.


I started out this round of aquariums several years ago, I had a little tank and some live plants, but I wanted to do better. I read around on here a lot and set up a dirted 55 gal with all the usual clippings from Aquabid. That tank did well for a while and was really cool.

I hope some folks enjoy following along on my journey, but it helps me to make a record of what I did in any case, so for posterity or if anyone is interested, here is a short synopsis of what brings me to this point:

-Upgraded my little tank to a 55 dirt tank
-Raided a Red Eared Slider nest and hatched 14 baby RES
-Set up a 20 long to house RES mob
-Mob quickly outgrew 20 long, had to put in 2nd 55 to house turtles, 20 long became plant overflow
-Decided not to keep up with two 55s and the planted tank was getting on in age, took it down
-Raised and eventaully released all 14 RES over 2 years

After I let the last two go, I entered a dark and gloomy, sans-turtle existence. This took a toll on me and, in despair I eventually began to consider the desperate, permanent, and unforgivable solution. . .
Buying a turtle *retail*

When all was nearly lost, the light shone on me, and a few weeks later I parked my truck sideways across two lanes of traffic, hopped out, and rescued the little snapper. He was making a sprightly 2.5 miles per hour flat out, crossing the road about half a mile from the pond, headed the wrong way.

My karmic balance restored, and after the turtle enjoyed brief stay in my cupholder while I made my dental appointment, we came home and I set him up in the remaining 55. He's been in there with the various bluegill for right about a year now. When I found him, he was less than a week or two old and I'm not sure he'd ever had a meal. I was glad to house him, but unfortunately he converted the semi-planted community 55 to a chelonian wasteland.



He settled in very well and began his so-far illustrious career orf being simultaneously adorable and cantankerous. Which brings us to today, where my 20 gallon long is planted in my signature "No Prune Jungle Style" complete with substantially invisible hardscape.


Those tanks both have import T5 fixtures designed to be plant fixtures, and both are on Home Depot wall cabinets for stands. I like the white stands in this area that has a lot of windows and white trim. I also think that even cheap HD in-stock cabinets are better made than the petstore stands which are pretty much all junk.


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Last edited by JetMech; 05-06-2020 at 10:56 PM. Reason: Checking Pics
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post #2 of 31 (permalink) Old 05-06-2020, 10:33 PM
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this is going to be awesome! I am excited to see the journal with a turtle
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post #3 of 31 (permalink) Old 05-06-2020, 11:35 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyruler90 View Post
this is going to be awesome! I am excited to see the journal with a turtle
Thanks! I'm still working on the initial posts, so there will be more to see very soon!

Continuing with the journal, the snapper got bigger over the year I had him, a lot bigger. Here he is horking a big earthworm.


I wanted a tank I could do plants without having him there, which would be like locking Jason Vorhees in a small closet with the cheerleading team. Nothing but bits and slime left when he got done. . . He's not exactly a vegetarian, but suffice it to say, he's sort of a biological riding mower.

Plus, at a year old he's probably 5-6" carapace length, and the square footage of the 55 isn't ideal for him or the bluegill. They could use some space. Sort of on a whim, I dropped by the local used aquarium place, and found this, errr, beauty:


It is an "80 Rimless" as built by Deep Blue who is now Aquarium Masters, I believe. It has a 3d printed overflow weir and a 1.5" hole drilled sort of low on the left rear.


The 3d printed part isn't too bad, but I can do better.


The previous owner raised coral frags in this tank, and had glued and siliconed some sort of "starboard" or something to the bottom, leaving all this extra sealant.


I scraped all that out.


Starting to get it cleaned up.


The next step: Coming up with a stand for the next Turlte-Topia.


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post #4 of 31 (permalink) Old 05-07-2020, 12:30 AM Thread Starter
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Stand Build

There was no readily available stand for this tank, plus, I wanted to mimic the other two stands in appearance so I decided to DIY it.

You can see from my sketchup above that I designed the stand and made sure that a 20 long would fit in as a sump. I also made a cut list, it turned out I couldget the stand out of 1.25 sheets of .5" material. I had a scrap of .5" MDF so I only needed to buy one sheet of material and a stick or two of poplar for the face frame.

I got some .5" MDO which isn't MDF but rather crappy plywood with a thin, supposedly water-resistant MDF sheathing on each side. It was the first time I'd used this material, and it had its plusses and minuses. Here I'm using my Dewalt tracksaw to cut up the sheet. That saw makes working with sheet goods a breeze.


I edged some of these MDO pieces with solid pine, in order to make them look nice from the edge, for example the shelves and shelf wall.


Other pieces got dados to slot the parts together.


I've had this Kreg shelf pin jig for some time, but hadn't used it yet. It worked great to put holes for adjustable shelves.


I assembled the cabinet. Since the dados were tight, there is only glue holding it together, no fasteners except for the face frame.


The face frame parts had their own dados to impart strength to the cabinet, slipping over the edges of the part above. The dados are made on the table saw, but I had to finish out the ones at blind corners like this with a chisel.


I assembled the face frame with my Kreg pocket hole kit. I love this kit, it would be a complete pain in the ass to make a face frame wtihout it.


I attached the face frame to the cabinet. I made sure to make sure there was plenty of glue. You'll find out why. . .


I added a center brace as well, just to help out with rigidity. You can also see that I've caulked the seams inside.


I put on some strips to help beef up the areas where feet will be attached.


The final thing was to put in the shelf support wall and the shelves, and I test-fit the sump tank.


Next up is my very favorite activity ever in the world- Painting.


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post #5 of 31 (permalink) Old 05-07-2020, 01:31 AM Thread Starter
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If you didn't catch my sarcasm above, I hate painting. It's a white-knuckle, near-disaster or complete disaster every time. I hire this done whenever possible, rather than subject myself to the soul-harrowing anguish and self-doubt that pinting causes me to experience.

OK, maybe it's not that bad, but I suck at it and it makes a hell of a mess!

Let's start with my first big mistake: Using Latex Paint. I figured I liked the bright white trim in the house, and it pretty much matched the cabinets I thought. The cabinets are described as "Arctic Satin White" so I figured, bright white trim paint, but in satin finish- great, I know just what to get. Went to Sherwin Williams, and picked up a gallon. My buddy taught me, "when they ask who your account is with, just say xxx" and you'll get their discount. I've been getting 20% off anything I buy there for years. . . Who knows, they probably give 20% off for anyone who asks.

This is quality paint, but it wasn't the right choice for this job. f I was going to use latex wall paint to paint furniture, I should have chosen gloss, for it's easier "wipeability." The satin is a dirt magnet, and unless your hands are squeaky clean, you can leave handprints on it. Overall i should have used bright white oil enamel paint, but I thought this would match better and and at least it cleaned up easier.


It didn't help that I tried to take a short cut. I've painted stuff before in the real world, and literally no one uses electric "Power Painter" type gear. All HVLP or real-deal pressurized delivery systems, not handhled guns with a fan in them. But I was lured by the siren call of Amazon, that ever so insidioulsy helpful problem-solver. I found a very cheap (!) electric spraygun (!!) that had universally good reviews (!!!) That really should have tipped me off, this was too good to be true. A cheap, electric spraygun that works great? Well, these folks all seem to think so. . . Should have know better, even good stuff doesn't get reviews that good.

The short version is it was absolutely the crapfest I thought it would be, spitting and splurting, and impossible to thin latex paint to the point where it would spray and actually stick. It made a huge mess and got overspray everywhere, while delivering very little paint to the actual surface being painted. It was junk and I sent it back, got a refund.

I did get an answer to the good reviews- The vendor included a card saying that they'd give you a $50 gift card (more than the cost of the machine) if you posted a 5-star review. . . Guess that explains the better-than -expected reviews!

Here is an example of the terrible output from that tool- The spray wouldn't cover evenly at all.


Another look after I kept trying for a while- you can see how despite many coats, I couldn't get any kind of even coverage at all. It was sort of impressively bad.


In any case, I soldiered through- I ditched the paint puker and went to the old standby, my HVLP gun. I don't really have a worthy comressor, but my 20 gallon Husky got the job done. I finished painting the cabinet with a real air-assited gun and it all came out ok. Their was wailing and gnashing of teeth before all was said and done, however.


Another detail was the support rim that the tank sits on. The wall cabinet stands just have a particle board edge at the top. It would hold the tank, but I wanted something that was more supprtive, flexible, and waterproof to serve as an interface between the tank and cabinet. I came up with these PVC plank frames to do the job. It's just a solid PVC trim stick, mitered and joined with PVC cement. I have this "PVC Fence Cement" from God-knows-when but it grabs quick, holds well and is white. This material is white plastic, thus easy to clean and completely waterproof. It is also flexible and gives a good surface to help even out stresses.


Once completed, that piece sits on the top edges of the cabinets walls and up against the ledge at the front.


This part provides the overhang that makes the doors flush on the front, like the existing cabinets.




This whole stand is essentially a copy of the cabinets I already have, just 24" deep. Wall cabinets don't come that deep, and while base cabinets do, they would have toe-kicks and that would look weird. Also, a base cabinet 48" wide isn't cheap, and this is better made than one I'd be able to buy.


Another feature was the adjustable feet. I knew from the existing cabinets (which lack this feature) that this would be nice to have, especially on such a wide tank. I made a double-counterbore here, for the foot to recess and for the blind nut that will support he cabinet.


The blind nut fits in the smaller counterbore. I was trying really hard not to add height to the cabinet, so I wanted the foot to be amost flush when screwed all the way in. Also you can see the crummy quality of the plywood inside the MDO, full of voids and cracks everywhere. Next time I'll spend a bit more for a nice sanded veneer ply.


The foot screws in-


And almost flush. . .


One more trick with the feet: I tapped a hole in an aluminum bar, and then split that hole on my horizontal bandsaw. Then I thread each foot stud into that hole while still clamped in the bandsaw. This allowed me to cut a centered groove in each foot stud. . .


. . .so I could turn it from above with a screwdriver.


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post #6 of 31 (permalink) Old 05-07-2020, 01:55 AM Thread Starter
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Stand Together

Whoops, missed a few pics- It sure was nice to set the tank on for the first time!


Before painting I did some stress testing with a full tank on top.


Makes a kind of cool triple-reflection looking through the water.


Ok, I think that's got us caught up. I got all the parts painted and installed as well. If you notice the shelf support wall has appeared and disappeared- It's not really part of the stand structure, it just holds up the right end of the shelves. It was installed after painting with Kreg pocket screws. My initial idea is that this would be better if for any reason I had to move this wall, such as if a larger sump were required, or whatever.


The next step was to install the doors. Funny story about these doors: I wanted exact matches for the ones that I already had on my 48" 55 gallon stand. I called the company that makes the cabinets for HD, and asked if I caould buy the doors themselves, as a seperate part. They said sure, took my info, told me it would be $82 for both doors and to expect an email with payment instructions. Lady was very nice. She told me to be sure to check the emai beacuse the pay request link would expire or something like that. So I checked, never saw an email.

I called back, got another lady who looked over the transaction, and laughed out loud. I'm like, "what's so funny?" and she tells me the first lady processed the order wrong, and they'd been sent out as warranty parts, free of charge. No charge, enjoy! she said, and they arrived two days later, beautifully packaged and exactly perfect. Score!


There was one issue with the doors, but not because of the doors themselves. I got pocket hinges at HD for the doors, which were thankfully predrilled. However, after installation the hinges did not close the doors all the way, as you see on the right. I tweaked them in the vise until they did close right- but if you didn't have a way to bend the hinge like I did, these would not have worked.


Finally, I put on the same handles that are used on the other cabinets and all my kitchen cabinets. I had a jig I made years ago when I drilled the first cab doors- a nice jig with metal bushings I made on my lathe. I saved it for years, and during my most recent garage clean/purge, I decided I'd never use it again, so I tossed it. . . Fast forward a few weeks, now I need the darn thing again, saved it for years but missed having it by weeks. So I bucked up and carefully laid out the holes by hand and luckily got it right. Then, out of curiosity, I looked in the nook where I'd stuffed the jig years ago and dammit, it was there! Turns out I never did throw it away! Dang, should have trusted myself more. Definitely keeping it now forever, and Murphy's law says I never use it again. . .


Starting to get there!

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post #7 of 31 (permalink) Old 05-07-2020, 02:58 AM Thread Starter
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Lathe Work

OK, at this point, I'm pretty sure a meeting was convened, and a possy formed to come remove this interloper, who post much build but displays no plants. Here's a sneak peak at what we'll be working with soon to tide over the anxious- My 20 long with some chain sword, and a little bio-bulldozer. . .


This guy is watching close as well, since he knows he's coming up. . .


At this point I needed to put some attention towards the fittings. Jeez, the fittings- I purchased 3 times as many fittings as I needed trying to get it all figured out.

I have never sone a tank with a sump before, and typaically sumps are for reef aquariums. I'll share my thought process here, however, as it may help others that are thinking through the same decisions.

Why an 80 gal rimless frag tank:
-I like rimless displays I've seen before/Dislike the black plastic rims
-wide and flat is a better turtle playground than a 55, about 8 sq. feet vs 4.
-It was available

Why a sump?
-I'd used canisters for years, the best I can buy, and found them merely adequate
-I like clean setups with little to no equipment in the tank
-Huge filtration capacity if you need it
-Something new to try
-My tank had a drain hole drilled already

So what kind of overflow?
-This had to be quiet
-I tried making a Stockman and a Durso single standpipe setup, yeah nah- Too noisy
-Looks like Herbie and Bean are my choices, Herbie has less parts so let's start with that

Luckily I'm pretty handy with plastic fabrication so I can DIY this aspect of the build as well.

First, I wanted to see if I could save the original bulkhead fitting. It had a pipe glued in, so I wanted to chuck the fitting in the lathe and turn it out. Problem is, you can't chuck on the thin plastic edge of the fitting very well. Made a wood "donut" and installed the ftting on the donut, using my 4-jaw chuck to get it all centered up again. Then I bored out the glued-in pipe.


However, I ultimately decided to shorten the bulkhead fitting, so I ended up cutting that whole part off as you see me preparing to do here with the parting blade. The wood donut and the tank wall are about the same thickness so I just cut it ouff slightly past the nut- anyone care to guess what I failed to take into account?


I didn't know what kind of finish I'd get with my carbide tooling on the plastic, but it came out ok.


I wanted to add a threaded section to the blank hole in the fitting, to see if I could attach a single standpipe there. I'm altering this PVC bushing to be smaller in diameter and round, then I cut off a section to use as the insert.


Another adjustment made at the lathe is the front of the fitting- there Lifegard fitting have sort of an ogee-shape on the front that isn't needed. I planned to use a wide strainer at this opening, and wanted it to sit flat.


I faced the front of the fitting flat. Say that five times fast. . .


I also wanted slip fittings in the overflow box but ordered threaded. Well, if you have a threaded fitting, and you have a lathe, you can have a slip fitting in just a few seconds. . .


Experimentation with the ball valve in my test rig convinced me to spring for the gate valve. I want it to fit in here, under the tank and above the sump, screwed to this union protruding from the back wall.


I bought this $9 copy of a Spears valve and needed to add fittings like this. The PVC elbow was no problem, some PVC cement and done. The barb is actually a polypropylene irrigation fitting that I cut so it would fit in the valve, and tried to use silicone sealant to glue it in. I knew this wasn't ideal, but it needed to hold no pressure, just hold the fitting in. But it didn't, the silicone slid right off the gray fitting. So itried again with solvent cement, just to see. This also failed, the polypropylene just won't melt right with PVC cement.


So I went back to the lathe once more, and made a bushing.


The pipe will fit and adhere to the valve, no problem. But the stub of the polypropylene fitting wasn't a tight fit in the valve and it wasn't round. I began by turning the outside of the gray fitting to put a round, slightly rough finish on it.


I continued by boring the inside of a PVC pipe section to fit the gray fitting.


Once these fit tightly, and both had rough surfaces, I dabbed a little silicone on them and pushed them together. They are very tightly attached now, giving me a polypropylene fitting that has a PVC bonding surface for installation into the valve.


Now I've got most of the fittings sorted out, and it's really time to think about building the overflow box and getting this all hooked up. But first. . .


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post #8 of 31 (permalink) Old 05-07-2020, 03:17 AM Thread Starter
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Back in Black!

Another of the seemingly endless details is the background. I've tried many kinds, and I think a painted, solid color background looks and lasts best. The last time I painted one was the 20 long, I used black acrylic craft paint based on web recommendations. That worked, but took many, many coats and was sort of easy to damage.

This time I used black oil enamel paint, just regular rustoleum stuff and it covered in fewer coats and looks sharp. The first coat always looks terrible-


You can see right through it. You can also see the uneven coverage, I was using a roller with longer nap than was really ideal. Next time I'll use a foam roller and I'm sure it will be perfect.


But by the second coat, it's getting opaque and extremely reflective. Looks great.


You can see what a variable surface I got from the wooly roller, but it's so shiny!


With the masking removed, we're ready to move to the next step(s. Man, this just keeps going and going. I thought I'd have this up in a week or two, Ha ha ha. . .)


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post #9 of 31 (permalink) Old 05-07-2020, 08:36 AM
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Hmmm seems like an interesting journal, a turtle tank on TPT, anyway I can't see any of the photos, they don't seem to want to load!
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my 20 gallon journal:
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my 8 gallon journal:
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my 35 gallon journal:
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post #10 of 31 (permalink) Old 05-07-2020, 02:04 PM
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What's your plan as the snapper grows up? I eventually returned mine to whence he came. This seems to be the common practice. Around here predators dig up the eggs and we'll occasionally save some and hatch them at home or in backyard ponds in a conservation effort though it's still considered "poaching" with a fine of up to $2,500 per turtle last I checked. Even with an outdoor set-up they get too huge with stegosaurus-like tail-spikes and they can easily remove a finger. I fed mine raw chicken by hand as a stupider younger lad. They could easily outlive their keeper in the right conditions so I'm curious about your long-term plans. Multiple specimens tend to cannibalize each other in home aquariums as well so it's a tricky venture. Certainly rewarding though, fascinating creatures. I'd say your bluegill's days are numbered.
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post #11 of 31 (permalink) Old 05-07-2020, 05:54 PM Thread Starter
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Hmmm seems like an interesting journal, a turtle tank on TPT, anyway I can't see any of the photos, they don't seem to want to load!
Hey, thanks for checking in! I hope I'm not angering the TPT world by using my few plants as an excuse to work in pics of my turtle. . . Once I get him situated, I will switch my focus to rebuilding my plant empire.

I've posted turtle stuff in other forums, but this forum seems like it's friendly and it has some traffic.

Anyway, please check back and see if you can see the pics- they seem to display fine for me but I was having issues posting so I may have not done it right.

Thanks for looking!


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post #12 of 31 (permalink) Old 05-07-2020, 07:18 PM Thread Starter
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Snapper Keeper

Hi, nice to meet a fellow "Snapper Keeper."

That pun ought to give you a rough estimate of my age, if you know what it refers to. I've been keeping turtles for over 3 decades, but to be fair, I did start young.

I want to respond to your points, which are all good ones, about keeping turtles and especially a snapper. I happen to agree with everything you said, but I'd like to expand on my philosophy for any other readers that might wonder. Responses inline.

Quote:
Originally Posted by splattered View Post
What's your plan as the snapper grows up? I eventually returned mine to whence he came. This seems to be the common practice.
Letting them go is about all you can do, and yes, all my turtles get released back to the wild. The bluegills do to. I release the turtles and fish back into the ponds from which they came, which in my case are artificial neighborhood ponds surrounded by houses, as well as a nearby lake.

My goal is to enjoy the animal for a little while, but then let it go back to nature. I'm not really trying to eff up their whole program. Ultimately, no matter how perfect an environment I provide, I believe that the animals would choose freedom and danger over safety and captivity, every time, like I would.

I keep them a while and treat them the best I can, and then when I feel they have exceeded my ability to provide the best situation for them, I let them go.

I am aware that there are those who would criticize even this approach. If you go on turtle forums, which are full of hand-wringers and warnholes, people will insist ridiculous things such as "they will catch some disease in your tank that will wipe out all turtles on earth if you release them" and "the turtle will forget how to fend for itself" and other such nonsense.

However, this is why I choose to keep native species, and then let them go later. I don't think the world would end if you bought a RES at a LFS and then let it go somewhere in America. Not recommended, perhaps not ideal, but honestly it would probably not be a huge issue. Local turtle population gets a small genetic variation boost. . .

Quote:
Around here predators dig up the eggs and we'll occasionally save some and hatch them at home or in backyard ponds in a conservation effort though it's still considered "poaching" with a fine of up to $2,500 per turtle last I checked.
Part of the reason I'm comfortable with keeping wild RES and snapper turtles, bluegills, etc. is that none of these guys is in short supply anywhere. I mean, it says "common" right there in the name, Common Snapper. . . RES have managed to establish themselves nation-wide, from Mexico to Canada. There is zero harm in a private individual taking one (or many) of these turtles out of the wild, especially if only temporarily. Snappers are on the weakest level of the CITES list, but mainly as a nod to conservation. They aren't scarce. Bluegill? Those must exist in the trillions or quadrillions, nationwide.

And, in my state, it happens that the law agrees with me. RES, snappers, and bluegill are all legal to take from the wild, and EAT! Up to a certain limit, which for snappers is 8 per day. I can catch all I want, year round, and do as I wish with them. Well, I can eat them, but I'm not allowed to put them in a circus. But you can keep them all you want.

Now, whether I actually bothered to renew my fishing license this year may be another issue, but that's between me and the Warden. . . Personally, I can't believe that the guy would get out his ticket book for one dude that jumped out and picked up a baby snapper off the road. And I've never seen a Warden at the neighborhood duck pond. . .

Ultimately I pay taxes in this land, and under our laws that entitles me to a share of the fish and game.

Quote:
Even with an outdoor set-up they get too huge with stegosaurus-like tail-spikes and they can easily remove a finger. I fed mine raw chicken by hand as a stupider younger lad.
I've encountered plenty of adult snappers- nasty customers, usually! Incidences of common snappers removing fingers are actually pretty rare, but there is no doubt they could do it if you go poking your little hand-worms at an adult snapper.

I do feed this guy with some big tweezers and when he was little I fed him by hand. Little bugger would ignore the food and try to gnaw on me! It was cute when he weighed an ounce or two, but at about 5 inches carapace length, he's already too big for me to let that continue. Even when I feed him with tweezers, he bites the tweezers with surprising force. Then he doesn't let go. . .

I have not bothered to try to socialize him much, I usually don't with wild animals. But oddly enough, common snappers aren't really that aggressive and can be socialized very well. Handling them just isn't my interest anymore. I don't even refer to it as a pet, usually, like my snakes when I had those, I refer to them as "display animals."

Can't find it now, but I saw one video of a little girl walking around with a BIG snapper, easily capable of nipping off little fingers, but the girl showed no fear, and the turtle was totally chill and seemed to enjoy the superman ride it was getting. (Still a little worrisome to watch, though. . . These guys are never truly tame.)

Quote:
They could easily outlive their keeper in the right conditions so I'm curious about your long-term plans. Multiple specimens tend to cannibalize each other in home aquariums as well so it's a tricky venture. Certainly rewarding though, fascinating creatures. I'd say your bluegill's days are numbered.
No doubt- keeping him until the end would be a major undertaking, true of any pet turtle, really, which is why I hate to see even captive-bred or common turtles in the pet trade. That kid that bugged his parents for the russian tortoise whe he was 10? What's he gonna do, take that thing to college with him? (In that real case, it turned out it didn't matter- the kid let the totroise go for a walk in the yard, came back a little too late, never saw him again. Problem solved. For the kid, anyway. When told this story, they knew I knew reptiles so they asked if the turtle was "probably just all right out there, living a happy life." I assured them that this was very UNlikely and that the poor guy probably didn't make the winter. I could have told them the lie that they wanted to hear, but I felt it was a opportunity to educate a young reptile keeper on the real consequences.

All that said, I'm not saint, I kept lots of aniumals in jars as kid and many of them died. I learned from it, matured, and now I do my very best to avoid harming my captives.

As far as the bluegill's survival chances, they are pretty good. They've lived together for a year, and the fish knows how to stay out of the turtle's way and is much faster than the turtle. They occur naturally in the same waters so the fish is well adapted to avoiding turtles. There is no doubt the turtle would eat the fish if he could catch him! As it is now, if the fish comes too close, the turtle will swat a lazy claw or snap at him and he backs off, but the turtle is way too fat and lazy to really put serious effort into catching that fish.

Now, it may be that I experimentally added a pleco to that tank to see how fat he would get off the rampant algae, and it could be the case that the turtle caught the poor guy sleeping. . . I saw the pleco around for the first few weeks, but I sure haven't seen him lately. . . (Sarcasm intended, but yep, $5 feeder fish. . . Oh well.)


TL/DR- I agree with @splattered, and this wild turtle will return to his ancestral pond when he gets too big.

Bonus Snapper Snapshot:


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Last edited by JetMech; 05-07-2020 at 07:24 PM. Reason: Remove Bump
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post #13 of 31 (permalink) Old 05-07-2020, 09:07 PM Thread Starter
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Questions:

-Can you folks see the pics?

-Why when I make a new post does it try to add it as a bump to the last post I made? How long do I have to wait until I can "go advanced" and have it be a new post?

-Are people enjoying the turtle tank development thread, and all the pics?


Anyway, I hope the pics show, and I hope people are enjoying this. I can work around the post thing, I just make a "quick reply" and by the time I'm halfway done, I can usually switch over to advanced posting without it automatically appending what I have to the last post. Annoying, though.

With the tank and stand complete and the fittings prepared, the last steps in the turtle tank adventure prior to the system assembly are making the overflow box and sump.

We'll start with the overflow box. I'd never done this before. so I was just going ton what i read on the web. I found that the most helpful site was this reef site, that had the best explanation I could find of a Herbie drain setup and how to build one:

https://gmacreef.com/herbie-overflow...method-basics/

This guy has agreat explanation, and some measurements to work from. I had a half-sheet of .25" Lexan polycarbonate with smoke tint laying around, so that's what I used. Water exposure tends to warp acrylic due to the way that water soaks into the surface of acrylic and swells it, so PC is a better material and tougher besides. This is an offcut so price isn't a factor. I used my strip heater to bend the PC into a box.




The strip heater is basically just a stove element that isn't coiled. Ideally, I'd use a variac to control the temperature and not let it get too hot. Here you can see the PC sheet bending upwards as the bottom of the bend line is heated and expands. Once it starts to relax and droop the other way, it's time to make the bend.


This isn't that same piece, but the same idea: The hot plastic is bent, then clamped to this aluminum angle to let it cool while being held at a right angle.


With that done, I made a bottom piece out of a scrap of clear .25" polycarbonate. It fits very close and tight so I can use solvent cement to make the bond.


I use "Scigrip 3" or "4" for this type of joint, one is water-thin and the other is even thinner viscosity. Those are solvent cements that are applied with a needle, via syringe or bottle. The idea is that you run a little cement along a tightly fitting joint, and capillary action draws the thin cement into the joint. The cement is actually a solvent, primarily methylene chloride, that softens the plastic surfaces and allows them to become one peice of plastic. Essentially it's a chemical weld. Done right, these joints are very strong and clear. This is exactly how acrylic tanks are joined together.


Once the bottom was installed, I marked out and drilled the holes for the bulkhead. Luckily I had a good hole saw in this size, makes all the difference. I'm just using a scrap hanging over the edge of the table to back it up.


Added a back to it next. This is a thinner piece than the sides. Remember back in the lathe section, when I asked if anyone knew what I forgot to take into account when shortening the bulkhead fitting? This was it- I forgot to consider the thickness of this back piece, so I had to use some thin stuff and try to get away with it. It looks white bacuse the masking is still on the other side. This joint is easy, just hold it down and run a line of cement around the edge, leaving a little of the thin PC sticking out all around.


We left that sticking out so I can use this flush trim router bit with a guide bearing. The bearing will ride along the box wall while the cutting edge trims the excess sheet to that exact shape. Another thing you can see here and the pic before is the way that the bend has some bubbles and distortion. This was because I didn't dry the PC before heating it, and because I heated and bent it quickly. To be honest, I've had a lot of difficulty beding .25" stuff without bubbles. I expected I might end up making this box more than once so I didn't worry too much about it. If I end up doing it again, I'll take more time to bend it without cooking bubbles into it.


Good time to figure out how wide the box has to be to fit 1" bulkhead fittings.


Those little clear boxes are destined to be part of an ATO system for my other two tanks. More on those later.


With the holes drilled, time to try out the bulkhead fittings. Pretty close fit! Not much room in there. Just like I wanted it.


I went ahead and made up the drain and emergency standpipe.


I did not have a hole saw that suited the larger 1.5" bulkhead fitting, so I used my fly cutter, which can make any size hole within its range.


Looks good on there. . .


Now with the drain fittings in and large bulkhead nut installed. You can see the white threaded bushing I made during the lathe work, turned out I didn't need it. I thought I might need to turn it out of there, but testing showed the hole is plenty big even with it in there so I left it.
[IMG]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/1KTQuIbxHANo2jGO026xkxvG-yVN-8tEzf6JFzgQ7v6cwNezv2qhc0AoPIOeXXHgAbVVaqbAueAr3x-mPD5cDr4Yan8Ax6Exd3rt1HTVar1c0QLW2bVcyK-bjYmc8ES-MycVKubeufeDpPurspsVzXqu1eoTs1PDvUk8jdug32KguUrq80 FqgzClBjHLr_gU0p4kaS9ejalzOvNiz78IalY1dQV9dhCJZfWC xSIptt8cZA_fg9ceYKu3I0Pa-6Gu73Pi_LkG0o3KlyToourHVfDBDILevjmxVxQxRfbI8dq_0A6 yiVgwN3H8X57e15nElxdS_KCshATUzCoOQwHD5iFLpdULejvGS GfpQ-7P1IExs0fIpxIC6dK6aZkyAxaTAauZP1783w2zS2p-nV26rrwr0ryoipZAKQCbusD-2Y3G5clPs5xhsBxh14WJKf_w0fCqwUuBakVSHAWlEqxGVCL6Tj 3cKFMfCpuauom42ucMK8fnXO8FJLiyl6m4aoOrcwjLFazhQ1AT p2qUcK_dGQq8oEjKub4pR_Q_yNMdd9zlJjiE4BwI-hjyxQVGeCE963G07ke2pj8IJB-6UFkpjNbcpMNYe-3e8RzBb0dfYZjxT2PJQ579pqQ_cQNwNfsXf759eaDarhhnrrij VfmiXnpIgpM2WEc8K4NyovNOFSn0p4FZlZheH3DPmHw2=w800-h600-no
[/IMG]





As it turns out, with the thin back I was able to spin the nut almost all the way on. This should work fine.


Also, while it may not have been needed, I made a thin rubber washer to put under the bulkhead flange inside the tank so I could move the thicker washer than came with the fitting to between the tank and the box.


I forgot to show this during the lathe work post, but in this pic you can see the thin rubber washer I made along with how this strainer fits flush onto the fitting now that I turned it flat on the front. Fits great, nice and low-profile.


Before I accepted the overflow box, I tried to run it with no overflow. This could have worked, but only as a closed-loop system. With an open sump, you have to have the overflow weir to make the tank level constant. Since that was one of the major features I was looking for in this setup, an overflow weir was required. But I tried!


Welp, looks like I'll need to run with the box and the overflow weir, so I guess I need a weir. 3d printer to the rescue.


This is my CR-10s 3d printer with Bondtech DDR extruder. I love being able to whip out just about any aqaurium part I need on the spot. I use it all the time to make little brackets and fittings, and occasionally larger items, like this weir.


It's a little tough to get a non-blurry pic because it's moving, but you get the idea. It's basically a half-round pipe with a quarter-sphere closing off one end.


Part complete. Kind of cool how you can see all the facets. . .


I printed the part with no support, and it messed up a little at the very top of the inside, but no biggie.


It was installed with a line of sealant around the egde, as usual, and with a spacer to keep it positioned level and 1" from the upper rim.


Once that was all cured, it was time to add some water and test out the final configuration for real. Stay Tuned!


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post #14 of 31 (permalink) Old 05-07-2020, 10:05 PM
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Cannot see the pics! With one exception, that is the post showing your work on the stand...

Doug
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post #15 of 31 (permalink) Old 05-07-2020, 10:30 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doug105! View Post
Cannot see the pics! With one exception, that is the post showing your work on the stand...

Doug
Oh man, there are over 100 pics that are supposed to be showing. . . I'm not sure what's different about that post but thank you, I will look into that.


Can anyone else see pics other than the stand?


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