I hereby declare that Here Beginith the Photo-Journal for my 75g Mbuna Cichlid Planted Tank. Mwahaha.
<rant> Background on moi: I am a 28 year old PhD. student in Philosophy (Biomedical and Environmental Ethics, specifically). Note that this makes me very poor, living on a State University stipend: that is why this tank is being done on the cheap. I'm from Northeast Ohio, but currently live/work/study in Knoxville, Tennessee where they call us Northern folk "Yankees." I been done had fish tanks ever since I warse a youngin wit my ma. This is but the latest episode in a chronic condition of aquaphilic fetish....blahblahblah </rant>
In this journal, please allow for asides, tangents and irrelevancies (not to mention parenthetical remarks!). Do not check your funny bone at the door. If I offend you, then I was just being sarcastic. If you believed that, would you like some used tires? "All Scotsmen are liars." Did I ever tell you that I was a Scotsman? Paradoxes...
....You've been warned. Anywho...I digress (See? I told you). Let's get this journal started.
Grab a beer and some popcorn, sit down, and enjoy the show!
(space-ambient music fades in)
(music abrubtly stops, beer pouring sound)
Stage 1: Planning
("Inspirational" music begins. Use your "God-narrative-voice-from-nowhere")
The plan/theme for this tank is "True Colors"
: Primary, Secondary, and Black/Grey/White
red: 1 m Protomelas taeniolatus
, Nymphaea lotus Alternanthera reineckii
and Cryptocoryne wendtii
'Red', and probably others later...
blue: 15 Psuedotropheus demasoni
aka da Wreckin' Krew, the meanest beast nature ever but in a 10g package.
yellow: 4 Labidochromis caeruleus
aka Yellow Dye #s 1, 2, 3, and 4, pretty, ubiquitous, docile. just like women and hamsters.
orange: 1 f Metriaclima estherae
aka Quillito, well, mine is orange anyways, and 1 Labidochromis textilis
, aka Patches McGee
purple: 1 Pseudotropheus sp
. "Acei" aka Leticia, pretend he/she/it is purple and an androgynous crossdresser.
obvious, or so one might think...[hint: PLANTS!!!]
black: lava rock cave grotto background, took forever and I got high on silicone.
grey1: limestone rocks, I paid for a small portion at $200/ton = like $1.50 for more rocks than I know what to do with? they weighed my car and laughed...
grey2: Soil Master Select Charcoal substrate, Lesson learned 3 months later: LESCO personnel are largely incompetent (and maybe incontinent too, I didn't have time to check, despite acute interest).
white: 1 Metriaclima greshakei
(Albino) aka "Cracka", He is whiter than your landlord.
and Joel rested, and saw that it was good. Now it's time to get to work.
(begin "Eye of the Tiger" music)
Stage 2: The Tank
I got a free 55g from some lady. It was OK, but it was BROWN TRIM
and SCRATCHED to hell and back. I thought my Mbuna were still in there, but I couldn't see due to the abberations. and I wanted MORE TANK. Begin the obsessive checking of craigslist.org daily not so patiently waiting for a nice 75g combo to appear, like a Lion waiting for her prey...not really, more like a guy in front of a computer drinking beer and clicking a mouse.
An add for a 'perfect' tank appears. I go to check it out...
False positive! It's a 55g! He doesn't believe me,
we calculate the volume from the dimensions. I go home in defeat.
Then, divine intervention: I scored an AGA 75g from SuperPets for a buck a gallon. Only a buck, aww wtf... why not. That is right ladies and gents, $75, brand spankin' new.
So... I squeezed the beast into my brand, spankin new little Toyota Yaris:
and drove home speedracer style (insert high concept action chase music):
I dropped in some eggcrate to prevent Noah's Second Coming due to my clumsiness with rocks. Also, it will theoretically help keep the plants rooted against my digging crew.
I painted back black with, you guessed it: black paint.
Stage 3: HaRRRRRRRRd scape
aRRRRRRRRRRR Not sure why I sound like a pirate, but letís go with it.
(pirate music and a swashbuckling interlude)
I made a DIY Cave GRRRRRRoto background. Original idea by Brad Newton, see here for details: http://www.duboisi.com/diy/BNdiygrotto/bndiygrotto.htm
: I made the background more 'natural' by varying hole size and shape, and made it sloped instead of uniform across the back. This gave me more planting space for Java Ferns.').
I staRRRRted with white vinyl guttering. And made the holes.
I painted it black with, you guessed it: black paint (Rustoleum "Fusion" is aquarium-safe), and added the cave dividers using silicone:
Then, the time-consuming process of gluing the lava rock yielded this result (left half):
I added limestone rocks. Bought 'em at the local rockyard. They sell it in QUANTITY: $200/ton. I bought WAAAY too much for $1.51, and was thereby an endless source of entertainment for the employees. "We ain't done sold so little before, I reckon," or somesuch.
Stage 4: Lighting
And Joel said, "Let there be light"
DIY hood. Plywood and 1"x 6" and 1" x 4"s with some trim wood, hinges, etc.
Supplies and Tools (all are inessential except the beer):
Halfway there, and no fingers lost yet!:
Finished product. 128w for $32. (2 shoplights @ $10 each, 4 T8 bulbs at $3 each). How you like me now? Not quite 2wpg, but I want this to be a "mid tech" tank. There is room for another shoplight. If I buck up another $16, I'll be at 192w
Also, note the blue LED light for night disco parties.
('staying alive' song begins)
Stage 5: Filtration
XP3 baby. Filled it to the gills with sponge material, floss, potscrubbers, and crushed coral (keep hardness). Official Filstar Pimp #89 registration Beeeatches:
Stage 6: CO2
Got a 10# tank and the Drs.Fostersmith "Semi-Auto" combo.
These instructions were especially useful. I guessed my way through it and no one has died (yet):
Stage 7: Wirin'
Stage 8: Substrate and Plantin'
Joel then created the earth, and saw that it was good.
I put some plants in pots with flourite, covered with extra lava rock to keep my rats with fins out (aka mbuna).
Joel then made plants, and saw that it was good.
Stage 9: "Just add Water"
Fill er up, and it didn't even fall through the floor. Isn't it beautiful?
Stage 10: Fish
Then Joel added fishes to the sea, and saw it was good.
Stage 11:All Set!
('end of the road' song begins)
Joel looked back on his creation, and saw that it was good, and rested.
LOTS of java fern (background)
narrow leaf java (on rocks)
windelov java (on rocks)
LOTS of anubias nana, coffefolia, and afzella (thank you walmart, for dropping out of livestock.. I got tons of anubias for $1 per pot! suckers...).
Crypts: wendti 'red', wendti 'green gecko', lucea
(prolly will add more)
Apon sp 'Walmart" (lol) and boivinianus
Fast Grower Stems (most temporary for nutrient sponges):
rotala sp. "green"
hygro difformis Wisteria
unknown spikey plant on left that grows faster than toe fungus.
Floaters thrown in (most temporary for nutrient sponges):
left: Stargrass, HM
right: Dwarf sag., e. tennelus
to be continued.... thanks for lookin.