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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was bored and flipping through craig's list when I found someone locally selling a used aquarium. It's a standard 125 gallon (18"x24"x60") and cost a whopping $50. I called, then drove over and picked it up. The seller even threw in a couple of 10 gallon tanks that were going to be thrown away if I didn't want them. I jumped at the opportunity. They didn't come with stands but I just happen to be a woodworker so I now know what my next project is.

That's kinda where my story ends and my questions begin. I now have a huge aquarium and am not sure what to do with it. I can't really have fish because of my work. I go out of town for up to a month at a time. I'd hate to work hard on getting a beautiful fish filled tank set up, only to come back from an out of town job to find a big tank of death.

I think that makes my best option a low tech planted tank using the Walstad method. The plants should help with the cycling and can likely go significantly longer without my attention than fish can. I know a well planted tank with nothing but plants can be very impressive on it's own, but I'd like something moving around too. I've never had inverts before, but would like to try out some shrimp. That may be problematic. Are there any that don't breed like crazy and can be ok with little maintenance? If need be, I can get my neighbor to drop an algae tablet or something similar into it every few days while I'm gone. I'd love it if I can get something set up so that the plants will grow fast enough to provide enough of a food source for the shrimp while I'm gone.

Hopefully, that's where you guys come in. Can someone suggest a way to accomplish what I'd like to do? Are there some things I definitely need, or other things I should avoid at all costs? For the next week or so, I plan to have the aquarium in the back yard full of water to test for leaks. I'd hate to get it set up, then realize I need to reseal it or something like that. If it makes a full week with no issues, it should be fine in the house right?
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Also, is there someone in the Lake Charles, LA area who would be willing to toss me some old nasty filter media from a well established tank? That would definitely make you my new best friend.
 

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Maybe you could get a huge colony of cherry shrimp going. Then once there are ALOT of them add school of small danios or tetra that can survive on the huge shrimp population. As long as the tank is matured and growing some algae the shrimp should be able to thrive with minimal input from you. Then all you would need to do is water changes filter maintenance and occasionally trim plants.
 

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I would toss in some cherry shrimp and let them breed away... maybe a couple otos and some snails to round things out. I wouldn't expect the cherry shrimp to breed rapidly enough to sustain a population of fish of any quantity without supplemental feeding. As to the tank, I would do a dirt substrate and then lots of easier lower light plants, anubias, java fern, wisteria, etc and some floating plants, call it good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I was thinking about cherry shrimp. I'm still researching and trying to find a way to get several different colors, but not have them interbreed and all become brown again.
 

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There's no way around mixing different color Cherry shrimp (Neocaridinas) and not having them breed and produce brown/wild offspring (sure sometimes a rili may be produced). Just won't work out that way. Not with Neos anyway.
 

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A combo of one variety of RCS and another of Tiger shrimp would work. Maybe a group of dwarf orange crays. A small group of endlers or other dwarf livebearer might work as well.

If you're going to be gone for a whole month an ATO with a large reservoir might be a good idea.
 

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Sorry don't have time right now to read the thread in depth, but to automate your tank, you could get timers for the lights and co2, get automated feeders and/or fertilizer dosers, and make a DIY automated water change system (old tank water constantly gets removed and fresh water replaces continuously). Make sure to use multiple filters in case one filter clogs up while you are gone, but a sump would be nice.

For a simpler set up, yes you can do the Walstad method, just would be better off doing a low bioload/stocking since you will be gone so long. The shrimp could work. In a 125, I am sure they can manage. I would get a automated feeder (research which is good). But if you insist on your neighbor, that is fine. Make sure to have multiple sources of surface agitation/ripples in case one fails (filters or powerheads/circulation pumps -make sure they are shrimp safe). Make sure the mineral levels (water parameters) are at the higher end of the range so they are less likely to be depleted before you return home to do a water change.

When you set up the tank in the backyard to leak test it, still make sure the tank stays level in case you are testing/filling on a unstable/uneven surface. I usually just leak test for 24 hours or so.

EDIT: just read the post above. Good points.
Evaporation can be a worry, if the water level gets too low, filters, heater, pumps may run dry, which is not a good thing.
Tiger shrimp (Caridina) can usually be kept with Cherry shrimp (Neocaridinas) assuming your water parameters are still within range. They won't crossbreed so you can have more colors.
Mexican orange dwarf crays (CPO) could also work, though I have heard of some people (not all) complaining that the CPO's could get aggressive with themselves and/or toward shrimp.
Livebearers in a 125 might end up overpopulating the tank. Well enough that the high bioload may be troublesome when being gone for a whole month not being able to properly maintain the tank and livestock.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I definitely plan on using a sump. I'm looking for a decently priced 50ish gallon tank to use. It's probably more sump than I need, but the added water volume can't hurt. I'm just waiting for a decently priced one to pop up. Everyone seems to want $100 or more for them.

I hadn't thought of an automatic feeder. That might work. I'll have to do some research about them.

Thanks for all the input so far. It's definitely appreciated.
 

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I definitely plan on using a sump. I'm looking for a decently priced 50ish gallon tank to use. It's probably more sump than I need, but the added water volume can't hurt. I'm just waiting for a decently priced one to pop up. Everyone seems to want $100 or more for them.

I hadn't thought of an automatic feeder. That might work. I'll have to do some research about them.

Thanks for all the input so far. It's definitely appreciated.
Get a 55 gallon during the next dollar per gallon sale for your sump.
 

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I would go as low tech as possible. Canisters can clog, sumps can leak or overflow, and heaters can stick 'on'. I would do a walstad type tank with airstones and powerheads. Add an auto fish feeder, and stock with a light bioload. I'd go with fish that can tolerate low 70's, in case of heater outage. I would still splurge and get a Neptune Apex controller. The Neptune will be able to monitor temp and ph, and text you if they go out of whack. With their fusion web portal, you can link up a webcam so you can check on it for the month you are gone. Apex even has an autofeeder you can incorporate and feed the fish while you watch. ;) Lastly, when there is an issue, it is much easier to shut something off remote from your iphone than telling your neighbor what plug to unplug...$500 bucks or so sounds like a lot, but the peace of mind is worth it.

To recap, if it were me I would:

125 tank
two powerheads with sponges
2 airstones via two small redundant air pumps with check valves on airlines.
2 heaters controlled by Apex
Pool filter sand supplemented with root tabs occasionally... no dirt for me
low tech plants
LED light strips
Cooler temp tropical fish(stream dwellers)... Probably rainbows and cory's and something else
Apex monitoring/controlling temps and fish feeder, plus web cam
 

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I currently have 8 tanks. I go away every year for three weeks. All of my tanks are fine being left for that period of time, with a friend coming in once a day to check on things. Before I go, I do a 50% water change, clean my filters, including the impellers, and prune the plants. I also make up little packages of food for each day and I underfeed the fish. I also keep my tanks fairly lightly stocked. Most tanks have two filters. I use either internal filters on my tanks or hobs (hang on the back). I once had a huge catastrophe with a canister filter and have never ventured back into canisters since then. It didn't happen when I was away, but happened when I was home, thank goodness. As for fertilizing, I do the same thing as the food, I make up containers with the appropriate dose of fertilizer in each one and mark the day on the container. I have all of my lights on timers as well as my CO2.
This works well for me, as I sometimes travel to places with very spotty internet and cell service.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Just got things started today. I cleaned up one of the ten gallon tanks and put some lava rock in it. Then I went down to my LFS and picked up some feeder fish and a HOB filter so I could at least get the cycle going. I used lava rock because its got a huge surface area and is inert so it won't change any water parameters. Now it's time to get the second 10 gallon and the 125 cleaned up and looking like they should.

In doing my research, I've found that I can grow non-aquatic food plants as well as aquatic plants if I set things up correctly. It would be nice to grow my own veggies and have them keep the water clean for the aquarium shrimp.
 
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