Hi all, although I've had aquaria on and off all of my life, I just
recently (April '07) began my journey down the road to "planted
tank" heaven with a 29 gallon tank. That effort blossomed into a 29
AND a 55. Learning the basics of light, co2 & ferts carried me
through the agony of my first bigtime algae bloom as well as
ongoing hair/thread/GDA/GSA etc. and led me to the point where
the bug RE-bit me with a vengence. :help:
Obviously, there's still LOTS to learn but, even so, I went looking for
Checking classified ads and craigslist and eBay within 200 miles, etc, etc,
and I discovered what $100 and a 140 mile trip to Orlando will
buy... a really nasty looking 180 gallon acrylic.
To say it was in "rough shape" would be an understatement but I
thought "the bones" were there to bring this tank back.
Removing the salt encrustation and the corals? or whatever
growing on the acrylic was interesting to say the least as well as
replacing the rusted/corroded door hinges and other metal bits
The use of some steel wool to remove the growing things on the
acrylic and multiple rinses brought me to a clean inside (clean but
I used a sanding block with 350, then 600, then 1500grit wet&dry
sandpaper to handsand the entire interior of the tank (except for
the bottom and back). This was followed by an automotive polisher
with a terry bonnet using Novus#3 Heavy Scratch Remover. Then a
couple of sessions with a cloth buffing wheel and Novus#2 Light
Scratch Remover. Final interior polishing was done with Novus#1
Acrylic Polish and a soft cotton cloth. The exterior of the tank was
in much better shape than the interior and I did spot
sanding/buffing/polishing in a number of spots and then Novus#1 on
the entire exterior. I've no experience with acrylic scratch
removal/buffing/polishing products so I can't compare the Novus
stuff to any other products out there but I found the Novus
products to do a good job of buffing out the scratches and
polishing the acrylic.
A good scrubbing, followed by two coats of semi-gloss latex took
care of the exterior of the stand, while the interior of the stand is
white laminate that was acceptable after a good scrub.
I then moved on to the interior of the canopy which was just a shell
when purchased. I retrofitted AH Supply CF brite kits into the
canopy ... 2 x 55 and 2 x 96, wired in such a way that I can bring
them on as "~100W" or "~200W" or "~300W".
This is the canopy up against the wall atop the tank:
while this is the canopy in position but open atop the tank:
Moving right along ... under the tank/inside the stand.
The tank was pre-drilled/bulkheaded with 7 holes in the bottom.
Two (one 1" & one 3/4") bulkheads within the overflow box
One 3/4" and Four 1/2" bulkheads in the body of the tank
as illustrated below:
I'm using the 3/4" bulkhead within the overflow box as a drain for
the autowaterchanger system, while the 1" bulkhead in the box is
tied into the four 1/2" bulkheads in the body of the aquarium
through the use of a common manifold (the 1" pvc across the
inside top of the stand) . This manifold acts as the filter intake and
feeds the two Rena xp3 canister filters that you can see on either
side of the stand. The last bulkhead in the body of the aquarium
connects to the ball valve/hose connector that you see in the
upper right inside of the stand and drains to waste with the
addition of a garden hose.
Also in the right side of the stand you can see the co2 reactor &
Fabco 55 needle valve which connects to my 10lb co2
tank/regulator which is located elsewhere in the room.
I know I said I'd be brief when I started this entry and while this
hasn't been brief, I hope I haven't bored too many of you with my
Here's a picture of the first fill ... no leaks ... hooray! :bounce: Once I got the
substrate in, I decided to lose the sponges over the plastic
strainers at the bulkheads. They're black and as you will see, they
pretty much disappear into the black background/hardscape.
I drained the tank and added about 80lbs of SoilMaster Select
(charcoal) into the tank (unwashed). I added driftwood/rocks and
did an initial planting by raiding both the 29 and 55 which I've been
using as farm tanks in anticipation of planting this 180. I then did a
VERY slow fill of the tank by inserting my python into the overflow
box. The common manifold connection allowed the tank to fill mega
slowly by dividing the already slow python flow among the four 1/2"
bulkheads in the body of the aquarium and as a result, the water
was surprising clean and dust free when the fill was complete.
At the moment there are a handful of ramshorn snails (came in on
the plants from the 29/55), one oto and two baby guppies (about
1/2" long) swimming around in this tank. I'm not planning on raiding
any other fish from the 29 or the 55 except for a King Tiger Pleco
now residing in the 55. I'm making a buy from the LFS (as part of
his weekly order) for my initial stocking which will consist of :
12 pygmy corys
12 julii corys
with their arrival expected at the end of next week.
Other schooling fish, centerpiece fish, other livestock are up in the
air right now, but there's no rush. I've been down the discus road
in the past (altho not in a planted tank) and I don't think that's the
way I want to go this time so at this point I'm still anticipating the
thrill of selecting and adding more livestock and plants as things
So, that's where things stand as of today. I'm working out the kinks
of my autowaterchanger design and awaiting the inevitable
challenges of cycle and photoperiod selection and all the other
bumps that will arise as this tank matures ... ain't we got fun?
Thanks for looking and I'll be updating as things progress.