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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi everyone!

I've been creating topic-specific threads for a few months in preparation for bringing myself back into the hobby by finally bringing my 90 gallon tank into use.

It's the same old story I've read about many times. Lifelong fish tank guy... birth of first child... work related move to a new city... no time or energy to set the tank back up. Time passes... wife puts screens around empty tank in the corner of the living room. Winter turns to spring, spring to summer, summer to fall, and then the snow begins again. Eventually that first child gets his driver's license, and one thing leads to another and it is time to bring the tank back into use.

First, I want to reflect on the tank as it was in 2005 when I took it down to move (the fish were given to a friend and did just fine).

Vertebrate Terrestrial plant Organism Plant Underwater

Plant Vertebrate Wood Organism Rectangle


The tank had a Hamilton Technologies dual metal halide / VHO fluorescent light enclosure The ballasts were up in the attic because they buzzed so much, and they sucked down power like crazy. A 5 lb CO2 tank fed a couple bubbles per minute into the Eheim 2217 filter, using the filter as a reactor. A water change system in the basement pumped water up to the tank. It was the tank of my dreams at that time. And I've missed it ever since.

I will use this thread as my main journal thread, while opening topic-specific threads as needed in the correct forums. I look forward to sharing my journey with you, and learning from the rich experience in this forum.

It will take a while to catch up... bear with me!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
My work on restarting with the hobby started with reading this forum and coming up to speed on the latest technologies.

Here's a link to my first thread where I got great input and avoided several mistakes...

 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yay welcome back!! What is that adorable spotty creature with a stripy tail in your first pic?
Ah! They are one of my favorite fish, the YoYo Loach! They come in various spot configurations. Many of them have a distinctive pattern where the spots spell out YoYo. The ones shown in this picture have more, smaller spots but others in the tank were typical YoYos. They are a species of Botia.

I've always had a thing for loaches. It started with Kuhli loach, which my young self thought was a worm at first, then fell in love with. Then I branched out to other loach species, eventually finding a preference for yoyos as well as kuhlis.

Basically, I'm crafting a planted loach tank. With some tetras, rasboras, corys, maybe a spiny eel or two...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I also will be putting some angel fish in the tank as well. I haven't had angels since the 90s!

Meanwhile, per my other thread above, I bought a new stand. I ordered it from my LFS, based on this website:


The store has a deal with the makers at the site. It took about a month to be built, but I got it about a week ago. I got the Heritage in Spanish Oak. I wanted "Natural" but they don't do that lighter color anymore. Pics to come soon!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
OK, continuing the catch-up of my tank journal. With the tank (90 gallon with overflow, drilled in the back left bottom for filter tubing) and stand sorted, I turned my attention to the lighting. My old lights were metal halide and VHO fluorescent, but for this incarnation it was time to go LED.

Based on the above thread (which divorced me from my plans to put the LED lights inside a closed hood, not a good idea due to electrical safety issues), and which helped convince me to abandon a hood/canopy, I got turned on to the Chihiros lights.

This thread helped me decide between the Chihiros Vivid II RGB and the Chihiros WRGB II. The winner: NEITHER! Instead I went with the brand new Chihiros WRGB II Pro!


As detailed in the thread, I got the lights delivered in mid March and they look fabulous. I still haven't decided about hanging versus using the included standoffs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Meanwhile, it was necessary to wet-test the tank. It had come cross country 16 years ago, and sat dry for all the time since. Before filling it with water in my living room, I tested it in the garage (on the old stand).

Wood Gas Wood stain Hardwood Machine


It made it through the first night without any leaks, and the next day I hooked up my trusty Eheim 2217 to it:

Wood Wood stain Gas Machine Hardwood


Nothing leaking! Woo hoo!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
OK, things happened fast and furious but left me little time to blog about it. Let's get caught up.

I needed to prepare the location for the new tank. This means bringing sufficient power, as well as some plumbing to assist with water changes.

My water from the city is liquid rock (see this post about it) so I have set up an RO system in the basement, more or less under where the aquarium location. Here is a post about RO system configuration stuff.

I needed to pull some PVC pipes through the floor from the unfinished basement below. Actually, the tank is over a crawl space adjacent to the unfinished basement section. This wouldn't be such a problem, except that HVAC outgoing ducting, as well as the return air enclosed pathways, run underneath where the tank will be. With some difficulty, I wedged myself into the crawl space and identified a few inches of space where I could punch through. Here's a picture. Ducts and enclosed return air paths over all but 4 lateral inches...

Wood Table Wood stain Bumper Tape measure


Oh, and that cable is one I don't want to drill into... carries 100A of power feeding my basement breaker panel.

But I got it done! A new 15A breaker feeds a GFCI outlet, and a 3/4" PVC drain and 1/2" water feed line appear, like magic:

Floor Flooring Gas Wood Machine
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The tank is leveled by shimming up the left side by about 3/16." I have some residual concern because the stand doesn't have feet; the entire bottom surface (~48x18") is the foot. Shimmed, the actual weight is carried by the points of contact between the stand and left side shim/right side edge. I had nothing halfway as thick to shim in the middle of the distance.

Table Shelving Wood Computer desk Writing desk


I will add details to my threads about RO system/storage tanks and pump needed to bring the water uphill about 15 feet. But, suffice to say filling the tank didn't go smoothly.

When I tested the pump in the basement a week or so ago, it seemed to put out a mighty gush. However, when trying to push water uphill through pipe, despite being rated for 17 foot lift height (this pump), all I got was a trickle:

Hood Fluid Pipeline transport Plumbing Gas


It looks like it's filling nicely, but that was at the very start, when the storage container had more than three feet of water in it. It quickly slowed to almost nothing. Then, to nothing by the time the storage container still had about 2 feet of water in it.

Since I still had my 20 year old pump from my old house, which adequately pushed water up a shorter distance, I decided to put the two pumps in series. My new pump which is submersible in the water tanks would push water up into the lines, priming the old pump which I could then turn on to help pull the water up. Some rapid reconfiguration of the PVC piping and connections ensued. Here's a picture of the mess that resulted:

Electrical wiring Engineering Gas Audio equipment Machine


This was a rush job and will need to be redone properly, as the feed pipe has a dip in it rather than a constant incline, and in my haste I connected things with the pump on its side. But, When I turned the system on:

Fluid Wood Gas Hardwood Metal


It only took a relatively short time to fill the tank as much as possible from the 2 storage tanks (gray one on left is 32 gallons, black one is 45 gallons). I also topped off with some city tap water. In a separate post I will detail my plumbing nightmares, but the initial tank fill has a total dissolved solids reading around 85-90, compared to 515 for city tap.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
After letting the filter run for a few hours, and finding no leaks, I added my gravel. I used 20 lb caribsea eco complete planted tank (black basaltic gravel), two bags of Flourite Black, and 3 bags of Flourite Black Sand. Washing... well, it was a big job a week or two ago. I have a thread where I sought advice, but I wound up having to do the washing inside due to weather. Anyway, it was predictably very cloudy, gradually settling with each passing day.

Furniture Countertop Table Shelf Wood


In place, the flourite black sand looks gray. Not sure I like that. After planting the sand won't be a smooth layer on top of the other stuff; it will all be mixed, and hopefully look better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Today I put some ammonia (clear white ammonia) into the tank to kick off a fishless (and so far plantless) cycle. I didn't measure carefully, just a good solid glug. The stuff is a year or two old, and it's a pretty big tank. An hour later I measured ammonia with the Salifert test and there was maybe 1 mg/l (equiv to 1 ppm). I put some more in, bringing it to the top of the range, around 2.5. I'll monitor daily and keep the ammonia up. I've got test strips that can detect nitrite and nitrate that I'll try in a few days. I've got an API master test kit coming I think Monday that should be better than the strips.

I also put a couple pieces of the spiderwood I bought (see this thread) into the tank. Mostly just to give the empty tank a little flair while I wait for things to get going in there, and partially to make room in my soaking bucket for a new piece of of Mopani wood that I fell in love with at the pet store. I went in there to get some air tubing (aerating my water storage tank) and filter fiber and saw a great piece that would be perfect for my look. Here it is:

Wood Automotive tire Trunk Tree Art

It's pretty big, and has some dark gravitas to it.

Meanwhile, here's today's tank picture. I've put a powerhead with a sponge filter in there, too:

Cabinetry Light Wood Rectangle Orange


The wood I put in there might have had some cycling bacteria on it; it's been soaking for two weeks with occasional water changes; after some days it gets tannin brown, bubbly. Really percolating!

The mopani wood was very dark and dense, and went right to the bottom of the soaking bucket.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
So, yesterday was a busy work day because I needed to get a lot of stuff done before my boss gets back from vacation on Monday ;)

Nonetheless I got some stuff done for the tank, at lunch and after I finished my work (I work from home).

First, see this thread about white slimeballs on some of my spiderwood. The consensus is that it's just mold/fungus but it seems very "egg sac" like to me. Time will tell. I scraped some off two pieces, and we will see if it returns or shows up on other pieces.

Next, the heater for my larger water storage tank arrived. An Eheim Jager 125W submersible heater. I meant to order a 100W; accidentally got a somewhat larger one. Oops. The 50W heater I had in it couldn't keep up with the heat loss for the 45 gallon trash bin storage tank. Let's see how the 125W does. I may eventually put some 1 cm foam on the storage tank outsides to reduce heat loss and lower heater power consumption, but the area it's in is usually about 17-19C (65F or a bit under). Gets warmer during the hottest part of the summer but only a little bit. Since my tank is targetted at 77-78F I want the stored water warm. I've got an airstone running to keep the water circulating to prevent the warm water stratifying at the top. My smaller 32 gallon tank has a 50 W heater also, but I haven't gotten a T for the air tubing yet and the water is hugely stratified there. [edit, just checked the 45 gal storage, and it's at 76F, I think stabilized there with the heater cycled off, much better than the 71 or so the 50W heater could do fully on all the time]

After work, I went into my crawl space and redid some of the booster pump plumbing. As you will recall, last week I did a hurried splicing of the booster pump into the water feed line since my main pump wasn't strong enough. But it was a mess and resulted in a dip in the line where water would stagnate. Here's a picture of after I cleaned it up:

Electricity Electrical wiring Gas Machine Engineering


Yes, the booster pump is at an angle held up by tubing :unsure: In part it's because that exact position of the outflow pipe is where it needs to be, and in part because the short pipe that connects to the flexible tubing was put on by me at the wrong angle and by rotating the pump a bit, I fixed it ;). Eventually I will make a wood block wedge to make that positioning more robust. Also note on the left side, the drain line, you can see a black handled valve that goes to nothing. Actually that's my siphon-start mouthpiece. I close the blue valve below, and with the black valve open, suck in on the open part to start pulling water out of the tank into the drain tubing. Then I open the blue valve (goes to the sump pit) and close the black valve; the waste water goes into the sump.

I also started cleaning up the mess of PVC and copper fittings from these plumbing projects, in preparation for returning of extras to the home improvement store, and started sorting through the mess of old aquarium junk I've had to unpack to get things going. It's time for a culling of old aquarium junk, but I will start a different thread on that.

As of yesterday the tank still had the ~2ppm ammonia from a couple days ago. I would have thought that it would outgas on its own and go down quickly, not even counting nitrosomonas and nitrobacter actions. I will test again tomorrow and see where we are. I would expect the first move to nitrite in a few days, particularly since my wood probably brought some wee beasties along with it and seeps a bit of organic matter into the water to goose things along.

Today I've got a bunch of errands to run (including returning stuff to Walmart, and possibly Lowes and Home Depot), but I also plan to go the the nearby stream park and "shop" for natural stones.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
So, I went to the stream. Didn't actually find much that matched both the look and size characteristics I was looking for, and I quickly realized a) I wasn't dressed properly to wade into water to fetch rock, and b) rocks are heavy and the bag I brought could only hold a little, plus I'm weak (there's an arm injury I need to not aggravate). I did get a few pieces, but not sure if they will make it into my tank due to weight concerns. Damn this stuff is heavy.

So I went to Lowes, to pick up a few slate tiles. My idea was to break the pieces into shapes I can use to slope my scape, holding back the substrate. HAH! Lowes doesn't carry any slate tiles anymore. Slate-looking ceramic tiles, sure, but not actual rock. I'll have to go to The Tile Shop for some (and probably have to buy a whole box, unless I can buy a couple samples). I did find at Lowes some flagstone, and bought one (extremely heavy) piece:

Triangle Bedrock Artifact Wood Rectangle


While at the stream I did find one piece of weathered wood I kinda liked, but not sure if I can safely put it in my tank after cleaning:

Wood Gas Twig Cable Electrical wiring


Then I was too tired to do anything else. :sleep:
 
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