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Aquatilium Plantarum
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I bought this tank from a salvage company in Oregon. I thought of having the guys on American Restoration restore it for me and was approved to go on the show with this but there was just one problem, the price of the restoration. I thought $4500 was rather high for this project and the fact that the show doesn't pay for travel expenses or accommodations made it even more expensive. I guess it came down to how much I was willing to pay to be on national TV for 5 minutes or so. Anyway, I think I can restore this for a fraction of that price. I knew when I saw these photos from the salvage company that something was wrong with the plumbing configuration. It took some torch work to free a stuck screw in the top frame and a plug from the tank bottom to set it right. What's really odd and possibly unique about this tank and stand are the two lights that shine up through the bottom. I thought they might have been used to heat the tank but usually a dome of glass or metal rose from the bottom of the tank up into the water to allow for better heat transfer so I'm stumped as to the purpose of these lights. There are two candelabra base sockets each in a metal cylinder under the stand. The entire aquarium and stand are made from brass or bronze with solid nickel accents. The company who made this, J.G. Jacobs, is on the inside of the little stand drawer. The center fountain is unusual too. Here's the photos I got from the salvage company:











 

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Aquatilium Plantarum
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Wooooooow! That is awesome!!!!!! I would love to find something like that!
Thanks, here's the photos with the plumbing in the correct positions. The fountain in the center and overflow in the corner.









 

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Man that is really neat! Would have been cool to have in on that show. I love that show! But talk about expensive! :icon_eek:

The lights on the bottom are very interesting. I love the fountain! This is going to be su-eet!
 

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Aquatilium Plantarum
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
wow that is pretty cool....going to be a fun process getting that back into working order!
Well, other than adding a pump and possibly resealing the tank it could actually be used now. Only problem is that the tank is made from brass or bronze and the plumbing is nickel and copper all of which are toxic to fish, although I'm not sure about nickel. I can seal the inside metal surfaces of the tank with epoxy and the outside of the pipes. I can also seal the nickel tops. I thought about running vinyl hose inside the pipes but the fountain arms are such a small diameter I'm not sure I'll be able to do this. Even if I can I'm not sure how to seal them to the larger hose that would be in the riser of the fountain. I suppose I could coat the inside of these with epoxy as well but I'm afraid the small diameter of the arms would cause the epoxy to seal them off completely. Any suggestions would be welcome.
 

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Well, other than adding a pump and possibly resealing the tank it could actually be used now. Only problem is that the tank is made from brass or bronze and the plumbing is nickel and copper all of which are toxic to fish, although I'm not sure about nickel.
Don't clean the piping. The oxides have sealed the metal.
If you do want it shiny, have a musical instrument (horn) company do the polishing and seal with a synthetic varnish.

All the faucets in your home are made out of brass. Many of us have lead soldered copper water pipes. The water coming into my home has more copper in it than I'd get from the piping. A lot of older homes in cities have lead lines from the street to the meter. Even that didn't cause a lot of "old time" fish breeders from having issues, decades ago. Metal oxides aren't just rust.

It's also possible to have the inside of the pipes plated, but that would cost a bunch.
 

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Aquatilium Plantarum
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Don't clean the piping. The oxides have sealed the metal.
If you do want it shiny, have a musical instrument (horn) company do the polishing and seal with a synthetic varnish.

All the faucets in your home are made out of brass. Many of us have lead soldered copper water pipes. The water coming into my home has more copper in it than I'd get from the piping. A lot of older homes in cities have lead lines from the street to the meter. Even that didn't cause a lot of "old time" fish breeders from having issues, decades ago. Metal oxides aren't just rust.

It's also possible to have the inside of the pipes plated, but that would cost a bunch.
I did not know this. How come we are always told to use something like Novaqua to remove copper and other heavy metals from tap water? I do want the tank shiny but I could have just the outside done if the copper and nickel oxidized surfaces are truly aquatic flora and fauna safe. Wouldn't water turn the copper pipes green?
 

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I did not know this. How come we are always told to use something like Novaqua to remove copper and other heavy metals from tap water?
Probably to sell Novaqua. Shrimp are known to be more sensitive than most freshwater fish. Saltwater fish are supposed to be more sensitive, too. I'll bow to other people expertise on specific species metal sensitivities.

I do want the tank shiny but I could have just the outside done if the copper and nickel oxidized surfaces are truly aquatic flora and fauna safe. Wouldn't water turn the copper pipes green?
A lot of things will turn polished copper, brass, and bronze colors. The patina seals the surface. Synthetic varnish will protect the shiny finish and shouldn't wear too much. Polished brass door hardware is sealed after polishing. It wears thin after years of use but you probably aren't going to be man handling the plumbing or corners of the tank often.

Since you can't see it, let any algae stay in the corners or use a soft sponge to clean those areas.
 

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Yet another cool tank!!!!!

-Sent from my Samsung Note, a "Phablet"
 

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This might sound "out-there" but compared to $4500 for the TV star to clean up the tank I think this might map a little more sense.

You could remove the glass, return and overflow. Then install/build a new glass tank inside the frame, which would eliminate contact with all of the Metal. The bottom glass could be drilled for return/out flow access. You could use clear acrylic tubes attached to bulkhead fittings for your return/outflow plumbing.

A canister underneath could be house in an antique box or chest.

The substrate lights could still be used as they would be able to shine through the glass base. Maybe use LEDs in those fixtures.

Above hand a PAR38LED, the bulbs kinda steam punk to begin with.

Only down side is you loose the cool fountain outflow & return.
 

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I have never seen anything like this aquarium! What a find! Before I did anything I would ask myself how to determine what it's value is as a historical piece, and how much I would have to deviate from it's current condition to use it without losing that value as an antique. I'm sure you already know that but my oh my, what a unique find!

Is is crass and crude to ask you how dear it came? If so, just tell me to shut up.

Wow...just...wow!
 

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Aquatilium Plantarum
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
This might sound "out-there" but compared to $4500 for the TV star to clean up the tank I think this might map a little more sense.

You could remove the glass, return and overflow. Then install/build a new glass tank inside the frame, which would eliminate contact with all of the Metal. The bottom glass could be drilled for return/out flow access. You could use clear acrylic tubes attached to bulkhead fittings for your return/outflow plumbing.

A canister underneath could be house in an antique box or chest.

The substrate lights could still be used as they would be able to shine through the glass base. Maybe use LEDs in those fixtures.

Above hand a PAR38LED, the bulbs kinda steam punk to begin with.

Only down side is you loose the cool fountain outflow & return.
I plan on using a canister but I think I can just epoxy the bottom and corners to make it work. I epoxied the bottom of my Victorian tank and it seems to have worked fine. Replacing the glass won't solve the problem of the brass corners as the glass fits into grooves on the sides of each corner with the brass corners remaining exposed to the water. I think the tank would loose too much of its character by replacing the fountain and return. I can also coat the outsides of the pipes with epoxy and use vinyl tubing on the inside. Only problem with this is the arms of the fountain having such a small I.D. I examined the inside of the fountain head closely and see that it is actually one copper tube going through a hole in the nickel finial. There's a small hole in the copper tube in the inside center of the finial. The tube appears to be soldered into the finial and the thought crossed my mind of torching the finial to melt the solder and remove the copper tube. Then possibly a stainless steel tube could be used to replace it but then I'm losing the originality of the fountain. When this was new there would have been a contrast between the shiny nickel finial and shiny copper arms. The fountain arms are the only part of this restoration that I haven't been able to figure out yet.
 

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Aquatilium Plantarum
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I have never seen anything like this aquarium! What a find! Before I did anything I would ask myself how to determine what it's value is as a historical piece, and how much I would have to deviate from it's current condition to use it without losing that value as an antique. I'm sure you already know that but my oh my, what a unique find!

Is is crass and crude to ask you how dear it came? If so, just tell me to shut up.

Wow...just...wow!
Thank you. I don't think patina is going to be an issue here as this is most likely the only one of these tanks that has survived the last century or so since it was made. I'm either going to have a professional polish the metal on the tank, stand top, and stand nickel accents or do it myself. Then I'll coat the outside with whatever is used to prevent them from tarnishing again and epoxy all the metal on the inside to seal it from contact with the water. I'll remove all the original sealant that I can and reseal with black silicone. I will either rewire the original light sockets and switch or replace them. I'll probably use LED's so as not to build up too much heat. It will still look like it did when new so I don't see the value dropping but increasing once it's restored. I got it for a good price but it wasn't a steal. It was about half the price of what I paid for my Victorian tank.
 
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