Extreme Makeover: Tank Edition

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Extreme Makeover: Tank Edition

Post by cancichfan on Tue Mar 16, 2010 6:53 pm

Given all the recent discussion about worms and nematodes and various other subterranean fauna that seem to be in people's tanks, I decided yesterday to give my 90 an overhaul. I've had this up and running for close to a year now and although I change the water pretty regularly, I was always bothered by the amount of sediment and food that disappeared into the gravel. I have had problems in the past so I finally decided that I would switch it over to sand and do some tankscaping. It was the perfect time because the wife and kids are off to the in-laws so I wouldn't have any "help" and I could make a mess without comments. Don't get me wrong, I love the help from the kids. Not so much the comments.
Wish this forum wouldn't cut off the right side of the photo. That's the best part. Seriously, you should see it - it's stunning!

So here's what I started with. Beautiful natural pink and peach coloured gravel just like you'd find in any of the Rift Lakes (note: There will be more sarcasm as this post goes on...better get used to it now). The driftwood was a gift that I've always had in the tank. Driftwood - the gift that keeps on giving.



I decided to take out the rocks and half the gravel. I didn't have anything to put the rocks in so I put them in a 1/2 empty clothes basket which worked great because the clothes absorbed the water and they've gotta be washed anyway. This is where the comments from the spouse usually begin but seriously, is my logic not sound?



I left the tank for a while for the filters to do their work. I have about 900 gal/hour filtration on this so it didn't take long to clear up. Then, I took out the gravel on the other side. I left the tank to clear up while I went to the neighbours for supper. Given the wife and kids were away, they were kind enough to invite me for "bangers and mash" (English thing - sausages and potatoes. Good for soaking up beer).

When I got home I put in a few rocks and added the sand. No, I didn't add milk. I thought I'd rinsed the playsand well enough. I rinsed the heck out of it but obviously I didn't do as good a job as I thought. I added the sand, a cup at a time, so that I wouldn't cloud up the water too much. That sure didn't work. The fish didn't seem to mind though, they seemed really excited about the sand and picked up mouthfuls and dropped it and scraped themselves along the bottom and acted quite giddy about the new substrate. They even started swimming around each other and displaying. It was like they had just been waiting for me to get this done.



I woke up at 3:30 and thought I could hear the filters struggling and went down to the tank but I must have been dreaming because everything was fine. The mbuna were all hidden in the new rocks and the haps were all lying on the bottom, sort of asleep I guess. Glad they could sleep. This wasn't at 3:30 but this is what it looked like except it had the reflection of a fat sleepy guy in his underpants in it. Not sure I'll post that one.



After work today I went out and gathered more rock. This is all from the field behind my house and there is no shortage so I tried to get limestone that was approximately the same colour. The dark ones were in the tank before and have algae on them. I put them in place and shook the tank a bit and wiggled the rocks because the last thing I want is a landslide into the front glass. That will end my fish keeping and bring on a flurry of comments like never before (truth is my wife is wonderful and puts up with all my moronic crap without much complaint). The one thing I am worried about is the stand. I added a lot of rock which is obviously heavier than water and I hope the stand can take it. We had a flood in the basement once and the stand got a little wet so I have some concerns. Sort of like an Illinois Governer...just don't know if the integrity is there.

Anyway, here is the final version. I kept a couple of the plants because I hadn't killed these ones yet. Let me know what you think and what you would do to make it better. I live for the approval of strangers.



I am keeping an eye on the ammonia levels because I will probably see a spike after removing so much substrate but I have two good filter running and they really sucked up a lot of crap so I think they are loaded with bacteria. The pH has risen to 9.1 from 8.3 that normally comes out of the tap. I'm not worried yet. The fish seem happy which is probably what matters most.

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Re: Extreme Makeover: Tank Edition

Post by bulldogg7 on Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:02 pm

looks great, I like the sand better

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Re: Extreme Makeover: Tank Edition

Post by Aura on Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:19 pm

From what I can see through the dust, I think the sand is a huge improvement. I like the rocks as well. The only thing I would do is add a dark colored background. (Enjoyed the sarcasm.) Very Happy
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Re: Extreme Makeover: Tank Edition

Post by cancichfan on Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:23 pm

Aura wrote: The only thing I would do is add a dark colored background.
My black spray paint plugs up under water. I agree though. I'd like to do a foam one but what do I do with the fish for a week while I stick it in and get it cured etc? I may actually try a black cloth across the back on the exterior. It doesn't look as white without the camera flash.

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Re: Extreme Makeover: Tank Edition

Post by theswede on Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:52 pm

Very nice Graham! The good thing about sand is that the wast stays on the top of the sand and are easy extracted. If you don´t want to paint your back glass there are other ways. Buy a black or blue tank poster at the lfs or buy black film ( don´t know what it´s called in english) that they put on car windows to make them really dark. Anyway, the tank looks great and I like the rock work.
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Re: Extreme Makeover: Tank Edition

Post by Rift_Lakes_Rule on Wed Mar 17, 2010 5:17 am

Wow Graham, it looks really awesome!!! The only thing I was going to suggest was a black background but Betty beat me to it. Other than that I wouldn't change a thing.

Really great post, not only did it give me a few laughs but it also educated me... Rock's in the laundry basket... BRILLIANT!!!

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Re: Extreme Makeover: Tank Edition

Post by buntbarsch on Wed Mar 17, 2010 10:13 am

Great post Graham

The "makeover" was certainly a success. I do agree though with the black background. I use black foam core. It's about 5mm thick, quite stable and water does not affect it.

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Re: Extreme Makeover: Tank Edition

Post by cancichfan on Wed Mar 17, 2010 10:49 am

So for the black do you do the exterior or the interior of the tank. I'm not keen on moving all the rocks to get to the interior now that I've gotten them all stacked up fairly firmly. But, if I can put something on the exterior than I will give it a go. I don't usually bother to clean the algae off the back, I have always just left it for the fish to graze. Free-range pasture for them. Plus my arms are too short to reach it.
Let me know if you put your black on the inside or outside and I'll see what I can do. Like I said, I agree, just don't know how to do it without taking the water out etc.
Thanks for the feedback.

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Re: Extreme Makeover: Tank Edition

Post by Aura on Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:05 am

All of my backgrounds are on the outside. I use an assortment of materials -- paint on the smaller tanks, foam board on some, fabric, and on my bigger tanks I spray painted large sheets of styrofoam. My HOB filter holds the styrofoam in place. I think the paint looks the best, but it's more permanent than the other choices.
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Re: Extreme Makeover: Tank Edition

Post by buntbarsch on Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:43 am

I don't like anything on the inside either. The foam board is cut to size and just set behind the tank. Like Betty said, the filter keeps it in place. I am not so keen on painting. I like to have the chance to turn the tank around if the existing front gets scratched.
I also never clean the back nor the sides. I only clean the front glass.

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Re: Extreme Makeover: Tank Edition

Post by iceblue on Wed Mar 17, 2010 12:47 pm

Looks a hundred % better Graham. A background will put it over the top.

I painted the back of my aquarium with interier black latex paint when I did my change over from pebbles to sand. It made a huge improvement to the overall look. Everything popped including the fish against the dark background.

Before.



After.

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Re: Extreme Makeover: Tank Edition

Post by Chrisg12887 on Wed Mar 17, 2010 1:50 pm

Looks awesome!!!!!!!
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Re: Extreme Makeover: Tank Edition

Post by cichlidman on Wed Mar 17, 2010 5:10 pm

Nice Job..

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Re: Extreme Makeover: Tank Edition

Post by cancichfan on Wed Mar 17, 2010 8:20 pm

The sand must be a hit. I've got one RT Zebra now holding eggs, another one ready to drop some eggs and another that appears to be interested in a little action. That makes two yellow labs, an O. lithobates, an RT zebra and soon another.
I am going to save huge on food this month.

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Re: Extreme Makeover: Tank Edition

Post by theswede on Wed Mar 17, 2010 9:28 pm

Congrats! Always fun to get some action in the tank.
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Re: Extreme Makeover: Tank Edition

Post by cancichfan on Wed Mar 17, 2010 9:58 pm

Well, here you go. I put a black background on as suggested. I had some cor-plast signage from work that I painted black and stuck on with some gobs of silicone so I could get it off again in the future.

Luckily my wife was home to help me. First thing she said "Now you can see all the crap on the glass". Remember what I said about comments?

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Re: Extreme Makeover: Tank Edition

Post by Aura on Wed Mar 17, 2010 10:05 pm

But it hides the crap behind the glass! Looks nice. Smile
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Re: Extreme Makeover: Tank Edition

Post by theswede on Wed Mar 17, 2010 10:14 pm

Looks much better! Tell your wife that it gets easier for her to see when to clean it.
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Re: Extreme Makeover: Tank Edition

Post by Micheal on Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:57 pm

Great job the tank looks so much better. Makes me remember when I changed from some Malawi natural colored red and green rocks to sand lol.
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Re: Extreme Makeover: Tank Edition

Post by Rift_Lakes_Rule on Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:21 am

Great job Graham Wink Really nice tank!!!

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Re: Extreme Makeover: Tank Edition

Post by skrick on Sun Jun 20, 2010 9:56 am

nIce tank like the rocks nice colors too on the fish
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Re: Extreme Makeover: Tank Edition

Post by nitroloser on Sun Jun 20, 2010 12:30 pm

lmao..at thw wifes comment,,just like home,the tank and fish look superb
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