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Buiding my Black Lagoon

PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:55 am
by WhoMe???
[align=center]OK, This is a work in progress... so I welcome the imput.
If there's anything I miss, or you thing needs correcting or expanding on, by all means....

Re: Buiding my Black Lagoon

PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:56 am
by WhoMe???
[align=center]The Black Lagoon
How I cheated the Nitrogen Cycle[/align]

Part 1… The planning phase.

I suppose like everyone else involved with our hobby, my dream has been to build the ultimate aquarium, the absolute culmination of everything the aquarium world has to offer wrapped up in one “super-tank”. Yeah, right. And like most other people in our hobby, I thought it’d never actually happen.

But then in April 2008, I injured my back at work. Did a good job at it, I might add. What I thought was a strain turned out to be a much more serious injury that put me in a brace for 3 months, and forced me to eventually leave my job. Worse yet, at the time I had 3 aquariums, a 46-gallon bowfront, a 12-gallon back-up hospital tank, and a 48-gallon column tank that required me to use a stepladder to maintain. Obviously their maintenance began to suffer.

So while I was laid up in the brace I began to plan out what to do. I was NOT about to just quit, not after all I had learned, and all the work I had put into my aquariums already. Plus give up my Discus??? I thought not!

So as the days and weeks went by I decided not to give up my tanks, but to combine them, take all the best elements of them and build my “Ultimate Tank”. One big aquarium that would not only be the most amazing thing aesthetically I’ve built, but also planned very carefully for ease of maintenance because of my back. Everything I’ve learned, every little trick I could think of, all of it had to be factored into this project.

First and foremost, everyone has his or her own opinions, likes and dislikes. So for everyone, the term “Ultimate Aquarium” will obviously be different. For someone with saltwater fish, this may be an aquarium version of the Great Barrier Reef. A Betta lover may aspire for a wild looking Southeast Asian swamp tank. As for myself… my heart is in the Amazon. To me, the most beautiful tank would be filled with gnarly, leafy vines and plants, weird twisted roots and a huge old tree stump. On the TFH Magazines online forum I am referred to as the “Black Lagoon” mentor for good reason.

So as soon as the brace was off, and I was mobile I began looking for what I needed. Obviously I had to start with the aquarium. For this I chose a 72-gallon bowfront with a beautiful cabinet and canopy. The first thing I did was to open it and reach inside. When I could touch the bottom without stretching I knew it was the right height tank. It was big enough to house my Discus, as they grew, yet not so huge as to be impossible to do water changes. And the canopy was more than big enough to house the plant lights.

A week later I found the tree stump. Excellent… now I could begin.

Re: Buiding my Black Lagoon

PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2009 7:01 am
by WhoMe???
Part 2… Building phase.

When I actually assembled this tank, there were a few things I had to consider, and a couple serious obstacles I had to think my way around. The biggest consideration was the Nitrogen cycle. The easiest way around this was to use as much old water and filter media as possible from the tanks I was tearing down. But I had 2 major problems.

First, I wanted to use the old driftwood from the other tanks as well as the plants along with new tree stump. But in order to do this, I would have to first pull all the plants and then totally trash the tank water pulling the driftwood. Also, that driftwood is old, and full of all sorts of bacteria colonies I don’t want to waste, so I couldn’t let it dry out.

Second, and more importantly, if I went this far ripping the old tanks apart, I would have no fall back tank. Once I started, there would be no turning back. I would have no choice but to put my Discus in the new tank once it was done, because the old tanks would be empty and dry. And with all my fish, a 12-gallon wasn’t big enough for more than a few hours. It HAD to be right.

So first off I made triple sure I had everything I needed before I started. I literally spent 3 days shopping for everything, double and triple checking that I hadn’t missed anything. You’ll see everything as this goes along, so I won’t waste the space printing the whole list here.

The day before I separated my existing tanks, so to speak. I put all the fish into the 46-gallon bowfront, then pulled all the plants and driftwood from the column tank, but left the plants in floating around. At this time both the 46-gallon bowfront and 48-gallon column tank were running Marineland Magnum 350 canisters. So to the now murky 48-gallon column tank I inserted a water polisher, and by next morning the water was sparkly clear again, and fine to use in the new tank.

Unfortunately, because I had to cut this piece of driftwood along with the new tree stump piece to get them to fit right, I wasn’t able to keep it as wet as I wanted. However, I did cover it with wet paper towels and keep it sealed in a bag over night, so it never completely dried out.

So the next morning I began early. One of the things I bought ahead was several brand new 5-gallon buckets with lids. Knowing the 46-gallon bowfront would get muddied pulling the driftwood, I siphoned off 3 buckets of clean, old water from this tank, and moved all the fish into the buckets. To these buckets I also rigged temporary airstones for the day.
I then pulled the plants from the bowfront, rinsed them in R/O water, and put them into the 48-gallon column tank. (Note: I should mention at this point I have an R/O filter here at home, and had over 40 gallons already filled on stand-by.) I pulled the driftwood from the 46-gallon bowfront substrate, topped the tank back off with R/O water, and like the 48-gallon column tank the day before, I inserted a water polisher and let it run all day while I turned my attention to the new tank. The piece of driftwood I rinsed off and from that point kept wet with a squirt bottle filled with R/O water.

Re: Buiding my Black Lagoon

PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2009 4:24 pm
by freshfish
Needs pictures. :D