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48x24x28" South American Cichlid Worklog


japes
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Hey guys,

here is my long overdue worklog of my new tank that was up and running on February 3. I did this up on another forum where there are a few less experienced fish keepers that are just starting out that me and a few guys try to help out, so there's probably a lot of general information in this thread that will seem dumbed down or what not.

Also keep in mind that I'm relatively new to the hobby also. If I talk about people or mention things that you're unfamiliar with remember this is copy/pasted. I'll seperate each post I did, and these photos, other than the latest which I will label, were taken over the course of about a fortnight.

Also note I am a student, so I've taken cheap options where I could.

It's finally here, my 48x24x28 (140Gal/530L) tank, courtesy of Aquariums R Us in Meadowbrook.

Plan is to develop a reasonably natural South American only (plants and inhabitants) community of slightly and non aggressive Cichlids and community fish. As you know I currently have a 160L 3' aquarium stocked with Souths only, which will be migrated to their lovely new home.

Planned stocking is as follows.

2x Heros efasciatus "Green Severum"

1x Aequidens pulcher "Blue Acara"

1x Hypselecara temporalis "Chocolate Cichlid"

3x Geophagus sp. "Rio Pindare" (Current Edit: Didn't happen)

2x Cleithracara maronii "Keyhole Cichlid"

5-6x Corydoras paleatus "Peppered Cory" (Not confirmed)

1x Ancistrus sp. "Bristlenose Pleco"

Plant species are as follows. Quantity unconfirmed.

Amazon Sword

Chain Sword (Broad)

Chain Sword (Narrow)

Lighting will be 4x54W T5 10K, with possibly replacement of 1-2 tubes with 15K.

I will be basing my general aquascaping on this layout. Thanks ADA 2007 Winner. :p

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All of my driftwood intertwined on the left side with a relatively similar rock hardscape formation with more nooks for the smaller Cichlids. Lots of open substrate area for the Geophagus to destroy. Will be using mixes of narrow and broad pygmy swords to cover up the rock formations around the back corner as the driftwood might look slightly out of place up there, with two 'bunches' of all of the plants combined in two areas in the front left and mid right sections to keep it green. Who knows though, might mix it up.

Photo time.

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Substrate. Left bucket is 15kg of relatively course river sand with random stones, wood chunks etc. Right bucket is fine riversand. Will be mixed with my 20kg of Filter Sand. Still needs to be reasonably cleaned.

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Main showpiece of driftwood I picked up from an LFS. Not sure on the measurements but as you can see it's pretty large in comparison to the workhorses. Has all neat little marks that you can't see on the actual wood and should look great under lights.

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The tank.

Detailed worklog coming tomorrow, stand construction begins at 9am.

To Do List:

Stand Construction

Painting Tank (Have some Penetrol and will be spraying the back of the tank Black)

Ordering Eheim Classic 2217, Lighting, Plants and purchasing fish

Moving tank, Aquascaping

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Stand building commenced early today. Progress has been great. The old man is a carpenter, so wood and experience weren't a problem. He took it upon himself to source everything and do what I can only describe as a fantastic job.

Still incomplete but we're getting there, should be done tomorrow.

Final measurements were based of a mates, Holo's 4x2 stand. 700mm high, with a 50mm lip to cover glass bracing, silicon and styrofoam.

Early progress from this morning.

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Start of production when I got down there. Stand is in it's side there. Using solid pine pergola for the legs.

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Little more completed. Center brace is in and the solid ply background is nailed on. As you can see we haven't used a traditional brace in the center, instead opting to have the brace centered with the vertical support off to the side to allow for a reasonably sized door. Plenty of heavy strong screws were used keep the structure solid.

At this stage I went out for a bit, dropping into an LFS and picking up this bit of driftwood.

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Rather large, definitely over 40cm in length. Here's the best bit.

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They were all that cheap. On arriving home, I was gone for about 2 and a half hours. Stand is definitely looking a lot more homely. All of these shots were taken at the same time.

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Cedar exterior almost complete.

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...

Edited by japes
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Single door on the left size with false floor. As you can see, we've cut some of the sections of the top and base out to allow for a higher door for 400mm high canisters.

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Open side to show bracing.

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Interior of door and flooring. Bad photo.

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Front. Needs to be stained yet, obviously. Will also have a towel rack on it, which will be ultra handy.

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Back. As boring as you would expect.

More updates coming either later today or some time tomorrow.

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Slight update for you all. First coat of stain/varnish on.

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Eheim 2217, 200g Seachem Purigen, 4x54W T5 Lighting ordered.

To Do List:

- Handle and towel rail are ready to be attached but will be done tomorrow, holes puttied and filled, and second coat applied.

- Spray back of tank Black

- Install, Aquascape, etc.

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Small update to end today. Decided regardless package deliveries that the tank will be installed on Saturday. At the latest, my filter and light will be arriving Monday, so I'm sure the little Eheim 2215 can deal with it for a couple of days.

Plant quantity will be finalised after aquascape and will be ordered on Monday. The same delivery will include the 3 Rio Pindare probably.

Photos for people with short attention spans ;)

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Towel rail and where it's going to go (the drill holes directly below the legs on the face). Going to be finished up on the day so that moving the stand is easier as it's going to have to go through the window as well. It's actually from a handle from a revolving door that some people get for their front doors on houses. Turns out it's worth about $120, score.

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Doorknob that I picked out this morning to match. First booboo as you can see with the drilled hole above it, that will just have a nice looking bolt installed into it to cover it up and make it look somewhat necessary rather than bogging it. Speaking about bog, I still need to clean up the holes around the top rim section with a blade and do another coat of the varnish. Tomorrow morning.

As for the painting of the back of my tank, I've got some Penetrol drying on one of my 3 foots lids to test that it doesn't ruin the integrity of glass at all, which I'm presuming it won't. Don't want to use it on the new tank straight up and have a panel on it ruined.

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Well my SunSun 4' 4x54W T5 fixture arrived this morning. Build quality is what you would expect for $130, it's fine but not great.

I'll get a photo up later, but at this stage I've managed to break a chunk of the perspex that's below the light while trying to remove it to check and unwrap the tubes. The perspex is about 1mm too wide for the slots it's meant to go in, and being packaged for a while means that it didn't want to come out without a fight.

Perspex 1, Me 0. I've got a solid slice right through my right hand middle finger thanks to the reflective sheeting behind the lights (exposed because I needed to take the ends off). Trying to rip it out without breaking the tubes was quite annoying and painful, I felt like my fingertips were close to breaking the skin I had to use that much pressure.

Anyway I got it out eventually, will need to shave it down with a plainer or something before putting it back in.

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What both myself and the couriers managed to do to the light. I broke the larger section off :p Won't really be a problem, you might get a little glimpse of it if I hang the light.

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Stand basically complete other than the towel rail. Handle and special 'showy' bolt to hide bad drill planning. It's been moved up onto the patio and isn't too far off being as heavy as the tank. Fortunately due to it being an absolute brick, we can just carry it into my room through the door vertically.

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Bought some backing today because the painting idea fell through. I had to get twice the length because of the height of my tank, and apparently at a relatively cheap store up here, its $4.95 a foot for Blue/Black thats 24" high.

So $45 for backing, sheesh. Also picked up a new Gravel-vac.

Photo update of my old tank, I've removed a lot of the random rocks I had in it for more open substrate, and took out half of the plants for my brothers 5' planted tank that he's growing up.

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Looking a bit bare, fish have one and a half more days in it until they get a huge roomy tank as juvies, should be very entertaining to watch.

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Was a pretty flat out day with a bit of a Wii break in between but other than that it was busy busy busy. Had everything I needed minus a trip to Bunnings for some black electrical tape and a 10m roll of flexible tubing for my canister because it didn't come with enough previously.

My Purigen/Filter package didn't arrive on Friday so the tank is set up with my Eheim 2215 which is a 650lph, so tank turnover is only just over once an hour, will do until Monday.

Photo log of this is pretty average because I didn't really use the Camera much in the dismantling phase, but here we go.

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Housing for my fish for the day, these 2 containers.

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Had the filter running all day to keep the bacteria and fish alive. Had a bit of driftwood in there with them for the Pleco and to give them a little bit of cover. I can't imagine it was too much fun for any of them but they didn't seem overly distraught.

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Stand in where it's currently sitting, with a mate of mine screwing in the towel rail while I supervise with the camera. We managed to get it in the door quite easily by laying it carefully onto a huge blanket and just dragging it in. I have two steps right below the doorway though, so it had to be carried most of the way.

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Stand complete, big ups to the old man. I'm very happy with it.

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Fortunately, the doorway method was really easy and we decided to do it with the tank as well. This saved putting it through the window which I was really nervous about. Tank in the room, phew!

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Half of the backing on before ironing out the bubbles. Got ripped off through the buM for this and it wasn't my first choice to use it, as I would have rather painted it for a more permanent covering.

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"Tank Technician" Holo ironing out the bubbles with a plasterboard something-or-other. He's the man with the experience, he got the job :p

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Background on and electrical taped around the edges and in the seam (Maximum height aquarium backing you can buy from an LFS is 24"). Few little iffy bits here and there but it was pretty quality overall.

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Tank slid into place. Unfortunately this was temporary as we forgot to plug in the power board before sliding it in, buggeR! 10 more minutes of almost craPPing my guts out pushing and pulling and it was all fixed up.

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Interesting bit starts. Here's my aquascaping in a few shots. We ended up using 52kg of sand, which is a fair bit but because I'm getting Geophagus it should hopefully prove a good choice. In my first post I detailed how I planned to setup the scape of the aquarium. Step 1 above.

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Closeup of my driftwood craPfight, I really like it but you can't see much in this shot. :)

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Some more rocks in place to fill up the back section of the tank.

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Tank filled up a bit, with aquascaping complete and the two broad leafed pygmy swords in. Pretty bad angle to show what it really looks like but that's coming up shortly.

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Slightly better from this angle but the water level still distorts it.

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Filter was installed and while tank filled up to about 2/3 the fish were transported back into the room, poor little guys in their container, it's worth it for them for the size increase in the long run though.

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Full tank shots of the almost finished product. Ordering my plants and Geophagus on Monday, and the Purigen and 2217 will arrive on Monday also which should clear up any tannins in the water, which their probably will be with the new driftwood additions even though they've been soaked for 1-2 weeks.

Overall I'm really happy with how things went. No fish deaths thankfully and they all seem quite settled into the new tank when the lights are out, though skittish when I flicked them on for the photographs. There's a few rock placements that I want to iron out that seem out of place, and there's a gap behind the bit of wood that I picked up for $11.50 in the center that lets them get who knows where in that formation, which I'd like to block, although as the fish settle in it will probably only be used for sleeping. They can get in and out of it fine though which I'm happy about.

Main rock formations that need a little touch up are the ones on the right hand side, just a slight rearrange to make it look more natural. As time progresses the somewhat out of place rocks on the back of the driftwood will also be removed as they're needed to sink one of the pieces.

Glass also needs a much better clean so that will be done and photographs taken tomorrow after I'm done cleaning up the rest of the mess I've made around the house.

:thumbup:

Heater position is temporary, and lights will be hung within the next few days. (Current Edit: Never happened :p)

Better full tank shot.

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Package arrived today, was worried it wasn't going to.

Eheim 2217 installed after about 60 minutes of incredibly annoying work getting the tubes through the slots we made for them and up to the top of the tank with no front or side access. Coathangers and cursing were heavily involved.

Purigen in there doing it's magic, luckily it's still clear anyway so it'll just stay that way.

Managed to sit on a lid, right after I got the filter installed and running. Yep. Luckily I've got some new perspex lying around that I can cut to shape and silicon the handle back onto.

Two photos today, flow rate and water disturbance is good.

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Back to present!

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Tanks a bit dirty and its a very warm photo but you get the idea.

Here's a few shots I'm quite happy with from about 5 days ago.

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So things changed here and there from my planned setup.

Stock list is much the same, 2 Severum, 1 Blue Acara, 1 Chocolate, 2 Keyholes, 1 Bristlenose, and as of yesterday and today, it's been finalised with the addition of 2 Heckelii and another 2 Bristlenose.

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Current plant list is 7 Broad Leafed Chain Swords and 2 Amazon Swords.

Thats about it, cheers if you read all the way through :p.

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Looks terific.

Well done.

Are you going to put a hood on it.

Also what do you think of the T5 lighting.

What colour tubes did you use?

Possibly adding a hood down the track as hanging the lights is out of the question due to the height of the tank as it is, need the lights as close to the substrate as possible.

The T5HO's are fine I guess, I don't really know a whole lot about lighting but they seem to do the job.

It's current got 4x 54W 10000K tubes in there at the moment, but I'm considering replacing 1 or 2 with 14K but I'm not really sure.

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