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About Me

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  1. Don't try this at home. Don't alert the fish police. Whatever you do, don't feed them after midnight. Look, I've been keeping fish for over 30 years. I like a challenge every now and then, and I need something to help with the occasional boredom. So watch me crash and burn attempt to run a large school of nano fish in a 5 gallon tank, hoping to get them all moving in a single direction around a center island. Why is it a challenge? It's going to be especially difficult because I intend to introduce enough nano fish (probably ember tetras, also considering chili rasboras) to get them to school in a continuous direction. That will likely require dozens, if not more. It breaks all the rules for nano tanks, and guarantees I will be a slave to this thing on a bi-daily basis as long as it is place. Other than that, should be a snap! 😉 That's the plan, anyway. So let's talk about the setup. (All links are non-affiliate.) TANK I started with a Fluval Chi 5 gallon tank, simply because I've never played with it before. This tank presented several challenges that I didn't see coming, and I had to adapt to them pretty quickly. But I chose it because Fluval glass always seems to be clearer than most, and the sharp edges also reduce distortion. That's also is why I didn't opt for a cylindrical tank or one with curved corners, such as the Marineland Portrait. I was also limited by my bedroom nightstand space, otherwise I might have been tempted to use the Aqueon 15 Column instead. FILTER The first order of business was to hot-rod the filter and remove any dependency on consumable materials. This filter lives in a box that creates the illusion of floating in the water. It is combined with a fairly weak light, all in one unit. The filter works by sucking water up through the bottom, next to the light, and then pumps it out the top, where the stream of water hits a plastic dome and waterfalls down the front. Cute. I replaced the filter's flimsy piece of foam and disposable cartridge with a couple pieces of medium-coarse and fine foam that I had left over from my overly-complicated box filter project. I had to cut them to shape, but these should be a permanent replacement. They were also a tight fit, but the foam squeezed in there well enough. Water flow did not seem to be disrupted, but I will need to keep an eye on things. BACKGROUND Next up, I painted the back with a few coats of black acrylic paint. I do this with almost all of my tanks. INITIAL SETUP Time for a quick setup to see how it all works. I used sand and water from a fully seasoned tank; hopefully this seeded enough bacteria where I won't need to worry too much about cycling. I also dropped in a few platies from my livebearer Skittles tank. I'll also squeeze in some mulm from a tank cleaning this weekend. Notice how the light is low and weak? Since it's powered by the same cord as the filter, I can't put it on a timer. Must do something about that. FILTER LID The dome lid and water stream at the top of this tank are a little obnoxious. There's an LED light in there that is turned on 100% of the time and cannot be turned off. I didn't realize this at first, but that feature is totally unacceptable for a bedroom tank. I solved this by removing the dome and applying a trick that many other Fluval Chi owners have done: covering it all with river rocks: TANK LID This kit needs a serious light upgrade. Knowing that I will be adding lights to the lid, I spray painted it with a couple layers of black primer, followed by several coats of Plasti-Dip. This is my go-to coating for all things freshwater: it's inert when cured, causes water to bead up for easy cleaning, and the rubbery texture hides imperfections. LIGHTS I was looking for something bright, simple, yet waterproof. After much hunting and searching, I stumbled across the replacement hood for the Aqueon 15 Column tank. At $42, it was more than I wanted to pay, but it ticked all the boxes with NO LABOR. The lights popped right out of the hood's housing, and as it turns out, they ALREADY HAD DOUBLE-SIDED TAPE INSTALLED ON THEIR BACKS!! I stuck them to the underside of the lid, and it was ready to go! What I had expected to be the hardest part of this project became the easiest! Such simplicity was worth the extra $20. HEATER I picked up a generic 25 watt pre-set heater on Amazon for ten bucks. No fuss, no muss. SETUP COMPLETE After installing everything, I threw in a few spare Anubias for temporary cover for the fish, and stepped back to take a look. The light is bright, but looks great! And now I can use a timer. So that's it for now. The next update will be about making that center island for the fish to swim around. I'm thinking about gluing some Anubias nana petite to a fake tree trunk, bonsai style. I hope that will be full-bodied enough for the fish to want to circle. Plants are arriving from the Coop tomorrow! Thanks for reading! Bill
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