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Hi, I'm Jawjagrrl, and I have MTS. A little background to kick off this journal. Fish and cats were part of my parents household before I was. Dad had a rack of the old chrome tanks in their LR in the early 60s - I was born into the hobby. I still have his much stained copy of Axelrod's fishes. I ogled fish tanks in public any place we saw them, like the local fish restaurant that had tanks of wild oscars in the early 70s. Fast Forward to the 90s - I got my first tanks, two 55s stocked with african cichilds (even sold babies to the LFS!) and my beloved oscars, sevrum, and silver dollars. I had a NERM pal at work that agreed to build me a custom stand so the two 55s could be displayed together and he did a great job. But the home I bought soon after was too small for this setup and it went into storage.... ...for a long time. I left academia and moved south, got married. Jawjagrrl is what my northern friends said when teasing me about my choice to head down near the end of the Appalachian Trail (NE Georgia) in 2010. Life happened. So now it's 2022, I live on a farm started by my late in-laws in the 80s. I have chickens, a small market garden (organic), preserve food I grow, make soap... basically all the things that I made fun of as an academic before. I embraced dogs and have 4 rescues. Having reached my Patient Spouse's likely limit on rescued cats, dogs and chickens 😉 the idea of starting up fish again took hold. I had a nano tank on my desk at a marketing job in 2015, and one of the cardinal tetras in it lived to be 4 years old. Also my first attempt at a plant, which lasted 3 of those years. Last summer I started getting sucked in by nano tanks and aquascaping, which wasn't really that much of a thing in the 90s, plus my fish ate plants and preferred rocks. I started binging channels on YT like GreenAqua, MJ Aquascaping, MD fish tanks, Prime Time Aquatics and of COURSE Aquarium COOP. There are now two 5gal portrait setups, my old office 2.5gal, a cheapie 3gal QT and my secret scape from scraps entry in progress. These are taken before weekly maintenance, but I promised myself I'd post this before anything else got done today! But while small fish, shrimp, etc., was scratching the itch, I still dreamt of those 55s in the basement. But I didn't want to surpass my Patient Spouse Limit and dreamed and planned. The Endor tank above was setup for him after considering a lot of ideas, and despite the AT-AT deco not exactly being natural, it's a household favorite setup. All the wood and mosses are from the farm and it's happily housing endlers, kuhlis, shrimp and a mellow texan crayfish named Gomez (A Morticia could be a future project). So here is the stand, currently in the back basement (awesome potential for a fish room should MTS continue). My friend did a good job on a basic form that did work well for the short time I had it set up. It was intended to be trimmed out by me once I had a home that warranted it and could be designed to compliment. This setup will be in the front room of a house designed as a 1690s Massachusetts salt box house (in Georgia, yes). All the finish carpentry is heart pine reclaimed from an old mill in south Georgia, which we can match with materials left over. I'll definitely be seeking input from all of you about dos/dont's, but it needs to look nice as these are definitely display tanks in the room where we spend the most down time. The tanks will be behind the sofa and extend a bit beyond either end. 8 feet of tank on a 13' wall should make for an impressive display. My vision for these tanks is to create a generally South American setup, but not strictly biotope or 100% SA species. We love the idea of congo tetras as the tetras for the bigger fish we want to keep (husband wants angels, I want geophagus tapajos). The hardscape focal point will be a foraged stump from the property that is split in half (technically quadrants so they have a flat surface to snug against the back glass) and placed against the inside ends of the two tanks, creating the illusion of one long 8ft space. Below is a quick mashup of images to give you an idea of what we're aiming for. We have a woodshop, lots of wood, rock, streams and woodland plants and mosses to use, so what could go wrong...? 😉 Every journey begins with a modest first step, so mine is showing you the tanks until recently, living in the mudroom and looking forlorn (and dog-haired): I see sad betta cups from the 2010s... and plastic plants! 😮 They held water as recently as 2009. Will the seals still be good? We shall see..... If you're still with me, great! Moving forward, I'll need input on lots of things that are still new to my aquaria experience on this scale in future updates, like: hardscape/substrate - aquasoil capped with river sand? something else? live plants are a must. plants - I've done ok with the basics you've seen in my nano setups, but this is much more ambitious. CO2 or no? more on that and our water parameters to come fish selection - Patient Spouse deserves input, and he wanted angels. I want geos. I see one tank housing the bigger fish with friends like congo tetras, cories, pleco and the other side for things too small for adult angelfish like neos, other tetras, etc. filtration - I've ruled out past options I did with the 55s before - no HOBs or undergravel. Sponges? Maybe, but these are display tanks. Canisters or sump? Never used either but willing to learn. Pros/cons of running one system for both tanks? background - build a 3d? nothing at all? black? frosted white? backlit? so many choices! lighting - The biggest changes in tech since the 90s for sure. I can certainly do better than the old tube fluorescents I had back then. I need new tops too. I doubt we'll hang lights as these will be right behind the sofa where I hang out and don't want to feel interrogated at night. My journal is a couple of steps behind where the project actually is. I have procrastinated starting this for some reason - perhaps posting it makes it and all the potential mistakes feel more real? But with support from the amazing knowledge base of the NERMs here, I know we can avoid a few of those.
My 75 gallon dream tank which I finally managed to put together last year after collecting and saving for a good long while. The fish are strictly South American, the plants, snails, and shrimp are a more fishkeeper friendly combo designed to recreate the spirit of the Amazon jungle rather than to be an "Amazon biotope". The Cardinals and Rummynose are wild caughts from my LFS and Project Piaba sourced. After seeing one of Aquarium Co Op Cory's tanks with crypts in the foreground I decided to forego the S. repens lawn and just place a few interlaced with crypts and my fish love it; although the Rummynose and Rams now love to hide and the only time I see everyone together is feeding time LOL. My wife calls it our "Mini Jungle Book". The shimmer from the surface movement under the Kessil lights lets the Cardinals shine like little jewels; an old man's 52 year long dream since I started keeping fish. Let me know what you think, or if you like it. Here are the specs: Livestock: -35 Cardinal Tetras (Paracheirodon axelrodi) -13 Rummynose Tetras (Hemigrammus bleheri) -8 Otocinclus -6 Bolivian Rams (Mikrogeophagus altispinosa) -15 Amano Shrimp (Caridina multidentata) -at least 50 Blue Velvet Shrimp as they have multiplied rapidly and some in genetic throwbacks are red, some Crystal shrimp now and some Black Riilis -several Zebra Nerite snails, some other Nerites, including Military Helmet snails, and the occasional bladder snail hitchhiker. Hardscape: Substrate: One thin layer of Mironekuton Deep Sea Mineral Powder, followed by ADA Tourmaline BC. ADA Clear Super, ADA Bacter 100 sprinkled over the Deep Sea minerals. Next a layer of small crushed lava rock, a thin layer of pebbles mixed with Fluval Shrimp Substrate, and finally a thick layer of Soft Belly Amazon Soil. Mopani, Pacific driftwood, & Spiderwood (well pre-soaked for about three months with frequent water changes), diverse rocks among them Brazilian Carnelian, Flint, Agate, and Obsidian, a few pieces of lava rock on which I mounted Anubias Plants: -Echinodorus Red Flame -Echinodorus Rubin -Echinodorus Ozelot Green -Pogostemon erectus (Gone, as of July 2020 because my now huge Amano shrimp developed a distinct hankering for the fine leaves of this Pogostemon, expensive salad for shrimp) -Ludwigia repens -Lobelia cardinalis -Java Fern (Microsorum pteropus) -Anubias afzelli -Anubias nana -Anubias nana petite -Cryptocoryne wendtii Green Gecko -Cryptocoryne willisii -Cryptocoryne parva -Bucephalandra wavy green -Bucephalandra biblis blue -Bucephalandra Kedagang -Staurogyne repens -Christmas moss (Vesicularia montagnei) Equipment: Stand: (manufactured locally to my design) White oak treated like a boat with polyurethane finish in mission style with slate inserts in doors( gotta keep my wife happy), doors can be opened to 170 degrees, or removed completely with two clicks each, built in metal square tubing frame rests on 8 adjustable feet which can hold 2,500 lbs. each (the living room floor turned out to be uneven) the back of the stand is open to reach the power strip I mounted on the wall for better access and to allow for drip loops, the CO2 cylinders (1 active, 1 spare) rest in a box which keeps them from falling over, the bottom wood plates can be removed to adjust the feet Lights: -2EA Kessil A360X Tuna Sun on Goosenecks with Spectral X Controller -small lunar light (blue) on night timer for 6 hours Filtration: -Fluval 407 Canister Filter, loaded with fine and coarse sponge mechanical filtration, and Sera Siporax sintered glass biological filtration, as well as a polishing pad, also equipped with an Eheim Pre-filter with two sponges -Eheim Skim 350 Surface Skimmer Oxygen: -Tetra 100 Whisper Air pump with air wand on timer for night oxygen Heater: -Eheim Ebo/Jaeger fully submersible 300 Watt Heater CO2 System: Operating one hour before photo period and shutting off one hour before end of photo period -GreenLeaf Aquarium Dual Stage CO2 Regulator w/solenoid & bubble counter -CO2 line -Dennerle CO2 Check Valve -Aquario Neo CO2 Diffuser L from Aquarium Co-Op -Glass CO2 Drop Checker