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37g Tech Tank

Dandy Pearl

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Hey folks,

I'm beginning my journey on setting up a tank that was gathering dust for years.

I spend a lot more time in my home office these days and want something low stress to keep me company. The tank is a 37 gal (30lx12wx27h) was sized for the opening (built in). So far I've got the tank, hood, Fluval 204 (yes it's been that long) and 6 bags of caribsea eco complete. 24 inch Fluval 3.0 is on its way. I'll post pics when the light comes in this week. I also have some asst decore.

I have the back and one side painted black. Still working out the CO2 setup due to the limited space 

I'm thinking of one angel as the centerpiece fish and dwarf rainbows for schooling apisto and Cory's for the bottom and a cool pleco.

Stay tuned for more.....

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How long can I keep bio complete open before filling the tank?

I want some time to play with the scape for a while (may be a few weeks) and I'm afraid whatever is in there will evaporate and dry out.

Has anyone dealt with this situation before?

Do I simply keep it wet?


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Update, Here is the list of CO2 gear I'm planning on using:

  • 10lb steel tank

Local Welding Supply Shop

Using a 10lb as it's not much bigger than a 5lb. I'll be purchasing the tank and get tank swaps for refills. I have a MIG welding setup so I'm used to swapping out cylinders with the shop.


  • Premium Aquatek dual stage regulator with integrated solenoid valve and needle valve (R-76-1)

I like this system based on recommendation from Cory and its compact size. We'll see how the 'included bubble counter with check valve' works out. Dual stage regulators are the only way to go. There is too much risk of tank blow off with single stage regulators.


AQUATEK OF CALIFORNIA speicalizes at co2 regulator solenoid emitter system for the appications of Aquariums, indoor garden and hydroponics


  • Perma Seal regulator gasket

Using this accessory to save CO2. The cost is well worth not wasting gas.


Boutique collection of lifetime warranty planted aquarium CO2 regulators & CO2 systems, fertilizers, custom aquascapes, and tissue culture plants.


  • Clear Soft CO2 Resistant Tubing

I'm trying the soft tubing with the hope it will be easier to rout and manage around the tank setup. The color is purely a personal choice.


Boutique collection of lifetime warranty planted aquarium CO2 regulators & CO2 systems, fertilizers, custom aquascapes, and tissue culture plants.


  • Suction Cups for CO2 Tubing

These should help manage the tubing as it is routed around the setup. I plan on using more than two of these. The final number will be based on how many are needed for a clean and organized setup. I may use them for regular airline tubing if I like them. I think I will as I ALWAYS have problems keeping airstones buried under the gravel. Maybe those anchors under the gravel (suctioned to the bottom) will solve the problem.


Boutique collection of lifetime warranty planted aquarium CO2 regulators & CO2 systems, fertilizers, custom aquascapes, and tissue culture plants.


Recommended by the COOP, so it must be good.


I've tried a lot of CO2 diffusers over the years, always searching for the perfect diffuser. Most use a white disc that clogs up quickly to algae. These with the brown diffuser don't grow algae nearly as much. On top of that...


  • Drop Checker

This may not be needed, but I think it looks cool, I like gadgets and it's not much more than other checkers.


Boutique collection of lifetime warranty planted aquarium CO2 regulators & CO2 systems, fertilizers, custom aquascapes, and tissue culture plants.


Does anyone have any better recommendations?

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No problem following at all. I hope others can learn form both my successes and failures.

I just got the tank today. I ended up with a 15lb'r as to buy the 10lb'r would have been about $100 more. For some reason the welding shop I went to had a sale on the bigger tanks. I asked how much a tank swap would be when it came time, and it's about $28. Not to bad. The tank is still short enough to fit underneath the desk where I plan on keeping it.

Notice the "Beverage Grade" sticker on the side. I asked is the CO2 tanks come in a 'commercial grade and food grade. Apparently for CO2 they are all food grade.

I was asking as some gases have additives, example 'commercial grade' nitris oxide has a substance not suitable for human consumption, while other gases contain oils for lubrication.

Since it will likely be seen and to dress it up a little, I was going to go to an outdoor store and get a stuff sack to put it in so it will have less of a 'commercial equipment' vibe.

CO2 Tank.jpg

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On 10/13/2020 at 7:05 PM, Dandy Pearl said:
  • Drop Checker

This may not be needed, but I think it looks cool, I like gadgets and it's not much more than other checkers.


Boutique collection of lifetime warranty planted aquarium CO2 regulators & CO2 systems, fertilizers, custom aquascapes, and tissue culture plants.


Does anyone have any better recommendations?

I bought this drop checker because it looked cool. I could never get the plug that holds the green reference solution to stay in. I tried to make this thing work for 6 months and finally gave in and switched back to the standard drop checker. I even tried super glueing the plug into the bottom. Now it's a $50 glass ornament in my tank cabinet. This could have been user error, sure, but just did not work for me. 


Also, it's larger than the normal drop checker. That's a negative to me, as I want the smallest visual footprint for tech in my tank. The fancy GLA one collects dust in my cabinet now. 

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You certainly don't get an appreciation for the difference in size from the web site. It makes sense that there could be an issue with the plug. Between gravity working against you, there may be some thermal effects pushing it out.

Sometimes simple is better.

Thanks for the heads up! 

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Minor update on the tank. I got my 24 inch Fluval 3.0 light today.

This light has a key feature that I need which is the remote on/off function due to it being built in. Folks should be able to see now why only one side has been painted. The right side, facing the tank, was kept open so I can enjoy it while sitting at the desk to the right.

I also think there is an auto feeder in my future 😃

Before I get flamed (pun intended) the fireplace below the tank is fake. I enjoy the contradiction.




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I placed the big order for all of the hardware and piece parts this weekend. Things should be arriving over the next couple of weeks.

I ordered two items yesterday and they came in today!

cigarette filters for gluing hardscape together and a 10ft python extension hose. I heard the python hose is more flexible than other PVC hoses and it's true! now to rig something up to use as the first section of my gravel vac.

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I received my Coop order today!


Clockwise from top left

  1. Large sponge filter - for inlet to filter
  2. Bio Beads - for filter baskets
  3. Air Pump
  4. Never Clog Air-Stones
  5. Check valve
  6. Tees
  7. Gang Valve
  8. Tubing holders
  9. CO2 Diffuser

Now I can start 'building' the tank.

I was surprised to find the gange valve didn't have any bracket for hanging it on the tank. I'll need to look for some way to mount it. I don't want to simply let it hang from the tubing. This won't be a problem normally, but I don't want it to bang on the back of the tank and scratch the paint on the back.

It was nice to see that one end of the valve was capped off if your pump has only one output.

I purchased the Aquatop AP-100 which has two outputs. I'll be pluming each output to one on each side of the valve. I do this by habit now as I have not had good luck with air pumps being able to supply air to my air stones. 


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My Perma-Seal Gasket came in today. I ended up buying it from Fish Tanks Direct as I was purchasing the Salifert Potassium test kit recommended by the coop. I think I save a dollar.

In the pics you can see there is an O-ring seal on both faces. One to seal against the tank and the other to seal against the regulator. Make sure your tank has internal threads which you can see in the pics. Thread it in by hand and snug it down with an allen wrench. Don't really torque it down as Brass is a much softer metal than steel. All you need to do is ensure good compression of the O-ring.

Also, there is NO NEED for teflon tape or pipe dope. The O-ring does all of the sealing.

The regulator 'clamps' this even more when it's nut is tightened down on the outer threads. of the tank valve. You will see when I attach the regulator.





One more thing off the list!


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Hey Folks,

I received my regulator today. Overall I'm pleased with how it looks. It's a nice compact design. The 'included' bubble counter looks and feels cheap. We'll see how long I can stand it.

I also fabricated a bracket to hang the gang valve on the back of my tank. Please excuse how rough it looks. It's made from an old coat hanger and the paint is flaking off. It fits snugly and should keep things in place well. This is my only gripe regarding the gang valve. But I'm handy enough to make it work.

Gang Valve Bracket

This picture shows what came in the box of the regulator. It shows the regulator and the included bubble counter and two mounting options: edge clip and suction cup. The instructions of the counter describe instilling it inside or outside the tank. I'll be opting for outside as it won't be as ugly inside the tank.


This pic shows the regulator from the back side and the two included gaskets.169478645_RegulatorBack.jpg.a7f80394e462e5f7d74e28dffb4a623a.jpg

This is a close up of the inlet to the regulator and the nice to see, debris screen.

I'm going to keep these nylon gaskets with the regulator in case I need them.



This pic shows the regulator threaded onto the tank. You should be able to see now how this nut will help capture the brass gasket mentioned above.


This last pic shows the use of a crescent wrench to snug up the nut from the regulator onto the tank.

As mentioned above, these are brass components which can not take the same torque as steel threads. You are only trying to get a seal between the face of the regulator and that O-ring. Because the treads are bigger you will be able to tighten things much easier, but please be careful.



If you can picture it, my regulator is not attached 'straight and level'. Meaning the gages facing straight up. I have a clearance issue between the top of the tank and the underside if the desk. Having it at this angle will help reduce the overall height. Note: position the regulator where you want it before tightening down the nut. If you don't like where it ended up, loosen the nut, reposition, then retighten.

I'll take a picture of the final installation so you can get a better idea of how things are positioned.

I've got fewer and fewer excuses to not start assembling the tank!!

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My order from Green Leaf and Amazon came in today.

Very impressed with the packaging from Green leaf. All of the items were packed in a bag of their own. you can see the bag under the items.


Tubing is tubing. The suction cups are just that. I like the color. I'm hoping they blend in with the back of the tank better than the clear ones.

This image shows how well the drop checker is packed inside the box.


This image shows the drop checker itself. The overall height is a little over an inch.



This is the power strip I decided to try. I know the Coop sells a similar product. I wanted one thing to connect to to manage my tank. I didn't want to jump around to set things up or manage things. I'll let folks know if it's an okay piece of gear or 'not great'.

Considering there is a lag between when you turn on you CO2 tank solenoid and when the flow starts, I want to open this valve at least 1/2hr before the light comes on so there is CO2 flowing. I'll do the same thing when the lights shut off. Yes I know the Fluval is has it's own timer, but I'm also looking forward to the convenience of one point of management especially when it comes to tank maintenance. I can switch off the filter, heater and CO2 and one other thing from one point in theory.


Ugg, I've got parts stacking up!

I've gotta get to work!

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I finally got some installation done!

This pic shows the two check valves which feed the gang valve. Both valves are from the Coop, but they are clearly different. @Cory must have needed to change suppliers some time this past year. The first one came in a plastic bag. The second one came in their new green brand packaging. The elbows are from a different manufacturer. They are not strictly needed, but I thought it made for a cleaner installation.



This pic shows the intake and outlet of the Fluval 204 filter. You can see the three air lines in the corner along with an electrical cable. I don't have the inlet strainer installed as the fit between the Coop sponge pre-filter and the inlet strainer is loose and I need to come up with an adaptor. I'm hoping it's as simple as a short length of PVC tubing.



This is a close up of the setup. I have two air stones tee'd to one line and another pair tee'd to a second line. The plan is to use the flow generated by the bubbles to remove a dead space behind some hardscape I'll be installing. I'm using a valve per pair to ensure good control of the flow.

The third air line and electric cable are used to drive an air stone and LED light. This will be used to also keep flow under a decoration I'm planning on installing. I think the light will add a cool dramatic effect. The décor may seem a bit corny, but to each their own right?!


I wanted to fill it with water tonight to confirm everything was working and get the air stone flow where I want it, but I don't have the right adapter to fit the bathroom sink. One more trip to Amazon!

By the way, all of this was installed as neatly as I could and will all be covered by 3 inches of substrate and the hardscape.

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This never happens.

I went into my local big box orange home improvement store and found the faucet adapter I needed in less than 5 minutes. Then, a very helpful employee gave me 3inches of the 1" ID by 1-1/4" OD PVC tubing! He asked me how much I needed and when I told him I only needed an inch, he said it wasn't worth charging me for that.

$4.09 w/ tax - Score!

This certainly beats the 11pc set of adapters for $27+ from Amazon which I might use one of . . . Order successfully canceled!

I needed the chrome plated adapter to mount the fill and drain to my bathroom sink. The stock plastic adapter works for the down stairs sink.

I needed the tubing to increase the size of the canister filter inlet to the hole in the sponge pre-filter. I installed it by soaking it in as hot a water as I could get from the tap for about 5 minutes, after having cut it to length. I then pushed it on from the top to take advantage of the angle which was already built into the strainer. It only went on half way by hand. I had to 'coax' it the rest of the way on with a pair of pliers, but it went on very smoothly.

Just as advertised. Thanks @Cory!


Now I can fill the tank, 'calibrate' the air stones, and get on with it!

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I finally got around to working on my tank tonight.

Here is a pic of the bubbles flowing. There is no way I'm going to get this nice flow under the substraight, but one can hope.




Here is what 3x20lb bags of eco complete look like.



It stars from about 2 inches in the front to about 4 in the back. The tank base is 12"x30"

I had to stop work as the next step is the hard scape with Dragon Stone! I need to get a few tubes of liquid super glue. I already have the cigarette filters for gluing the rocks together. I just need the glue.

I have plenty of what I call Pogostemon Stellatus Octopus, but my LFS calls them something else. I would appreciate if you folks can help me identify them!

The inlet tube has been removed as with it and the pre-filter sponge installed, it would be buried in the sub-straight. I'll trim it to length once the scape has been finalized some more.

You can also see the outlet lower than recommended by fluval. I want to have some floating plants (red root) and don't want the outflow to be pushing them around as much. I can always move it higher if needed.

I also have an Anubias Coffeefolia in my main tank waiting to plant in here.

now to place an order for plants (from the coop of course), which will force me to get the hard scape done this weekend!!

'till then, happy fish keeping 🐟!!

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I've got the hardscape Done!

Well, the rock part at least.

Here is how I went about it.

I collected pieces from the Coop and my LFS over the span of about 8 months. I seemed to like the pieces which were more pointed and slab like. My original intent was to lay them more horizontal to make some caves. It worked out pretty well for this tank when set vertical due to the tank being only 12 inches deep.

I arranged my collection so I could play with the arrangement. I looked over each piece to find the 'best side' and 'angle'.



After going through the pieces a few times I came up with an arrangement that I liked. I was trying for a 'spilling or tumbling rock' look.


The piece on the right seemed to need a fragment to complete the look I liked. This requiered gluing it on to the base piece. I saw this youtube video form Green Aqua 

Here is the setup I used. I also had bamboo skewers and some toothpicks to help with getting the filters in place and getting the glue soaked in.



This pic shows the 'rubber bands' I used to hold the stones together. They are elastics used for electrical cord management. They worked well. 



Here is a pic of one of the filters jammed into the gap between the rocks. I have a second filter jammed in from the other side. Two filters seemed to hold a fragment of this size better than I thought. I was concerned of the 'soft' dragon stone. In a way, it works for you as the glue seems to soak into the 'pores' of the soft stone.


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Now for getting the hard scape in the tank.

Here's the first piece. It doesn't hide the tubing as much as I would have liked, but it is what it is.



Here are all of the main pieces installed.



Here is one concept for the added decor.  I wanted the 'castle' ornament because it could be used as a cave. The 'disk bubbler' in the airline setup was supposed to flow through the castle to keep the water from getting stagnant.



This is another concept with the wood placed in. 



Here is the same arrangement from a slight angle.



What do folks think? Is there a preference of one over the other? Keep castle? Keep arch? Only natural?

Let me know!

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Well I did it. The hardscape is done!


Please pardon the cloudy water. The tank was freshly filled when I took the pics. I expect it to settle out soon.

I decided to go with the natural look. I had purchased the castle and arch years ago when I was first going to set up the tank. My tastes seem to have drifted away from the kitschy.


The arch was replaced with what I'm calling a 'rubble cave'. I made it to have the 3 'hidey holes'.



I added a few rubble pieces in the field for some more interest.



Here is what it looks like with some temporary plants from my main tank.



And a close up of some of the plants: Anubias Coffeefolia, small stem of 'stricta', beat up red flame sword. I had a 14" common pleco which liked to 'redecorate' when he swam around. The tank also had poor fluorescent lighting with very old tubes. My hope is the root tabs, better light and CO2 will help it to recover.



This is the plant the LFS calls 'Stricta' (I don't know why the pic is sidewise). It grows very fast and does branch out.Stricta.jpg.3ed14c5a4f3699e52972df93ef05c710.jpg


This is a pic of the plant well grown in, in the main tank. Can some one help me identify this definitively?




Edited by Dandy Pearl
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