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The Southern-fried side-by-side 55s [turned 75s] Project


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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.

poppy.jpg.5e5e200512fc853b172cc25cbee3b78b.jpg

frenchbreakfastradish.jpg.abbc1d87a2da845a866cae55727ca9ec.jpg

glassgem.jpg.5e8e2bd0bae77d4287b95e179e3ef486.jpg

saffron2.jpg.4580f851c5a5318b442e88c65701560d.jpg

eggs_jog.jpg.893684ce13e3b2814939225d87726695.jpg

231462614_20190628_204627(1).jpg.ed363618c83c7bfb04a04d8adaf6ebef.jpg

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!

20220309_121146.jpg.80a8323631f0d0a6ef751a92c28ecf4a.jpg

20220309_215450.jpg.efbb1a0b972743caa845f286cbd45498.jpg

20220309_121228.jpg.aa098e9e8fb210be1fcbc5ffe8d57e2e.jpg

20220309_121116.jpg.808753a6615d32386d3678ed69c165c7.jpg

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. 

20220220_130701.jpg.8f75ebaaf2c2a9c38d56aad3051927fc.jpg

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.

20220309_121746.jpg.0cb23203dfa1acca202607d05f3ae796.jpg

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...? 😉

twin55sprojectv3.png.3b37144d06b0a173d55ac9e7a3c12263.png

 

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):

20220220_130537.jpg.5d27496c1470bad955b9fabc6940ca54.jpg

I see sad betta cups from the 2010s... and plastic plants! 😮

20220220_130525.jpg.cca256a85f1e46b575b09ad0667416c9.jpg

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.

 

Edited by Jawjagrrl
new tanks!!
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On 3/9/2022 at 4:16 PM, Patrick_G said:

It sounds like a great project. I’m guessing you’ve come to terms with the reality that it’ll be hard to access the tanks behind the couch. Other than that I think it’ll be spectacular. I can’t wait to see it. 

Thanks to Patient Spouse, I have commercial grade glides for the sofa so I can easily slide it across the room. I did the same when I had just one  set up with a love seat in front. My cats back then loved to lay on the back of the loveseat and observe. 

Hope you'll weigh in as I move forward - I have enjoyed your journals and value your input!

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On 3/9/2022 at 1:44 PM, Jawjagrrl said:

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 Forawrd 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.

poppy.jpg.5e5e200512fc853b172cc25cbee3b78b.jpg

frenchbreakfastradish.jpg.abbc1d87a2da845a866cae55727ca9ec.jpg

glassgem.jpg.5e8e2bd0bae77d4287b95e179e3ef486.jpg

saffron2.jpg.4580f851c5a5318b442e88c65701560d.jpg

eggs_jog.jpg.893684ce13e3b2814939225d87726695.jpg

231462614_20190628_204627(1).jpg.ed363618c83c7bfb04a04d8adaf6ebef.jpg

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!

20220309_121146.jpg.80a8323631f0d0a6ef751a92c28ecf4a.jpg

20220309_121042.jpg.8c781091a9f064a704c7ee38850fb790.jpg

20220309_121228.jpg.aa098e9e8fb210be1fcbc5ffe8d57e2e.jpg

20220309_121116.jpg.808753a6615d32386d3678ed69c165c7.jpg

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. 

20220220_130701.jpg.8f75ebaaf2c2a9c38d56aad3051927fc.jpg

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.

20220309_121746.jpg.0cb23203dfa1acca202607d05f3ae796.jpg

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...? 😉

twin55sprojectpreview.png.e0157d414d90c932453bc74c939c9dc7.png

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):

20220220_130537.jpg.5d27496c1470bad955b9fabc6940ca54.jpg

I see sad betta cups from the 2010s... and plastic plants! 😮

20220220_130525.jpg.cca256a85f1e46b575b09ad0667416c9.jpg

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.

I miss having fresh eggs 

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I like canisters. Lots of people hate them. Haven't used  sump, but they seem really easy assuming you have good access. Based on research I've done, it seems like lids for sumps are highly recommended. I would also end up with a drilled tank for a sump, whereas with a canister, I don't need to worry about losing the overflow siphon.

On substrate, I use the @Bentley Pascoe lasagna method with Brightwell Rio Cafe and red Eco Complete. I am a fan. I really like the buts of Eco Complete coming up now as well. It provides a nice texture and look in my opinion. I wouldn't mess with sand personally, id just expect it to get mixed in with the way my tanks go. Totally a personal preference though. 

Can't wait to see this develop! Good luck!

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Posted (edited)
On 3/9/2022 at 9:19 PM, ChemBob said:

I like canisters. Lots of people hate them. Haven't used  sump, but they seem really easy assuming you have good access. Based on research I've done, it seems like lids for sumps are highly recommended. I would also end up with a drilled tank for a sump, whereas with a canister, I don't need to worry about losing the overflow siphon.

On substrate, I use the @Bentley Pascoe lasagna method with Brightwell Rio Cafe and red Eco Complete. I am a fan. I really like the buts of Eco Complete coming up now as well. It provides a nice texture and look in my opinion. I wouldn't mess with sand personally, id just expect it to get mixed in with the way my tanks go. Totally a personal preference though. 

Can't wait to see this develop! Good luck!

I am definitely checking out your 40x40 journal tomorrow! I would have had my entry up yesterday but went squirrel and read *all* of @Vanish's one documenting his MTS. I had thought sand would look the most natural, I have it on hand and figured I would need it for geophagus. Will definitely look at more.

Edited by Jawjagrrl
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On 3/9/2022 at 8:47 PM, Brandon p said:

I miss having fresh eggs 

I've had my little flock for 2 years, had to break down and buy eggs only once since, last month. Over $3/dozen for eggs I now realize were pretty old (they didn't float, but they all stood on end in the pot ). So glad for longer days and them laying again.

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On 3/9/2022 at 1:44 PM, Jawjagrrl said:

Patient Spouse Limit

This.  😍 Oh my THIS!  I never had a name for this to attach to my spouse. Now I do.  Yes I know when I am close to exceeding this (kitchen countertops). I think your design is fabulous and will look great in such a beautiful living space.  I’m looking forward to following along. 

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On 3/9/2022 at 10:27 PM, Jawjagrrl said:

I've had my little flock for 2 years, had to break down and buy eggs only once since, last month. Over $3/dozen for eggs I now realize were pretty old (they didn't float, but they all stood on end in the pot ). So glad for longer days and them laying again.

I live in a city but with enough space for a few chickens, normally 6-8. My kids raised them as shoe chickens or fair. They did well. One aged out and the youngest said he wanted to do something different after winning four years in a row. He has 4 belt buckles( what they give for first in over all and ribbons in classes) and loses interest in things he does well at. His soccer team won 3 seasons in a row( 2 seasons a year in Fl) in the 4th they won second and he threw his trophy away. All the others were so happy to get second. He is a piece of work. I’m glad he enjoins challenges but not everything is a challenge. He loved the chickens but you have to compete in order to keep them in the city( no Roos)

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On 3/9/2022 at 12:44 PM, Jawjagrrl said:

Below is a quick mashup of images to give you an idea of what we're aiming for.

A "quick mashup" for you is nicer art than I've ever made!  That's a really nice depiction.  Seriously.  Wow!

On 3/9/2022 at 12:44 PM, Jawjagrrl said:

Canisters or sump?

So, I'm the opposite of @ChemBob.  I've never used a canister, and I really like sumps.  From my perspective canisters are overpriced and don't provide the same flexibility.  The one advantage I can think of for them, especially in your situation though, is that they are supposed to be very quiet.  I'm just thinking about this being directly behind your couch that you mentioned was a place you send down time. 

That said, you can absolutely have a quiet sump, but it will take a bit more work.  Drilling a tank really isn't that hard - go with Cory's freehand technique and not the BRS drill press approach.  Don't let drilling stop you.  But you'll likely need an overflow box, and then a few tweaks to get it really quiet.

The big advantage I can see for a sump is that it could run both tanks.  Yes, that would make them a single unit if you get a disease in the tanks, which concerns folks.  But given that you are looking for making these seem like a unit anyhow with the same fish, I think the advantage for you is if you end up with fish of the same species who don't get along, you could just plunk them int he adjacent tank and see how they do there instead.

Whatever you decide, this is going to be a very cool project!  I'm really looking forward to watching it progress!

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On 3/9/2022 at 9:21 PM, Jawjagrrl said:
On 3/9/2022 at 8:19 PM, ChemBob said:

I like canisters. Lots of people hate them. Haven't used  sump, but they seem really easy assuming you have good access. Based on research I've done, it seems like lids for sumps are highly recommended. I would also end up with a drilled tank for a sump, whereas with a canister, I don't need to worry about losing the overflow siphon.

On substrate, I use the @Bentley Pascoe lasagna method with Brightwell Rio Cafe and red Eco Complete. I am a fan. I really like the buts of Eco Complete coming up now as well. It provides a nice texture and look in my opinion. I wouldn't mess with sand personally, id just expect it to get mixed in with the way my tanks go. Totally a personal preference though. 

Can't wait to see this develop! Good luck!

Expand  

I am definitely checking out your 40x40 journal tomorrow!

I'm going to have to update that one soon. I haven't done that in a while, but got some new plants i should post. 

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The other feature for pro sump is that you can do water changes from down below instead of siphoning from each tank. You may still want to suck up mulm from time to time.

 

I currently use a Shirabusa after a long hiatus from canisters for lack of customization they really have come a long way in quietness and customization.

 

This is a really cool tank idea and can’t wait to see how it turns out! Loved the story and I read every word 🥰

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It's an excellent project. I would do a water test now with those 55s and see if you'll need to reseal them or not. One idea I would throw out there if you decide that the seals are bad on the 55s is that the dual stand would work for 75s as well. Just a thought from one person with MTS to another. 

I am pro-cannister, Sound is a factor, my wife is super sensitive to noise, she has tinnitus as well as some other issues so I have to be careful. My Eheim cannisters are her favorites. Agree with Biotope Biologist that they have come a long way but I can't stop buying Eheim Classics. 

I would say that you and your partner could have both angels and tapajos. 75 would give the angels more room. Leopoldi might be a better choice as they stay smaller then some other angels. 

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On 3/9/2022 at 11:44 AM, Jawjagrrl said:

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 Forawrd 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.

poppy.jpg.5e5e200512fc853b172cc25cbee3b78b.jpg

frenchbreakfastradish.jpg.abbc1d87a2da845a866cae55727ca9ec.jpg

glassgem.jpg.5e8e2bd0bae77d4287b95e179e3ef486.jpg

saffron2.jpg.4580f851c5a5318b442e88c65701560d.jpg

eggs_jog.jpg.893684ce13e3b2814939225d87726695.jpg

231462614_20190628_204627(1).jpg.ed363618c83c7bfb04a04d8adaf6ebef.jpg

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!

20220309_121146.jpg.80a8323631f0d0a6ef751a92c28ecf4a.jpg

20220309_215450.jpg.efbb1a0b972743caa845f286cbd45498.jpg

20220309_121228.jpg.aa098e9e8fb210be1fcbc5ffe8d57e2e.jpg

20220309_121116.jpg.808753a6615d32386d3678ed69c165c7.jpg

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. 

20220220_130701.jpg.8f75ebaaf2c2a9c38d56aad3051927fc.jpg

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.

20220309_121746.jpg.0cb23203dfa1acca202607d05f3ae796.jpg

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...? 😉

twin55sprojectpreview.png.e0157d414d90c932453bc74c939c9dc7.png

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):

20220220_130537.jpg.5d27496c1470bad955b9fabc6940ca54.jpg

I see sad betta cups from the 2010s... and plastic plants! 😮

20220220_130525.jpg.cca256a85f1e46b575b09ad0667416c9.jpg

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.

 

I would recommend looking at the sponges (matten filter style) on the UGF (I know you said no UGF, but hear me out) because the sponges give the visual of black sand, the plants grow very easily, and the UGF under the sponges will help prevent any anoxic build up under the gorgeous stump idea to make the tanks look seamless. You reap *all* the rewards of sponge filtration, some of the easiest methods for plant propagation, and minimize tank maintenance so as to minimize the risk of exceeding Patient Spouse™ limit. I'll go looking for the journal that has completely sold my spouse on allowing another future build.

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Posted (edited)

I am humbled and thankful for the interest and support and helpful ideas. I'm willing to go slowly to get this right, even if that means no fish are hitting the tanks until well into the summer. 

@OnlyGenusCaps @Biotope Biologist @ChemBob Quiet operation is important - I am sensitive to noise. You have me more intrigued about a sump and perhaps a bit more confident to have as a shared system, though it remains to be seen how much crossover there might be with fish. I have been imagining the larger fish on one side with their too-big-to-eat friends like angels/geos/congo tetras, and smaller schooling tetra assortments on the other side, like rummynose, cardinal, diamond, silvertips, etc. Perhaps a colorful bristlenose plecos like a blue eyed lemon a "feature" fish there. Patient Spouse™ is getting intrigued by breeding videos I have watched with plecos lately. Maybe some cory breeding too.

I am starting from zero on how to proceed with building one but have tools and willingness to learn. The idea of at least some water changes being done in the sump is appealing too as I've had 3 shoulder surgeries and a resurgence of the tendon tear that I thought we finally got corrected for good. Heaters in the sump and not the tanks also has appeal. Any suggestions for resources to learn more? Canisters still very much on the table.

@Torrey Too be fair, my UGF was in my very first tank. I didn't like the experience, wondering what I was accumulating under the plates. I had a very heavy bioload setup (Mbuna). While I'm not going strictly biotope I do want to go with a pretty natural river look, and I'm not sure I see the matten approach with geophagus species? But I am curious about the plants aspect of this and certainly open to learning more.

@Guppysnail glad you liked the partner terminology - he really is supportive and I want to be responsible about that. I reserve the right to change my mind when he retires and takes up an even more expensive hobby, haha! @Torrey I was too lazy to figure out had to add a TM mark, but so glad you did! As a former adv copywriter, it was on my mind 😉

@Beardedbillygoat1975  @Patrick_G I shared your 75 comment with Patient Spouse™ just to see what reaction I would get. He tried his best 😅. I even started thinking I could use one of the 55s as a sump, the other in the basement for growout, etc. But my understanding is that they are deeper by 6", and the stand I have is designed for 13" deep tanks, not 18". I'm too pragmatic to scrap two (slight spoiler) good tanks and a well built stand that fit the room plan better...at least right now. Who knows, we might get tempted by someone selling their 125 setup (I missed a good one last fall by not dropping a much bigger hint for my birthday). I do really hope I can make smaller angels and tapajos work, I've seen them together in so many setups and love the look.

NEXT UP: Our recent 4-hour hike through our woods and swamp, looking for hardscape...

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Edited by Jawjagrrl
added additional reasons a sump might be good.
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On 3/11/2022 at 12:36 PM, Jawjagrrl said:

You have me more intrigued about a sump and perhaps a bit more confident to have as a shared system, though it remains to be seen how much crossover there might be with fish.

You could do one sump per tank and avoid the cross over issues.

If you want to talk sumps, I'm in!  You'll likely get differing views about how to set them up.  And in my view that's actually one of the advantages of sumps - they are infinitely customizable.  It can mean that people often mistake their opinions on proper sump design as facts.  And I'm not pointing any fingers here, except at me.  🤪 

I think the only really important question to ask yourself when considering whether a sump is out is: are you willing to drill your tanks?  In my estimation, a sump needs a proper overflow (honestly I don't know why they make tanks larger than 60gal without a pre-drilled option, but I digress).  If you are willing to drill, sumps are good options.

BRS has loads of useful videos on them, but here is a more general one to get you started thinking about sump design (it's for SW so there are thing about skimmer to ignore if I recall correctly):

 

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On 3/10/2022 at 8:29 PM, Torrey said:

I would recommend looking at the sponges (matten filter style) on the UGF (I know you said no UGF, but hear me out) because the sponges give the visual of black sand, the plants grow very easily, and the UGF under the sponges will help prevent any anoxic build up under the gorgeous stump idea to make the tanks look seamless. You reap *all* the rewards of sponge filtration, some of the easiest methods for plant propagation, and minimize tank maintenance so as to minimize the risk of exceeding Patient Spouse™ limit. I'll go looking for the journal that has completely sold my spouse on allowing another future build.

I agree I’m working on the black sponge on the UGF with moss on the spongeimage.jpg.619bbf370a6047b1727be66576a799df.jpg34F28418-6DBC-46EB-A643-6163BF40B5EA.jpeg.cbab26351004696f2bddd26e145d683e.jpegI hit a snag as I was sent several moss type but really liked this one. Until the rest of the moss arrives hopefully today you can see the UGF. Once it come I’m going to add the filter course(15) I’ll post. I was sick and the tanks that the UGF have done the best. For now I second @Torrey

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@Jawjagrrl one thing you could consider to start would be sponge filters. Not the prettiest, but get the job done to see how you like them. You can add sumps or canisters later (though drilling gets harder, but not impossible). Certainly the simplest option, especially if you are going planted in both. The other thing working well for me is the overhead sump. Easy to access and relatively cheap to build. It did take me a bit to find a container I liked for it.

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Posted (edited)

CHAPTER 2: SCOUTING HARDSCAPE AND FIRST TANK TESTS

So it's been a minute, life happens. Minor surgery yesterday that left me too dopey to post coherently. Let's see how this goes - running a few weeks behind real life, hope to close the gap moving forward.

First off, I recently realized the proposed tank image was not the final one I put together and it has been updated in the original post, but here it is for those that don't want to bother chasing it down:

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The hope is that we will find a suitable centerpiece hardscape on our property that will tie the two tanks together. Late February is already showing many signs of spring in our part of the US, but still early enough to hike most of our property without getting too far into the literal weeds (and the poison ivy vines as big as my forearm). The fish in the simulation above is what we are considering but can be discussed more in another post - in short, the left tank will feature the larger fish on our list (angels, geos, congo tetras), while the right focuses on smaller fish that would be at risk in the other tank like assorted schools of tetras, smaller cory species, possibly apistos or rams. I had silver dollars years ago but have since learned they are big time plant eaters and this tank will be more heavily planted than the right side. Maybe pencilfish up top? I love hatchets but fear my hard water may be a big ask.

But back to our hike. We usually do a big visit around the farm to see what has fallen over the winter that needs to be cleared and generally check on the state of things before growing season begins in earnest. A recent storm brought down a bunch of pines from the roots, but mainly we were scouting trees that fell in a tropical storm a couple of years ago. Living in Georgia and looking for hardscape for us means splitting the difference between aged enough and before too much decay happens. We're just outside a temperate rainforest area here. Our oldest rescue dog joined us for the afternoon, complete with tactical harness that he loves for some reason.

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The first part of our hike turned up lots of pine down, but all too recent or waaaay too big. Gotta remember that 12" depth (if anyone knows of big tank sales anytime soon, the Patient Spouse™ is starting to wonder about 75s 😉

We saw some interesting branches early on. The hardwood options are pretty diverse here, with multiple oak species, beech, sycamore, hickory, holly, elm, pecan, cherry, etc.

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But I knew we might have more luck in another area, so we trudged through our "bottom" land that stays quasi-swampy in the winter and is home to thousands of peeper frogs. 🙂 Saw the first interesting candidate that had fallen into one of the creeks:

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Unfortunately this piece was going to be an absolute beast to get to, even with the tractor. It did have me eyeballing the sand and how the leaf litter behaved in various parts of the stream as we continued on...

Saw this one on our trail, but it seemed too linear and was in fact too far gone in terms of decay. I did like the weathered look and the grain of the wood. It was across the trail though and would have to be moved soon.

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This also had potential, but would have to have slice far less than a half cut for it to fit in a 55. But the termites had claimed it, so moving on!

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Then... I saw this one....

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Probably too big...nope! the trunk was about 8" across.

Too rotten? Also no - I couldn't break anything off very easily.

Great root structures. Could I cut this in a way to keep the big long one? Maybe. It was long enough to cover the tank end to end.

Of course this one was as far from the house as it gets, on a steep hillside and back off the trail. We'd have to come back with the tractor and chainsaw, but Patient Spouse™ was game to try.

That was a pretty strenuous hike on a cool Saturday for two out-of-shape desk jockeys and an old dog. Time for chili and a good night's sleep...

....feeling a bit banged up the next day (more on the wisteria invasion later), but I managed to clean out the mudroom and everything from the tanks. A water test was in order! I discovered that my trusty old python didn't fit the laundry sink 😞 so it was the venerable 5gal bucket. Decided to start with about 10gallons and see how the bottom seals were before filling them completely. 

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A few days later and all was well! And no, I wasn't going to start battling all the old hard water stains, etc., before I knew for sure these guys were watertight! So far, so good. Next step would be filling all the way. I located the tops, which leave a lot to be desired:

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Two brands of tank and two kinds of lids. I really don't want to use the black ones again, especially with one broken. The All Glass ones are ok, but whatever material is used to hinge them has split on both and there is a chip in one panel. Will possibly replace them as well - the plastic bit than ran across the back is missing, likely yellowed, and cut for different mechanics than I plan this time anyway. Assuming there are good 24" options in 2022 to research, but then there is a lot to research about this setup!

We've mulled over the filtration question a bunch, and we'll likely kick off with sponges to start as @ChemBob suggested- I want to do Dean's double up trick if I can find the video where I I saw him do it and remember how. Have actually never used them before as I had HOBs, and UGF - my nanos have compartments like marine tanks, which I do like. We've done just enough research on sumps to realize this isn't the aspect of the hobby we want to geek out on, so it may be canisters. Another research process - I saw what I thought might be a good solution on YT - an OASE with a built in heater. But I watched an old livestream of Cory's today in my postop pain med haze where he literally took it apart and critiqued numerous issues! But that was from 3 years ago, so don't know if those things have been addressed since, or how the brand is perceived in the US market today. I hear good things about eheims and fluvals too. I just liked the idea of heating away from the livestock in the event of failures.

NEXT UP: OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOODS - FOR A STUMP.

Edited by Jawjagrrl
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On 3/17/2022 at 3:28 PM, Jawjagrrl said:

want to do Dean's double up trick if I can find the video where I I saw him do it and remember how.

Liking where your mind is going and loving that last stump.  You can always cut away more from the back so it fits into the back corner vs. just fitting against the side.

The double up trick is super simple.  You just take the bottom off one and the top off the other and snap the filters together.  See the spare parts off the left side?

 

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I obviously don’t have this one fully assembled, it was just to demo it to another fish friend.  You treat the top exactly the same as on a single filter.

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On 3/17/2022 at 5:56 PM, Patrick_G said:

Sponge filters work great, they’re simple and very inexpensive. They do create some flow, but I find myself wanting more flow and also some mechanical filtration since it’s very hard to vacuum a heavily planted tank. Adding an Aquarium Co-op powerhead might be the way to go in your tanks. 

I was just thinking the same thing myself. The filters fit together perfectly. And a powerhead may be the way to go. I run a sponge in all my tanks as a easy way to add a bit of filtration and an air stone. My canister intake and output are circled on the left. Sponge filter on the right. Both are relatively non obtrusive in this tank. 

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Posted (edited)

And now for something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT...

@Beardedbillygoat1975  @Patrick_G You guys really planted a seed with your 75-if-you-can commentary. While I was running my tests and pondering skinouts of the tank stand with Patient Spouse™, the idea of a size upgrade remained in the back of our minds. Even as we brought back the stump, it was on our minds. I found him wandering onto craigslist and I was on FB marketplace. Saw some interesting things, some insane resell expectations and a couple pretty good package deals too.

But while I am willing to take a chance on a used small tank - small investment, no big loss if a problem appears later. But a big tank? What was in it? How was it stored? Did they ever dose with lots of copper meds that got into the seals for good? 

We were in the shop talking about the stand (and disagreeing on how to do it, as usual) and how easy it would be to expand for the larger size tank. Talked budget. Patient Spouse™ is less frugal than me, but when he started running down the general costs for these tanks to setup and how small a percentage new tanks were likely to be as part of the whole... he was right. If we were going to do this right and put the effort in to set these up, how soon would we regret not doing an upgrade when it was easiest? These will be on display in the room where we spend the most time (awake).

I kept thinking about the 55s. they were RIGHT THERE. HOLDING WATER. 

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Anyone with memory of the 90s will likely remember stickers - rainforest everything and tree frogs. I give you this sticker I found on my tank after my college age sibling had fish-sat for me:

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These could be used for QT, growout, any number of things though. Looked at the stand again, which has escaped the basement and made it to the shop since my last post.

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My friend built it in such a way that expanding for an 18" pair would be pretty simple. The location for this runs across about 8 floor joists. There IS a 50% tank sale at Petco right now with only a couple of 75s left...

...As some point in the next 18 hours or so, We'll be proud owners of a pair of new 75s (pleeeaasse don't leak) and 48" versa glass hoods. For under $400. 🙂 Stocking the big fish side becomes easier and we'll be able to keep a larger slice of the stump, which I'll share more about in the next update. I'll clean out the 55s in place and set up with some old filters for QT tanks - since most will have to be mail order, I'd like to be able to have as many of them here before it gets too hot, which isn't that far away. We've already had days pushing 80 and sellers in FL will be using cool packs before long.

NEXT UP: That trip in the woods and a green surprise...

Edited by Jawjagrrl
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On 3/17/2022 at 6:29 PM, Odd Duck said:

Liking where your mind is going and loving that last stump.  You can always cut away more from the back so it fits into the back corner vs. just fitting against the side.

The double up trick is super simple.  You just take the bottom off one and the top off the other and snap the filters together.  See the spare parts off the left side?

 

12F2AB35-F0F4-45DD-B69D-6C3F8F71B1C5.jpeg

I obviously don’t have this one fully assembled, it was just to demo it to another fish friend.  You treat the top exactly the same as on a single filter.

My intent with a stump was always to essentially quarter it vertically and use the front two pieces bookended to the inside back corners of the two tanks. Depending on the girth of the stump found, that first slice in half could be more/less/exactly half of the piece. I think that's key to creating some degree of illusion that the two function as one.

I should have known Cory would design these filters so cleverly. I do think Powerheads are in order, especially on the big fish side at a minimum and see how things go. 

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