Jump to content

Chaos' Aquarium Journal

Recommended Posts

Hey guys, I've been on the forum for a while now but finally decided to start this journal to share what I'm doing with everybody. Also to hopefully keep myself accountable for all the aquarium projects I start or think about starting and never actually follow through with. So this thread will be partly journal and partly a to-do list for myself.

Just quickly about myself: My dad is also into fishkeeping so we've always had 1-2 fish tanks in the house (there's actually baby pics of me with his silver arowana in the background). But it started for me when my 7th grade science teacher had a pet axolotl in class and I started doing my own research into exotic pets. When I was 13, I had pet turtles and I started breeding guppies to feed them. It spiraled for both my dad and me from there and now we have a 40 breeder, 60 gal, and 125 gal set up in the dining room; a rack of 2 20 talls, 2 10g, and 2 5.5g on the patio; two outdoor ponds with some tub ponds around; and I am working on setting up a 110 gal and a corner 50 gal in my room.

I'm currently in college and spend the week on campus so my main focus with these tanks is to make things as simple as possible to take care of. I don't want to spend the entire weekend I have with my family maintaining tanks, no matter how fun it is.

With that aside, let's move to the actual projects.

Ropefish tank 

This is the main project I am focusing my time on right now.

Background: At my place on campus, I had a 40 gal breeder with a group of 6 ropefish and 8 (4M:4F) congo tetras (I know this wasn't ideal but I already had plans in place to upgrade, just needed to find the right tank). Three weeks ago, I moved that setup back home and set it up on the floor of my bedroom. Unfortunately, I didn't cover the tank well enough and a female congo jumped through a tiny gap at the end of the plastic strip of the lid overnight. Around two weeks ago, we noticed the 55 growout tank we had in the dining room was starting to slowly leak so we had to quickly take down that tank. So the fish from that tank, which was 10 red head tapajos and 1 albino senegal bichir, had to be moved into my 40 gallon. Even though all of the fish are still small and I am doing multiple WCs a week as a precaution, they will outgrow this 40 gallon fast. Luckily, I was able to pickup a 110 gallon acrylic tank and stand from offerup for only $100. The tank needs a lot of work but I figured now would be the perfect time to create the best system I can for these fish. The tank is going in my bedroom so the vision is a near-silent, naturalistic, and easy to care for ecosystem with diy sump filter and custom 3D background. This is my first time making either of those so constructive feedback is highly appreciated.


I was originally going for all african fish but things happened and now my tapajos have to go in here. At least they'll still look amazing though!

  • 6 Ropefish
  • 7 Congo Tetras (In the future, I would like to boost the size of their school to 10-12.)
  • 10 Red Head Tapajos (Currently 2-3 inches each but will rehome/move some as they get bigger)
  • 1 Albino Senegal Bichir (4-5 inches but I'm worried about this guy long term with the congos)



The tank is 54" L x 22" W x 22" H with an external overflow box built into it on the right side of the tank. The box is built weirdly though. Instead of teeth to let water in, it has a long 0.5" tall slit which is at the very top of the tank which worries me about the water level of the tank. Also the overflow is attached to the back but since the back panel is clear, you can clearly see into it from the front and see all the piping. I think this is an eyesore so I was thinking about building an internal overflow box from black acrylic to cover it and drill holes to let water flow between the two boxes. It also only currently has 1 hole drilled for a drain, I am planning to drill 2 more to make a beananimal-style drain if possible.

There are deep scuffs/scratches on the front and side of the tank. I tried Novus 1,2, and 3 but it didn't make a substantial difference so I am going to use sandpaper to sand it flat before using Novus again.

So the next steps for the tank itself is:

  1. Sand down scratches and polish the tank
  2. Drill holes in existing overflow and build a new internal overflow box

I'm not sure if this makes sense though, particularly step 2, so anyone with experience please let me know if I am about to make a catastrophic mistake.

Here's some pictures of the current state of the tank.



The first picture is the whole tank. The second pic shows the worst scratches. The third pic is the overflow box (don't mind the hairball looking thing, I have no idea what it is or how it got there 😧).


I'm using an old 30 gallon tank as the sump. For my sanity, I'm going to reseal the tank before using it and silicone in baffles as well. I'm still not sure what the sump layout will be or what filter media to use however. Will also need to get all the supplies like a pump, pipes, fittings, etc.

So to get the sump ready, I need to

  1. Reseal and leak test the tank
  2. Figure out sump design and silicone appropriate baffles

For the baffles, I wanted to save money so I was thinking about taking the glass from the leaky 55 gal or from an extra glass lid and cutting it down to size? I've never cut glass before though so I'm worried about if that will even work. Any feedback would be very helpful!


I am going to go with the XPS foam and drylok method for custom 3D backgrounds that SerpaDesign on youtube uses. Really excited to try this for the first time but won't bother starting this until the tank and sump are finished. I also have lots of lava rock and mopani wood that I plan to use for the hardscape. Plant-wise, I haven't researched much but I have big java ferns and jungle val that will for sure go in. Aiming for easy, low light plants since for now, just planning on using an old 4 foot fluval stingray for light. If budget allows, might splurge and get one of the aquarium coop lights though!

Thanks for taking the time to read all of this! I actually have plans for all of my other tanks too but this 110 gal is going to be the best tank I've ever put together plus this post is long enough so I'll leave it there for now. Eventually, I'll post about my other tanks and what's going on with my hobby. Please tell me any advice you have! 


Edited by Chaos_Corrupter
  • Like 1
  • Love 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your tanks sound great. It’s wonderful this is a hobby you and your father can share. 
I would love to see photos of your ropefish tanks. If you need help uploading photos or videos just let me know. I’m happy to help. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Update #1

Finally getting around to doing an update, I didn't get too much done this past week because there were a few issues along the way but was able to finish the sump and overflow.

Resealing the sump went perfectly but I learned that the glass I was going to use as baffles was tempered the hard way as you can see. So cleaning that up took a whole day. Instead of glass, the baffles were made from old covid sneeze guards so essentially 1/8 in acrylic.


Fortunately, making the weir and overflow went to plan and came out perfectly. I also made lids from twin wall greenhouse panels


Next step is to finish polishing the tank and making the 3D background. Once that's done, everything can finally be set up and the fish can be moved in. They are all doing fine in their temporary holding tank but you can tell they would really appreciate some more room.

On 7/14/2023 at 3:20 AM, Guppysnail said:

Your tanks sound great. It’s wonderful this is a hobby you and your father can share. 
I would love to see photos of your ropefish tanks. If you need help uploading photos or videos just let me know. I’m happy to help. 

Thank you! I'll be sure to post pictures of everything once I'm done. I'll see if I can get some pictures of the ropefish but the temporary tank is on the floor and doesn't have great lighting so they dart away whenever I walk by.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...