Welcome to our aquarium page. I thought I would log this adventure and hopefully it'll lead to some quality pics. Follow along and enjoy a laugh at my expense.
We managed to get We managed to get an aquarium for free (thanks Jim!). Well, kinda free. If you've ever owned one, you know the rest. I didn't get pics
of the original condition, so you'll have to trust me on that. This is a 50-55 gal. setup that was used for saltwater. Came with a cabinet as well. After some
consideration, we (I) decided to try for a saltwater setup.
After picking up the tank and stand and associated scattered parts, I look at it the next day in the light. I think it sat in his garage for 10 years. The silicone was dried out and very dirty. There was no pump and it came with all sorts of weird looking parts. So I begin by starting research on this subject to see what I really might be getting into. I must day, I'm impressed by the amount of quality information available in the internet. Most things, I really have to dig, but aquarium information is plentiful. Good sign?
My first job is to attempt to evaluate and clean up what we have. I grab a razor blade and start scraping silicone. Not too bad so far. Next, I head for the LFS (Local Fish Store seems to be the going lingo, so we'll go with that). Got to give a short background, we went into Aqautic Exotics on Main st (s.r. 580) in Dunedin a while back, mainly on a field trip for Mia and they had tons of stuff. Fish, tanks, etc.. I head there 1st, apparently they've changed ownership or something. The store is now less than half the size of what it was and there were dead fish in a few tanks and whoever was there in charge, didn't seem particular interested in helping out. Off we go.
The next morning, I grab a list off of Yahoo yellow pages and hit the road with Mia. First stop is a place called
. We go in, there is a young guy, and I start popping questions. I must give props to Countryside Aquariums. The guy patiently answered every one of my questions without pushing any sales on me at all. I had to tell him not worry about me when other customers came in. The aquarium came with a sump, which I've never used. I took all the parts with back to the store the next day, he showed me how to assemble everything and walked me through how to get it started. Bought a 500 gph pump and some hose. Started the search for tank grade silicone at Home Depot. Everything that said pure silicone, stated not to use for aquariums. The people at Home Depot seemed pretty clueless and ended up recommending something that was $10 a tube and for boats. The day or so, I go by ACE hardware, they had some - just for aquariums. So I begin the silicone repair.
After letting it cure for 2 dayAAfter letting it cure for 2 days, I decided to fill the tank and do a leak check. One itty-bitty leak. Better than I thought to be truthful. Moved on to setting up the sump and figuring that out. Only took an hour, but I finally got it. If anyone reads this who is setting up a sump for the first time - either get anti-siphon valves in your "return" plumbing or drill 1/8" or so holes just below the waterline so when the water drops below the holes, the siphon is broken. When you turn of the power to the pump, the tank drains back through the "return" lines. I know this because I quickly had 10 gallons of water overflowing the sump very quickly. Good thing it was in the garage.
The Construction & Lights...
I determine in my travels around Google, that I need to build my own canopy. The plastic hood that came with the tank is broken and only holds one T-12 size fluorescent lamp. From what I've learned, if I want any corals or the like, I need light. Lots of light. I'm thinking not quite
a reef, but I'd like to have some corals eventually. So I start planning on getting 4 or so lights. I learn about retro kits to put in the canopy. T5s, T12, VHO, Compact Fluorescents, Metal Halides, etc. Way too much info. I find one, go with T5s order and move on to building the canopy.
I do a little research , nothing really but putting some wood together. Now's a good time to reveal that this is a "hex front flat back" tank. So I measure it out and buy some 1 x 6 select pine. We decided I needed to sand and refinish the cabinet too. So I sanded it, cleaned it and started staining. About 2 sq. inches to go and I knock over the stain can. Dark walnut - all over the garage. Great. The next day I look at the sump, it's 1/4" too wide for the cabinet. I grab some plywood and put a shelf inside the cabinet to hold the sump (it didn't have a floor or shelf). Then decide to widen the doors. This is really starting to turn into a project. y. I quickly discover a protractor is a useful device to have around the garage. The "hex" corner may be 90 degrees total, but not 2 45's. Go figure. I then decide midstream that if I go with a retrofit kit for lights, I should have a little extra room. I return the 1 x 6 and get 1 x 8s. I start measuring. Twice. Three times. Time to cut. Now I find out my miter saw only cuts up to 6" boards (insert scream). I decide to test my measurements on some 1 x 3's I have laying around. Perfect! I call Jeff, who's the only guy I know who really knows what he's doing when it comes to wood. He's got a killer table saw. I did look, decided spending $300-$400 on a table saw was not in the cards, especially since I have a boat crossways in
the garage and I'll use it like twice a year. Jeff hooks me up, we spend a hour an change cutting. I'm in business. Pick up some Gorilla glue for wood (good stuff!), and start gluing everything together. After some dry time, this thing is rock solid.
Today (2/7/09 - about week 3), we hit the LFSs and find a new one in Oldsmar Fish and Other Ichthy Things
Very cool stuff. My 1st impression is "wow", they have like 5-6 people working on a Saturday, that means there busy, which means they must have good stuff. They do, lots of coral and fish and the prices look great. I must confess, I'm still stunned by the price of freakin' rock (live rock). $4-6/lb for rock
is ridiculous, but I guess it's a must have for salt water aquariums. At least it keeps getting cheaper the more I look. We (I) stain the canopy today and I put the finishing touches on the plumbing. Filled up the tank again for another run for several days this time. Runs much quieter with vinyl hose instead of pvc. Also hooked up the blue LEDs on the 1 x 3 over the tank for coolness factor/nightlight. Mia loves it. We're expecting lights on Tues. and hopefully we'll be looking at starting cycling next week.