Okay, this is going to be a proper journal page for my 120g tank. But first a little history…

The urge to start up another large tank hit me toward the end of 2005. The actual planning started mid January 2006, when I placed an order for an AGA 120g tank and stand.

2.3.2006 So on February 3, after three weeks, and several botched delivery attemps to the LFS by the distributor, I finally picked up the tank and stand and drove it all home. Then came the tragic setback found in all good tales...

After successfully maneuvering both the stand and tank into the house I began unboxing the stand. Then, while I was moving the stand to it's initial location in the room, I inadvertantly pushed the cardboard into the handtruck on which the tank was resting. I could only watch in horror as I saw the tank tip forward and crash to the floor. Well, it really wasn't all that catastrophic. The handtruck I have is the kind with a set of support wheels which allow it to rest at a 45° angle…makes it easier to move heavy loads. So in reality the tank only tipped forward maybe 10" and came to rest on one end. But the resulting impact with the floor causes the opposite end to shatter…

But the tragedy doesn't end here. In my frustrated state of mind, I foolishly began cleaning up the shards of broken glass. If you take a close look at right flap on the box in the photo above, you'll see the end result of this moment of stupidity. Yes, those are droplets of blood which eminated from a 2" gash I put in my forearm when I bumped it against the edge of one of the fixed shards of glass. For the not so squeemish, you can view the damage to my arm here. But three hours in the ER and six staples to close the cut left me none the worse for wear physically. But financially I was out the $400 I paid for the tank, and faced the hard question of when and whether to replace it.

2.4.2006 The next day I called my credit card company on a whim. They all advertise their buyer protection plans with the extended warranty coverage and damage protection. That phone call restored my faith in the aquaria overloards as the loss was indeed covered! After filling out the necessary claim forms and faxing over some pictures and supporting docs I was back in business.

2.9.2006 After having managed to break both large glass tanks I've bought, the replacement 120 came down to finding a vendor who could build me an acrylic tank that did not have a rim and center brace the size of Alaska. A friend of mine got me in contact with a friend-of-a-friend who runs a company called Kittertanks. He was able to quote me a 48x24x24 acrylic tank that would have a 3.5" rim and no center brace, what is referred to as Euro-braced. Compare this to a TruVu tank of the same dimensions which has an 8" rim and 6" wide center brace. The new tank was not going to be cheap, but it gave me a little peace of mind that I would not end up in the ER moving it into the house. The lead time for the acrylic tank was 2-3 weeks so I began preparing.

Here's some of the stuff that arrived in late January and has been sitting in limbo since I broke the glass tank…



2.27.2006 The stand as delivered was not meant to support an acrylic tank as it had no top deck. So I attached two pieces of 22/32" (what the hell ever happened to 3/4"?) to the stand and applied some edge trim. The white you see is a 1/2" thick sheet of styrofoam…

I also got started on installing the plumbing. This first shot is of the manifold installed inside the stand…

Below you can see the industrial-sized cam-lock quick disconnects I installed which, when the valves below are shut, will allow me to remove the manifold for whatever reeason…

These drop tubes wil connect to the pair of Via Aqua 750 cannister filters I'm installing…

By closing the valves to the drop tubes and opening the ones to the center mounted hose bib I can connect a gardern hose to the manifold for water changes…

3.3.2006 More in-stand preparation. Here's the right side of the stand with one of the cannister filters in place with a Hydor 300w in-line heater…

And the left side with the CO2 tank (JBJ regulator) and reactor…

3.8.2006 The new tank is in!

3.10.2006 Now that the reality of having the new tank has finally sunk in it's time to get to work. The first order of business was to purchase some acrylic polishing compounds and cloths to remove as many of the hairline scratches on the inside of the tank as possible.

Second was to get the light suspension system fitted and installed. Lighting for the tank consists of a 4x54w T5 TEK Light fixture.

It will be suspended over the tank by way of some 1/2" electrical conduit bent to extend above the tank. Since it's hard to describe in words I'll just show you what it looks like.

And a picture of how the conduit attaches to the back of the stand.

The section of the pipes which are visible will be painted black before final installation is completed.

3.11.2006 After an hour of final polishing it was time to get to work. First thing at hand was getting the bulkheads installed and plumbed.

After a quick leak test the tank was emptied and it was on to building the substrate.

Instead of starting with a base of ground peat moss I used a product made by General Hydroponics, Diamond Black. It's been recommended by a couple of SFBAAPS members as and alternative humic acid source.

Next came a 2" layer of gray Turface Pro League. This is essentially the same material as Schultz Aquatic Plant Soil, but in a finer grain size and a dark gray color. This layer got a healthy dose of mulm water collected from my 40g tank, most of which was the result of extracting a massive stand of Cryptocoryne wendtii...

Here's a shot of the mother plant which was actually only half the total plant mass removed from the tank.

Once the mulm water was added, the excess waster was drained and the remaining Truface was added. A total of 75# was used to form a bed that slopes from 2.5" in the front to about 6" in the back.

Now I could start adding the hardscape which consisted of some granite (cheap from a local landscape supply yard) and SE Asian wood (very expensive at $20/lb from a LFS in San Francisco)...

Aside from the wendtii, I had also collected a number of other Crypts over the previous three weeks including petchii, balansae, spiralis, undulatus, and willisii. All were left to float in the 125g tank.

There was also a large amount of moss being held in my 20g tank...

Planting took the better part of three hours, with an hour of that dedicated to picking out the dead /damaged leaves and untangling root masses. When it was finally done the water was a bit cloudy from the substrate so out came my trusty Vortex XL diatom filter...

After a couple of hours the result was this...

Oh, and here are some shots of the painted light suspension system...

This fianl pic is of the Sun Lift Hanger System. They were $25 from Specialty Lighting. I bought them because I thought they would dispense/reel in the hanger line like you'd draw a mini-blind. But instead the tension is set through the wing nut which needs to be loosened/tightened every time you want to adjust the height of the light. In hindsight a thin black chain would have been quicker to make height adjustments with. Cheaper, too.

3.15.2006 I added some Anubias coffeefolia to fill the space between the rocks...

And also added a few Cherry Red Shrimp (Neocaridina denticulata sinensis)...

3.18.2006 Following a SFBAAPS member open house I was able to add an Anubias nana 'gold' to the end of one of the wood pieces. It's not attached but simply wedged beneath the end of the wood...

Also added were 25 Amano Shrimp (Cardina japonica)...

And 20 Corydoras habrosus...

3.20.2006 Another full tank shot...

The floating plants are Phyllanthus fluitans...

3.23.2006 Today's addition—25 Bumblebee shrimp (Caridina trifasciata)...




3.30.2006 More additions…

20 Tiger shrimp. I placed an order to get bumblebees, but these were delivered instead.

An unknown quantity of a Neocaridina denticulata sinensis that are growing wild in Hawaii…

Three Crystal Red shrimp…

A trio of Rubberlipped Plecos…

A dozen Otocinclus…

And 10 Corydoras pygmeaus…

5.3.2006 Updated picture of the right front corner of the tank. The E. tenellus has carpeted the area and has begun to wrap around to the back wall of the tank. Also in the picture are a few of the 100 Triginostigma espei that now occupy the tank.

5.31.2006 Not much has changed since the last post above. But I though I'd show you a full tank shot...

Left side...

Right side...

I pulled some of the E. tenellus out last week. It had extended to the left past that rock in the foreground. I don't want overrunning the C. parva and willisii so I'll need to keep on top of it regularly.

Here's a shot of an Amano and a Tiger shrimp. The Amanos are king of the scavengers...they'll overrun anything in their way to get to the food...frozen bloodworms in this instance.

Finally, a Bumblebee Shrimp on one of the branches...a regular "Where's Waldo" shot. :^)

6.2.2006 Close up of the E. tenellus "narrow leaf"

9.30.3006 Tank update.
I stopped by Aqua Forest today and bought two more branches to add to the tank.

Left side...

Right side...

Besides the addition of the new branches, I also replaced a pair of Geissemann 6000K HO T-5 bulbs with Coralife 10000K NO (28w) tubes. These new bulbs are as bright as the 54w bulbs they replaced indicating that it's the ballast that is important. At under $8 per bulb they are a definite bargain compared to their HO-designated counterparts. They give off a bluer light than either the Geissemann or GE Starcoats (both of which are yellowish) so provide a nice overall balance.

While the plants and fish have done extremely well, there has been a noticable decline in the shrimp population...specifically in the Cherry Red, Tiger, and Bumblebees. I'm hoping that they're just under the moss canopy during the day.

10.14.2006 Just a minor tank update...
I decided to remove the Anubias coffeefolia from the center of the tank. I added it there to fill in space when the tank was new. But now that it's filled in the Anubias just seemed to be clogging up the middle of the tank...not to mention hiding the rock hardscape. Click on the image to open up a high res image.

Fill tank shot. Again, click on the pic to open up a high res image.

1.7.2007 An castaway adrift at sea...

2.1.2007 Tank photo update...First the full tank shot.

Left side...

And the right side...

And a close up of the newly added (12/17/2006) Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Green Gecko'

Finally, the Cryptocoryne cordata 'Rosanervig' that I got from a fellow SFBAAPS member. Unfortunately, even after several months it has yet to display the pink veining that this variety is known for...

2.14.07 Bad news. One of the ViaAqua filter disconnects started leaking. It was fortunate that I was working at home as within a 30 minute period a puddle of around two gallons of water had formed. I hate to have seen what it would have been like had no one been home to catch it early.

I shut down the filter and disconnected it from the tank. Since it was driving the external Hydor heater I had to plumb in a spare Mag5 water pump to keep the tank heated. I spent a day pondering what to do about the situation and finally decided to splurge and buy a Fluval FX5 as a replacement for both ViaAquas. Since the Via Aquas are inexpensive knockoff of an Eheim Pro II filter I didn't want to chance another failure of the rather cheaply build diconnect fittings.

Since the FX5 has only single intake and output lines (albiet, 1" diameter ones) I had to redo the plumbing under the tank.

I constructed a pair of manifolds out of 1-1/4" PVC Tees, one each for the intake and output lines. The intakehas two 3/4" lines feeding it with a 1" tbe leading to the filter. The output runs a 1" tube to the manifold, then reduces to a pair of 5/8" lines feeding the CO2 reactor and Hydor heater.

My initial concerns that the split output might result in one side being starved was unfounded as the output into the tank from both lines is pretty even...and greater than the ViaAquas ever produced. In fact, the srpaybars I had in the tank (1/2" ID tubes from the ViaAqua install kit) were causing too much current and needed to be replaced with a pair of 16" long, 5/8" ID tubes with 1/4" holes drilled at 1" intervals the entire length. Still good flow, but a lot mellower.

07.18.2008

Not much to update here. The tank layout is the same...just a different state of growth.

10.04.2011

Well, if you let nature take control of a Crypt tank this is what happens.

2011-10-04

This tank has become the shelter for abandoned fish (thanks Doug). When I tore down my 40g tank I added the 35+ Diamond Tetras to this tank. Little did I know that they would have a appetite for my C. balansae, which were quickly mowed down to extinction. Not so much the C. moehlmannii, though. It has roared through the tank like wild fire growing over anything and everything. The hardscape from the original scape is still in there...somewhere.

Also, the past past three years has seen this tank go from a semi high tech setup to one that now gets a major water change on a yearly basis, gets no CO2 or added fertilization and has the lights on over it for only 5 hours a day. But change is in the wind...

10.07.2011

So on 10.1.2011, I attended my first SFBAAPS open house in over three years (thanks for the invite, Marc). Mingling with the folks who attended and participating in the plant swap inspired me to take back control of this tank. That evening I pulled out that tangle of ratty Taiwan moss and began planning the rescape.

Sunday afternoon I was cleaning my front yard and started evaluating the rocks I had laying about in the garden. After spending the week shuffling rocks on my sidewalk (much to the amusement of my next door neighbors) I finally found the group I wanted to use.

Rocks

I ordered some plants (10 pots of Crypt.parva, 10 C. spiralis, and three bunches of hemianthus micranthemoides just for variety) from Aqauriumplants.com yesterday with overnight shipping to arrive today. And after dropping my kids off at school I came home and got to work.

prep

First step was to remove the existing hardscape materials. Here are the SE Asian branches I got from Aqua Forest so many years ago...

hardscape1

There were a lot more rocks than I remebered. haha

hardscape2

Then came the task of removing the plants from where the new hardscape would be going...

plant removal

Picture of the Crypts that got pulled out. A lot of C. moehlmannii.

crypts1

And a surprising amount of other Crypts that had gotten buried over the years. Even a lone surviving C. balansae which survived only because its rhizome was growing outside of the substrate with just its roots digging in.

crypts2

Here's the tank with the left side cleared out.

cleared out tank

And after I started draining water and vacuuming the substrate.

drained

The plant arrived right on time.

new plants

And after a couple of hours installing the rocks and replanting...

tada

Sorry for the less than stellar photos. I was using my waterproof Pentax Optio W60. The tank has been completely refilled and I've cleaned up my mess so for now it's time to relax. I'll post better pictures tonight or this weekend.

Okay. The water's had a chance to clear somewhat, but there's still a bit of silt. Unfortunately my diatom filter is in need of a new main casting which won't be hereuntil mid-next week So this will have to do for now

full tank 10-07

And now some shots of the fauna...

10.09.2011

And the slow conversion to submersed growth begins. I also inserted Jobes Palm and Fern fert sticks into the substrate among the parva so hopefully that will speed the conversion along.

10.13.2011

Staurogyne repens from my friend Marc.

10.15.2011

New additions to the tank...a trio of Apistogramma agassizii "Tefe pearl blue". One male and two females.

10.17.2011

The male Apistogramma agassizii "Tefe pearl blue" flashing for the ladies. >

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