Help with getting my tank back into shape? - Page 2 - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #11 of 14 Old 05-29-2009, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by watergirl View Post
Yeah, I have no problem with draining it. For filling it, I don't want to use my sink faucet. I want something to connect/catch the water from the reverse osmosis tank small size faucet I have. From there the water has to travel a little 'uphill' to get into the tank. The water coming out has little pressure. I know I could have a big garbage can with wheels (although it would take up space and not look nice) but then I still need a way for the water to go uphill from the garbage can to the tank.

I believe a bunch of people said that with sand you just had to vacuum the surface whereas with gravel there's so much surface area underneath.

Sounds so complicated. There should be some way I can suck out the gravel into a bucket to switch to sand.
I would not recommend your last thought. I'm assuming the undergravel filter plate is still in place, working or not; as an earlier poster said, you cannot use undergravel with sand, and there is no way around that. From what you've written throughout this thread, I am concluding that the substrate (gravel) is probably a biological mess and it has to be removed, regardless of the choice of substrate for the future. And to remove the undergravel plate and clean the gravel, or replacing the entire substrate with sand, means emptying the tank of all water. Yes, there are situations where this change could be done without, but in my view this is not one of them due to the probable biological condition of the gravel substrate. I have done this more times than I care to remember, in the days when UG filters were staple and I switched to power filters and then canister.

Detrius will accumulate in sand as well as in gravel substrates, and both have to be cleaned. The process is a bit different. Whereas you can easily vacuum into gravel, you cannot with sand unless you don't mind the sand coming out with the water. The detrius that will accumulate in the substrate, sand or gravel, causes bacteria to colonize it, and oxygen must get through the substrate. The bacteria colonizes all surface area; gravel has a certain surface area, as do grains of sand; I don't agree that there is less surface area with sand (assuming comparable quantity of gravel or sand substrate), but what I think this is getting at is that with gravel the pockets between are more obvious and it tends to pack less than sand. In another thread, iamntbatman mentioned "dead spots" in sand and the associated problems, and I have written on this in other threads. Such spots also occur with gravel substrates, and it is a perfectly normal biological process. But the aquarist has to recognize it and ensure problems don't occur.

The biological actions that operate in every aquarium, as in nature, are complex and interconnected. It is, in my view, relatively simple to maintain conditions that are healthy by understanding these processes and avoiding the things that unbalance them. However, there is no easy way, and regular aquarium maintainance every week will be necessary regardless of the substrate, the fish, or plants. Personally, I enjoy doing my weekly maintainance, water change, gravel cleaning (lightly) and plant trimming. I think it is probably because I can easily recognize the positive effect this has on the fish (and plant) life in the system, and nothing fascinates or pleases me more with my aquaria that sitting quietly watching the perfectly natural behaviours and interaction of the inhabitants. You'll get to this stage as well, and we are all eager to get there quickly, but experience has taught us there is no quick way.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #12 of 14 Old 05-29-2009, 12:26 PM Thread Starter
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Oh... good points. I need to remember those things :\

My gravel isn't the same as the typical aquarium gravel. Mine is mostly like fingernail size or half of fingernail size. But all the rocks vary (in size and shape and color) and some are small. Don't know if that changes anything...

Yeah I do feel kind of bad about the tinfoil barb being "lonely". Though it seems to happen to them a lot, that they get bought as singles. Normally I like to keep a school but I don't want to have more of that type due to their size. This one is already maybe 9". Lately he seems fat to me, hopefully it is not a bad sign.
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post #13 of 14 Old 06-02-2009, 02:50 AM Thread Starter
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Ok, some good progress. Any feedback is appreciated. I am going to just ramble on like as if this were a journal, hope that's okay.

Sold the saltwater tank that I was unhappy with, but I kept some live rock and plants that I want to put in a new tank at some point. (Also I have more pieces of dried out rock ready to add to a tank.) I believe they will survive pretty lousy conditions, so I can wait a while. They are currently in a 5g tank with no filtration or lights.

I feel like just having to dissolve up the salt is a pretty big task, unless I get a small tank. But I want one that is not too small so the water is more stable and so that I don't feel like upgrading later on. I have plenty of other non-aquarium things to do, so I feel like it would be wiser to not get another saltwater tank at all, but I am not sure I can resist if a nice looking used one comes along. And I want to keep those silly bits of rock/plants for some reason. So I am thinking a 38-50 gal would fit me best, but I might not be able to resist getting 50-75 gal or even 90 or 110 if I see one of those that's nice.

I wonder if those plant things can survive in brackish water. Or, if not, I might give up on keeping them. A brackish tank would probably suit me better than a marine tank. If I find some brackish inverts and fish that I love. I think there is a 4th and possibly even 5th option for a type of tank?

Freshwater. I have decided that 125g is a size that fits me best.

I like the tank, I just have to rehome the pleco and probably the tinfoil barb too. Since I would really like to have bunches of schools of little fish. I would love if all or most breeds in my tank had offspring regularly. But I don't know if this is realistic, I don't know how much time and energy I have to devote to caring for the babies. I don't mind if most of the babies don't survive though.

I plan to switch to sand and then those 4 ugly UGF tubes won't be there. I am wondering if I should reconsider switching to sand, but I'm pretty sure it's a good move. The "pebbles" on the bottom do look so nice, but sand will look nice too, and I can get loaches I believe. Also the tank will be more "mine" if I make this change, it will make it even more different from what the previous owner's tank looked like.

The stand is bare wood which annoys me, but maybe I will get it painted nicely sometime. It looks so plain and thrifty as it is. However, most stands would probably bother me because they would make the tank lower to the ground. This stand was handmade and is made to be extra tall.

The real benefit to this stand would be if I wanted to place my couch in front of it. A friend of mine has cautioned me that it is dangerous to sit right there, or especially lie down or sleep with the tank right there, in case it were to break. But that seems unlikely. If I were to place the couch in front of the tank, I also don't want to drip tank water on the couch much, so I would want to leave plenty of space behind the tank and to the sides.

A bigger issue about placing the couch by the tank is that it would look 50 times better if I rotate the tank so that it is against the other wall. Then when you walk into the house or down the stairs or into the room, you would be facing the tank which would be so much nicer. I didn't do it this way simply because of the beam supports of the house facing the other way. I even had two post jacks installed in the basement but I made them too far apart, so my tank is only on one of them. The other wall would at least be an outer wall, and 125g isn't as big as some tanks.

So I am thinking of where I want to move the tank so that once I empty out the gravel I can move it into its new position before adding sand and water back. As mentioned, one big factor is whether or not I want to risk putting the tank along the support beams, it would be supported only by 2 beams I figure. I could risk it but still keep the tank above one of the post jacks -- IF I had the tank near the room entrance or IF I had the tank basically in the middle of the room sideways. The post jack would not be in the middle. Could look pretty unusual to people when they see the layout, but it could be very nice actually, to put the couches/chairs/tables all around with the tank being 'centerpiece'.

Or maybe just go with the original plan, tank against the current wall, and new tank going next to it, each on one post jack and supported by as many different beams as possible. When you walk in you can't see the tanks well, it's kind of 'backwards'.

Whatever I plan out, I want to have a plan for where my saltwater/brackish tank would go. And I guess I should be running at least couple smaller tanks for hospital/nursery/food/whatever. Or maybe a sump doubles for this purpose if it's a saltwater setup with a sump? Also I could possibly just net off areas or use those hanging clear boxes when needed. Trying to make it less work - running the smaller tanks seems to add a bunch of work.
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post #14 of 14 Old 06-02-2009, 10:18 AM
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A couple thoughts from my own experiences. First, on placement of the 125g tank: this will be very heavy, filled with water and substrate, so make sure the floor will support it completely level--any sags or unlevelness (if that's a word) may cause the tank seal (the silicone along the glass joins) to weaken and break. Similarly, never, never move a tank this size with anything in it, only when completely empty; wet gravel/sand is heavy, and the added weight shifting can cause the seal to break. Place the empty tank on the stand and leave it for a day or two to make sure you like where it is before anything goes in it.

Placement, that is up to you, but I would not want a tank this size being out in the open, i.e. behind a couch with space the back side of it. First, it is too "vulnerable", and second, more difficult to aquascape from behind. Also, if you can see through it, the fish will be constantly jumpy--they like security, especially the small shoaling fish you are considering. Having the front side "open" for viewing is sufficient; cover the back.

A point on spawning/rearing fish--it is work. Many of the shoaling characins (tetras) will readily spawn in a community aquarium [mine do constantly], but the eggs are excellent food and will be instantly devoured by the parents and other fish unless the spawning pair are in a (smaller) separate tank and can be removed after the eggs are laid. It can happen that a couple of eggs survive and the fry survive, if the tank is heavily planted, but it is rare. And feeding the fry (if you spawn them in another tank) means raising live foods like infusoria and brine shrimp. I have experience in all this, and it was work, so be prepared.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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