Adventure into Wonderland: Refurbishing 65g Tank and Stand
So maybe I've gone a liiiiiittle tank crazy but I can't help myself. I have live plants in my 46 gallon, my 20 gallons, even my 2.5 gallon tank but they also have artificial backdrops and decor that looks kind of... well, cheesy. I wanted to make a big planted tank that blends the beauty of a nature aquarium with the Wonderland theme that has taken over my muse as of late. I'm still new to aquariums but I love finding unique ways to create an interesting visual point.
I wanted to share my progress with the rest of you. I welcome thoughts and suggestions and with any luck maybe I'll spread a bit of inspiration along the way.
So here it goes!
I really should have taken a picture of this tank and stand as they were when I first saw them. I had put the word out that I was looking for a big tank and was offered one that someone had been keeping in a storage stable on their horse farm. Dust, dirt, cobwebs, and more spiders than you even want to think about. But I braved the mess, loaded tank and stand alike into my jeep, and headed home.
I started with the stand first. I had to scrub it down inside and out before I could even bring it inside. The underside of it had discolored patches that I suspect may have been mold, so I scrubbed them out with hot bleachy water. Once that dried, I painted several layers over the underside with white Kilz paint which is excellent for stopping the return of mold. Then I flipped it back up right-side and finally got a picture of what I was working with.
Originally I was going to just paint the stand green but as I began to work, inspiration struck and I decided to add purple to give it that Wonderland twist. The following two pictures are what the stand looked like before I took the painter's tape off.
I'm really pleased with the way the colors came out. You can't tell with the tape in the above pictures but there's a gold strip across the front just below that purple ledge that really pops with the new paint job. I didn't put the doors back on right away because I'm going to be painting the Red Queen's rose bushes on them. I'll also be painting the Cheshire cat on the purple panel between the doors. Below are the sketches for these designs.
There wasn't much work to clean out the tank besides wiping out the dead bugs, dirt, and cobwebs. There is an obnoxious sticker on the side of it that really needs to go and I'm working on that slowly but surely even though there's no immediate rush. I wanted to put a runner across the stand/beneath the tank and looked through my fabric for something yellow that would bring down the color of the wall. But the best thing that I could find was my reliable sheet of striped white, pink, purple, and green. I've used this particular piece of fabric for at least a half dozen or so decorating projects over the years and even when the visuals it's been used for have outgrown their appeal it finds a new way to be useful. I'll have to find a way to put yellow in later.
This is how the tank, stand, and multi-use runner look now(please excuse the clutter, digging things out for crafting causes quite a mess):
I've been reading up a lot on the different types of substrate that can be used and weighed the pros and cons of cheap vs high dollar quality. Right now, I'm leaning towards mixing two 15lb bags of FloraMax with a similar amount of play sand. Possibly adding some larger river pebbles and stones along with driftwood. I also want to get a piece of blackboard to put behind the tank. There was a background on it when I picked it up but I think the blank space will have more artistic value. I haven't decided what plants I'm going to put in it yet, once I have my decor in place, it'll be easier to map out what I want.
If anyone is still reading this, what are your thoughts on my intended substrate?
i would say put the play sand on the bottom and slope it towards the back then put the floramax on top. youll have to play with the slope a bit to get your wood and rocks to go where you want but it should work out fine and be gorgeous
i guess you can put the floramax on the bottom bc its just the roots that benefit from it anyhow
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