Around 3 years ago Ė when we were selling our home and I had a 1-year-old keeping me busy Ė I stepped back from high tech aquariums and put my tanks on low tech maintenance only mode. It also meant I by and large stopped posting on the forums.
Fast forward to 2016 and I have a new house, a 4-year-old, another 1-year-old and an 11ft long blank wall that needsÖsomething.
Turns out that what it needed was an 8ft long fish tank (of course).
In late October (2016) that changed though as I took delivery of my new (and likely final) tank. Itís an 8ft x 2ft x 2ft Gary Maher built 900L tank ordered through the folks at Mappinís Aquarium in West End (Brisbane). Iím very happy with the quality of the build of the tank and the furniture. It looks great and suits the space well.
The vision for the tank is to have a planted high tech tank with rainbows for the most part. Iím not going for a biotype here, itís just that after many years Iíve found that rainbows are a great genus to stock. More on the virtues of rainbows later .
Iím going to be using a lot of the equipment that I used on previous tanks that Iíve been quite happy with over the years.
- 2x Eheim 2080 canister filters (no Iím not a sump man)
- 2x Eheim Jaeger 300W heaters
- 4x GroBeam 1500 LED light tiles Ė I first fell in love with these lights several years ago. I had 3 on my 5ft tank so I just picked up an extra one.
- Eheim Reeflex 800 11W UV Ė Thereís no way I want 8ft of green water
CO2 system Ė not turned on yet
- Sera 1000 CO2 reactor
- 2.3 kg My Keg on Legs cylinder
- Aquascape Design CO2 Pro regulator, solenoid, needle valve, bubble counter
- Glass sphere permanent CO2 checker
- 100L or so of Eco Complete for substrate Ė Iíve used DIY soil substrate before which worked GREAT for a few years before collapsing and going anaerobic (not great) so Iíve sworn off soil substrates.
- One impressive piece of old casuarina (aka sheoak) root
- One driftwood + Mangrove Root combination special
- 20L bag of blue metal (aka basalt) rocks sourced very cheaply from a landscape supply store
I am a little behind writing the journal because, you know, kids, but Iím hoping to put together more regular updates now.
Spoiler alert Ė the tank is already set up, stocked and planting is underway.
Next postÖthe hardscape, here's a sneak peek.
60 X 40 X 40 fire (jungle 3 sided scape)
A once in a lifetime setup! Amazing!
Can't wait for more updates mate, looks great.
Very nice, that is a massive tank.
Nice neat cabinet, I assume the doors open ?
That's a lot of realestate to play with. Going to look great.
Not to sure about the wood on the left. Looks out of place as it doesn't match the stump.
One plant you must try is proserpinaca palustris. I had great success with it in ecocomplete were others I know have struggled to grow it in ADA Amazonia.
Wow that's a huge project! Can't wait for updates....
This is going to look awesome can't wait to see it planted
@salt36 - Yep the doors open. They're a push to open magnetic close catches. I wanted something that looked very simple and sleek without taking away from the tank. I also ensured that the cabinet had extra height so that a) the 2080s fit without any problems and b) the view isn't obstructed by the couch in front.
@mundi - I wasn't sure about the wood on the left either to be honest. I knew I wanted to use mangrove root to do some natural terracing but then it looked odd just having some pieces of root without any top/trunk so I added the additional piece. It will also help hide the heaters and filter inlet/outlets.
My first ever tank had the obligatory sunken ship and diver bubbler, those days are long gone - though I did make a concession to my kids for Christmas which you can see at the end of the post.
Background Ė Paint (or cover) it Black
Yep Iíve done the photo backgrounds before and Iíve also gone without a background, but the tanks Iíve always most liked have had blackÖjust black. So when I had the tank made I had the back of it covered in black vinyl. It didnít cost much and Iím super happy with the result.
Iím not a biotype guy, but I do like my tanks to look as natural as possible. For a tank of this size I knew I needed a big feature piece. Initially I had thought I would use a single piece for the whole tank, so it needed to be big.
I also wanted something ďroot-yĒ. The inspiration was to mimic the edge of a creek where tree roots overhang from the bank creating hiding places for the fish. After looking at lots of stores I eventually found what I was looking for on some farmland owned by a family friend. This Casuarina root was in sandy soil and had rotted down to the stump. I pulled it out with almost all the root system intact.
I also picked up a couple of pieces of mangrove root at Mappins (itís literally across the road from work so Iím there a bit).
The plan was to create some terracing so that there were a few level changes in the tank to create some points of interest.
I wanted to hide the heaters and filter pipes behind the wood, unfortunately the large piece wasn't really oriented correctly so I ended up having two pieces.
Rock - Basalt
In this scape, the goal was for the wood and plants to be the feature. I needed rock to help with terracing and supporting the scape but I needed it to be supplementary and not the feature.
I settled on using blue metal aka drainage gravel aka basalt.
Itís got a great blue/black colour when wet and itís SUPER easy to source and cheap. Most landscaping yards will let you fill up a bag for around $10. So I spent around half an hour one day picking out some decent pieces.
Substrate Ė Black Eco Complete
There are many forum posts on just substrates and this post is already long enough. I've personally tried regular old boring gravel, Seachem Flourite and DIY. I had read that ADA isnít good for larger scapes over 3 to 4 ft. Iíve had great success with DIY in the past, but a) moving plants always clouds the water column and b) if it collapses and goes anaerobic then itís game over - been there done that.
So I decided on Eco Complete Black. I have heard many good things and realize I'll need to add some root tabs (anyone know a good DIY recipe for those?). Most of all though there's no risk of it going anaerobic which is good as I'm NOT rescaping this thing for many many years - if ever.
Fortunately, I managed to pick up about 100L of Eco Complete at a decent price from someone switching his 8ft from fresh water to marine (craziness I know). I even have some left over so feel free to PM me if you're in Brisbane and want some :-)
Thanks for reading this far - or perhaps just cutting straight to the pictures. Here's the end result of much preparation and 3 nights of hard work once the kids were in bed.
I did have to cut the large root down to fit it in. I disguised the cuts with careful use of a chisel and snapping off pieces with pliers to get an instant weathered look.
I saved the best off cuts and then attached a couple of them back onto the stump using 30mm stainless steel screws which are now carefully hidden with Java fern
For the Kids
Both of my kids LOVE the Octonauts. So for Christmas and the next few weeks there's a few additions to the tank.
Looking good! Really live those roots.
its screaming for some crypts and java fern etc. you don't want to be trimming stems at this size of tank.
We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors,
We borrow it from our Children.
I initially planted out with the few plants that survived neglectageddon - a few types of anubias and java fern.
Right now I also have some stems in there to help soak up the nutrients more than anything else.
Finally I also have a few "experiments" going to see what's going to take well to the conditions - chain swords and lobelia.
I used to have a great collection of crypts in my old tank but none of them made it through the many moves. Once I work out what I want I'll certainly start looking around.
Fantastic amount of space to play with there, Damien. And nice tank too! Just one practical question: are you sure that a single Aquamedic 1000 will be able to keep up the CO2 to a tank hat size, and that you'll be able to push the CO2 around the tank evenly? I've not had a tank that large myself either, but I know that some folks use a split CO2 line for large tanks just to keep up. Might just be something to keep an eye on.
Regardless, I look forward to seeing your tank unfold. Oh, and btw, with an almost-2-year-old in this house, I completely understand you comment about 'low-maintenance mode'!
"I completely lost it. Well, okay, that sounded more awesome than what I really did, which was yell. And by yelling I mean sending a bunch of TEXT MESSAGES ALL IN CAPS!"