Sunday, January 6, 2013

Aquatop review

This is my review of the Aquatop CF-400UV filter that I bought for the 125g Oscar tank. It's rated at 370 gph and comes with a built-in 9v UV sterilizer. The price is extremely reasonable and though AquaTop is a relatively new brand, this filter is actually just a reskinned SunSun canister with a UV bulb thrown in so it has a small bit of pedigree.

A Return to fish keeping

In January 2012 my reef tank took a huge turn for the worst and essentially became a huge algae farm. visibility was non existent through the blanket of green in the water. I lost all of the fish and all of my coral with the exception of a Lord acan and a maze brain. The tank cleared up on its own around June or July but the damage was done and my  interest in fishkeeping sank after the loss of so much [expensive] livestock. Our lease on our downtown apartment was scheduled to run out in August and we weren't going to renew it, so setting up a new tank seemed pointless. We decided to start housing hunting and near the end of September we moved into a big, beautiful new house with lost of room for new BIG fish tanks. So far I only have one tank up in the house but it's one I have wanted for the last three years: a 125 gallon South American biotope that houses my new pet oscars, Samson and Delilah.

The first thing I did once I found out that I would be receiving a free 125g tank from a friend's family was to mark out the footprint of the tank in the office so that I could see where it would fit and so that when we moved the furniture into the house that we wouldn't put things where the tank was going. I actually moved the tank to the adjacent wall than what this photo shows.
The tank is 6' long by 18" deep by 2' tall

I wish I had taken some pictures of the tank when it came in because it had been sitting outside for an extended period of time and was full of cobwebs, dirt, leaves, and four dead mice. I spent an entire day with a shop-vac and hot-vinegar water cleaning and sterilizing the tank which a bit hard when you cant use any chemicals. Eventually I got the behemoth cleaned and hoisted on top of the stand. Regardless of how dirty this tank was I am very grateful to the Dorman family for giving me a free tank of this size.
All cleaned and set up

I decided to build this tank on the cheap because, well we had just racked up some serious debt buying a house, so I went to the hardware store and bought 200lbs of playground sand (almost identical to your standard aquarium sand but 1/4 the price). The thing about playground sand, however, is that they do not rinse it at all so if you're like me and you just dump it into the tank with washing it be prepared for your tank to look like garage for the next month.
Sand freshly added. Its a 6' box of mud.

My plan for doing this tank up cheap kind of failed. The plan was to use only cheap materials and reuse equipment that I had in the basement that has accumulated over the past three years and four tanks that I've owned. Well, I used my old dome lights from the 55g planted, my Eheim-Jager 250w, and Aqueon Pro 150w heaters but that was it. I was going to throw my Eheim ECCO 2236 filter on the tank but I ended up impulse buying an AquaTop CF-400UV canister filter and at the same time I bought $150 dollars worth of driftwood. Way to not spend any money.  
Full Tank Shot one week after being set up, still murky from all the silt.

Eventually [after two 50% water changes] the tank cleared up. After being allowed to cycle for a month, I purchased two Oscars (Astronotus ocellatus) from my LFS. I got one Red oscar that is now named Samson and the other is a Tiger oscar named Delilah. I actually have no idea as to the sex of either fish since Oscars are notorious for not showing sexually dimorphic characteristics until at least 10" in size. 
Samson and Delilah enjoying their new home.

The tank has now been running for about 2 months, The oscars are doing great and growing quickly. I recently added a small school of Silver Dollar fish to the tank to reduce aggression between the Os since the smaller Delilah's tail was starting to get very ragged. I also planted a large Amazon Sword in the tank but the Silver Dollars have pretty much eaten it to the roots now. Oh well.

Amazon sword and CO2 diffuser. Neither are there anymore.



Monday, March 12, 2012

custom 40g stand

I decided to build a custom stand for my 40g breeder today. I'm tired of having a metal frame and I want to enclose the sump so that my cat won't jump in it; can't really enclose a metal frame and its hard to mount power strips to a metal frame.
Went and bought all my supplies at the local lumber yard and they cut all the 2x4s for me. The stand is 37"x19"x28". I got 4 37" pieces, 10 16" pieces, 4 28" pieces, and 8 21" pieces and a box of 100 #8 2.5" wood screws. Total was $38. Not bad considering my current stand cost me $90 and the only wood stand for a 40 breeder I was able to track down was $180.

The supplies.

Frame of the stand. I built two identical frames, top and bottom, using two 37" pieces and two 16" pieces.

Got the legs put on the frames. The legs are 28" tall.

I used eight more 2x4s to brace the corners so that the weight of the tank is held up by eight braces, four legs, and 32 woods screws instead of just four flimsy legs.

Added bracing on the bottom to support the sump and bracing on the top inside the legs to prevent against any bowing. 

All I have to do now is skin the entire stand, add the sump, mount the power bars, and mount the metal halide ballast somewhere in here.