Weekend Aquarium Build

SotaAquatics

Hey All,

Went up to a friend's house for the weekend, she hasn't been happy with her 40 breeder for awhile so we decided to work on a new aquascape for it. Will go over the build and what we did below. She wanted a cave theme up high in the background and I feel like we achieved it pretty well with our limited rock selection. This is mostly a hardscape build at this time, we are ordering plants for the tank and will hopefully have future updates once the tank gets planted and settled in. Final pictures will be at the end, no sneak peak - these are located in post #3 due to me getting carried away with pictures.

Most pictures had to be taken from an angle looking down due to some terrible window glare and no window shades. The layout does look a bit different looking straight in then what you see below. - Shown in the final picture.

This is the starting tank. Red lava rock with some flourite black. I think the red lava rock would have looked a lot better with a white or more natural sand color then the black. There are a few twigs of dead monte carlo in there, some really rough repens, a flame sword and some anubias.

1.jpg


First step of course, empty out the tank, we put all the fish - a bunch of mixed guppies, two corys, and a couple of nerites into a 29 holding tank. She hated the guppies so I took them home with me, I believe the plan will be for a very limited fish count in the future and focus will be the design and plants.

2.jpg


I can't begin to tell you how much a difference a background makes on a tank, even just a solid painted color. We taped up the tank and spray painted the back with some flat black rustoleum. Super quick and easy process and in my opinion it makes a huge difference in any tank design.

3.jpg


Here it is set back up on the stand, cleaned out and painted. Always a big difference when you cant see the wall or cords/hoses out the back.

4.jpg


Next step was playing around with the rock we had available, we used seiryu stone, which is pretty expensive so we wanted to maximize what we could. We came up with some rocks that we felt could make a suitable cave set up when put next to each other - I don't have a picture of this as we just did this on the floor, basically played with them like legos until we got what we liked.

After we had the main rock layout we wanted, I cut and zip tied some egg crate light diffuser together. We wanted the cave to be elevated up high in the back and slope down to the front.
5.jpg


I made multiple compartments in the layout, this was to help reinforce the structure, some of these rocks were quite heavy. Inside each of the compartments we placed lava rock inside little filter media bags. This was to help reduce weight for the amount of height we were going for in the tank as well as help avoid any substrate compacting. The egg crate on the right was to stop me from knocking the light off the back of the tank while I was working... learned that the hard way.
6.jpg


Next we started to reconstruct our cave design. We used cigarette filters ripped apart to wedge between the rocks then soaked them with superglue. This created a strong sturdy connection between the rocks as well as allowed us to fill up some gaps that made the individual pieces look more as one.

7.jpg


Continuing on with the cave feature...

8.jpg


We used lava rock and some more filter media bags at the base of our slope. This was more to help keep the structure of it and reduce the amount of erosion that happens once water is added. Also added on the main front slope was a long strip of egg crate light diffuser, this worked fantastic to stop the substrate from running down the slope.

9.jpg


Our big placements are done, next we had to fill in some holes in our cave wall where the substrate from the back was pouring through.

10.jpg

Continued in Post #3 below.
 

BigManAquatics

Definitely a good start!
 

SotaAquatics

We got the rest of the rock in, this will all be subject to move as we go forward with planting and finalizing our design.

11.jpg


Some more sand was added, a little bit of rock repositioning as well. The few plants from the original tank were put in to get a little green as well as some moss. Below are the current final pictures of the hardscape. Plants to be continued at a future date.


12.jpg


The angled view from her work desk where she will see the tank majority of the time. Water will clear up in a few days. We have some preliminary plans for plants, we will be attaching some moss to some of the rock faces and an HC carpet on the left and right but leaving a path of substrate out the cave mouth.

13.jpg
 

AverageAquarist22

Looks good!
 

MyFishAddiction

Hey All,

Went up to a friend's house for the weekend, she hasn't been happy with her 40 breeder for awhile so we decided to work on a new aquascape for it. Will go over the build and what we did below. She wanted a cave theme up high in the background and I feel like we achieved it pretty well with our limited rock selection. This is mostly a hardscape build at this time, we are ordering plants for the tank and will hopefully have future updates once the tank gets planted and settled in. Final pictures will be at the end, no sneak peak - these are located in post #3 due to me getting carried away with pictures.

Most pictures had to be taken from an angle looking down due to some terrible window glare and no window shades. The layout does look a bit different looking straight in then what you see below. - Shown in the final picture.

This is the starting tank. Red lava rock with some flourite black. I think the red lava rock would have looked a lot better with a white or more natural sand color then the black. There are a few twigs of dead monte carlo in there, some really rough repens, a flame sword and some anubias.

1.jpg


First step of course, empty out the tank, we put all the fish - a bunch of mixed guppies, two corys, and a couple of nerites into a 29 holding tank. She hated the guppies so I took them home with me, I believe the plan will be for a very limited fish count in the future and focus will be the design and plants.

2.jpg


I can't begin to tell you how much a difference a background makes on a tank, even just a solid painted color. We taped up the tank and spray painted the back with some flat black rustoleum. Super quick and easy process and in my opinion it makes a huge difference in any tank design.

3.jpg


Here it is set back up on the stand, cleaned out and painted. Always a big difference when you cant see the wall or cords/hoses out the back.

4.jpg


Next step was playing around with the rock we had available, we used seiryu stone, which is pretty expensive so we wanted to maximize what we could. We came up with some rocks that we felt could make a suitable cave set up when put next to each other - I don't have a picture of this as we just did this on the floor, basically played with them like legos until we got what we liked.

After we had the main rock layout we wanted, I cut and zip tied some egg crate light diffuser together. We wanted the cave to be elevated up high in the back and slope down to the front.
5.jpg


I made multiple compartments in the layout, this was to help reinforce the structure, some of these rocks were quite heavy. Inside each of the compartments we placed lava rock inside little filter media bags. This was to help reduce weight for the amount of height we were going for in the tank as well as help avoid any substrate compacting. The egg crate on the right was to stop me from knocking the light off the back of the tank while I was working... learned that the hard way.
6.jpg


Next we started to reconstruct our cave design. We used cigarette filters ripped apart to wedge between the rocks then soaked them with superglue. This created a strong sturdy connection between the rocks as well as allowed us to fill up some gaps that made the individual pieces look more as one.

7.jpg


Continuing on with the cave feature...

8.jpg


We used lava rock and some more filter media bags at the base of our slope. This was more to help keep the structure of it and reduce the amount of erosion that happens once water is added. Also added on the main front slope was a long strip of egg crate light diffuser, this worked fantastic to stop the substrate from running down the slope.

9.jpg


Our big placements are done, next we had to fill in some holes in our cave wall where the substrate from the back was pouring through.

10.jpg



Continued in Post 3 below.
'She hated the guppies,"?!? BLASPHEMEY! XD
Great looking so far!
 

John58ford

Love that you helped out a friend, I enjoy doing stuff like this when asked as well. Very nice work with the diffuser grid to get the height. Try and get a follow up photo in a few months so we can see it grown in a bit.
 

SotaAquatics

'She hated the guppies,"?!? BLASPHEMEY! XD
I know... don't have to tell me! luckily I had room for them back home with lots of new friends!

Love that you helped out a friend, I enjoy doing stuff like this when asked as well. Very nice work with the diffuser grid to get the height. Try and get a follow up photo in a few months so we can see it grown in a bit.
Will do! Always a huge change once plants are added and have some time to grow in. I did make a DIY CO2 reactor and we set up a complete CO2 system as well. Should be able to get some nice growth in the future.
 

Ouse

Looking good. :) Guppies are easily accessible and easy to care for hard water fish so I don’t see why they should be hated. In my experience they’re very versatile. The original setup looked great but I can’t wait to see the final result.

Don’t know if I missed this somewhere, but what stocking does she want to add to the new scape?
 

SotaAquatics

Looking good. :) Guppies are easily accessible and easy to care for hard water fish so I don’t see why they should be hated. In my experience they’re very versatile. The original setup looked great but I can’t wait to see the final result.

Don’t know if I missed this somewhere, but what stocking does she want to add to the new scape?

I love guppies, have a few hundred in my own tanks... Just not her thing, I don't think there was an established plan for their breeding and it got a little overwhelming.

As far as future stocking, not sure at all. I think the plan will be focusing more on a nice planted tank vs much fish. Will need to get the cory school back up to 6ish at some point. A couple amano shrimp down the road and I am pushing for a school of chili rasbora and one centerpiece fish but it will be her call.
 

ForceTen

Cigarette filters? I like the idea of the structure underneath.
 

JustAFishServant

Woah, this is going to be exciting! But may I ask about the egg crate? Why didn't you simply slope the substrate?
 

SotaAquatics

Woah, this is going to be exciting! But may I ask about the egg crate? Why didn't you simply slope the substrate?

Sure! Sloping would have worked but I think it would have been more difficult to work with. Below were kind of the 3 main reasons for my choice with it.

1 - The main reason was for stability with the rock, the cave structure with what we had wouldn't have worked with the independent rocks on loose sand. If we had a nice big single piece, I would have just sloped the substrate but to keep these static and unshifting we needed to anchor them.

2 - The egg crate also helps keep stability with our slopes so they don't level out. Its a lot easier for me to keep a relatively steep slope with some pseudo retaining walls in place.

3 - That substrate is HEAVY! and I get paranoid about weight and compaction even though I know its mathematically sound and safe. By doing the egg crate I was able to fill the pockets up with lava rock to use a lot less substrate - it would have been about 200 lbs of sand in a 40 gallon without the egg crate. Lava rocks reduced the weight and amount of sand we needed to use by about 80 lbs in this build.
 

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