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THIS is going to get interesting....

26774 Views 126 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  giypsy
Hi Guys. This is my first time posting on here. I've been lurking and reading and lurking some more and this site has been a WEALTH of information to help me with this project that I've embarked on.... so I figured I'd start a journal up here, and maybe help keep someone from repeating mistakes that I have made while learning in the process.

This WHOLE project started.... (Drumroll please....) Because we decided to paint a room. (yes, you read that right.) It had this godawful flowery, stripey, yucky wall paper that my mother put up when this was her house. (she has since moved and I've taken over the house) It was her formal dining room, and we are converting it to a living room/family room type of thing.

A quick little bit about me: (this will prove relevant as you move through the thread.)

My nickname is McGyver. Anytime people need to figure out how to do something or fix something, I am always the first call. (Flattering, but sometimes annoying.) I spent sixteen years as a landscape Nurseryman, and can probably speak more latin plant names than all but one or two people in North Jersey. (Joisey as the New Yorkers call it... LOL) I got laid off a year ago and vowed never to back to the business, and my back thanks me for it. I now fix Glass. (Think fancy Waterford Crystal champagne glasses and all sorts of artsy fartsy stuff like that. Hey... It's paying the bills.) Now that all of that is out of the way.... Let me explain how this all really started.

"Honey... can we strip this wallpaper off and repaint the room?"

"Yes dear".

"When do you want to start?"

::::Mumbling to self:::::: (I don't really WANT to start) "I dunno. When do you want to?"


"Ok Dear."

So like any good man would... I made a godawful mess of stripping wallpaper, scraping Wallpaper Glue, Sticking my fingers together with said Wallpaper Glue.... and all that kind of stuff. Then there was the Spackling and sanding.

(I swear, this will get on to aquaria related stuff soon.!!!)

This is what I was left with:

While working on the room, I moved a few times, an old 85 gal aquarium. It was in my possession because I was asked to "Turtle sit" for two months, for friends that moved to South Carolina. That was two years ago. Way I look at it.... It's mine now. I had to let the Turtles go because they out grew the tank in six months. (and I told the folks that I did too.) So I said:

"Honey.... I want to set this tank up and make it the focal point of the room"

"OK. Now get painting."

::::Mumbling.... Grrrrr... Inaudible:::::

And so we went on painting.

And then it hit me! I'll set up a "Dog-Quarium!"

I don't believe Dear Marie was going to let me go through with that plan, but I DID get a chuckle out of her....

So.... I decided to set up an aquarium. I've had many over the years starting when I was just four. Then for my first job I worked at a pet store. I had Oscars then until my well meaning mother washed the windows directly over the tank and the overspray did in my Oscars. :(

Then I had a "Native aquarium" for years until my pickeral ate me out of house and home. I had him in there with some sunfish that were bigger than him... Crayfish.... etc....

But I've always dreamed of an aquarium with lots of gorgeous Cardnals schooling together, Kulhlies rummaging around......

So.... I like to do things right. First I was going to get one of those cheap photo backgrounds, throw some plastic plants in there and fill'er up.

But like the true Plant Geek I am.... I decided to go with real plants..... and THIS..... is where it all got interesting. I started researching lighting and substrate, and stumbled across "Concrete over styrofoam" backgrounds....

::::Wow. That looks cool. I can do that!::::

So then I spent a WHOLE bunch of time researching backgrounds.....

"HONEY!!!! Put the computer DOWN and come help me paint!"

"Yes dear...."

In the interest of not making this particular one TOO awful long, I'm going to stop here and continue with a new entry....

"FLYING STYROFOAM.... Or.... Pink Styrofoam tracked all over the house!"
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I've enjoyed reading about your project. How great to be getting back in to plants - aquatic nonetheless.

For you light I would recommend T5 bulbs. They are much more efficient and last longer. A friend of mine built my light for me and it is amazing. He is also a McGuyver type. (You'd get along well!) If you look on pgs. 53 and 55 (, you can see some current pxs. of the tank.

Here is a link for my light build.

As important as the bulbs, are the reflectors for them. Geisseman bulbs and reflectors are really amazing. People have told me that the Geisseman bulbs will last for 7 years, where as others must be replaced anywhere from every 6-9 months. I used the Geisseman midday and you can see from my pxs the amazing color I get.

Good luck on your project. I'll be interested to see your progress.

BTW- there is NOTHING like real plants!!!
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Your dog is so cute. Good thing he's small enough to get the real skinny on all your projects!

One more thing to consider about your lights. Any barrier between your lights and the water, ie. glass, acrylic, will act as a filter cutting down the amount of light that gets to your tank. Since T5s are very intense that might not be a problem. Then again it depends on what plants you grown. I have about an 18" brace in the middle of my tank. I can't grow certain plants there simply because that glass is in the middle. It really makes a difference.
There's a big difference in output between T5s and T8s. If you checked out the link I sent you to my light creation you'll see how close mine is. I have no glass except the center brace. My bulbs do fine. I think you will definitely need more light than the two you have now. Remember that the reflectors make a huge difference.

You may want to paint first. Finish the room first and then plan to your heart's content. That way your gf will not mind what you do with the tank. :D
Good going! Looking forward to seeing the "entire" project.

FYI - about my link - just wanted you to see how low my light was to the water and that the lights are ok without a splash guard. Also you can see the big brace I have in the center. :D
I thought after such good work in px number one you'd be anywhere but the garage. Well.... at least you made good use of your time in there. Nice chrome idea. Lookin' good! :D
WOW! That was fast! Looking good!
How nice! All done. I agree that you need the couch to face the tank... LOL
You guys are a stitch! LOL This is the first time I've ever heard of a planted tank being an excuse for running a distillery for hard cider or hard tea!!! .... gives a new meaning to the term "creative juices".
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