Aquarium Decoration (Rocks, Plants and Substrates) • Redoing my dad's tank for Father's Day

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Redoing my dad's tank for Father's Day

Postby bwestgsx06 » Fri May 18, 2012 4:15 pm

Ok so I got into the fish hobby because of my dad - he always had some pretty cool fish and even had a silver arrowana that we had to donate because it got so big. He currently has a 150 gallon tank housing a mix of CA and African (Mbuna) - sad, I know. His water parameters are terrible because of difficulty having to do WC's on a tank that big. I'm not sure he ever did them, we used to just always fill up more water when we could hear the filters splashing (this was when I was very young).

Well, I'm going to be in town this summer and my brother and I decided that cleaning up and fixing his tank would be a good gift for my dad, along with something to make maintenance easier. I have PFS in one of my tanks and a finer sand substrate in another and my dad's expressed a lot of interest in this - I've read the thread about switching from gravel to sand and have a decent plan I think - let me know what you guys think.

1. Purchase PFS while I'm in town - how much should I get to cover the floor of the 150? My biggest tank is a 55 so I'm not too sure on this one.
2. Wash PFS to ensure little to no settling.
3. Begin filling buckets for WC? - this is a major snag in the steps for me because I just use 4 5 gallon buckets that I prefill when I do WC's - that wouldn't even make a dent % wise in the 150. Because he's complained about the difficulty in doing WC's (he's old, had shoulder surgery recently), I'd like to get something that can make it very simple to do these WC's. Python, etc. Only thing is I'm not sure about hose fittings and such right now so any and all help with this ahead of time is appreciated.
4. Remove decorations - he has a TON of rock in there that he's accumulated over the years as well as some driftwood, fake plants, etc.
5. Vacuum substrate and simultaneously drain water. Filter (only one Magnum 350) will be o ff at this point
6. Catch fish and put them in big plastic bin w/ water and probably a heater
7. Remove substrate and start filling back up with water. (Options I've heard of include filling straight from the tap with one of those python things, pumping water out of the prefilled bins (w/ heaters in them to match temperature, anything else?)
8. Tank 1/2 full with water, redecorate, continue filling with water.
9. Introduce fish

Problems I could see from this include a mini cycle from removing so much subtrate, but not likely because A - still a ton of decorations in there and B - Magnum 350's are pretty weak biofilters (they just have a small bio basket and I'm pretty sure my dad only uses the pad for water polishing, not sure he even has the basket anymore). Fish fighting in the buckets (I'm not even sure how many fish he has, but know he has like 3 or 4 pairs of GROWN convicts, each really mean and have actually killed off their parents to become dominant in the tank. I thought it was cool how they survived and began having their own fry and now they're pretty big and nasty. He also has some Saulusi [I think, could be bumble bee]maybe some Auratus or some other nasty Mbuna, and what I think is two Johanni [male and female]) It's true what they say about convicts breeding wherever because his water parameters were SOOOO bad but they continued to pop fry out and I'm not sure how but I think it has to do with all of the other fish and so many places to hide but I've seen multiple Mbuna fry in there.

I'm not sure what else I should cover but am looking for help, recommendations, etc. because my brother and I will be getting this done while I'm in town. I'd like to keep it under $200 total but that could change as necessary - anything I can get online and have shipped there ahead of time will help. Right now I see myself getting him probably 2 150 watt heaters because I'm not sure his is working and to heat the water ahead of time, but do I also need a pump to pump the water out of those buckets? Or is there a way to have the temp from the tap (if I go the python route) already there so WC's are easier on him. And as far as fish go, I'm not sure how attached he is to his convicts but I don't think he wants a whole new setup. He's tried it in the past but because these are grown, adult fish (6+ years for most) they're very aggressive and kill off most everything.

Thanks for reading and for the help.

Mike
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Re: Redoing my dad's tank for Father's Day

Postby pdjs01 » Fri May 18, 2012 6:35 pm

first off use a hose pipe to do water changes, all the bacteria you need is in the filters, I've changed tanks before and just kept the filters going, all new water, sand, rocks etc with no problems.
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Re: Redoing my dad's tank for Father's Day

Postby bwestgsx06 » Fri May 18, 2012 6:40 pm

A hose pipe? And thanks, although in the case of the magnum 350 and the polishing filter I don't think there's much beneficial bacteria in there
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Re: Redoing my dad's tank for Father's Day

Postby DJRansome » Fri May 18, 2012 9:24 pm

Definitely use a Python and tap water that is running to the temp you want in the tank. And sounds like the magnum 350 is the only source of bacteria you will have, so a little is better than none.
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Re: Redoing my dad's tank for Father's Day

Postby bwestgsx06 » Sat May 19, 2012 4:15 am

so pythons are where its at? thats the easiest way to go? no need for buckets or large bins than?
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Re: Redoing my dad's tank for Father's Day

Postby DJRansome » Sat May 19, 2012 7:50 am

Absolutely. Dirty water from tank to drain directly while you vacuum. Flip the valve and adjust the temp, then clean water from tap to tank while you relax. I takes about 20 minutes for each process on my 125G.
125G Aulonocara, Malawi Haps, Vics (trial), S Polli
75G Demasoni, Labs, Cyno hara, Met estherae, S Multipunctata
75G Calvus, Caudopunctatus, Cyp Kerenge, S Petricola
33G Neo omnicaeruleus; 33G Flameback Kisumu; 33G P nyererei Igombe; 33G Hap ruby green
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Re: Redoing my dad's tank for Father's Day

Postby NeptunesNeighborhood » Sat May 19, 2012 8:16 am

I bought the aqueon equivalent of the python, just the contraption and fit my own lengths of tubing on to it, it makes water changes incredibly easy. That would be an amazing gift in itself. Of course it lacks the shut-off valve at the gravel vac, but in case you were on a bit of a budget I figured I'd mention it.
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Re: Redoing my dad's tank for Father's Day

Postby bwestgsx06 » Sat May 19, 2012 12:49 pm

the problem I've heard of is the attachment to the various sinks/faucets/etc
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Re: Redoing my dad's tank for Father's Day

Postby DJRansome » Sat May 19, 2012 2:19 pm

I've never heard of anyone who could not find a faucet to connect to. For me I have to use the one in my laundry sink, but it works. They do provide various adaptors.
125G Aulonocara, Malawi Haps, Vics (trial), S Polli
75G Demasoni, Labs, Cyno hara, Met estherae, S Multipunctata
75G Calvus, Caudopunctatus, Cyp Kerenge, S Petricola
33G Neo omnicaeruleus; 33G Flameback Kisumu; 33G P nyererei Igombe; 33G Hap ruby green
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Re: Redoing my dad's tank for Father's Day

Postby Deeda » Sat May 19, 2012 2:28 pm

Since this tank hasn't been maintained too well in the past, there is the possibility that the complete project you have in mind may cause some problems with the fish. I'd recommend testing the existing tank for pH and NitrAte at a minimum. You may have to do multiple 20% water changes over a few days to avoid losing any fish.
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Re: Redoing my dad's tank for Father's Day

Postby bwestgsx06 » Sat May 19, 2012 7:10 pm

I tested it before when I was there and nitrates were off the chart. The tube was so red. Anyways I will double check them all again.

Anyone have any recommendations for switching the gravel to sand or does my plan seem good?
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Re: Redoing my dad's tank for Father's Day

Postby bwestgsx06 » Wed May 23, 2012 11:48 pm

DJRansome wrote:Definitely use a Python and tap water that is running to the temp you want in the tank. And sounds like the magnum 350 is the only source of bacteria you will have, so a little is better than none.


Isn't there bacteria also in the rocks, decorations, etc?

NeptunesNeighborhood wrote:I bought the aqueon equivalent of the python, just the contraption and fit my own lengths of tubing on to it, it makes water changes incredibly easy. That would be an amazing gift in itself. Of course it lacks the shut-off valve at the gravel vac, but in case you were on a bit of a budget I figured I'd mention it.


Any way you can hook me up with a How-to or and advice you have on this? I just got off the phone with him and and asked if he had heard of these kind of things, he had no clue. It'll make a great gift for him for sure.
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Re: Redoing my dad's tank for Father's Day

Postby NeptunesNeighborhood » Thu May 24, 2012 7:51 am

bwestgsx06 wrote:Any way you can hook me up with a How-to or and advice you have on this? I just got off the phone with him and and asked if he had heard of these kind of things, he had no clue. It'll make a great gift for him for sure.


Just grab an aqueon water changer flow valve (like http://www.amazon.com/Aqueon-Water-Chan ... B00629U4CM ) and take it to home depot or lowes and fit it to the correct tubing (5/8" diameter for mine) and just buy however many feet you want that would do best to fit to a faucet. It comes with a couple of adapters, but the largest one fit on my outside faucets without a problem, and they have the most water pressure at my current living space. It doesn't come with directions or anything (because it's a "replacement part"), but it's not difficult to figure out, this video does a decent job of explaining it - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxzGeaVeeq8

If anything, for me, the connection at the faucet is the most difficult part of the operation. I pay special attention to any resistance since this part is the one that is known to crack. Mine hasn't had a problem yet, but that's not saying that it won't. I think the thing has a warranty, but I can't find any documentation to back it up.
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Re: Redoing my dad's tank for Father's Day

Postby bwestgsx06 » Sat May 26, 2012 10:02 pm

do they make attachments for multiple sinks?
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Re: Redoing my dad's tank for Father's Day

Postby NeptunesNeighborhood » Sun May 27, 2012 6:53 am

bwestgsx06 wrote:do they make attachments for multiple sinks?


like one water changed hooked up to two faucets? I've never seen something like that. You can always construct your own out of PVC, all it really is is a Y-piece with a valve. Take a look at this page as well - http://www.cichlid-forum.com/articles/diy_python.php
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