DIY - Projects & Ideas • DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

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Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Postby Chasmodes » Tue Nov 12, 2019 12:19 pm

Well, no aquarium project is completely finished until it supports life, and in this case, fish. I had a little time late on Sunday to get out to a creek that is only 15 minutes from my house to catch a few fish. My goal was to collect a few minnows of any time, and if lucky, a couple darters. So, I gathered up my hip boots, a bucket, and my net, and headed to the creek.

After about a quarter mile hike, I got to the spot that I wanted to collect. I had about an hour or so before the lost of daylight. I walked the creek bank for a bit and didn't see any fish at all. Either the fish weren't there, or the cold weather had them all hiding. I wasn't sure if perhaps they migrated out of the creek and into the river or were still there.

I climbed into the creek and tried kicking up leaves and, sure enough, the first fish showed up in the net, a small eastern black nosed dace (Rhinichthys atratulus). It was tiny, and I didn't want tiny fragile fish in a new tank. So, I kept disturbing leaves and eventually, found more larger fish of the same species. I kept five of them for the tank. I moved from pool to pool disturbing rocks and leaves with my feet, but, no darters.

So, I decided to start turning over larger rocks with my hand. So, I rolled up my shirt sleeves and began to work. I turned over the rocks, used my other hand to scare anything underneath into my net, which leaned precariously against my leg. After a few rocks, finally, a beautiful male rainbow darter (Etheostoma caeruleum)showed up in my net!

I was so pumped, what a beautiful fish. I should have taken a picture then, but, my phone was in my jacket on the creek bank a few pools back. It was very dark, and his orange/red fins were stunning. I kept turning over rocks looking for a female companion for him.

After a few more rocks turned over, another darter showed up in the net. At first, I thought it was a female, but, on closer inspection, it was a different species. It was a fantail darter (Etheostoma flabellare). I tried for a while more, working down each pool with no more success on darters. I caught a sculpin, but released it, along with several more blacknose dace. Since daylight was ending, I called it quits, happy with what I caught. Not just happy, elated!

I took the fish home, stuck an airstone in the bucket and let it alone for about four hours, so the water temps would warm to room temperature in my basement, about 64 degrees. The creek was quite cold, so it took a while. I tested a few parameters of the creek water and they were very similar to those of my tank. After that, I netted the fish out of my bucket and released them into my tank.

Within an hour, the dace and fantail darters were exploring the tank. The rainbow darter hid and sulked for a long time, perhaps more than two hours before coming out to explore. I fed a few flakes to the dace, and they ate. I didn't expect the darters to eat the flakes, so, I tossed in some blackworms. The fantail darter ate some immediately, as did the dace. The rainbow darter had no interest in food yet.

Last night, I came home from a fishing trip and rushed downstairs to observe my new fish. All of the fish were happy, doing what they do. The darters explore every nook and cranny in the tank, hunting for food. I fed them flakes again first, thinking the dace would get full and not eat the worms. I learned that they are never full.

I dropped in some blackworm with a turkey baster, target feeding near the darters to make sure that they got at least one worm to eat, and that worked. Both darters ate them with gusto. Success! The fish are feeding already, and seem happy in their new environment. I marveled at the personality of both darters, and the brilliant coloration of the male, not yet in breeding colors, but still amazing that fish like that live so close to me.

I put together a video of the clips from the last two days, showing the tank with fish. I hope you enjoy it!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIcr2BOH_7U
-Kevin Wilson
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Location: Maryland

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Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Postby Chasmodes » Tue Nov 19, 2019 10:27 am

I wound up collecting more fish from a local stream about 40 minutes from my house for my FW stream tank this past weekend. This small stream has been one of my favorite smallmouth bass fishing spots over the years. It has a wide diversity of fish species, as much as any stream in the Western part of Maryland.
Image

There are a couple species that I still want, but, for the most part, it's fully stocked now. I also found a beautiful red rock that I just had to put into the tank. I'm trying to find at least one rock to add to the tank from each fish collecting site. This tank is a Potomac River biotope tank, minus major predators.

The species below are currently in this tank:

Darters:
Rainbow Darter (Etheostoma caeruleum)
Fantail Darter (Etheostoma flabellare)
Greenside Darter (Etheostoma blennioides)

Minnows, Shiners and Dace:
Eastern Blacknosed Dace (Rhinichthys atratulus)
Spottail Shiner (Notropis hudsonius))
Silverjaw Minnow (Notropis buccatus)
Longnose Dace (Rhinichthys cataractae)
River Chub (Nocomis micropogon)

Here's a short video of the tank and the new critters:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3WnmcDz4jk&t=1s
-Kevin Wilson
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Location: Maryland

Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Postby Deeda » Tue Nov 19, 2019 9:46 pm

Absolutely gorgeous job on your background and decor!!! The fish look fantastic and it really does look like a slice of the wild. Thank you so much for sharing and looking forward to updates on how the fish are doing.
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Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Postby Chasmodes » Wed Nov 20, 2019 8:29 am

Thank you so much Dee!!!
-Kevin Wilson
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Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Postby Chasmodes » Tue Nov 26, 2019 9:37 pm

Here's a video of the new fish in the tank, now that they're acclimated. They're all so bold, not afraid of me when I clean the tank. They even try to eat the hairs on my arm when I clean algae off of the glass. In this video, I feed them blackworms using a turkey baster. I fed the minnows and dace flakes first, so they wouldn't pig out on the worms. Some of the fish are starting to color up more as well. I had 24 minutes of video clips at first, so I had to trim off 14 minutes of it to keep it from being too long. It was tough cutting out some of the scenes for me. Heck, I stayed up way too late last night watching these fish as it was. I'm so addicted to this tank. I hope you enjoy this video as much as I did making it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sn1f9gfUZuY&t=1s
-Kevin Wilson
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Chasmodes
 
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2015 11:45 am
Location: Maryland

Re: DIY Styrofoam/Drylok Aquarium Shale Wall Background

Postby Chasmodes » Tue Dec 03, 2019 12:18 pm

Here's a video update from last night. The fish are a bit aggressive and excited, because I fed them a bunch of blackworms right before filming. They settled down quite a bit toward the end of the video. Also, I added a few new fish, some shiners and one more longnose dace. The new fish ate food less than one hour after I introduced them to the tank. Now, they seem to fit right in. I hope y'all like the video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Rv0t6MTuII

Thanks everyone for following along during this build. I will follow up with maybe a couple more posts in the future as this tank becomes fully stocked...almost there. But more importantly, to let you all know how the wall and roots hold up over time. Since the tank is not a Cichlid tank, I don't want to use up valuable resources too much on here. Many thanks to Steve C., Dee, and many others who chimed in during the build with comments, suggestions, and recommendations, and also for your posts over the years that helped me learn how to do a project like this. I'm forever grateful.

My fish room is becoming quite a fish room. I have an oyster reef blenny tank that I'm working on (going from my 20g long to a 100g cubish tank). It's a Chesapeake Bay biotope tank. I'm not sure what my next fish tank projects will be at this point. I'd love a huge SW Caribbean biotope tank with a queen angelfish as the centerpiece, but, that's an expensive venture and the tank of a lifetime. I've always wanted to keep orange chromides, so maybe I'll try a brackish cichlid tank next. If I do that, then I'll feel better about posting here more often, LOL. My first loves in the fish world were freshwater angelfish, and eventually, my more aggressive cichlid tank (firemouths and salvini's).
-Kevin Wilson
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Location: Maryland

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