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Time for changes (long)

15486 Views 34 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  Donna01
I've had my tank for almost 5 years now and it has not really changed much since i first set it up, so its time for major changes.

Heres how my tank is setup now:
(I lost several fish from a heater mis-hap right before moving from Michigan to Oklahoma and have been planning a re-do since then)

Tank: 75g Long
Substrate: 120 lbs natural medium gravel
Substrate: 40 lbs crushed coral (mixed with gravel)
Filtration: Magnum 350
Filtration: (2) Penguin 1140 Power Heads (with sponge pre-filters) powering RFUGF
Filtration: (1) Penguin 660 (with sponge pre-filter) powering DIY Bio-Filter with Bio-Balls & Bio-rings
Decor: 140-160lbs Lace Rock
Fish: (4) Red Zebra (1m/3f), (2) Yellow Lab (2f), (1) Demasoni (M), (10) Red Top Zebra (5M/5F)

If you subtract total gallons - substrate - lace rock i probably actually carry 55-60 gallons of water with this setup.

Total Filtration: 1095 gph (75 gallons 14.6x/hr, 60 gallons 18.25x/hr)

This display is just bealtiful and i am completely happy with it but its time to try something different.

Future Setup:

Tank: 75g Long
Substrate: 90 lbs play sand
Buffer: 20 lbs crushed coral (in DIY filter)
Filtration: DIY Wet Dry 300-350gph with Bio-Media from current DIY Filter
Filtration: Magnum 350 Water Polishing setup running in chamber of W/D Filter
Filtration: (2) Penguin 1140 Power Heads (with sponge pre-filters) running 6-8 jet USJ
Filtration: (1) Penguin 660 (with sponge pre-filter) powering DIY Mechanical/Buffer filter
Decor: 70-90lbs lace rock
Fish: (4) Red Zebra (1m/3f), (5) Yellow Lab (1m/4f), (12-15) Demasoni (Mixed), (4) Red Top Zebra (1M/3F)

Total Gallons - Substrate/Decor + W/D Filteris probably 70-75 gallons..

Total Filtration: 1395 gph (75 gallons 18.6x/hr)

I think *** figured out a way to do all this filtration with most current being from the USJ

I am going today to get storage totes to put the fish in, PVC, Padding for under the sand, and sand. I plan to have the 2 1140's mounted toward the top in the outside corners with the sponge filters pulling water from the top of the tank pumping it through the USJs.

I'll get a 20 or 29 gallon tall to make my SUMP and will use the DIY overflow with a 350-400 gph pump.

I want to either have 3 stacks of rocks or one continous stack, but much smaller than it is now. i want more open water. Im thinking i can stack smaller rocks mostly to the top of the tank in the corners to hide the USJ plumbing and one in the middle.

I'm open to any suggestions or comments as i am starting this project. Sorry this is so long!!
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So i went to Lowes today and got most everything i need to switch over.

This is what I got:

100 lbs Sand
20 feet 1/2" PVC
PVC Fittings and adapters
13" x 48" x 3/4" Styrofoam
A tube of silicone to "glue" the foam to the bottom of the tank

I still need to get some new crushed coral for buffering but i think that might wait until the W/D is ready to install.

I started the USJ system. Heres a pic of 1 half of it nearly completed. None of it is glued together yet, and most of it will probably not be so i can easily reconfigure.

Tomorrow i will clean the sand and make the other half of the usj system.. The plan is to break the tank down monday night then tuesday afternoon put it back together with the new substrate and jet system...

I am curious as to how long it might take for the bio-filter to recover after removing the UGF & Substrate.

Comments? Suggestions?
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Heres a pic of the completed USJ system. It has 6 jets and that looks to be plenty.

I'm open to any suggestions or comments.
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BrianNFlint said:
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We are interested in watching your progress :)
Are you planning on using the styrofoam as "padding"? If you are, its not a good idea because the fish like to dig and will be constantly chewing up pieces of styrofoam. It will drive you crazy getting the pieces out of your tank. Instead, get some egg crate, in lighting department of lowes, etc. With a pair of side cutters you can cut this to to any configuration. Lay your ugf system into cut out areas of the egg crate and attack with electrical ties, lay your sand down to the level of the egg crate, place your rock base, then add the rest of your sand/gravel.
I might run back by Lowes today and swap out the styrofoam for egg crate. I have been debating between the few for a little while now, but never considered them tearing it up..

As for progress, I cleaned all the sand... oh joy!! Then i decided to setup a 10g with sand to throw the fish i want to get rid of in.. Also it seemed like a good idea to do a "test run" on a smaller scale before i tear my 75g all apart.

Its not a beautiful display but will work to hold unwanted fish or fry.. I threw a trash bag on the back to hide the wires and such but dont care much for it. maybe if i had spent more time with it and got it flat.. heres a pic..

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This was the tank a couple years ago. It had a DIY rock background with about 30 caves in it plus all the lace rock. It got too restrictive as the fish matured so i took out the background shortly after this pic. I also removed many fish to allow more space for the remaining fish to grow.

This was the tank a couple weeks ago.. "Before pic"

During.. At this point I had removed probably 1/3 of the gravel!!

Tote full of rock!

Tote full of Fish!

Tote full of gravel!!

Tote full of sand!

Everything laid out. Its ready for sand!

Sand is in! Woo Hoo!! Partially filled.. Waiting for sand to settle.. 1140s are on powering the jets.

Still really cloudy but i added the fish so I can get to bed!

Heres a close up shot of the tank..

So that was a couple hours ago. With all the filtration running its clearing up nicely.. My water was always crystal clear with my gravel I hope it is with sand.

The jets blow hard enough to keep everything stirred up, but not hard enough to hurt anyone. When i first reintroduced the fish it would push them around some but they are already getting used to it.

The cichlids seem to really enjoy the sand and the jets! They are already sifting through it and moving it around.. As soon as the males realised there was more than sand in the tank they started harrassing their respective females.. I like the new look and the extra space. I ended up using all of the lace rock.. Man this stuff is addicting!!! Once you start you cant stop till its all gone! hahaha

So all in all I spent about $40 to convert.. not bad at all and I am very happy with the results thus far..

I'll post some better pics once i've had time to clean the glass up and the sand settles..
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nice work, how is ur ph and stuff
Nice job! It looks like all your pre-planning really paid off. I can hardly wait to see pics of once it clears up this morning.
The transition pics are pretty cool and the fishing product looks great. Nice job! :thumb:
Here is the final update to this part of the remake..

I ended up using only about 50-60lbs of sand in the show tank. It seemed to be enough but i will keep the rest incase i need to add more in the future. As of 10:30 last night the water had pretty much cleared up with only a very slight hint of cloudiness.. Heres a pic.

Today the water is crystal clear.. just like i like it.. I took a couple pics but its hard to get a good one during the day. The money shots come at night which i'll post in the next few days in the photography forum..

The ph is right where it needs to be. I ended up keeping about 35 gallons, so i only ended up doing about a 50% water change. I added a little Kent Cichlid Chemistry to bump it up a little since i removed all the coral.. Its now 8.2 - 8.4.

My real concern is an amonia spike since i removed so much gravel, which i had been using for years to keep my bio-filter stable.. I'll be doing twice weekly 25% water changes until it recovers.

I removed 5 fish, all male Red Top Zebras, leaving me with 1m/4f.

Next in the remake i'll use the styrofoam i bought to make a foam/concrete rock background.. This should be a nice test since i'm not real artistic like that.. Also i don't want to use it if im going to lose more than 2" of footprint.. I just got alot of space back i'm not ready to give it up yet!

So heres this mornings pic.. Not the best but not bad for a day-time pic.. I'll try to get many and more detailed pics over the next couple days..

I'd like to hear some feedback.. What do you guys think? What could I do to make it even nicer?
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I love it. Looks great like it is. BTW, are the UGJs your only filters? and how are they working for you?
Your tank is looking real good. Much better with the sand instead of gravel.
I'm running the UGJs, Magnum 350, and a DIY filter under the canopy.. Its well filtered..

I like the added space in the tank, as do the fish!

Today I added 3 yellow labs and 2 demasoni (its all the store had that i wanted).. Its definately looking better..

Thanks for the comments!
Just curious.....but what kind of sand did you use?
Quickrete, I think medium.. It has more pebbles than i would have prefered but it dont seem to bother the fish.. they are much smaller than my gravel was.

It was cheap.. under $5 for 50lbs.
Wow that does look real nice but I liked it before too. Good job :thumb: Those filter are over my head though.
Are you having any trouble keeping the cichlids from digging around the output jets and exposing the white piping?
I wouldn't call them problems, but toward the back of the tank, under the rocks you can sometimes see the PVC.

I've added about 20 more lbs of sand to cure this and it seems to be helping but to me its not an issue.. You cant see them unless you are looking for them.
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