Several years ago I had a minor case of multiple tank syndrome, around 15 of them if you didn't count the grow out, breeding, shrimp, snail and other non-display tanks.
When the kids were born my wife gently persuaded me to tear them all down. And she has forbid me from owning another tank since.
So back in August 2013 I decided to set up one for my son as his 4th birthday present.
I decided to go as low cost as possible, to appease the wife, 6 months later the tank is doing good and I figured I'd share my "son's" successes and failures getting it going.
As most men my age, I spend a great deal of my time late at night cruising the web looking at...... craigslist and used(insert city name here) websites looking at aquarium supplies for sale.
I came across a 27G with lighted canopy and an AC200 for $15, about 20 minutes later I was loading it into my car and not worrying about the change from the $20 I gave the previous owner.
The day of my little guys birthday party. The family was in the living room opening presents, while I raced around madly to set up my old metal tank rack and get the tank filled.
I grabbed half a bag of play sand that I had left over from the sand box, ran a hose into the house and walked away to join everyone in the living room.....
For those not counting, that's 3 BIG rookie mistakes made in all of 5 minutes from someone who knows better.
1 - it takes time and patience to set up one of those metal stands, and I somehow ended up with a few parts left over. Specifically the shims that hold the shelves in place
2 - playsand!!! great substrate but only after it has been rinsed, and rinsed and then rinsed again
3 - hose into house without proper supervision
So the shims I was missing on the one side of the rack caused the shelf to tilt under the weight, the very muddy water was tipped out onto the rabbit whose cage is right next to where I set things up and the hose did what it all hoses do, keep producing water. A rushed and haphazard setup became a mad panic tear down, attempting to save the laminate floor and a rather grumpy long haired angora rabbit.
The whole ordeal bent the legs on my old rack, so a new stand was needed. Out the scrap pile in my workshop I went and fashioned a workable stand, which to this day still needs to be completed (proper base, shelves, doors, coat of paint etc).
But I rinsed the heck out of the sand, monitored the hose as it filled the tank, lo' and behold a tank was born.
A few days later a friend who I previously sold most of my old equipment etc to, came by with some fresh filter squeezings, lots of different plant trimmings, and a few fish to start cycling the tank. A big thanks goes out to him, you know who you are.
Living a block from the ocean made finding interesting wood easy, my little guy and I spent a few days picking through driftwood piles until we found enough to decorate a 250G tank with spares, A lot turned out to be way to big which was a shame because they were awesome pieces. We boiled and sun dried each piece 2x. When it was time to finally pick through it to find the best ones..... the vast majority had been buried in the sand box or deeper mud puddles out back. So 2 pieces were all that made it into the tank, which worked out nicely!
Fast forward to recently
I came across a package of several rena XP filters which I bought and sold individually at 50-75% off retail, giving me a XP4 to run on the 27G tank and a small profit.
Instead of spending a small fortune on filter media, I went to the local big box and bought a bag of baby quilt batting ($3.97) which I cut into 42 proper sized pads, and a 2 cubic foot bag of landscape lava rock ($7.99) for bio media - enough to last several years. I only had to purchase a pack of 20ppi and 10ppi pads to use for larger detritus. And I'm looking for a less expensive alternative for that.
Okay I'm starting to ramble, in case you haven't noticed
Pictures and specs to follow