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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
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Tank Size: 160 gallon
Filtration: Eheim 2262
Substrate: Black Eco Complete, Sunset Gold sand

Temperature: 26 C
pH: 7.4
GH: 4
KH: 3

Flora:
Anubias
Microsorum sp.
Jungle Valesnaria
Amazon Sword
Crypts
Water Lettuce

Fauna:
5 Geophagus parnaibae Tapajo
5 Crossocheilas siamensis, Siamese Algae Eaters
3 Chalceus macrolepidotus, Pink Tail Chalceus
3 Chromobotia macrocanthus, Clown Loaches
1 L-200a High Fin Green Phantom
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Rogo! The hardscape design is in the style of the Alex, Max's guru, who helped us with the initial setup of the hardscape. He starts with siliconing two pieces of rectangular plexi across each back corner. River rocks collected locally were washed and siliconed against the plexi to cover it, and along the back wall of the tank, rising up in the right hand corner. Smaller rocks and slate were siliconed in place to form small caves. A couple of larger rocks were siliconed towards the front, with slate glued on top, to form a couple of larger caves/swim throughs. We let the silicone dry for two days.

Eco complete substrate was placed behind the plexi to form two raised beds for planting. The sand was placed in front of the plexi to a depth of about 2", since we were planning to have geos.

Another trip to the river and we brought back the large root on the left, and the branches on the left and middle. We scrubbed them down and put them in the dishwasher on the pots & pans cycle with vinegar in the rinse aid compartment. Then they were set to dry in the sun. I attached rocks with rubber bands to keep them down while they were being waterlogged. The awesome branched stump on the right I bought from a bcaquaria member.

Then we added the heaters and filter, and filled the tank and let it run for two weeks. I found I had to add lead ties to the plants being rooted in the Eco complete to hold them in place. This substrate doesn't seem to hold plants as well as regular aquarium gravel. All the rocks we placed along the wall of the tank created small cavities so it was easy to stuff the Java and anubias into the spaces.

The tank background film was purchased from Island Pets Richmond. There is nowhere locally that carries the rock pattern. It is the same as the one we used and loved on our first tank. I like the depth it gives and the brown colour doesn't compete with the fish and plants.

It's been a month since we added water. The ph has gone up a bit, from 6.8 to 7.4. I am hoping it is not due to the awesome root piece we found on the river. There were mostly deciduous trees along the banks. I added some almond leaves to help soften the water. I will have to monitor this for a while and see what happens.

Last week we added our first fish. We moved our large high fin green phantom over from our other tank, and our 2 large SAEs. We bought 2 male and 4 female tapajo geos, and 3 large SAEs. Max loves the way the SAEs school and race across the tank.

Next week we are picking up 3 pink tail Chalceus and 3 clown loaches.

We are on the look out for a juvenile electric blue Jack dempsey, a red shoulder severum, and a blue acara.
 

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If I may, I think the placement of the rocks are too human made. Try to be a bit more random if you can.
 

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Great looking setup! The background blends in quite well with the rocks you placed against the back.

That stand sure looks like the one I built about 10 years ago. I think I can see the notch I cut out in one of the door openings so I could clear a FX5 Lol. Love how equipment makes its way around the community.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
That stand sure looks like the one I built about 10 years ago.
Then you must be the person to ask: can I drill a 3/4" hole in the upper piece of wood that runs along the back of the tank? The filter is so tall that the output hose has to bend down slightly to clear it and run up the back of the tank. I was wondering about drilling a hole through to allow the hose to run up without bending - or would that affect the structural integrity of the stand too much?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Looks good, but I'm curious what the purpose of siliconing the rocks in place is?
We used silicone to adhere rocks to the plexi partition between the sand and gravel to ensure that the plexi remained hidden. We also siliconed some rocks to the back glass so that we could get some height on the rock pile. We siliconed other rocks to artfully (or perhaps, as has been mentioned, not so artfully) to form caves.

Our green phantom is 5" and was gallumping around our 110, basically trashed the place, knocking over rock caves, etc. We just thought while we had the silicone out that we would ensure some stability in our structures. There are some loose rocks too, as well as those rubber banded to our wood until it is fully waterlogged.
 

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We used silicone to adhere rocks to the plexi partition between the sand and gravel to ensure that the plexi remained hidden. We also siliconed some rocks to the back glass so that we could get some height on the rock pile. We siliconed other rocks to artfully (or perhaps, as has been mentioned, not so artfully) to form caves.

Our green phantom is 5" and was gallumping around our 110, basically trashed the place, knocking over rock caves, etc. We just thought while we had the silicone out that we would ensure some stability in our structures. There are some loose rocks too, as well as those rubber banded to our wood until it is fully waterlogged.
Gothca. I didn't quite follow what you were talking about with the plexi before. That's a good idea to separate the two substrates! That's crazy about your pleco... I've kept eartheaters - who constantly dig, and other cichlids that constantly burrow, and I've never had them topple a rock structure - shocked to hear a pleco did it!
 

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Then you must be the person to ask: can I drill a 3/4" hole in the upper piece of wood that runs along the back of the tank? The filter is so tall that the output hose has to bend down slightly to clear it and run up the back of the tank. I was wondering about drilling a hole through to allow the hose to run up without bending - or would that affect the structural integrity of the stand too much?
I actually bought it off a guy that made them on eBay. Pretty cool as he would take the order and build it and then flat pack it so he can ship it. Came to me in a couple of pretty compact boxes. So in short to answer your question...sorry I have no idea. IIRC the stand is built using oak plywood. I used to have a 135 gallon plexi tank on there.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
AWW used this stand for a glass 160 gallon for a few years, I bought the set up from him. So it should be fine, although it isn't as sturdy as some of the homemade stands built with 2x4s. Your post did make me a bit nervous though. I kept hearing some funny clicks and bumps, but it turned out it was the clown loaches we just added bumping against the glass. I had to axe the canopy. Those 6 extra inches made it impossible for me to reach down far enough into the tank. I have to get up on a ladder as is.

On Sunday we added 3 pink tail chalceus and 3 five inch clown loaches we got from Aquariums West. Good prices there, it's a regular stop for us on the way back from the Vancouver Aquarium. They get some cool fish. About a month ago I told my son that we were just going to look, not buy, unless they had the red phantoms or bosmanni rainbows we had been looking for, and they had both! This week they had a birchir and three different species of apistos.
 

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Yeah, I think Alex got it from another BCA member who I sold it to. It is probably doesn't look as strong as a 2x4 stand but honestly I think most of those stands are overkill. They are easy to build for most people like me though. Simple and easy straight cuts into 2x4is all that's needed. Alex must have gotten a canopy built as I never used to have a canopy. Too much hassle for tank maintenance. I miss that stand, reminds me of when I first seriously got back into fishkeeping, back in 2008.
 

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I love your tank! And the rocks look awesome especially with the background. I can only imagine how happy the fish are in there :)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks kim86! Max did a lot of research into the fish's natural environment, and tried to create lots of nooks, crannies, caves and tunnels for their home. He is planning to add some more driftwood and almond leaves when we find some. The tapajo geos we got from you are doing really well and do look happy in their new home.
 

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If I may, I think the placement of the rocks are too human made. Try to be a bit more random if you can.
It comes to my understanding that my comment was view as mean and negative. This is not my true intention. If anyone is offended by my honest opinion, I apologized for that.

I set up tons of biotope tanks. It is very common to aquacape according to our true human way - way to uniform, way to systematically. In nature, it is very random. I hope this will clear our some misunderstanding.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Charles, I am not sure why you keep making private discussions public, but in any case what I said was that it might have been better to temper your criticism of our tank with a positive comment, such as "great looking set-up, maybe make the rocks a bit more random". Max was so proud of his work on this tank, he has met you, and was a bit deflated by your response. Hardly a way to encourage a beginner in aquascaping. So I looked back at another tank journal post where you had given only a positive comment. The tank thread where you commented "beautiful community tank" consisted of a bare bottom tank, with no background, and a piece of driftwood with some java fern placed in the middle. So clearly we have different ideas of what a tank should look like. To each his own.
 
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