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Old 08-16-2018, 12:32 PM   #11
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Got down to the nitty gritty with the substrate today.

I set up the ubiquitous kitty litter bins and separated it into two so that I could really get in there and rinse it well.



You need to rinse the hell out of this stuff. Initially, there will be an icky film on the top that clings to you, the bucket, the hose, everything.

I went ahead and poured off each fill instead of letting it overflow because I wanted to get all that gunk completely out of there.

I used the hose to agitate and stir and also my hands. I figured if it hurt my hands, it would hurt my fish. There are a few points to this.

Cons:
You will get sand all up under your nails.
You will also get the oil film all over your hands and it only comes off with soap.

Pros:
You can really get in there and scrub the substrate against itself and get it cleaner.
You will know if there's anything sharp in there.
It will make your hands silky smooth. Your wife (or husband) will comment.

I will say that medium grit is actually very fine. Definitely a "sand". I think it'll work fine, especially with my cories, but don't be afraid to go up to a coarser grit. Here's a couple shots of the texture:





I poured off water about 10 times and then poured it all into one bucket for a multi-hour soak. I cleaned the empty bucket and will pour it all back into that one tonight for an overnight soak.

Then tomorrow I will rinse and rinse and rinse until it runs clear. I didn't get to it today because I'm water-logging the hell out of my yard with all this. We had a pretty big rain earlier this week and I've been turning out 15 gallon buckets all day every day.

I definitely don't regret getting the blasting sand for the amount of money I saved. But if you don't have the time, space or patience for the prep it needs, go with aquarium sand.

But hey, my wood and stones are done! They came out of their bath this morning and got another scrub. I'll be fiddling around with ideas later.
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Old 08-16-2018, 12:42 PM   #12
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Thanks for showing that medium grit blasting sand. I thought it would be more coarse. Im thinking of getting some so I'll go up a bit on the size.
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Old 08-16-2018, 02:06 PM   #13
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Alright, I fiddled around with some black towels and my hardscape and found a layout I like. Thoughts?



My only concern is that the sand won't pile up the way I want and stay that way. I know some people use gravel in bags to achieve this, but I think the sand would just settle into the crevices and then I'd have mountains of gravel bags. It would also add on to the cost of this build.

Since I'm probably going to have extra, I thought about using the blasting sand in panty hose. Any tips on this?

Edit: My light arrived and I'm stoked!


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Old 08-16-2018, 07:29 PM   #14
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Light looks nice!
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Old 08-16-2018, 08:28 PM   #15
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I think the panty hose filled with blasting sand is a good call
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Old 08-18-2018, 10:43 PM   #16
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I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how this continues on. post new pics soon~!
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Old 08-18-2018, 10:52 PM   #17
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To help maintain a slope, get one of those food grade plastic cutting boards (black or dark blue if possible) and cut into credit card and smaller sizes. Push these into the sand so that they are just under the surface along the slope. They act like (sub surface) retaining walls.
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Old 08-19-2018, 12:16 AM   #18
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That's an awesome idea, Fresh!

I did the panty hose solution for now and if that fails, I'll use the retaining wall idea. I used black nylons so that if they show at some point, it won't be jarring.

I should be getting my plants in about a week and will post more pics then!
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Old 08-19-2018, 08:12 PM   #19
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Subscribed. I'm looking forward to watching this build.

Whom did you buy you plants from?
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Old 08-21-2018, 05:10 PM   #20
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I actually had an...interesting?...situation with my LFS. Other than Petco and Petsmart, we have one fish store within a 60 mile radius. I went to it a couple of weeks ago and was not impressed.

Upon walking in, you were hit with this stench of algae and fishiness. All of the tanks needed a good scrubbing and had significant hard water build up on the waterline. There were numerous dead fish. They also had a hamster in a teeny tiny barred cage near the register that was horribly inappropriate for anything but a vet travel cage. I left them a review that was straight to the point without being dickish. They responded with an apology that I blew off.

I went back in a couple of days ago just to see if they had the filters I was looking for and things had changed dramatically. The layout was different, all the tanks were scrubbed. It smelled like clean water. No dead fish, no algae, no depressed hamster. When I asked the clerk about the change, it was apparently the owner and she informed me that her previous manager had been "let go".

Yikes!

The icing on the cake is that they now had all but one of the plants I was looking for. They were also willing to order the fish I want. They had one little male endler who was appropriately in with two females and she said she would be starting to stock them.

I'm still hoping to get the buce I'm looking for from a user here.

Now, I won't be getting my plants until the end of the week, but I decided to go ahead and flood the tank to test my equipment. I wanted to be sure the pump I got was sufficient, that the substrate would stay in place and that the tank wouldn't leak. I had done a previous fill test, but only for a couple of hours.

Valuable lessons were learned.


1. I need a much better filling solution. The bucket I was siphoning from wouldn't fit in the sink and I didn't want to weigh it down too much to safely put it on top of the 10 gallon. Long term, the python system will be worth the money.


2. Even with all my rinsing, the substrate still kicked up some of that film. A decent amount of sand also floated so I skimmed the top. This worked really well. Obviously you want no filters or anything on when you do this. I let it fill most of the way and just gently skimmed with a cup.



3. After sitting in the empty tank for a few days, one of my driftwood pieces is no longer waterlogged. So it's currently having a lazy float around the tank.


4. There's a portion of the silicon edge that looks...odd. I assume it's fine and will keep an eye on it, but it's clear that a bit of air got in the edge when they sealed it. Let me know if this is a red flag.


5. 20 gallons isn't going to be enough. It seemed so big when I first got it, but the more I work with it and put things in it, the more I can tell I'm not going to be satisfied with it. I'll keep dreaming about a 55 one day!
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