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Old 09-21-2013, 05:09 PM   #1
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What were aquariums like in the 80's and 90's?

Ive always wondered what were aquaiums like in the 80' and 90's? For example like what were the filters like? Anything intresting back then that came out and you just had to have for your aquarium? Share your stories and memories of what were aquariums like in the 80's and 90's. I would love to hear them!
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Old 09-21-2013, 05:32 PM   #2
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Toward the mid to late 90s, aquariums were pretty much like they are now. I've got a 120 gallon from 1995 (and other tanks from the 90s) that is indistinguishable from newer 120 gallon tanks. Some of the tanks from the 1980s are quite a bit different. I've got a 75 gallon Perfecto tank from 1984 that is so thick it does not have a center brace. It's an absolute bear to move compared to a more modern style (with thinner glass).
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Old 09-21-2013, 05:52 PM   #3
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Cool, and thank you for moving the thread, I should of put it there in the first place.
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Old 09-21-2013, 05:54 PM   #4
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There was a thread a while back that had a lot of old fish stories.
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Old 09-21-2013, 05:58 PM   #5
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That is a very old 10 gallon. Tanks older than the 1980s had the metal frames and slate bottoms. One of these days I'm going to fix it up (presently, it leaks).
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Old 09-21-2013, 06:59 PM   #6
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I got my first aquarium in 1994. It was like 5 or 6 gallons and it had an undergravel filter and a single goldfish that lived for 6 years before I rehomed it to a fish pond. I think it was a comet and I was a kid I didn't know any better. But it grew really big in the pond and did well!
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Old 09-21-2013, 07:15 PM   #7
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I'm going to go back a farther since Mama posted a pic of the old metal frame tanks. We had those types of tanks in the 50's through the 70's. I can't even remember what we had for lights but our filters were little plastic boxes that mostly fit in the corner of your tank that you added filter floss and "charcoal" which is what was sold in little boxes and had a large grain size back then. You added an airline to it and there was your filter! By the early 80's I was using the dreaded under gravel filters in fish only tanks and my early large tanks back then were oceanic tanks that as already said had thick glass and weighed a ton. Back then in order to do my planted tanks and my first reef, yes I did my first reef back then but that is a story for a different day, my husband made me elaborate hoods that would house several different types of fluorescent tubes, and I can't remember what I did for ferts. No Co2 but it was around and no liquid carbon. I also began using my first Fluval canisters in the 80's and lets say canister filters have greatly improved since those days. I can't tell you how much water ended up on the floors when servicing them!
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Old 09-21-2013, 09:01 PM   #8
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great topic

Quote:
Originally Posted by FishBoy185 View Post
Ive always wondered what were aquaiums like in the 80' and 90's? For example like what were the filters like? Anything intresting back then that came out and you just had to have for your aquarium? Share your stories and memories of what were aquariums like in the 80's and 90's. I would love to hear them!
*********
Born 1948, I will skip from 1960 when my first job was at an aquarium store. I always loved tropical fish. Had as many as 12 tanks running.

Fast forward to 1987 when I custom built a 6000 square foot house ....... I put in two aquariums. I believe 42H and a 37-39 Gallon also high.

These had under gravel filters with air pumps which were state of the art at the time which probably only pumped 50 gph.

Back then, we did once a month 25% water changes including water siphons of gravel ....... and once a year "tear downs." Those tear downs were pure filth. By the time the one year marker hit, the tank STANK like dead fish and the water under the under gravel filters was coal black with waste. Oh ........ and the algae ......... had to scrape it off, constantly.

**************

So to your real point ...... it's a new world.

HOB filters and the understanding of beneficial bacteria change everything.

I never even have to clean off algae now.

Frequent water changes, frequent vacuums, and improved biological filter media mean you never have to do the "full tank teardown thing."

For extremely dirty fish, it appears cannister filters are the way to go ....... but my gosh ............ are they worh the leaks that ruin maybe $5,000 of carpet and other danage if you happen to be on vacation when all the hoses "poop out" on you?
***

My advice: go with a top of the line HOB filter or two.
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Old 09-21-2013, 09:30 PM   #9
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What did you guys do as far as dechlorinating water?
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Old 09-21-2013, 09:44 PM   #10
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*********
Born 1948, I will skip from 1960 when my first job was at an aquarium store. I always loved tropical fish. Had as many as 12 tanks running.

Fast forward to 1987 when I custom built a 6000 square foot house ....... I put in two aquariums. I believe 42H and a 37-39 Gallon also high.

These had under gravel filters with air pumps which were state of the art at the time which probably only pumped 50 gph.

Back then, we did once a month 25% water changes including water siphons of gravel ....... and once a year "tear downs." Those tear downs were pure filth. By the time the one year marker hit, the tank STANK like dead fish and the water under the under gravel filters was coal black with waste. Oh ........ and the algae ......... had to scrape it off, constantly.

**************

So to your real point ...... it's a new world.

HOB filters and the understanding of beneficial bacteria change everything.

I never even have to clean off algae now.

Frequent water changes, frequent vacuums, and improved biological filter media mean you never have to do the "full tank teardown thing."

For extremely dirty fish, it appears cannister filters are the way to go ....... but my gosh ............ are they worh the leaks that ruin maybe $5,000 of carpet and other danage if you happen to be on vacation when all the hoses "poop out" on you?
***

My advice: go with a top of the line HOB filter or two.
This is really interesting to read. My first canister was purchased new in probably 2004, and I've run many new and used canisters since then, without one single leak. I've run as many as 10 at a time. I have 5 running now. Sounds like the old models were a real nightmare.

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What did you guys do as far as dechlorinating water?
This is a great question! I'm curious to know as well.
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Old 09-21-2013, 09:53 PM   #11
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They just let the wAter sit for 24 hours
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Old 09-21-2013, 10:46 PM   #12
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Way back you did pre-age water but remember way back there was not nearly the amount of chemicals and such in the water supply. But I do remember sometime in the 60's we bought little bottles of some type of water declorinator but it had a weird name. That was a long time ago and some things you just don't remember... lol!

I don't remember the first Fluval canister very much except it literally had to be removed, hoses and all from the tank to service. It was so wonderful a couple years later when they added what they called "quick connect" shut off valves to the hoses which kept the mess way down and kept you from having to suck start to prime the canister every time. Notice I was so impressed I still remember the name of those valves! The water problem came with the 0-rings and actually getting the canisters sealed. I don't know how often I started the canister and it was leaking. I can't remember what year exactly I started my first reef but I think it was around 84 and I had 3 Fluval canisters on a 60g Oceanic and boy what fun it was. I actually upgraded those canisters with the first acrylic hang on the back with an in-tank overflow box multi staged filter. All I can say is thank goodness for all the improvements!
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Old 09-21-2013, 10:50 PM   #13
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That's an awesome tank. I also want to get one of the old slate bottoms and set it up. Even though it was far before my time I'm a bit of a history buff lol.
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Old 09-21-2013, 10:55 PM   #14
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That's an awesome tank. I also want to get one of the old slate bottoms and set it up. Even though it was far before my time I'm a bit of a history buff lol.
You can start by collecting old aquarium books, they are so cool to look through! It kind of gives perspective on the history of our hobby. Thrift stores/Goodwill/yard sales/aquarium club members are great sources for old books.
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Old 09-21-2013, 11:03 PM   #15
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I think this is the most interesting thread I've ever read.
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Old 09-21-2013, 11:34 PM   #16
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I've always been wondering what aquariums were like in the past too! Love this thread. I've always wondered how they had saltwater tanks In the 20's, I saw one in a movie from the 20's and thought "how the heck did they do that back then!?"

Edit- check out this OLD tank -http://www.advancedaquarist.com/blog/1920s-art-deco-aquarium
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Old 09-21-2013, 11:36 PM   #17
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I've always been wondering what aquariums were like in the past too! Love this thread.

I've always wondered how they had saltwater tanks In the 20's, I saw one in a movie from the 20's and thought "how the heck did they do that back then!?"
As my favorite science teacher says about any complicated questions - Very carefully(:!
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Old 09-22-2013, 12:01 AM   #18
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Way back you did pre-age water but remember way back there was not nearly the amount of chemicals and such in the water supply. But I do remember sometime in the 60's we bought little bottles of some type of water declorinator but it had a weird name. That was a long time ago and some things you just don't remember... lol!
I believe you are thinking of Wardley's "SuperChlor" for dechlorinating water. We also used Sodium Thiosulphate crystals to dechlorinate water back then. Also, letting the water age for 48 hours with an airstone running in it was all you needed to dechlor water back then (Good times.....Good times ) OH and BTW, there was no such thing as Chloramine in the tapwater when I got started back in 1964.
Tanks in the 80s? lol They were much advanced from what I started with. I remember the first "all glass" aquarium. Big leap forward for keeping marine fish and inverts. ( My first marine tank was one of those metal framed, slate bottomed tanks pictured in another post. Who knew??)
In the 1980s, I had a fish hatchery with Supreme heaters (Eugene Danner corp.) in all my tanks. No submersible heaters. HOB filters were the Aquaking & Aquamaster also by Supreme ( There was one or two more in their product line as well I just can't remember the names.). Before then was the Metaframe bubble up HOB filter. ( Am I dating myself? LOL) Hagen was just coming onto the market if I remember correctly. Ridges where being put onto undergravel filter plates for saltwater aquariums. I don't remember the year but when wet/ dry filters came on the market, they were, in my opinion, the greatest leap forward for keeping marine fish since the all glass aquarium. The list goes on.
So I don't make this a really long post, I'll just throw out some things for us old timers to remember:
Metaframe hush-l, ll and lll air pumps
Silent Giant air pump
Cosmic belt and piston air pump
Whisper air pumps
Diatom filters
Power heads for U.G. filters
Jungle products ( when they made the really good products )
Antibiotic TABLETS ( not today's powder stuff)
Filter cotton/floss ( not in pads.)
Inside corner filters ( with the floss and charcoal as mentioned before)
Hannell Guppies
TFH magazines ( the small ones with the extra pages for the looseleaf fish book)
FAMA magazine
and my biggest favorite: NORMAL looking fish!!!!!

And that's just what I can remember right now. Give me a little while and I could probably fill up the whole thread

Happy remembering


If anyone is interested, I have copies of some of the older FAMA magazines I'd be willing to part with for a nominal fee. Just pm me if you are interested. Sorry, my book library is not for sale : vO To me, they are priceless!
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Old 09-22-2013, 12:28 AM   #19
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I remember HOB filters initially pumped water directly into the tank and used a large u-shaped tube as a siphon to fill the HOB box. The newer over flow style were an improvement in terms on convenience. However, both types had a motor suspended underneath it with a spinning magnet. The key was to line up this magnet with another magnet inside the HOB (which was connected to an impeller). PITA

I remember that I could not afford expensive lighting so I had to build my own fixture. I bought ballasts (big as chalkboard erasers), waterproof end caps, wiring, wire nuts, 3 prong plug, timers, and a book about basic wiring. I think I used T-10 bulbs.

I remember wet dry / trickle filter were all the rage in the mod/late 80s. It seems like any company that could manipulate acrylic started producing trickle filters.
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Old 09-22-2013, 06:57 AM   #20
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What did you guys do as far as dechlorinating water?
***********
So long as water change was 25% or less ........ no anti-chlorine compounds needed. It depended on how much chlorine your local water system used. For the annual cleaning which involved a 50% plus water change ...... you just let water sit in buckets over-night.

But now, it appears most water systems add more chlorine than 20 years ago and they add chloramine (a chlorine + ammonia compound) which takes 3 days to get rid of. Thus ..... something like seachem prime is a good idea to combat chlorine related compounds for water changes that exceed 10%.

Where I live now, the water is so bad .... it is unusable in aquariums due to extreme high phosphate and nitrate (right at legal limit). Heck, it is so bad that neither the cat nor the dog will drink it unless dying of thirst. Walmart has RO (reverse osmosis) drinking water for 27 cents a gallon ........ but it is void of minerals so it can only be used in aquariums that are monitored for hardness. Petsmart sells the same stuff for 50 cents a gallon.

Another rant: I cannot wait for the day when we have accurate test strips ........ the API Master Test Kits + harness test kits are like something out of the stone age. Not only is measuring things by "drops" ridiculous ....... but for the 10% of the population (like me) that are partially color blind ..... that means we have to have someone else read the results to verify the accuracy. I can tell virtually no difference on the color chart between 40 & 80 ppm nitrate ..... which is like the differnece between life and death for the fish. Thus ....... I must keep water under about 30 ppm nitrate at $1 per gallon of spring water. [maybe I should start a new thread]
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