Greeting all, looking forward to reading up, getting advice from all of you and reviving my old aquarium hobby skills. it's been 20 years since I owned a fish tank! I now have a 3&5 year old and I figure it's time to get their mental fins wet by introducing them to the many wonders of fish and plant keeping!! it all started a few months ago when I saw a beautiful pair of oscars in a tank at Petco while I was buying dog food, they were having a tank sale so I started thinking about it getting back into it. I realized pretty quick that what the kids needed was a community tank with plants for now, not a carnivorous tank. I'd been doing quite a bit of home improvement work and had quite a few odds and ends from insulation to some tiger wood 4X4's laying around. I bought a 55 gallon tank and began making what I thought would be a simple stand... months later and untold hours of work I now have a two tank stand, insulated to R20, capable of being nearly hermetically sealed with the tanks sharing atmosphere. as a child I had a fascination with building and creating aquatic ecosystems, particularly biotopes or groupings of species and plants. I made a few sealed up systems but never had the lighting that is now available, it was all just too expensive and hot back then, requiring chillers and constant bulb replacements. these new LED
lights really have got me excited, wow, they are affordable to buy and run and last a long time! So now I've managed to put together a terrarium with tropical plants and a Brazilian Rainbow Boa, which happens to prefer 77F, which is what the fish we are getting like. the biotope I'm putting together is mainly around the theme of things that like high humidity and heat created by the aquarium and it's lights. I expect to barely have to heat either enclosure but instead use a fan and thermostat to circulate the "waste" heat from the lights, like a heat pump between the enclosures or to a "radiator" outside the tank when it's too warm, perhaps to a heat sink under the tank to make a passive heat source for the night. I ran out of room for the snake's tank so I'm in the process of installing an inclosure directly into the stand using various plastics, resins and a glass front that I've had a lot of "fun" figuring out how to turn it into a vertical door (that doesn't leak!). As for the fish, I'm about 9 days into cycling the fish tank, It's about half plants right now. I have a good bit of wood, which was probably responsible for the mild ammonia levels before even any fish were added. the green fuzz is growing, the snail population is burgeoning with the spike in algae to eat and the ammonia has stayed essentially in the .5 range throughout. I have gotten rocks and water from two fellow enthusiasts with established tanks. I'm running two aqua clear/Fluval filters with roughly 500 GPH
. it's hard to tell where I am in the nitrogen cycle. it appears that some nitrates are showing up with no spike in nitrites. I suspect that with the plants and gravel and water from other tanks that I may have succeeded in speeding up the process, making it a somewhat "silent cycle". today the kids became so eager to get fish that we went and got 6 Diamond Tetras and a few snails, thinking that possibly the good bacteria were already needing an ammonia soucre, I didn't want the bacteria to crash without food. anyway, that's enough about me for now. see you on the boards!