Autumsky's Congo's Lazy River 80G

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Apr 4, 2012
Northern Colorado, USA
Starting this spot to get the thread rolling.

Pics of the process will be *coming soon*

Originally tank set up was purchased used for SW.

Through a series of unfortunate circumstances it sat empty for a year (technically it is still empty as of this start of the thread).

The decision was made for this to be a FW tank build. Based upon what I already have a need for which is more FW tank space. Since I haven't found a bargain giant tank for the FW guys they will be in 2 tanks now.

The Congo Tetras and the Clown Loaches are moving here. Another fish maybe as well, but not sure I can find them available (and can't spell their name atm).

The Congo Tetra's are getting large and the Clown Loaches are growing too.


Purchased used is an 80G tank. I think it was $300.00,
SR-80 Nuvo Fusion Lagoon Aquarium and the stand was included which was another huge cost if purchased new.

I had been seeing this tank on sale at my lfs for about a year before my used tank purchase (so ~2 years ago 2017). Initially for 2499. then 1999. Then around the time I got my used one it went to 1499. clearance on floor model.

It is a really pretty piece of equipment. :D

It is used and in good condition.

Will include the stock photo of tank and stand but will add real photos when setting up.

The stand came along as well but had some water swelling/bulging in the center panel bottom and a little bit on the right side door. All solid and stable. Maybe see if there is a possibility if it is cost effective to buy a new middle door to replace it. Since nothing I own is really perfect, it's not the end all situation. It will be placed near the corner of the room and a viewing chair will be in front of it, so not that big of a deal.


information about the tank itself
quoted from BRS website

Innovative Marine

$1,199.99 [found at the current price - tank only]

Nuvo SR Series Aquarium Features:

Diamond Edge Polishing
Ultra Thick Low Iron Glass
Flare Nozzle
Includes Mush Screen Pro Lid
Built-In Acrylic Overflow Wall
Pre-Installed Rubber Leveling Mat
Dual Return Pumps

Innovative Marine's Shallow Reef series gives you the footprint of a full-size tank while keeping the height of the tank shorter than normal, giving you a truly awesome viewing experience through the ultra-low iron glass panels. The SR series is the perfect combination of function and design, the wide aspect ratio of the front panel gives a lot of space for fish to swim while also tons of real estate for aquascaping and coral placement. The minimal height lets you essentially blanket the tank with even light, and not having super hot spots up high in the water column just to keep low-light corals at the bottom.

Tank Specifications:

Total Water Volume - 80 Gallons

Tank Dimensions - 47.24" L x 23.62" W x 16.14" H

Display Dimensions - 46.46" L x 17.88" W x 16.14" H

Glass Thickness - 12mm

Return Type - Dual Directional Flow Nozzles (per pump)

Return Pump Flow Rate - 538 GPH (per pump)

Return Pump Power Consumption - 22W @ 24VDC (per pump)

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The other info will be added along as we go.

The tank is really heavy and I can't lift it on to the stand by myself, and will need a really strong helper or 2.

Already there was an amazing plan for this as a SW tank.

There was a unexpected seemingly never ending remodel at my place and a stack of boxes buried the corner for a year where the tank was supposed to sit.

As the time came in the last month to get the boxes out of the corner, I knew I needed more FW fish space and the mythical huge tank / cheap deal never had materialized to accomdate all the fish in a 5 or 6' long tank, it was a tough decision to re-purpose the 80G for the job.

The Congo Tetras were getting so much larger than I expected them to as they grew to adulthood. They needed more space sooner than later. The plan at my house is to reduce the number of tanks, so adding one more tank for the bigger fish was a bit of a surprise.

Now my 72G will be a big nano and small sized fish home.


Decided the tank will be like a river bottom. River rocks of different sizes, sand, of a couple sizes and pebbles - hoping for a stump but haven't found the right deal yet.

Looking at Anubias and African Water Fern / Bolbitis with DW and exposed "roots" in the form of DW. Hoping to create a hill/river bank side. Maybe with a plant or two growing out.

The (SW) tank came with a screen but it covers the entire top, and of course wanting my plants to grow out the top would need tank top screen modification, as they can't grow out the top of a net and still be attractive :lol:

Late this week the tank will get hoisted to its stand (fingers crossed). Our CAS fall auction will be this Saturday, so figuring Sunday. Monday 10-21 it might get water in it.

Searched the local rock yards and found two sources - for river stones and another for pebbles, sands and smaller stones from the beaches of Mexico. YAYAYAY!
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Went to the 2 rock yards and bought too many stones and probably too much of the pebble sand too.

First stop was appx. $24. .05 ton of cobblestones = One 5G bucket full plus about 6 more stones.

Second stop was a choking $107. basically it was the 0.49 per pound (and a small discount).

240 pounds :eek:

of pebble sand - two 3/4 full 5G buckets of it, and stones of all sizes. Waaaaay more than I planned.

Waaaaay more than I needed. Too bad I went overboard!!! Since I already hand picked them out, I wasn't going to go put them back!

Then a quick stop at the ReStore and found this $29.00 piece of Cypress wood knees, one big knee and one small knee! On sale for $23.20.


Overall, not free by any means but it is now picked out and I didn't ruin my knees hiking rocks out of a riverbed. If I paid for substrate, just sand would have been $40 for clean sand. Rocks from the lfs are $3.99 to $4.99 on up.

Still thinking of grabbing a 50 pound bag of garnet blasting sand too ($20) using part for the sandy sand.

Fish auction with CAS Saturday 10/19.

Need some Bolbitis! And a big Anubias chunk.
Got all the stones and 1 bucket of gravel washed up

Atm internet connectivity is causing an issue with loading pics but got one so far...


These are the biggest ones. Plus 3 which I set aside which were the very largest but I put them in a different spot and no pics now.

The very small 3-4mm beach pebble "sand" is what they called it at the rock yard, was pretty clean. I divided one 3/4 full bucket into 2 and rinsed very well. It was easy in the buckets and watered the yard with the overflowing water.

Did the same with the other stones 2 buckets of them and the smaller pebbles are about 1cm to 1 inch stayed in the bucket.

Since they are beach stones perhaps they were already properly washed up, lol.

I won a new Waterbox 2418 Clear and stand 30G 24" wide (Like WOWWWWWW!). Since I have this additional tank to place, I had to stop the progress on the 80G build and move 2 tanks the 12G Edge and the 6.6G tall cube both housing Bettas atm.

By doing that, it allows space to be made to fit the 24" tank in the space between the 72G and the 80G, both 4' wide tanks. And trying to get them all centered.

Will get the rest of the stone pics up soon.
Started out with getting a general idea of how it will be set up in the tank with a mock up in the yard since I can't put it in the tank yet.



Mexico Beach stones

this is the "sand" as they called it 3mm giver or take.

the .5-.75 inch / 2cm

variety of larger stones

Grabbing this info from the other thread as a quote...

"The extra DW are from the outside bucket and then, the new one I just bought for the scape.

This one is a log and has a hollow side on the right and moss growing on the left top. might move it for the right side of the tank.

Was hoping to plant some plants out the top on the side with the tall DW side which will be coming out of the water. Thinking of a way to make a "planter" for the plants.

Either a literal pot of soil or a drain pipe with holes in it and screen and soil maybe. Will be visiting the hardware store for some inspiration/supplies. Otherwise the plants like Fern and Anubias will mostly be tied on to rocks and maybe a spot of DW.

More pics of the rocks on the build thread and misc.

Unfortunately the pointed knee DW will look most appealing with the point sticking out to the (facing the tank) left side as it is in the pics, the back is flat and less interesting. Which is a bummer, as the wall in the room is on the right.

But it looks really good. I will be looking for a heavy slate to screw into the wood as it is super light and won't sink for awhile. Also will need to add a stone under it to make it sit up some so the twisty root can come forward and down to the "sandy bottom".

Not too sure if I should just try and drill a hole in a river stone or not. Need to find a good drill bit... maybe practice with a small one to start. Pretty sure the appropriate drill bit would be a little expensive."

Going to post this much before I lose my internet connection.
Next pics...

The stand and the topper which came with the tank and I just used it as I do not have any other use right now for a 1" thick piece of acrylic cut specifically for this tank stand.


The clear acrylic is the 1" and under that is the pad which prevents scratching and maybe slipping.

Since it is a SW tank really it may have been a bare bottom tank with LED lights which could shine through. Maybe they just needed it to be an inch taller, lol.


I plan to touch up the bottom piece and side corner after I get done setting it up.

It seems this tank is a Innovative Marine NUVO SR Series 80. From the video I saw from IM.
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Due to the impending snow storms, I slid the tank onto furniture dollies and moved it into the house so that it would have a greater chance of getting set into its stand. Also grabbed the Fluval FX-5 my #2 unit and will be getting set to install it as well.

Being that the back of this tank has an AIO (all in one) style, I will need to see how setting up the FX-5 into the overflow and using the normal pumps to push the water out, or extend the tubes outside of that and put them into the center of the tank.

maybe remove the overflow panel :eek: Keep it in case it gets set up as a SW tank again.

Use my unused Marine Pure 4x4x8 block and bags of BB media for the cycle.

This tank will have the larger amount of fish, and largest fish moving to it from the 72G.

Considering maybe this option and moving the groups over more slowly rather than all at once.

Since I am not sure now that I am looking right at the tank if the FX-5 will work alright in this tank.

Since it has the back AIO section /black acrylic and sleek appearance it seems disappointing to clog it up with intakes and such - basically ruining the view.

Why can't this be simple, lol!?!?
This looks awesome autumn. That driftwood is perfect for this project and looks awesome. Can’t wait to see this come along, kind of aimed for a similar scape in my new flex but didn’t quite pull it off
I have 4 feet of "open" space to work with and it is a little refreshing and since I'm not the technical enthusiast, it is also challenging.

Went to the local hardware store and checked on some things.

Caulking/silicone for the stones. None specific for Aquariums any more, Do have GE1.

xxxxlong SS screws and bolts 1/4" diameter and 4" then thicker diameter- 5" longest

6" drainage pipe/culvert drain (don't have in stock) Checked in pond and in the landscape drainage stuff and empty handed.

I guess wintery freezing weather isn't top season for drainage and digging outside.

Drill bits for drilling 1/4" or 3/8" for river stones. - got one 1/4" to try it out

Blocks like paver bricks for raising up the big knee DW to allow the twisty root to come down "grabbing" some stones and substrate. Also weight it down. Was looking for natural flat stones but none (other than 8$ stepping stones) I could use, lol.

Scoped out some tubing, found 1/4" pex could thread some with the drilled stones onto in the garden, maybe work in the aquarium.

Scanned through the house plants for a Bonsai "tree" (one only and near death).

Maybe trying to drill holes in rocks today!
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That tank seems to have some good front-to-back depth to it.

Exception is that it is an AIO so about 7 inches in the rear are the back chamber.

But that has so much room!

Tanks height, with such a tall cabinet is imposing.

Recently I was asked about if that thing (DW) is going to be sticking out of the top how are you going to have a light.....? Answer is where there is a will there is a way!

But really at this point just not sure.

The DW Cypress knees to me is impressive but is really large, going so far as to say huge. But when I look over at it I really, really like how it juts out of the top.

I have the full sized tank top net (so fish don't jump out - in case anyone isn't familiar with that) and I was looking at modifying it to accommodate the emergent plant growth and DW top.

It is this [link below] but in the correct size for my tank, and older - not new (came with the tank). So if I mess it up I will not have ruined a NEW huge expensive screen top.


The DW knees still have their bark on and some started to lift away when I began pouring the water in and it was making a barky mess. Sort of the natural look though.

The DW was dry as dust (figuring it must be kind of old) before I began soaking it in the kiddie pond, then got fairly dried out just in the freezing snow / warm /cold cycles after the water melted off from the pond.

It is presently wicking up the moisture from the 8 inches of water in the tank, and looks wet 1/4 of the way up from the bottom. Probably needing to add 5-10 more gallons so it can continue it's absorbing.


*next post will be thoughts on the complexities of planting and substrate selections.
Thinking about substrate complexities and plants

All of the Mexican Beach stones xl, large, medium and small plus the tiny pebbles/ which they called sand are 1-3mm miniature copies of the larger river stones are still going to be used, as if it were a stream going into the ocean near a beach.

The "sand", 1-3mm mostly are 2-3ish mm is in my opinion a tiny bit too large just to be sand.

So I am thinking of using the sand I bought at the sand blasting supply store, because I already have it and the colors look like they might have come from the same locations.

The consideration of that is it has a bunch of iron in it. It is natural sand 80 I think, maybe 120 grit??? not positive, will need to look for the bag or re read my earlier post.

Very natural with some botanicals added in for effect and use.

Then the thoughts are what about planting in there.

I have some lovely Bolbitis heudelotii - the large growing one

1 or 2 of Anubias Barterii large leaf one chunks.

A big DW with more Anubias growing on it which may move in from the 72G

A bunch of Italian valls

Moss not positive which one, maybe Christmas or mixed with Java Moss.

A large amount of Hornwort fills a 1G pitcher (no water), maybe still a feww long several feet pieces.

Great! No big deal with the plants. Rather simple. I have misc. Java Ferns and more Crypts too from other tanks

As for plants I do not have, looking at adding some Buces.

Maybe some Brazillian Pennywort too.

And depending upon the corner behind the tallest Knee on the DW, looking at some Vallisneria americana aka eel grass / tape grass. Wide and very long, looks amazing floating at the top of a tank, moving with the water flow.

Water flow will be most heavy from the tallest Knee towards the low part of the knee. Facing the tank moving left side to right. More on setting that up later.


Now the more difficult parts.

If I move the DW CK [CK=Cypress Knees] towards the back it allows more room for rocks and stuff to help make the tank look river bed like.

But it also limits the pockets for planting any plants which need that.

And the question of which substrate to use for that planted part / parts.

Plus how to hold it back there. At present I have 4 no BPA kitchen cutting (board) mats similar to this

Or using long pots and square pond pots???

And then what to use for planting substrate?

Amazonia or ammazonia II or Light?

Brightwell Aquatics FlorinVolcanit Rio black or brown

Any other ideas tank keepers?
Finally something which looks like progress to report.

Since over a month and a half ago I filled the tank with water first just about 10 inches to soak the Cypress knees (CK).

Also unfortunately the DW pieces at least 2 are new ones were leaching and the water looked like black tea. Also pieces of the bark of the CK was flaking off all over making a mucky stagnant mess...

Then about 2/3 of the way up and let it soak, but unfortunately it / the CK was like a cork bobbing on the water. It popped out sideways. Front or back would not stay down.

A few days ago I decided that I had a bag of construction sand I could use in the base, and then add the reddish black sandblasting sand and mix together.

Rinsed the 60 pound bag of construction sand it was mostly clean. Very fine silt was still in there a little bit.

Here is the first sand the construction sand.

And the 2 sands

And then mixed with some stones added in.



and then because the CK wouldn't stay down, I thought of this used the 2 large stones with the empty sand bag to make a saddlebag thing to lay on top to hold it down. Used a zip tie to hold the big stones in


Emptied most of the water, and refilled -4 inches (rimless) and vac'ed the substrate and got a lot of the flaked off bark and filmy DW stuff out. Some of the bark was too big to fit in the vac.

Top down view, had moved around some of the stones to get a better look. Not really done yet but maybe in the next day or 2 will be running.


Need a good strip plug. And will hook up all of the pumps to try them out and see if they move water still after a year and a half.

Heater or 2 - I rather do 2 smaller heaters than 1 big one, for now.

Maybe get the Endler Colony in there - about 40 fish including the babies. And then the Congos. And then the bottom fish.

The next post or 2 will be the interesting set up for the overflow back as this is an AIO (all in one) marine tank.
Looks like it’s slowly coming together for you. Patience is tough but when you have too many things to do it makes it tolerable.
Distractions from the tank - lol.

Today got the light plugged in and a few plants. Tank looks VERY cloudy. I don't have clarifier (enough for a 10G in a tiny dose for a nano tank but not a bottle of it). It would be a week to get it in ordering online. [thinking about to get locally]

And one thing which is glaringly obvious, is my tank isn't level now.

I have to try and pull out a few shims and see if that helps. Very annoyed about this. It was level when /after I moved it and re-leveled it.

The other thing is the driftwood piece I had to cover up the sawed off nubs of the roots in the front, doesn't look like I want.

Thinking that the plants will cover it up but I don't like the wood flat all across the front left side, why the long DW was deleted and had to start over again. (It isn't in the pics because I already had taken it out.)

Today I messed with the stones arrangement for probably 2 hours.

In my mind it should look a certain way and having to change the arrangement of the color of the stone combinations, as well as the lines in the stones to get them in a similar orientation so that it looks like it was naturally occurring.

Tomorrow looks like the day for plugging in the equipment to try it out.

A couple of not ready for pictures pics, tank is not set up yet in the stones. Started all over again from the left side, but then tried to add plants to see if they could help and how they will help. But that isn't even set the way they are supposed to be. Was interrupted and had other things requiring attention.


And the light is off center and crooked and higher on one side - couldn't have made much worse pics to share, lol. But this IS the process of how it is getting built!

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I bet you were stoked to the armpits yesterday. Good progress. That’s a PITA about the level.
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