Have you ever gotten bored with your house and completely re-arranged your furniture just for fun? We here at That Fish Place/That Pet Place do it with our display aquariums. We get tired of looking at the same old tanks and get ants in our pants to re-model them. The most recent benefactor of this behavior is the 350 gallon acrylic cylinder tank in our Custom Aquatic Design Studio.
Over the first five years of operation, the display cylinder has had a few different themes as far as the fish that we had in the tank. For the last couple years its been a brackish community with puffers, scats, monos and catfish.
The decoration in the tank has been largely the same over this time, and was fairly limited because of the design of the tank. The tank itself is 4’ tall, and 4’ in diameter. Pretty big, however, there was a center overflow box in the tank that dominated the design. We hid the box as much as possible with a few hundred pounds of hand carved lava rock, but it was still the dominating feature.
The first thing we decided to do as part of the display’s extreme makeover was to remove the overflow box. We changed the filtration method from an overflow box wet/dry to a closed loop system. This would open up the tank visually, as well as add approximately 50 gallons to the total volume. To accomplish this, the overflow box had to be cut out. With the help of a few power tools and couple of busted knuckles later, the box came out without too much trouble. With the overflow removed, the interior of the tank was wide open, so I took advantage of the opportunity to repair some of the scratches that were on the inside of the tank. Anyone who has an acrylic tank can appreciate how easily they scratch.
Seriously limited in available space for filtration under the aquarium, I needed to come up with a system that would give us good performance, at the same time take up as little space as possible. What I decided on was a combination of a Aqua Ultraviolet Ultima II canister filter, and a series of Pentair aquatics Lifegard modular filters. The Ultima II filter will handle the mechanical and biological filtration. The Lifegard modular system includes a mechanical canister for water polishing, a chemical canister for activated carbon (or other chemical media), and a heater module. A 15 watt Aqua Ultraviolet sterilizer rounds out the filtration, and is the only carry-over from the original filtration set-up.
To really change the appearance of the aquarium, we kept the furniture to a minimum. A large
piece of driftwood is the centerpiece of the new decor, and it also acts as a cover for the central filtration return. Some strategically placed rocks and artificial plants hide the rest of the internal plumbing, as well as provide some cover and habitat for the new fish.
The new inhabitants will primarily be schooling tetras, and other South American community fish. The new, open design of the aquarium will be really spectacular as the numbers of schooling fish increase and mature.
One of the interesting aspects of cylindrical aquariums is the visual distortions that are created by the curved surface, everything inside looks much larger that it really is. Without the overflow box in the middle, everyone’s immediate reaction is that the tank looks much bigger than it used to, now that you can see all the way through the tank. This effect will really show off the brilliant colors of the tetras and other fish as they mature. So far the makeover has been a big hit.
Hmmm, what can I tear apart next?
I’ll let you know when I decide, so stay tuned for the next project!