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Thread: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

  1. #16
    Registered Member lastflea's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    I've decided to speed up the cycle by using Stability, and it's doing a great job. Further more, it's proving the anoxic filtration system to be a success. My ammonia levels go down very quickly now from 4ppm top ups. I've put over 100mm of ammonia in so far and this morning they were 4ppm, 6 hours later they are 1ppm. My nitrites went off the chart day before yesterday, but today, and yesterday, do not go over 2ppm. The best bit, my nitrates peaked at 20ppm two days ago, but now remain lower than 10ppm. Still no water changes, so nitrates are being consumes by the biocenosis clarification baskets in the sump. This is so cool....

    Feels like I might be cycled in a week or so, hopefully, which is reassuring. I'm not worried my base cabinet will collapse, but it's just not very nice seeing the cracking and swelling in it's top, and getting that repaired will relieve the unwanted stress.

  2. #17
    Registered Member lastflea's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    Well it's been a while since my last update here. This is quite a long post, but stick with it...

    So you might remember I was having a leak problem, which I thought was the gasket for the inflow, which would have been an easy fix. I employed the help of some muscle (thank you builders from next door) and we tipped the tank on it's side, so I could take a good look at the base of the tank. This is what I found....

    Tank35.jpg

    Aside from the random scratches (they weren't there when I bought it, and have no idea how), there's some pretty nasty swelling there, and the worst of it was the bottom left, which when turned upright is exactly where that cracking and splitting had occurred in the top of the base unit. You can see pictures of that in the first page of the thread.

    I realised that the base of the tank was constructed of a plastic frame around the edge of the tank, but then a sheet of MDF core laminate was recessed into this. So what I thought was a simple bulkhead repair was actually several leaks at the base of the tank, at which point I was pretty devastated that the effort I'd made so far was going to end with a trip to the dump to get rid of the tank.

    Before throwing the towel in I chipped away a bit at the worst of the swelling, just to see how the tank was built. I already knew I had a 50/50 chance of fixing it, and it all depended on one thing. How the sides were siliconed to the base.

    Tank36.jpg

    You can see how rancid and soaked the MDF was here. It was a marine set up before. It absolutely stank to high heaven!!!

    Thankfully the side, front and rear panels were siliconed to the side of the base panel. This meant I could patch up the leaks pretty easy. So I chipped away at the MDF, holding my nose at the same time, and ended up with this...

    Tank372.jpg

    Had a couple dings in the plastic frame of the base, most notably in the top left of the picture above, but this is the back of the tank, so not bothered. I ordered pieces of perspex that I could silicone to the outside of the base, but also tucked up to the plastic frame. Even the big ding in the top left still had enough edge to it, that I could seal the perspex to it. So there would be a 2" wide frame around the base, sealed at every single place possible on both sides, so there wouldn't be anywhere for the leaking water to go. Here's how that looked.

    Tank41.jpg

    I also replaced the top of the base unit, which you might remember was horribly cracked and swelling, due to the leaks in the base of the tank.

    Tank40.jpg

    This has all taken weeks to sort out. Our family dining area has been reduced to this for the duration. I think I have a very special lady in my life, for not complaining, not even once. The kids, they just think it's their Dad goofing around, as he always does

    Tank43.jpg

    I filled the tank up and left it for 24hrs to see if the patch had worked, and no tell tail water bubbles in the base, which would have meant even more work, before throwing the towel in and packing this tank off to the dump. Success!!!!

    Tank42.jpg

    If you're wondering what happened to my anoxic BCB's, that were cycled and ready for fish. Well, I just had my return pump sending water right back to chamber 1, just pumping the water round and round the sump. Had a mini cycle when I returned to the full set up, but within 2 days I was back to the usual readings of 0, 0, 0ppm.

    And now....... My tank is ready!!

    Tank45.jpg

    This tank has become as much a part of me as the fish I will keep in it. As with discus, it's taken a lot of work to get it right. I'd have given up a while ago, but given it's size, and a fully operational sump with cycled media, I just had to go as far as I could. I'm glad I did.

    Will be a long while before any discus go in there. A delivery of plants and wood arrive tomorrow, so will finish the scape and update you with that. In the mean time, I'm picking up my grow tank on Thursday, which will look after my 16 Stendkers I'll be ordering in a few weeks. In the mean time, I'll scape this baby and stock it with corys, hatchets and GBRs....

    Exciting times....

  3. #18
    Administrator and MVP Dec.2015 Second Hand Pat's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    Wow Rob, sure am glad you found and were able to fix this. Nice job BTW. Look forward to seeing what you do here!!
    Pat
    Your discus are talking to you....are you listening

  4. #19
    Registered Member lastflea's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Second Hand Pat View Post
    Wow Rob, sure am glad you found and were able to fix this. Nice job BTW. Look forward to seeing what you do here!!
    Pat
    Thank you Pat. Believe me, I am more than relieved that things turned out ok.

    Been a busy day for the tank. Plants and wood arrived around 11am, and stopped work on it around 7pm. I just couldn't resist buying some fish, I mean seriously.... I realised it's actually been 4 years since I kept one, or two, or 50...... I realise patience is key, but please forgive me.....

    So I picked up the kids from after school club at 5:10pm and told them we were finally getting some fish for this beast, that's taken over our family room for so long. The fish shop closes at 5:30 so I had to whip them into shape. Funny enough, it usually takes me 10 minutes to get them out the door of after school club. They love goofing around with their friends. This time, they were out like a shot. The staff just looked at me with disbelief as the kids sped off out the school like a flash. Guess I'll just have to keep buying fish again, and again, and again.... Mwahahahahahahahahahaaaa

    On a serious note. I deliberately chose sensitive fish. A couple GBR's, with some rummies, which school very tightly when feeling insecure. My reason was due to the filtration method. As most of you know I'm trying the anoxic BCB method. So I wanted to see two things: 1) How the rams would settle 2) How quickly the rummies would start moving end to end of the tank, and then feeling brave enough to separate.

    Took a while, but the rummies are flying around the tank like they own it. The rams hid away for an hour or so. They went in separately, so didn't know they had a companion. When they found each other they very slowly got confidence. Eventually mooching around like Cichlids do, but never too far apart. It was so cool to see all these fish find their feet, relax and get to know their surroundings.....

    It's soooooo good to have fish again.....

    Here's a snap video of the initial set up. No doubt it will change many times before the discus go in there. It'll be at least 9 months from now, but in the mean time, I'm just buzzing to be keeping fish again....

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsPl5bvLyFA
    Last edited by lastflea; 07-10-2018 at 09:10 PM. Reason: Just some additional info on timings

  5. #20
    Registered Member lastflea's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    Here's a full view shot of the tank. I'm happy with it, and just going to enjoy it for the time being. I'm not sure this is what I'll put my discus in. They'll be growing big and strong under more traditional methods in a very different set up. But like I said, 4 years since I kept a single fish. Just happy as a pig in big pile of that smelly stuff
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by lastflea; 07-10-2018 at 09:26 PM.

  6. #21
    Moderator Team Filip's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    Great looking setup Rob.
    You can start with adult discus if you want to enjoy the tank scenery and have healthy discus at the same time .

  7. #22
    Registered Member lastflea's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Filip View Post
    Great looking setup Rob.
    You can start with adult discus if you want to enjoy the tank scenery and have healthy discus at the same time .
    Thanks Filip on both counts. That's very sound advice, but I have good reasons for wanting to buy juveniles. I plan to set up a small tank room for hobby breeding, and my logic behind buying juveniles for a first run is simply that I'll need some experience in raising them, if I'm going to be successful. It's going to happen one way or the other. I'm not deluded to think everything will go according to plan, without my share of problems. That's like putting plants in a tank, switching a light on and dosing ferts, expecting a beautiful, algae free planted tank. I'm not really a display-only keeper.

    My white sand is developing an orange film, with a very small number of bright, light green spots on it. My lights are only on for 6 hours per day, I'm dosing TNC complete as per instructions and there's no direct sun light. Not even sure if this is algae, but any advice appreciated.

  8. #23
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    Default Re: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    What is your sand? Silica based sand are known to generate diatoms. Do you have cories/bristlenoses? They are likely just the solubles leaking out of your substrate but silica will continue to generate diatoms for all of time.

  9. #24
    Moderator Team Paul Sabucchi's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    Glad things are heading in the right direction and you sorted the leak, without having to pull the tank apart and reseal it. One of my tanks, a 250 liter planted sprung a leak last year and I had to tear it down completely and reseal it all.
    I like your scaping, the brownish stuff on your white sand is most likely diatoms, quite normal for them to bloom in a recently set up tank. Their growth can be oncouraged by silicates, either in your tapwater or in the sand. They usually tend to decrease as the tank matures.

  10. #25
    Registered Member lastflea's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    Thanks for the input guys. My sand isn't silica based thankfully, so this should disappear in time. No corys or BN either. Do they feed on this stuff? I'm planning to get 20 sterbai in there at some point.

    Putting another 4 GBR's in tomorrow, and that'll be enough of those. Pretty sure the two in there are female, so another two females and two males. I'm already gazing into the tank at these two, so looking forward to seeing how six get on, with males in the mix...

    Sump wise, I had a big problem with the main chamber, where the BCB's are, and stagnant water on the surface. There was no flow across the top at all, due to water being drawn from the pre-filter chamber into it from the bottom, and then being drawn from the main chamber into the return chamber from the bottom as well. So the flow was all along the bottom, leaving no movement across the top. The water was literally still, across the top, so zero flow along the top of the BCB's.

    I resolved the problem with yet another re-configuration of the sump. I took out the partition between the main chamber and the return, and replaced it with a shorter one. I still left the gap at the bottom, so water could run straight across, into the return chamber, but then water could overflow from the top into the return chamber as well. Now there wasn't that much more movement across the top of the main chamber, because all of the pull (from the return pump) was at the lower end, seeing as the return pump is placed at the bottom. So I bought one of those surface skimmers and placed it in the return chamber, so it drags in water from the surface and pumps it down below, where the return pump takes it in and puts it back in the tank. Now I have a nice flow rate from the left side of the main chamber, top and bottom, across the BCB's and straight back into the tank. The result is super clean, clear water in the main chamber with plenty of flow all round.

    I'll post some pictures to illustrate over the weekend

  11. #26
    Registered Member lastflea's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    Ok, so the plan was to add 4 more rams and rummies, but didn't have time to go to the LFS. But here, I think, is the final sump set up. Possibly


    First up is the pre-filter chamber. The usual 3 stage filter, then egg crate separating the 3 6x6x6" BCB's. They're lifted from the base of the sump with 1" pvc pipe, cut along the length to form semi-circle lengths, to allow water to flow underneath.
    Tank50.jpg

    Next is to illustrate how high I needed the water line into the main chamber to ensure water covers the top of the main BCB's. I explained incorrectly before, when I said my flow went straight across the base of the main chamber, from the pre-filter. The first partition is baffled, so water comes into the main chamber from the top.
    Tank51.jpg

    Prior to adjusting the height of the second partition there was no flow of water across the top of the main chamber. This picture shows the adjusted height of the second partition, that isn't baffled, and water flows across the top thanks to the surface skimmer placed in the return chamber. There's still a lower entrance to the return chamber, where the pump sits. So water comes in to the main chamber from the top, but most of it is drawn into the return from the base.
    Tank52.jpg

    After I lowered the height of the second partition there still wasn't much flow going across the top of the BCB's. It's pretty hard for the surface water to compete with the bottom end, where there's a 5000lh pump taking it from a 1" gap at the base of the second partition. I could see a film hanging around at the return end of the sump surface, hardly moving. That's when I thought that maybe a surface skimmer would help out a bit. I put one in the return chamber, and sure enough, water immediately started flowing across the top of the main chamber, into the return chamber, and because the skimmer pumps out the water it takes in down below, I knew the return pump would be picking it up pretty quick. The result was very quickly realised. No film within minutes.
    Tank53.jpg

    I hope all that makes sense. Open to questions if it's confused....

  12. #27
    Registered Member lastflea's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    Oh, and there's room for another BCB in the main chamber. They are also raised off the base with the PVC pipe, as is the second one stacked on top. I can put another one in close to the return end, but that's a work in progress. I've also aligned the BCB's to opposite sides left and right. That's so I have space for a heater either side. I think two heaters, one on each side, is better and more efficient than having both on one side. JMO...

  13. #28
    Registered Member lastflea's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    Finally I'm arranging an appointment with a local Stendker breeder to check out his stock and have a good chat. Still a few things to set up: 265g water tank for ageing, return pump to get it in the grow tank, heaters and wavemaker. I already have a couple air pumps and stones spare. The grow tank is 63g and came with 2 Fluval U4, and I broke down a shrimp tank and now have a smaller Eheim in there as well. The reason for so many filters is in case of sickness. I have two hospital tanks ready to go, just in case. So I'm not blowing the discus all over the place I'll have them blowing water out near the surface.

    The main tank is going well. I have 6 rams spawning like crazy in there. Even had two females with one male... My nitrate went up to 20ppm though, but haven't increased in 10 days. Did a big water change yesterd and they're down to 10ppm. I decreased the rate of flow for the return pump, and hoping this will help with keeping the nitrate at 10ppm. Still haven't added the 4th BCB yet. Time is an issue here at the moment.

    Managed to get a decent shot of two of the rams. Used a flash, which really popped the colours nice....

    IMG_2088.jpg

  14. #29
    Moderator Team and Homesteader Swedgin's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    Quote Originally Posted by lastflea View Post
    Finally I'm arranging an appointment with a local Stendker breeder to check out his stock and have a good chat. Still a few things to set up: 265g water tank for ageing, return pump to get it in the grow tank, heaters and wavemaker. I already have a couple air pumps and stones spare. The grow tank is 63g and came with 2 Fluval U4, and I broke down a shrimp tank and now have a smaller Eheim in there as well. The reason for so many filters is in case of sickness. I have two hospital tanks ready to go, just in case. So I'm not blowing the discus all over the place I'll have them blowing water out near the surface.

    The main tank is going well. I have 6 rams spawning like crazy in there. Even had two females with one male... My nitrate went up to 20ppm though, but haven't increased in 10 days. Did a big water change yesterd and they're down to 10ppm. I decreased the rate of flow for the return pump, and hoping this will help with keeping the nitrate at 10ppm. Still haven't added the 4th BCB yet. Time is an issue here at the moment.

    Managed to get a decent shot of two of the rams. Used a flash, which really popped the colours nice....

    IMG_2088.jpg
    Nice Rob, looks like it’s all coming together. Great shot of the rams, too.

    Do keep us posted on your progress, looking really good so far.

    Tobi

  15. #30
    Registered Member lastflea's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Swedgin View Post
    Nice Rob, looks like it’s all coming together. Great shot of the rams, too.

    Do keep us posted on your progress, looking really good so far.

    Tobi
    Thanks Tobi. Will update the waterworks thread in a little more detail as well

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