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Thread: Waterbox 230.6 Blackwater Discus tank build

  1. #1
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    Default Waterbox 230.6 Blackwater Discus tank build

    This will be my first time keeping Discus, and after doing a lot of research, reading, and watching videos, I decided on a blackwater discus tank. I have been keeping fish for more than 20 years and reef tanks for more than 15, so I am not new to aquaria, just Discus. Now onto the build!

    After selling my home and moving recently, I knew one of the first things I wanted to do was to purchase my "dream" tank, a Waterbox 230.6. I love the clean lines and the beauty of the LARGE rimless tanks. I ordered the tank and about 10 days later it was sitting in my garage.

    20190412_152155 by Lyle Southard, on Flickr

    20190412_152211 by Lyle Southard, on Flickr

    After getting the tank in thee garage and opening the crate, I immediately started the process of assembling the stand. Unfortunately, this was a bit more difficult than I had hoped, since there did not seem to be any instructions, just a diagram of the parts and a single picture of the stand assembly. After some effort and redoing a couple of parts, I had the stand assembled (no doors on it yet) and in its chosen location. This is when I ran into my first minor complication with the assembly. The stand was missing a few small anchors used for attaching the hinges to the stand. 1 email later and the parts were on their way from Waterbox.

    20190408_220511 by Lyle Southard, on Flickr

    20190412_151950 by Lyle Southard, on Flickr

    Unfortunately, at this point I was forced to wait before moving the tank into the house. I had to try and find some help with moving the tank and especially lifting it onto the stand, I made a few phone calls, got a few commitments, and scheduled the move for Saturday morning. In the meantime I made a plan for the move. I have an 8 foot gate on the side of the house with a walkway all the way to the back patio, and a double wide opening sliding door in the back. My plan was to move the tank ontto 2 furniture dolly's and roll the tank around to the back door, where we could easily get it through the extra wide sliding doors and right to the stand. I had planned on 6 people being there to help with the move, but there were only 3 of us. Luckily I had also purchased 6 glass suction cup handles. With a Lot less effort than I had expected, the 3 of us were able to lift the tank onto the stand, and move it into place.

    Now it was time to start filling the tank. I had been soaking some manzanita branches for several days, so I started with that water first. Then I started making lots of RO water. I have a 400gpd light commercial system that made this go pretty quick. I treated the water with R/O right and added it to the tank. I also added the branches and some boiled Indian Almond Leaves and alder cones, as well as some of the extract created by boiling the leaves and cones. Then I powered on the system. Finally, I started to cycle the tank by adding ammonium chloride and Dr Tim's One and Only to the tank. Now all I can do is sit back, relax, and research.

    20190413_110520 by Lyle Southard, on Flickr

    20190414_175800 by Lyle Southard, on Flickr

    System Stats:

    - Waterbox 230.6 Aquarium
    - 41g glass sump w/7" filter sock and 7" media cup
    - 18g Auto top off container
    - JBJ Auto top off controller
    - 2 x 500W Finnex Titanium heaters
    - Inkbird Temp. controller
    - American Marine Pinpoint pH Monitor
    - 2 x large Marinepure blocks
    - Jebao DCP 13000 return pump (turned to it's lowest setting)
    - 4 x Lohas smart Wifi LED bulbs from Amazon
    - 4 x Gooseneck light mounts from Amazon
    - 100lbs pool filter sand (I will be removing a lot of it as I have learned from this site that I likely have way too much)
    - 3 x Manzanita branches (more on the way)
    - Indian Almond Leaves (currently 75)
    - Alder cones (currently 200)

    Still coming:

    - Additional Manzanita branches
    - several round river stones (Tannin Aquatics)
    - Various Amazonian seed pods (Tannin Aquatics)
    - Custom Acrylic lid from Octo Lids

    Planned stock:

    - 10-12 Discus (Probably from Discus Hans)
    - School of glowlight or cardinal tetras
    - School of hatchetfish
    - a variety of Cory Cat's

    I would also like to add some German Blue rams, but I am not sure if that would be a good match or not. I welcome any thoughts or suggestions from all of you. Your expertise is very valuable to me. I would like to do this right the first time.

  2. #2
    Registered Member harper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Waterbox 230.6 Blackwater Discus tank build

    My kind of tank, looking great so far! Your planned stocking is almost identical to mine when I set up about a year ago. In the end I never got any hatchets. I had 9 rams in my tank, they are fine with discus and like higher temps too. I'm not convinced feeding beefheart was good for them though. A few of them got quite bloated and eventually died.

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    Moderator Team LizStreithorst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Waterbox 230.6 Blackwater Discus tank build

    I agree. Rams are a much better choice.
    Mama Bear

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    Default Re: Waterbox 230.6 Blackwater Discus tank build

    Quote Originally Posted by harper View Post
    My kind of tank, looking great so far! Your planned stocking is almost identical to mine when I set up about a year ago. In the end I never got any hatchets. I had 9 rams in my tank, they are fine with discus and like higher temps too. I'm not convinced feeding beefheart was good for them though. A few of them got quite bloated and eventually died.
    Quote Originally Posted by LizStreithorst View Post
    I agree. Rams are a much better choice.
    Nice, it sounds like Rams are officially on the menu (so to speak).

    Do you have any recommendations on good places to get all of the fish? I know where to get my Discus, but am at a bit of a loss for everything else. I know there is always live aquaria, but, you know, it's live aquaria (aka Petco). I have only found 1 decent LFS around me and it is nearly a 3 hour round trip.

    Now it is time to exercise that patience you learn from reef keeping, while waiting for the tank to cycle.

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    Default Re: Waterbox 230.6 Blackwater Discus tank build

    Looks great! If you do go with hatchets, make sure every last gap is sealed off on the lid. I've lost a couple that way. You'd be amazed how those boogers can find their way out of the tank. But once they get used to everything, it's not bad. They make great dither fish for my discus and add some action to the tank.

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    Default Re: Waterbox 230.6 Blackwater Discus tank build

    I will have to see what I can find. I know I can get some decent hatchets locally, but quality rams are harder to find. Do you have ant suggestions for online sources for dither fish? I know there is always Live Aquaria, but I'd prefer not to get what is essentially petco fish.

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    Default Re: Waterbox 230.6 Blackwater Discus tank build

    I am roughly 36 hours into the tank cycle and things already progressing nicely. I started the cycle by dosing Dr. Tims Ammonium Chloride to a concentration of 2ppm. I then added an entire bottle of Dr Tims One and Only for freshwater. I just tested the water for ammonia and nitrites and the results were:

    Ammonia - 1
    Nitrites - 0.50

    I still have a good amount of waiting to do, but I am happy to see things moving in the desired direction so quickly. Another day or 2 and I may have to add more ammonia.

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    Default Re: Waterbox 230.6 Blackwater Discus tank build

    One more question for you all. Is it worth the extra $ to get the 5" discus over the 4"? We're talking almost $700 extra for a school of 12 Discus. I am happy to pay it if there is good reason to go 5" over 4", but it is a lot of money if there are no major advantages.

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    Default Re: Waterbox 230.6 Blackwater Discus tank build

    Take a look on Aquabid for them. Read the seller's feedback before you bid.
    Mama Bear

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    Default Re: Waterbox 230.6 Blackwater Discus tank build

    700 extra? I bought 8 x 4.5-5.5" discus from Dennis's Discus Fish, SD sponsor, for around 700 total. He ships for free on orders >399. Worth checking in to see of he has any bigger fish in stock.
    The benefit of 5" over 4" is that the rapid growth phase is done around 4-4.5", so the influence of less than ideal water conditions on their growth is remitted. Clean water is king, but there is less pressure with adult fish.

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    Default Re: Waterbox 230.6 Blackwater Discus tank build

    Quote Originally Posted by danotaylor View Post
    700 extra? I bought 8 x 4.5-5.5" discus from Dennis's Discus Fish, SD sponsor, for around 700 total. He ships for free on orders >399. Worth checking in to see of he has any bigger fish in stock.
    The benefit of 5" over 4" is that the rapid growth phase is done around 4-4.5", so the influence of less than ideal water conditions on their growth is remitted. Clean water is king, but there is less pressure with adult fish.
    My plan is to get 10-12 German Wonders from Discus Hans. The 5"+ are @150 each, while the 4"+ are @95 each. For 12 discus the difference is $660.

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    Default Re: Waterbox 230.6 Blackwater Discus tank build

    Looks great. I’m a little biased, but wilds would be the best choice for this kind of setup. Hardier than domestics and well priced in the US.

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    Default Re: Waterbox 230.6 Blackwater Discus tank build

    The day is coming that the tank will finally see its first inhabitants. I have made several changes to the aqua-scape in the tank:

    1. I removed about 2/3 of the sand and left just a very thin layer in there.
    2. I removed ~50 IAL and added a large variety of different seed pods and twigs to the bottom of the tank
    3. I added 15 round river stones
    4. I doubled the quantity of Manzanita

    I think the tank is looking amazing. Some of the branches have not fully sunk yet, but I expect them to in the next few days. Also, the cycle is almost complete. The ammonia was near 0, so I added a little more (raised it to 3ppm) a couple of days ago and now it is almost back down to 0. I will keep with the ammonia additions and testing until the tank goes from 2ppm to 0 in a single day. Then I will just do maintenance doses of ammonia until I am ready to add the fish . My plan right now is to add the fish next Friday (10 days from now). Fridays are my only day off during the week so I have arranged for Fri. delivery. The Discus will be coming from Dennis' Discus. I am in the process of selecting the discus now. He just got a new shipment, so there should be a very nice selection.

    Current params:

    Temp - 83.9
    pH - 6.44
    Ammonia - 0.25
    Nitrite - 5
    Nitrate - 20
    GH - 3
    KH - 1
    TDS - 175

    And now for updated pics, starting with the before pic. Also keep in mind that not all of the branches have fully sunk yet, so it will be a little different. Let me know what you think.

    20190414_175800 by Lyle Southard, on Flickr

    20190423_185755 by Lyle Southard, on Flickr

    20190423_185817 by Lyle Southard, on Flickr

    20190423_185800 by Lyle Southard, on Flickr

    20190423_185958 by Lyle Southard, on Flickr

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    Default Re: Waterbox 230.6 Blackwater Discus tank build

    Nice black water setup. I'm surprised your pH is only 6.4 with that much botanicals. Anyways, vacuuming that thing is going to be fun with all the nooks and crannys that can trap food. As for the rams, I know Imperial Tropicals breeds their own. But they can be a little high. You might want to check out their site.

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    Default Re: Waterbox 230.6 Blackwater Discus tank build

    Quote Originally Posted by gators111 View Post
    Nice black water setup. I'm surprised your pH is only 6.4 with that much botanicals. Anyways, vacuuming that thing is going to be fun with all the nooks and crannys that can trap food. As for the rams, I know Imperial Tropicals breeds their own. But they can be a little high. You might want to check out their site.
    The pH has been slowly dropping and I expect it to continue for a little while. Most of the botanicals have only been in there for a few days, so it will likely get lower over the coming week. as for vacuuming, I don't expect this tho be the "cleanest" Discus tank out there, which is why I am focusing on getting 5"+ fish from the start. Also, thanks for the recommendation, I will check out Imperial Tropicals.

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