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75 Gallon Native Stream Tank Build

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#281 olaf

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Posted 04 December 2019 - 08:10 PM

The first time they're gathered around the baster's tip is awesome. I'm going to get a baster just so I can do that with my darters, even though they do just fine when I dump in frozen bloodworms. 

As someone said earlier, I've been waiting for years for these videos. Was such a cool tank and is now even cooler with inhabitants. 

Have you considered writing a process article for AC, explaining how you did it (with lots of photos, of course)? Now that there are fish in there the article will have a beginning and a natural ending point. (Unless you feel like you have to wait for the grass to grow.)

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#282 Chasmodes

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  • Central Maryland

Posted 05 December 2019 - 08:52 AM

Thank you so much Olaf!  I'm sorry it took so long.  I spent way too much time lamenting on how to solve problems rather than just moving forward with the build.  I basically knew what I wanted to do.  But, before every major step, I'd worry about it, especially with building the roots.  Now that I've been through it, I feel pretty stupid about it.  This tank should have been done a couple years ago.  Same with my oyster reef build that still isn't done.  I have a goal with that though, done, set up, cycled prior to collecting the Chesapeake again this spring.


As far as writing an article about it, sure, I'd be happy to do that.


(Unless you feel like you have to wait for the grass to grow.)


:biggrin:  :biggrin:  :biggrin:

Kevin Wilson

#283 olaf

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Posted 05 December 2019 - 10:52 AM


If you distill this forum thread and some of the instructions in your how-to videos, you've basically already written it. (Though sometimes condensing actually feels more daunting than writing from scratch.)


And as for apologizing, that's totally unnecessary. We've all been eagerly waiting but no one is complaining. If I can't extinguish my sudden desire, after watching all your videos of this tank, to go out and get a bigger tank and embark on an epic sculpting project then you can apologize (to my family).

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#284 olaf

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Posted 05 December 2019 - 11:46 AM

I'd love to see (here or in that future article) a drawing/diagram of the plumbing and rock wall/roots with arrows indicating the flow. 


Though I have work to do I just re-read this whole thread (your posts, anyway--just skimmed everyone else's questions/comments). 

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#285 Chasmodes

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  • Central Maryland

Posted 05 December 2019 - 06:02 PM

Olaf, you crack me up (apologizing for the bigger tank build :biggrin: )!


I'd love to see (here or in that future article) a drawing/diagram of the plumbing and rock wall/roots with arrows indicating the flow. 


No problem, I can do that.  I may post it on this thread too.

Kevin Wilson

#286 Chasmodes

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  • Central Maryland

Posted 06 December 2019 - 08:55 AM

Olaf asked me to diagram the flow sources in this tank with arrows.  The concept of the tank was to hide all equipment as much as possible, yet still function as needed.  The pics below show the flow and sources, followed by pictures of the construction of this aspect of the wall.


The small bottom arrow points to the opening in the wall for the canister filter intake.  I'm using a 400 series Fluval canister filter.  The top arrow shows the flow from the canister filter return via a DIY spray bar that shoots water over top of the roots, pushing current over the top across the entire length of the tank.  The middle arrow shows the flow from the Hydor Koralia 3G circulation pump (2,450 gph) that is hidden behind the roots, situated against the left glass panel of the tank, and shoots the flow through the roots creating a strong current in the roots and nice eddies that fish can hang out in behind the roots.  You can't see the circulation pump because of the root design and the lighting at the top of the tank from the front view of the tank.  If you look from the right side of the tank, you can see the circulation pump some.



This pic shows the Hydor Koralia circulation pump looking through the left side of the tank, hidden behind the roots.


Kevin Wilson

#287 Chasmodes

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  • Central Maryland

Posted 06 December 2019 - 09:11 AM

The construction of the filter intake was designed as a standpipe built into the wall.  The canister filter intake just slips down inside the standpipe.  The drilled out standpipe intake is removable for maintenance purposes.



This is how easily the canister filter intake fits into the standpipe.  This makes for easy maintenance.



While carving the final left side of the wall, it was designed to completely hide the standpipe while also making it easy to maintain.  So, I built a removable section of wall so that I could access the standpipe.  I also painted the standpipe black so it wouldn't be seen at all.  The intake is actually the hole created under the removable piece that fits against the wall, and looks just like a crevice in the rock.  



The large hole where the wall juts out is under the removable piece, and can easily be seen here.



The top of the removable wall section is held in place by the glued in rock layers above it.  It simply slides in place, and the pressure of that piece wanting to float keeps it in place.  



I created a mechanism using plastic bushings carved and glued into a foam section into the wall, and bushings glued into the removable section, where I can slip a plastic rod through the bushings and hold the base of the removable section in place.



This pic shows the bushings glued into the removable wall piece.



A plastic rod (plastic popsicle sticks that my daughter purchased for me at Michael's) is inserted through all of the bushings that were glued into the wall and the removable wall section, to hold the base of the removable section.  I was concerned that this section might move or wiggle in the current, but, as it turns out, it fits very tightly in place and you can't even tell that it's there.


Kevin Wilson

#288 Chasmodes

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  • Central Maryland

Posted 06 December 2019 - 09:21 AM

This picture shows the hidden standpipe after most of the left wall section was constructed.



After all of the carving and wall was mostly done being constructed, the section of wall that juts out on the left side is the removable wall section.



In this pic, you can see the original DIY standpipe design.  I don't have a picture of the final one that I used.  I had to make some modifications to get everything to fit and work correctly to shoot the water over the roots, but also fit under the glass top.  I'll take a picture of that and post it soon.  You can see it working in the video a few posts earlier when I first added water into the tank.


Of course, there is no intake on the right side of the tank, so all of the current must work it's way back to the intake and the back of the circulation pump.  I didn't create a riffle.  Instead, I had a shoreline eddy design in mind, so I expected some reverse flow at spots.  The current shooting through the roots by the circulation pump actually captures just what I was hoping it would.  In the future, I hope to plant some water stargrass on the right side of the tank to help buffer the flow bouncing off the far end of the tank.

Kevin Wilson

#289 Chasmodes

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  • Central Maryland

Posted 06 December 2019 - 04:36 PM

I took some pics last night...some Maryland native fish eye candy... I took a lot of pics, so I'll spread them out over several posts into next week.  Here's the first bunch, rainbow darter pics:


A female peeking out from her rock cave:



She's hanging out with a greenside darter.



A potential couple?



Hey there!!!!



The female hanging out again...



A male coloring up a little bit after hanging out with the female?



My camera checking him out as he checks out my camera...


Kevin Wilson

#290 Chasmodes

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  • Central Maryland

Posted 06 December 2019 - 04:42 PM

Rainbow darters, continued:


Rival males...



He's looking quite handsome!



Photobombed by a greenside...



OK, show off, we see all your beautiful finnage now!



Showing Mr. fantail who's boss...



I love these fish...I don't know how they got into Maryland's streams, but I'm happy that they're here.



The female has been hanging out a lot in the large crevice of my faux rock wall.  



But, she spends most of her time either under this rock or behind it.  Both of the colored up males spend a lot of time around this rock too.  


Kevin Wilson

#291 olaf

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 07:52 PM

Thanks for the diagram. That's pretty much exactly what I thought in terms of directions of flow.

But am I right in thinking that the circulation pump has no role in the filtration loop? I had it in my head much earlier in the build--probably whenever you first mentioned where it would go--that it AND the spray bar were pushing the filtered water and I wasn't sure from what I'd seen of the plumbing how that was happening.

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#292 Chasmodes

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  • Central Maryland

Posted 09 December 2019 - 07:43 AM

The spray bar pushes the filtered water across the top of the tank.  The circulation pump shoots through the roots, but I think it is pushing water from the reverse eddy flow back toward the front of the tank, sort of mixing the filtered spray bar water.  There is a top to bottom eddy, as well as a right to left eddy.  The reverse flow is along the rock wall and seems to flow in the direction of the canister filter intake.


The interesting thing is that I feed flakes to the minnows, dace and shiners, and they all get a healthy dose of blackworms.  I have yet to find any pooling of detritus or uneaten food.  I'm sure some settles into the gravel bed.  My guess is that the extreme right side of the tank and the low point in the front center of the tank will be spots for it to gather.  My water change siphoning will focus on those two spots.  I plan on stirring the gravel up from time to time a bit prior to water changes to remove some of the detritus.

Kevin Wilson

#293 olaf

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 12:47 PM

I have yet to find any pooling of detritus or uneaten food.  

You answered another of my questions before I thought to ask it.


I have to go to the pet store now to get something for my dog. Thanks to you I'll be walking  r e a l l y  s l o w l y  through the fish section, eyeballing the prices of bigger tanks.

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#294 Chasmodes

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  • Central Maryland

Posted 22 January 2020 - 08:47 AM

Olaf, sorry that I didn't respond earlier.  I promise that I read your post and cracked up!


Time for an update.  As you might suspect with a new tank, I had an algae invasion, or outbreak, or whatever it's called.  It wasn't unexpected, especially given the high bioload.  About two weeks ago, I also cleaned the algae off of the wall, roots and rocks, in addition to a large water change that I'll mention again below.  I also cleaned the canister filter, being careful as to not hurt the biological filtering ability of the system.  As you can see, it's back.  
To combat the algae, I'll be performing another large water change this weekend, complete with more physical removal of the algae.  I also planted Vallisneria americana to try and out compete the algae for nutrients.  I think that will help, assuming the plants take to the tank.  The lighting is adequate (Fluval planted light), along with plenty of nutrients with the heavy bioload, which should help the plants grow and thrive.  
I lost a few fish since I stocked the tank, mostly some of the smaller blunt nosed minnows, although one hung in there and is growing.  All of the adult fish, except for one black nosed dace, are doing fine.  I had to battle ich, and that was the main reason for the fish deaths (4 total fish died).  I treated them for three weeks with aquarium salt by raising the SG to 1.003.  The ich seems gone and hasn't returned since I stopped treatment by making a 90% water change.  The fish still scratch occasionally.  I may try a treatment of Prazipro, thinking that they might have flukes that survived the salt treatment, or some sort of other unseen parasite.  This leads me to a question...do fish still scratch at times when they are parasite free?  Are they really ever parasite free?
Now for some pics followed by another video...
Full tank shot:
Left side, showing the faux roots and current sources (spray bar top left, and circulation pump located behind the roots):
Right side, showing the newly planted Vallisneria americana:
And, finally, a video showing everything and showcasing the fish:

Kevin Wilson

#295 littlen

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  • Washington, D.C.

Posted 22 January 2020 - 02:03 PM

I'll say again, a couple Stonerollers would destroy the algae in that tank and it would be cool to watch them feed naturally.  In regards to the ich, if it's gone they shouldn't be "flashing" regularly.  Although fish do occasionally flash for no apparent reason.  Perhaps just a simple itch or a loose scale that needs to be bumped off.

The tank looks great, albeit a little green :D  Stonerollers good sir, Stonerollers.

Nick L.

#296 Chasmodes

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  • Central Maryland

Posted 22 January 2020 - 03:10 PM

Thank you Nick.  I plan on adding stonerollers to the tank.  I wanted to get out and collect this past weekend, but the weather was a bit too nasty for me.  The last time that I went collecting, we caught a juvenile white sucker and a small northern hogsucker, but no stoneroller.  Do stonerollers hang out in similar areas as the suckers in the winter?  Will the stonerollers feed on the Vallisneria too?


A couple more thoughts on my fish.  All of the minnow species seem to enjoy feeding on the algae when I sneak up on the tank.  Once they see me, they all stop and beg for food.  I really enjoy watching the fish after feeding time, because they pretty much go back to what they were doing before, except that they still forage for the food that I put into the tank for the most part, sometimes still nibble on the algae.  They don't have much of an impact on the algae though, but it's still fun to watch.  I guess my point is that they eat more of it than I thought that they would.  


One of my favorite species is probably one of the more common ones found in Maryland, the longnose dace.  They seem to enjoy frolicking with all of the minnows, shiners and dace.  And, at times, they just like to sit on the bottom.  At other times, you can see them, and the blacknosed dace, dancing in the current eddies behind the roots, darting in and out of the current for no apparent reason, almost like they're playing, during times when they aren't nibbling on the algae on the roots.  I currently have two of them.  I'd like to add two or three more to the tank.


I wasn't happy with the way that the silverjaw looked after I first got my only one.  Pics of them looked much more attractive than they do in the tank.  However, it's growing on me.  I will try and get two more.


The bluntnosed minnows are interesting too.  They like to hide under the rocks and caves in my tank, much more than I imagined that they'd do.  They are somewhat the bullies in the tank though.  That said, even the biggest one doesn't seem to harm other fish during bullying events.  Darters just kind of ignore them, and the shiners turn around and dish it right back.  i find the bluish gray spot on their nose interesting.  None of these fish have tubercles yet, so if they grow them, the bullying could become more of a problem later on.  Sometimes, a couple of these guys will chase each others tail, almost going around in a circle for several seconds.  I don't know if it's breeding behavior, or a form of bullying/pecking order stuff, but it's fun to watch.


The blacknosed dace are interesting and I'm happy that I've added them to the tank.  The eat well.  Both the dace and bluntnosed minnows root their noses in the gravel in search of food often.  It's interesting that they check out flaked food, but spit it out, when it's drifting in the tank.  But, when they find flakes between the gravel pebbles, the eat it right up and don't spit it out.


The large silvery shiners in my tank are a mystery to me.  When I collected them, both Todd and I were pretty sure that they were satinfin shiners.  Later, I thought maybe spotfins.  But, they lack the white tips on the fins and tail.  Also, there seems to be a more pronounced stripe now than when we collected them.  Could they be hybrids between either spotfins or satinfins x some other shiner species?  Is that possible?  I enjoy watching them feed, particularly when they attack food on the surface, almost like trout feeding on mayflies.  If they grew to a pound or two, I'm sure that anglers would covet catching them rather than seeing them just as baitfish.  Also, I like how all of the shiners, dace, and minnows dart to and fro gobbling up the flakes as they drift through the current and water column.  They don't seem to miss anything, and rarely let food make it to the bottom (hence my need to feed brine shrimp or blackworms using a turkey baster to the darters).


The greenside darters are far more aggressive feeders than I ever thought that they would be.  They are always the first to get to the turkey baster, often grabbing more than one worm and gulping them down.  It's comical to see that sometimes, they get so many, that worms work their way out of their gill, dangling behind them, until they either suck them back in or another fish steals it from them.


The fantail darters seem to be the most territorial, at least within their species.  Despite that, they don't seem to stress each other out.  Each one seems to keep to their favorite areas in the tank though.  It's amazing to me to see how fast they can change colors (the males, I guess), where they all of a sudden have their heads change to a dark color, only minutes or seconds later, to change their mood and go back to their normal color.


Of course, the rainbow darters are my favorite.  I have all males, it seems, except for one female.  The female is obviously much different, and has a rich gold coloration.  I've seen what looked like courtship rituals a few times between the most colorful males and the female.  There is one that I thought was a male behaving like that with another male, and it's a much more golden hue, almost the same color as the female, but, has more of the coloration of the tail (albeit faint) as the other males.  I still think it's a male, but, is it possible that some females have more of the reddish color than the golden hue female?  Or, do all of the females look like the golden one in my tank?  These fish are also gluttons for the blackworms and quite aggressive feeders.  All but one are not shy at all grabbing food from the turkey baster.  There is one small one that is a little afraid of the turkey baster and prefers waiting for food to drift to the bottom most of the time.  It will occasionally take food from the baster, but mostly will shy away from it.


I have to be careful not to wait too late to go downstairs to feed and watch my fish.  If I wait too long, I wind up not getting enough sleep on work nights and drag all day the next day at work.  Watching my tank is so addicting, and time flies!

Kevin Wilson

#297 Matt DeLaVega

Matt DeLaVega
  • Forum Staff
  • Ohio

Posted 23 January 2020 - 10:43 AM

Stonerollers seem to hang in similar area's as white suckers, hogsucker and blacnose dace. Here in Ohio it is our second most common minnow species. They are literally everywhere so it is rather hard for me to pin it down to a preferred habitat. I feel like they are a bit more associated with shallow rocky riffles and runs. I can tell you that late winter and early spring when they start spawning that they become very thick in the riffles and particularly easy to net in small streams. Even better if you are near the mouth of the stream. Added bonus catching them this time of year is that they will almost certainly spawn for you. Fun to watch even if you don't rear the fry.

The member formerly known as Skipjack

#298 JasonL

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  • Kentucky

Posted 23 January 2020 - 11:47 AM

Awesome tank.


I think one stoneroller would be fine for a tank that size to keep the algae in check.   There are enough other minnow species in there to keep a stoneroller happy/nonskittish.  I have one in a 110 gallon with tons of live plants including Val and he doesn’t touch the live plants at all.  I find them even in the dead of winter closely associated with riffles.  Scrape the dip net through the rocks in 6-12 inches of water and you’ll find at least some smaller ones which would be ideal to start with anyhow.


I can’t see the anal fin ray count, but that iridescent line on your shiners is what I’ve seen on C. spiloptera.   Have not seen it on other Cyprinella species in my area of KY.  They are a nice looking aquarium fish regardless.


Congrats on your tank.  

#299 Chasmodes

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  • Central Maryland

Posted 23 January 2020 - 12:05 PM

Thank you Matt and Jason for the wonderful info.  I can't wait to get out and collect again.


Jason, I was pretty certain that the shiner in question as a spotfin, mainly because of the dark pigment near the base at the back of the dorsal fin, although satinfins have that too.  The stripe confused me, but I noticed that it appears to change, I think, depending on the mood of the fish.  Lately, as in the video, it's almost a yellowish green with a slight hint of dark coloration at the tail.  A few days ago, the darkness was really pronounced, but I did spook the fish prior to feeding, and I wonder if that had something to do with it.  But, while observing afterwards, I started to doubt my opinion.  I have 4 or 5 of them, but it's almost impossible to count fish when they're all moving about so much. 


I'd love to add three satinfins or so to the mix.  I already have a creek picked out to sample for them.  I've had them before, the the white tipped fins were a dead giveaway.  Question about satinfins for you guys, do they always have the white tipped fins or is that a spawning coloration thing?

Kevin Wilson

#300 Chasmodes

  • NANFA Member
  • Central Maryland

Posted 02 March 2020 - 05:38 PM

Well, it's almost a month since my last update.  I purchased a few more Vallisneria plants and, for now, have them in the foreground.  I will probably move them as they grow.  I have a few pics and a video to share.  I really love watching this tank, the movement, the fish...I go down to feed them and intend to watch for 15 minutes, and wind up staying an hour or more.  
Full Tank Shot:
Left Side:
Right Side:
My latest video.  I hope y'all like it.  

Kevin Wilson

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