Can you get some pond spray foam and fill in those gaps? Or maybe find a way to use a screen to cover the gaps if you plan on using that space for your filter? Pics would help me understand. Good thing the tank is not leaking!
OK, based on your and JasonL's advice I'll block off the rear area. I don't know if pond spray foam or screen would be better. Would a big seam of spray foam on the end look bad? Would some screen at the right rear of the background hidden by the shadow in the gap be better?
I am probably going to use a hang on back filter, so it will be back there. I'm leaning towards a Fluval, but I forget the model. But if the aquarium is filled above the front holes in the background that can be where water exchanges between the front and rear areas. Do you think that would work?
A screen would still allow water exchange at the right end, whereas pond foam wouldn't. Not sure which would be better.
I would first seal a few of the gaps in the corner with some pond spray foam as suggested earlier so nothing can easily get back there.
I am not a plant expert, but if you could fill in those rectangle gaps at the top with an appropriate plant species and let the roots come in behind the background out of view I imagine you would have the potential for fairly significant biological filtration over time.
This would give you the option for a higher fish mass as well.
I like the idea of plants in those openings. What do you think of using screen on the right side as Chasmodes mentioned instead of pond foam?
The lights will make the background look lighter once you fill it. The brighter the lighter.
Some Bluespotted Sunfish might make your wife happy with their color. They make me happy. Your tank is a great size for them and the other enneacanthus species which get along. Maybe with an Orangespotted Sunfish (lepomis humilis) as the king of the tank. They are docile enough to work. I wish I could find one! Lol
Longears are also quite colorful, but not community tank friendly if you are wanting more than one species.
You are right. It looks better with lights on. No water in it yet, though. I like the look of the Bluespotted sunfish, but I really want to keep it local and collected/gathered. I am looking in to what all is around here, but PFBC redesigned their gallery of PA fishes and I don't find it as user friendly as it used to be.
I am usually not a fan of prefab foam backgrounds, but that one is quite attractive! Would make a lovely palladium tank, though you'd have to drill a few holes in the background for planting, which would be a shame. A lower risk route would be to dremel out the top of that ledge glued to the side, making it a sort of cup that can be filled with substrate. You could plant some marginal plants in there for a really nice open top riparium look.
Smaller sunfish species would be nice, but you don't really have a lot of lateral room for males to establish their territory. Is there any way you can turn those ledges into more sheltered nest-like areas? Perhaps leaning some driftwood against the back wall to create some alcoves? If this weren't NANFA, I'd suggest planting epiphytes like anubias or java fern, but of course we can't have any of that (I've been lurking this forum for awhile...).
Seeing as it's a tall tank, perhaps it would be a better use of the space to establish two populations of smaller fish, one that stays at the top of the water column and the other that hangs out at the bottom. I have no experience with darters: is there any chance one might sit on that little ledge at the bottom? That would be super cute.
The background has really grown on me since I got this home. It's definitely staying. I don't think I want an open top tank. I do want plants. I like the idea of using driftwood or flat rocks to make some sheltered areas. I think that will be part of the plan now. I'll have to think about doing something to the ledge. I'm not sure I am comfortable enough with my abilities. I would hate to screw it up.
I want to do all of this local from places I fish. I plan to gather the substrate, live plants, and fish locally. I am really leaning towards a single sunfish. Maybe some dither that I don't mind getting eaten. I don't have a specific species of sunfish in mind as I want to see what turns up once I start collecting.
I also need to get more familiar with plants and see if there are local equivalents of the ones you mention. I really have no idea what any of the plants I see out there are.
Thank you all for your comments and advice. Please keep them coming. I probably won't be able to do anything else with the aquarium until next week.
Edited by truecrimson, 12 February 2017 - 07:25 PM.