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Brackish 20 Long Chesapeake Bay Aquarium


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#301 Michmass

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Posted 04 June 2019 - 04:47 PM

I went fishing at the mouth in the Mississippi last weekend, very muddy with all of the open spillways, and very poor fishing.  

But I also went collecting!  In general, the pickin's were slim, but, thanks to your advice, I pulled the net through shell debris on 1 of the barrier islands and brought home 4 or 5 baby skillet fish, 4 or 5 small naked gobies, and two baby code gobies, along with an assortment of grass and regular shrimp, a couple of live oysters, and some Widgeon grass.  Everyone else thought that the trip was a failure, but not me

I also brought home some loose oyster shells and did practice gluing them together with both gorilla glue and with an industrial strength hot glue gun.  I am eager to see how the 2 techniques compare in terms of strength and longevity.  I hope to create a work of art similar to yours eventually.

An oyster shell I had glued together last year fell apart soon thereafter, using gorilla glue.  To be fair, I had only glued it at the hinge point, and I have some rather large hermits that crawl across it.  I was very disappointed at how easily the retained glue could be picked off the shell, though.  It does not bode well for long-term results.  That oyster was amongst the ones I reglued yesterday, much more generous with the glue.

 

 

 

Have you tried gel style super glues?  Or straight silicone?  Always worked for me in the past and no impact on the water quality after a 48 hour wait.  Not sure if I need to wait that long but I always do.


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#302 brackishdude

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Posted 04 June 2019 - 07:34 PM

In my limited experience thus far, the ideal product would be thin enough to flow into surface cracks/irregularities to improve bond strength, be able to fill gaps in the mating surfaces (lots of that! very irregular surfaces. Something with the quality of mortar would be ideal here), have an innocuous/natural appearance where exposed, have adequate working time to allow adjustment of shells or adding shell debris etc to exposed adhesive for cosmesis,and at some point in its cure time be viscous enough to be formable

For the most part, both gorilla glue (runny, expands well, cures to touch so can be compressed, surprisingly well blended in coloration) and the hot glue (heat the shells and get good penetration, gob as much as needed to fill in large gaps and reinforce the superstructure, malleable when cooling, also largely unnoticed cosmetically) meets those goals adequately.

If the hot glue turns out to be durable and mechanically robust when submerged, I think the quick "cure" (increased workflow),overwhelmingly better gap filling, and ease of use (stick two shells together and they stay that way, no need for rubber bands, etc) all add up to an overall winner.

If

As your fellow, I can demand of you no more, and accept no less, than I allow to be demanded of myself

#303 Chasmodes

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Posted 05 June 2019 - 07:40 AM

Congratulations Andy on your collection success!

 

As far as Gorilla Glue goes, the reef sections that I built so far have held up well in the aquarium for the most part.  A few of the smaller shells eventually fell off (like spat sized ones) but that was because I probably didn't use enough glue.  I've removed the reef from the tank several times to try to remove fish when I had to do tank maintenance, and it was pretty solid.  There were two overhangs that fell off that I had to repair, so I just used more glue.  The first time, I used it pretty sparingly, because I was worried that it wouldn't look natural if you saw any, so I spent a lot of time trimming visible glue off of the shells.  However, once algae and other life grows on the structure, it actually looks natural.  At first glance, it kind of looks like a bryozoan colony!  Anyway, when I repaired the overhangs, I used a lot more glue and it's very solid now.  The tank has been set up for two years now.  

 

At first, when I saw a couple of the spat shells fall off, it bugged me.  But, as it turns out, a few half spat oyster shells in the substrate looks pretty natural, as an oyster reef might be, along with a few half shells or loose shells laying around.  My goal was to mimic a real oyster reef as much as I could. 

 

Shells fall apart on the reef all the time.  In fact, in nature, the empty oyster shells that the fish hide in are temporary homes.   They are still attached at the hinge, barely, and the fish use their snout and nose to open the shell just a little more so they can squeeze in.  Then, they pry open the shell, use their tail to swim into the shell as they push it open.  I've observed this in my tank.  Eventually, they wear out the hinge and the shell falls apart, and is no longer used as a spawning place, unless there are no other suitable shells nearby.  In past videos, I've captured this behavior.

 

That last point is actually where my tank, now, differs from the reef.  During my last repair session, I glued all of the empty oyster shells that weren't glued before together so they wouldn't fall apart, leaving gaps for the fish to crawl into them.  They are more  like permanent homes now.  The fish used them for spawning, but, you no longer see them prying a shell open any longer in my tank.  In the future, I may stash some unglued ones in there again as I collect them, just to add that little bit of realism.  However, anyone that really watches my vids or looks at my pics wouldn't notice that, probably.  For me, it's a maintenance issue, keeping them glued, and having my tank look pretty much the same over time.  However, in a reel reef, it's always changing.

 

I've heard that other glues were effective too.  I purchased a bottle of a high end super glue, and also JB Weld, but haven't used them yet.  I figured if things started collapsing again, then I'd change tactics.  What I like about the JB Weld is that it works underwater and isn't toxic.  

 

But, after 2 years, so far so good.


Kevin Wilson


#304 Chasmodes

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Posted 06 June 2019 - 07:30 AM

Well, I'm going to spam y'all with another video.  I filmed this the other night to try and capture all of the life in my tank.  I guess that I did, but after watching it on YT, it turned out better than I thought at first.  I panned the fish first, then the invertebrates (barnacle, anemones, jellyfish polyps), then back to the fish.  I hope y'all like it.
 

Kevin Wilson


#305 Fleendar the Magnificent

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Posted 06 June 2019 - 06:26 PM

That is such a totally awesome tank! Looks very natural and the fish seem to like their digs too! Awesome work!



#306 Chasmodes

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Posted 07 June 2019 - 06:35 AM

Thank you Chris!


Kevin Wilson


#307 Chasmodes

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Posted 10 June 2019 - 12:56 PM

This was an exciting weekend in some ways.  I went with some friends on a collecting trip.  On the down side, record rainfall over the past 16 months reduced the salinity in the Chesapeake bay dramatically, so much so, that it's almost fresh water.  Blue catfish are regularly caught throughout most of the Maryland section of the Bay.  In the past, their range was about the most upstream Northern section of the Bay.  
 
As you might suspect, our collecting results were tough.  We managed only 9 benthic fish (2 tiny skilletfish, one huge female striped blenny stuffed with eggs, and a handful of naked gobies).  We also caught one pipefish, a few small american eels, some grass shrimp, a bunch of juvenile mummichogs, silversides, mud crabs, a half dozen fourspine sticklebacks, and grass shrimp.  Of what we kept, most of it went to our local public aquarium.  
 
I kept a pair of sticklebacks for my 20g high (second video), a few oyster shells with live mussels, and 5 mud crabs.  I also collected some Ulva and floating widgeon grass.  Within the widgeon grass looked like strands of Elodea.  I also collected another species of macroalgae that I have yet to identify (in the first video).  Widgeon grass, some Ulva and Elodea, grass shrimp, amphipods, and the sticklebacks went into the 20g high (second video).  Some Ulva and Elodea went into my 20g long fish tank, along with a couple oyster shells with mussels on them, and the mud crabs.
 
My friend that I went with also has an oyster reef tank, and gave me a small hermit crab and an oyster shell with barnacles on it.  I'm not sure if the oyster is alive or not.
 
This video is my 20g long, my fish tank, showing the new additions.
 
This is the 20g high, featuring a ghost anemone and the sticklebacks.
 
Enjoy!

Kevin Wilson


#308 brackishdude

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Posted 10 June 2019 - 01:09 PM

How difficult was it to drill the shells?  What type of bit did you use?  In retrospect, did you find that use of zip ties through the drilled holes made a significant difference in the overall structural integrity?



As your fellow, I can demand of you no more, and accept no less, than I allow to be demanded of myself

#309 Chasmodes

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Posted 11 June 2019 - 06:57 AM

Oyster shells are tough to drill through and the bit gets hot.  I had a cup of water on hand to cool the bit down after each oyster shell that I drilled  I just used standard drill bits.  Ones designed for masonry probably wouldn't need to be water cooled.  Once you get the hole going, it doesn't take long.  It's those first revolutions that are tricky..  I think that it helps to have a stable structure underneath your outer most layer of oyster shells, something that is easy to glue them on to.  It worked for me as the overall structure is quite solid.  

 

As I went along, my goal was to hide the PVC pipe and zip ties so you couldn't see them.  The zip ties and holes worked out well though.  Looking back, would I do it that way again?  I think that I'd do it that way again given the same situation, that, at first, the number of oyster shells that I had was limited.  Once I had plenty of matched shells, the pipe and zip ties weren't as important.  I found that the Gorilla Glue worked out great.  So, I guess I'd say that answer is, it depends..  I think that, knowing what I know now about the glue, is that I'd only use the PVC pipe on the larger structures.  I found that I could create smaller structures by using only the glue and the shells. 

 

I would imagine that reef rock as a base would be a good way to go.  I just didn't want to spend the money.  At first, my plan was to make my own DIY reef rock out of cement, but, I nixed that idea because I didn't want to wait months of curing it in fresh water.  A friend of mine that built a reef used large tiles with bricks glued on as the base structure.  It works for him.  Personally, I like all of the hidey holes that my method created because fish move throughout the entire structure and use those hiding spots.  

 

The most important thing when working with Gorilla Glue is to make sure both bonding surfaces are wet, whether you use a wet cloth or a spray bottle. 

 

Getting the structure and look that I wanted was kind of like fitting puzzle pieces together.  Every oyster is different.  On many of them, you can tell where they attached to another shell, and I'd use that surface to find a spot on another shell that fit (or nearly fit), to get a more natural look.  It's not important deep in the structure, but, it looks nice with those outer layer of shells in your viewing area.  

 

If I had to do anything different, I would have used more glue, especially on the inner layers.  It doesn't look natural at first, but after it's been in the tank a while, it looks like bryozoans or some encrusting organisim.


Kevin Wilson


#310 Chasmodes

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Posted 11 June 2019 - 07:02 AM

I like my buddy Nick's idea of using large tiles as a base, to prevent burrowers from toppling the structure.  What I did to have a solid platform for the reef was to just let the glue run off and dry on my work bench.  I had a plastic tarp underneath, so the glue just peeled off.  But, it left a nice flat base.  That's another reason I'd use more glue next time on the inner structure, to improve the flat platform to provide more stability, especially if you have overhangs.  I'd consider using the tile if I had a large overhang to give the base that added weight, maybe even add a brick or chunk of cinder block..


Kevin Wilson


#311 brackishdude

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Posted 11 June 2019 - 11:46 AM

thanks!



As your fellow, I can demand of you no more, and accept no less, than I allow to be demanded of myself

#312 Chasmodes

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Posted 11 June 2019 - 01:43 PM

Last night, I took another video of the fish tank, because the one that I posted yesterday was filmed when the water was still cloudy, and there were some really blurry scenes. The water in this video is much clearer, probably because the live oyster has been doing some filtering! Also, notice how fat the female striped blenny is. She is full of eggs. She has been laying eggs a couple times each week and is ready again.
 
 
 
And, that is the subject of the second video, the live oyster in my tank. When my friend gave it to me, I didn't realize it was alive until after I put it into the tank. It has a lot of small to tiny barnacles on it too, along with some other life. I was watching it with my magnifying glass, and decided that it was cool enough to deserve it's own video. Plus, a mud crab photo-bombed the whole thing.
 
 

Kevin Wilson


#313 Chasmodes

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Posted 01 July 2019 - 09:08 AM

Sad news...After work on Thursday, I found my largest skilletfish, the one that was guarding eggs in some of my videos, dead. It stopped eating for a couple weeks, but the last month has been eating heartly and was back to normal. I have no idea what happened. I'm down to one skilletfish now. 
 
The rest of the fish are doing great. 

Kevin Wilson


#314 Michmass

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Posted 01 July 2019 - 08:49 PM

Sorry to hear it. Glad the others are well.


Truths are mutable, facts are not.  Unless of course we're talking about the definition of mutable, then the fact is in fact mutable.


#315 Chasmodes

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Posted 02 July 2019 - 06:46 AM

Sorry to hear it. Glad the others are well.

Thank you!

 

Anyone know the lifespan in the wild, or in captivity of skilletfish?


Kevin Wilson


#316 Chasmodes

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 12:45 PM

Here's a quick update on the 20g high tank.  I lost one of the two sticklebacks about ten days ago.  Why?  I have no idea, but, because it was eating fine.  But, it hid all the time, and when it came out to eat, the other one harassed and chased it.  My hunch is that the one doing the harassing killed the other one.  The remaining one is doing well and growing.  It eats at least 2-3 blackworms at each feeding.  This video shows him eating blackworms.  The last time that I tried to keep sticklebacks, I had a hard time finding food for them.  This time, when they were small, I bought tigger pods and they gorged on them.  Then, I bought the blackworms, and wow, they went after them with gusto.  
 
Blackworms are sold locally, and pretty cheap, and easy to culture your own.  I think that I spent $10 and these have lasted a month, easy.  All I do is change out the water about every three days.  If you cut some in half, both halves become new worms, and those are probably a better size for this stickleback.  However, most of the worms are full size, and it's hard to separate out the smaller ones.  
 
Hope you like the video:

Kevin Wilson


#317 mattknepley

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 05:48 PM

Fun!  The terror of the shallows!

 

Video bomb by shrimp is classic, btw...


Matt Knepley
"No thanks, a third of a gopher would merely arouse my appetite..."



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