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#1 SergeantOldSchool

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Posted 24 July 2020 - 06:32 PM

I stumbled across the forum this week while researching biotopes.  I intend to set up an accurate as possible representation of the local waterways here in South-Central Missouri.  I'm still in research phase, as I'm still awaiting delivery of my new aquarium (more about that later).

About me:  I'm not new to keeping native fishes but only recently have I begun actually educating myself on what specifically they are and how to best care for them vs. trial and error.  I've maintained a freshwater aquarium with natives fish since childhood (many moons ago), starting with a tiny 5g on the kitchen counter and moving up and out every few years since then.  Though I usually move to the next logical size that could be afforded, I finally have reached a point where I can finally 'go big or go home'.  Hope to have the 180g acrylic 'uniquarium' delivered in the next few days.  This will be the largest I've ever personally seen in a residence at 72x24x24, and 50g larger than my last glass aquarium that was lost in Katrina (ironically the fish survived, proof of how tough longears are!).  The tank will not just be for my enjoyment, but it will be a centerpiece in our basement office.  Temps stay nice and cool down here all year long, and I'm sure our cats will thoroughly enjoy their new version of 'cat-tv'.  Now I just have to figure out how to make sure they don't claw at the fish behind the acrylic.

My intention is to setup a typical stream bed with slate as the bedrock, and pool filter sand as the loose substrate.  It likely won't ever be a heavily planted tank, but I'm not opposed to attempting.  My primary target fish is the longear sunfish as I've had many over the years and they are as hearty as they are beautiful, fun and easy to feed and care for, and when I start them small I haven't notice too much aggressive behavior in a mixed social tank.  I still need to decide on what I will do for the backdrop.  I'd like to create a 3D from various stones with a few ledges and overhangs for shelters.  Electric lighting will be minimal, as tank location has indirect sunlight from one side but I intend a single source above for shadow effect and at least one utility light for cleaning purposes and not if but when I have to 'go looking for someone who has gone missing'.  I've done enough snorkeling here locally to have developed a good idea of what the rock structure should look like in the Big Piney River, Roubidoux Creek, and a few intermittent streams when they are full.  I've delved into the MDC guidlines to make sure I'm within the law and can identify without a doubt what I can, and can't hold in captivity.  As best as I can tell, I'm golden with just a fishing license and knowing the difference between gamefish and baitfish, as well as how to catch them.  The locations I have scouted thus far have a large overlap of conservation officers and game wardens and I definitely don't want to be on their bad sides!

In the process of setting up this new tank, I'm going to try my hand with various local darters, shiners, chubs, minnows and such.  I've spent a good deal of time just observing them in the wild, where they stay vs. the current (or lack of) and would like to try to give them everything they are accustomed to within those criteria.  I have not focused desire to have them reproduce, but if I've presented the environment for it, so be it.  I do intend to have at least one madtom.  Chances are, I have already identified it, and will need to rescue it from the pool it's trapped in from an intermittent stream bed before the birds or sun finds it first.

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#2 El Todd

El Todd
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  • Silver Spring Md

Posted 25 July 2020 - 09:25 AM

You might be interested in the thread by Chasmodes documenting his 75 gallon stream tank - the pictures look nice, but in person when I saw it, it looked even better. Perhaps it will give you some ideas about what materials to use etc.


I'd love to see your progress if you get things going. I have a project somewhat similar in mind; large tank with undercut bank and sunfish, I'm only in the early stages though.

#3 Chasmodes

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  • Central Maryland

Posted 29 July 2020 - 11:06 AM

Welcome to the forum!  I'll definitely be following this build!  Sounds great!


Thanks Todd!

Kevin Wilson

#4 SergeantOldSchool

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Posted 02 August 2020 - 07:16 PM

Got an update from the manufacturer; tank should be ready to ship out and be delivered by mid-August.  It would seem that Covid has put a strain on the supply of acrylics and plexi-glass / polycarbonates.

I went to the local river today and did some snorkeling at the spot I'll likely source most, if not all of the longears I'll bring home.  I also spent some time checking out the riverbed in the current and up around the eddys.  I went armed with a homemade classifier setup and played in the sand and gravel some with the idea of maybe bringing home enough to use as substrate.  That turns out to not only be easier said than done, but the end product may not be something I want in the acrylic tank.  After culling everything under 1/8" and over 1/4", it seems most of it is shards of chert and snail shells.  Granted, it's weathered from being in the river, but it still looks pretty sharp and jagged.  I may just stick with my earlier decision to just use pool filter sand.  I haven't found any slate yet that I like as a 'bedrock' piece, and may end up just using locally found dolostone.  I already have a few pieces sunbaking that are of decent size with accompanying 'blocks' to use as their supports.  I was surprised to find that I can't see any reaction to vinegar with these pieces, but I'll test again with muriatic acid when I find it in a container smaller than a gallon jug.  I already have to manage hazmat lockers at work, I don't want to do it at home, too.

#5 gerald

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  • Wake Forest, North Carolina

Posted 04 August 2020 - 05:17 PM

Why does it matter if the rock reacts with vinegar?  These are hard-water streams anyway - extra carbonate in the rock wont dissolve until the carbonate in the water is used up.

Gerald Pottern
Hangin' on the Neuse
"Taxonomy is the diaper used to organize the mess of evolution into discrete packages" - M.Sandel

#6 SergeantOldSchool

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Posted 09 August 2020 - 07:03 AM

Why does it matter if the rock reacts with vinegar?  These are hard-water streams anyway - extra carbonate in the rock wont dissolve until the carbonate in the water is used up.

I've spent the greater part of the past week reading about this very thing, and even before reading your reply I had come to the same conclusion.  Given that we already have hard water and nearly all of the Ozarks consist of some variation of limestone and I won't be stocking anything that isn't native, I think I've stressed over nothing.  I'll give these rocks a good scrubbing and pressure washing, sun cycle them again, and call them good.  Now I'm just searching for a better PFS than the Quickcrete (seems terribly graded with a LOT of fines).  The one local pool store we had did the bankruptcy thing in FEB so I'm still shopping around to try to find a better product.

#7 SergeantOldSchool

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Posted 09 September 2020 - 07:08 PM

It's been a long impatient wait, but the tank finally delivered today.
During my wait, I've been collecting rocks, gravel, sand, and driftwood for my biotope.  I've rigged a few telescopic poles with #20 hooks and started catching chubs and various minnows just to see that I could and to take some photos.  Located longears, orange spot, green, and possibly pumpkinseeds.  Netted a few madtoms and darters, but thus far what I think are hognose suckers have been evading me.  Just practice at this point and for documentation purposes.  
I tried my hand and making my own "photarium" but was unable to source the proper solvents locally to weld polycarbonate, I attempted liquid cyanoacrylate.  That was a fail and ended up in the garbage.  I was impatient, though, and could have spent more time squaring the edges and polishing them.  I settled for a quart sized clear plastic container from the local wally-world.  It made for 'meh' photos.  
I think I've identified most of the plant specimens.  The local Conservation Department website has really come in handy for identifying everything.
I'm still a bit hesitant to use the root ball I selected for driftwood.  It ended up being identified as cherry.  It's a beautiful piece and I have most of it debarked and dried.  It had been submerged for two years that I know of in a local spring.  Now that I have the tank on hand, I can measure for how large/long pieces can be to fit into the top of the tank's opening.  I'll still need to make up my mind on where/how to cut the root ball so that it can fit without it being in too many severed pieces.  Once I have the cuts laid out and done, I'll start the pre-soak in containers to check for water parameter changes or excess tannins.
Most of the stone I've collected so far is a mix of sandstone, limestone, and dolomite stone (dolostone).  It's all sedimentary, save a few select pieces of chert for risers.  My plan is to create hides for the nocturnals and otherwise bottom dwellers while providing a 'bedrock' substitute for those fish that prefer that.  I still haven't completely ruled out the use of pool filter sand, as most of the sand I've collected is much finer grained that I think I want in a sump-style aquarium, especially one this large.  Well, I think I've blathered on long enough, I'll get some pics posted as soon as the Imgur app quits playing stupid.

#8 SergeantOldSchool

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Posted 12 September 2020 - 02:27 PM

I guess it couldn't get anymore 2020 than this:

I finally got the tank moved indoors only to find that it sustained damage during shipping.  Huge chunk missing out of a rear corner that has compromised the tank.  Looks like I've got plenty of time on my hands now to work on debarking that cherry stump now as we await a response from the tank manufacturer.


#9 Chasmodes

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  • Central Maryland

Posted 15 September 2020 - 01:19 PM

Oh wow, that stinks.  Sorry to hear that.  Good luck getting the replacement tank in a timely manner.

Kevin Wilson

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