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265-Gallon Update: Adjusting the Aquascape & First Water Change

By Ted's Fishroom on

Ted Judy: It's been three days since this tank has been set up and running. I really haven't done a whole lot with it other than come down and take a look. I still don't have the lights that I want to put on the tank, but I may have found a way to approximate how I want them to look. What I'm doing is a little experimental. What I'm going to do in this video is one, I'm going to give you a sneak look at what it looks like now with the big light that's on it. The lights they're going to go on the tank aren't going to be this bright.

I'm going to do a big water change and take you again through the filter system, how I turn it on and off. We're going to install a heater. Then, we're also going to put on the glass canopies. As I mentioned before, I'm going to put the lights on it in such a way that it should approximate what this is going to look like. Oh, I have found something really cool that I'm going to attempt to put in this tank that I think is going to be really, really cool. It's going to be an aquascaping game-changer. Stay tuned.

Here's the tank. It is three days after it's been set up. The water is pretty clear, a little bit cloudy but that's to be expected. There was a lot of new wood that went into this tank. The light that I have sitting on top of the tank right now is a current LED light, a big long strip light. It's actually putting a very even amount of light across the middle of the tank. I've actually got the light turned up pretty high. I can turn it up a little higher here. I want you to watch what happens as I turn the light down. Take a look and you can see how the background, you can see it.

As I dim that tank down, the background pretty much disappears. When you're actually standing in front of the tank, you can still see. It's hard to see on the camera, but it's still there, but it's really, really murky. Imagine this with spotlights and really dim. This may seem like it's a little too dark, but I'll tell you it's going to look really, really natural when it's all said and done. Let's start by taking a look at the flow. Here are the two pumps that I have on the tank, both are [unintelligible 00:02:21] pumps.

This pump right here is controlling the two outside siphon stoppers, two emitters coming from one pump. I've got this one running at about 50% capacity. The one that is flowing through the single emitter, I've got that running at its lowest capacity. I'll take you here to take a look at that. There, you can see the flow rate. Watch what happens when I really pump this sucker up. I'm going to take it all the way up to 100%. There you go. Now, that's really, really rocking. It almost overpowers the overflows. I really can't run this at 100%. I don't know if you can see that very well or not. I'm going to have to get more light on it.

Let me try this. There, now, you can take a look. You see that overflow is being completely overpowered. If I let this run as it's going, I suspect that would end up having some problems with there goes my lids. Your overflows are floating away. You definitely don't want to have too much power. These pumps are too powerful for these overflows. Let's take a look and see how things are going inside the stealth box. I haven't adjusted it since I set it up. What I'm seeing is that the water is dropping below my secondary overflow.

I want to actually change that. I'm going to go ahead and adjust that. I'm going to close down my main valve a little bit. I'm going to close it down quite a bit. I'm going to let it come back up. I'm going to let it fill up that secondary overflow. I'm going to let it come up a little bit. Now, I'm going to open my secondary overflow just a tad. There we go. Hopefully, it's going to stay steady. That right there is the way I would like it. You can see that both overflows are underwater. The bulkhead is underwater. The water really isn't rising up to the top of the emergency overflow, but as I mentioned before, sometimes, it takes a few days to fiddle with it and get to where it's actually working again.

I'm going to go ahead and turn off a pump. Let's take a look at what happens. I'm going to turn off the one that feeds the two outside siphon stoppers first. You'll notice that no water is flowing down through this. This one will stop in just a sec, as soon as the water comes down a little bit. There it goes. The back siphon from the tank is stopped, so water is not going backwards into the sump. A little bit will go at first but not a whole lot. Then, I'm going to go ahead and turn off the pump for the one going across the surface.

Some people commented a question about that pump going across the surface like that. I actually like it because I want to have that surfaced agitation and the effect that it's going to have on the lights once I have it on the tank. It's going to create a really interesting shimmer effect. Pumps are off. If you're still hearing some trickle, go through the filter system. As soon as it is completely settled and stopped moving, we'll get into the process of draining water and starting this water change.

I've started the water change. I've actually got two drains running. I don't really need two drains today, I'm not cleaning the sump. I'm going to show you how I would empty the sumps though. This is the main one. I picked these, these are off of the old, I think [unintelligible 00:06:59]. I forget exactly what canister filters they are, but the best part about them from my experience is the intake tubes are great because you can daisy-chain them, you're going to end up with these big long tubes that go all the way to the bottom of your tank.

I have a floor drain in the other room. I'm just running the water to that. The other one is using those same fittings that I can just daisy-chain together like that and with a straight tube like this I can clean smuts and stuff out of the bottom of these sumps. I'm going to end up doing a pretty big aquascaping overhaul this water change, so I need to take everything out of the tank. I need a heater in the system, so while the water is draining, I'm going to go ahead and put this Ebo Jager a 300-watt heater into the reservoir tub.

This HDPE material in the tubs is not going to be harmed by a heater sitting on the bottom. It takes a while for the water to drain from a big tank like this, so while I'm waiting for that, I'll go ahead and get the glass canopies ready to go on the aquarium. Here it is, the beast, this wonderful piece of wood was picked up at our local Yahara River and I brought it home. It is heavy, it's dense. It's going to sink right away. I have eyeballed it and I've measured it. I think it's going to fit in the aquarium just the way it is, but I got to do a few things to prepare it first.

This log has been in the river quite a while, so there's no living material on it. The first thing I'm going to do is give it a really good rinse to get all the loose debris, and mud, and duckweed, and anything else on it off. Then, it gets sprayed down very liberally with a strong bleach solution. It is a sunny and windy day, so this bleach will actually dry within a couple of hours. After it dries completely, I give it a good rinse. Maggie is supervising. Then, I will let it dry and hit it with a bleach solution once again, then let it dry, and then rinse it, three rinses and two bleaches.

Normally, when you're looking at a piece of wood or a piece of hardscape this big, you have two concerns about getting it into the tank, especially one like this it's very three-dimensional. It can sit in many different ways. I know there are certain ways that it won't actually be able to set in the tank but there's a couple of ways that, based upon my measurements, it is going to be able to sit in the tank. That's the first thing. Will it actually fit in the tank? The second one and usually the most important is can you actually get it into the tank without having to cut it because of the cross braces.

I'm not actually worried about that at all because I'm going to try to get it in here without doing this, but with a Custom Aquarium, you can remove the cross brace and you can put it back. It's the only company that you can do that with their aquarium that I know of. If you know somebody else that has a removable cross brace, please let me know because we patented it. Before I do that, I'm going to remove all the siphon stoppers and the H2O overflows just in case I bump one of them. I don't want to break any bulkheads or anything. That would be really bad. One thing I have to be careful of is not to hit that cross brace with this log because it is aluminum, which means it can bend.

What I'm going to try to do is get this in so this corner is back up in that corner of the tank, and this corner up there is up in the front corner of the tank. In looking at this, some of the challenges I see are, I'm not sure I can get this piece up into that corner very easily, but we're going to try. I'm starting to think that maybe this piece isn't going to fit at all. It would really suck because it's a really nice piece. I could cut it. I could actually reduce the length of it a little bit and you wouldn't notice it.

We tried the, "Let's get lucky method." and that didn't work. Now, let's try to be a little smarter about it. The green stake at the bottom of the frame, that is basically the front edge of the aquarium, the piece of wood over on the left there is the left side of the aquarium from the front aspect of it, and the cracks in the driveway represent the right-hand side of the aquarium and that the farthest I can go in the corners because of that universal rocks background.

What I was trying to do in the tank was this like that. To make that happen, I'm going to have to cut this corner here, but it'll be flat against the glass. That's not bad. Then, I'll have to cut back here, but then I've got this nice curve this way and a curve that way. It's a tough dilemma. I could do, a lot of YouTubers do, and have you guys comment down below and take a vote and see which way you like, but I'm going to get this done today.

I'll let you know what I decide when I put it in the tank. That's not so bad. That looks pretty natural too. Actually, I like that because now, it almost doesn't look like that stump in the back. It's almost part of the log itself though. I know it's kind of hard to see. It's going to look a lot better once the tank is clear. I'm going to go ahead and re-aquascape this thing and get started to fill it back up with water.


Ted: The glass canopy for the front of the tank covers the entire front half of the aquarium with a small lifting hinge section at the very front that will fit just in front of the wall. The glass canopy that's going to go on the back end of the tank, I had arranged a little differently than the one that's on the front. Instead of having the glass hinge so where it's facing the front or the back, I actually had the glass cut so that the glass hinge hinges over here to the side so that I can access the aquarium from over here to feed and so forth.

You also notice that the glass comes all the way edge to edge all the way around, doesn't have the little plastic strips. I'm actually kind of regretting that a little bit because eventually, I wanted to put an automatic feeder on this aquarium. The only way I'm going to be able to do that is to cut this glass probably up here on this end so that I can put an automatic feeder down there, but what I was thinking was I wanted this aquarium to be as close to evaporation proof as I could get it. The glass canopies on the filter system and tight glass canopies on this, very little water is going to escape.

One of the other things I want to show you was I wanted to try to approximate what the lighting was going to be like in this aquarium. The lights aren't here yet, and they're not actually aquarium lights that I bought. Think of spotlight LEDs that you can adjust the diameter of the lens to allow the light to spread or be narrow. There's going to be four to six of them on this tank. It's going to be like spotlights coming down in through the water.

Now, I have LED lights over top of the tank right now. These are just small, the same kind of lights you might put underneath a kitchen cabinet, but they're not doing exactly what I want them to do because you're not seeing the shimmer in the bottom of the tank, but when I use a spotlight and I put it right over the middle of that flow, you should see some shimmer in the tank.

Also, these lights really aren't bright enough. The back of the tank just disappears. From where I'm standing, even without the camera, I can't see the back wall, just barely the front edge of the roots on that deep water background and that's intentional. I want this to be what's called an infinity tank, where the fish can move backwards and forwards and disappear. I'm going to adjust those lights so you can see what happens when I move the lights around so you can see the effect of just angling lights can do. What I'm going to do is I'm going to take one of the lights out. There's currently three on the tank. I'm going to pull out the middle one. Look what that does to the level of shadow in the tank in the bottom.

Right now, I'm going to put it back. I can move it. I can change the shadow, and I can change what is highlighted based on just where those lights are at. The lights that I'm going to put on this tank are going to be even more specific. I'm going to go use the ones in the back now. I can take this light. I can move it back here in the back, and you can see that background. All I have to do is angle the light a different way, move it forward, and it disappears. If I bring the lights and I actually point them towards the outside of the tank, then the outside edges are what you're going to see. If I take those same lights and just pivot them so they're looking inside the tank, it'll completely change the look and feel of the aquarium.

The effect that I'm going for is to be able to use lots of little independent lights. I'm not going to grow any plants in here, so it really doesn't matter what the color spectrum is other than it helps for the color as the fish, but I don't need to grow plants. I don't need it to be brighter, but it is going to be a little brighter than this, but the directionality of those lights is what's going to create the mood in the atmosphere inside this aquascape. This really is the first time I've even had a chance to look at it and play with it. I really think it's going to work. I think it's pretty cool.

I'm shooting this closing about two days after I've done change and added the hardscape and the water is starting to clear up pretty good, still a little bit of cloudiness to it. The light that's on the tank right now is a big current LED strip light. It's about as bright as I hope to have this tank, but it still is more of an even light effect and I'm going to get my spotlights soon and we'll see what's a little bit different. We're going to leave this project for a while, it's probably going to be about a week or maybe a week and a half before I can actually get to the point where I'm ready to put fish in this tank. I Got to get the lights set up.

I have to work on the heat. The heater that I put in this tank, it was a pretty old heater and after giving it a couple of days, even cranked up real high, it just wasn't even doing the job, and even touching the heater wasn't even hot enough to be doing the job, so I've got to order a new heater for this tank, but pretty soon, we're going to get fish in it. We will be moving on. I'm working on the bioactive of vivarium this week. You can expect some videos coming on that pretty soon. If you like this kind of programming, as always, please hit that subscribe and the bell so you get notifications of when new videos come out. As always, every time, I thank you very much for watching Ted's Fishroom.

About Ted's Fishroom

Ted’s Fishroom shares videos about the aquarium life and adventures of Ted Judy. You will find fishrooms, how-to, DIY, species profiles, interviews, travel logs, and other interesting topics.

Ted Judy is the PR and Social Media Manager at Custom Aquariums and our sister site, Custom Cages. He has been aquarium-keeping for many years as a personal hobby and is experienced with showing pet enthusiasts how to set up and maintain exotic bird enclosures, bioactive vivariums, large saltwater tanks, freshwater tank displays, and more. The Ted's Fishroom channel is Ted's personal channel where you can get practical information on the cage and aquarium-keeping hobby.

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