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265-Gallon Update: Infinity Lighting & Adding First Fish

By Ted's Fishroom on

Ted: The aquarium has been running with the fish that are in it now for about four weeks. So far, the only water changes that I've been doing have been to drain the water down about halfway, and fill it back up. The cloudiness comes and goes, and that has a lot to do with the wood. The wood is still relatively raw. Now, the Frank, the pleco, has been chewing on it quite a bit.

Now, I need to do a little more thorough of a water change and clean up some of the extra organics. I'm going to do some things and that try to show you what's happening in the tank. I've actually found a problem I also have to deal with.


The problem that I found in the aquarium is that one of those silver dollars, the biggest one, has got a very cloudy eye, you see it right there pretty clearly. Other than that, he looks really healthy. He's actually still very aggressive, and I suspect that he scraped that eye, or it got in a fight with one of the other silver dollars, and it just got a little bit infected. I've got a couple choices.

One of the choices is not going to be to pull him out of here, that's very difficult to do. One choice is to treat the tank, is to use an antibiotic, treat the entire aquarium, and hopefully, get that to heal up. The fish itself really isn't unhealthy, it looks like it's just an infection in the film that covers the eye. I think what I prefer to do, is to clean this tank up really well.

Maybe add some Melafix or something that's more of an antiseptic, not so much an actual antibiotic or any kind, and then, see if this injury will clear itself up. I'm going to take the light that is on top of the tank, I'm going to move it, so you can actually see in the very back of the aquarium. Now, we can see all the way into the back, and you'll notice that the fish are hiding back there.

Now, that I got the light back there, I can tell you where the fish are at. The chocolate cichlid, he likes to hide way in the back right hand corner, he's actually moved away from there now that I got the light over top of them. [unintelligible 00:02:29] are down there in the bottom right hand corner. Then, Frank, he might pop out here, just a sec. I can see him moving.

He is right there, if I can highlight him on the video, I will. There's the chocolate cichlid he's coming up in the very back, and there's a little gap between that stubby log and the branch above it. There's Frank, he's moving there. You can just see him kicking his tail, but he's starting to create quite a mess. One thing that I knew was going to happen when I got the tank running was that, eventually, I'd have to figure out where the detritus from the wood was going to end up settling.

I don't know if you can see it very well in the video, but I've got some pretty good piles of detritus back up there along the very bottom edge of that Universal rocks background. Actually, that's not a bad place for it to be, because if it accumulates there, I'll be able to get it out pretty easily. That is actually the task for today. I'm going to get in there, do a bigger water change, and I'm going to siphon out as much of that chewed up wood to try this as I can.

Then, I'm also going to adjust the flow by redirecting the outlets to see if I can get more of that detritus to get kicked up into the filter, but also, to have it land in places where I can siphon it out pretty well, but really having it up against that very edges of the tank and along the glass, and along that background, that's not a bad place for it to be, and you'll be able to see that when I'm cleaning it out.

Now, I've managed to forget to turn on the audio recording for this entire segment. You can try to read my lips, but I'm probably seeing something about having turned off the pumps and letting the water settle. I'm probably talking about the glass canopy, which I'm taking off, and that I made a mistake when I ordered the glass canopy. In an effort to have as little evaporation, and have the top frame of the tank as clean as possible, I ordered a solid piece of glass to cover the entire opening.

Now, I want to put a circulation pump and an automatic fish feeder on the tank, but have no gaps around the canopy to thread a pump cord through, or a hole for food to drop through. While the canopy is off the tank, I'll make some adjustments to it, or I'm saying something like that.

Now, that the water and detritus have settled, I will use a siphon hose with a piece of solid pipe on the end to remove all of the dirt that I can see. I will try not to pull out much of the sand, but I'm going to lose some of it. I could use a really long gravel siphon head, but the longer heads are harder to control in tight spaces, and the force created by the siphon is reduced. I can afford to replace a little sand every now and then.

When I started this cleaning I also noticed that the big female geophagus is afflicted with fin rot on its tail, that is a bigger problem than the cloudy eye on the silver dollar. I will definitely dose the tank with an antiseptic after this cleaning, and follow-up in a couple days with a big water change. If she does not improve, she will have to be caught out of here and treated in a hospital tank.

I don't know how easy it is for you to see on the camera, I'll move the camera in a sec to show you what I'm seeing, but there's a lot of detritus upon the surface of the woods. I'm actually going to scrub that off, and then, give the tank around 20 minutes or so for all that stuff to settle down in the water. I want to scoop it out of the bottom. Now, it's one of things about fresh wood is it takes months for it to get to the point, where it doesn't produce a lot of detritus, especially, when there's lights right over it.

Then, Frank, is the only catfish in here that's chewing on it, and I don't think that even Frank could keep all of this clean. I could put more plecos in, and if I did, I probably should put ancistrus in, because ancistrus,they don't destroy the wood as much as the Frank or those other plecos do, and that's one reason I didn't put those other pleco's in here. I also knew that setting the tank up this way, it was going to be a maintenance issue for a while.

I'm hoping that within six months, I won't have to do this very often. I'm not going to do it very often now. Actually, I had a few people ask, why I didn't use faux wood pieces like I used a faux background. Really, the answer is that no one makes a faux back wood that looks as nice as this, as far as how long and spindly and how branch it is. Some day, they'll get it right, and then, we'll be able to have all fake wood and everything, but then, what would the plecos eat.

Frank needs the wood. Frank is a silurifore, so he's got to have that wood. I could feed him a food diet, like Repashy Morning Wood, that suffices for wood, but just like most natural things, I'm not sure if it will completely supplant natural wood. Yes, we're making a really good mess of this tank. All right, so I'm going to let this sit. I'm going to let it sit for about an hour to get as much of that detritus as possible down to the bottom, and I'm going to stop this siphon, so I have plenty of room to siphon more water out, and then, I'll be back, but in the meantime, now, let's go work on that glass canopy.

All right, so what did I do wrong when I ordered this glass canopy? In the name of humidity control and containing the fish inside the tank, I ordered one solid piece of glass, plus, the hinge to go over the entire opening of the back of the aquarium. The piece up front is the same way, except this hinge piece instead of hinging off on the side of the tank, hinges in the front of the tank.

What I didn't think about, was if I ever wanted to put something in the aquarium, that I needed to run a cord in, so I want to put a circulation pump in the tank to create current in there. I was thinking about using a vortex pump, where you don't have to have a cord in, that's probably those things I had one, but I had some problems with my vortex, so I'm not going to use that.

I need to get a way to get a cord in, and to make that happen, I'm going to have to clip a corner just enough that I can have a cord come out. That's one problem. The other problem I have is, what am I going to do when I go out of town, and I want to put an automatic feeder on this aquarium? The day is going to come and I get to go back to Colombia, I hope, and I'm gone for two weeks. I need to have a feeder on the tank. The feeder I like to use is the Eheim twin-tube feeder, because I've got this nifty little gadget.

This is called the Unstoppable Hopper, and basically, it sits on the tank, the twin-tube feeder sits inside of it like this. It even has a hopper that I can fill this thing up with food, and depending on how much I'm feeding, it can last a month or more. It's really great. In order to have this work in the tank, if you notice, you've got to have a gap in the glass somewhere, and I don't have that.

What I want to do, is I want to make it, so that, when I pick up the glass, there's a gap right here, and I can have this just sitting on the very edge of the tank like this, so that the fish can't jump out, but the Unstoppable Hopper can sit there as well. To do that, I'm going to have to cut this piece of glass here, and I'm going to have to cut a little bit off the corner.

In order to cut this, I'm going to have to take the glass out of its hinge, that was easy enough. Wipe it down real well, and I need to measure and see how much space I actually need for this Unstoppable Hopper. All right, it looks like I can get away with about an inch and a half. Now, I've got a lip that this sits down into, so I'm going to go ahead and bring it in like two inches.

First I want to do is run some oil on the glass, so I get a good cut. Now, these are what I use to break glass with, you can use lots of different methods, but what I like about this one is, it's got a little white line and you just line that up with your edge, and then, squeeze. Nice clean break. Now, all I need to do is take some sandpaper and sand that off, so I don't cut myself with it.

This will be a little trickier because it's a diagonal line, but I think my breakers will still work. Yes, they do. That's all I took out, just enough. Put a few chords in there, if I need to, get a circulation pump in there. I don't actually have a circulation pump for this video, but I will for the next one.

I gave the tank about an hour for the stuff to settle to the bottom. Then, I got back in there with the siphon and got out as much as I could, but once I got it as clean as I thought I could get it, I put on another siphon hose and just emptied the tank. I ended up doing about 80% water change, which is pretty big. It's quite a bit larger than I normally do, but I only do these large water changes every fourth or fifth change.

All right. Let's get the glass canopy back on. Got my nice little gap here now. I got my gap for my feeder, see how that fits. There we go, got my feeder there now. The one thing I'm not going to do is change the socks or do anything else with my filter system. Pro tip, whenever you're doing a big huge mass of water change like this, and you're really kicking up a lot of to detritus and a lot of dirt, then, leave your filter system, especially, a sump filter alone for a few days.

Let it catch all that debris, and then clean your filter. That way, you can go longer between changing your socks. I change the socks about once every four or five days anyway, so I know the socks that are in there can handle what's coming out of it. Then, maybe tomorrow or the next day, I'll put some new ones in. Do a little bit of glass maintenance.

Since the lights on this aquarium are not on very much, and they're not very bright, I really don't have a problem with algae at all, so just a soft rag will wipe the dust that builds up on the glass off. Even that's not so bad.

Two days since the big water changed with the deep cleaning of the substrate, and things are looking pretty good. The large silver dollar, it's eye is completely cleared up, just as I suspected that using that Melafix for a few days and doing a big water change, and getting some more of those organics out of the water would help it clear up. The female geophagus that's had the fin rot pretty bad on her tail, she seems to be doing a whole lot better, but it's also that the fin rot is pretty extensive on her tail, so I'm not sure if it's going to grow back or not.

I'll watch it for a few days and if I feel like I need to medicate again, I think I'll actually pull her out if I can catch her and move her into a quarantine tank, and treat her there, instead of treating the whole tank again. I think I'll be able to catch her, she's pretty food motivated and comes right up to the front of the glass pretty well. Overall, the water is very clear, I still have some dust in the water from the deep cleaning

There's some dust that has kind of accumulated on the surface of the branches. I've been thinking about ways that I can help clean that up. Definitely, want to put a circulation pump into the aquarium, and move the water around the branches more, so less will accumulate on them. I've got to take care of that before the next update.

I've also thought about putting in ancistrus plecos in here, but if I do that, I have to be careful to use only males, because that fish is so prolific, they would take this tank over, and I'd have more than I know what to do with before you know it. Hey, now it's the time when I get to sit back, have a nice cool drink and enjoy my aquarium. Now, I still have some work to do, so let's get to it.

What I need to do is do a bigger cleaning on the filter. Normally, I change the socks every four to five days, and then, I clean the filter like this maybe once a month, maybe less depending about how dirty it gets. One thing that's nice about this system is that if you keep the socks clean, it catches almost all the dust and debris. Any dust that gets through the socks, tends to accumulate on the bottom of the sock tub as kind of a thin layer, and it's really not going to hurt anything, but I'm trying to keep this look as neat and as clean as possible.

Then, the other thing is the bio media that's inside the baffle tub, it's pretty good to shake that up every now and then. Bacteria grows better if it's been agitated and old colonies are kind of sloughed off. About once a month or once every two months, I like to pull the bio media baskets out, just rinse them off in some water, and get them back in there. Other than that, that's all it really takes, so let me show you how I do that.

One thing that's nice about these solid glass tops is they don't warp, and there's a frame around the inside of the baffle tab that allows that water to just drop back down into the sump tub, sock tub there. I've got the pumps off, so no water is running into it. I've got my siphon started, so all I'm going to do is very carefully run my tube here across the bottom and pick up any of that dust.

There really isn't a whole lot down here. I am going to empty this tub today, so I'm going to unplug my heaters, just so that I don't burn them out. I'm not going to pull the socks out until I've drained the tub, so that I can keep as much dirt in the socks as possible. If you're not familiar with the twin feeder, this is by far my favorite automatic feeder. Of all the ones I've used, it's the most versatile, and it's the most dependable.

What I like about it even without this Unstoppable Hopper, if I pull this off and just have it sitting over top of the tank, what I like about it is that the food is actually coming out of the feeder above the waterline, so it's much less likely for fish to splash water up into the feeder. It has two different chambers that you can put different types of food in. Then, you can control each of the chamber separately.

This one because of the Hopper is actually using all the same food, and this will actually feed both of the barrels at the same time. I've actually got this one set up to where the left-hand barrel is feeding a lot more than the right-hand barrel, but I can do that without it running out of food on one side or the other faster because of that Hopper.

A couple of disadvantages of this particular feeder is that, one, you require a pretty good-sized hole because the food is dropping down from a couple inches, and sometimes that food spreads and falls as it goes in, so it can be a little messy. You also have to have a pretty good-sized hole, and fish can come up out of that hole, and because the feeder doesn't go right over top of the hole, it's not blocking those fish anyway.

Well, that is why we use this system. This is a funnel and that directs the food directly over the hole. Then, the little cage down here at the bottom, blocks the hole and keeps fish from coming up out of the feeder. Love the feeder. I think it's great. This system, the Unstoppable Hopper, is something that Custom Aquariums came up with, to be able to better use the twin feeder.

The sock tub is mostly empty. It's probably got about another inch of water left in it. I'm also going to drain the baffle tub, so I can get to those baskets without creating a big mess. There's not much dust in the bottom of the baffle tub, which makes sense, because the socks are catching all the detritus as it leaves the tank. Then, as the water leaves those socks, it slows down significantly, and all the heavy particles can fall to the bottom of the sock tub, and we just got that out with the siphon.

While that's draining, I can go ahead and get my socks out of the sock tub and change them. All I do is pop out. There you go. I don't know if you can see that on the video or not, but the inside of the sock is pretty brown and nasty. Now, this particular sock doesn't get very much flow. This one gets the least amount of flow. There's no sock here, this one gets the least amount of flow. It almost never goes down that, if I can help it.

This one gets the least amount of flow. This one gets the next amount of flow, and it's quite a bit dirtier, but that is one overflow that's going into two different socks. [inaudible 00:23:18] coming out of there, it doesn't look that bad. You can see that's pretty brown. If you can see brown on the outside of your sock, then, something's getting through. Mostly, just tannins in the water.

I take these socks and I just wash them. I don't put anything else in with them. because there's actually quite a lot of dirt in there. I washed them in my washing machine with just bleach and hot water, and it cleans them up pretty good. Here is a clean sock. It's stained because of the tannins, but overall, it's clean. To get those back in, all you do is you put them in the clips, push down the clips, and the socks go right back into place. Easy-peasy.

The media stacks inside the baffle tub just pop out. Now, this is an extra one. Normally, I wouldn't have this in here, but I've been experimenting. We're trying to reduce the trickle sound or the water hitting water sound in this particular filter. What I've done is this particular basket, I've just got some pieces of foam and I put this on top of it. I'm actually seeing quite a bit of detritus on that, so some stuff is getting through those socks, which surprises me.

I have to look and see if I'm getting some overflow somewhere that I wasn't aware of. Most of this color is just tannins that's coming in. I'll rinse that out. It does reduce the sound of water hitting water as it would. Then, the baskets themselves, I'm going to take a look at them. This is the media. This looks really, really clean. I don't see much dust or dirt in there at all.

If I did see more dust built up inside the media, then, I might actually take all these baskets out and rinse them out, but I don't think I'm going to do that. Now, the only thing I'm seeing in there, that brown color is just tannins from the water. I'm actually not going to give these things a really thorough cleaning. By thorough cleaning, all I really do is just run some water over them and get the dust out of them.

It's okay to agitate the bacteria bed, but you certainly don't want to destroy the bacteria bed. These are pretty good. I'm just going to put them back in. Everything is good there. This is the other side of the baffle tub, and I am not going to do anything with this side. It's perfectly clean, no problems. You might notice there is a piece of Poret foam inside the baffle tub. It's not necessary. It is here just as an experiment.

I wanted to take a look to see how well water would flow through a piece of 30 PPI foam, in case I wanted to use this like a polishing filter, or if ever got to be so dusty, I wanted to catch more particles coming through the system, but it really hasn't been a problem. You'll find that I do a lot of experimentation with my filter systems to see how things might work better or worse. It's all part of the process of learning how to keep aquariums.

I'm waiting for the water to reach this point and start flowing over into the baffle tub, which it's just about to do. Then, when the water rises up in the baffle and reaches this point here, I will turn off the water going into the sumps and start my pumps. I'm shooting video on my phone, so I'm going to have to stop the video, while I turn on the pumps because I control the sumps with my phone now.

The pumps are running. I don't know if you can see it, but I'm watching the water drop in this level here, which is fine. I've still got my hose in the sump, so that once everything is flowing, I can adjust the water level in the sump if I need to. The water is flowing, but I've noticed that I need to raise my water level a little bit. I want to be closer to that high. All I have to do really is just turn on the water again.

Now, that the tank is rolling, and when the water gets to this big, shut off the water from my sink and everything should be balanced. Of course, at the same time that I'm filling up this tub, I'm filling up the reservoir tub, where the pumps are at over here. It's actually taking longer to fill than you think it might. That's high enough. One of the first things I check once the aquarium is rolling, is how my water levels are doing in my stealth box.

This is actually a little higher than I wanted. I bet if we watch this for a few more minutes, it's going to end up going over the top of this edge here. To fix that, all I'm going to do is open this valve just a tad. We're going to watch that water go down. When it gets to the point where I want it to be, all I'm going to do is close it again, and hopefully, it's not going to start rising.

I'm going to close a little bit. That looks pretty good. It's silent. All that's left is just to make sure I plug in my heaters, and we're done. Now, I can sit back and enjoy a cool beverage and watch my aquarium. Now, the deep cleaning maintenance is completely done. Overall, the maintenance on this aquarium is pretty minimal. About once a week, I change those socks, and once a week I do just a pure water change, draining water down, filling it back up.

The draining of the water and filling it back up takes the most time. Then, probably moving forward, every other month, I will do a deep cleaning like we just did, where I shut the water off and I siphon detritus that I can see. That was really triggered by me seeing the problems with the fish. I saw the cloudy eye on the silver dollar. I saw a little bit of fin rot on the geophagus female.

I'm hoping to avoid those problems in the future, but if you keep aquariums long enough, you're going to have some problems you got to deal with. That's just the way it goes. I'll keep a closer watch on it. I think I need to shine some light back into the back of this aquarium more frequently, and take a look at what's going on back there. I just didn't think about how much detritus had been building up.

Now, that it's out there, things are looking a lot better. I just got to make sure it doesn't build up like that again. That's it for the June 2020 update on the Custom Aquariums 265- gallon display setup. I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, please subscribe, like, and hit that bell notification, so you get updates on this and other projects that I'll be doing. Probably, ancistrus. I think I might have to add some ancistrus. It's a problem with aquariums, you always want to add more fish.


[birds chirping]

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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