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Custom Axolotl Aquarium Upgrade Project, INTRO

By Andrew Windham on

Hello everyone. I'm Savior of Gotham, and welcome to my channel. This channel will be mostly focused on aquarium projects and enjoying the hobby, even as a college student.

Sometimes there will be slice of life stuff and random things, but the main goal here is to show off how much fun the aquarium hobby can be and to properly educate my audience on the ins and outs of fish keeping and specific care requirements of different various species.

I am a marine biology student at Texas A&M Corpus Christi, and I love fish keeping and using the knowledge that I have gained through various courses, texts or researched, and applying it to the aquarium trade for different more interesting builds, and sometimes controversial ones. An example of a controversial bill would be my 15 gallon aquarium that has an axolotl and a small school of white cloud mountain minnows.

A lot of people think you can't do that, but it's been going excellently for me and there's several reasons why. I was able to have custom aquariums sponsor a new build series, where I will be making an upgrade from their current tank to a bigger tank that fits both species, full desires in all manners. It's going to be great for all of its inhabitants. It already is, but it's going to be a bigger tank and it's going to be just over the top and I'm having a lot of fun doing this. I hope you guys have a lot of fun watching and maybe learning.

What I'm about to roll is some footage on my current aquarium that I started as a sophomore and the setup that I've got going for it that's been working for me. It's not crazy expensive or anything, but here you go.This is the tank that I've built while I was in college, or while I am in college, my second year of college, and I piece by pieced everything. So not everything was bought at once. This is totally on a college budget that you can afford to do. It wasn't ridiculous or a big project.

It was just thought out ahead of time. I bought a 15 gallon glass aquarium at a big sale pet store and everything else was just piece by piece as I was thinking of things to do to accommodate what I wanted to be in this tank. A good piece of advice is to just think about what you want specifically in the tank and then design the tank around that. Some people just get a tank and set something up, make something work. I prefer to plan everything out ahead of time so I know everything works well and avoiding issues.

This whole setup that I'm about to show you is just everything that works together to create this one big tank, or average size tank, that is my college tank that I made as a college student and that other people can go out and recreate if they want to or maybe even just take some inspiration off of, but I did my best to make this look very presentable and very nice and enjoyable without being a lot of work.

Well, since I'm taking my classes and I'm already in college doing my degree, I don't want this to be a burden or a chore, but something that I can go, come after class to and enjoy and show my friends and have them enjoy. This is what that looks like all together. For the thermometer on this tank, I just have-- it's a digital thermometer and it has a probe that you can see in the back with a suction cup on it. The thermometer itself has a suction cup on it.

I just put it wherever I want on the tank. It just gives me the degrees in Fahrenheit or Celsius, if you see me switching it over here, and then I can put it back. All I did was put the thermometer in the top left and I tightly wrapped the wire, pulled it down along the edge of the aquarium and taped it so it'd be a straight wire and wouldn't be some like unsightly fall.

One of the methods in which I cool this tank down to the appropriate temperature for its inhabitants, is with this cheap USB desktop fan that I got off Amazon that's adjustable. It's plugged into a nine foot USB cable, which is excessive, but I got it for cheap as well. It's just held onto the side of the tank with cable clips on each end of the connection that can support the weight of the little fan. The cable clips have double sided tape on them, but I had replaced it with stronger double sided tape. The purpose of the fan is to agitate the surface of the water and promote heat exchange and evaporation.

As water evaporates, heat exits as well. The stronger it's pointed down at the aquarium, the more service agitation you will have and the lower the temperature of the tank, because there's more evaporation. If you back it off more and it just gently breezes over the tank, then it's going to have less evaporation and less heat loss, but really easy, really cheap do it yourself way of cooling the tank down. The lighting on this aquarium is just a Fluval Aquasky 24 to 36 inch model.

I only really use it for temporarily presenting the tank or appreciating it, or sometimes for like a nice night light to look at after dark. What you're seeing is a setting I customized to show off the tank and light it up for viewing our video. It's the dimmest light setting of white light with just a lot of blue hue added for a clear color and visual. Here's the remote with all of its settings and color and weather pattern things, but this is the setting that I use for a nighttime light, just lowest blue light, and then I'll usually up the blue hue by like two or three presses just to make it a little bit brighter.

This is my display setting. I don't really use this much at all. It's just to show friends and whatnot and enjoy, but it'll stress the axolotl if it's left on for a while. Now, if I take off the blue here that I've added to the white light, then you'll get to see this yellowish color that adds to things. I don't like this too much. Although it's clear, it's nice, I don't care for it. I add some blue hues, and this is the setting with the blue hue and the lowest white light setting. I think it just looks a lot clearer and better in my opinion, so this is why I keep it up.

As for what I have filtering this tank, I have one Fluval Aquaclear 30 originally, and then I added another Fluval Aquaclear, but size 50, and I just chose them for their adjustable flow rate and their media customizability where I can choose to run sponges or whatever kind of media I want however much I want inside the baskets. I've been able to adjust their flow rate accordingly to where it's not stressing any of the inhabitants of the tank but optimizing filter flow and water volume turnover rates. They're also just very easy to take apart completely and clean out the pumps as well.

They're on the outside and they're really easy to take off as opposed to other hang on back filters where it's a much bigger issue to fix and clean out your pump. These I can just take off and I can clean the impeller and rotor and it not be a problem. As for the decor of the tank, everything you see is chosen specifically for a purpose more so than just a look, even though I like the look of my aquarium, and I'm happy with it.

The tall fake green plant, its original purpose and still today is just to have something to break the current and the flow of the output of the hangout back filter behind it where just as the water is pushed out of it it has to break on and around the tall green plant. It goes all the way to the top, and that way I'm not stressing out the axolotl or whatever have you, but I can still have nice flow in the aquarium, or at least a turnover rate. For the tree stump, it's a cave, essentially, for the axolotl. He can just go in and he can hide under it and relax there and take refuge.

It's also good because I can see through it and under it, and if there's any waste or if he pooped or something, I can see that it's there and it's easy to have access to or I can get to it and clean it underneath without having to disrupt everything. That way there's no waste just sitting there rotting. For the substrate I chose, as you can see, just the white sand. I caribsea white sand, but I chose it for a couple reasons. The first one is axolotl can grip on it without being stressed. Like bare bottom tanks some people like to use axolotl aquariums have been shown to stress out axolotls when they can't grip and move as easily.

I didn't want gravel either because sand can easily pass through their digestive tract if they do swallow some sand when they eat their food. Secondly, the color of the sand has high contrast with the color of the axolotl. This is more for the minnows. The high contrast is for them to notice and avoid them easier if need be. Not that there's ever an issue, better safe than sorry, and I just like the look of the sand and the ease of cleaning. When there is waste from the axolotl, I can easily pick it up, unlike a turkey base, you don't have to worry about disrupting things. Since sand packs tightly, I can just siphon the detritus or whatever off the top of the sand.

Another little detail about this tank, it's not really too important, it's just this feeding ring. I prefer to have it, at least in this little situation, just so the fish have a dedicated spot that they like to eat at. This is the same kind of feeding spot for the fish and the axolotl. The axolotl is trained to a point to where when he's hungry, he sits just right here in the front right of the tank. He faces this way and he looks up, and that's how I know he's hungry. I just know when to feed him and when he's full, he won't eat.

It's pretty forgiving in that aspect. I have this place right here just over the most easily accessible area of the tank, so any uneaten food just falls. It's a controlled fall just straight down, basically, because surface agitation isn't affecting this right here, so the food that's uneaten or that falls from this spot or just falls straight down, because I have current breaking there and I've got current breaking there. This little ring right here prevents any surface agitation for the food to disrupt, go around. It just falls over the most easily accessible area of the whole tank and I don't have to worry about it.

This is a black background. It's just a really cheap 97 cents, or not even, black poster board that I just cut to fit the back dimensions of the back glass, and then just taped on with some electrical tape and that was really it. Nothing advanced or expensive, just really easy Walmart thing. Now, the most important thing to this whole tank probably would be the power source.

I like to have really good cable management. All the mess would just be right here. All the cords are either taped down to the sides to follow the perimeter or they're held in place with these-- just like the fan is with these cable clips that I have some really strong double-sided tape on the bottom of to hold the fan up or to hold cord placement.

This one's splash-proof, to get these little turns to close things off, USB, et cetera. You don't need anything crazy. I just chose it because it was black, but it's also protected and grounded and making sure that it's a safe distance away from your aquarium, so you don't splash it and risk ruining or short-circuiting everything that runs your tank. That's it.

Thank you for watching. The next part in the series would be on what I receive from custom aquariums and placing it in a new home that I've just moved to. If you want to see how I make a tank customized to fit the best care for both species while also being stunning, then make sure you subscribe and hit the bell button, so you don't miss a video. I'll see you guys next time.

About Andrew Windham

Andrew needed a custom stand, canopy and filter system to fit a non-standard aquarium for his axolotl. This video series features installing the Seamless Sump filter, H2Overflow and Siphon Stopper on an aquarium.

"This is the introduction to what will be a project series called the Axolotl Aquarium Upgrade. Custom Aquariums sponsored the build and made the equipment to go along. This series will cover everything from putting the tank, stand, and canopy together to plumbing, filtration, aquascaping, stocking, flow control, and much much more! Create your own dream aquarium with Custom Aquariums here:"

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