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I waited 10 Years For This Aquarium

By King of DIY on

Today we're going to set up, scape and stock my South American aquarium, but before we do so, let me remind you of something. You see, when we set up my 2000 gallon aquarium, which is 10 ft long, 7 ft wide, 4 ft tall. We stocked it with Asian and 4 freshwater stingrays just to start. We got some black diamonds in there as well as a pearl stingray, more rays to come. We also put in three massive pieces of Malaysian driftwood and, of course, covered it in some easy to grow, easy to maintain plants. This aquarium quickly became my favorite aquarium until, of course, we set up the 375-gallon aquarium, which is 8 ft long, 3 ft wide, 2 ft tall.

It's stocked with over 200 red rainbow fish, scaped with some white sand, as well as some-- a whole lot of manzanita wood and covered in spike moss, looking absolutely incredible. That aquarium quickly became my favorite aquarium. Then, of course, we moved on to the racking system. You guys know we have 10, 120-gallon aquariums.

The first one we set up was the Tanganyikan tank from Africa. We stocked it with 40 or 60 Tropheus Ikola, scaped it with an Aquadecor background and rocks, as well as some white sand. This tank was absolutely incredible and quickly overtook my previous favorite of the 375 to the Tropheus tank being my favorite aquarium. Then we took a jump up top of that and set up the Malawi tank. We stocked it with all male peacock cichlids from Lake Malawi. We did a 3D background again, as well as some Aquadecor fake rocks. Again the tank looks absolutely stunning and became my favorite aquarium, but then, we did the Discus tank, and you guys know I love Discus.

Another Aquadecor background with some tree roots coming out of the ground, some white sand and 16 Marlboro red discus. Love that tank, by far my favorite aquarium so far. Then we jumped above that and did the Angelfish aquarium, stocked with 30 platinum angelfish, scaped with some manzanita wood and some easy to grow plants like ferns and anubias, and that tank quickly became, not only my favorite but yours as well.

I think, you see where I'm going here, was every new tank we set up, it becomes our favorite, but now we're on to this tank and this tank is not my favorite. I love this tank though. However, this is by far the most meaningful aquarium that I'm going to set up in this entire gallery. I made a video talking about the fish that we got and why they're so important to me and so important to the gallery, as well, as this channel. I highly suggest you watch that video if you haven't seen it already. Maybe even watch it and come back, but I'll leave a link in the description, so you guys can check it out, but to summarize, we got some uaru. Uaru amphiacanthoides specifically. It's South American cichlid.

We know that this is going to be a Uaru tank. We know some information about them that we're going to cover in a moment but, the first thing that I faced with this tank was the background. You see, these Aquadecor backgrounds are so realistic, that you almost need to, you have to follow the pattern that they have to blend in with them. If you do that, they look absolutely stunning. I was looking at the background and ready to set it up, and I thought, well first thing I notice is all of the wood is coming from one end and moving to the other at a slant.

I thought well, I could mimic that with additional wood, but before I do that what color substrate should I use? I wanted to use a lighter substrate, but I started looking around and all of the tanks had a lighter substrate, so I took a fine gravel and mixed it in with a fine sand. This gives it a more rustic look and in my opinion ends up looking really, really nice. However, if you use too much or one of the other, it's not going to get a good combination. If you want to do this and you want to mix up a couple of different substrates to create your own something a little bit more realistic and something nobody else has, then I suggest doing a little bit at a time finding the right ratio.

For me, it was about two parts sand, to one part gravel. Ended up looking really nice, and I made sure that it wasn't consistently the same all over the place. There's actually more sand on this end than there is on this end. Again, I ended up liking the look and it really makes this tank stand out from the others. With that said, it was then time to move on to the woodwork. Like I said, all of the wood from the background is coming from the top and draping through the tank, going to the left. A lot of people know that Manzanita wood is very branchy and very viney and has loops and it's very intricate wood, but you can get it a lot bigger as well.

I have a ton of manzanita here to play with. I grabbed 3 pieces and I thought, why don't I just create something that looks like a log or some roots coming from the surface of the water and entering it, call it a day. We don't want to overdo it here. These uaru are going to get to about 10 inches big. We don't want them to be not be able to swim in the aquarium, but I also want to create something that they can swim under and hide because uaru can be at times a very skittish fish, which I address later on and that's why you see so much action in this tank. The problem with this wood is that it floats and the thicker it is, the longer it's going to float for, so I, actually, had to weigh it down with some rocks.

It's not positioned, exactly how I want it right now, but in time, the woods going to sink on its own, and I'll be able to position it. Basically, I want to twist this piece over. I just want to make it look almost more like a hand coming into the water where the where the roots are almost evenly spaced and looking a little bit more natural, but I thought this looked best.

Now, there's a problem. What about plants? Why don't we add some plants? Well, the uaru are going to eat them, no matter what kind of plant we put in there. We could put in some moss, that might do, but I didn't think it would look that well. What I was looking for was a dark and almost a black water look, and because this scape is so new, it's technically not even close to being done yet. There's a few more things I want to add. I did notice though that I had fake rocks that matched the rocks that are in the background. I chucked a few in there and those are Aquadecor rocks as well. They're hollow, lightweight, and they sink, so I just placed a few in there.

I like the way it looks and it looks pretty good, but there is a few more things I want to do. I want to have some leaf litter on the ground, so I've got some catappa leaves. I've got some very big ones and some very little ones. The problem with these though is that they are going to add a lot of tannins to the water. I want to make sure that's what I want to do down here before I start on the Central American tank because these are on the same sump. Whatever happens in this tank is going to happen up there, and we haven't even begun the Central American tank yet. This is something we'll have to address.

In fact, all of these tanks are getting slight altercations and being modified here and there to add to them. Every scape that you've seen so far isn't done. I'm trying to get the fish in there. I'm trying to get these videos out to you guys, but you guys know if you set up with 120-gallon aquarium, this could take you months to get it just right and I'm doing 10 of them, plus managing 1000s of gallons of water. For me, it's all about getting the basic scape in there, getting them stocked, moving on to the next one. Eventually, when we come back or when I have time, or I'm inspired or you guys give me ideas, we can tweak these.

Now, the problem with uaru, like, I said, is sometimes they could be skittish and if you have 10 uaru in a tank, which is the number in here, and they're all just kind of hiding in the back, that's the tank. You want some activity in the aquarium, and I wanted to go with some South American tetra. Now, I was at One fish Two fish, my local fish store, and I noticed from a couple of months now, he had these king tetras or emperor tetras. More specifically, inpaichthys Kerri. Now, this is an interesting tetra for a couple of reasons. When you think tetra, you think really tiny fish, and do you think schooling.

These guys are kind of the opposite. They're, actually, a pretty robust fish. They get slightly larger than say a cardinal, which gets quite large as well, but I believe they have better finage and better coloration overall. They have reds, blues, blacks. They have this awesome stripe going down the side, and they're more of a shoaling tetra. Whereas you can see, they're spread out throughout the entire aquarium, giving more active, more action throughout the tank. It also brings the uaru out.

You see, these are dither fish and when you think dither fish, basically they are just a fish that you can add into a tank, that are mindless, that will swim out and about regardless of the situation or how many people are around the tank or lights going on and off. They'll always be out. They act as a warning signal for the other bigger fish or other fish that tend to be a little more shy. Seeing these guys out and about make the other fish more comfortable, plus the fact when I seen them at One fish Two fish, they're almost at adult size for the most part, so I bought all of them. You rarely see tetras at an adult size. You always got to buy them quite small.

There's about 70 in here, maybe 72 or something like that, but with these guys being added, they're certainly giving the tank a whole different look and a whole new dynamic, especially with the uaru. Once these guys grow, the uaru will grow, they're going to look absolutely stunning in this tank. Most likely we'll only keep about six in here because like I said, they do get quite large. We'll keep the right male to female ratio when the time comes. With that said, I don't think stocking is done. I would like to add in some bottom dwellers. I'd like to have some really nice Corydora at the bottom.

I think that as for mid-water fish and cichlids were done there. We've got some Tetras and Uaru. We're reaching max capacity there. Maybe we'll do some loaches, but I'm definitely leaning towards Corydora for sure. Maybe some plants, I'd like to get some ideas from you guys. If you have any ideas on some plants that you think might last with Uaru.

I got to tell you, though, they love to eat plants. They love it. They're more of a herbivore than anything. I got to say, I can't wait till the woods finally sunk, so I can finish the scape off and show you guys what I really have in mind for this. However, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it so far. What do you think? Are you leaning towards Uaru? Maybe, you want to get some.

Do you like the Tetras? Do you think the selection of scaping and materials used was good or what would you have done different? Again, I'd love hearing you guys' thoughts on that, so let me know in the comment section below. Anyways, I hope you guys enjoyed today's video. I'd also like to thank you for watching and if you're not subscribed to this channel yet and you like seeing this thing, I do it all the time, so make sure you subscribe if you're not already.

About King of DIY

Joey is THE King of DIY, and when he built his gallery of aquariums he chose the Custom Aquariums rack system with 120-gallon tanks...a lot of them!

Joey Mullen is also known as the king of DIY, uarujoey or the DIY fishkeeper on social media. Providing education and inspiration for aquarium enthusiasts on YouTube, he is also the author of The Ultimate DIY Handbook; for the DIY Aquarist. His channel is about educating all levels of fish tank hobbyists who are passionate about caring for fish and keeping an aquarium of their own. Joey's aquarium rack systems were custom made by our professional fish tank engineers, here at Custom Aquariums.

Please watch the King of DIY's videos for some helpful information and great tips on diy aquarium keeping.

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