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The Dragons Den: A Review

By Andrew Windham on

Speaker: Hey everybody, today's video is going to be really simple. It's just going to be a review and final thoughts and reflection on this entire system.

An update on it, everything so far and where it's going to be in the future. As far as right now, this is going to be the last video on the system for a little bit of time, just so I can get things where I want them and mature and come back with a video that showcases it where I want it to be.

Because it's on its way there, but my Clouds are just playings right now. This still takes time and I want to show everybody at that point and when it happens. For the first part, this video is going to be in sections, first I'm just going to go into how it's been. This has been an awesome experience. It's been so much fun. Aquascaping and teaching, educating and setting this up and putting it to the nitrogen cycle, every bit of it I've done from scratch.

I've just done my own and it's been a lot of fun building this tank, getting Custom Aquariums and working with them to give me everything about this tank except for just that the tank itself. Even then when I think back, I think it would've been a better idea to just get a glass tank from them. I got this acrylic tank for really cheap and the quality of it is great. It holds very well and is very clear.

I do like acrylic because it refracts light and at the same as water does. Although if you have like low iron glass or something that it could be a different story, but for the most part, light has to refract several times or it bounces several times when it goes through glass and to water. You get a little bit of shift in appearance, but for acrylic and water, they are about the same.

What you see in acrylic view is basically exactly what is there instead of light changing or distorting it and a little bit. This thing has been much fun and working with Custom Aquariums has been such a great opportunity and they're great people and they've worked with me very well. I cannot express more happiness towards this tank and everything about it. I have a small little school or shoal of white cloud Mountain Minnows.

I have my buddy, Agnologia, the axolotl, and I have I think nine or so Amano shrimp that have their own little cave system way back there somewhere and they come out and do their thing. It's fun, everything about this has been an experience, I've learned a lot and I have been able to explain and teach a lot and it's very fun. The system itself is very simple. There's not too much to it, but it's great.

This next section is build quality. The quality of this build from Custom Aquariums is something that I have nothing praise for. From day one when it was shipped to me, the shipping itself was awesome. There was no damage or anything to this entire system. It was flawless. They really ship and package things very well. I was super-impressed because I've never seen that. As far as aesthetically pleasing, I love this tank, I love that.

I look somewhere I put the doors on it. It looks I'm just-- the canopy and stand are black and they compliment and it matches very well, but the tank itself just looks a display. It looks like you're watching TV or something, way better like a piece of nature. It's perfectly eye level so when you're sitting on a couch in the living room and you just want to look over and you have friends and everyone just looks over and sees the tank and it's so much fun.

The filtration system by Custom Aquariums, the seamless sump has been awesome, it really adds a lot of water volume to my tank. It almost doubles the volume. I really over filter with this, but at the same time I didn't, I just the add in a lot of water volume which dilutes things and I was very happy that I opted for that in this build.

H2 overflow just starting from point A to all the way through the end of it. H2 overflow is great. It has phenomenal, it skims the water. It doesn't look like it's super skinny or fine like holes in the science, but it really doesn't let larger particles like fish or shrimp or anything pass through. It's not a concern at all. I feel I could safely put juveniles or all kinds of small critters in this tank and not really worry about the H2 overflow sucking them up.

I get great surface agitation, which promotes oxygen exchange and a lot of it besides from that. It goes down and goes into the overflow and it goes all the way down to this first baffle with the filter sock. Filter socks, if you're not careful can be a nitrate factory where everything just gets stored, but they gave me five filter socks or six and I can just, "Oh look he just flexed. Dude, did you see that? He just yawned."

This has been awesome because with it-- it's not a huge bioload in this tank, the axolotl itself as waste factory in and of themselves. The minnows, I do plan on getting more, making a school of probably 15-ish or shoal and that'll be it for this aquarium, but it goes from there into the first baffle goes through the filter socks, really easy to clean and change out. If you're consistent, it's awesome. If you're not, then you can't have nitrates bacteria, but then it goes into the next baffle and I have five trays, just stuff that I can use.

I do another set of filtration or filter pad on the first tray just to really get all the material I can get out of it, then I do a Purogene or whatever I want to run the second tray and the last three trays are biological media. I even have room in this area to put biological media or blocks for just cycling to leave in there. Whenever I set up a new tank or do something else, I always have seated media and there's room for seated media, to stay there and be seated.

Then I have that third baffle where I have all my pumps, I have two pumps for redundancy on returns to the tank. That goes up to the outputs with the siphon stopper emitters. I have another pump that goes into the chiller. I love it because I can control my own flow rates in the system. It's not buying a canister filter or a hang on back or anything that just completely optimized bubble in my regard.

I even have room to put a big flower pot, for lack of better term and fill it with planted substrate and a lot of fast growing plants that have been going very well. I have room for a refugium in there as well as plenty of room and space for the chiller to be in there. The pumps for the chiller and I'll put it in there and the pumps for the outputs to go back into the tank to recirculate water and be a filter.

The system itself has been amazing. It requires minimal maintenance, the water clarity is super clear. I never come in and see a foggy tank or anything like that. It gets a lot of that gunk and debris out and the shrimp come out and they're fun to watch, and the minnows swim around all over the tank and do what they want to do. I can Agnologia is just a beast. He just does what he wants.

I have changed a little bit on the scape, we'll get to that point later. As far as build quality goes on all of this and even just this Custom Aquariums portion and it has been phenomenal. It looks aesthetically amazing in my opinion. The filtration works very well. The siphoned stopper emitters and the outputs give me a sense of security in case something were to happen, they do, protect my system to a degree.

The material of the seamless sump is great material. It doesn't allow for things to really build hard on inside. I'll get some like maybe some diatoms down there or just maybe not even that. It could just be debris that collects down below. There's no-- if I ever have to clean the sump, it's not a pain. I literally just have to take a sponge to it and wipe it and it's good to go and it's awesome.

I love that there's two holes. My use of them, and these two right here as the outputs, but you guys you can do whatever you want with them. Also, there's a cable management portion right down there where you have, there's the two holes I put the output to towards, and there's cable management here.

I can put all everything out and I have big portion right there where everything's plugged into. It's very well designed. It's very well made and I have nothing praise honestly. I sat there and I don't want to sound like I'm being paid. I'm not at all. I can't really give negatives to this system as far as the quality of the build. Everything's very easy to take down, break apart, clean. If anything, I really do wish Custom Aquariums had-- I had to make these little 90-degree elbows with male and female tubing. I didn't make them, but I had to makeshift that and paint them so that I get to what I wanted there because theirs was just a straight down I had to curve it.

That would be my only thing that I wish they would change is varying their outputs and giving different options there. Other than that, this has been a phenomenal filtration system, a phenomenal build quality. Everything pieces together. It's so easy break-- taking apart the doors or the canopy doors could not be simpler and putting them back on is easy and they slide one way or another, so I don't even have to take them off every time.

If I really wanted to just make available I can take everything off and work and have complete and full access with no annoying bar in the middle that make things hard to get done in there or whatever like that. It's honestly amazing. I love the looks, the quality of build, the simplicity of use. For that, I have to give nothing but praise and thanks to Custom Aquariums for doing an amazing job here.

This next part is performance so the performance of the system. The water clarity of my tank, I never have to worry about. I'm a very busy college student. I do marine biology, I work in a lab, I have a lot on my plate with classes and hours and lab work and coming here and trying to do videos when I can, and taking care of the tanks. Not just my own tanks, but tanks as a part of my school or another job.

I've maintained some aquariums too. I needed a system that could perform excellently. That would give me a degree of freedom where I have to go on a trip or I can't be here all the time, but I don't have to worry about it. This is what this tank has done. The giant addition of water volume, the seamless sump filtration adds a loan, eases my mind with dilution factors.

I've made what was a 33 or 35-gallon tank into 50 to 60 gallons with just how much water is in the seamless sump. It's something that I always want to stress to people is that you can't overdo adding water to a system in a sense of. You can overdo filtration if you have too much water being pushed around like flow in that filtration. Putting an Aquaclear 110 on a-- Or whatever it is on a 10-gallon tank probably stress on getting all the fish out, not because their filtration's too much, but because the output of the flow is harsh on them.

There's a little Amano shrimp right over here inside the tank. I know you guys can't see him, but whenever Agnologia is outside of the tank, it becomes his little domain. He always comes out and sits in the middle like he owns it, it's hilarious. I know that I can leave this tank be for a good amount of time as far as water changes or maintenance. I don't have to worry too much.

It's not even heavily stocked. That doesn't mean that I neglect it either. I know when I need to intervene and what I need to do. That's important is that you understand that. The performance of the tank, everything about it has been great. I don't have any issues with leaking, I don't have any issues with poor filtration, water quality. My ammonia nitrites are always low, my nitrates are even low.

My plants that I put in there and this makeshift diffusion after the light, by the way. I put a light here and I put that little clay pot with Seachem Flourish, I believe it was and a grow out light basically. There's actually two motion lights, one here and one there, inside that point outwards, so when I open the doors or anything like that they come on automatically. Right now they're just set to be on so you guys can see everything.

This has been great because I have room in there to do a refugium, and this light has been growing and the plants has been doing very well and my readings on this tank has been great. I still plan to do more. The pumps, the filtration, the chiller is very efficient. I bought it through Custom Aquariums, but they didn't make it. I pump water out from here into the chiller and then it puts the water back out right here.

That keeps this entire tank consistently at the exact temperature I want it with plus or minus a degree at most, probably point five. The chiller has been very good. I have checked it regularly, I've tried to clean it, but it does not need cleaning regularly, which is great because that's less work on my part. I also one thing I added aside from the lights on the inside, motion sensing lights in this, and then the lights in there.

I put some hooks inside so I can hang up my nets and I love that. It's something fun and I have the room for that. I have the room in the stand to do all of that filtration and still have all this extra space over here that I can do whatever I want with. What would I have done differently looking back? As far as this system goes, I would have changed how I went at planting it or whatever like my office gate, because although I love my hardscape, I knew that a new tank and especially with Corpus Christi's tap water is prone to diatom blooms and algae blooms.

I really wanted to show everyone how to do a really quick set up that looked cool using the Marimo moss. I believe I accomplished the goal there. I personally like watching a tank mature and grow and change. That was not something that I could get from an instant satisfaction build of using Marimo. I took it all off. It wasn't doing that good either because the diatom bloom was choking it out.

As far as that, I would've given myself more time to cycle things and grow the four plants before I really stock the tank, but everything's been great, everyone's been happy. I also, if I would have done anything else differently I would have probably known to have done the refugium down below sooner because it might have prevented some issues or get one of the outputs since they both feed from here.

This one output that goes to this one is nice and the flow is great there, but this one is not too strong, so I had to buy another pump. I wish I would have originally planned for that. I bought two of the same ones and the head pressure and everything there changes things a little bit. That's really it as far as what I would have changed. I would have changed not really much.

This has been a fun system and I don't feel at all I've really failed at any point in this. I feel great to have been able to show everyone every step of the way so far. I'm very excited for what is coming in the future. That's really it. My review of the system is that it's been so much fun and it's going to be even more fun as I continue taking care and letting it mature. That's really it.

As far as the current state of this tank and updating you guys, basically, it's switching from a diatom bloom brown algae to a little bit more green algae and hair algae. That just shows that it's maturing a little more and that those nutrients are going elsewhere and the plants are doing their job. I have otocinclus that I'm going to take him out and put him in his previous tank. He's going to go to his previous tank.

I'm going to take the otocinclus and put him in here. I'll adjust the temperature a little bit. The White clowns are good and have been acclimating a little bit. They should take care of the diatoms brown algae for the most part. Once I've feel like they've succeeded and done their jobs as best as they can, I already have a place to re-home them too that will be healthy and great for them and they'll have plenty to eat.

Then I'll move him back down and it'll just be an issue with the green algae at that point. The refugium has been doing very well. The plants have been growing and doing great. The filtration has been great and easy maintenance for me. Water changes I don't have to do regularly, but I do once a week or once every two weeks at most. I just change half of the tank's volume really.

I tried to be hands-free and let things work themselves out within the system without ruining my aesthetic. The algae isn't aesthetic, but I understand its purpose and what it's doing. Algae is not always bad, but except for an excess. I'm getting it to be where I want it to be. As far as my expectations moving forward, I-- Look at him just climbing on up there. He's such a doofus. I plan on beating the algae out and doing a great job with it.

Then I'm going to be slowly growing very specific moss that I really enjoy. It's not easily grown, but we'll have an aesthetic that I think will look way better than when I started this setup. I'm very excited for that, and I'm very excited to showcase the journey of that moving forward just so people can see a tank mature and grow and be awesome. I don't plan to do any more videos on this system until it is where I want it, close to where I want it.

Everyone can see the cutoff from here because it's only been up and running since December 15th or something like that, with being stocked with fish and Agnologia and everything like that. It's really not an old system by any means. It's not even two months old, really. I want to show what happens with patience and effort and time.

In conclusion for all of this, I really do want to thank Custom Aquariums for giving me the chance to do this and trusting a college kid to put out videos and be consistent as much I have been, and make a setup. This has been so much fun for me. All of my peers in college love to come over and see this tank. It's a great talking point. Showing pictures to people has been always fun.

I love this. It's a great place in my home that I can look at and I can destress, and I can admire and have a lot of fun taking care of and calming down with. It's very important when you have a lot of work or something that you have a way in which you can release that frustration or stress. Aquariums is one of my ways. I come and I do maintenance on this tank, or I feed them, or I play with Agnologia a little bit. Look at him, he's a doofus.

We sit here and we watch shows. I can look back and-- I love when I can see everything. It's fun, it's great. The chance to have done this has been great. Working with Custom Aquariums has been very successful. They've answered a lot of questions. They've really worked with me on timeframes and all my efforts and ideas and helping me.

I did not know what pumps to use to really accomplish my goals here, and they gave me suggestions and a lot of information whenever I ask questions. Not only are they good at their job of building these systems, but they're great at aquariums in general. They're not just builders of aquariums. They're knowledgeable people that more than likely own aquariums and know what's needed. This goes for probably any aquarium making company, hopefully.

I can really stand behind my statement that the people that I've worked with have great knowledge of aquariums, not a simplistic knowledge that gives you a direction, but a knowledge that can give you a more specific answer on what you want to do and where you want to go. They're really able and ready and willing to make challenge builds that people want to come and say, "I want to make this kind of tank with all this happening." They work with you.

I talked to them for the longest time on what I wanted for this system, specifically. They were never shutting down ideas. They were always willing to work and try and figure it out. This has been great. I had to have higher flow in the middle and upper areas of this tank and lower flow on the bottom half just so I could accommodate all of the inhabitants. I really have been able to accomplish that by having those 90-degree elbows on the outputs, here and on the other one. That was their idea.

I believe it was Ted's idea or Bob's. It's one of the many things that shows what they're willing to do. They're not just a company that wants to sell you their product and move forward. They really want to see a growth in the hobby. They really want to push for interesting builds and showcase people doing new, different things. I believe this is a new and different thing.

I've been doing this system with Axolotl with White Cloud Mountain Minnows. I don't know anyone else that has a sump system and full-on custom tank with an aquascape designed and centered around an Axolotl with White Cloud Mountain Minnows. I think one of my favorite YouTubers, Inappropriate Reefer, he just recently started doing the Axolotl with White Cloud Mountain Minnows thing. I thought it was awesome to see it happen.

I was like, "Hey, man. That's my thing. Calm down." At the same time, it has been awesome seeing someone else that has a bigger platform showcase Axolotl with White Cloud Mountain Minnows use because a lot of people think you can't do it, but you can. You just have to know what to do. It's so much fun. I say this time and time again.

I'm very impressed with the people at Custom Aquariums and how much they are, as far as not just able to help you with your goals in a system, but their willingness to help you with information and questions and setting things up. I look forward to working with them again in the future, hopefully. They're great people.

Anyone that wants to do a custom tank or has a cool idea they want to try, work with Custom Aquariums. I wholeheartedly encourage trying that out. They are awesome. I can definitely say that I recommend them. I really want to do more with them in the future because they've done a great job with this entire system with quality and performance, ease of use, and treating me with great respect.

One big issue is that people will look down on people that are younger than them. Being a college student, there is the issue of maybe I know all of the science and the information, but you'll still have someone that won't give you that same amount of respect or credit even if you know more or just as much as they do. I never had that sense of feeling with the people at Custom Aquariums.

They always gave me tremendous respect and treated me like an equal. It means a lot as far as a customer standpoint. That's really it. I'll put another video out. I plan to still post videos on other tanks, other things I'm doing, educational videos. I'm excited for all of that. This tank, I want to really let it mature so I can showcase it in the future. Thanks, everyone for watching my videos, and I'm sorry this video came late. I had a lot on my plate recently.

It has been a blast doing this series up to now, and I'm ready for the next series or the next couple of videos and what are they going to be. I really hope you guys are subscribed and you like this video and that you are ready for more and you follow me on this journey. Thank you, everyone, for watching. Thank you, Custom Aquariums, for this entire build and the opportunity to do this. I'll see you guys later.

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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