Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Filter fixed and more $$$ sunk!

Yep, picked up my filter from Vebas last Monday and it was all fixed up. No more leaks. Hooray! ... and then of course, like who can go to an aquarium store like Vebas and not spend any $$$?? ... Well obviously I can't!

... Anyway to cut a short story shorter:

I went. I saw. I bought. A raw pine aquarium hood that is,... oh and also a Jager 200W heater.

Cost of the hood: $135 - not too bad, the shopkeeper was nice enough to discount it a little (the original price was $148.50). Could have probably been cheaper if I made it myself.. but hey... I'm not a very handy man and I don't think a hood made by me could be very symmetrical or even functional for that matter... (I'd be better off putting a flat plank of wood on top of the aquarium and calling that a hood!)

The Jager 200W heater set me back $55. Inevitably the heater is essential if I want to keep tropical fish.

The cost of this project is starting to add up. Might need to live on bread and water soon if I continue to spend like this.. heh.

Anyway, brought the hood home that night and showed the wifey... Obviously she wasn't impressed with the fact I spent more $$$... but she agreed we needed to get a hood. And seeing it was a raw pine hood, I figured it'll look nicer if we gave it a stain and finish to water proof it, and then install some lighting directly onto it.

So on Thursday night, off to Bunnings we went! ... Now all those who know me well... well... they know its kinda dangerous for me to go to Bunnings... especially with a wallet full of cash or credit cards full of credit! I've been known to buy things no man really needs but every man knows will be useful sometime within his lifespan!

Luckily, I managed to maintain some self-control... albeit mainly because my wife was with me. We went in. We bought a tin of stainer (jarrah satin) with finish all in one, and 2 paint brushes and 2 sandpapers. All up about $25.

That night, we sanded the hood down lightly to remove any dirt and scratches. Then wiped it clean and started our first coat of staining.

Both my wife and I painted it at the same time, starting from different ends.

Now,.. I have to say, my wife is Pro Hart when it comes to painting. She had just recently come home from work a few days ago with a canvass painting she had done of a vase and flowers that were really flash. (God knows why an accounting firm makes their staff paint... must help with the imagination for making up numbers??!?) I don't think she's painted in a decade. But she certainly has some skill. I told her I reckon her painting was on par with Grade 1,.. maybe Grade 2 student level... but I don't think she saw the humour in it. and I was seriously giving her a compliment! Not many adults can paint past kindergarden level... myself included! Well.. anyway.. painting looked to come to her naturally and the side of the hood she painted was quite well done and smooth and even.

But by stark contrast... the parts of the hood I painted, probably ranked down there with the greatest natural disasters of all time. I was like a painter trying to paint during an earth quake. All blotchy, streaky and not even following the grain of the wood correctly when I painted. Wifey kept telling me to slow down and use a light touch over small sections each time... but heck... I can stand on a beach with a fishing rod all day with no Aussie Salmon biting... but patience at paintng is not my forte. I constantly picked up too much paint on the brush and tried to spread it over too large an area too quickly. Someone remind me to buy a pre-stained hood next time. A professional job this is NOT. Well atleast my wife managed to salvage some of my errors and pretty up the piece a little.

We left it to dry that night and the following evening I applied most of the second coat by myself before my wife arrived home to again salvage what damage I had done. We needed to re-sand it a little bit in areas that were seriously bad, but apart from that we managed to complete the staining and finishing by Saturday.

On Sunday, I brought the hood over to a friend who runs a lighting company and he helped me fit and install 3 rows of fluro tubing lights directly onto the hood. And by help... I mean, he did EVERYTHING. I just stood there and looked pretty. I must say he did a fantastic job. I can pull computer systems apart with my eyes closed right down to their individual components and reassemble them again in a few minutes, but don't ask me how to hook up a light bulb. I'm hopeless at that sort of thing.

Well, now that the hood was finished and fitted with 2 x Growth tubes and 1 x Daylight tube (actual light requirements still to be formally calculated) and the tank is filled with water and up and running with a functional filtration system.... I decided it was time to put some guinea pigs in the tank. Expendable fish that would be used to test if the water conditions were ok and to begin the biological cycle that will help the tank sustain aqualife.

So... off to a fish store we went. This time we went to Pisces Aquariums in Willetton. A cosy little store run by an old guy that keeps a cat inside the store. Yes thats right. A cat! In a fish store! The first thing my wife exclaimed to the shopkeeper was: "Your cat must have a feast every day!!" ... to which his response was: "Yeah, the first critters to go are usually the Siamese Fighters.." probably because they swim in such small containers that are so easily tipped over. That cat certainly didn't look anorexic!

Anyway, after browsing around, I started making a list of the types of fish I plan to keep in Tank 3 (apart from the wonderful peppermints):
- atleast 5 x dwarf loaches because they are so active and swim in shoals which really looks quite cool
- 2 x panda coreys .. these guys just look so cute
- around 5 x cardinal tetras - their colours always jazz up a tank
- atleast 1 eel of some sort.. maybe the spiney nose... just have to check how peacful they are first.

Anyway its just a list. I can't really put anything serious into the tank until the substrate is in and the plants are set with the water conditioned correctly.

For now, to get the bio-organisms fired up in the filter, I decided to purchase 10 neon tetras for $18. ($1.80 per fish)... Not too bad for expendable fish.. and if they all survive it will be a bonus because grouped with the cardinals I intend to get, they will look quite good.

Well the neon tetras were added to the tank on Sunday and seemed to adapt to the conditions quite well.. So late on Monday I decided to add 5 of the peppermints to tank 3 as well. I figured Tank 2 was a little over-crowded with peppers and the sooner I could give them more space the better. I'll just have to keep a close eye on the water quality and make sure nothing gets critical.

So far so good. The peppers seem to be feeding normally on zuchini and the neons look quite healthy and active swimming as a school.

Tank 3 does look a little barren though without any substrate and only a few potted plants that I salvaged from tank 1 (which did not have adequate lighting for plants).

Now I just have to wait for my aquascaper to visit and recommend the appropriate substrate, plants, drift woods, etc. I can't wait to get all that stuff done so I can finally add the fish proper!

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