Aquarium build

1 November 2013

I have started a new aquarium build and this post will show the process I go through, I am attempting my first aquascaping.

For the uninitiated aquascaping is all about a planted aquarium and very little about fish, maybe this sounds fairly straight forward to you… put in water.. put in plants.. done .. yes?. NO! far from it, there are a great many things to take into consideration such as water quality, acidity, hardness, chemicals in the water. Pop over to “Freshly squeezed water” for some eye opening information.

So once you have identified what is in your water you will need to decide on the look you are after, this will dictate what plants you are going to need to obtain, this may then lead you to adding certain chemicals into your water to allow your chosen plants to flourish, if you search the Internet on this topic you will find that it is common to keep shrimps and snails in a planted tank, YES snails, not all snails eat plants, so again you have to do some research on non-plant eating snails, shrimps hat do not eat snails, snails that do not eat shrimps….. OK I think by now you have the idea, a planted aquarium is not as simple as it first sounds but it is a complex ecosystem mush the same as any other aquarium.


So onto the build itself, I am using the following items: –



Marina 160

This is a 160 litre tank with twin fluorescent tubes.









Pure laterite

API “First layer pure laterite” 55oz carton, this is the clay that many of the plants in an aquarium grow in, when in their natural habitat. 550z is actually enough for 209 litres, but I used the whole box.










Pettex Roman Gravel

2 x 8kg Bags of Pettex Roman gravel. this is black and a very light grey mix giving a harlequin effect.







P1060613API Quick Start


API Quick Start treats your tap water to eliminate harmful chemicals and although in this case I will not be doing so, it also allows you to add fish to a new aquarium.








This is ordinary net from the local anglers supplies.







Chinese take-away container with stones

This is just an item to put into the tank whilst filling with water.



Putting it all together.

Once I had gathered all the above items the next thing to do was to rinse the Laterite and gravel to remove any dust. This is a long and tedious chore, but essential step. Once they were clean I then mixed the Laterite with about 12kg of gravel, which gave me a layer of just over 1 inch deep of the mixture over the whole length of the tank, next I put the netting in.

Installing the netting

OK so you are wondering what the netting is used for… quite simple really, aquarium plants tend to arrive without roots and want to float to the surface of the water.
I used four heavy stones to ‘peg out’ the netting so that it was about an inch or so from the glass on all sides, with the stones still in place I then separated of the individual stems of the plants and then threaded them through the net and into the substrate. On top of this I placed the remaining gravel to give even cover all over.

A quick note on this… There is plastic coated wire mesh available at your local aquarium stockist for just this application, if however like me you find out your local supplier is ‘out of stock, don’t know when it is coming in’ then you will need to improvise or wait the unspecified amount of time. When using netting remember the other use of this is to catch fish! So make sure that your fish cannot get trapped in the net by completely covering it with enough gravel/substrate.

So that got me to this position.

As you can see in the picture I have some water in already, note the plastic tub, at this point it was empty, but shortly after once the water level was over the top it started to float and that is where the stones come in, they will weigh the tub down during the rest of the filling process.

When filling the tank pour the water into the tub (or whatever container you use) doing it this way you will not disturb the gravel/substrate you have just carefully spread out in your tank.
If you are using a large tank and planting it at the same time as filling with water there is something else to take into consideration, namely shocking your plants. In order to prevent too much shock, fill the tank in stages, your first stage should be enough water to immerse the heater, once you have done that turn the heater on and let it come up to temperature, then you can add more water gradually so that you do not reduce the temperature too much.




Day 2

2 November 2013
Overnight the water has now come up to temperature 26°C. I will add in water slowly during today allowing it time to warm up in between, once it gets to the 3/4 full mark I will install the filtration. As I bought the tank second hand complete with filters, at least initially I will be using those, in the future I will switch to an external filter.
The filters I have are two Marina S20 and one Fluval 2 plus.
Each of the S20’s are rated for upto 76 litres and the Fluval 2 plus is rated for upto 90 litres at 400 litres per hour, I cannot find a confirmed LPH or GPH for the Marina filters but, some people are saying 378 LPH, so working with that I will have 1,156 LPH of filtration.

After a brief search I came across AqAdvisor giving it my tank dimensions and the details of the three filters gives this result

After checking out the price of media for these filters and then finding out they only last for a maximum of a month at a time I decided to go straight for an external filter. I have now installed an All Pond Solutions 1000EF Aquarium External Filter

Day 3

2 November 2013

The time now is 16.00, I woke up about 30 minutes ago and decided to bite the bullet and make my blog entry.

Well day 3 started real bad, at around 1.15am I was awoken by a ‘drip, drip,drip’, yes after taking my time and part filing the tank, wait a while, add more water, check all is ok and add more water, taking some 30 – 36 hours to gently fill the tank it held 160 litres for about 4 hours before it started to leak, I then spent the next 2 hours emptying the tank, before collapsing onto the sofa about 4am. So sadly here is where the build will have to stop until such time as I can finish emptying the tank (substrate,plants and that annoying last 1/2″ of water) dry it out and locate the leak. Hopefully I will just be able to patch the leak and not have to resort to taking out the whole side, I have had a look at aquarium repair services and if the panel has to come out it will be quite some time before I will be able to ‘splash’ out on the repair.After the ’emergency’ this morning today and most likely tomorrow are a complete write off in terms of being able to do anything useful.
So keep checking back and as soon as I have news I will post it here.

Day 4

4 November 2013

Contacted my local aquarium supplies and on their advice I have ordered some clear Marine HA5 Sealant, which is suitable for aquariums, this is an important point, not all sealant can be used in an aquarium, some of them contain anti-fungus treatment or other chemicals that will leach into the water and kill you fish,

Day 5

5 November 2013

Still have the last dribble of water and all the gravel in the tank, there will be no progress today.

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