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Old 11/24/2018, 04:24 PM   #401
Michael Hoaster
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Thanks Kevin! I'm getting excited!


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Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 11/24/2018, 04:53 PM   #402
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Back to the substrate. I decided to skulpt the sand bed into a sand bar. It's pretty different! Pulling the sand away from the glass really inspired me to get creative. I know it won't stay like this. It will settle and the current will sculpt it too. But it's fun to start with something more dramatic than a flat bed.



Here it is with the sand pulled back from the glass. And the kernel of an idea.



I shaped the sandbar and added my scrubbed, dead live rock from v1. Kind of a mild drop off. I love having a deeper, darker area.


A look at the rockscape. I wanted the rocks to climb the hill. I'll be adding new live rock to this shortly, so it will be a little more rocky.



The rocks add shadow. This where the red macros will go.

It should be fun to watch the substrate transform. The sloped sandscape gives me a better view from the couch, and more surface area to plant. It's gonna be cool!


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Old 11/25/2018, 05:23 PM   #403
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Wow Michael, you have made great progress. I really like the slope at least for as long as it lasts.


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Old 11/25/2018, 06:57 PM   #404
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Thanks Dawn! It's kind of weird. It could end up flat. Or something else. We'll see!

I got water in the tank. Maybe not final water - plumbing test water, which is my well water. My main circulation pump is apparently dead. Hopefully I can revive it. Always another project!

I played around with the wave box. I got about a one inch wave at each end. I'd have liked getting closer to two inches, but I'm still fiddling with it. It's an interesting challenge, setting the wave frequency to best match up with my tank length. The water's still quite cloudy, but I could see stuff moving back and forth. It's pretty quiet, but you can hear the rhythmic back and forth of the water. It's hypnotic! It sounds like the sea!

It took me quite a while, but I finally got my canister filter going. I put the sponge blocks and charcoal in it to help clear the water. It's temporarily set up with the return in the tank to circulate the water, while my main pump is offline. Hopefully the water will clear up soon, so I can see what I'm doing in there!


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Old 11/26/2018, 06:48 AM   #405
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Good luck with fixing the circulation pump. Your scaping looks great! We're all excited for you!


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Old 11/26/2018, 09:24 AM   #406
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I'll document the process of my root building as I go with pics and videos. I may do that in my RC build thread, and also in the DIY and NANFA forum threads. I have some pics in my NANFA thread of my first attempt, but it is different than my current plan. I was going to rely on spray foam a lot more.

Until then, I'll try and post a better explanation of how I'll do this. I'll focus on one section of the root... I'll use a heat gun to soften and bend the PVC pipe. In my previous attempts at this, I worked fast and had the pipes bend at sharp angles. This time, I'm going to go really slow, so I get the nice curves that I want, using heat to make a subtle bend, and then let it cool, and then heat again, repeating this until I get the shape that I want.

Since roots aren't evenly thick, like PVC, that is where the grout comes in, also, to add texture. But, to get the grout to stick to the pipe, I'm going to wrap the pipe with plaster gauze, to give the grout a rough surface to stick to, other than smooth PVC. If you do a search on the net for Craft Wrap - Plaster Cloth Gauze Bandage, you'll see a similar product to what I purchased from a local hobby store. You get this stuff wet, and it sticks to itself and hardens around the PVC pipe, kind of like when you break a bone and they put you in a cast. You can use more or less to also help with thick and thin areas of the "root" along the pipe. For example, if you use PVC junctions to branch off the pipe, the plaster gauze (and grout) can hide the connection joints, and fill in the Y to make it less of a sharp angle and more natural looking.

After that dries, the grout will add weight, texture, and form to the root, as you would using the clay. You can sculpt it, add wood grain look, etc. For smooth areas to simulate where bark might break away, you could sand it down and glue something smooth there to get that texture.

Drylok, with dye, will serve two purposes. One is to add color, of course, and the other is to seal everything inside the root. Since I won't have any fish that can wear the Drylok away, I won't need epoxy.

Below is a pic of my last attempt, using different types of foam to get texture, etc.
Although it started to take shape, I wasn't happy with it at all. Also, my plan then was to rely more on foam to get the texture that I wanted. But, I want my roots to be removable for tank maintenance, and I don't want them to float. That is why I am changing to the grout method.
Kevin, if you want to get a better result with bending the PVC, fill it with sand before heating. This should ensure that the PVC retains its shape while it is bending, instead of pinching. Let us know how it goes!


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Old 11/26/2018, 09:31 AM   #407
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Kevin, if you want to get a better result with bending the PVC, fill it with sand before heating. This should ensure that the PVC retains its shape while it is bending, instead of pinching. Let us know how it goes!
Thank you McPuff! I'll definitely do that.


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Old 11/26/2018, 09:33 AM   #408
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Thanks Kevin. Maybe I'll get lucky with the pump. I hope so!

The new sandscape is a mixed bag. I love how the sand slopes now, but unfortunately a lot of mud got exposed, clouding the water. It cleared a little over night, but it still has a way to go. I do have another bag of sand to cover it, so I should be OK. I just need it to clear a bit so I can see what I'm doing.

In my struggles trying to get my canister working, I disconnected the UV, thinking it may have been the culprit. Later, I figured out the problem was with the canister itself. So hopefully, I can reconnect the UV. I won't always run it, but it's nice to have it ready if needed.

I'm stoked to get the tank running again! Now all I need is good weather in Florida, so SaltySully can collect me some Manatee grass. If I can get seagrass established fairly quickly, their roots should help hold the sandbar together.

I may just stick with the well water I filled the tank with. My wife made a good point when I told her I might replace it with filtered water. She asked why. I told her our well water may have superfluous nutrients that could cause an algae bloom. Then she said, "don't you always get algae anyway?"


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Old 11/26/2018, 10:18 AM   #409
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She has a good point. Although I purchased an RO/DI filter, I have yet to set it up. I will use it in the future, but for now, I'm just mixing my salt directly into well water. If it grows algae, why wouldn't it will also grow grasses or macros?


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Old 11/26/2018, 07:41 PM   #410
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Get you a piece of light diffuser / egg crate or something to tie 20” strings of yarn to do you can see how the wave action will affect the grasses movement.


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Old 11/26/2018, 08:35 PM   #411
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Good idea Sam. I've got egg crate everywhere. Test grass!

I'm digging the ocean motion! Even with my middling, once inch waves, I'm happy. It has a very natural feel to it. And the sound! Close your eyes and you're on a dock.

The new fake wall is functioning properly, and it hasn't floated off. Woo! I was worried that it might amplify the wave box's pump noise, but it doesn't. The water's clearing up. I turned on the heater. I should be able to tidy up tomorrow. I might even be bold and put the salt mix in.

I could end up with a functioning aquarium…


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As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
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Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 11/27/2018, 04:30 AM   #412
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Good idea Sam. I've got egg crate everywhere. Test grass!

I'm digging the ocean motion! Even with my middling, once inch waves, I'm happy. It has a very natural feel to it. And the sound! Close your eyes and you're on a dock.

The new fake wall is functioning properly, and it hasn't floated off. Woo! I was worried that it might amplify the wave box's pump noise, but it doesn't. The water's clearing up. I turned on the heater. I should be able to tidy up tomorrow. I might even be bold and put the salt mix in.

I could end up with a functioning aquarium…
That is so cool. Do you think a video would capture the sound? I can hear it in my mind's ear.

I am happy for you that the new fake wall is not doing any of the bad things that you were worried about and its functioning as it was designed to .

So, when do you think you will have your first grasses?


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Old 11/27/2018, 06:44 AM   #413
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Definitely, Dawn. A video is another good idea. I'll see what I can do.

The new fake wall working properly is a huge relief. It's such a struggle to finish these projects, the thought of failure just gnaws at you. And you just don't know until it's under water.

SaltySully says he should get me some grasses by next week.

I've got a couple of shoal grass plants in my holding tank, and a few macro algae frags. I should be able to get them moved in pretty soon. It won't look like much, but it'll be a start.


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Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 11/27/2018, 10:21 AM   #414
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Excited to see this setup!


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Old 11/27/2018, 10:35 AM   #415
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Thanks and welcome lifeoffaith!

I'm almost there…


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As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
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Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 11/27/2018, 04:36 PM   #416
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Outstanding! Glad everything is going as planned!

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The new fake wall working properly is a huge relief. It's such a struggle to finish these projects, the thought of failure just gnaws at you. And you just don't know until it's under water.
You’ve articulated well my source of procrastination at times on my projects.


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Old 11/27/2018, 05:38 PM   #417
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Thanks Kevin!

You and I are world class… procrastinators. Although I think you may have pulled ahead!

One thing that helps me is not to think of all the stuff I need to do - I just think of the next single action. Then I do that one thing. Easy. Sometimes I get inspired, and do a second thing. Sometimes I don't, but at least I get a little satisfaction from getting SOMETHING done. Any little bit of progress is progress. No pressure, baby steps, one thing at a time.

My progress has been so slow with v2, I'm now finding it hard to believe that I am pretty much up and running. I keep thinking there is something else to do!


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As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
our desire to conquer and control everything, and walk hand in hand with Mother Nature. -Walter Adey

Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 11/27/2018, 08:48 PM   #418
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Today's progress.

I tried to make test grass, with twine. It sank. I'll try to come up with something else. I added some sugar sand to cover up the mud a little. I also added salt mix. So the tank is still cloudy. It's not ready for video yet. It's almost ready for life though!

Once I get salinity where I want it, there's no reason I can't start transferring some life over. The FUN PART begins!


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As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
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Old 11/28/2018, 06:10 AM   #419
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Almost there...

Regarding the test grass, how about applying some foam to the tips of the twine? You can just glue some scraps on, if you still have any, or squirt some out of the can on a paper plate, then dip the tips into the foam.


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Old 11/28/2018, 12:51 PM   #420
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That sounds like a good idea, but I have no foam. I should be able to get the two shoal grasses in. I've almost got salinity to where I want it.


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As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
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Old 11/28/2018, 08:49 PM   #421
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Today I moved what little plant material I have left, over to the display. So I guess today is my start date! I'm still adjusting salinity. In v1, I kept it at 25ppt. In v2, I'm shooting for 26-30ppt. I want to see if manatee grass likes a little more salinity. Right now, the water is still a little cloudy, after all my activity.

My two little shoal grass plants look pretty pitiful all alone on the sandbar. I like humble beginnings. The substrate is super soft and muddy. My red macro frags are also rather modest, over among the rocks. They're pretty tiny as well. I really hope they all make it.

Tomorrow I'll add the barnacle blennies! That will start food inputs to the system. Combined with the light, the beginnings of life should emerge. Once algae moves in, I'll add snails and mollies. Detrivores will come a little later, when there is ample food for them. I spotted a tiny serpent star today, when I was collecting macros. I didn't know I still had any!

I still have a few system items to attend to. I need to see if my main pump is reparable. Not having it running means I don't have the powerful current that really plays a big part of the overall system. I'm still tweaking the water level. I'll need to get the float adjusted for the auto top off. I'm also still fiddling with the wave box. My wave is still only around an inch high. It may be at it's performance peak. My tank size is at the upper range for the model. I'll keep playing with it. Even at this level, the back and forth surge is impressive, and so natural looking! And I'd like to see if I can reintegrate my UV back in with the canister plumbing. So, stuff to do…

I have an aquarium again!


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As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
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Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 11/29/2018, 06:52 AM   #422
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Woo hoo!!!!

It's cool when you discover beneficial life in the tank that you weren't expecting. If there is one serpent star still in your system, perhaps there are more!

I didn't address your comments about my procrastination previously, but not on purpose. I just got busy and distracted. But, it's all true, what you said, and what I need to do. I'm dedicating my time to working on the large oyster reef build this weekend.

After almost two years with the smaller system up and running, I've found that the reef holds up pretty well, but, things like overhangs or loosely glued shells come apart if not enough Gorilla Glue was added, so I'll be beefing up the oyster cultches that have yet to be dunked in water.

And next week, I'm going to try and schedule an electrician to come install two electrical lines to meet my needs (one in the basement for the sump, and one in the rec room on the other side of the wall).

Sorry to hijack... The point is that your suggestions helped to motivate me. Now, I just need to get to work.

I can't wait to see your tank come to life! The more that I learn from what you are doing, the more that I want to grow eelgrass. I only want a small patch of it toward the back of the tank, but if it spreads on it's own, that's not a bad thing and will probably mimic what nature what do anyway. That is the point right? Let nature do the work?


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Old 11/29/2018, 08:35 AM   #423
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Thanks Kevin! I am pretty excited! I was thinking the same thing! If there is one little sea star, there must be more!

I'm sorry I was a bit harsh. I hope I didn't offend you. It felt like we were in the exact same place, so I wanted to share my "just do one thing" method. It helps me when I feel paralyzed and overwhelmed by what I need to do. I hope it is helpful.

It's great to hear that you're gettin' after it this weekend! That's actually another motivational trick I play on myself. I commit to an action, writing it down for all to see, here on RC!

Hiring an electrician is huge. I know that's been a big holdup for you. For me at least, I hate having to pay someone to do something that's just beyond my abilities. I do a ton of handyman honey-dos around the house, so hiring someone just feels like defeat. Do it! That will allow you execute your plan without compromise.

It's no hijack in my eyes. Honestly, I'm grateful to you for your insights. I feel like we are so like-minded, we can learn a lot from each other.

I think eelgrass would be very cool in your oyster reef tank!


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As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
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Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 11/29/2018, 12:39 PM   #424
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No problem at all. You definitely weren't harsh and I wasn't offended.

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It felt like we were in the exact same place, so I wanted to share my "just do one thing" method. It helps me when I feel paralyzed and overwhelmed by what I need to do. I hope it is helpful.
This is the way that I took it, as a helpful nudge.


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Old 11/29/2018, 01:50 PM   #425
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That sounds like a good idea, but I have no foam. I should be able to get the two shoal grasses in. I've almost got salinity to where I want it.
You can open up that old bean bag chair and use some of those??


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