Concept to reality: 135g

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Rcguerra created the topic: Concept to reality: 135g

First post!

I am about to purchase a young tiger oscar, but the ultimate goal is to have it as a living room center piece Brazilian biotope. The entire idea stated about 4 years ago, but I did not have the resources to get anything bigger than 75 gallons, so I ended up gaining experience with Bettas, planted tanks, and a bunch of other setups with minimal transferrable skills to cichlids.

I am here to get some recommendations from more experienced Oscar lovers:

The tank:

Width: 72" (182.88cm)
Height: 24" (60.96cm)
Depth: 18" (45.72cm)

volume is approximately 31,104.0 cubic inches or 134.6 U.S. gallons, which is approximately 523.8 liters. Got if from CL this Sunday for US$50.00. Stand included. Yes. 50 bucks.

Currently featuring 4 20" Fluorescent hoods. The tank will not be planted for obvious reasons, so I might use a 48" Finnex LED and play with the design to have a "shadowed" corner.

Filtration options:

I have available for immediate usage: 2 Aquaclear 110, 1 Fluval 406 Canister. I can use one of each or any combination. After some readings though, investing on a Fluval FX5 is not outside my current budget.

Heaters:

I have 2 300w available, but I really need to know if all the stuff about oscars exploding heaters trying to bite the light is true. Should I get titanium ones?

Substrate:

Not sure yet. Would love black sand, but I never had a large fish. Do Oscars make it really messy and I will end up with a black sand filter compartment?

Ornaments:

River stones (big ones) and most likely one single driftwood piece. Something big enough to work as a refuge/cage for an adult, well developed Oscar (18"?).

Besides reading the classic sources, searching this forum and visiting some commercial sites, I would like to read hands-on experience from other people. Personal experiences, recommendations, dos and donts, tips and tricks on maximazing the experience of the viewer, the quality of life of the fish and minimize struggles from the regular maintenance. Please share pictures as well. Hopefully this topic can become a reference for others in the future as we progress.

It is good to be here. I left something similar on Aquarium Advice forum, but I am under the impression I have the right audience here.

Thank you in advance for any recommendations, constructive criticism and, of course, your time.
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OFL replied the topic: Concept to reality: 135g

Congratulation, $50, that is a bargain.

Okay, you mentioned that you would be willing to invest in some canister filters? If I was in your position and have the funds to get a couple of canister filters then that is exactly what I would do. I cannot really comment on the bio filters that you've got because they do not sell them in the UK. However, it looks like you are looking for a real serious setup, so why not start off as you want to carry on with some serious equipment? A couple of canister filters rated to 130 gallons would give you all the filtration you need, and without all the hassle. You could clean them alternately which would mean never having to go without filtration. Also, you would reduce your tank maintenance when it comes to cleaning filters doing it this way.

The second aquarium I ever got was a 125 gallon tank. It was probably slightly bigger than the one you are proposing because mine was UK gallons. However, I installed two canister filters either side and they gave me a top-notch filtration. I used a 300 W heater which did the job perfectly. I used white sand which really made the tank stand out. Black sand is nice, I had in my 300 gallon aquarium, however it can make things look a little bit dark, you would probably need really good lighting.

This is my 125 gallon aquarium well over 10 years ago, I haven't got any more


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Rcguerra replied the topic: Concept to reality: 135g

Thank you for the prompt reply.

The dark aspect is fine. As a matter of fact, I believe it will look more "realistic", like Rio Negro or something similar to this image:

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face mcshooty replied the topic: Concept to reality: 135g

I have 2 300w available, but I really need to know if all the stuff about oscars exploding heaters trying to bite the light is true. Should I get titanium ones?

some definitely do attack the heater and some don't depends on the fish if your worried about it you can get or make a heater guard or get a in line heater
just in case you want proof this is my oscar being a brat

Substrate:

Not sure yet. Would love black sand, but I never had a large fish. Do Oscars make it really messy and I will end up with a black sand filter compartment?

in my experience sand work well for oscars and that's coming from someone with an oscar that like digging just keep your filter intakes off the bottom and make sure to get coarse sand

Don't dwell on what went wrong. Instead focus on what to do next
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OFL replied the topic: Concept to reality: 135g

I think if you replicated a lot of what the Amazon looks like if you were to go diving, you probably wouldn't see an awful lot :-)

From what I have seen from various different programs I've seen, you well find a lot of dead vegetation, bits of wood etc lying around.I've never looked into it, but I wonder if anyone manufactures fake dead vegetation that could be scattered around the tank just to make it look authentic? You could probably make something up quite easily.

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Rcguerra replied the topic: Re:Concept to reality: 135g

Indian almond leaves can do the trick.
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Rcguerra replied the topic: Re:Concept to reality: 135g

Thank you for the contributions. Keep them coming!
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PeteMoss replied the topic: Re:Concept to reality: 135g

I've been to the amazon, and while I didn't take this particular picture, it is a very good representation of what you can expect near the banks of the amazon river. Blackwater country.



Depending on the season, there are varying levels of decaying foliage. After the dry season for example, you would expect to see a carpet of dead leaves. I used to use oak leaves in my aquarium. While not native to the amazon, they were readily available, and did the job just fine. Leaves and driftwood will stain the water with tannins. If you don't like the look of the tea-colored water, be prepared to do a LOT of water changes if you opt with large amounts of driftwood.

I've done sand with oscars, in my experience they make a pretty good mess of it, especially when they get larger or start laying eggs. They definitely do some aquascaping of themselves if they can move the substrate. It is easier for me to keep gravel organized. The downside to gravel is that it can trap waste, so maintenance is tougher.

In my opinion the secret to a natural aquascape is lots and lots of driftwood. You don't have to spend big bucks on driftwood either. Most hard woods can be used in the aquarium. ( avoid pine and other 'soft' wood ) Oak is my personal favorite, although I've used many types of wood in the aquarium. If you collect driftwood from nature, make sure you sanitize it before letting it enter your aquarium. Either put it in a tub with boiling water, or put it in the oven for a short while. Don't let it catch on fire :woohoo:

All the driftwood in this picture I grabbed in 10 minutes from a hike near my house. I wasn't really being picky either, just grabbing whatever. Nothing looks more natural than nature! Whenever I stack rocks I just kinda drop them in and let them fall however they fall. Gives it an unpredictable look. Maybe I'm just crazy, but I think it looks alright.



On the subject of heaters, I have always run a sump on my freshwater tanks to avoid having equipment in the main display. I have seen fish attack heaters before, and prefer to not risk it. While running a sump can seem overwhelming, it really has a lot of great benefits!
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Rcguerra replied the topic: Re:Concept to reality: 135g

Now we can take this thread to a whole new direction: Sump/Refugee concepts.

I love the idea of having plants sucking nitrates. Not to delay PWC, but to increase the quality of the water as a whole.

Without drilling, is it possible to install an effective sump system into this tank, with lights, plants, etc.?
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PeteMoss replied the topic: Re:Concept to reality: 135g

Rcguerra wrote: Now we can take this thread to a whole new direction: Sump/Refugee concepts.

I love the idea of having plants sucking nitrates. Not to delay PWC, but to increase the quality of the water as a whole.

Without drilling, is it possible to install an effective sump system into this tank, with lights, plants, etc.?


Yes, you can get overflow boxes, although the risk of spilling water on the floor increases over a traditionally drilled tank.

Drilling glass is actually quite simple. I recommend drilling the tank well before I recommend using an overflow box, although I've seen both used successfully.

I personally love having a refugium. It is a natural way to reduce waste and increase oxygen in the tank. It's a win/win situation. I've always had one and always will run one.
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