Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pimp my tank! How a new coat of paint and calcium removal does the trick.

I found my my aquarium after a week of searching, I knew the max size I could go with would be a 55 gallon because of the dimensions, I have a limit to how much space I want it to take up and I did not want to manage a tank bigger that that. You also cannot appreciate just how big 55 or 80 gallons is until it is in your living room. One note, please makes sure you the stand is SOLID for the tank. For a 55 gallon tank the stand needs to be able to hold 485 pounds of weight.  Every gallon of water is roughly 8.35 pounds of weight. I would recommend having both you and your wife or the person you are buying from sit on the stand together, if it does not feel 100% solid then it is not the right stand for you. Imagine the catastrophe of dealing with a tank that falls and shatters on the floor? Perhaps the highest I could ever imagine going with would be 80 gallon.

In regards to tank material you have the choice of acrylic or glass, I wanted to go with a glass tank because acrylic tanks are prone to scratching and I tend to be less than gentle on my stuff so it needs to be able to handle wear and tear and still look good.

I found a 53 gallon tank of craigslist that was all glass with a wood stand for $75 dollars, the tank had some calcium buildup, was an ugly brown faux wood finish.

Here is what the tank looked like:

Looking at it does not look like much, but with some TLC it became a beautiful tank which you will see in later pics.

I did make one mistake in my used tank purchase, the canopy and light were to old, the grooves that hold the fluorescent light tube were so worn out that it could not hold the bulb.  I ending up building a custom light that I like better than what is sold in the pet stores for about $40 ( will have a separate post on that).  I was able to remove the calcium buildup by making a paste. You combine white vinegar and baking soda until it is the consistency of wet sand or thick pancake batter. You smeared it on the areas that have calcium buildup and let is sit for a 30 min or so (try not to put it one the tank silicone seal lines). After wiping it off the calcium was gone, it was pretty amazing.

To go from the fake wood color to a modern look simply paint it black with a semigloss or full gloss acrylic paint. You first need to paint over the plastic trim on the fish tank and the wood of the stand with a white primer so the black paint will stick. I used Kilz from Home Depot for this since it can stick to anything. After it dried in an hour I painted a first coat of "Rust-Oleum Painters Touch Gloss Black". I t works on wood, metal & more per the can.  To be honest the first coat did not look that great, actually it looked terrible. After it dried the second coat went on well. The third touch up coat finished the job.

Here is the result:

A bit closer, you can see what an amazing thing some black paint can do not counting the new light I built. (water is still cloudy from flourite substrate)

My next posts will focus on how I selected my equipment (pump, heater), how I built the light, and selected substrate.

After the posts we will be able to move into my present world of having a full planted tank and the painful lessons I am learning about Ammonia and properly cycling your tank.


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