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Old 07/01/2019, 08:51 AM   #676
Michael Hoaster
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Well, bummer. Mystery deaths are the worst. You don't know what to fix.


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Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 07/01/2019, 03:35 PM   #677
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I did some research, and although I couldn't find any info on this species, I found a journal that documented another closely related and similar looking species from the South American Atlantic, and it said that they have short lifespans, and described the behaviors and adaptations of those clingfish as a result of the short lifespans.

So, maybe my clingfish have short lifespans too? They grew extra fast, and were tiny when I caught them, less than an inch long. They reached adulthood in just six months, and bred like crazy. I lost three clingfish in the last six months, all with no signs of disease. This one lived over two years. I have one left, and it is behaving normally. I hope that my other species live longer lives than these, if that is the case. If not, maybe I need to rethink my fishkeeping methods. Come to think of it, I caught a skilletfish many years ago and kept in my FO tank, and it only lived about two years.

If anyone has kept skilletfish before, how long did they survive?


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Current Tank Info: 101g 3'X3'X18" Cubish Oyster Reef Blenny tank, 36"X17"X18" sump
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Old 07/05/2019, 06:17 AM   #678
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I'm almost finished with the roots! I only have one more coat of paint to dab on there. I brushed on a thick coat of dark brown last week, and this yesterday, dabbed on a lighter color of brown with the sponge. I will dab on an even lighter coat this weekend to finish up the painting.

Here's a pic taken when I was finished, no flash.


It was hard to see any detail in this picture under the room lighting. So, I took one using the flash on my phone.


I liked how the flash shows more detail, so I put the roots in the tank. Then, I brought in the two shop lights and put them over my tank and lit up the background and snapped these pics. First, full tank shot:


Zoomed in on the roots:


Looking in from the right front view of the tank:


I'm pretty happy with how they turned out so far. Next steps after the last coat will be another dabbed on coat of paint for highlighting. Then, I may seal it in with tile adhesive...I'm not sure yet. I'm a little concerned about durability, because I had some cracking and a soft spot. I don't understand why that happened, but maybe the tile adhesive will cinch things up. I have some silicone mess to scrape off the right side of the tank too.

I am planning on going fishing this weekend, and my plan is to gather some rocks and gravel from the river. If I can do that, then I can start running the tank! I need to purchase lighting for this tank too, so I will do that soon. I want an LED fixture that can grow plants. It will be nice to get the 75g stream tank done so I can focus on finishing my oyster reef build.


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Current Tank Info: 101g 3'X3'X18" Cubish Oyster Reef Blenny tank, 36"X17"X18" sump
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Old 07/05/2019, 07:32 AM   #679
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Nice work! I can't tell it from the real thing. That's going to be a beautiful tank.


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Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 07/05/2019, 08:35 AM   #680
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Thank you Michael!


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Old 07/10/2019, 10:43 AM   #681
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I have some material for the oyster reef tank to post, but, no real news on that. However, I've made progress on the 75g stream tank (with DIY rock wall and roots), and will have that up and running very soon. What does that mean for my oyster reef? It means that I'll be done with all of the other projects that are getting in the way of the oyster reef bigger tank project!

So, news on the 75g stream tank: First, I went on a fishing trip this past Saturday, and successfully collected enough river rock for my tank. I need to get some sand and some smaller rocks and gravel still, maybe this weekend. I decided on the new lighting fixture that I want, a Fluval Planted 3.0. It should be perfect for this tank. I will order this light fixture very soon.

Last night, I dabbed on the last coat of paint with a sponge to give it some highlights of a lighter color. I think it turned out OK. It doesn't look that much different than the last time I took pics. I put my shop lights over the tank and took a few pics at different angles.

Full tank shot:


From the left front corner of the tank:


Close up of the roots in front:


Right front corner of the tank view:


Basically, my roots and background are almost done. If it wasn't for the next step, that I just decided to do, that will happen as soon as I can. I decided to seal in and protect my work on the background and roots with a clear coat epoxy called Polygem 1319. I've read good things about it. For example, it looks not so great without water in the tank, that it shows a shiny coat when dry, but in the water the shiny coat disappears and you can't tell that there is epoxy on there. It dries hard as a rock, seals everything in underneath, and is very durable. It's used by public aquariums and museums. So, I ordered a quart of it, and it should arrive in a few days, hopefully in time for the weekend.

I figured that I put so much time and effort into this stuff, that it would be a shame to ruin it. The Drylok is great, but, all it takes is a scrape from some sort of cleaning tool to chip off some foam or Drylok and you have an ugly pink spot. The rock wall background and roots are actually pretty fragile. I'm sure that I could easily chip off the grout, so this epoxy will help the roots too. So, for now, another week, probably.


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Old 07/10/2019, 11:19 AM   #682
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Good idea getting 'before' pics while it's still dry. It is stunning! That epoxy sounds like good stuff - probably even better than the Bondo brand stuff I got from my auto parts store!

Before switching gears to the Oyster Reef Tank, can you tell us more about what else will go in this tank, or post a link to another thread for it? Will this be a native biotope, with local fish and plants? Do you have a fish and plant list?

Also, I'm REALLY looking forward to the Oyster Reef!


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Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 07/10/2019, 01:51 PM   #683
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Thank you Michael!

It would be a local native biotope tank. To finish this stream tank, after applying the Polygem epoxy, I'll scape the rocks and gravel, then collect fish and plants from streams local to me (from the same river drainage). I hope to collect water stargrass (Heteranthera dubia), and will be the primary plant in my tank. It doesn't need soil as river gravel and fish waste nutrients will be enough, as it grows easily, from what I've read.

My fish collecting/stocking list will consist of mainly shiners, minnows, and darters. I'll take as many species of non-predators as will fit in my tank and not be overcrowded.

But, my primary focus will be darters local to me. Rainbow darters (Etheostoma caeruleum) are the fish that I want the most. There are also greenside darters (Etheostoma blennioides), fantail darters (Etheostoma flabellare) and tessellated darters (Etheostoma olmstedi) that I can collect and keep. There are other species of darters in the watershed, but are protected and I can't keep them.

The minnows and shiners that I most hope to collect are spotfin shiners (Cyprinella spilpterus) or satinfin shiners (Cyprinella analostana), rosyside dace (Clinostomus funduloides), silverjaw minnow (Notropis buccatus), and rosyface shiner (Notropis rubellus), but there are others that I'd be happy to add to the tank.

When I envision this tank in my dreams, I see a half dozen rainbow darters, four to six fantail darters, six to eight satinfin shiners, and the same number of rosyside dace. They would provide a nice splash of color mixed with silvery flash, tons of dither activity and plenty of interesting benthic fish behavior. Darters are very much like blennies in their antics.

I can't collect or keep native crayfish or freshwater shellfish in my state (not legal), but I can keep snails. In fact, snails make for great food for some species of darters. I don't think that I'd want other inverts in the tank.


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Old 07/11/2019, 07:27 AM   #684
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After doing some research, I probably will not use the Polygem 1319 on my rock wall. Apparently, it melts foam. I don't know what will happen with foam covered in Drylok. I may try a test piece, but, this stuff apparently gets very hot. I don't want to chance ruining the look of the rock wall.

As for the roots, I think that I will test it on a small section of the roots near the bottom that will be covered in rocks and substrate anyway. I can always add more grout and paint it again. Since the roots are covered in both Drylok and grout, maybe the heat won't be an issue. If it works, then I'll test a small section of the knob. If all goes well with the tests, then I'll apply it to the entire structure.

I originally wanted something to firm up the grout anyway. I thought that maybe it would be a good thing to do with the foam. After researching, there aren't many options for clear coating over already painted foam. There are plenty of coatings that are white that you have to paint, but, for me, that isn't an option.

A friend on another forum has used this product before and said it gets warm, but doesn't think it will be hot enough to melt the foam, so, my outlook for the test is good. We will see!


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Current Tank Info: 101g 3'X3'X18" Cubish Oyster Reef Blenny tank, 36"X17"X18" sump
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Old 07/11/2019, 12:58 PM   #685
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I understand your concern. It would be a tragedy for all your beautiful work to be ruined at the finish line. For what it's worth, the stuff I used did not harm my foam wall.

Testing is a prudent move. Good luck!


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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 07/11/2019, 02:17 PM   #686
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Thank you Michael. That's good to know that yours worked out OK. I talked to the Dave at Polygem, nice guy. He said that the heat wouldn't be a problem because you apply a thin coat, so any heat generated should be minimal.

Since I don't have to worry about mixing colors, he said that when using the clear coat, it would be better to mix up small batches and apply it in sections at a time, especially with the roots where it might take more time to apply because of the shape complexity. And, he agreed with me about testing it first.

As it turns out, they have a better product, 1618, that cures much faster. Next time, I'll get that instead...same price. There is a possibility that I might need more for this project. He answered all of my questions and took the time to really explain things. In a nutshell, great customer service.


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Current Tank Info: 101g 3'X3'X18" Cubish Oyster Reef Blenny tank, 36"X17"X18" sump
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Old 07/11/2019, 03:23 PM   #687
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That's great news! Can't wait to see the finished product.


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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 07/11/2019, 09:28 PM   #688
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I live in Williamsburg and grew up in Virginia Beach and just read through this thread. Congrats on sticking with it so long. Really cool to see a Bay based tank.


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Old 07/12/2019, 05:26 AM   #689
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Thank you twiddybr!


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Old 07/12/2019, 11:43 AM   #690
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Here's a quick update on the 20g high tank. I lost one of the two sticklebacks about ten days ago. Why? I have no idea, but, because it was eating fine. But, it hid all the time, and when it came out to eat, the other one harassed and chased it. My hunch is that the one doing the harassing killed the other one. The remaining one is doing well and growing. It eats at least 2-3 blackworms at each feeding. This video shows him eating blackworms. The last time that I tried to keep sticklebacks, I had a hard time finding food for them. This time, when they were small, I bought tigger pods and they gorged on them. Then, I bought the blackworms, and wow, they went after them with gusto.

Blackworms are sold locally, and pretty cheap, and easy to culture your own. I think that I spent $10 and these have lasted a month, easy. All I do is change out the water about every three days. If you cut some in half, both halves become new worms, and those are probably a better size for this stickleback. However, most of the worms are full size, and it's hard to separate out the smaller ones.

Hope you like the video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45fWQ5dhZXo


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Current Tank Info: 101g 3'X3'X18" Cubish Oyster Reef Blenny tank, 36"X17"X18" sump
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Old 07/13/2019, 10:16 PM   #691
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He really chowed down! Cool fish. Shrimp photo bombers were funny!


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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 07/23/2019, 02:41 PM   #692
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I hate giving updates about bad news, but I've had a few things happen in my oyster reef tank recently that I'm not happy about reporting. But, I have to tell it like it is.

First, my last skilletfish died. I had no idea it would happen. It was a hearty eater and full of energy every day. This was this past Friday.

Also, after fishing the skilletfish carcass out of the tank, I noticed that the female blenny, was being harassed by the males and was very stressed. She hadn't laid eggs in over a month now, and was extremely fat. I think she was eggbound. The males were still trying to get her to spawn, but, she wouldn't and avoided them. I think that all three of them were so worked up over her, that they wouldn't leave her be anywhere in the tank. So, I moved her out of the tank that night and put her into the tank with the stickleback. She immediately found a hiding spot in the oyster structure in that tank. I never saw her again until last night, when I spotted a mud crab feasting on her carcass. So, I fished her out.

While doing so, I noticed that the crab opened up her belly, and inside were thousands of eggs. At least my diagnosis was correct. But, that is no consolation. I loved that fish.

Also, the male blennies have removed all of the claws from all of the crabs in that tank. As I find the crabs, I try and move them to the other tank. Most disturbing was that they left the hermit crab alone all this time, until last night, when I saw his claws gone. So, I moved him out of the tank. The male blennies have killed mud crabs in the tank before and ate all of the grass shrimp. So much for that part of a clean up crew. I may keep only larger mud crabs in there from now on. The small ones will definitely get eaten if caught.

So now, I'm down to the three male blennies, and four naked gobies. Needless to say, I can't bring myself to post pics or videos right now, because this tank depresses me now. I'll have to revise my plan for the future with this tank to see if I can improve things. I have no idea if it was my fishkeeping that killed these fish, or, if it was just a natural progression of a combination of old age (skilletfish) and male blenny aggression. Maybe the larger tank will help. I'm working on that.


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Current Tank Info: 101g 3'X3'X18" Cubish Oyster Reef Blenny tank, 36"X17"X18" sump
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Old 07/23/2019, 05:23 PM   #693
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Sorry to hear that Kevin. If I had to guess, it sounds like your fish got older and more territorial, like a lot of fish do, and something had to give. With all the fish I know of, it's better to have only one male of each, and more females, so no one female gets all the 'attention'. I'm sure you know all this though.

It's probably near impossible to sex them as you're first collecting them, so you may need to edit them down later, once you're able to sex them. The big tank'll help, and maybe go with a lower density stocking.


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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 07/24/2019, 06:43 AM   #694
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Thank you Michael. Everything was fine a month ago. I am stunned. I noticed that she was getting fatter and fatter though, and started to worry about her getting eggbound. Sure enough.

Yeah, I think that will be my plan for the larger tank. I will try and collect adults from now on because they are easy to distinguish the sexes. I think in the larger tank, I will plan on just the three males and maybe three to four females. I think the skilletfish donít live very long, but I will keep the same number of skilletfish and gobies. I donít see the need for a higher number of benthic fish than that.


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Current Tank Info: 101g 3'X3'X18" Cubish Oyster Reef Blenny tank, 36"X17"X18" sump
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Old 07/24/2019, 10:49 AM   #695
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Is 'eggbound' sort of the reproductive equivalent of constipation? Sounds terrible.

You are the expert on those fish, so you know much better than I. Will it be OK to keep three mature males in one square yard?


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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 07/25/2019, 11:35 AM   #696
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Basically, yes, that's about right. I've read that internal parasites, stress, or some diseases can cause it. But, the actual death is from eggs that either won't or can't be laid becoming infected with bacteria before they can be absorbed by their bodies. Apparently, normally, female fish that are heavy with eggs if they can't spawn for some reason, absorb the eggs.

As far as keeping the males together, they bicker and squabble over their own territories. Each one is tough enough to fend off the others when the others stray to their oyster shell. And this is in the 20g long. They don't pick on each other enough for one to give up and get stressed out. I think that I could support up to five or six males in the larger tank, but, I'm leaning toward keeping only three. The male blennies dominate a tank, so the extra room would be good for any females in there, as well as the other species.


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Current Tank Info: 101g 3'X3'X18" Cubish Oyster Reef Blenny tank, 36"X17"X18" sump
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Old 07/29/2019, 06:26 AM   #697
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Oyster Reef Tank Update: I have a couple videos to share, but will get to them tomorrow. In the 20g high invertebrate tank, the hermit crab is happy and hopefully he will regenerate his claws. The anemone is hanging in there, literally, hanging from a rock like it almost can't support itself. However, it seems to be improving. The tentacles are getting fat and lively again, and it's still eating, so that is a good sign. In the 20g long, the remaining fish are doing great, and, I found a large mud crab with both its claws still alive and doing well. Maybe he's too big for the blennies to kill, at least, until he's a softshell crab. Also, I found a large amphipod feeding on a chunk of fish food last night. I haven't added anything to the tank in months, so this was quite a surprise. There are still a bunch of burrowing tube anemones and the live oysters seem to be doing OK. As it turns out, there are two live oysters, not one!

75 gallon stream tank update: As you may know, I purchased a quart of Polygem 1319 a few weeks ago. I mixed up a small batch and tested it on a piece of foam that was half painted with Drylok, to see if any chemical or heat changes might affect either the Drylok or the foam.

Then, I painted some on a small section of the roots, and had so much leftover that I just decided to go ahead full force on the roots. I painted the epoxy on about 3/4 of the root structure from the front and sides. Everything went very well on the tests and the roots. On the test foam/Drylok piece, I only painted one side. It was so strong afterwards that I could not break the foam. This product will protect the wall nicely and there were no problems with regard to heat or chemical reaction to the foam.


I finished the roots last night with a coating of epoxy on the back side, and then started painting the epoxy on the rock wall. Here's a pic before I finished the back side (facing up in this pic).


I had a fair amount of epoxy mixed up, so I went full force on the wall. I got about 95% done before the product was too thick to apply. I will have to finish it up tonight. I would have mixed up another batch, but, I ran out of protective gloves. I checked everything this morning and the wall looks great with a nice epoxy coating over most of it. I can't wait to finish it tonight.

The roots were hard as a rock this morning, just what I needed to happen. I feel confident that they will hold up well in the tank. The only flaw is a drop or two of epoxy that dripped from the last coat onto the front side that looks like a drop. I'm hoping that it will disappear or not be noticeable underwater. Otherwise, I'm very happy with the results.

This stuff reflects a lot of light and is very shiny, but, supposedly, when you fill the tank with water, you can't tell the epoxy is there. I hope that is the case. Polygem 1319 fully cures in a week, so, next Monday, I should be able to add water to the tank and test everything out! Woo Hoo! That means that I should be able to start scaping the tank in the meantime. I have rocks and small stones, but I still need some creek sand and gravel.

I should have the tank up and cycling in less than two weeks, then it's time to collect some fish!


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Current Tank Info: 101g 3'X3'X18" Cubish Oyster Reef Blenny tank, 36"X17"X18" sump
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Old 07/29/2019, 07:52 AM   #698
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That's great! It looks good. Glad to hear it worked well for you. It sounds very strong too, so your hard work will look good for years to come.


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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 07/30/2019, 06:01 AM   #699
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Thank you Michael! Yeah, they're hard as a rock now.

I am nearly done. Last night, I tried to apply epoxy to the last bit of rock wall on the right side of the tank. I thought that I was done, until this morning, when I discovered that there are a couple spots that need some that I missed. So, I'll mix up a small batch tonight and finish the job. But, essentially, I'm done and ready to set the tank up.

Next steps, rockscape with the river rocks that I collected and washed. Add sand/gravel that I still need to collect. Then, fill and cycle the tank. Purchase my new light fixture.
And, finally, collect fish. It should be up, running and cycling next week.

Two things to notice, the bright shiny reflections are annoying to me, but, apparently, they disappear under water. I hope that's the case. On the roots, there are three or four "drops" that dried on the front when I finished the back side that are pretty obvious. I think that I will try and sand or grind them down. Other than that, I'm pretty happy with how they turned out.

I'm a little nervous, because this is the scary part, adding water. Will the rock wall hold up? It fits tightly into place, and is heavily attached with silicone. Will the roots float with the little bit of foam in them? Or, are they heavy enough to stay on the bottom? We will see when I add water...the final test.

Here are some pics of the wall and roots as they look now in my tank:





Back to the oyster reef tank updates tomorrow once I load my new vids into YT. But, I have one minor update. My hermit crab that I moved out of the blenny tank because the blennies bit off his claws? His claws already regenerated! He has a new set of claws, small, but, functional enough that he can eat with them! Again, Ian Malcolm's phrase pops in my head..."Life will find a way..."


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Current Tank Info: 101g 3'X3'X18" Cubish Oyster Reef Blenny tank, 36"X17"X18" sump
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Old 07/30/2019, 11:11 AM   #700
Michael Hoaster
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Spectacular! Seeing it filled with water and life is going to be off the charts!

I had the same issue with shininess on my old fake root. I used a matte clear coat. Even if it is shiny underwater, it won't be for long, as micro life colonizes it.

Can't wait to see the final product!


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Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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