I recently had the chance to visit one of the premier soft-water species breeders in the country, and this is his fish room! Chris has the reputation of being an expert Apistogramma breeder, which he is, but that description sells him short. His success with apistos is an extension of his ability to maintain truly blackwater conditions in his aquariums. He is also a very successful breeder of tetras and cories. Chris is a man of diverse interests who finds the time for fish, rifles and building cars…. pretty much from scratch! He is a chemist by trade, which has helped him to overcome what is probably the worst set of water parameters coming out of his well. Suffice to say that his water filtration/reverse osmosis system probably never stops. He literally has to make every drop of water that goes into his tanks!
I hope that getting this blog post up will be the catalyst for keeping up with the backlog of videos and posts I have NOT been doing. My apologies…
Allen Wood is a good friend of mine who maintains a fish room in Pueblo, Colorado. Allen has a lifetme of experience with fish, and in the past decade or so has dedicated most of his space to threatened and endangered live bearer species from North and Central America. Allen’s fish room has a fully automated water change system, but not a single drilled aquarium! There is hope for all of us who want automation without the hassle of drilled tanks.
Juergen Krespick is one of the founding members of the Motor City Aquarium Society, and has been active in the aquarium hobby for over 40 years. He was my host while visiting the club, so I had the chance to hang out with him for a while and get a good tour of his fish room. This is one of the nicest rooms I have ever been in, and Juergen should be very proud of it. Enjoy!
Scott Carlson is a hobbyist in the Quad Cities area (Iowa/Illinois) who I have known for a while from American Cichlid Association conventions and other aquarium events. Having the chance to visit his fish room was a real treat. Scott’s room is great for viewing fish. It is set up like a store: dark room, lights directly over the tanks and clean glass. He filters the tanks with sponge filters. One of the filters in each tank is usually powered by a water pump that creates current. The others are powered by air that is provided by a linear piston air pump.
The vertical PVC pipe with a strainer that can be seen in a couple of the tanks is a part of the water change system. Scott uses gravity to drain water out through that pipe when he urns a valve over a drain in his floor. There is a water delivery spigot over the tanks that he attaches a hose to in order to refill the tanks. I had a lot of pictures of the system, but I lost the images in a tragic laptop file accident. The problem was between the chair and the keyboard. At least you get to see Scott’s pretty fish….
The second fish room that Matthew and I visited during our weekend at a Quad Cities Fish Keepers event was John Winters’. John is the president of the club, and our tour guide for the day. His fish room is located in his basement, and consists of several different size aquariums on one large table-top style rack. And it is a very sturdy rack!
I have to apologize for the lack of detail images. I made a mistake saving some image files and all of the still photos from the trip were lost.
Take a look at John’s fish room…
Mike Schroeder is a member of the Quad City Fish Keepers, the Quad Cities area aquarium club that invited me to give a talk at their January (2011) swap meet. Mike invited me in to see his fish room and let Mathew and I take pictures and video. Mike was described to me by another Davenport-area hobbyist as ‘the guy we all blame for our Lake Malawi cichlids’, because for many years Mike managed a local store that heavily promoted cichlids. Mike is heavily invested in Lake Malawi species, and he breeds a lot of them. He covered three tables at the QCFK swap, and I am told that what he brought was only half of what he usually brought. Here is a glimpse of Mike’s fish room:
The fourth episode in the fish room series is about supplying air for filtration. There is really only one basic system, which consists of a blower or pump and a delivery system. There are several ways to set that up, however, and the differences begin with the type of pump or blower. There are too many different scenarios, so the video presents the basics and describes how I set up the air system in my fish room.
The third installment of my fish room series talks about the basics of electricity when setting up a room. There are two basic concepts to consider. First, make sure that there is enough capacity in the room to meet projected needs. Second, take steps to reduce the energy consumption of the room. Electricity is the most expensive consumable in a fish room. I know more than a few people who have been caught by surprise by a higher-than-expected electricity bill after turning on a new rack of tanks. As with anything, there is a way to go cheap and a way to go expensive. When it comes to electricity, however, paying up front for more energy-efficient equipment (air pumps, space heaters, appliances and especially lights) will earn their money back in energy savings.
The topic of this second installment of Ted’s Fishroom is controlling temperature and humidity. Temperature is well understood, but humidity is something that many first-time fish room builders do not consider. Humidity is the factor in a fish room that will most negatively affect your home and health.
Please remember that these videos are not intended to be a complete guide to building a fish room. They would need to be much longer to do that. My hope is that by watching these videos you will be introduced to the major considerations you need to think about when building a fish room, and then go out and find some other resources to fill in the details. There are a lot of people on the web documenting their fish room. Some of the best places to start looking are on the many web forums where you can ask questions and get feedback from a lot of different sources.
This video is the first in a series of blogs about my fish room. This one is a quick look at the room and a preview of the segments that I plan to add to the blog. I have no idea how many videos I will add to the series. I will start with the basics: insulating the room, adding electricity, the air sytem, racking, etc. I will also produce some videos about how the tanks are filtered, how I go about doing water changes, making and using R/O water, growing live foods and whatever I else I can come up with. Feel free to make suggestions.
When we were looking for a house, my wife concerned herself with things like closet space, the washer and drier hookups, local schools and the distance of her daily commute (I only need to go as far as the basement). She went on the tour of the house. I went in search of the fish room. The basement was completely unfinished. Bare cement walls and floor, and all the household machinery (furnace, water heater, etc…) are all located in one corner of the room. There is a utility sink and a sewer clean-out in the floor that can double as a floor drain. The only flaw I could see was that it is not a walk-out basement. No room is perfect.
We closed on the house in early September and the room had its first racks operating by the end of October. During that time I added three 20 amp breakers to the room, insulated the walls, installed an air system and build fish racks. What you see in this video is the current arrangement after five years in operation. The room looks quite a bit different that it did at first (I did a big remodel last August).
The first thing I did when building the room was to build the framing for the insulated walls and then wire the additional electrical circuits. The next video will cover electricity, which is probably one of the LAST things people think about when building a fishroom… but it should really be one of the first!