Pond aquarium / fish tank - how do you go about installing and keeping it?

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MicroBob
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Pond aquarium / fish tank - how do you go about installing and keeping it?

#1 Post by MicroBob » Wed Oct 31, 2018 2:00 pm

Hi togehter,

I have seen that some members here keep a pond aquarium or two. This has inspired me to set up one too early this year and I have made the first limited experiences. I have never had a closer contact to fish tanks or the like so I have no experience I can transfer from that.

My pond aquarium in running very nicely and I always enjoy to look at it's development and it' inhabitants. Now I would like to collect some additional input here to form a kind a guide from it. I would like to describe my aquarium first and hope to get some alternative ideas, additions or corrections here.

My aquarium has about 30l volume. It sits in a bay window facing westward in my room in the first floor and it gets a lot of light. In Summer temperatures reach 30 °C, the rest of the year they are aroud 20°C. I filled the aquarium with 3cm of plant earth, covered it with a disposable paper kitchen towel (ZEWA-Rolle in Germany) and then 2cm of well washed gravel 2mm-5mm. It was then filled with water from a pond and plants were pushed into the gravel. In summer the water started to turn green and I installed an air pump that was set to work for a couple of hours each morning and evening. This solved the green problem. In September the plants had grown so much that I had to cut away 2/3 of them. With the plants I accidentaly got water snails that seem to feel well. All together the pond works fine and theres is always a lot of life in the water. If necessary I top of the aquarium with water from a dehumidifier to avoid too much lime content.

What are your experiences?

Pond size and how is it's influence?
Salt water pond?
Placement?
Lighting?
Accessories?
Collection and preparation of samples?
Water snails and they influence?
Fish?

Bob
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charlie g
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Re: Pond aquarium / fish tank - how do you go about installing and keeping it?

#2 Post by charlie g » Wed Oct 31, 2018 4:25 pm

Hello, Bob, nice setup you have. Please visit MicrobeHunter magazine, issue # 48 (June 2015) for images of indoor and outdoors pond aquaria.

The biggest enhancement over you current setup..is to have a second habitat/wetland above 1/3 rd-to 2/3 rds of your aquarium. The fish/snails/crayfish in lower aquarium..can't prey on the water fleas and other meiofauna which manifest in the wetland (swamp?) above the water habitat.

A very low cost water pump keeps the water flowing up to the wetland..and the water drains down to the aquarium below. A simple air-lift tube can keep a water flow to an upper wetland if you do not want to use a simple water pump. These systems are fantastic indoors or outdoors..please look at the images in issue #48 of MicrobeHunter. It for me is a treat to add native species of plants and animals from my area to these setups. Thanks for your posts, Bob. Charlie Guevara, finger lakes/US

Hobbyst46
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Re: Pond aquarium / fish tank - how do you go about installing and keeping it?

#3 Post by Hobbyst46 » Wed Oct 31, 2018 4:38 pm

Hi Bob.
Yours is a very nice, impressive aquarium! a fine variety of aqueous plants, that look healthy and growing, and small amounts of algae, if any.
In the past, I had a 130 liter tropical fish tank. Including an air-stone and pump, a passive "biological" under-gravel filter, heater and an artificial "fish lamp". Only artificial light. No dirt, a gravel-floor only. Nevertheless, tt required around the year maintenance. The fish survived, the snails prospered, but the plants were a disappointment: rotting, being nibbled by the fish and snails, even the hardiest species like Elodea suffered.
It seems that you found the way to balance aquatic life, without fish. I dislike snails, personally. Recently, I inspected a lake-mud sample, and was thrilled to observe large diatom-like forms, very large (1mm), but a mild diatom cleaning process caused them all to disappear - must have been snail larvae.
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MicroBob
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Re: Pond aquarium / fish tank - how do you go about installing and keeping it?

#4 Post by MicroBob » Wed Oct 31, 2018 7:40 pm

Hi Charlie and Doron,

thank you for your input!
@Charlie: Thank you for the hint to your interesting article! I will for sure add a wetland and pump to my aquarium. Generally I try to keep my ecologic footprint small (within reson) and I will try to aquire or develop a solar powered pump for it. I have som smaller solar panels from our outdoor and camping holidays and have a look through my collection of DC motors in the basement. I like your idea of the outdoor ponds very much too, but I wouldn't want to use energy on the heating and our winters can be cold (some days -15°C at night, some weeks -10°C and five month with the likelyhood of frost).
You write about crayfish: Do you have a salt water pond too? Do you have experience with indoor tanks with Natural light at the window in winter time?

@Doron: Thank you for sharing you experience with your fish tank! Being completly new to aquariums I read alot in the internet and had the impression that having fish in the tank starts to complicate things. I was looking for a no-tech tank with no power consumption and nearly no maintenance and somewhere found a report suggesting the method I described. In a 130l tank the plants would probably support a handful of tiny fish you would have to search with a loupe :lol: . My much smaller tank would only support 2 or 3 tiny fish, but they wouldn't like it because they would need a big swarm for this. The plants were bought on ebay and shipped in a bigger letter and they were more than necessary. I think the snails came with them, but the can also fome from the pond water and plants. There are new ones all the time but they don't become more. I haven't yet found out what happend to the old ones - a layer of snail houses forming on the ground?


Bob

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Re: Pond aquarium / fish tank - how do you go about installing and keeping it?

#5 Post by charlie g » Thu Nov 01, 2018 7:04 am

Hi again Bob, all my indoor and outdoor setups are freshwater. Here in the US..freshwater crayfish are easy to collect..very easy to maintain. Indeed in wintertime a heater would be essential for an outdoor setup ( in my finger lakes/US local). Indoor setups which enjoy a southern exposure window offer enough insolation to keep plants thriving in setups.

Water fleas and snails and flatworms and rotifers and nematodes and water bears and bryophytes ...a gamut of meiofauna phyla along with protist algae and protozoa are pleasing to maintain in 'still water setups' (lentic habitats). But the flowing water ( lotic habitats) I show images of in that article give a richer and more more diverse collection of habitats...and with your regions native species..these become pleasant collections of habitats to enjoy without our microscopy..as well as with microscopy.

Charming that you prefer solar run setups. Thanks Bob for all your shared microscopy. Charlie guevara

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Re: Pond aquarium / fish tank - how do you go about installing and keeping it?

#6 Post by MicroBob » Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:39 pm

Hi Charlie,

I'm about to add a wetland to my aquarium! I designed a quater round softly sloping area with ridges to keep the sand and earth on it. A skirt keeps contact to the water surface to avoid drops making noise.
This platform is being printed just now from PETG material in light fern green. It's my biggest 3d-print so far and I hope it will run through to the end.

When it is installed I will show a picture!

Bob
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Re: Pond aquarium / fish tank - how do you go about installing and keeping it?

#7 Post by Hobbyst46 » Thu Nov 01, 2018 10:19 pm

Bob,
What is the advantage of a sloped basin over a flat horizontal surface, for the purpose of a wetland?
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Re: Pond aquarium / fish tank - how do you go about installing and keeping it?

#8 Post by MicroBob » Thu Nov 01, 2018 10:35 pm

My idea was that I can have different moisture contents more easily. The slope is very light though. In the model the top line is horizontal as it is put onto the glass wall of the tank.

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Re: Pond aquarium / fish tank - how do you go about installing and keeping it?

#9 Post by MicroBob » Fri Nov 02, 2018 10:11 am

There is an old book on the topic free to download:
Henry Scherren: Ponds and Rock Pools
https://archive.org/details/pondsrockpo ... he/page/n5

Beginning page 172 Scherren reports of his experiences with micro aquariums. Even 124 years after first release this is an interestinng book. I just bought an original one cheaply on ebay. I will need it in December, so hopefully it arrives soon.

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Re: Pond aquarium / fish tank - how do you go about installing and keeping it?

#10 Post by 75RR » Fri Nov 02, 2018 3:19 pm

MicroBob wrote:There is an old book on the topic free to download:
Henry Scherren: Ponds and Rock Pools
https://archive.org/details/pondsrockpo ... he/page/n5

Beginning page 172 Scherren reports of his experiences with micro aquariums. Even 124 years after first release this is an interestinng book. I just bought an original one cheaply on ebay. I will need it in December, so hopefully it arrives soon.
Thanks for the link. Interesting reading.
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Re: Pond aquarium / fish tank - how do you go about installing and keeping it?

#11 Post by charlie g » Fri Nov 02, 2018 3:39 pm

Fantastic link, MicroBob, to that 1900 text..I love it, thank you. My, my..3D printed wetland base...incredibly high tech for 'tera forming' your above the aquarium wetland. I look forward to your updates when you establish a wetland setup. Thanks for your shared microscopy, MicroBob. Charlie Guevara, finger lakes/US

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Re: Pond aquarium / fish tank - how do you go about installing and keeping it?

#12 Post by MicroBob » Fri Nov 02, 2018 4:45 pm

Hi together,
here is the newly installed wetland platform.
The printing took 11 hours for two parts, now welded together.
I already fetched some sand from the playground and I have gravel in different sizes.
The platform will get a pillar so I can stand it on a horizontal surface when I take it out.
Now I have to look for a suitable little pump.

Bob
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Re: Pond aquarium / fish tank - how do you go about installing and keeping it?

#13 Post by 75RR » Fri Nov 02, 2018 7:30 pm

That is pretty neat. Had thought though that you would immerse it in the pond, with each ridged area at a different depth. It would save you a pump as well.
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Re: Pond aquarium / fish tank - how do you go about installing and keeping it?

#14 Post by MicroBob » Fri Nov 02, 2018 9:38 pm

Hi 75RR,
originally I thought to keep the platform above water level to keep it moist but not completely wet and to reduce the importance of keeping an eye on the water level. I will have a look whether I will find a quick solution for the pump. If not I might as well just raise the water level and that's it for now.

Bob

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Re: Pond aquarium / fish tank - how do you go about installing and keeping it?

#15 Post by Hobbyst46 » Sat Nov 03, 2018 12:52 pm

Hi Bob

It appears that the appropriate pump (if the platform is above the water level) is a peristaltic pump. I guess there should be cheap simple single-head pumps on the market. The only point is that the flexible tubing should not be transparent - otherwise, algae and fingus will grow inside and block the flow.

A question: do you have any provision against mosquitoes laying their eggs in the water tank? or you accept mosquito larvae as legitimate tenants?
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Re: Pond aquarium / fish tank - how do you go about installing and keeping it?

#16 Post by MicroBob » Sat Nov 03, 2018 2:38 pm

Hi Doron,
I have tested a small pump like this: https://www.ebay.de/itm/Nagelneue-echte ... rk:39:pf:0
The one I have takes up 300 mA at 12V and 200mA at 8V. This will probably be acceptable for the solar panel I would like to use. It only has to run a couple of minutes every day. I might put a solar charge/discharge regulator and a small lead battery in between if necessary.

Mosquitoes: I have set up the aquarium in March this year. We had an extremely unusual dry time since then with no rain over periods of weeks. So we have had nearly no moquitoes at all and the future will have to tell.

Bob

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Re: Pond aquarium / fish tank - how do you go about installing and keeping it?

#17 Post by Crater Eddie » Tue Nov 06, 2018 3:40 pm

Nice aquarium, I like the 3D printed shelf. Keep us posted on progress.
Thanks for the link to the old book, love to read the old books.
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Re: Pond aquarium / fish tank - how do you go about installing and keeping it?

#18 Post by MicroBob » Tue Nov 06, 2018 4:06 pm

Hi Eddie,
I will continue to report in this thread.
In the meantime I have printed a strainer and a tube with a valve to control the flow. Now I have to weld everything together and get it installed.
Right now I'm quite busy with microscopy stuff: Radiolaria slides, pond aquarium with articulated stereo microscope, development of a blade holder for easy plant sections with a hand microtome, group program for 2019.

Here is a video I took through the side of the aquarium looking at the water surface from below:
https://vimeo.com/266378480

Bob

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Re: Pond aquarium / fish tank - how do you go about installing and keeping it?

#19 Post by cuxlander » Thu Nov 08, 2018 2:21 pm

Hello,
interesting thread.
I have a similar project and wonder if anybody here has any idea:
Recenctly I have obtained a handful of bog sphagnum inhabiting several species of testate amoeba. Sphagnum are multi storey buildings with organisms in the bottom region requiring pure water, up to some in the attic liking it almost dry. I put it into a plastic container with about 2 cms of water. I intend to top up with rain water. So the water will maintain its purity, I wonder if the Sphagnum will look after the acidity.
The water which came with the moss was rather acid with about pH 5.
I want to keep it in a cool window, no direct sun, to simulate winter and wonder what's in it at springtime.

Image

Any suggestions?
Cheers,
Hans

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Re: Pond aquarium / fish tank - how do you go about installing and keeping it?

#20 Post by cuxlander » Thu Nov 08, 2018 2:27 pm

Hello @MicroBob,
originally I thought to keep the platform above water level to keep it moist
Why don't you let your platform swim in a defined immersion depth?
Greetings,
Hans

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Re: Pond aquarium / fish tank - how do you go about installing and keeping it?

#21 Post by MicroBob » Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:16 pm

cuxlander wrote:Why don't you let your platform swim in a defined immersion depth?
Hi Hans, this was exactly the idea I was looking for! Sometimes the obvious lies so far away... :roll:

I wasn't happy with my pump idea and with keeping the water level on a precise level because I want to keep it simple and maintanance free. So I will let it swim - perfect!

For your bog sphagnum I found a description of the water conditions here:
https://www.britannica.com/science/bog-wetland

So your idea with the rain water will probably be right. But I could imagine that in your shallow water the oxygen content will not sink as low as it does in the bog. This could be a point worth changeing. In nature a bog in winter is dark and cold so may be you should put your tank in a cool place too.

Bob

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Re: Pond aquarium / fish tank - how do you go about installing and keeping it?

#22 Post by charlie g » Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:40 pm

Hi,microbob..an isolated basin held a bit above main tank water level..permits a gentle flow/ gentle circulation of waters from main aquarium through a wetland habitat..then back to main aquarium. This setup is often termed a: 'bio filter'. You have good exchange of water chemistries which is good for main fish waters, good for the wetland collection of nitches/habitats, and offers terrific microscopy opportunities. Hydroponic growing coupled to aquaculture growing embraces the benefits of gentle flow of water chemistries between the growth compartments.

Simply suspending a basin slightly into the 'water table/ water level' of main aquarium does not have the consistent flow of a biofilter. It is actually a 'floating raft/suspended island habitat' within a larger aquarium. Such floating rafts were used in meso-american ancient cultures to grow crops...such rafts have their own communities, they offer great microscopy too. If you elect to not have water flow between the wetland compartment above, and the aquarium below, well then you still need a clunky 'side of the tank'...or 'in the tank' water filtration power system to maintain any fish or other macroinvertebrates stabily. Gentle flow between compartments can maintain a fish community with no additional powered filtration system. thanks for this thread, microbob. Charlie Guevara, finger lakes/US

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Re: Pond aquarium / fish tank - how do you go about installing and keeping it?

#23 Post by MichaelG. » Thu Nov 08, 2018 4:46 pm

MicroBob wrote:There is an old book on the topic free to download:
Henry Scherren: Ponds and Rock Pools
https://archive.org/details/pondsrockpo ... he/page/n5
Thanks for the link, Bob
The PDF is now on my iPad, for bedtime reading.

MichaelG.
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Re: Pond aquarium / fish tank - how do you go about installing and keeping it?

#24 Post by MicroBob » Thu Nov 08, 2018 7:22 pm

Hi Charlie,
my aquarium is free of any technical stuff for most of the time. Only in summer when the water turned green I thought that the oxygen content might be low and I added an air pump that ran for a couple of hours in the morning and evening. This solved the problem. The air pump is removed now for two month again and the little ecosystem seems to feel well. I have no fish in my 30l aquarium. But the source where I found the recipe for this aquarium said that it could support a couple of fish without filter and air pump, but with a bigger tank of 80 or 100l.
Apart from once installing the air pump and then removing it again I only topped off the water ca. four times and cleaned the front window twice. I really liked the idea of streaming water, but I also see the clutter and the strainer would be in danger of being blocked. So for the time being I will install a swimming island and see what life I can observe there. I also would like to get it going as I want to use it as the topic for our December meeting.

Today I received a Manfrotto 244 joint arm as a flexible stand for a stereo microscope head - impressive piece of kit!

Bob

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