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Journal Salty Fingers

Courtneybst

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5 Sep 2016
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943
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London
Well, it was inevitable... The thing I wanted to do since I got into fishkeeping was have a saltwater tank. Despite taking 12 years, I'm glad it's happening now rather than back then. Since then I've gained a wealth of knowledge, appreciation for aesthetics and most importantly...more disposable income! :D

I'll be setting up a macroalgae dominated scape and I plan to try and actually scape it to the best of my ability as opposed to just centralised reef rock. We'll see how that goes I guess. In the meantime I've been doing lots of research that I was procrastinating about before and I think I'm mostly ready. I've got most of the things I need and all the hardware is second-hand bar the stand and hardscape.

Here's the hardware setup for now;

Tank: ADA 60P with lid
Filter: Oase Biomaster Thermo 350
Lighting: Chihiros WRGB II Slim 45cm
Stand: Custom Built

I haven't yet decided on many things such as whether or not I'll use a skimmer, auto top off, artificial seawater (ASW) vs natural seawater (NSW), acrylic or glass pipework, which fertilisers I'll use, if I need separate scaping tools etc etc.

I'm also grateful for this dedicated marine section now, it'll be great to get people's input since I'm still a saltwater novice despite the research. I'm looking at you @Geoffrey Rea @LondonAquascaper @Joel S ! πŸ‘€

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Nick potts

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25 Sep 2014
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Location
Torbay
Stop it you lot!. I came here to get away from all the lovely reef/marine pics that always end up pulling me back into that money pit πŸ πŸ’΅πŸ’΅ 😁

Looking forward to this one Courtneybst, your other tanks are all amazing and I am sure this one will be.
 

Courtneybst

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5 Sep 2016
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Stop it you lot!. I came here to get away from all the lovely reef/marine pics that always end up pulling me back into that money pit πŸ πŸ’΅πŸ’΅ 😁

Looking forward to this one Courtneybst, your other tanks are all amazing and I am sure this one will be.
Haha thanks Nick, I'm hoping to make it economical. Not on the cheap per se but not spending thousands πŸ˜…. I've seen how much even saltwater fish cost and it's eye opening for a freshwater guy!!
 

Nick potts

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25 Sep 2014
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Location
Torbay
Haha thanks Nick, I'm hoping to make it economical. Not on the cheap per se but not spending thousands πŸ˜…. I've seen how much even saltwater fish cost and it's eye opening for a freshwater guy!!
I think if I was to go back to saltwater it would be macroalgae as you are doing. Every time I see some nice looking SW fish in the shop I have a moment, and then remember I could probably set up a whole new FW tank for the same price.
 

Courtneybst

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5 Sep 2016
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Yesterday, or the day before? I can't remember to be honest. All the days are still one at the moment. ANYWAY, yesterday I did a practice run on a mini canvas for my stand. I wanted to get a feel for the colour scheme and patterns before I commit to the big boy. Since it's going to be a saltwater scape, I wanted to capture the essence of the ocean. I think there's a bit of reef in there, a bit of delta (the good kind πŸ™ƒ), a bit of ocean, bit of Google maps vibes.

This design will go on the front door and this time I'm not painting the rest of it white either, I'm going for as close to a dark Prussian blue as I can get. Pretty much the same as the base colour of the practice canvas. I think it'll also compliment the hardscape that will be dark, and the equipment which is mostly dark too.

The pearlescence of this one is really something in person. It just subtly shimmers in the light...I also have something in mind for a 'live' handle, which is basically just using hardscape for the door handle. Last time I used Manzanita. This time I'm either using a barnacle cluster or an off-cut of my hardscape. I'm leaning towards the barnacles tbh...

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Wookii

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13 Nov 2019
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Nottingham
That’s awesome! I see what you mean by the β€œGoogle maps vibe” it looks like one of the aerial drone shots from BBC’s Blue Planet!
 
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Nick potts

Member
Joined
25 Sep 2014
Messages
923
Location
Torbay
Yesterday, or the day before? I can't remember to be honest. All the days are still one at the moment. ANYWAY, yesterday I did a practice run on a mini canvas for my stand. I wanted to get a feel for the colour scheme and patterns before I commit to the big boy. Since it's going to be a saltwater scape, I wanted to capture the essence of the ocean. I think there's a bit of reef in there, a bit of delta (the good kind πŸ™ƒ), a bit of ocean, bit of Google maps vibes.

This design will go on the front door and this time I'm not painting the rest of it white either, I'm going for as close to a dark Prussian blue as I can get. Pretty much the same as the base colour of the practice canvas. I think it'll also compliment the hardscape that will be dark, and the equipment which is mostly dark too.

The pearlescence of this one is really something in person. It just subtly shimmers in the light...I also have something in mind for a 'live' handle, which is basically just using hardscape for the door handle. Last time I used Manzanita. This time I'm either using a barnacle cluster or an off-cut of my hardscape. I'm leaning towards the barnacles tbh...

View attachment 180471

That is amazing work and you have captured the essence perfectly, the pic Wookii posted was what sprang to mind when I first saw yours, or one of those colourful salt lakes.
 

Courtneybst

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One of the final integral pieces to this project is now here; the stand!

My very talented friend Ian kindly built this for me and allowed me to fully customise it to suit my needs. I can do DIY but I'm better at making things functional, and I don't have all the tools to do a more professional job. I opted for wide cutouts on both sides to give me flexibility with equipment in case I changed my mind now or in the future. I also went for a hole in the centre back panel for power cables to run out of. I want this stand and build to be super organised and clean looking, and I feel it's the perfect opportunity with this ultra blank canvas.

Getting the stand makes it feel very real, and like this project is actually happening.

Now to get priming and painting! (That, I can do!)

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One thing that I'm still not sure about is the lights. I have this weird feeling that they're not going to be bright enough but I'm happy to be proved wrong. I guess the only way to tell is to try them out! I'd rather not have to buy yet another light fixture tbh. This is the perk of using a relatively uncommon fixture on an even more niche project. πŸ˜‚
 

mort

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Joined
15 Nov 2015
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2,072
I'd wager your lighting unit will work very well. I've run many a macro tank in the past with really poor lighting in comparison (mostly in hitchhiker mantis or my sepia bandensis tanks, who don't appreciate strong lights). Some macro algaes and plants need really good lighting but the only one that needed full reef illumination ime was Seagrass, but that's a real pain to grow anyway.

Looking forward to see what your scaping skills can do with something salty.
 

Courtneybst

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5 Sep 2016
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I'd wager your lighting unit will work very well. I've run many a macro tank in the past with really poor lighting in comparison (mostly in hitchhiker mantis or my sepia bandensis tanks, who don't appreciate strong lights). Some macro algaes and plants need really good lighting but the only one that needed full reef illumination ime was Seagrass, but that's a real pain to grow anyway.

Looking forward to see what your scaping skills can do with something salty.
Oh that's very reassuring to hear Mort, thank you for that! There aren't too many people to bounce off on this subject so I appreciate that.

I tried to use as much as I had already with this build so I can put the money towards nice hardscape, macroalgae and fish.
I might be biased but the stand looks great πŸ˜‚ glad it's coming together and I will of course be following with great interest.
Thanks mate haha. I didn't even realise it was you until I was halfway through my sentence!
 

Courtneybst

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I've gotten some headway on painting the stand...

The room I'm using to paint is incredibly tight but it's the only room with complete open space that doesn't have a carpet or is the kitchen lol. Our house isn't small but we've not got a lot of 'recreational' space. I put my headphones in, put a podcast on and just get into the zone!

I painted the bare plywood with zinser primer before painting which protects the wood and also allows virtually anything to be applied on top. Here's a few lessons I learnt from this and last round;
  • It requires Methylated Spirits to clean the brush. White spirit is not the same. It will turn the primer to concrete. πŸ˜…
  • If you wrap your rollers/brushes in cling film and store them in the fridge, you can stop the paint/primer from drying between coats and you don't have to clean it until you're completely finished. It only took me 27 years...
  • The choice of roller/brush makes a huge difference to the finish. I bought a high density varnish roller which is designed to leave a super smooth finish and it really works. So now I understand why there are so many varieties of painting tools! It's not just marketing.
  • If you make a weekend plan to paint something, make sure you've actually ordered the paint... The paint for the door will be coming on Monday as a result. πŸ˜…

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I've had a bit of a mare with paint yesterday to say the least! I wanted to paint the rest of the stand the same base colour as the door which is a slightly darker Prussian Blue. However, since it's difficult to source non-acrylic Prussian Blue, I thought I'd get it colour-matched at Brewers. Long story short, the paint I received was a completely different shade and colour, even when dried...

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So I went to Homebase to buy some black paint to add to it. I got the black mixed on the machine because I only needed a small amount and it worked out cheaper. When I got home and opened the paint, it looked blue AF! But ironically very close to the blue I wanted. So I painted it on... and of course, it dried completely black!
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Luckily from my practice I bought extra Prussian Blue acrylic paint and mixed it 50:50 with that and some Iridescent Medium and now it's the perfect shade! A deep royal-looking ocean colour.

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I've just got the door left to do and then I can get the stand into place!

πŸ’‘Can anyone recommend any LED lights for inside the stand? I'm hoping to find something relatively bright and that doesn't require batteries or too frequent charging.
 

Courtneybst

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