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Make a Tank Divider

Make a tank divider with simple handtools for about $10 

Why do you need a tank divider?

  1. One common way to breed large, aggressive Central American cichlids is using the "divided tank method". A sturdy divider is used to separate the pair which then spawn on opposite sides of a barrier.
  2. When you're low on tankspace and have incompatible species.
  3. When you need some extra space for a recovering fish

You can complete this project using only simple handtools in about an hour.

Before you get started…

  • Be safe! Wear safety goggles.
  • This projects involves the use of sharp tools. Be careful! This is not a project for kids.
Step Pictures

Tools Needed

a. Hacksaw
— or — 
b. Backsaw

c. Ruler

d. Diagonal Wire Cutters

a. Hacksaw  b. Backsaw
c.Ruler   d. Diagonal Wire Cutters

Materials

a. Purchase a 2' by 4' sheet of Styrene eggcrate material at a building supply store such as Home Depot. Expect to pay between $5 and $6.This is the cheapest material and works better

You will find this material near the drop ceiling section.

b. 1/2" PVC Elbow (Qty = 2)

c. 1/2" PVC Tee (Qty = 2)

d. 1/2" PVC Pipe (comes in ten foot sections)

e. 8" Nylon Cable Ties 
(Qty = 10)

a. Eggcrate Material  b. PVC Elbow
c.PVC Tee d. PVC Pipe
e.   Cable Ties  

Step 1

Measure the inside width of your tank.

Measure the water depth of your tank (from the bottom of the tank to the water level).

Subtract 1/4" from each dimension to allow for easy placement in the tank.

Measuring the tank   Measuring the tank

Important Note!

Take into account the size of the PVC fittings in your measurements!

Generally speaking, you will need to subtract another 1/2 to 3/4 inch for each fitting. We suggest you first cut the PVC pipe to size using the dimensions in Step 1. Then, press on the fitting(s) and measure the length to find the necessary adjustment. Measure twice, cut once!

Step 2

You'll need to cut 7 pieces of PVC pipe:

A) 2 Verticals

B) 1 Horizontal

C) 4 Legs (8" long)

Use the hacksaw or backsaw. A vise is helpful.

Assembly Pieces  Cutting the PVC

Step 3

After cutting all the pipe, 
deburr the ends using a utility knife, file or sandpaper.

Deburring the pipe

Step 4

a. Assemble all pieces excluding the legs.

STOP! Test fit the divider in your tank.

b. Add the legs, once you're sure everything fits.

NOTE: PVC Cement is not required. A friction fit is adequate and allows for easy
re-configuration.

 a.        b.

Step 5

Using a pair of diagonal wire cutters, cut the eggcrate material to size. The eggcrate should slightly underlap the frame.

   

Step 6

Cut notches in the eggcrate for the base.

Use the diagonal wire cutter.

Step 7

Fasten the eggcrate to the frame using the cable ties.

Use one per corner and one in middle of each section.

   

Step 8

Cut off the excess cable tie.

Installing the Tank Divider

Step 1

Remove the bottom "legs" from the tank divider.

Step 2

Clear out gravel from the bottom of tank.

Place the tank divider in the tank.

Note: We've added a clay tile as a spawning surface for a pair of large Blackbelt cichlids.

Step 3

Clear out gravel from the bottom of tank.

Place the tank divider in the tank.

Insert the four legs securely.

   

Photos by Rick Borstein.

 
 
 

Artificially Raising Substrate Spawning Fish

Great for angels and Central American Fish 

Hobbyists have been artificially raising substrate-spawning fish for many years. This technique is popular for angelfish, Central American Cichlids and other substrate-spawning fish with small eggs.

Some hobbyists feel that artificially raising fry (i.e. pulling the spawn) weakens the pair bond of the fish. This notion has not been explored scientifically. It should be pointed out the the majority of angelfish breeders raise fry artificially.

There are as many ways to raise fry as there are aquarium hobbyists. Review the technique below and adapt it to your specific needs.

Before you get started…

  • Purchase the necessary supplies.
  • Decide where you want to place the hatch tank.
  • Observe when your fish spawn. One day post-spawning, you can pull the eggs (see instructions)

What you'll need…

Step Pictures

Step 1

Fill a clean, small tank or container with six quarts of water from the spawning tank.

We have had good luck with 8 quart clear, Rubbermaid Commercial containers. They are available from Sam's club and restaurant supply houses.

Rubbermaid 8qt clear container  Rubbermaid logo

Step 2

Remove the hatch from the spawning tank the day after spawning.

Avoid exposing the eggs to air. Invert the spawning surface (rock, etc.) inside a cup or container.

Removing the hatch from the tank

Step 3

Place the spawning surface (rock, etc.) inside the hatching tank.

Placing the hatch in the hatching tank.Placing the hatch in the hatching tank.

Step 4

Attach an 18" piece of airline to the air pump and plug it in.

We've had good luck with a Second Nature Challenger I and a Penn-Plax Silent-Air XL1. Any similarly sized pump should do.

Setting up the air pump

Step 5

Attach the airline to a gang valve.

This will allow you to:

  • Control the flow of air
  • Anchor the airline

We've had good luck with Penn-Plax Lok-Tite Gang Valves available here. These allow for precise control of the air flow. Each piece of tubing locks into the plastic hanger to prevent floating and kinking.

Connecting the gang valve

Step 6

Cut a one foot length of airline and attach it to one of the out ports on the gang valve.

Insert the airstone.

Thread the airline over the top of the gang valve.

 

Connecting the airline and airstoneDetailed view of locking in the airline over the gang valve.

Step 7

Place the gang valve over the side of the tank.

Make sure that the airline is not flopping around. It could damage the eggs.

The airstone should be to the side and slightly above the eggs.

Adjust the airflow using the gang valve. It should be a gentle stream of air.

Adjusting the air flow

Step 8

If your room temperature is below 78F, place a 7.5 watt aquarium heater in the tank.

Maintain the temperature at 78–81F. A lid may help in cold rooms.

We've had very good luck with 7.5 watt heaters from Jr. Aquatics. They are available at Walmart for about $7.

Jr. Aquatics Heater  Placing the heater

Step 9

Add 2 drops of Methylene Blue per each quart of water.

NOTE: Methylene Blue stains clothes permanently!

Kordon Methylene Blue   Add 2 drops per quart of water

Step 10

Methylene blue helps prevent fungus. Methylene Blue stains the water a deep blue.

Eggs are light sensitive— do not put a light over the tank.

Your water should be darker than the picture at right.

Methylene Blue in the tank

Step 11

Use a strong flashlight and check the hatch daily.

Most eggs hatch within 48-72 hours.

At 6 to 9 days post-spawn, the fry should be free of the spawning surface at the "belly whomper" stage— not quite able to swim, but hopping on the bottom.

Remove the spawning surface (rock, etc.).

Use a flashlight to check on hatching.Removing the spawning site

Step 12

As soon as the fry are belly whompers, start small, daily water changes.

Remove a quart of water from the tank. Replace it with fresh, dechlorinated water.

As you do more water changes, the water will get lighter and lighter.

Water changePutting in fresh water

Step 13

You may notice some debris such as unhatched eggs in the tank.

Carefully remove the debris using a turkey baster.

Removing debrisRemoving debris

Step 14

When the fry are free-swimming, add a small, seasoned sponge filter to replace the airstone.

We like the ATI Hydrosponge #0. You can get them from Jehmco.

At this point, start feeding freshly hatched baby brine shrimp. Feed until the tummies are nice and round!

Add a sponge filter

Step 15

Prepare a ten-gallon, grow-out tank. Use a sand or bare bottom, heater and sponge filter.

 

Step 16

About two weeks after the free-swimming stage, the fry should be about one-quarter inch long.

Remove the heater and sponge filter and carefully pour the fry into a seasoned ten-gallon tank.

Note: Make sure the temperature is the same as in the hatching tank!

Pouring the fry from the hatch tank to the rearing tank

Step 17

Continue feeding baby brine shrimp.

At three weeks, begin adding finely crushed flake food to the mix. By one month, you should be able to wean the fry off of the brine shrimp.

Weekly, 50% water changes are critical for fry growth.

Lots of fry

 

Paint a Tank

Make your tank beautiful!

It's easy and inexpensive to spray paint the back and sides of your tank. Not only will it look better, but your fish will be happier, too!

Before you get started…

  • Paint outside on a dry, sunny day when temperatures are above 70F and there is little wind.
  • Paint will not adhere to silicone sealant. Remove any excess silicone sealant with a razor blade… not for kids! Be careful and don't break the seal!
  • These instructions are for glass tanks, only.
  • We have had good results with a variety of paints. Krylon brand spray paints seem to drip the least.
  • We recommend the following colors: Black, Blue and Green.
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions and be safe!
Step Pictures

Step 1

Place the tank with the front of the aquarium down on a pair of saw horses.

Clean the back and sides of the tank with Windex and a soft, clean cloth.

Step 2

Mask the frame of the tank. We recommend 3M Scotch-Blue™ Painter's Tape for Multi-surfaces available at hardware stores and home centers.

  

Step 3

Apply a strip of masking tape to the front of the tank. This prevents overspray onto the front glass of the tank.

Step 4

Use newspaper to completely cover the top of the tank. This step prevents paint from adhering to the inside of the aquarium.

Step 5

Paint the sides of the tank.

The spray tip should be 6 to 8" from the glass.

Tip: Don't overspray. Avoid drips.

Step 6

Paint the back of the tank.

Step 7

It will take a minimum of three coats of paint.

In between coats, invert the spray can and spray to clean the nozzle.

Step 8

Look through the bottom of the tank to check for coverage. After three coats, you should not be able to see light through the painted surfaces.

Step 9

Allow the last coat to dry thoroughly.

Remove and discard the masking tape.

Enjoy your tank!


Photos by Rick Borstein. Demonstration by Sam Borstein.

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