Hobbies are good

It’s been almost a year since I graduated and I still haven’t gotten a hobby going.  Hobbies are good.  It’s what normal people do who don’t work full time and teach obscene amounts of classes.

I need a hobby.  More than my Wednesday night craft night.  I need something that I can say I work on frequently that is relaxing. 

I’ve decided to start an aquarium.

I know. 

Someone like me, starting an aquarium.  It’s nuts.  I’m too Type A for such an activity. 

Let me explain.  My grandfather always had a sweet fish tank when I was little.  I loved that tank.  It was so peaceful.  When my grandparents passed away, the tank was boxed up and put into my mom’s storage.  Last year, I decided that someone needed to do something with this tank and took it out of storage.  It’s been sitting in my dining room ever since, covered with a Mexican blanket.  Ha!

Well, I got off my butt last weekend and started to work on it.  Oh lord, what was I thinking.  The tank is a mess.

Let me back up.  The tank is a sweet tank.  My grandfather was quite the DIY’er in the day and made it himself out of automotive glass.  I guess this is why I want to fix it up.  It seems a shame to let this thing sit.

So here it is in all of her dirty glory.  Notice the stand- that is also DYI’ed.  You can see the white grime on the glass and the sad metalwork on the frame.

Pretty nasty, huh?  I went to town on Sunday with the metalwork.  Some of it looks like it was eroding, but I had to clean it.  Some Brasso, a toothbrush, and a washcloth got it done.  It took a good while but it’s nice and shiny now.  The areas of concern are mostly on the back of the tank, probably because it had water damage from prior use with the filter.  The top of the tank (unpictured) is another piece of glass with a notch cut out in the back for the filter setup.

After the metal cleaned up, I got to work on the white stuff on the glass.  Enter the scraper.

Little did I know, this would turn into a full day fiasco.  The scraper was good, but that razor blade got dull really quick.  I guess that is what 30 years of festering in a storage unit will do.  I had to bring out the big guns and get a value size of white vinegar.

Apparently, even if you rinse repeatedly, it is a big no-no to use any sort of detergent cleaner on the inside of a fish tank. White vinegar, more scraping, and plenty of elbow grease.  That’s what takes off 30 years of gunk.  That, plus some mindless TV and lots of caffeine.

When I finished the tank glass, I stopped for a lunch and thought about what to do next.  Should I chance filling the tank with water to see if it’s airtight?  Or, should I go ahead and strip out the silicone seals?

Decisions.

I look online.  Everyone says it’s a big job.  Well, I’ve got all afternoon and evening, right?  Ha!

I changed my razor blade and started at the inside of the tank first.  This was pretty difficult work.  Scoring the silicone, then scraping it up.  You have to get it ALL up because new silicone won’t adhere to the old stuff.  I worked.  I sweated.  I took breaks for chocolate.

Some of the areas pulled right out, which led me to believe that my decision to remove the silicone was wise.  Who knows how long that would have stayed water tight.

After I finished the inside of the tank, I started on the outside metalwork.  All of the metalwork was caulked with a very thin bead of black silicone, which came up much easier than the clear stuff on the inside.  Again, good decision to remove and replace. 

All in all, it took me 7 hours to remove the silicone on the inside and outside of the tank, with maybe an hour worth of breaks.  My fingers are sore and I managed to avoid cutting myself, which was Kevin’s main concern.  I’m not that lucky with most kitchen knives.

I wiped out the tank again with the vinegar, which now permeates throughout the Hall Hacienda.  I’m going to let it all sit and recaulk it this weekend. 

In addition to my cleaning adventures, I went to Petco to scout out their filtration systems.  We have a fish store by our house, but it may be overpriced so I wanted to get some comparison pricing done. 

I also went to the library and got several books about aquariums and fishkeeping, including one called “Your Aquarium Week By Week” or something like that.  It tells how to get your tank set up and how not to kill your fish.  I need that.

Stay tuned.  Fish saga continues.

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