In my last post, I wrote about why I was getting back into fish keeping and entering aquascaping. The decision was made, now time for the action. How does one acquire an aquarium in the middle of a pandemic? Normally, I'd visit a few local fish stores (LFS) and find one that had a nice tank/stand/filter combo. During the pandemic that was, a little hard, to say the least. First, I didn't know of many local LFS. I recently moved from SF to Orinda, and this whole landscape was new to me. Second, this wasn't going to be an average, kid's-on-the-bookshelf tank or a basement-room-tank. It was going to reside in my living room. If not a focal piece, a definite point of attention. So I had to find something that looked good, was available during a pandemic, and would somehow arrive without requiring a crew of people.
I'm no longer 13, and aesthetics mean as much to me know as function did back then. To be fair, most of the aquarium stands out there are cheap (bad MDF or not even waterpoof) and don't look great. I didn't want that in my living room. The good looking stands are...well, good fucking luck finding them in stock. As is well documented, anything good pet-related in the pandemic is massively backordered or out of stock.
I found a decent Marineland 75 gallon setup at a LFS, but it only had the cornerflow setup (good for marine, bad for tropical) as well as the old stand. I did manage to find the 75 gallon Marineland high def ensemble kit at a local store (Concord Petsmart). I have a vehicle large enough to fit it (Allroad -- wagons rule), but it can't fit the stand, too. And even then how am I going to get it in there by myself? Staff won't help me carry it in there and hang on to the stand while I make a 45 minute round trip. Should I bring a friend to get it? With COVID19 and a 2 month old newborn? Yeah no probably not a great idea.
I did find a very nice all-in-one setup from Current USA called the Serene aquarium. In short, it's a great offering. Right off the bat, I'll admit that it's not cheap. But that doesn't mean it's a ripoff bad deal. You get a 65 gallon starfire rimless tank (blue/clear glass -- not green and no black corner braces), tested canister and heater circuit, RGB LED background lights, speakers with soothing tracks, a nice but not overpowering LED light, and a fantastic hardwood stand. Oh and freight shipping with everything assembled to your doorstep. TAKE MY MONEY! I know a lot of hobbyists will hate the price tag, but honestly, it's not a bad deal and Current has a hit on their hands. I have finite free time and I prefer to spend it with my family rather than getting everything right the first time. I could spend endless hours dicking with everything to make it just right and drilling shit in all the wrong places....or I could just pay a few hundred dollars for labor and have someone else do it. The fun part of fishkeeping is the fish -- not setting up your damn filter loop. Also, did I mention the doorstep shipping? Well, they're only obligated to bring it to your driveway curbside, but a decent tip helps them bring it down a steep driveway and look what shows up on my doorstep.
There are a few unboxing videos on the net about taking delivery of this setup, so I'll skip that. I'll just say that it's pretty easy to open up with a simple screwdriver. Steph and I were able to get the stand inside pretty easily. It's not light, but it's not bulky nor overly weighty. I got the stand into place and leveled out. I then went out and gave the tank a lift to judge the weight. No fucking way. At this point, I did some quick math on what a 65 gallon 11mm starfire aquarium would weigh -- over 200 lbs. A friend and I could possibly get it in, but man I'm too old for that shit. I punched up Lugg on my phone, and they got it in place an hour later for $40. Seriously some of the best money I spent. The tank was set down perfectly on its self-leveling mat with nary a half mm out of plumb.
In the next post, I'll write up my first foray into aquascaping and a few tips on getting started with this new field.
A NOLA native just trying to get by. I live in San Francisco and work as a digital plumber for the joint that runs this thing. (Square/Weebly) Thoughts are mine, not my company's.