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19/10/2017
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How Not to Build A Fish Shed

Preparing the Ground (Complete)

This was the original area of land. There was nothing other than a few aquatic plants living in the pond and the raised beds were unused and overgrown. The only thing I did with this bit of ground was strim it every couple of weeks in summer to keep the weeds down. A wasted Space....until now.


 

You can see the concreted wheelie bin area that was to be partially cut away to make way for the base. I decided to continue using the blue shed for garden tools, so it will be renovated a little during the course of events.


 

Workmen's tools ready to go, well...... a spade in the ground at least. I hired in labour to do the initial heavy work and cut/remove the concrete.


 

The blue shed has been re-roofed and concrete cut away. Pond, bushes and raised beds have been moved to the back garden. Ground levelled and raked.


 

Here I measured out the area for the base, checking it was square and equal with string to mark the edges and diagonals. After the ground was cleared, I had a 4-5cm drop over the 6 metre span, from right to left so needed to level it. 2 bulks bags of MOT Type 1 sub-base was ordered from the local builders merchant.


 

This was the 1st bulk bag of sub-base being laid & levelled by hand. 


 

And the 2nd bulk bag of sub-base, each small pile is a barrow load, 16 barrow loads to a bulk bag. One thing I learnt (after doing it) was that by using the rake normally I ended up grading the sub-base and this caused larger stones to end up on the left, where I raked to. If you are raking sub-base ie a mix of gravel and larger stones, it's more effective but slightly harder work to use the flat back-side of the rake.


 

There was a slight dip in the front left corner which had to be backfilled with some spare sand & gravel, which is why it's a different shade/colour. I then mechanically compacted and levelled the sub-base so that it was as solid as possible. The petrol compactor was hired for one day from HSS. Whether this was a fluke or not but I hired it on a Friday, but they do not collect machinery on a Saturday (when it was due to be returned) so it wasn't collected until Monday. I ended up getting it for 3 days for a 1 day hire. Also, always haggle on delivery, HSS were £12.50 each way to deliver this so £25 total. I quoted a local hire company that were £12.00 for both delivery and collection, so HSS matched it. All in this was £35.40 to hire with HSS dropping it off and picking up.


 

Now the ground was all level and flat, I could move onto laying the base. Before even levelling the ground, I had thought about several options for a stable base for the shed. As with many decisions I took into account it being done by myself, possibly with a little help and either able to be delivered or transportable in a medium sized hatchback. I have no access to vans, trailers or lorries. The typical solid base for a heavy shed would be a concrete slab. As I was starting from scratch, I priced this up for me to mix and pour it myself, and also for a pre-mixed 'pay for what you use' . I would need 1.5 cubic metres so if i went with 25kg bags and mixed it myself, I would have to shift 125 bags of cement, sand and gravel from the store to my car then to the garden, hire a mixer, mix it and pour it. I'm not lazy, but that's a lot of work ! The other option of getting it delivered pre-mixed worked out at £350 for the concrete, plus all my extras such as DPM, framework, sub-base. I think it came to around £600 all-in.

 The option I went for was a plastic grid system from a company called EcoDecks. They connect together and provide a stable and rigid base. They can optionally be filled with gravel, which I did, to strengthen them further and to be honest I wouldn't suggested doing them without gravel, both for looks and rigidity. OK, I am writing this after building them, but since putting them in place I have had no second thoughts. They are sturdy, stable and do not move. Even with the shed now in place they appear to have been the right choice based on time, effort and cost. As with many things preparation is the key, I did spend some effort making sure the area was dead level using a spririt level, before putting the eco-deck down. Some vidoes will show you it being laid on top of grass or bare earth, but they can never get them totally flat. With the work I put in before, the grids were level across the whole area and edges all met at the same height.

A grid of 18x12' (approx 5.5 x 3.5M) was £189 from Ecodeck's Ebay shop and this included a 100gsm membrane to lay under it

Before laying the whole grid pattern, I did a quick check that the plastic base sits level across the whole area. I moved this around several places and checked each time with a spirit level.


 

Here, the full plastic grid is laid out and again I checked it was all level. Each grid is 34” x 24” or 85cm x 62cm and 3.5cm deep. For this project I used a total grid area of 17' x 12', which was 6 x 6 grids. A Membrane was supplied and laid underneath. Each grid came with connecting pegs but they were bulky and with all the effort I'd made to get the sub-base level underneath, I was loathe to tear the membrane and dig little holes in it again for each peg, and there was 72 needed for this size of base. So each grid was cable tied to it's neighbour, twice on each edge. This is an alternative was suggested by the manufacturer.


 

This is where I started to add gravel to fill the base. They can be left empty but with the weight of shed I was adding, filling them was a much better and stronger solution and as mentioned earlier, I wouldn't recommend using them without being filled with gravel of some sort. Using the back side of the rake it was very easy fill it flush to the plastic grid.


 

The full grid is now covered in gravel and I've started out beyond the edges. I added additional membrane and eventually covered the grass/mud area you see at the front.


 

Just a close up of the plastic shed base grid. This (according to the manufacturers) can take 1000 tonne load bearing per square metre. I used 10mm gravel and it is suggested to use the more angular gravel so they bind together better. I used just over 1 bulk bag to cover the grid and approx 2 bulk bags to cover the whole area.


 

I've now spread the gravel across whole area, not just the base. The blue shed has new cladding and has been repainted.


Next Stage : Erecting the Shed

Erecting the Shed (Complete)

The Shed finally arrives ! 

This was a bit of a nightmare overall. I used a site called Trusted People to get a couple of quotes, as well as pricing sheds online. I'll not name the company on here but they were very nice people, a guy and his wife running the business, Alison and Jimmy. All went well with the conversations and agreed timescales etc. I paid a deposit (for materials) and waited for the shed. When I originally agreed the contract I asked why I should go with them instead of a slightly cheaper shed online and was told "Because we'll have this built in 4 days"

So I waited, and 4 days passed and a few more. When I called them they said one of the joiners had been sick that week, so they were a little behind and it would now be the start of next week. "Ok, I thought, not a problem" However the start of next week came and went and no shed. This was mid December and when I called them I was told their pipes had frozen in the workshop and they couldn't do any work.  FFS could it get and worse, well frankly yes it could. When I next called them for an update the pipes had defrosted but had flooded the yard and they were having to redo some of the shed floor because of the wet and therefore it was delayed further. I was then promised 1000% (sic) that it would be delivered and erected the day after Boxing Day. Jimmy was even going to be working on it on Boxing Day to make sure it was ready. Christmas came and went with all the usual festivities and on the 27th I waited for my shed....and guess what, nothing arrived. I called and was told that as they were loading the shed onto the trailer they realised the wheel nuts had been removed / stolen from the trailer. Jimmy was on his way to a trailer place in Stirling to pick some up and would be over once he fitted them.....but he never arrived and I got no further phone call that day. Then the snow came and nothing would happen, even if I chased it up with them. New year was upon us by this time, and if you know Scotland, eveything stops just before before and for a few days after New Year. So I gave up until 2018.

To my relief, I got a call the first working day of January to say they were on their way with my shed. Things were moving forward again and this time, as promised they actually turned up.


 

And there was no hanging about once they got here !

A 4x2 framed base was put down nice and quick. Due to all the complications of getting the shed delivered and even though I knew I should have done it at this stage, I made an oversight here and did not install insulation in between the floor joists. Later on there is an explanation of how I added insulation retrospectively, but if you are building a shed, make sure you install floor insulation at this stage, it saves some extra work later in the project or losing headroom by raising the internal floor.


 

The 18mm Plywood floor was laid and three walls went up. I'd asked for a thicker floor due to the weight of water that would be in here eventually.  It was chucking it down all day and quite windy but the team worked through it. You can see where they have braced the wall on the right against the fence to stop it moving in the wind before it was fixed in place


 

Now the front wall and roof joists have been added. The door is partially built (on left) but there are still bracers to be added to it.


 

The roof joists have been cut to size and framed to neaten them up.


 

This is inside the shed mid way through. Door hinges lying at the side, ready to be added as the door has still to be attached. The sarking is on the roof but no felt yet so the rain was still dripping through and it was open to the elements.


 

The roof felt has now been added and the door is on it's on hinges. A shed is built, all I need to do is convert it to a fish shed..easy !


 

Slightly later in timescale but more relevant to this stage of the build, I added an external PIR light for security and an external waterproof double socket for any garden tools etc. The wiring for them was installed before the internal insulation went on.


I also painted the joins in the felt roofing and where the nails had punctured it. I had noticed some damp on the inside of the roof, due to seepage between the felt sheets rather than an actual leak so this helped make sure it was all sealed and watertight from the outside.

It was actually a nice sunny day when I was doing the second coat, as can be seen from the rarely seen event in Paisley.... a blue sky.

Next Stage : Insulation

Insulation and Flooring (Complete)

I could now get started on the insides of the shed.

I will hopefully never see the inside of the cladding again, so it got a coat of wood treatment to try and help preserve it from moisture damage. I got the builder to leave it as it was going spare anyway from treating the outside.


 

As mentioned before, I had to add floor insulation after the shed was built. Initially I thought this was going to be troublesome or a difficult job to do retrospectively. I'd had suggestions ranging from using expanding spray foam, blowing in polystyrene balls (by machine, not myself) or even just leaving it as it was. However, after getting some advice I realised it was relatively easy to cut two of the central floor sheets over the middle of a joist and lift them. I knew where the joists were due to screw placement and I used a circular saw, set to just under 20mm cut depth to cut the 18mm boards. It meant leaving a section near the wall as that part of the board went under the shed walls so couldn't be removed. They had to be prised up so I could slide the insulation in and initially I was concerned that I might damage the board by bending it too much, but all went well and the boards moved enough, with a little leverage. 


 

After removing the two boards, I could slide 100mm polystyrene insulation between the floor and the ground. Sections of insulation went under the boards and most were so snug I had to use some wood and a mallet to knock then into place.

Balls, Balls, Balls ! No not an issue, it's just the polystrene crumbs get everywhere.


 

The floor insulation has been added and this is just before re-laying the plywood floor. Virtually no damage was done to the floor boards other than the two cuts I made, which are no more noticeable than typical joins between plywood boards.


 

The wall insulation finally arrives (Just before the snow did) This was another nightmare part of the project that involved credit card disputes due to non-delivery of insulation boards. Too much to go into here but 'supposedly' the company I ordered from went bust, although scam may be closer to the truth, I'm not sure. Luckily I had paid on my credit card, so the payment was stopped after a quick call to them. But this meant I had no insulation on order and a long lead time from everywhere online. After speaking to a friend (John, who got me a little discount) I ended up ordering boards from Jewsons who had them in stock and were able to deliver that day. With all the waiting for shed AND insulation, I was getting fed up, so even with the discount I still paid a little more than I intended for PIR boards, but it meant I would get them that afternoon. Jewson's lived up to their promise and 14 sheets of 50mm and 5 sheets of 70mm thick Recitcel insulation boards have arrived and are stacked, ready to be installed. An hour after this photo there was 2 inches of snow everywhere !


A White Out !


No snow inside, so I could carry on.

These boards are easy to cut, but are very dusty so wear a mask and possibly even eye cover. Measure the height and width between the shed frames then mark & cut board with a saw, like a proverbial knife through butter. I made sure I measured at the top and bottom of each frame as most of them were slightly different widths (it's a shed after all, not a millimetre perfect design house)


 

The panels were fitted as snugly as possible to reduce draughts. I prefered to be slightly over with my cut as the boards are relatively forgiving if you need to remove a little more and the last thing I wanted was loose boards. A little trick I learnt was if the board is slightly too snug then run the saw between the board and the wood frame you are trying to fit it beside. The boards are that easy to cut the saw doesn't damage the wood but removes enough of the board to allow it to fit.The aim was to add expanding foam to any gaps and tape up the joins with aluminium foil.


 

To keep an airgap between the cladding and insulation to allow it to breathe and disperse moisture, I added 3 spacers per section, top middle and bottom. I tried grab adhesive and sealant but it was cold that day and they did not grip so I ended up putting a screw in each to hold them in place, making sure the screws did not penetrate the outside of the shed cladding.


 

It's suprising how quickly the offcuts mount up and this was probably only half way thorugh installing the insulation. I was being quite efficient with the boards as well. I wasn't too worried as they will come in handy for the door and filling other smaller areas.


 

I did go back and fill any gaps with expanding foam. It was all cut away and smoothed before taping over it, not the squiggly wavy piece of foam that you see here. There were a lot less gaps than I had anticipated so I used far less foam than I purchased, less than a can.


 

This foil tape is really just to hold the boards in place and reduce draughts, it's not part of my vapour barrier. I'd read that the tape, over time, can come away from wood so I stapled it in several places on each frame to help keep it in place.


 

The tape was quite easy to use, but crinkled very easily once it was off the backing paper. The best way was to pull the backing off as you slid the foil down the frame.

As it's designed to do, it stuck really well to the boards, so just need a quick smooth over with my hand.


 

I couldn't make up my mind about the roof insulation. Originally I was just going to put the 70mm insulation boards in between the joists, as I did with the walls. However, this would have created a cold-bridge from the joists as they were in contact with the outside sarking of the roof and also the internal room. I finally opted to put 60mm of Rockwool in between the joists and then the 70mm insulation boards went across the undersides of the joists. I had enough headroom and this eliminated the cold-bridge.

Get your head round this : I got the Rockwool from CCF in Govan, which is linked to Insulation Giant, which is part of Travis Perkins. Travis Perkins are expensive from a one off DIYer point of view, Insulation Giant are very competitively priced but are online only but they ship everything via CCF. CCF do not have prices on their website and you need an account to price things up. However walk into a CCF branch and you can buy everything at almost identical prices to Insulation Giant. I got 3 packs of Rockwool RW3, which is 18 slabs of 1200 x 600 x 60 mm for pennies over £62, cheaper than ebay !


 

The RW3 Rockwool is semi-rigid so the slabs were cut to fit snugly, the same as the PIR boards and were held in place by fricton before I attached the insulation boards. It's not obvious in the image but this still left me with a clear airgap between the Rockwool and roof sarking. Working with the slabs above my head, this was definitely a time for a mask and eye protection.


 

4 Rockwool slabs were the same area as 1 insulation board so I worked in those stages. To keep the 70mm Insulation boards in place I used 90mm screws and 40mm penny washers. I marked where the joists were then added pilot holes through the boards, before screwing them in place.


 

A close up of the washers used to hold the sheets in place, they are rock solid up there and the washers spread the strain of the screw.


 

Two of the five sheets used for the roof are now in place and the air-gap is a little more clear in this image. The next day I added another two boards alongside these. The last row was only about 60cm wide so I had to remove the screws on the middle boards to allow me to squeeze the top row in place. Again everything fitted really snugly.


 

It's now starting to look a lot less like a shed and more like......like something else. All the insulation boards are in place and the majority of them have been foil taped. I caulked round the bottom of the shed frame as there were obvious draughts, I also caulked the joins in the floor boards where I'd cut them to install the insulation. 


 

I've temporarily screwed a piece of OSB to the upper part of the wall, ready for my CU and other electrics. Another layer of foil insulation is to go in before the board is permanently screwed in place. The aim is for the armoured cable to come through the shed wall directly below here and you can see the section of insulation that is still not fully in place at the bottom. I wanted to get on with things before the electricity was installed, but also tried to reduce the amount of re-work or damage to insulation once it was in place. You can also see another unfinished section above the door. As of writing this I am still not sure whether to add some form of ventilation now, or wait until later and add it retrospectively if I find condensation and humidity is building up. I used spare insulation cut-offs to cover the door and siliconed them in place. The door was then covered in bubble foil insulation and stapled on. An internal bolt was added to help keep the door shut whilst I was inside.


 

You can see here, that I wrapped the bubble foil insulation round the edge of the door. It may rub over time as it is quite a tight fit, but the foil insulation is cheap and can be replaced in 5 mins. I made sure the door could be opened and closed before finally attaching it.


 

This is looking at the door frame from the outside. I added an overlapping flap of bubble foil insulation on the inside to help reduce any draughts. I had this single foil stuff spare from a previous project but also bought new double backed bubble foil for lining the shed. The single foil was used here as I was really 'testing it out' so I have now replaced the flaps with the double sided foil as it looks slightly better.


 

As the insulation was not far from being completed, I put in an oil-filled radiator, to see how it got on. This was after a couple of hours, so I am getting there. The room is totally empty this now and air retains heat a lot less than water, so once there are tanks and fish everywhere the room will stay warmer longer, or that is the theory


For flooring I had opted for a sheet of vinyl. It had been suggested to tile it for a more permanent floor, but again I balanced my skills, time and money and chose a single sheet of vinyl to cover the whole areas without joins. This is where another pallaver started ! 

I ordered the vinyl from ebay but from a bricks and morter Company. It was due to be delivered on a Tuesday, but I noticed on the tracking that it was delyed due to an accident/breakdown with the couriers. Not a big issue and it arrived reasonably early on the Wednesday, so I wasn't too put out too much. I then unrolled it to allow it to acclimatise to the room, and noticed it was too short. My first thought was that I had made a mistake and ordered the smaller size so out came the tape measure, twice and it was definitely only 4.24m when I had ordered 4.75m. I got on the phone to the company who were apologetic and said they would replace it on Friday, so I would have to wait another two days. Friday came and the courier swapped over the rolls. It was the same driver so we had a little laugh about the mistake and off he went. So, again I rolled out the vinyl, or started to... I quickly realised this sheet was damaged, by something corner-like and heavy enough to go through 3 layers of vinyl. On the phone again and another 2 days wait for another piece of vinyl. I was not happy at this point as there were several other task that couldn't be done until the vinyl was down and walkable on.

I feel I have spent a lot more time waiting for things to arrive when they haven't or are wrong once they get here. I would of had this finished a lot quicker if deliveries had been on time and accurate.

Next update will be when the 3rd Vinyl sheet arrives...

And the 3rd piece arrived and was wrong ! The courier dropped off a 2m x 2m piece of vinyl that was meant for a customer in Portsmouth.

You couldn't make it up, especially as I had seen online that they were now out of stock of that particular type/color of vinyl. However, after a lengthy conversation with a Manager, I was offered a higher value vinyl and a 50% discount. 

And finally it was correct, the 4th piece of vinyl arrived and was thankfully exactly as I expected.

So it got layed out for a day to acclimatise it to the room before I got down to glueing it to the sub-floor.

I rolled half of it back and spread the glue. I used a little too much glue on the first half, but it has not had an impact on the smoothness of the floor. This was before it had the 10-15 mins to go 'off'


 

And this was the second half, with the glue having gone 'off' a little and pretty much ready to lay the vinyl back down.


 

I wanted the vinyl to come up the sides, to provide a certain amount of water retention if I have a large spillage. The corners were cut and I sealed them with silicone later on.


 

Once the glue had dried (next day) I went round and foil taped the join between the vinyl and the wall.


 

Vinyl Flooring is in place !


 

So now the floor was laid, I moved on to adding the last layer of double foil bubble insulation. This section overlaps with some internal electrical work as I ran some wiring behind the insulation to try and keep it neat.

This was the first level of foil insulation, which I wrapped in one continuous strip. I kept it above the floor level, around the same height the vinyl stopped.


 

  The second level was then fitted, with wiring that I had already fitted, poking through. As my roof sloped from front to back, I cut the insulation to follow the line of the slope. You can see it hanging loose, below


All ready for the racks to be built

Services to the Shed (Complete)

I live in a 1st floor flat so it wasn't going to be the easiest of tasks getting water and electricity to the shed. I had to get down a floor level, along the length of the building and across a path and concreted area. With some advice from my Gurus, John & Frank, we worked out a route from the eaves of the building, following a downpipe and along to a point it can be buried to go under the path.

I have recently had external insulation added to the the walls, which added to the challenge.

Even though it's a private home, the Council paid for them all to get done so who was I to refuse a warmer house.

It did mean that had to run the cables and pipes where the insulation stopped, however there were 'gaps' where the original sewer pipes are, so I followed their route. You can see the red arrows marking the route I have taken.


 

Being on the 1st floor, I have access to the loft area and already have an adapted 50 gallon reservoir that is HMA filtered so I saw little point in trying to make a new connection to the mains supply and the aim is to gravity feed the shed from that reservoir (time will tell if it works). A few years ago my downstairs neighbours changed their heating and incoming water, so no longer use the cold water and header tank that were in the loft and all the plumbing was disconnected. I am already using the cold water storage as my reservoir, so realised I could remove the overflow from the header tank (that is empty and disconnected) and use that hole in my eaves as an exit point for cables and pipes. This meant I did not have to cut additional holes in walls or eaves.


 

For power, I am using 4mm armoured cable or SWA. I checked the core size I needed using this calculator on TLC Direct's website. It recommended 2.5mm so I upgraded it to 4mm to allow me leeway with my power requirements. After checking the local suppliers (Screwfix, Toolstation etc) and also Ebay, I ended up finding the best price from a company called Superlec. I did a rough calculation of the length I would need, added 5% and it came to 30M, so I ordered 35M to be safe. It was £1.57 a metre, so I felt it was better to be safe than sorry, I did not want to have it delivered to find it was a few metres short. In the long run I ordered far too much and I must visually under estimate what a metre is. From my test run I would say I am 10M over, but this will be perfect as I have a polytunnel in the back garden that might end up being 'electrified' if the remaining cable is long enough.

For water, I am using standard 25mm blue MDPE. This feeds off the out tap of the reservoir and all I needed to do was cut the original copper pipe (making sure it was the right one) and put in an adaptor. This gave me a stopcock in the house as additional safety if there were water issues between there and the shed.

I got the pipe from Screwfix, for 50M lengths they were as well priced as anywhere. I was ordering some other things for the shed so got free next day delivery. However, all the fittings and connectors came from www.waterirrigation.co.uk as they were cheaper. I was getting drip pipes and emitters for the water change system, so ordered the 25mm elbows and Tees that I needed, at the same time.

I am also running an ethernet cable into the shed. Due to all the foil, there is not a good connection and I cannot pick up my wifi, so weather proof cable will connecto to my router in the house.


 

So whilst waiting for some other things to arrive, I got started digging the trench for the cables and pipes. Here, I have dug it 450mm deep (marker on the wood post). Water should be deeper but 3/4 of my pipework is above ground anyway so they are other parts of  the pipe at higher risk of freezing. Also, I know armoured cable is quite happy to be buried but all the advice I have been given is it's best to duct it in case it needs removed or something added/changed. 


 

This plastic pipe shows the direct path between the two trenches. I was not going to dig up the concrete so I had two options : My neighbours were ok with me digging a trench in their garden (other side of the wooden fence) so I could follow the red route and dig about 8M of trench through their garden, along the path and about 2M beyond the white wall at the back. Option two was to tunnel directly between the two points, under the concrete, following the blue line.


 

This was the area behind the white wall, a trench would be dug here between the grey pipe insulation and where the pvc pipe is


I was going to buy some 94/110mm ducting that comes in 6 metre lengths but my pal John dropped off some 63mm Electrical ducting (and a ladder for later use). It came coiled like a spring even when untied.


 

A quick solution to this was seal up one end and put some very hot water down the pipe and it became flexible enough to straighten as much as I needed it, I just left the bricks to hold it in place whilst I got on with other things.


 

The next thing was to get the ducting into the ground. I saw a few videos on youtube showing how to tunnel under driveways and paths with proper tools and boring equipment, but I also found some with it being done with hosepipe and plastic pipes. So trying to reduce the labour of digging longer trenches, I tried tunneling. I dug a short trench at the other side of the concreted area, at the correct angle to meet the corner of the shed. I then started hammering and pushing pvc pipe in.


I got about a foot in each end, but kept coming across larger stones and unseen obstacles. Hammering the pipe, flushing water through it nor the jet nozzle on the hose made much impact. I also realised that by trying to go from each end, it would be a challenge trying to match up the two tunnels. I know they managed it with the Channel Tunnel, but that was seen as some achievement and I wasn't using quite the same level of technology. The videos I had watched showed it being done, in most cases where you were at roughly the same level as the hole you were tunneling. I was 50cm down a narrow trench, at arms length so could not get a longer piece of pipe into the trench and lie it flat.

At this stage, I decided to halt the tunnelling expedition and just to dig the trench through the garden. Greater effort needed but it was a more realistic result. A quick double check that my accommodating neighbours were ok about it and I got digging. Half the depth of the trench was hardcore/rubble which needed my mini pickaxe/mattock to break up, but once I got past that, it was relatively sandy and easy to dig with the spade. Just awkward due to the tightness of the trench.

I got it dug in a few hours, with at least a tea break, and below you can see the ducting partly in place. I was making sure it would bend round where I circumvented the concrete.


 

At the Shed side, I had to dig under one of the plastic grids to feed the ducting through (the grid propped up was a spare that was under my door area and wasn't providing any support, it was just moved so I could rake away the gravel).

It was a bit of a challenge bending, without kinking, the ducting so it came up through the plastic grid.

One a side note: I wish I'd bought that green mini mattock before, for £5 it was very handy in confined trenches.


 

In hindsight I didn't need to do this, but here I am feeding a pull-cord through the ducting. Tie it to a rag or cloth and then put the nozzle of a vacuum on the other end and it sucks it through in seconds. The first time it was so quick I missed it and it flew into the vacuum.

Only after I did this did I realise that both the armoured and ethernet cables were rigid enough just to push through the ducting on their own and didn't need pulled. At least the pull-cords are there in case I need to run another cable, better safe than sorry.


 

A slightly dirtier than went in rag comes out the other side. I suppose it helped clean the ducting before running the cable.


 

Here, I've got my blue water pipe in place as well. I'd just hosed down the area in front so there was water pooling in the trench and it was still wet from my failed tunneling efforts. This will all soak away before long.


 

The bricks are just to help hold the ducting down whilst I was working on them, it always wanted to spring back up, so these held it in place until the trench was filled back in.


 

A little bit muddy, a little bit bloody and a little bit dark by the time I got finished that night.

1 = 4mm armoured cable

2 = Cat5 Ethernet

3 = 25mm MDPE Water

The holes in the shed have now been filled with sealant and ducting ends are sealed with expanding foam.

Internal Water and Air (Complete)

My air system runs right round the room, and also drops down at each rack in an extra loop, this allows equal pressure at the lower tanks as well as higher up ones



I have put in a T piece for the connection to my air pump/blower. 


 

I bought the blower from a German seller on Ebay for £106 inc postage. Only 90w power but 36mper hour air which is more than enough to supply the 132 sponge filters I have 


 

Here you can also see my incoming drip system for fresh water in the black pipes.


 

The water is fed from a 50 gallon reservoir in my loft using blue MDPE pipe and is HMA filtered. It then splits into smaller bore pipes to each of the racks. All these pipes are now fully clad to avoid condensation of warm air on cold pipes


 

The water then drips into each container and overflows at the back


 

Overflows were drilled with a wood hole saw and irrigaton elbows screwed in.


 

Here you can see the T Pieces that allow the overflows to drain away. This drains to a soakaway that I have dug several metres away in another part of my garden. Hopefully the nutrients in the water will have a positive effect on the plants around the soakaway.


 

After all this work in setting up water, I was getting huge amounts of condensation. I had lots of warm moist air in an enclosed space and cooler surfaces so it wasn't really a surprise.

After a bit of reading online to see what others in a similar situation had done, I installed this dehumidifier which solved the problem and also heats the room to a suitable temperature, so I have removed the oil filled radiator. This is only 300w so less power than the radiator and does two jobs, an almost perfect solution for a £40 second hand Gumtree buy.


 

Internal Electrics (In Progress)

As the last layer of bubble foil insulation was being added, I ran some of the electrical wiring behnd it, so that it was hidden as much as possible, without making it impossible to access.


 

I've also wired up the LED light for the work area, and the external PIR light. I put a weatherproof switch in here, as there is a possibility my hands may be wet when entering or leaving the shed.

The armoured cable can be seen coming out from behind the insulation ready to be glanded into the CU which will be above and to the left.


 

I set up the double sockets, to make sure they were positioned ok before I wired them up. The cable on the right comes from the CU and the left cable runs along the wall to the next set of sockets.

And with the Cables tidied


 

This, on the far wall are the other sets of sockets. The right hand cable is leading from the previous sockets and the left cable leads to the external double socket I previously installed. There will be a rack for tanks to the left, the right and in between the pairs of double sockets.


One of the items I added once the electrics were complete was a 'Smart' Humidity and Temperature Monitor. Plugs into WiFi and gives me remote readings on my phone

This is the base unit plugged in, to the right of the air blower

And this is the reading I get on my phone

 

More To Come .....

(Consumer Unit to be wired up)

 

Racking & Tanks (Complete)

This was the delivery of wood for the Racking, they are going to be hand built so hopefully straight and level blush


 

I started off by building the A Frames, abd then laid planks along as support shelves. As the planks were the full length of the rack, I realised I would have to build each level at a time, rather than all the horizontal supports on the A Frame then add the planks.You can see my paper plans at the bottom. Some people will build 'off the cuff' but I prefer to plan and calculate sizes so each of the three racks were drawn out on paper beforehand.


 

Each time I added a horizontal support, I checked it was level. As there is a slight slope in the shed I have accounted for that in the racking, so the tanks are level. Lots of screws needed for this stage, and a fully charged electric drill.


 

1st tier of shelving added


 

Once I got started I got into the swing of adding each tier. This is the first rack almost finished


 

And a coat of black paint on the frame (the shelves will be covered)


 

The shelves were then covered with silver foil and stapled in place. I used this as I had is spare and it helps waterproof/insulate the bottom of the tanks


 

1st Rack more or less complete

With a few tank in place to check.


 

On to the second rack, same process building up from the bottom


 

All 5 tiers in place


 

And painted


 

In place, with foil on shelving and tarpaulin removed


 

This was the view of the room at that stage although there is still another rack to go into the middle 


 

Under each shelf (or above each row of tanks) I have LED string lights. They are one continuous loop round the room (65w total power). They are neon glow so not the harsh birght LED lights but a softer background glow. Not bright enough for me, but enough for the fish during the day when I am not present.

 

 


 

I was impatient by this stage, so moved most of my fish in before completing the middle rack. The tanks on the left have fish in them but construction is ongoing for rack 3


 

2nd and 3rd tiers added, again smaller breeder tanks in the background already have fish in them.


 

Almost painted

 


 

I've created a workbench area at the end of this rack. Somewhere for me to work along with not being totally opressive by entering the shed and being confronted by racks.


 

Another test setup, checking containers and tanks fitted


 

I had originally planned for these glass tanks to be at the bottom of the middle rack, but they didn't fit in with my drainage plans, so they are now outside being used for daphnia cultures and I have put in other containers. You can see the black drainage pipes for outgoing water although they have yet to be plumbed in.


 

Along the bottom of each rack are 3 x 3ft glass tanks, so I had to drill them. Now I've done it several times, I wouldn't think twice but after buying the diamond hole saw, I was a little nervous I might chip or break a tank. This 25mm hole saw, fitted the outflows I was using, always check you are drilling the right sized hole as you can't go back and it's difficult to change the size of the hole once made.


 

Before I started I watched a few youtube videos, so had my drill, water and template ready. The glass was taped behind where I was cutting to stop the hole from dropping out and possibly damaging the tank.


 

Using only the weight of the drill it took a couple of minutes to grind through, topping up the water regularly.


 

Checking every now and then to make sure all was good. Once there was a decent groove I did not need the template.


 

And once completed an overflow was screwed in and hose leads to the drain (I have since replaced the hole in the black pipe with a T piece that the hose fits into)


I needed a couple of tanks built for the bottom row and once they were here I finished off the last secton of racking. A little bit of satisfaction (and reflief) that I had no more construction, drilling or building to do


 

The Shed at Present

Latest images from 29/05/18

Left Hand & Middle Racks


 

Middle & Right Hand Racks

Everyone that has a Fish Shed or Room, knows that this is a never ending project.

There will always be updates, changes and hopefully improvements in the future

My Fishroom

My Fishroom (A 360 View) - Outdated

This is a 360 view of my fishroom (taken a couple of years ago now so things have changed a little)

The smaller tanks hold pairs, the lower wider tanks hold fry and the bottom tanks hold separated males and females.


My 'Room' is in the process of being replaced by a shed with far more space and usability, please see the topmost FAQ "How not to build a fish shed"

 

 

DIY Breeding Tanks

1st written in April 2013 on guppies.com

As part of the re-design of my fishroom I decided to DIY my own guppy breeder tanks. Some inspiration was taken from forum threads online.

This is the guide I wrote on how to create them

Tools I Needed
Drill
Pipe Cutter
Hot Glue Gun
Scissors

Parts I needed
Storage tub
sponge filter
22mm plumbing pipe (approx 12cm)
short piece of airline (approx 30cm)
airstone


I started with a JML108 plastic container (available in UK for around £1.50)
They are 8 Litre food grade plastic and come with clear lids.
I would have preferred slightly larger ones but the next size up (that I could find) were not see through enough and the next size after that (16 litre) meant I could not fit 3 in a row on my shelving so I opted for these, accepting I would need slightly more water changes and fewer fish per tank.

I drilled a small hole in the lid for the airline to feed through

I'd previously cut a short piece of 22mm plumbing pipe. It is about 12cm long (a few cm less than the height of the tub/water level) I also drilled lots of small holes through it for waterflow.

This was then hot glued to the base of the container, leaving enough room for the sponge filter to be fitted.
I have previouly tried the same bit of pipe with a marble siliconed into the bottom to act as a weight and a end stop. but they moved about too much in the containers so it was better to permanently glue them in place. The sponges are still easily removed for cleaning.

 

I have no idea what filter the sponges I used were originally meant for but I got them cheap on ebay and cutting them in half made them a perfect fit for these tubs.

They also fit perfectly over the 22mm pipe !

Adding the airstone and airline give me my own built in sponge filter.

(Update : I have since stopped using an airstone and just bubble air through the airline)

Pretty much the finished article :-

I also mark a line at the front of the tub in permanent ink to show where removing 30% of the water would be so that I don't have to measure each time I do a change. 

And here's three of them in a row after being cycled with filter squeezes from other tanks.

I add java moss for cover and the net pots contain oyster shells which is my latest guess-attempt at helping change the really soft water I have without any additional effort from me. I didn't like the whole container having shells at the bottom as it got dirty too easily and was difficult to clean without removing the container and fully emptying it out. (Update : I no longer have oyster shells and just add water hardeners when I am doing a water change)

I label what fish are in there with short pieces of masking tape (seen on left tub in pic above) as well as the electronic records I keep. I tried writing it straight onto the container with non-permanent/whiteboard pens but it faded or smudged too easily. If I move a fish from one tub to another I can just peel off the bit of tape and stick it to the new tank 

They can be moved about from one shelf to another and as I run an airline round the room it's easy to take a feed and plug the container in anywhere.
I think all in each one cost me about £2.50 plus 5 minutes of my time.

Hopefully it might inspire someone else to do something similar

DIY Aquarium Background

1st written in Oct 2011 on TFF

A month or so ago I completed my first DIY Background for a tank I was revamping. I did quite a bit of reading up online before starting it so had a fair idea of what I wanted to and had to do.
My tank is 30G and has two braces on the top so I couldn't do one big background so opted for several smaller pieces that I could fit in between the gaps.
I am not creative and have had failed attempts at DIY things before so wasn't entirely sure if it would turn out as I intended.

Unfortunately I never took photos as I was building it as I hadn't signed up here but I've taken some shots of it now and the polystyrene I used to build it.


The materials were : 
A few spare sheets of 1 inch thick polystyrene (You can get them at DIY stores as insulation sheets or smaller sheets are used as fish box insulation)
Aquarium Silicone
Portland Cement

The only tools I used were a kitchen knife to cut the sheets and a paintbrush to apply the cement

As I was creating small sections I cut the sheets into shapes, using a straight edge as the back of my rock formation so I could silicone that to the tank sides. I cut several semi circular sort of shapes but sort of waved as I cut it. a bit like this

These are some of the spare bits of sheet so they are not the shapes I used but you can see the thickness and roughness of the edges.

I didn't care about how careful I was cutting it as the concrete will soften/smoothen everything up 
I then glued these in layers of 2 or 3 to get a small rock outcrop effect and left the silicone to cure for 24hrs.
I also built a large vertical corner section to hide my heater and overflow and that was just built up using the same sheets layer on layer until I reached the height of my tank. occasionally missing a bit so there were gaps for water flow. The best was I could describe it was like building a 2 sided jenga tower whilst glueing it together.

Once all the silicone had dried, I started painting it with cement. I did about 4 layers in all and each one got slightly thicker consistency. The first was like milk and the last was like thick soup. I just did it on the kitchen floor on newspaper and left it for about a day for each layer to cure. I did add a bit of cement pigment but noticed that the different thicknesses of concrete mix had different hues anyway. My end result is a bit camouflage looking (as you will see)

After it had all dried, several days later, I siliconed the sections into my tank. I used some of the smaller bits on the floor to come up out of the gravel and also cut a couple of flat single sheets at an angle  (like the big bit in the pic above) so they stuck out at that angle from the floor. I left the silicone to cure (again) and then filled the tank to check they were secure.
All OK !

I then did about 7 or 8 refills of my tank over 3 weeks as the concrete leaches into the water and raises the ph. mine was at 10.5 or so for a while before it started coming down. I was getting frustrated after the 3rd or 4th refill and read that baking soda helped. I added some and not sure if it was that or just another few refills but it did eventually stop rising and stay the same as my tap water.
I don't think there is anything you can do to get around this. It takes time and multiple refills of the tank.

I put a few 'test' fish in after that and since then everything has been fine with no concerns over water quality. Tests are spot on and fish are healthy.

So unfortunately no in-build photo's but here's the completed tank. The few plants are poor specimens from fleabay and I'm glad my own sword plant has started sending out runners that I am growing on and are much healthier than these so I won't need to buy again.

The Completed Tank

The heater and overflow part on the left (Jenga Tower) with pieces on the floor and back wall

 

Floor and lower back section

The back

 

The sloping pieces (although taken from wrong angle as they are sloping towards you)

I've probably missed loads out but what I hope what I've said makes sense. Overall it came out a lot better than I had hoped. The tank back is black so I think the outcrops do really seem to stick out, but don't take up much space and I really like the sloping pieces.

I did take a while but was several small tasks with waiting in between, so did need some patience.

Breeding Guppies

Guppy Birth (Video)

This is a video of a female guppy giving birth, then attempting (possibly successfully) to eat the fry

Choosing Female Breeding Stock

This will explain the best characteristics to look for when choosing females to breed with.

Choosing Male Breeding Stock

When breeding with sepcific males (rather than community breeding) these are the main factors I believe you should take into account :

Finnage

Shows standards have minumum sizes for tail and dorsal fins, so if you are breeding a specific strain those should be met with any breeding males. If you are breeding a cross then  look for as full and long a dorsal fin and again a full tail. Do not breed with males that have deformed fins or ragged edges (unless it is a swallow tail)

Colour

This is based either on personal choice or strain specific guidelines. Strain specific characteristics should be looked for in breeding males, for instance with Black Moscow you look for a dark black without hints of blue or green and the body should be as fully black as possible (usually there is some silver underbelly) If you want to keep a certain colour or marking from a male, mate him to a female but remove and ignore the first drop since pairing them and grow the fry on in a separate tank (so you know which ones they are) Then mate the father to one of the female offspring and you should start to see similar makrings on the male offspring of that second mating (F2) The more generation you can do this, the more you can 'fix' a colour or set of markings

Body

Males need to do two things in life; Show Off and Mate. You need to look for a male that has a strong caudal peduncle so it can carry his tail. A reasonable but not too deep chest and smooth body lines. As with finnage, do not breed with any male that shows a deformity as you do not know if it is hereditary or not and should not take the risk

Parentage

Knowing the lineage of a fish is especially important with pure strains. I have seen many pairs of guppies sold as a strain only to see fry that have no resemblance to the parents. this can be frustrating if you are trying to breed true strains. Knowing and trusting the breeder you get your fish from is important, although not as easy when it comes to shipped fish. Store bought random guppies often look as good as pure strains, and will give lovely colours of fry but it is pot luck as to what you get.

 

More To Come

   

Culturing Live Foods

White Worm Care Sheet

Grindal Worm Care Sheet

(Enchytraeus Albidus)

 

White Worms (Enchytraeus Albidus) are type of non-parasitic annelid that are the cousins to red worm and the Grindal worm. They are the larger version of the Grindal worm used by aquarist. The mentioned study of white worms has been dated as far back as the early 1800’s. White worms usually reach the length of 2-3cm long and 1mm wide. They reproduce hermaphroditically in that they have both male and female reproductive organs. White worms produce cocoons that contain 9-35 eggs. Each White worm can produce over 1000 eggs in its life span. Each egg takes about 12 days to hatch out into tiny white worms that by day 20 are ready to start reproducing. White worms survive best in cool temperatures, unlike its cousin the Grindal worm. White worms reproduce best at around 50 – 68 degrees Fahrenheit, and start to die off at 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

All you will need to get your culture up and running is some sterile compost or coco-coir, a little food (such as dry cat/dog food, oatmeal or stale bread) a plastic container (something like an old margarine or ice cream tub, or a microwaveable food storage container).

Mix up some compost or coco-coir with water so that it is damp but not wet and add it to your container. Add the White Worm Starter Culture and provide a little food. Only a small amount is needed at first and you should only feed your culture with an amount that will be eaten with 24-48hrs

Punch some small holes in the lid of the container using something like a small nail, tack or pin. White Worms need some oxygen to survive but you do not want huge holes for other bugs or flies to enter through.

Initially the starter culture will take a little longer to get started, but once it is matured you will get a steady supply of worms, almost every day. After a few days you will start to see worms wriggling all through the culture and you can start harvesting them. One method is to place a piece of plastic on top of the food and the worms will crawl between them and you can lift the plastic and rinse them off, leaving most or all the food in the culture.

It is adviseable to have at least two cultures running that have been set up a week or two apart, just in case one crashes. Although these cultures are virtually indestructible and I have left them until they are brown and smelly, yet they have still bounced back once I have cleaned them out and added a small bit of the old culture to a new mixture.

Happy Culturing

Hyalella Azteca

Culturing Hyalella azteca couldn't be easier. Grab a small tank or plastic container and add a cycled sponge filter.

Do weekly water changes and remove any uneaten food before it goes bad and fouls the water

They love fresh vegetables, especially cucumber. They will eat almost any fish foods and also eat java moss right back to the bare stems so add any plants with this prior knowledge

I do not use a substrate but small sized gravel gives them additional places to bury into and hide.

They can survive most indoor UK temperatures but for best productivity I would suggest 20-25c

 

Culturing Springtails

Springtails are very easy to keep and can be cultured in a small plastic container without causing any inconvenience. Keep them moist and feed them a little food every now and they and they can be harvested easily and fed to your pet.
Being a live food, they help make your pet's diet more natural, without risking contaminants from the wild. They also trigger natural feeding instincts that can often trigger spawning or breeding in some species. 

There are several different ways to successfully culturing Springtails but I have found the easiest to be the following :

Take a medium sized plastic container, the smallest I would consider would be a microwavable tub (like you get take away food in) up to a shoe box sized container.

Add about 5cm of coco-coir, this is sold as repltile bedding in pet shops or soil improver in garden centres. It expands after water is added so you don't need much. The bedding shout be damp but not soaking (squeezing it should only cause a few drops of water to come out)

Put your starter colony into the container, making sure all the bedding and springtails have been removed from the bag.

Add a small amount of food and leave them for a few days to let them setttle in.

After that, feed them only when the last lot of food has been used up.

 I feed my Springtails two foods : Cucumber and my own Springtail Powder, this can be purchased in the online shop or on Ebay. They absolutely love both and reproduction rates are very good.

To harvest the springtails, you want to gather then with as little substrate as possible. One trick I have found is to use one of the small plastic media balls that you put in filters. The springtails climb on those and all you need to do is lift it out and tap them into a container. Remove any bits of bedding and they are ready to feed, nice and simple.

Springtails do not break the water tension, so they will always float, and I mean always. These are only useful for feeding to surface feeding fish, middle or bottom feeders will never get to them.

In my opinion they are a very easy food source to culture and can give you and everlasting supply of live food

 

Blackworm Cultures

Live blackworms rank among the best food that you can feed to your fish. Not only are they rich in protein and nutrients, but they can survive for an indefinite periods of time in a freshwater tank, which means that unlike other foods, they will never foul the water and will live until eaten by your fish.

They are also hardier than many of the other live foods, and aren't nearly as prone to large die offs as daphnia or adult brine shrimp. Of course this hardiness comes with a downside, and they don't reproduce as quickly as other commonly available live foods.

Harvesting blackworms is quite simple, and you can use either a pipette, or a turkey baster if you need a large number of worms. Any worms harvested should be rinsed off before you put them in the tank, and try to avoid feeding too many worms at once to the fish. 

If you just want to store blackworms for a short period, to feed to your fish they can be kept in a airtight container in a cool part of the home. they will survive several weeks with periodic water changes in a relatively small container.

If you want to culture these then firstly be prepared for a longer term investment. They are not the fastest reproducing culture you can use. However they do provide one of the best nutricious sources you can feed you fish.

You can read online several way of culturing them, such as the paper towel method but through trial and error I have found the coarse filter sponges provide an excellent home for them. Colour doesn't matter but the coarser the better. You can buy these for a few pounds online and cut them to size. The water should only be a few inches deeper than the top of the sponges and you will find that the worms congregate near the top, sometimes amassing in groups or clumps.

Blackworms reproduce in two ways, Sexually and through dissection. Sexual breeding can be a slower process so a little trick to encourage dissection is to use a strong airstone or bubbler, or even cut them up yourself. If a blackworm is split into two parts, both will grow into full worms, theoretically doubling your population. Not something I personally practise but it is an option.

The worms should get regular water changes, as you would with normal aquaria and it can be useful to add a ramshorn snail or two so that infusoria is created, the worms will filter these as food. Some for of aeration should be used (airstone or bubling airline) Do not use a filter as the worms will populate the sponge and become difficult to remove.

A fully grown Blackworm is about 5-6cm long so can be a full and healthy meal for a fish. They are well worth the effort and will help bring fish into breeding condition.

As will all live foods they should be fed in moderation and not used as a staple diet. Variety is the key to healthy fish.

Banana Worm Care Sheet

Banana Worm Care Sheet

 (Panagrellus Nepenthicola)

 

A Banana Worm is actually not a worm at all, but called a worm because of their minute size and worm like appearance. Banana Worms are actually a species of nematode, which grows on average to 1.5mm or less or a little smaller in size than the Microworm. They are a slightly more productive worm than microworms. Banana Worms are white-clear and have a worm like shape and movement. They are non-parasitic and live off of the bacteria and yeast from the culture medium. They live for about 35 days and a female Banana Worm can have 60 young a day at around 4 days old. Banana Worms can live at temperature room temperatures, and optimum reproduction rate is at about 68-85F degrees.

All you will need to get your culture up and running are a bag of oatmeal and a plastic container, something like an old margarine or ice cream tub, or a microwaveable food storage container. A small amount of bakers yeast is also useful to help the culture grow.

Mix up some oatmeal with water and leave it to soak for an hour or so (if using warm water then make sure it has cooled to room temperature before progressing). You want a thick porridge like mix, not runny. Then empty the mix into the plastic container and level it out.

Punch some small holes in the lid of the container using something like a small nail, tack or pin. Banana Worms need some oxygen to survive but you do not want huge holes for other bugs or flies to enter through.

Pour the starter culture into the container (do not worry too much about spreading it around, the worms will quickly migrate to the new oatmeal). If you have baker's yeast then sprinkle a small pinch over the top of the oatmeal.

Initially the starter culture will take a little longer to get started, but once it is matured you will get a steady supply of worms, almost every day. After a few days you will start to see worms wriggling all over the top of the culture (if you look very closely, and towards the edges). After about a week you should see worms crawling partly up the sides of the container, these can be wiped off with a cotton bud, small paint brush, or your finger), rinsed then fed to your fish.

It is adviseable to have at least two cultures running that have been set up a week or two apart, just in case one crashes. Although these cultures are virtually indestructible and I have left them until the oatmeal is brown and smelly, yet they have still bounced back once I have cleaned them out and added a small bit of the old culture to a new mixture.

Happy Culturing

 

Micro Worm Care Sheet

   

Microworm Care Sheet

(Panagrellus redivivus)

 

A Microworm is actually not a worm at all, but called a worm because of their minute size and worm like appearance. Microworms are actually a species of nematode, which grows on average to 1.5mm. Microworms are non-parasitic and live off of the bacteria and yeast from the culture medium. They live for about 20-25 days and a female microworm can have 300 young in her life time. Microworms can live at temperature below 32F degrees, but optimum reproduction rate is at about 68-85F degrees.

All you will need to get your culture up and running are a bag of oatmeal and a plastic container, something like an old margarine or ice cream tub, or a microwaveable food storage container. A small amount of bakers yeast is also useful to help the culture grow.

Mix up some oatmeal with water and leave it to soak for an hour or so (if using warm water then make sure it has cooled to room temperature before progressing). You want a thick porridge like mix, not runny. Then empty the mix into the plastic container and level it out.

Punch some small holes in the lid of the container using something like a small nail, tack or pin. Banana Worms need some oxygen to survive but you do not want huge holes for other bugs or flies to enter through.

Pour the starter culture into the container (do not worry too much about spreading it around, the worms will quickly migrate to the new oatmeal). If you have baker's yeast then sprinkle a small pinch over the top of the oatmeal.

Initially the starter culture will take a little longer to get started, but once it is matured you will get a steady supply of worms, almost every day. After a few days you will start to see worms wriggling all over the top of the culture (if you look very closely, and towards the edges). After about a week you should see worms crawling partly up the sides of the container, these can be wiped off with a cotton bud, small paint brush, or your finger), rinsed then fed to your fish.

It is adviseable to have at least two cultures running that have been set up a week or two apart, just in case one crashes. Although these cultures are virtually indestructible and I have left them until the oatmeal is brown and smelly, yet they have still bounced back once I have cleaned them out and added a small bit of the old culture to a new mixture.

Happy Culturing

 

Walter Worm Care Sheet

   

Walter Worm Care Sheet

 (Panagrellus Silusioides)

 

A Walter Worm is actually not a worm at all, but called a worm because of their minute size and worm like appearance. Walter Worms are actually a species of nematode, which grows on average to 1.5mm or less. And, is a little smaller in size and rounder than the Microworm. Walter worms are non-parasitic and live off of the bacteria and yeast from the culture medium. They live for about 35 days and a female Walter Worm can have 60 young a day at around 4 days old. Walter Worms can live at temperature room temperatures, and optimum reproduction rate is at about 68-85F degrees.

All you will need to get your culture up and running are a bag of oatmeal and a plastic container, something like an old margarine or ice cream tub, or a microwaveable food storage container. A small amount of bakers yeast is also useful to help the culture grow.

Mix up some oatmeal with water and leave it to soak for an hour or so (if using warm water then make sure it has cooled to room temperature before progressing). You want a thick porridge like mix, not runny. Then empty the mix into the plastic container and level it out.

Punch some small holes in the lid of the container using something like a small nail, tack or pin. Banana Worms need some oxygen to survive but you do not want huge holes for other bugs or flies to enter through.

Pour the starter culture into the container (do not worry too much about spreading it around, the worms will quickly migrate to the new oatmeal). If you have baker's yeast then sprinkle a small pinch over the top of the oatmeal.

Initially the starter culture will take a little longer to get started, but once it is matured you will get a steady supply of worms, almost every day. After a few days you will start to see worms wriggling all over the top of the culture (if you look very closely, and towards the edges). After about a week you should see worms crawling partly up the sides of the container, these can be wiped off with a cotton bud, small paint brush, or your finger), rinsed then fed to your fish.

It is adviseable to have at least two cultures running that have been set up a week or two apart, just in case one crashes. Although these cultures are virtually indestructible and I have left them until the oatmeal is brown and smelly, yet they have still bounced back once I have cleaned them out and added a small bit of the old culture to a new mixture.

Happy Culturing

 

Grindal Worm Care Sheet

Grindal Worm Care Sheet

(Enchytraeus Buchholzi)

 

Grindal worms are a small white non-parasitic worm that is cousins to the red earthworm, and are smaller form of the White Worm, often used by aquarists. Grindal worms usually grow to 10mm making them ideal for larger fry and adult fish. Temperature plays a role on how fast Grindal worms reproduce. Grindal worms reproduce best at temperature of 70F-75F, but can with stand temperatures up to 90F. Reproduction slows at 80F and stops at 90F. But, temperatures below 65-68F will stop reproduction and the culture will start to die.

All you will need to get your culture up and running is some sterile compost or coco-coir, a little food (such as dry cat/dog food, oatmeal or stale bread) a plastic container (something like an old margarine or ice cream tub, or a microwaveable food storage container).

Mix up some compost or coco-coir with water so that it is damp but not wet and add it to your container. Add the Grindal Worm Starter Culture and provide a little food. Only a small amount is needed at first and you should only feed your culture with an amount that will be eaten with 24-48hrs

Punch some small holes in the lid of the container using something like a small nail, tack or pin. Grindal Worms need some oxygen to survive but you do not want huge holes for other bugs or flies to enter through.

Initially the starter culture will take a little longer to get started, but once it is matured you will get a steady supply of worms, almost every day. After a few days you will start to see worms wriggling all through the culture and you can start harvesting them. One method is to place a piece of plastic on top of the food and the worms will crawl between them and you can lift the plastic and rinse them off, leaving most or all the food in the culture.

It is adviseable to have at least two cultures running that have been set up a week or two apart, just in case one crashes. Although these cultures are virtually indestructible and I have left them until they are brown and smelly, yet they have still bounced back once I have cleaned them out and added a small bit of the old culture to a new mixture.

Happy Culturing

Water Chemistry

Acclimatising Your Fish

You may have your own method for acclimatising your fish, if not here is a suggested way :

1.       Turn off aquarium lights.

2.       Dim the lights in the room where the shipping box will be opened. Never open the box in bright light - stress or trauma may result from sudden exposure to bright light.

3.       Float the sealed bag in the aquarium for 15 minutes. Never open the shipping bag at this time. This step allows the water in the shipping bag to adjust slowly to the temperature in the aquarium, while maintaining a high level of dissolved oxygen.

4.       After floating the sealed bag for 15 minutes, cut it open and either pour the fish and water into a floating container or roll the top edge of the bag down one inch to create an air pocket within the lip of the bag. This will enable the bag to float on the surface of the water.

5.       Add a small amount of aquarium water to the container.

6.       Repeat above step every 5 minutes until the container is full.

7.       Lift the container from the aquarium and discard half the water.

8.       Float it in the aquarium again and proceed to add aquarium water every 5 minutes until full.

9.       Net fish from the container and release into the aquarium.

10.    Remove the container from the aquarium and discard the water. Never release shipping water directly into the aquarium.

A Cycled Tank is a Healthy Tank

What is the Nitrogen Cycle?

The nitrogen cycle describes the process whereby ammonia products, which are secreted by animals as waste, are converted by bacteria to nitrite and then into nitrate.

Ammonia and nitrite are highly toxic to fish in very low concentrations, so establishing the bacteria colonies that quickly convert these compounds to nitrate is crucial to creating a healthy environment for fish. Nitrate are far less toxic, and can easily be removed through periodic water changes or consumption by live plants. Most fish mortality in new tanks can be traced to the lack of an established nitrogen cycle in the tank.

Fish excrete urea, which contains ammonia. In a new tank that does not have the necessary bacteria colonies, this ammonia will rapidly accumulate to the point where it is toxic to the fish. Depending on the size of the tank and the number of fish, the ammonia may become toxic within one day to a week or so.

New Tank Syndrome (NTS) describes a tank that does not have the necessary bacteria colonies, and which kills fish as a result.

Every new tank must under go what is known as Cycling. During this time you must closely watch your tank and monitor the levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. By monitoring these parameters you will be able to tell when your tank has become habitable for fish, or if it is still in the Cycling phase.

Steps of the cycle

Ammonia

The cycle is started when ammonia (NH3) is introduced into the tank as fish waste. This ammonia builds up until the bacteria that eat it start to form a colony (a bacteria bloom may be observed as white cloudyness within the tank), and can convert the ammonia to nitrite as fast as they are produced. When the amount of ammonia spikes, and starts to decline, you know you are going into the second phase of the cycle.

Nitrites

As your ammonia starts to decline, you will see the nitrite levels rise then spike. Nitrites are the byproduct of the ammonia-eating bacteria, and are also highly toxic to fish. Like the cycling in step one, you must build up enough nitrites to form a second colony of bacteria that will dispose of them as they are produced. These bacteria will in turn create nitrate. Once your levels of nitrites AND ammonia have reached 0ppm ("parts per million"), your tank is said to have been cycled.

Nitrates

Nitrates are the final product of the nitrogen cycle. Nitrates are not toxic to fish in low concentrations, although they become toxic somewhere above 20ppm depending on the species.

There are two methods of keeping the level of nitrates at acceptable levels. The first is regular partial water changes (20-50% every 1–4 weeks, depending on stocking levels). The second is adding plants to the tank - nitrate levels can drop to 0ppm in a heavily planted tank. However water changes are still necessary to remove other substances such as DOCs (dissolved organic compounds), solid fish waste and replenish dissolved minerals that aquatic animals and plants may need.

 

(Information courtesy of http://www.theaquariumwiki.com/The_Nitrogen_Cycle)

"Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle" by Users Eliashc, Ilmari Karonen on en.wikipedia - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aquarium_Nitrogen_Cycle.png#/media/File:Aquarium_Nitrogen_Cycle.png

 

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