Fishtank of Doom!
Ok. This is a kind of journal of a project that was inspired by gerbal tracks (those little tubes that hamsters run around in) and Mrs. Andrews (a friend's mom, who encoraged me to persue the idea). Here's the plan. Fish tank + tubes = sweet fish tank. The following is what has become of this idea.
The tubing has arrived! 50 feet of 1" interior diameter pvc tube. What joy! I bought this tubing (along with the parts in the box) from McMaster Carr. They sell everything! In addition to the tubing, I bought a bag of ten 1" barbed tee junctions, ten feet of half inch tubing (for my little pump) and twenty feet of 1/8" tubing (for an air pump... and just because tubing is cool!)
I decided that (after tasting plastic strongly when I drank from one of the smaller tubes that I ordered) It would be a good idea to flush the larger tube and see if I could get some of the chemicals out of it. I didn't have an adaptor from 1/2 inch (the tube that fits on my pump) to 1" so I forced the half inch tube inside the one inch tube and used the pressure from the pump to force the water all the way through the pipe. In both pictures the water enters the tube on the left and leaves on the right. I had the used water draining through the emergency drain in the sink (the white 'T').
Notice the towels on the floor. It took a little work to get all of the air out of the tube... and some water came with it.
Ok. I finally got around to buying the containers. These are cheap plastic storage containers that I bought at wallmart. I cut a few holes in them with my pocket knife and sealed the 'T's in with the silicone glue I bought from McMaster (Did I mention I bought silicone glue too?)
The credit card at the end of the smaller tank is because I cut a hole there...and then decided that I didn't actually want a hole there after all. The card was doneted by my roommate, David Moore, and glued in place with more silicone glue.
It lives! Here's the prototype setup. The arrows indicate flow direction, and are color coded so you can see which tube goes where. The yellow circle on the right is to call out the air hose which is acting as the pump. An air hose can't act as a pump you say? Ahh but it can... and does rather well at it too.
The problem with centrifugal pumps (the normal submersible kind) is that they suck your fish in and chop them into little pieces of sushi... and then circulate them in your fish tank. I want my fish to be alive, but also be able to swim through all of the tubing.
An air compressor is the perfect solution. The air bubbles forced into the water will force their way to the surface, and in doing so cary the water with them. The fish are unharmed (I surmise... no testing so far) and you get great flow rates.
A little change to the design. I added a 'T' to the return pipe so that I can pump the air into the main tube without running the air tube down backwards. this way there's nothing in the way of the fish when they swim in the tubes.
Also added is a little waterfall. I discovered mostly by accident that replacing the piece of plastic that I cut out of the bottle in this way forces the water to take a circuitous route, and in the process rectifies the flow (reduces turbulence), making for a quieter waterfall.
Fish! I bought five minnows and put them in the tank. One was swimming upside down, and since everyone said he wasn't going to live long I sent him through the tubes. The fish don't like it at all. Also unfortunately the fish can get stuck in the 'T' junctions if they turn sideways at just the wrong time. The other fish are staying well away from the inlets of the tubes.
This morning when I checked on them one of the fish had been stuck under the pump... and died. One down, four to go...
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