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TV fish tank

Television fish tank

Now I know gutting a old television is no easy task, mostly because if done wrong it will blow up in your hot little hands.  However, since this all happened pre-Laura life I’m a little foggy on the details but I’ll try my best to guide you through the process.

  1. Cody used a routing tool to cut along the top of the cabinet allowing him to remove the lid and remove the inner workings of this beast.
  2. He removed the television guts, tubes, cables and cleared a space for a tank that was slightly wider and deeper than the screen size.
  3. He reinforced the cabinet to withstand the added weight of 35 gallons of water, which is roughly 280 lb.
  4. He dropped in a conveniently sized ready-made tank. Once again, we got very lucky here, with such tight clearances on both the sides and the top, most of time people will have to order or make a custom tank, which of course adds some major $$ to the project
  5. We added some lights and a water filter.

After all that (which mind you is over simplified) he was ready for some fish. Like I mentioned yesterday, the tank was great, and Cody enjoyed it while living in Des Moines.  However, once we had the tank back in Michigan and were starting to set it up again, there were a few things he wanted to change.

For instance the two small fluorescent bulbs that were on a 60-minute, wind-up  timer just wasn’t cutting it for a lighting situation. They weren’t bright enough, over time developed major rust issues, and worst of all because of the nuance timer, they were never turned on.

The other major issue Cody wanted to remedy was the aeration and filtration system—correction—the lack of filtration system and the very loud, annoying aerator the provided a low constant background noise buzz.  Both of these issues were extra tricky because the lip of the tank was less than 2 inches from the lid.

After a little bit of trial and error, we swapped out the old rusty shop lights for low-profile, plastic-encased, (anti-rust) undercabinet lights, much like the one above.  We mounted 2 that ran the length of lid of the tank and mounted another in back to light up the background  image. Then we replaced the annoying 60 minute timer with an automated timers often used for Christmas lights. We have it set so the tank is on when we are around in the morning and evening, then shuts off when we are about to go the bed.  Perfection!

For a filter, we inserted a traditional submerged waterfall filter, like the one below.  These are great because they not only filter but also, the waterfall motion breaks the water tension enough to give the fish adequate oxygen on a day-to-day basis. And on the rare occasion we notice our fish getting a little lethargic or coming to the top for extra air, we simply plug in our old-fashioned loud aerator for a few minutes and that seems to put a little perk in their swim. This particular model has several adjustments for different water levels, But needing as much room as we could spare we almost submerged the unit allowing for just a little water movement.

Those are the major changes Cody wanted to make our tank more functional and useful, but as you know that’s only half of the battle!  At the time we were completing the logistics portion of the tank Cody had recently started ogling steampunk projects online and fell in love with the beauty of gears and the complexity of the inner workings of our everyday items. Before we knew it, our steampunk fixation had worked it’s way into our tank design too. Cody found several steampunk themed wallpaper backgrounds online, we narrowed down our selection and the sent it off the the printer to get cropped and laminated.

Then the real fun began, Cody sat me down with the empty tank and the decorations we already owned, rocks, a few plants, a section of drift wood, and said ‘go to town’.  Heaven!  I played and played adding and subtracting, tucking plants alongside the drift wood, adding our thrift store cut out clock, a few more plants for color and finally water, lots of water and even a few fishes.

We haven’t changed much since we originally placed everything, but we have immensely enjoyed adding fish to our tank, watching them grow, and trying to prevent them from eating each other! What can I say, it’s all part of nature! And as it turns out, we aren’t the only ones that enjoy our fine finned friends. Cody and I routinely babysit two little girls, 7 & 9, and every time they come over they look at us with a glint in their eye and ask if they can stay up late watching TV. Of course we spoil them!


Image Sources 1, 2, 3, 4

Feeling Fishy

by laura.johnson

Some people are cat people, some prefer their canine counterpart, but Cody and I could pass on either.  Don’t get me wrong, we like four legged friends just fine. Cody will often find a dog to play with when we are out in the courtyard.  But while he likes dogs, his favorite will always be, a dog that belongs to someone else.

However, we do have a strong weakness for our fine finned friends.  After all, they are kinda like the succulent/ air plant version in the pet world.  They do great if you give them a pretty place to live and feed them a couple times a week.  Done and done.

This is our tank, and admittedly, Cody kinda struck gold when he came across this old TV set in a thrift shop years before we met. Now you must be thinking gutting a old television is no easy task, and I promise tomorrow I’ll share as much of the how-to process as I can muster, but for now back to the story.

Even though this beauty caught his eye from across the room, the $70 price tag had him a little reluctant to pull the trigger. Looking for a way to skim a little off the price he plugged the old rustic set in to ensure it was still in good working order, flipped the old switch… nothing.  Since the television set was only a little more than a beautiful large paper weight he asked if they’d be willing to sell it for half price. The said yes! He gladly handed over the money and loaded up his sweet score.

Cody took the whole TV back to his dad’s shop and worked over holidays and weekends converting it into a stunningly quirky fish tank.  And over all the project was a huge success, yes it had a few flaws, i.e. the lights would only come on for 60 minutes at a time, and the filter was far too loud to have a conversation anywhere in the nearby vicinity, however, he enjoyed having fish in it until he decided to pack his bags and move to Michigan.  Any of you who have made a cross-country journey know too well the painful “to pack or to store” game.  And since a fish tank wasn’t a place to sleep, sit or work, it fell into the storage pile.

Life moved on, Cody started a new job, met a beautiful girl (yep that’s me), convinced said girl to move across the country as well, found himself a sweet little apartment, and on our first trip back for the holidays together we loaded up his TV fish tank and brought it back to Michigan. Unlike before, this time setting it up he was armed with the lessons he had learned before and a girlfriend who was eager and willing to help along the way.

It was the first home-like project we tackled together, and of course there were moments of frustration, but through the process we learned so much about how each other works, thinks and reacts in stressful situations.  So yes, our fish tank is beautiful, it’s often the first thing people comment on when walking into the room, however to me it serves as a reminder that we are better as a team working together toward a common goal. And when that happens, the result will always be breathtaking.

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