Following the initial installation and aquascape of the aquarium on Fisherman’s Paradise, we allowed the bonding material to cure over the next 30 hours. At that point, we re-filled the aquarium with fresh seawater direct from the Gulf of Mexico and got the system restarted. The barge has a constant circulation of seawater brought in from about 6 feet below the surface which we were able to tap off of for our supply.
The following week, we returned to install additional dry base rock in and around the pre-fab formations and in other areas to soften certain edges and angles. We brought an additional 200 lbs of rock with the plan to bond it to the other rocks to keep them from moving around in rough seas. At the same time, we didn’t really want to spend the extra time to drain the aquarium completely in order to accomplish this. As a result, we decided to use an underwater curing epoxy product. The product is separated in a standard tube used by a standard size caulk gun. It has a special tip that mixes the material as it passes through and is made to cure underwater.
There was enough room for one of us to climb into the aquarium, so after changing into my bathing suit, I climbed on in. The epoxy was a nice material but was very difficult to apply to the rocks underwater. In hindsight, it would have been much easier to drain the aquarium to about 6″ as most the rocks were applied at or above that point, but it probably would have taken just as long if not longer and we would have ended up with the same result. It may have just changed some of the odd angles of attack needed to apply the material in certain areas and the contortions required to do so. My body would have felt better the next day for sure. At the end of the day, we ended up with the same results though and it filled in all the key areas we set out to. I unfortunately did not take any pictures of this step of the process though.
The next step is to allow the cement materials, the pre-fab formations & re-crete , to cure underwater over the next couple of weeks. Weekly water changes will be completed over that time and we will monitor the PH as they release into the aquarium. An initial small batch of 3-4 fish and some invertebrates will then be placed in the aquarium as we continue to monitor the chemistry. Once we get the desired results with the chemistry, we will deliver live rock & fish as well as some corals.