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Hearst Aquarium is a real antique back in operation

Frank Cowherd

Global Moderators
Staff member
The Hearst Aquarium is in a pre-kindergarden class room in the Pheobie Hearst Elementary School in Northwest DC. The school was built in the 30s and the Hearst family donated the money for the building and the aquarium. When first built it was operated as a flow through with water continuously flowing through the aquarium. So likely the fish in the tank were native fishes or goldfish.

Over the intervening years we do not know much of what occurred with the aquarium, but over a year ago the school was looking for an organization to repair and restore the aquarium. PVAS (Potomac Valley Aquarium Society) got involved. The grand daughter of the Hearsts kindly donated the monies to referbish the aquarium.

Sometime in the past the aquarium was "repaired" by pouring a can of epoxy resin into the bottom apparently to fix a broken slate bottom. So when PVAS got the job it was impossible to do anything with the resin in place. Michael Barber (then the president of PVAS) headed the effort. He found a metal company near Philadelphia which took the aquarium, removed the glass and burned off the reisn, then refurbished the metal frame, replaced the concrete base with a metal frame to hold the embossed (with fish and starfish) brass frame and reinforced the marble base with another metal frame. Michael got the glass and a team of PVAS people fitted the glass into the frame. It leaked badly and we did it again. This leaked only a bit and over about 2 months I was able to stop the leaks after many visits. For each leak it took 3 visits, one to drain the tank and then let it dry, one to seal the leak area, and then a visit to refill the tank. On the last visit I got a cylinder of aquarium sealant that said it would stick to anything including old sealant, and with this I resealed all joints. It worked and the aquarium has now held water for over a month.

Well now the Hearst Aquarium is looking good !!! as you can see from the pictures below.

BTW the theme for the tank is a South American biotope, although we maybe are not strictly adhering to this.

The plants we added last week (various vals, crypts, and anubias, which were on driftwood) are doing well as are the six ancistrus who are keeping the algae under control.

This week we added more fish: 6 large pterophyllum scalare (silver angelfish), 6 corydoras paleatus (salt and pepper cats), and 6 hemigrammus rodwayi (gold tetras).
We also added a dozen more vallisneria grasses (commonly called eelgrass, tape grass or corkscrew val and other varieties of val) and a large Sag probably sagittaria platyphylla.

Here are the pictures with the captions listed below, although some were before the newer plants and the tetras were added.
1. Top view,
2 front view
3 two view of frog fountain
4 Teacher and assistant: Denice Dawson (on left) and Christina Hill with angelfish.
5 Better view of frog and embossed design in brass decoration over marble stand
6 view from lest front
7 View from right front
8 Denice and Christina's pre kindergarden class sitting on a rug with a koi pond design.


If someone knows how to put captions under each picture, PM me please.

Frank
 

Frank Cowherd

Global Moderators
Staff member
I do not know where they went but here is another set. Maybe they will show up so you can see them.

Hearst A top side.JPG.jpg

Hearst Aquarium.JPG.jpg

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Hearst Frog.JPG.jpg

DSCF0013.JPG.jpg

DSCF0016.JPG.jpg

DSCF0012.JPG.jpg

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SubMariner

Master Jedi & Past VP
Wow, what a beautiful tank Frank! Great job from you guys;) That's something to be proud of, absolutely.



RM
 

lonlangione

Members
This is one of the coolest stories I have heard in a long time. I bow to you all and your commitment to this project. Could I suggest a story and pictures be sent to TFH. Stories like this just never get the recognition they deserve. Being involved in education as a school board member years ago, I know this tank will motivate kids to go to school everyday. Great job.

Lonny
 

marge618

CCA member
The Hearst Aquarium is in a pre-kindergarden class room in the Pheobie Hearst Elementary School in Northwest DC. The school was built in the 30s and the Hearst family donated the money for the building and the aquarium. When first built it was operated as a flow through with water continuously flowing through the aquarium. So likely the fish in the tank were native fishes or goldfish.

Over the intervening years we do not know much of what occurred with the aquarium, but over a year ago the school was looking for an organization to repair and restore the aquarium. PVAS (Potomac Valley Aquarium Society) got involved. The grand daughter of the Hearsts kindly donated the monies to referbish the aquarium.

Sometime in the past the aquarium was "repaired" by pouring a can of epoxy resin into the bottom apparently to fix a broken slate bottom. So when PVAS got the job it was impossible to do anything with the resin in place. Michael Barber (then the president of PVAS) headed the effort. He found a metal company near Philadelphia which took the aquarium, removed the glass and burned off the reisn, then refurbished the metal frame, replaced the concrete base with a metal frame to hold the embossed (with fish and starfish) brass frame and reinforced the marble base with another metal frame. Michael got the glass and a team of PVAS people fitted the glass into the frame. It leaked badly and we did it again. This leaked only a bit and over about 2 months I was able to stop the leaks after many visits. For each leak it took 3 visits, one to drain the tank and then let it dry, one to seal the leak area, and then a visit to refill the tank. On the last visit I got a cylinder of aquarium sealant that said it would stick to anything including old sealant, and with this I resealed all joints. It worked and the aquarium has now held water for over a month.

Well now the Hearst Aquarium is looking good !!! as you can see from the pictures below.

BTW the theme for the tank is a South American biotope, although we maybe are not strictly adhering to this.

The plants we added last week (various vals, crypts, and anubias, which were on driftwood) are doing well as are the six ancistrus who are keeping the algae under control.

This week we added more fish: 6 large pterophyllum scalare (silver angelfish), 6 corydoras paleatus (salt and pepper cats), and 6 hemigrammus rodwayi (gold tetras).
We also added a dozen more vallisneria grasses (commonly called eelgrass, tape grass or corkscrew val and other varieties of val) and a large Sag probably sagittaria platyphylla.

Here are the pictures with the captions listed below, although some were before the newer plants and the tetras were added.
1. Top view,
2 front view
3 two view of frog fountain
4 Teacher and assistant: Denice Dawson (on left) and Christina Hill with angelfish.
5 Better view of frog and embossed design in brass decoration over marble stand
6 view from lest front
7 View from right front
8 Denice and Christina's pre kindergarden class sitting on a rug with a koi pond design.


If someone knows how to put captions under each picture, PM me please.

Frank
So I was trying to post a news article about your endeavors and here you beat me to it. Great stuff. I like that you made it work.. Also great press for CCA! Isn't it wonderful when you can include kids!!!
 

Frank Cowherd

Global Moderators
Staff member
In late response, I do not really know how many gallons the tank is but I have an educated guess that it is somewhere between 120 and 150 gallons.

And Yes, it has been in operation since 1932 except for when we (PVAS with the help of others) took it apart 18 months ago and reassembled the refurbished tank and rebuilt the stand, etc around about October last year. Then it took about 4 months to find and fix the leaks, which unfortunately came one at a time, but all were really drips and easy to fix, although time consuming and aggravating.


Bob, friend to gorillas, your suggestion of convicts :lol: will get our full consideration.

BTW, the theme of the tank is Amazon natives. Based on that, what would you add next to the tank?

Already in it are 6 silver angels, which are laying eggs occasionally, 6 gold tetras, 6 cory palaetus, and 8 ancistrus, which actually are keeping the glass clean. Also lots of plants which are growing -- 2 kinds of vals, some wendti cryps, and anubius on driftwood. Need to add fish that will not tare the place apart. We do plan to add another 10 to 20 tetras.
 

Sonny Disposition

Active Member
Friend to gorillas? How do these rumors get started? True, I may have dated a few young women with hairy arms when I was a young single man living in Jersey City, but I don't know any gorillas personally.


In late response, I do not really know how many gallons the tank is but I have an educated guess that it is somewhere between 120 and 150 gallons.

And Yes, it has been in operation since 1932 except for when we (PVAS with the help of others) took it apart 18 months ago and reassembled the refurbished tank and rebuilt the stand, etc around about October last year. Then it took about 4 months to find and fix the leaks, which unfortunately came one at a time, but all were really drips and easy to fix, although time consuming and aggravating.


Bob, friend to gorillas, your suggestion of convicts :lol: will get our full consideration.

BTW, the theme of the tank is Amazon natives. Based on that, what would you add next to the tank?

Already in it are 6 silver angels, which are laying eggs occasionally, 6 gold tetras, 6 cory palaetus, and 8 ancistrus, which actually are keeping the glass clean. Also lots of plants which are growing -- 2 kinds of vals, some wendti cryps, and anubius on driftwood. Need to add fish that will not tare the place apart. We do plan to add another 10 to 20 tetras.
 

SubMariner

Master Jedi & Past VP
Friend to gorillas? How do these rumors get started? True, I may have dated a few young women with hairy arms when I was a young single man living in Jersey City, but I don't know any gorillas personally.

LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!! Laughing my tail off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sonny, Friends to Gorillas and Bears...I am sorry about the women you had to date with hairy arms, imagine dating someone with hair on their toes. YUK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

RM
 

Pat Kelly

CCA Member
Staff member
Frank
Thank you for the pictures and the information.
PVAS has done a great job with this.

:sign0018:

Please keep on topic. Suddenly we lost what the thread was about.
 

Andrewtfw

Global Moderators
Frank, the tank looks great! I bet the kids in the class were excited to have their tank new and improved. Have you considered adding apistos?
 

DavidRLund

New Member
Hello,

The February 26th, 2009 pictures of the Hearst Elementary School aquarium don't seem to be available.
Would you be able to repost them please?
Thanks very much in advance.

As for peaceful South American cichlids, I suggest the following:
Bolivian Rams (Mikrogeophagus altispinosus) - they're hardier than M. ramirezi
Keyhole cichlids (Cleithracara maronii)
Nannacara anomala is also a very good fish, as well as many from the dwarf cichlid families.
Red Hump Geophagus (Geophagus steindachneri) - although these may uproot plants and move the gravel around.

Best Regards,
David Lund
 

Frank Cowherd

Global Moderators
Staff member
I am not sure why there are duplicate images below as I intended to add only one of each. The aquarium installed in the 1930s was plummed with water that ran full time. The thing in the front was a frog fountain that may have served as a water fountain too. The Hearst gave the school a grant to repair the tank whenever necessary and to maintain it. It is actually being refurbished again this year (2022) Its U shape causes some problems preventin gleaks in the bottom since the bottom is usually three pieces of slate or glass. Back in 1932 they used a tar like black gum that worked. Todays silicone glues do not seem up the challenge. In the 1930 and much later there was no filter since the tank was set up with water continuously flowing through it. It also was stocked with native fishes from the Potomac, so I have heard.





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DavidRLund

New Member
It is actually being refurbished again this year (2022)
Its U shape causes some problems preventing leaks in the bottom since the bottom is usually three pieces of slate or glass. Back in 1932 they used a tar like black gum that worked. Todays silicone glues do not seem up the challenge. In the 1930 and much later there was no filter since the tank was set up with water continuously flowing through it. It also was stocked with native fishes from the Potomac, so I have heard.
Thanks very much Frank.
I've been in contact with Denise Dawkins about resealing the tank in place.
 
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