Introduction: Add-on's for Your "Zookeeper"

Do you want to completely and ridiculously rig your zookeeper?!

This turned out transformer-like, swiss-army-knife-type bazooka or something! hahahah
It's 100% awesome! (and at leats 50% impractical! xD)

I’ll be attaching WAY more then you would ever want on your zookeeper because… Why not?!

Some things are actually useful, some are just for fun.

Here’s what I came up with;

· Bottom handle

· Securing your spears

· Second attaching clip

· Scissor pouch

· Sling pouch

· Light mounting

· Camera mounting

· GoPro mounting

· Sting kit

· Disco tube!

· Decorations

Now-a-days I even take fire making material with me!

Curious? Read on to find out “why the hell for?!”

Step 1: Bottom Handle

The bottom handle is a repurposed 1GL paint-bucket handle. Its used for extending the zookeeper to other divers underwater and for storage purposes.

A gallon bucket (we get here) are nearly the same diameter as my zookeeper.

By drilling two small holes opposite side of each other just above the bottomcap you can attach it to your zookeeper. This might require more force and sweating as anticipated! Use a pointy nose plier to ‘bend’ it to your will!

By cutting/ filing out 2 slots (the rim of the bottomcap) directly below the holes you create a locking-stance for storage hanging and/ or extending to another diver underwater while your hands are away as far as possible from the opening, until the lionfish is IN and spear is OUT!

For storing aside I grooved into the bottom part of the speartube. A nice slots to keep it from dangling while not in use.

Step 2: Securing Your Spears

Everything connected and attached to my zookeeper should be secured in a way that no matter how I hold my zookeeper, nothing falls out or gets lost.

With simple bungee-cords I make sure my spears stay where I put them. Especially when surface-swimming the zookeeper can orientate itself up-side-down quite easy.

I straighten the hook out slightly and poke it through the same hole the rope is connected through. On the inside I bend the hook back in hook-form so it can’t get out anymore.

When I’m down below 10 to 15meters I take my main spear (the long blue one) in hand and wrap the bungee around the zookeeper connecting the other side to the handle keeping it out the way.

My second spear (the small yellow one) is also hold in place by a same kind of bungee. By drilling a small hole near the top of the speartube I can hook a bungee through and hook the other side in a small hole drilled in the top of my (solid fiberglass) spear. When not in use it wraps around the tube hooking onto the bottom.

Step 3: Second Clip

Some people prefer a second clip, more towards the bottom, connected to a second point on their BCD. This definitely gives more stability and less flopping around, advised when filming and landcarrying.

But if your diving with other spearfishers that don’t have their own zookeeper, and they come to you for stashing the catch, you can’t get that much distance from the opening (as with the bottom handle option).

Step 4: Scissor Pouch

I’m converting a strap from a shoulderbag to a strap-on scissor-pouch. To clean and gut lionfish after catching them the best tool is a heavy duty scissors! It’s a small ‘ible in itself!

Tools and materials;

· Strap from a shoulderbag with a loose support- or shoulderpad

· Velcro

· Thread and needle

· Pencil

· Small edging-strip

· Push-button + hammer

· Small ‘belt’ style buckle (on strap in most cases)

Strangely the picture of tools and materials is missing somehow… The rest of the picture show pretty well what and how to tackle this project though.

This shows almost exactly what kind of strap I’m using;

The support-pad is what is going to be our scissor-pouch. A small strip of edging with a push-button at the end will secure it in place so it will never come out unwanted.

I double up on the small edging strip to give it a bit more sturdiness.

Sew the 2 ends together on the backside of the support-pad, up in a corner, the loop facing out.

Onto the end of the two straps, on the end of the loop, attach a hammer-in-push-button. (I advise to melt a hole through with a solder or a heated-up nail)

Put the scissors in the pouch and pass the loop through one of the scissor-handle-holes. Holding it tight, finding out where to put the other half of the push-button. (hold the scissors vertically in the pouch and help to keep it open while you melt through slowly and carefully!)

Now we need to cut 2 slots in the top layer of the pouch to pass the strap through.

Carefully cut a slot big enough for the strap and melt the entire hole you just made. If you don’t do this the pouch will unravel and lose most its sturdiness.

The buckle used in this pouch needs to be fastened to one side of the strap from the shouderbag, secure with a safetypin for now. Now fit the strap around the zookeeper; wrap the strap round the zookeeper and pass it through the buckle, folding the strap back on itself.

Cut off when you overlap about 10 to 15cm. on the end of the strap we need to saw a patch of Velcro, the ‘hard’ part. Where the strap ends we need to put Velcro on the inner strap, the ‘soft’ part. Secure these with safetypins.

Check the orientation of the buckle, most have a front- and a backside.

Now you can sew the 3 points onto your strap (buckle, ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ Velcro parts).

Pass the strap through the slots in the pouch and strap onto your zookeeper!

Step 5: Sling Pouch

It makes sense to take an extra sling with you for when it should break while diving. If your really unlucky and the second sling breaks aswell you can use the zipties to attach the rubber to the outside of the rope, behind the knot.

It’s a pouch a very cheap multi-tool once came in. It already has a belt-loop so I’m using the strap I made for the scissor-pouch to attach it to my zookeeper, practically next to the it.

With a little wiggling and jamming a extra sling and 4 zipties fit in!

Step 6: Light Mounting

I had a scope-mount for a dovetail railsystem in my closet and by god, my spare underwater-flashlight fit exactly in! A piece of inner tube on the inside protects the light from scratches.

I used an aluminum flat piece, which needed some shape adjustment, as the rails on the zookeeper.

I held the aluminum with a grippliers and used and angle grinder to create 45degree angles on the sides.

Two holes with corresponding holes in the tube, and fit it to the zookeeper using 2 ½” stainless steel machine screws and fitting locknuts. I put a washer between both, but realized after this is unnecessary.

Step 7: Camera Mounting

Since I don’t own a GoPro, I need to make a different mount for my camera (Nikon AW130). Is has a standard screw-thread like most cameras have and I’m utilizing a cheap travel tri-pod as its base.
(camera in pictures is just for dramatic effects! not my UW -camera)

Fairly straight forward unscrewing and dismantling. But the screw holding the tripod together is too small for use on the zookeeper. Luckily I found a fitting machinescrew in my mountain of spare parts (I am fairly certain it is a tv screw you find in the standard/ foot).

I decided I would put a 1 big washer and 2 rubber washers offering a solid grip. Made from a scrap piece of bicycle tire tube.

I placed it all the way back on the coupling. My camera doesn’t have a wide angle lens so it needs some clearance since I want the ‘mouth’ of the zookeeper to show in the bottom of the picture.

It’s a single hole mounting so I’m pretty sure placing doesn’t need explaining.

Alternatively, drill a hole for a screw, straight into the theading on the camera. No angling options but a way easier fix if you have a very short fat screw!

Step 8: GoPro Mounting

Since I don’t own a GoPro, I borrowed one from a friend, my common dive-buddy, who does own one. It comes with a ton of different mounting ways for all kinds of accessories. He gave me (the only) one with screwthreads in the bottom. It’s exactly the same as the threading as on the tri-pod! And I happen to have a couple big bolts with that exact thread, the length is way too long though.

You can only insert 0.5cm into the thread given on the GoPro mount.

I made a simple test-setup to find exactly how long I need to make them. I want the placement in such a way that 1 bolt has 2 pieces of PVC to pass and 1 bolt that only has a single thickness of PVC.

The nut I used is just thick enough to simulate being the camera-insert so I can mark off straight behind the nut and saw my bolt there.

(okay, I cheated and used a angle-grinder even though the pics show a ironsaw…).

Now for measuring the center of the screwholes on the bottom of the mount; 25 and 45mm measured from the bottom.

Easily transferred onto the tube and drilled out.

Fitted onto the zookeeper using 2 big washers on the inside.

Step 9: Sting Kit

Now for the one that got most people scratching their heads! Yes, I actually take a bunch of wind- and waterproof matches, dipped in candlewax with me! And the reason : medical!

So when you get stung by a lionfish everyone always says or you read everywhere to seek medical attention, yet there is no antidote for lionfish venom. But if it’s the first time getting stung GO! You might have a allergic reaction which my matches can’t fix!

I got stung multiple times by now and know I don’t have any allergic reaction to it. Besides that if I go to the medical department here on my small island they’ll tell me to “hold it in hot water, as hot as you can handle. Maybe take a painkiller. NEXT!”.

So this sting-kit is for when I’m on a abandoned beach, tucked away far enough not to have cell reception (or basically anywhere they have no amenities). After my first serious sting I knew I needed to be quicker to the only solution we have so far; heat.
Because in the case I get stung, I gather a bunch of wood, start a fire, heat up water in the aluminum foil, and stick my hand in (usually people get stung in the hand).
If you get stung in, let’s say, your leg you cant dip that in your aluminum-foil-bowl. I this case heat up water, soak your t-shirt in and wrap or lay on the sting. (take 2 pieces of aluminum foil with you so you can take the first one to heat up and put next to the fire, and the second one to keep warming up water and refilling!)

If on a boat without gas-pits or fire-making-ways take a wet towel/ t-shirt and wrap it around the engine and heat it up this way!

It might seem crazy to take with you, but this way I can’t even forget to take it with even if I wanted to! And believe me; getting stung is no frkng joke! After a sting 5 years ago, the tip of my thumb (where I got stung) still has no feeling and the skin never really recovered either…

Whats in?!

· (Wind and waterproof/ strike-anywhere) matches

· Tweezer (not in pictures)

· Scratchy part from a matchbox in electric tape (lightblue)

· Heavy duty aluminum foil (2 pieces, 45x45cm)

· Painkillers (1x ibuprofen 600mg + 1x paracetamol 500mg)

· Small plastified/ laminated copy of ID

· (when diving) I put my carkey in

I used to have a different case, smaller and rectangular. Fitted cards and such and was way flatter…

But it also leaked after extended use and after leaking a few times I waterproofed my kit;

Waterproofing matches;

Getting your matches waterproof is actually really easy; melt some candlewax, submerge your matches in the molten wax, pick them out using tweezers and let dry up. Done!

I put them neatly in a extra small ziplock bag.

The small scratchy (of a matchbox) part gets a electrical tape cover, mine is light blue. This really needs to stay dry, its not waterproof and a soggy cardboard scratchy thingy doesn’t ignite a match! That’s why strike-anywhere matches would take my preference, but I only have wind and waterproof matches.

The laminated copy of my ID is in there cause worst comes to worst, and I have an (lethal) accident, people don’t have to guess who they found…

This is not particularly connected to lionfishing, just diving-safety in general when I’m on very hard-to-dive spots, cave-diving, hard-to-get-to spots, abandoned places and such.

Now I bought a new one that stays dry way better, but the shape is horrible… round, which is hard to attach nicely to the side.

I used a slightly-too-small plastic pipe-clamp some screws, washers and locknuts and I lined the inside of the pipeclamp with inner-tube rubber straps for grip.

I changed the rope it comes with, with a piece of shock-cord. I tied it off looping it permanently inside the pipeclamp.

It still opens while the bottom stays put!

The lighter was intended for size indication, but I have so much room in this new case, I might as well leave it in!

Step 10: Disco Tube!

I couldn’t not do this one!

If you can get your hands on a little thing called a “Deep Drop LED Fishing Lights - Water Activated” then lets make a party! (usually every fishing-store otherwise amazon; $2,- a piece)

Because I have a window in my zookeeper this gives a funky play to my zookeeper, especially at night-dives!

These little gems are water-activated by two wires on the outside that need a full connection to be activated. So when you submerge it, the water will act as the connection. You can also try them out holding them with your fingers on both wires, don’t worry, you won’t feel a thing!

i got 2 color- and pattern-changing strobes, so a little different as the amazonlink above.

Since they have a little ring on the back we can hook them into our zookeepers!

I drill the smallest holes I can all the way at the top, just below where my funnel sits.

With a small piece of thick fishing line I tie it off making sure the light is pointing downwards. You could help this along by putting a small strip of (hot)glue down near the holes.

When done diving, rinse with fresh water and dry off, this way the wires don’t rust (as fast) and you save batterypower for your next DiscoDive!

Step 11: Decoration!

Let them devilfish know you mean business; add a paracord yellyfiesh!! DO IT!
Or one of the other (sea)creatures if you fancy one of them!

My favorites are definitely the yelly and the bee or wasp, but hey, bee’s have nothing to do with diving (except being the bee'sknees!)

You could also spraypaint the tube, coupling and screwcap. give it your favorite color!
Or go super-stealthy by doing a marine-camo!
Be sure to do this before you put anything on the bare tube, also the window.
Everything needs to be cut and drilled already before painting for nicest result.

Step 12: Post Dive Evaluation

like with most, i had to mess up something in this 'ible. This time my UW-camera's seal was'nt properly cleaned before closing and leaked water inside during the dive... :(
Suffice to say i lost pictures and video of the zookeeper in use and my camera is in a bag of rice drying out...

So lets have a quick word on realism. i went (night)diving a couple days ago and here are some thoughts;

  • the normal camera mount is not very handy to use... it makes the zookeeper top-heavy and wanting to rotate. it's not very waterdynamic either...
  • the waterproof cocoon sticks very good, but i really dislike the fit and look...
  • i like the lightmount very much! it is only good as a general lighting thought. i advise on taking another light thats easier to handle
  • the DiscoTube is freaking awesome!!
  • second clip and sling securing went very well, no problems!
  • sling- and scissor-pouch preformed like expected, no problems!

So at the end off the day i would only take all this if i go to a place where i dont want to leave anything in the car. Leaving the least amount of interest of breaking in.

I'll take the normal camera mounting and the cocoon off and plug the holes with a rivet.

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