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Old 09-14-2009, 05:59 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default 75 gallon in the wall planted aquarium journal

Welcome to my aquarium journal. I'll post some pics and describe the basics of my in wall aquarium setup. As a part of our basement renovation, I put a 75 gallon aquarium in the wall. Here is the wall before. Note the classic knotty pine paneling. The blue tape at the bottom marks the future location of some built in shelves.



On the other side of the wall, there is a closet. The first photo is the inside with the frame/aquarium stand already installed.



Next you can the see the plumbing that was already installed. The room used to be a bathroom, but was converted to a sump room/closet by the home's former owners. That is Andy on the floor. He's the "go to guy" and makes our ideas into reality.



A 22 gallon utility sink is installed in the corner of the room, hooked up to the existing plumbing. I was planning to put in a sump, but wanted something that I could easily drain to facilitate easy water changes. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I just wanted to use a utility sink as my sump. So all the aquarium equipment goes into the sump/sink (filter intake/outake, heater, pump) so you don't see it in the aquarium, but more importantly for me water changes are a breeze. Unplug the equipment. Take out the drain stopper. Let the sink drain. Replace the stopper. Fill the sink. I can get the right temperature water since I have hot and cold faucets. Treat the water. Plug in the equipment and you're done. Wow, that is way better than hauling buckets!

Here is the back of the aquarium from inside the closet. I got a predrilled tank with an overflow kit. This allows water to drain from the surface. The draining water goes into the pipe on the right and into the sink. The pump in the sink pumps the water back through the pump on the right, and back into the tank.



Here you can see the plumbing going from the aquarium to the sink and back. Aquarium outflow drains through the pipe, along the bottom of the aquarium stand (thanks Andy) and over into the sink via the pvc pipe. The water is pumped through the clear tubing back into the tank.



Next, the hole in the wall is cut and the aquarium is installed. Andy put some nice trim around the edges and the black aquarium frame is covered. You can see into the closet and the sink is on the right. On the left, the black wall hides the overflow kit.



So, now I fill it up to test it. It is much easier to fix things with no fish or gravel in the equation. And everything works. You can see the water being pumped through the diffusers.



I had to experiment with the water level in the sink to make it overflow proof. I set the water level in the sink, unplug the pump, and see how high the water rises. With a little experimentation it is easy to set the appropriate water level. So if the power fails, I know the water cannot overflow out of the aquarium or sink. With that done, I'm ready to start working on the aquascape.

On the right, I built a rock wall to partially cover the black plastic hiding the overflow kit, to create different levels for planting, and to provide dwarf cichlids places to hide. Stacking the rocks and adding a dot or two of aquarium silicone builds the wall. I wedged some thin pieces of driftwood between two stacks of rocks.





A larger piece of driftwood on the right provides levels and hiding places on the right. Placing the rocks and driftwood before the aquarium gravel provides more stability, especially since I'm building a wall of rocks.





I used a base of fluorite because I found it half price at a local fish store. I used 3 or 4 bags to cover the bottom. As advertised, the fluorite took a lot of rinsing...a lot. I probably spent 30 minutes per bag of rinsing in a bucket over my utility sink. I will think twice before using fluorite again. For the top layer, I used ecocomplete. I bought some used. I like the black for the substrate and I have had much success growing plants in the past with ecocomplete. As a bonus, no rinsing is required.



Here is the sink/sump. The filter intake/outakes are hanging on the near side. The heater is underwater on the left. The pump pumps water throught the vertical tube on the left, through the CO2 diffuser (larger cylinder in the back left) and to the aquarium. The PVC aquarium outflow is on the right. I had to fiddle with that to minimize noise and water splashing.



I planted the plants with only enough water to cover the substrate. It is much easier to plant them when you don't have to reach through 18" of water. So after the plants were all in place, I plug in the pump and the aquarium fills.




Here are shots after the initial fill. The water is still a little cloudy, but it cleared pretty quickly. These photos were taken about 30 to 60 minutes after the fill.






12 days after setup and the tank is clear. The plants are doing well. I added my first fish after I was sure everything was working and I had adjusted the CO2 injection rate. The fish are 1 male and 3 female pearl gourami.







The male Pearl Gourami


If you look closely you can see new shoots of eleocharis coming up through the substrate already.


The ludwigia glandulosa is getting a nice red color.

Here is the key to the plants:

1. Hygrophila Corymbosa 'Kompakt'
2. Cryptocoryne Walkeri
3. Anubias Barteri Var. Nana Narrowleaf
4. Eleocharis Acicularis
5. Java Fern (Microsorium Pteropus)
6. Ludwigia Glandulosa
7. Water Wisteria (Hygrophila Difformis) (behind the Ludwigia)

I also added 3 moss balls and crammed some java moss in between the rocks.

As for the rest of my equipment details:

The filter is a marineland canister C-220 filter. Its only rated upto 55 gallons, while the tank and sump probably hold about 80 to 90 gallons. I figure the plants will soak up much of the fish waste. Also the pump takes care of water movement and I don't need to rely on the filter. I have some other canister filters that I can add if I find that they are needed.

The lighting is a catalina 48" T5 light with 4 bulbs (2 daylight and 2 plantgro bulbs were included). I have a 10 hour lighting period minus a 1 hour "siesta period." The plantgro bulbs are on the entire lighting period. The daylight bulbs are on with the plantgro (mid-day lighting period) for about 4 hours.

I'm infusing CO2 with a 20 pound compressed CO2 cylinder, a milwaukee regulator, and a pH probe shut off. The CO2 is on a timer and turns off at night and comes back on an hour before the lights. The CO2 brings the pH down to 6.8 from 7.6 that comes out of the tap.

So far I'm not adding ferts. I never have and so I'm letting it go so far to see how things work without.

I'll try to post new pics as the plants fill in. I welcome your comments and thanks for looking.
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Old 09-14-2009, 07:05 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: 75 gallon in the wall planted aquarium journal

Oh man! I want to be the first to say this is sooooo freakin' awesome!!!

Do you have any photos of the aquarium wall, stepping back from the tank showing the view from the "audience" room? I bet it looks fantastic!
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Old 09-14-2009, 07:39 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: 75 gallon in the wall planted aquarium journal

Beautiful! I'd also like to see it from a distance.



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Old 09-15-2009, 06:00 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: 75 gallon in the wall planted aquarium journal

Good idea. Here is a picture of the wall. Built in shelves are under construction and not yet installed. They will be under the aquarium.



Here is a picture from my favorite spot on the couch.



Thanks for your positive comments. I love sitting on the couch and gazing at the new aquarium.
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Old 09-15-2009, 06:21 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: 75 gallon in the wall planted aquarium journal

really nice , congrats
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Old 09-27-2009, 04:00 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: 75 gallon in the wall planted aquarium journal

Fantastic tank, write-up, and handy work.


Do you have a suspension system for the light to raise and lower it for maintenance?

What kind of difficulties, if any, do you experience with maintenance access only from the rear?
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Old 09-27-2009, 06:02 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: 75 gallon in the wall planted aquarium journal

It's really beautiful! The only problem I see it that I can't see the tank from all sides. I'd have my face pushed up to the front all the time peering into the depths for fish and plants.



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Old 09-30-2009, 10:43 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: 75 gallon in the wall planted aquarium journal

The light is on legs which rest on the rim of the tank. I can take the glass tops off easily to do maintenance.

The only problem I've had is seeing into the front left (as viewed from the front) of the tank when I'm reaching in. I can reach everything pretty easily, but can't see that corner when my arm is in the tank. I have to walk around or get someone to be my eyes to find something in that corner. Other than that, no problems at all.

Not seeing all sides of the tank is good and only a little bad. It produces a very clean look from the front and the only equipment you can see is the diffuser for the inflow. Remember, the entire back is clear. I thought you would be able to see through into the closet, but you have to look closely to do so. I have black cloth with magnets ready to be sewn in to serve as a removable background, but I haven't done it yet. I don't know if I really need it. I can stick my head around and see into the right side of the tank from inside the closet. So really the only side you can't look into is the left. I've used a hand mirror to look into corners before (where is that fish?), but haven't needed to so far with this tank.

Thanks again for the positive comments. The custom shelves are now installed and I'll be posting some more photos soon.

Jeremy
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Old 09-30-2009, 03:27 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: 75 gallon in the wall planted aquarium journal

wow, what a tank. wish I could build one like yours.
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Old 10-08-2009, 03:25 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default New Pics (5 months since setup)

The custom shelves are installed. Here is a view of the whole wall.



Here are some closer views of the aquarium.







Since my last post I've added a school of 16 Harlequin rasboras and a female apisto cacatuoides. Sadly the male apisto died while in the quarantine tank about 2 months ago. But just today my LFS had several locally raised males so I got a new one. He is currently resting comfortably in the quarantine tank.
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