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Old 09-02-2007, 12:26 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Advice wanted

Quote:
Originally Posted by guaiac_boy View Post
I set up a 180g planted tank a little over a year ago. The journal is here. You can see what I did for equipment and such.

Planning a low-maintainence tank (no stemmies) is probably a smart idea for such a large tank. I'm slowly moving that direction, but just love the stem plants too much to let them go. That said, most people who set up large tanks use cheap, rapid-growing stemmies to get the system off to a good start. Do not underestimate the quantitiy of plants you'll require. Stability is the key to staying on top of algae issues. Stability does not exist in a new tank, but healthy, eager, rapidly growing stemmies help a lot. You can gradually transition to a lower-maintainence tank over time.

An absolute must for a tank of that size is a good built-in system for doing waterchanges. Lighting will be your primary place to spend money. Do some research here and make sure you end up with something that will match your intended goals.

I would also strongly advise against starting off with a 215g as your first planted tank, first high-light, or first CO2 supplemented system. Simple equipment or technique mistakes on a 20g tank are no big deal. The same mistakes at the scale you're talking about get very expensive and are difficult to correct without enormous effort.

It is possible to start of with a large tank as your first planted setup, but only if you've done extensive research and have good friends with lots of experience to help you along. If not, you'll soon be waging algae wars on a scale that will seem unbelievable.

One final note concerning CO2.... It is notoriously difficult to provide even distribution of nutrients in larger tanks. CO2 injected into one corner will not diffuse to the other side of the tank without rather strong circulation. If you go with diffusors, I'd recommend at least 3 or 4 separate devices for a tank of that size. That many can quickly becomes an eyesore. IMO a reactor is the most simple and un-obtrusive method of CO2 injection. You can divide the outflow to allow for broad distribution of the dissolved gas. If I did my tank over again, I would have drilled the tank to allow for a spraybar along the back wall, but without the obtrusive centerline PVC return pipe or the return pipe in the corner. Don't use less than a 20lb CO2 cylinder either. Mine lasts about 5 or 6 months for my 180g tank. More frequent changes than that become tedious.
The 215 is what I have and what I am going to use. Research has always proven to be the solution to tasks of this proportion. I have very little desire for small tanks, and when you have less desire to keep something- you are inevitably bound to fail.

Water changes are no issue. I'm not completely opposed to buying new lighting however, the plan was not to keep plants with high light requirements- Java moss, crypts, etc.

Unfortunately, Drilling is not an option with the glass used in Oceanic tanks. I would have loved to have received the drilled bottom and overflow.

Looking forward to finishing reading your 180g journal.
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Old 09-02-2007, 10:15 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Advice wanted

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Originally Posted by hoppycalif View Post
You can put the CO2 reactor in the filter return line and you can also use an in line heater in the return line. That gets two pieces of equipment out of the tank. But, as guaiac boy said, you have to take a lot of care to get good water circulation all over the tank to get the CO2 enriched water to all of the plants in the tank. Using two canister filters is a good way to do that. Rena Filstar filters are not the top of the line filters, but they do provide a lot of flow at a low price, so I would use two XP4 filters, with the heater and a CO2 reactor in one and just a CO2 reactor in the other, with the inlet pipes located to make sure the circulation pattern is a good one.
I have available to use two Fluval 405s and a fluval FX. I feel comfortable using them and surely money could be better spent than just switching to another brand with similar designs. I suppose unless there are multiple outputs, or a power head in the tank, I would have to use some sort of a submersible spray bar system to distribute the water coming back from the filter across the 6 foot length.

As I understand it, surface scum is fairly common (from excess nutrients combined with relatively calm surfaces), especially since with a CO2 system I don't want to disturb the surface too much because this can render the CO2 less useful (Am I correct?). Would it be advisable to design a filter intake that simulates a skimmer, but takes water in across the top of the tank?



** Actually, I just had a thought, would it be best to have the UV sterilizer in-line with the filter intake, or the filtered output...? The former means there would be dirtier water passing through the UV, rendering the process less useful. The latter means that the UV would destroy any of the beneficial bacteria in the water that may come out of the filter (even though the media and substrate is holding the crucial reserves of it)

Quote:
Originally Posted by hoppycalif View Post
When setting up the tank for the first time, make a big effort to get as much mulm from someone elses tank as you can, just before you set up the tank. Then add that to the substrate, at the bottom. Adding a very, very thin layer of ground peat beneath the substrate, with the mulm, is also a good idea. That gives the beneficial bacteria a jump start. The load of stem plants, like hygrophila difformis or ludwigia repens that you add to start out, is to make sure there are enough growing plants in the tank to immediately use up any ammonia that appears in the tank as it begins to build up its nitrifying bacteria colony. That ammonia, not excessive fertilizing, is what triggers algae blooms.

Also, start out with only moderate lighting - about 200 watts of T5 bulbs in good reflectors, or up to twice that of CF bulbs in their less good reflectors. That makes any algae bloom start up much slower so you have a chance to correct the problems that caused it. Using very hight light to start out means the whole tank can get algae before you even notice it is there. Later, if you want to, you can increase the lighting, after you have learned more, and the beneficial bacteria is all up and running.
Mulm will be hard to acquire... As I have no friends with aquariums at the moment. However, I'll clean out three 48 gallon display tanks at work and grab some sludge from the sponges in their Fluval 304's.

I have a friend who is opening their own fish store, maybe I'll have him bring in a box of bunch plants for really cheap and return the ones that do well and grow, in exchange for something that I'm looking to keep.

For you suggestions, I have pretty much inline with what you are thinking of with the compact fluorescents. It passes through glass though, since I may be keeping hatchets, but also because the tank has a 24" support bar in the middle too. I'd be nice to have an open topped aquarium with a nice hanging light, but the room its in is just my undecorated bed room. It sits as the beds headboard. Nothing fancy or special.
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Old 09-02-2007, 10:33 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Advice wanted

Current plans for plants in the final design may include:

-Dwarf Hairgrass (Eleocharis parvula)
-Java moss (Vesicularia dubyana)
-Willow Moss (Fontinalis antipyretica)
-Windelov´s Fern (Microsorum pteropus 'Windelov')
-Crypts

Maybe Elodea (Egeria densa)


Population:

-Otos
-Cardinals
-Rummy nose
-Amano Shrimp
-Corydoras (some dwarf species, not sure yet)

Maybe Hatchets, Puntius Denisoni

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Old 09-03-2007, 05:56 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Advice wanted

Do not worry about the UV unit killing free-floating bacteria. The bacteria that actually do beneficial work in the aquarium are attached to the substrate, plants, grass, rocks, driftwood etc. In general, free-floating bacteria are the ones you want to kill. People have differing opinions about UV units. I use one 24/7 and the plants are doing fine. I've turned it off for weeks on end with no apparent change.

So about the 215, just make sure you do a ton of research before-hand and you should do fine. Surface skimmers are a good idea for planted tanks, but it's actually pretty hard to find a good one. Eheim makes one that works, but requires frequent fidgeting to tune it in. Useing a sump would make it easy to design one that would work stunningly, but most planted people aren't too crazy about sumps.
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Old 09-03-2007, 06:47 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Advice wanted

The Fluval filters should work fine. I missed that you already had them. Don't get carried away with trying to keep the water surface calm. That is where most of the oxygen gets into the water, so it is a very good idea to have a slightly rippled surface from the water circulation. You can get that by having the spray bar near the top and pointed slightly down. You will use more CO2 that way, but CO2 is very cheap, and if you use a 20 pound bottle you still won't run out too rapidly. I prefer to have my filter input at the bottom of the tank, but I have an overflow at the top, which works with a continuous water fill system.

Now, back to the water fill system: Don't neglect this! There is absolutely no way to enjoy a tank that big unless water changes are extremely easy - open one valve and shut another, wait for the water to drain, shut one valve and open another, wait for the tank to fill. You will be changing up to half the tank full of water every week so this is absolutely essential. Best is a hard plumbed system with just a couple or three valves to operate to do a water change. If I were designing a water change system for your tank I would design around a fixed overflow pipe at the top and another at near the bottom of the tank. I would use the one at the top to set up a continuous water change system, so water was constantly trickling in the tank, and out the top overflow. The bottom one would be so I could drain down the tank for maintenance.
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Old 09-03-2007, 09:11 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: Advice wanted

-There is no possible way to plumb in this tank, and regardless, I hope to move sooner than later.
-Not sure why so much importance is put on it, but what is so bad about using a Python?

-Probably looking at using a pond UV sterilizer. With a high number of sensitive tetras, it should help.

Quarantine tank will be a 20 gallon, hidden within the stand. Running with a couple Aquaclear units and a UV sterilizer rated for up to 95 gallons, so that should help weed out any infectious diseases.
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Old 09-03-2007, 09:52 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Default Re: Advice wanted

Python + 210g tank = neglected waterchanges....... at least unless you have nothing better to do with 2 or 3 hours per week. At the very least you'll forget someday that it's on and you'll have a minor flood, etc. etc.... just my $0.05.
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Old 09-03-2007, 10:01 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Default Re: Advice wanted

I'll be fine with the python. I use them very often at work. The same tank at work takes about 60 minutes to do a 30% water change. Of course this depends on your taps flow rate and if you are vacuuming or not.

Floods are my specialty actually. I breed chameleons and their cages each have a misting system and a dripping system (The are tropical, and do not drink standing water), so It is not uncommon to have minor floods. The basement is only half finished and the side that is "finished" is just barely so.
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Old 09-03-2007, 10:55 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Default Re: Advice wanted

The reason we emphasize the built in water change system is the experience we have had on our own tanks. When I set up a 120 gallon tank several years ago I was fortunate in that the wall the tank was against had the garage on the other side, with a laundry tub set up. It was easy to plumb in a fixed water change system, so I did, largely for the fun of doing it. But, that system caused me to do routine weekly water changes, without seeking excuses for skipping them. I had previously had a 40 gallon tank and relied on buckets to do water changes.

Today I use a python type setup to do big water changes, and I have no problem at all rationalizing why a change isn't necessary. Eventually I installed my continuous water change system, hard plumbed in, and it has greatly improved the health of my aquarium. I still have to use the python device to do major maintenance, and my reluctance to do that is still a problem for me.

Of course if you continue to enjoy the tank so much and have enough time and energy you will still do the needed maintenance. But, after a year of that, who knows. In any case if you can't do it, there is no point in belaboring the subject.
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Old 09-03-2007, 11:13 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Default Re: Advice wanted

I do understand how convenient a system as such would be. Weekly (up until a month ago before renovations) I did a water change and filter maintenance on; a 1500 gallon pond (backwashed through a drain, but hose filled), a 215 gallon Discus tank, a 130 Gallon plant/Anglefish tank, a 48 gallon and a 60 gallon. In addition to that a Marina goldfish unit that had twelve 20 gallons and a sump.

Exactly, it is just not possible in its current location, nor desired when I do hope to be moving sooner than later. So lets not dwell on luxuries that cannot be afforded, and concentrate on those that can.
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