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Old 04-26-2005, 05:04 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Need Help With A 300 Gallon Planted Discus Tank!!

I have just got dont building my 300 gallon tank 96"x24"x31"tall that i was originally just going to be for discus but now i have decided to go with a planted discus tank. I have never done a planted tank before but i do have 90 other tanks that are strictly south and central american breeding but never done a planted tank, I have been doing alot of reeding on here and had a few questions, on planted tanks alot of people say the ph changes at night alot due to the light going out, can you use a refugium like in a saltwater tank but really it would just be another smaller planted tank underneath the big tank to help stabalize the ph? I NEED HELP VERY BADLY!!! What do i need, sand? substrate? substrate heater? power compacts? flourescents? T8's? fluidized bed filter? i do have a sump for it with 2 bio chambers with bio- balls, will this work? HELP!!!!!!!!!! PLEASE!!!!!!!!
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Old 04-26-2005, 06:04 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XTREMEAQUATICS
I have just got dont building my 300 gallon tank 96"x24"x31"tall that i was originally just going to be for discus but now i have decided to go with a planted discus tank. I have never done a planted tank before but i do have 90 other tanks that are strictly south and central american breeding but never done a planted tank, I have been doing alot of reeding on here and had a few questions, on planted tanks alot of people say the ph changes at night alot due to the light going out, can you use a refugium like in a saltwater tank but really it would just be another smaller planted tank underneath the big tank to help stabalize the ph? I NEED HELP VERY BADLY!!! What do i need, sand? substrate? substrate heater? power compacts? flourescents? T8's? fluidized bed filter? i do have a sump for it with 2 bio chambers with bio- balls, will this work? HELP!!!!!!!!!! PLEASE!!!!!!!!
Well,you can forget about: Substrate heater, FBF's, stabilizing pH (it's just used to measure CO2 which we add for the plants, not to stabilize pH directly).

I'd suggest this:

CO2 tank, a 20lb tank, a regulator, eg Milwalkee with a solenoid/bubble counter/needel valve all in one. CO2 reactor in the sump, very simple item to make, a 3" PVC tube, some bioballs, cap both ends, add water at the top through a barbed end and cap with a cheap test cap on the bottom and drill a few small holes on the bottom, see www.theKrib.com for a similar idea.
Feed the CO2 into a powerhead's suction side that drives the reactor.(I'd suggest 2 such tubes and 300gph powerheads for each. Use a T to split the CO2 line and a barbed valve, or one large 600gph powerhead pump and 18"x 3" dia tube)

Sump:
Wet/drys are fine, make sure the wet/dry section is sealed.
Not air in/out.
Overflow box: raise the level up by using a pvc tube so that the distance is only about 4 inches between tank level and over flow level.
This will also make things quieter and save lots of CO2!

Lighting, I'd suggest powercompacts from A&H. 6x96 (35" long) watt will cove about 6ft and add another 3 x 55(22 long) for the end.

This will give you about 2.5 w/gal which is more than enough.
These lights are about 1.5 to 2x as bright as cheapy powercompacts and come with the best reflector made. This gives close to 2x the actual usable light compared to standard FL's. I'd turn on 4x96 and 2x 55 for 10 hours and all the lights on for 5 hours.

Light, CO2, next substrate:

You have plenty of tanks already, good.
You can vacuum all the dirt iout of an established tank's gravel.
Add this fresh dirt, I call it "mulm" to the bottom of the tank.
This has the bacteria (and carbon that the bacteria need to live on, (think carbs) that's not present in steril new tank gravel) you need. This adds precisely what is missing froma new tank's gravel.

Do not over look this step.Feed a bit into the filter section also to cycle that.

Next add about 10 handfuls of ground peat. Scott's brand etc.
Pre wet it and add this to the mulm.

You can use a number of commercial plant specific substrates.
I'd suggest Flourite for discus.
You can use sand if you want but once added, substrates are a PITA to replace. This will cost some $ but SeaChem may work a deal with you on a large amount. Call and ask.

I'd add at least 2" in the very front and up to abpout 5-7" in the rear, about 3-4" average depth. More is better.
Light? Less is better.
You can also use MPV turface, runs about 12-14$ for 50lb bag.
It's very light weight as are other substrates and with a deep tank, light weight and ease of planting is an issue. Heavier is better.

Add a a quick valve for fill and draining this large beast.
this will make water changes a snap. While the tank is draining filling, you can work on the plants/dose nutrients etc.

I work on a 350 gal and it takes about 1.5 hours total a week once it was set up and going.

Use a pH meter, not a controller, this will make add CO2 easier and not louse anything up with that should the probe fall out, go whacky or have stray current depress the pH from lighting etc.

Add CO2 about 1/2 hour before lights come on and turn the CO2 off about 1/2 before they go off. Shoot for an average of about 30ppm.

What is your source water like?
Hopefully it's fairly soft(KH namely), this is for the fish, not plants.

Plants: do your self a huge huge favor.
Add as many plants as you can from the very start. For a tank this size it will cost a lot. Make friends with folks that have cutting they sell or give away, this will make things cheaper.

Also: buy cheapy plants and let the slower growers fill in and phase out the cheapy plants as you see fit.

Do not neglect this part. You will pay!

Dosing routine:

If the CO2 is good when the lights are on, the tap water decent, you can do weekly water changes, then dosing is a snap.
Add about 1/2 these recommendations the first week. You can add full amounts but it'll not be used by the plants.

Traces, about 50mls a dose 2-3x a week.
KNO3: 3 table spoons, this will be reduced down once you add the Discus to about 1.5 Tablespoons.
KH2PO4: dose with the KNO3, 1 teaspoon
GH, if it's 5 or higher in your tap, you are okay, you can add 1 tablespoon of SeaChem Equilibrium each week in case you feel the K+, Ca++ or Mg++ is low. Adding more than the plants need at this amount will not cause any issues.

50% weekly water change, or more, I will sometimes do 70% etc. Does not take that much longer and I'm not touching a bucket.

Think long and hard about the design and what plants will grow at a rate that you will not mind trimming and pruning.

I'd suggest driftwood and adding ferns and moss etc to these.
Makes the scape look good and these are easy to deal with.

View as many larger Discus tanks and planted tank at 180gal or large as you can on the web to get an idea of what you want.

Fish load:
Discus will eat all your shrimps, so Amano shrimps are out. SAE's are okay, but some don't like them with Discus. Otto cats, farowellas etc are very good.
I would not add more than 21 adult fish in there.More is asking for trouble.
If you feed heavy, then reduce this amout of fish.
It's not NO3/PO4, it's all the NH4 they produce, plants use it(NH4) directly, but there are only so many plants in the tank relative to all this big old cichlids. Bacteria will get some of the excess NH4 should the plants not be able to keep up, but it's much better to err on the light side here and top off with KNO3 as a source of Nitrogen for the plants.

But if enough NH4 is present, and it does not take much, algae will bloom and a 300 gal tank is a PITA to deal with.

So less light, good CO2, lots of plants from day one, algae eaters, light fish load, mulm and you will do fairly well.

This will get you started on a good path
Regards,
Tom Barr


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Old 04-26-2005, 06:14 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Welcome to APC

PH changes at night are due to C02 injection not turning the light off.

Since juvenile Discus have to be feed so much, it is better to grow them out in a bare bottom tank first before being put into a planted tank.

Since Discus like warmer waters you will need to choose plants that also do also. Our sponsor has a list of plants that they sell...

http://aquariumplant.com/cgi-bin/car...scription.html

You need to decide the type tank you want to maintain, a low light/low maintenance or high light/high maintenance tank. Then you can choose the equipment needed for the setup you have chosen.

Take a look around the forum (do a search) and I'm sure that you will find answers to your specific questions.




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Old 04-27-2005, 04:01 AM   #4 (permalink)
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There are a few common sense things that you should remember when starting a tank;

Consistency
You will get advice from many different people that will suggest different or slightly different approaches. Stick to one method don't change approaches because any tank, not only a monster like yours must be run in a consistent manner.

Patience
Chances are you will face some challenges. Don't think that what you have in your mind should happen to the tank TODAY. Planted tank take anywhere from 6 weeks to 4 months to establish fully, depending on the approach you have taken.

Plan ahead
That goes with being consistent. Spending money on certain things is completely justified and hopefully you don't have to go back and redo things because you didn't plan well. A good example is the CO2 system - get what Tom suggested (20 lbs. bottle, regulator, solenoid) and you don't have to worry about anything.

Get everything in at once
Do NOT start with a few parts of the equipment missing thinking you will add them later.

Starting on the right foot
To me that is pretty much what will make a difference between the tank running you down or you running a beautiful easy to maintain tank.

And here are my takes on some things you should do:

1. Lights
Power compacts would not be my choice for a tank that size because of the heat they produce. I'd choose VHO's - the price is comparable if not less and the heat is nowhere near the PC's.

2. CO2
Definitely pressurized. But I'd go with a simple diffuser that disperses bubbles directly in the tank (much like an airstone) because I've had negative experiences using a sump on a CO2-injected tank. The CO2 loss was too high.

3. Substrate
None of the commercially available in the US bacteria additives seem to be good for seeding the gravel. What Tom suggested would be my choice too - mulm from an established tank. As he said - the bacteria is a must, don't skip that part.

4. Water changes
Whatever you decide to do make sure the way to change the water is not turning into a 3 hour affair. Such a big tank can quickly become overwhelming. Have permanent hidden hoses installed, use pumps to move water in/out. Ask for advice on that here.

5. Water movement
I think that for a 300 gals the actual water flow has to be at least 400 gph minimum. The more the better. Remember that pumps and filters are rated at 0 foot height. 5 feet higher a pump rated at say 300 gph will barely move 100 gph.


6. Plants
Post on APC that you are willling to pay a small amount for people's clippings. We always have plants to give away/trash/sell

There's more things to discuss but I will stop here. Ask as many questions as ou can before you have the tank set up. Remember - it needs to run consistently from the very start.

--Nikolay
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Old 04-27-2005, 04:53 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I feel your pain, X. Listen closely to the advice you are given here; I started a 240 gallon a few years ago and did not heed the good advice given to me by plantbrain and others, and paid out the nose for it.

You WILL appreciate it in the end. A giant planted tank is one of the most awesome things you can have in your possession.

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