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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As many of you know, I've been wanting to do a big tank for many years now. I've pestered many of you endlessly about ideas and finally things are starting to come together. This thread will hopefully be a running journal of the adventure, misadventures, algae attacks, etc, etc.

We recently moved to Idaho from Massachusetts and went through all the pains of moving fish and plants. So far, 24 or 25 fish made it and the plants seem like they'll eventually recover. Learning the new water chemistry is going to be interesting. I'm going from New England water with a GH of 3 and a KH <1 to well water with a GH of 21! and KH of 5.

We moved into a bigger house with a perfect space for a big tank in the basement. It will be directly on a concrete floor, with plumbing available in the utility room right behind the family room. I'll be pulling up some carpet to create a tile area since I've learned my lessons about splashing on the carpet. I need to do a little plumbing to bypass the water softener and verify that the floor drain will handle 100 gallons at a time, but it looks like it will work out ok.

I ordered the tank a week ago from "The Aquarium" in Salt Lake City. I spent hours looking for an Oceanic tank, but had to settle for an All-Glass 180 due to availability issues. To cover up the trim, "The Aquarium" has a cabinet maker who is putting together a custom stand and hood that should match the cabinets in the house.

The tank will be 72"x24"x24". I'm still bouncing between using 150W metal halide HQIs versus AH-Supply's 55W kits with 9,325K and 6,500K bulbs. I might settle on CF's due to the cost and my lack of experience with HQI's.

For filtration I'm trying to decide between 2 Eheim 2128 thermofilters, or a single Eheim Pro III (rated for up to 320 gallons). The single Eheim Pro III would probably be cheaper, but wouldn't be as redundant. I'm starting to realize that expenses scale up very quickly with big tanks, so trying to contain costs is probably pointless, but it deserves at least a some consideration.

I'll probably use an additional in-line pump to provide some extra circulation through a spraybar and to run a 3" PVC CO2 reactor and UV if I ever need it. I'm still trying to decide between a Milwaukee and a Pinpoint CO2 controller.

Fish will be a big school of congo tetras, a school of rummies, a school of corries, some otos, maybe some shrimp if the congoes will leave them alone, a few rams, and maybe a few threadfin 'bows or marble hatchetfish.

Substrate will be Soilmaster Select - Charcoal, since I happen to have 200 lbs of it in my garage. Plants will be mostly slow growing species including Crinium calamistratum, Blyxa auberti, Blyxa japonicum, various Crypts, Cyperus, Anubias, Lobelias, Lysimachia, Java fern, hopefully an HC foreground, and a few strategic clumps of stemmies to round it out and consume all my free time. It will be interesting to see what will survive in this hard water.

I guess I need to get a call into Manzanita to see what they can come up with for wood. I'd like to soak it for a while before it goes in the tank.

Pictures will follow as soon as the tank and cabinet are done. I'll show some of the plumbing and tile work so you can laugh and cry along with me.

Also, any advice regarding equipment would be appreciated. Mistakes at this scale can be costly.........
 

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Hi Guaiac_boy,

I also have a 180 gal project in the pipeline, however I am probably a few months away before it gets off the ground. I have done research in the areas of lighting and filtration etc for a 180 so I will be interested to see how things work out for you.

With respect to lighting, I was thinking of going with 3 150watt HQI's which gives 2.5watt per gal. What are peoples thoughts on this? I think it will be ok providing I don't go for any plants which have high light requirements.

Good luck and keep us posted with your developments.

Mark.
 

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WooHoo! I look forward to living vicaroiusly through you on this:) Don't worry about the Gh and kH. My new Mass well water is Gh 24, kH 4.5. The only plants I lost in the move were Ludwigia arcuata, Pogostemon helferi (cry) and Tonina sp but I think they succumed during packaging and moving and were almost dead when I planted them. As of now the only plant I am having trouble with is Rotala vietnam, not supprising really to me. I have an intense love hate relationship with it, it's very pretty but I can never grow it. I hate that! Even Eriocaulon sp is growing well and happy in that water.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
shewey said:
With respect to lighting, I was thinking of going with 3 150watt HQI's which gives 2.5watt per gal. What are peoples thoughts on this? I think it will be ok providing I don't go for any plants which have high light requirements.
2.5 wpg for a 180 gallon tank is high lighting by almost any standard. The watts/gallon rule really breaks down for small and large tanks. 2.5 wpg over a 180 is probably similar to 4 wpg over a 20g tank, all other things being equal. If I went with HQI's I'd do it exactly like you...... one 150W HQI per 2' seciton of tank. You should be able to grow anything under that.
 

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guaiac_boy said:
2.5 wpg for a 180 gallon tank is high lighting by almost any standard. The watts/gallon rule really breaks down for small and large tanks. 2.5 wpg over a 180 is probably similar to 4 wpg over a 20g tank, all other things being equal. If I went with HQI's I'd do it exactly like you...... one 150W HQI per 2' seciton of tank. You should be able to grow anything under that.
Thanks for the info. Lighting for a 180 is certainly a tough decision. Now I am wondering if 3 150's is overkill for the type of plants I am looking at growing.

Cheers,
Mark.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Just an update..... The tank is finally here!!!

We picked it up in Salt Lake City last weekend, and with the help of a few people who used to be my friends, it's now in the basement. This sucker is heavy. I still need to do some plumbing, and I'll be removing some carpet to create a tiled area, so for now it is sitting in the middle of the family room. I talked to the guys at Manzanita today and for some reason they hadn't shipped my order yet. They say it will go out today.





The next quest will be to poke around the mountains here for some nice rock. I went on a little drive a few days ago and found some areas that look promising. Having just enough knowledge of geology to be dangerous, I'll take a bottle of acid with me, just to make sure I'm not gathering up huge quantities of limestone. :)

More later........
 

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I think the guys at Manzanita are really busy, I had to call a couple of times for them to pick up the phone and puting the order for them seemed rushed, but I understand. Now that more people ate setting up tanks with the wood they provide, they have to be very busy.
 

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Looks good Bryce! That woman looks tiny compared to the tank;) You should take a photo with all your kids in the tank, I believe that is standard procedure for large tank journals at the reef forums.

The stand and hood look sharp though if I may critique one thing, I would see if the hinges can be switched to allow the door to swing open and rest flat on the top. Right now that just looks like a headache waiting to happen.

Keep an eye on Manzanita.com. In my expereince, if they rush the quality goes down. I have never understood the buisness concept of being sorry about mistakes due to work load. If the load is more than you can handle on time, you either need to hire more people or take fewer offers, or figure out how to get the work done as promised without sacrificing quality. Sorry for the rant in your thread.

Exciting updates GB!
 

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guaiac_boy said:
For filtration I'm trying to decide between 2 Eheim 2128 thermofilters, or a single Eheim Pro III (rated for up to 320 gallons). The single Eheim Pro III would probably be cheaper, but wouldn't be as redundant. I'm starting to realize that expenses scale up very quickly with big tanks, so trying to contain costs is probably pointless, but it deserves at least a some consideration.
I happened to be at my lfs when their equipment supplyer rep was in the store. Ebo jager heaters are now owned by Eheim and according to him the return rate on those heaters is 40% or more since Eheim bought them out. The Ebo Jager is the heater in the thermofilters. His recomendation was the Hydor brand heaters.

I don't know for what reason he is seeing that many Ebo Jagers being returned. It could be user error or they could have quality issues they didn't have befor Eheim bought them. The thermofilter can be run without the heater since the heater and filter are on separate power cords.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I agree with you about the canopy hinges, but the way he did the trim, there doesn't seem to be any other way to do it. The lids do seem to stay up ok on their own, so we'll see how it goes. As for Manzanita, I think I'll call later today just to "get the tracking number."

I'm still trying to decide if I like the canopy. It's high enough that I should be able to work inside the tank even after the lights are installed. My only worry is poking the back end of my big tweezers up into the electronics or into a fluorescent tube. ZZZZZZZZZap. But then I compare it to the space available over my 46g and I think it'll be ok. I will need to add a piece along the back once I get the plumbing figured out. I just can't stand to loose fish over the wall.

See what you think about this equipment. I keep changing my mind on a few items:

Eheim 1260 pump for circulation, DIY CO2 reactor, & possible future UV. There will be a 1" suction intake and a DIY PVC spraybar that will run along the length of the tank against the back wall, partially burried in the substrate. This is the best idea I can come up with to ensure even CO2 distribution in a tank this big.

Two classic 2217 Eheim canisters for filtration & a bit more current. I can't see much advantage to going with a thermofilter since they're so $$$. It's hard to go wrong with classic eheims. My big concern here is that I'll end up with a total of 3 intakes & 3 returns. It'll take some planning to hide that mess. 1" intakes can easily look ridiculous in a nice 'scape.

I appreciate the info on the heaters SnakeIce. I've liked the Ebo Jager, but maybe I'll look at the Hydors. Something in-line would be nice, but I've heard that these don't usually work very well.

Lighting - I've got this figured out in my mind, but that's a topic for another day. For now..... HQI's 150Wx3 with about 1 wpg T-8's to supplement.
 

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I would go with the HQI lighting and supplemental flourescents setup. Have the fl bulbs on for 12 hours a day and the HQI for only 6-7 hours and you'll have less battles with algae and healthy plants.

This also provides a cool sunrise / sunset effect. The fish probably appreciate not having all 500+ watts coming on at once also. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
The order from Manzanita.com showed up a couple of days ago. It did take a couple of phone calls to actually get it in the mail, but I'm pretty impressed with the quality and quantity that they shipped.

I can tell that it's going to take a few tries to arrange this into something that looks nice. It also occurred to me that I don't have a place big enough to soak all of this. :)


As for lighting, I've settled on a 4x39W T-5 retro kit from reefgeek.com for regular viewing supplemented by a 3-150 HQI retro kit from hellolights.com. This all comes with electronic ballasts and pretty good reflectors, so it should work pretty well. I took a trip to a lighting store and decided the T-5s were very slick & much more efficient compared to T-8 or T-12 bulbs. Getting the lighting parts ordered and installed will be a project for after I get the tank situated and the plumbing done.

The Eheim in-line pump, 2 canister filters, 2 in-line hydor heaters, and a few other odds & ends are in the mail. The next task will be to pull up some carpet, do a little tile work, and run the plumbing through the wall behind the tank. I'm still trying to invent a good way to bypass the water softener. It looks like I'll be looking around for a real plumber for this part.
 

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Are you not worried that this will be a little too much light?

The 3 halides would have been more than enough.

Why add to it?

As for the Manzanita, why not screw stainless steel bolts into the bottom to add weight?
 

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I think the idea is that the halides are for growing and are only on for 6 hours a day or so. The T5s are just so the tank can be viewed for more than 6 hours and are on for 12 hours or so. This also makes for a cool dusk/dawn effect.
 

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guaiac_boy said:
I can tell that it's going to take a few tries to arrange this into something that looks nice. It also occurred to me that I don't a place big enough to soak all of this. :)
Cheap kiddie pool in the backyard? When I was doing my thesis for my BFA I had seaweed soaking in the bathtub. The SO didn't like that ;).
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
An update.... The Eheim pump & canister filters showed up along with some in-line Hydor heaters. They might be slightly undersized, but the house temp stays pretty constant. Maybe I should be worried about keeping the tank cool - we'll see how it goes with the lights. The Eheim 1260 pump is a monster. I hooked it up in the sink just to play with it a little bit. I was very pleased with the flow it produces. It will slow down some as it goes through the CO2 reactor, a mile of PVC, a couple of valves, and an outlet spraybar, but it should still do ok. Hopefully this, combined with the two classic 2217's will keep dead zones to a minimum.

Anyone care to comment on the need/usefulness of a UV system? They get a little expensive at this scale - probably 40W would be about right, but plumbing-wise it would be easier to plan for it now. I've got a touch of GW in my 46g bow, but that's my fault for stirring up the substrate too much. I'm just having nightmares about a possible full-blown 180g GW problem. If I get one, I'd probably hook it up so that I could bypass around it when it wasn't needed. My wife has been pretty understanding (tolerant) so far, but a 6'x2'x2' swamp isn't her idea of a good investment.

My son has a cub scout badge that requires him to set up and maintain an aquarium for a couple of months. He has therefore been assimilated into the project, which is a good thing for both of us. It's taking quite a while to get all the goodies together, but picking all the components is half the fun. More pictures will be coming once the tile work and plumbing gets going - We're still waiting for parts.
 

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Nice progress, it's taking me forever to get the stuff I need for my new 40g to come in, I had planned this since June and still the equipment is slowly trickling in..... How many weeks did it take to finally see the wood show up? I've called them 3 times already. What is the main purpose of a UV anyway? I always though it was just to protect against green water? It's nice that you get your family involve in your hobby. My family could careless, except maybe my dear mother haha.
 

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Depending on the flow rate through the UV, also known as dwell time, many pathogens as well a algae spores are killed. Besides keeping algae at bay it is a prophilatic effect in keeping the fish healthier. UV cannot distinguish between good and bad bacteria and will kill all. Some might think this may be an issue, rest assured it is not. The beneficial bacteria colonize the substrate and leaves as well as the bio-media of the filters and are not as free floating as predatory bacteria.

40 Watts is overkill 15W is sufficant for a FW tank of this size. Remember it is a closed loop and the same water will circulate through the unit again and again. Look at the Aqua Ultraviolet brand. I used the model with a wiper included and was very happy with it. http://www.aquaultraviolet.com
 

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Guaiac Boy,

That is going to be one beautiful setup. I'm very envious. Your wife must be very understanding.

Since you've gone this far, I would definitely spend alittle more and get a UV.
I have one on my 72g bow and I've never looked back. It gives you more wiggle room if things do get stirred up. It's really a win, win for the fish and to keep GW away. There's very little downside IMO to having one. I once spoke to Seachem about the FE effects and they felt as long as you dose reguarly (which your suppose to anyway) there shouldn't be a problem. I know my Rotala is very red.

Fish wise, I used to have trouble acclimating cardinals, batch after batch I would lose 40% during the first week. They would always come down with some infection and succumb. Since the UV, I could honestly say I don't lose any. I think it gives the fish a better chance during acclimation when the fish is stressed because of the fish's lower resistance to pathogens which the UV eliminates (assuming flow rate is correct)

Anyway good luck with the setup!
 
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