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Okay, first serious foray into heavily planted aquaria in about 4 years, and the one 4 years ago was short-lived. Here's what I have and am planning...

115G Flat-back DAS tank, internal H-99 filter (Already own, former tropheus tank)
I have two 5-gallon buckets of a mixture of Flourite and small gravel (50 lbs. bag that I'm sure every knows.. it's Pool filter gravel) from a tank from about 4 years ago. Tank was only set up for about 4-5 months before I had to tear it down due to moving. I want to recycle this and add in enough additional to reach a 3" bed. Roughly a 50/50 mixture again for flourite and gravel.

Brother-in-law is a professional metal worker / welder. I am going to have a canopy made with two 175W 6500K Metal Halides on electronic ballasts, 3-5 DIY Moonlights from 5mm Ultra-bright LED's, and a pair of 4" fans in a push/pull windtunnel configuration. Canopy is going to be about 12" front-to-back and will have U-Shaped brackets on each end to rest on the inside lip of the tank. To the front and back, I want flat (1/2" thick or so) panels to cover between the light and the tank front/back. This way, I can pull the panels and slide the ligths forward or backwards to work on various parts of the tank.

I have a 10 lb. CO2 Bottle I got from a garage sale for $5. I want to add a regulator w/ dual gauges, solenoid, needle valve, pH controller set up that I recently saw advertised for $339 for a complete package. Basically, everything but a Light-Timer and the bottle (which I have). I think I can alter the plumbing of the filter in the internal filter to pump out to a CO2 dispenser (like the ones for sale in the For Sale forum) and still pipe back into the tank using the same return.

I have a single HUMONGEOUS piece of diftwood I'm going to try boiling in a 55G drum this weekend to see if I can get it to sink. Planning on boiling for 4-8 hours, dumping the water, refilling with cold water and repeating 3-5 times over the weekend. Combine that with the Flourite/Gravel mixture, some petrified wood, and some 'pagoda stone' to create a decent aquascape. If it doesn't sink, I have two pieces of 'Malasian Driftwood' I can use.

Once I have all the equipment, rocks, driftwood, etc in place, I plan on ordering the Plant Assortment Package #3 from Aquarium Driftwood to plant with. Proposed tank residents are:
Marble Hatchets
African Butterfly Fish (wife's request, I know he's gonna snag some meals)
2 Angels
Neon Dwarf Rainbows
2 German Blue Rams
Cardinals
Swordtails
Corydoras hastatus
L-138 Starry Night Pleco
Farowella
Lots of Ottos and Shrimp
Black Ghost Knife (Unless I can talk the wife out of it)


Local water is hard and high, but will be picking up a RO or RO/DI unit to make the water more acceptable.

I think that about sums up my current thoughts... Okay, where are my problem areas gonna be? What suggestions would you make?
 

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Cheyd said:
before I had to tear it down due to moving. I want to recycle this and add in enough additional to reach a 3" bed. Roughly a 50/50 mixture again for flourite and gravel.
I'm sure other will give a more complete answer, heres some things... (no experience with a lot of what you have planned) keep the flourite as a sub layer on the bottom, iron from flourite (or any soil/clay) is not available to plants in well oxygenated water. Add some peat (4 cups or so) or Earthworm castings and fish poo from an old tank (if available) to get things moving in that lower layer. Cap it good, 3" minimum, higher in the back... slope that substrate for a good look, mix flourite and organics into bottom 1"

Brother-in-law is a professional metal worker / welder. I am going to have a canopy made with two 175W 6500K Metal Halides on electronic
Have not worked with metal halides, they look great though. On a planted tank I have no feel for how much light this might be.

I have a 10 lb. CO2 Bottle I got from a garage sale for $5. I want to add a regulator w/ dual gauges, solenoid, needle valve, pH controller
Is the cylinder inspected recently? Was the valve open when you got it? If so the inside may have rusted out. Also most welding shops don't fill on site and require you to buy a right to a tank. This also covers the inspection issue.

set up that I recently saw advertised for $339 for a complete package. Basically, everything but a Light-Timer and the bottle (which I have). I think I can alter the plumbing of the filter in the internal filter to pump out to a CO2 dispenser (like the ones for sale in the For Sale forum) and still pipe back into the tank using the same return.
Okay, regulator is $55 or so, needle valve + adapters is $15, pH _monitor_ is $100, thats less than half price of your whole rig. If you aren't absolutely sold on a controller and a monitor would be okay, I would save the money and buy a LaMotte nitrate kit instead, spend the extra cash on plants.

I have a single HUMONGEOUS piece of diftwood I'm going to try boiling in a 55G drum this weekend to see if I can get it to sink. Planning on boiling for 4-8 hours, dumping the water, refilling with cold water and repeating 3-5 times over the weekend.
No idea here, stuff like this tends to smell tho, send significant other away if possible :)

2 Angells
Will eat pinnate plants like Rotala wallichii in case you didn't know, otherwise very nice.

Lots of Ottos and Shrimp
If you really want to the shrimp to do something, you're talking about 200 or so for a tank of that size, also 50 Otos to have an Amano style crew. Especially if some hair algae creeps up and you're wondering why the shrimp aren't doing their job, you really need a fleet.

Local water is hard and high, but will be picking up a RO or RO/DI unit to make the water more acceptable.
Okay, I wouldn't do this, but thats easy for me to say since my water is nice and soft. :) There are very few plants that care about water hardness, save a few delicate ones you would need to get from hobbyists anyhow. Unless you're breeding fish save some money here...

Overall sounds like a good plan, get CO2 fixed at 30ppm before turning lights on/setting up tank, watch nitrate doesn't drop below 5pmm and you should be in good shape. If nitrate dips below 5ppm by the Lamotte kit, consider adding nitrate and phopshate. Keep iron and trace levels nice and high, start with tons of fast growers, swap out later for more delicate things. Remember only bad things happen fast, go easy on dosing the first month, no dosing at all first week, iron the next two, then think about nitrogen, but this may not be necessary, especially with some N in tap. Work out a way to do 50% weekly water changes, maybe use money saved on controller versus monitor to invest in water change automation.

Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply, I've been checking for one every 3-4 hours or so... (I have no problems with patience... No Patience, No Problems :lol: )

Unfortunately, I can't separate out the Flourite from the gravel anymore. It's too well mixed. Since I do plan on adding more however, I'll try and put as much Flourite-only on the bottom 1". And I'll look at adding some peat as well. Unless I can pick some up on my next Dallas trip, mulm is outta the question.

I'm getting the 6500K bulbs for $20 each, a reefer I know ordered ballasts online and got the bulbs which he put in, and immediately replaced with 10K's. They have 6500K written on them, but he can't tell me who made them, but he says they were very 'yellow' in his reef. Sounds like they should work.

Valve was closed on the CO2 tank, but it hasn't been inspected recently. If push comes to shove, 'renting' a tank from a soda distributor is cheap enough. As for the Controller, I am kinda sold on one. I do want to be breeding a few fish, although I have some serious doubts that I'll actually be able to raise anything as I figure they'll get gobbled up by someone. I'll look at other kit options though as for pricing. Part of me wants to play with one of those Neptune controllers (I'm a computer geek, it appeals to me), but I wasn't wanting to go that expensive. I figure a basic pH Controller for the CO2 will work. I will pick up a new Nitrate Kit though... Mine are useless after 2+ years sitting in an unregulated storage unit.

As for the driftwood, I worked out a deal with the local Bar-Ba-Que place... They've got the firewood, the location, etc to do this, so they're gonna help me out. They've been hitting me up to build them a web site, so I figure they'll ask to swap services.

As for the Angels, I didn't know they'd eat the plants, but... Wife wants angels, wife gets angels. She put up with my tropheus obsession for a few years, and sat contentedly with the 60G while I used the 115G... This is her turn.

As for the Ottos, they'll be a later addition, as will the shrimp. I've seen far too many Ottos starve to death in tanks because there wasn't enough algae to keep them fed. I'm wait till the tank is up, running, and is showing a few signs of algae before I put any in... Then I'll start on 20-25 of them and see how they hold up. I'll increase by 5 ottos at a time so long as I see their belly's looking full.

As for the RO/DI, as I said, I have hard and high-pH water out of the tap. I didn't have to treat it to keep Africans, if that tells you anything. Anyways, unless the plants are able to pull the hardness down and the CO2 can pull the pH way down, I honestly think I might do better with the RO/DI then with tap. I'm open to suggestions though, if someone can offer some compelling testimony.

I plan on using a liquid fertilizer dosage starting week 3-4, problably one of the Flourish line. I'd happily welcome any input on this as well.

As for the automated water change, I'd LOVE to work out how to accomplish this, but sincerely have no bloody clues. I remember there used to an auto changer sold, used a continuous siphon/fill technique. But that was for doing a hefty amount of continuous change. Don't see it in any magazines / catalogs lately.
 

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MY ph is 8.0 out of the tap and i drive my ph to 7.2 ish with co2 at 30-35ppm. I have nopt failed to grow anything i have tried yet when my nutrients are right. Use earthworm castings i've heard awesome stories about them. I'm going to order some for my 20gallon tank.
 
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