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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well this is my first big post on APC. I've been working with aquariums for about 2 years now, mainly using them as "i have nothing to do, lets trim the aquarium" kind of thing. In other words, i did not take a lot of time to "work" on my aquarium.

My (old) 50 gallon tank:
I have been fascinated with the aquarium even since i first got my first, and when i moved to my appartment i decided to go from a 40L to a 180L aquarium. To convert these values to Gallons, you have to divide them by 3.8. So first i had a ~10 gallon and then i purchased a ~50 gallon.

Not long after i had this 50 gallon tank, i switched from the internal filter to a tetratec EX700 filter, and decided to inject CO2 using an Aquamedic 1000 reactor. Here are some pics of my first aquarium.

My (old/current) 125 gallon tank:
Almost 8 months ago, i switched to a 125 gallon tank and a 40 gallon sump. This has been nothing but a disaster to be honest. The overflow of my tank was wrongly build, and it had no second overflow. A snail got stuck in the overflow to my sump and the pump kept on pumping, well you get the idea.. I had a wet floor 3 times untill i finally got around and knew how to fix it.

The tank has 4x36w T8 lighting, with electronic ballasts, the return is done by a pond pump, and i have a UV filter attached. My electronics where not kept seperate from my water flow, so when the tank flooded i got a short circuit.

The hood of the tank was made from thesame material as my other furniture, meaning 18mm thick plywood. Off course, this was WAY to heavy, but then again, you never know you have to look out for something untill you bump your head.

I am injecting CO2 in such a manner that i have my PH steady at 6.8 with a KH of 5, giving me approx. 30ppm CO2. My lights are dimmed by an aquarium computer, which means i have a beautifull sunset and sunrise.

First i added CO2 directly using an air stone in my sump, but that caused me to use approx. 10kg of CO2/month which is (off course) not good for the environment. Right now i am using a reactor (Dennerle Cyclo Turbo XL) which is driven by a seperate pump in my sump.

I will spare you the other problems i had, but again, here are some pictures of the current tank.

My (new/in progress) 125 gallon tank:
Besides the seperation of the electronics from the water (100% seperated = no more short circuit) i had the idea to incorporate my return lines in my DIY background (made from isolation material, tile glue and epoxy coating) and off course there is a second overflow. There is also going to be a bottom heater and the other (good) parts of my current tank will move to the new tank.

The POND pump will be replaced by a pump which can be found in about every boiler in the world (yes, a boiler pump). These pumps are used a lot in the Netherlands, they have 3 different speed settings ranging from 30,45,60 watts and pumping out 900-1700 gallons per hour. Off course this is going to be less, since i am using a lot of PVC with bends and so on, but you'll get the idea.

The CO2 injection will be done (once again) by a Aquamedic 1000 reactor, which will be incorporated in my return lines. I will have 4 points from where my water will be returned, 3 below water and 1 spraybar which will keep the oily surface away. Besides that, it will also "move" all dead leaves to the overflow.

My lights are going to be upgraded. Instead of 4x36w T8 i am going to use 4x36w T8 and 2x54w T5. The reason i did not switch entirely to T5 is the initial price you have to pay. All in all i am going to end up with approx. 2.1w/gallon, maybe i'll add another two 54 T5's, meaning i'd go to 3w/gallon. All in all, it is way better then my current WPG which is 1.2w/gallon.

The stand will be made from metal piping, and is allready constructed, grounded and painted with hammerite black. Pictures describing the building progress will come very fast, since i am allready half way with the construction.

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
My (OLD) 120 gallon: construction

The last thing i did on my current tank was to fix the short circuit i had, by switching from 2 to 4 T8 lights. The plants responded very well to this, producing much bushier/compacter forms.

P.s. so far the (current) tank. Next pictures will be from the construction of my new tank, off course with pictures.

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well i was hoping for some reactions but unfortunately no-one has replied. Maybe it is because i did not give you enough information on my new tank. Well i'll let the pictures do the talking and i'll comment some of the pictures.

Right here you are seeing a picture of my CO2 tubing. My CO2 Canister is 20 kilograms and because of the size of the thing, my girlfriend asked if i could put it outside. Therefore i needed a very long tube. Unfortunately, each time the PH computer activates (due to the long tubing) a major ammount of gass is added to my reactor, causing it to "over-bubble" which means gass escapes.

Next step is off course the construction of my new tank. To be honest i am a very busy man (sometimes i just don't have the time to work on my tank because i need to work for my company, or i want to relax by playing a computer game)...

My background is also DIY, which means i had to glue in Styropane (tempex?) onto my aquarium wall. Because i hate the white background, i decided to paint them with schoolboard paint (the paint used in schools on the chalkboard). This paint is 100% non-toxic for fish which means i could easily use it.

After it had dried (took ages since i had to paint so many different sides) i glued it step by step into my aquarium, using water to apply pressure.


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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Next step was to model the background. I did not want any pipes to be visible when my tank is completed therefore i decided to integrate the pipes into my background. I also added a PVC pipe for my bottom heater, that way i don't see the cables from my bottom heater.

After a while, i used quick drying concrete to firm the piping. The following pictures show the left return, the CO2 return and the right return. The spraybar is not glued into the background.


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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Up next; model your background into something worth looking at and add "tile glue" (a few layers). As you can see, no more ugly pipes and nice rocky formation for algue to grow on and shrimps to walk on. It looked like this:

First layer of Epoxy coating (to dark):

Second layer of Epoxy coating (to red):

Third layer of Epoxy coating made the entire background look better. Still not convinced. I added sand to the epoxy to remove the shiny glow and to create a more realistic look.


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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thank you all for your nice comments! I'll try to answer some of the questions you have asked. First of all the question from Diana. The plumbing that is incorporated into the background are not used for intakes.

My overflow box explained:
The intake to my sump is done by using an overflow box. I have a combination of surface skimmer and bottom skimmer. As you can see by this picture.

The water flows over the comb, meaning i won't have that oily surface.

The water in my overflow box is lower (B) then in my aquarium, and this is CRUCIAL for the bottom intake to work. In my overflow box there are 2 pipes. One of them is the emergency (C) drain, attached to my sewer. This way, the tank can never overflow. The other one is the overflow to my sump. This is regulated using a ball-valve so it lets through just as much water as the amount of water that is pumped into my aquarium. This means that i have a 100% silenced overflow. On top of this are off course from those white filter watts (how do you call them in English) to filter out the biggest dirt.

Here you see the bottom skimmer. Off course this is not exactly as it will eventually look, but my drawing skills are not THAT good ;) Because the water level in my overflow box is lower then in my tank, the water "puts pressure" on the bottom skimmer and it pumps out (e.g. sucks) water into my overflow box. This also works in my current setup, so i am not worried it won't in my new ;)

So i have incorporated my returns (from the sump) in my background, allowing me to keep every aspect of PVC and electronics out of the water. There are 4 returns in total, which are numbered below.
A) return in front of the glass
B) return in front of the glass
C) return of co2 injected water
D) spraybar

I decided to "split" my returns into 1 and 2, to prevent dead water spots on the side of "2", and to decrease the chance of blue algue. Also this allows for more circulation which means off course more nutrients for the plants to pick up. Also the fish like this more.

One of the problems of incorporating the returns in the background of the aquarium, is off course the power outage. When the power goes "out", i would have a siphon, draining almost 2/3 of my aquarium. To circumvent this, i've put a non-return value of size 32mm (1 1/4") which will "stop" the water. Although this has a very high resistance before it "opens" (= less pump power) it is the most safe way to work.

The planning
@guaiac_boy: yes it has been a lot of carefull planing. As i might have said, it was the result of spending quite some money, and i came home twice with water on the floor (snail was caught in overflow). All these issues are addressed now, so if this doesn't work i'll stop with the aquarium hobby ;)

As for my lightning, at first i wanted to go with 4x36w and 2x54w. Meaning 6 fixtures with a total light capacity of 248w, meaning 2w/gallon if everything is on. But.. Yesterday i want to a fellow hobbyist from the Netherlands, and he convinced me to go to T5 all the way, so i might end up with 7(!!) 54w lamps, totaling 378w (3.02w/gallon) If that doesn't give me algae (ehh nice plants) then i don't know..

As for the hood (which i will explain in detail later) i am going for a so called "sandwich hood'. This hood originally came from "Willem v Wezel" as you might or might not know. He is famous for being excellent at dutch planted aquariums and some of his pictures have been posted a few times on this forum.

The hood itself will not be any higher then 2-3", this is possible since i have put my stabilizers relatively low in my tank. The inside of the hood will be 3mm plywood, on which the fixtures are mounted. The plywood is grounded white and then painted with outdoor quality white high gloss paint. Here in the Netherlands some of us has measured the intensity of the lights with and without reflectors, and the conclusion was that a white hood was much and much better then reflectors.

@jack; Although canister filters are also a very good choice, i must admit that i am one of the very few to use a sump for a planted tank. The reason for this is that i am not sure if i always keep a planted tank. I might move to Peru altums or maybe discus in the future, and then i would need as much filtration as i could possibly fit under my stand ;)

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Did some trimming on my current tank:



The Eheim filters have been running for a week to replace my sump for a while.

I was emptying my sump to move the new tank to the old spot:

Electronic ballasts have arrived ;)

Next up, drilling of glass and adjusting sump a bit...

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Well it is about time for an update. To be honest, the new tank is allready running since last friday, but i am still working on the canopy. Here are some pics since the last update:

Drilling glass didn't work out the way i expected it to be:

Lot's of piping:

The tank is on the stand for the first time:

You can allready see some of my plumbing lying at the bottom:

First light fixture installed, just to see the background:

Installing pump security. This way, the pump can't run dry. Someone from the netherlands made this for me. Basicly it is a relais attached to a floater which is located in the last section of my sump. If the water level drops, a contact is made and the power is cut from the 2 sockets you see there.

Adding the sides:

Added lights in the filter "chamber".



Installing the old sump with new holes.


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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
Moving from old tank to new tank:

^ NOT Me ;)


Quick-view of the current plumbing, attached to the tank:


Had to make an adjustment to the CO2 reactor (p.s. tank didn't stop running. Due to the excessive ammount of plumbing, i was able to remove the reactor without spoiling water):

Last picture (9-1-2008):

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
Some answers to some questions made:

John said:
"I honestly would incorporate a water change system but that's just me."

Actually the requirements are allready there. As you can see, i have incorporated a floater in the last compartment of my sump, this is attached to electronics which will turn off my pump and heater in case there is a low water level. On the other hand i can also make it so that it will turn on a water flow to refill my tank. I am currently living at an apartment, so i don't have the means to drill holes in the wall. In the next house, there will also be a connection to the sewer.

IceTerran said:
"You have done some incredible plumbing work on the sump and returns, I only have some questions:"

1) Is it a wet/dry sump or is it just wet
It is a 100% wet sump. I will make some pictures of the sump plumbing so you can see how i made it all.

2) do you have a top to your sump to seal in c02?
No, first i injected the CO2 into my sump using an air stone, but it is mainly to keep the heat in the sump, and also to keep the water damp in the sump. It also helps to minimize the noise of the sump.

3) does your tank have any type of lid to reduce c02 loss?
You mean canopy? Yes there will be a canopy, but i am still making it. It will not be any higher then 2".

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
Long time no update (29th of Januari):
Thanx to Easylife (liquid filter medium) i can adjust the flow of my water exactly.



Canopy on the frame:

Connecting the wires:

Clean up the wires:


This resulted in a lot of moisture, meaning my canopy became ruined.

WIth 1 TL:

Working on my own DIY aquarium computer (more to come)


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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
Another big update.. Since the start of my tank i have 216w above it. Meaning ~0.5w/gallon. It is not yet being dimmed by a computer but that is in the works. I add PO4 and NO3 daily and Trace elements on a weekly basis.

Some plants have a little bit difficultys:

Rasbora galaxy's: (i have 50 :p)


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