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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
At long last I am ready to set up a new tank. The technical decisions have been guided by the generous advice and discussions by members of DFWAPC, especially the threads "An (excited)word about filtration" and "Discussion of laminar vs. turbulent flow".

Specifications

Tank--40 gallon "breeder", 18" x 36" x 16" tall
Stand--black metal office cabinet, reinforced and modified
Light--48" Coralife fixture with 2 T5 NO 6700K tubes, suspended 4" above the tank. Yes, it hangs over the ends. I estimate this to be medium lighting; fixture can be raised or lowered to adjust.
Filtration--Eheim 2217 with coarse pre-filter on the intake, and 100% lava rock bio-media in the cannister. Intake and outflow are mounted in the middle of a short side.
Additional circulation--Tank layout will have two locations for Koralia powerheads to boost the circular flow pattern in the tank if needed.
Substrate--mineralized Miracle Grow Organic Choice potting mix with added KCl and clay, capped with natural quartz gravel and/or expanded shale.
Other decor--Texas "holy rock" limestone, driftwood may be added depending on appearance of stone.

No heater or CO2.

Here are some pictures of the black box. I'll post more when the stone and substrate are in. Comments, critiques, and suggestions are welcome!

--Michael
 

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looks nice DDAA (leon) was selling scaping stones at the tca swap meet.
can't wait to see what you come up with...
 

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Bill has been inspired by the same filtration thread. Looking as his huge gathered stash it looks like he has enough equipment to power a small freshwater SEAWorld!

I'll be interested to see what you come up with. About the rock... interestingly enough, at last years AGA conference I was talking with Karen Randall and she said that in the other parts of the world they never worry about what type of rock they use. She said with regular water changes it really ceases to be an issue. I thought that was quite interesting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks, Joe and Tex Gal.

I thought a long time about the rock. Most holy rock arrangements are garish and unnatural looking. A neighbor wanted to discard a pile of the stuff that had been weathering in his yard for decades. I picked through and found smaller, well-oxidized pieces with a lot of character, and not very many holes. So this will be a subdued holy rock arrangement. I also discovered that the African cichlid keepers take their rock out and power-wash it periodically to keep it bone-white and refresh the surface so that it can continue to leach minerals into the water. My rock has only had a light wash to remove loose soil--the gray, oxidized surface is intact.
 

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I love the way your setup is going. Your lighting solution is simple yet sophisticated. I see on your intake, it looks like you have foam zip tied. That will be a pain to clean. You might want to consider just popping off the screen all together and use a foam cover. Jim (wrabbit) told me about which I tried, about the turtle foam filters inserts at Petsmart. I think its called 501? Its a round piece of foam that is just the right pore size to keep shrimp safe but lets the water flow through. The inner bore hole fits suggly on the pumps intake pipes. It works very well and after 2 weeks, it becomes a bio filter. You will be very happy with using a mineralized substraight. Don't be surprised if you have green water outbreak. All new tanks are prone to them till the plant load gets great enough to utilize the excess nutrients that might leach out of the substrianght. I'm excited and can't wait to see the updated progress shots.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks, Robert! The intake screen on the Eheim is very easy to take off, but if it gives me trouble I'll keep your suggestion in mind. My DIY is a pretty funky solution.
 

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Funky as it may be, it works. That is all that matters. If you ever feel the need to raise and lower the light, these Sunrise Reflector Hanging System works great. I used them to suspend the light over my tank attached to bend conduit.

 

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Bill has been inspired by the same filtration thread. Looking as his huge gathered stash it looks like he has enough equipment to power a small freshwater SEAWorld!
I have some adventures pending. But I want to get them off the ground before I reveal. That way if I crash and burn it can be a private humiliation!

But one pretty straightforward thing I have cooking is the laminar flow output. I made a prototype out of PVC. Well, I have some clear acrylic tubing and clear fittings. So we are going to make it again with good materials. I'll post the result.... Even if I do crash and burn.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Tex Guy, I'm not up to drilling the tank, but I agree that the plumbing is ugly. All the glass returns and supply I've seen are out of my price range, and I haven't come across any acrylic ones. Do you know a source?

And I can't wait to see your laminar flow return.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I've been working on the stone arrangement, here are some photos. There is no substrate in the tank because the top soil mineralization process is not complete.

All the black makes the light-colored stones look very stark, and they are somewhat over-exposed. The plan is for the substrate in front of the stones to be flat and rather shallow at 1" to 1.5" deep, capped with tan natural gravel. This area will have short foreground plants, with areas of exposed gravel, and some flat stones set in the gravel with a covering of moss.

The two areas behind the stones will have deeper substrate, mounded to about 3" or 4". The cap will be expanded shale--this is a mix of browns and grays and is darker than the tan gravel in front. These areas will be densely planted, with no substrate showing when the tank is mature.

I am a little worried about the depth of substrate in these areas. Do you think 2" to 3" of mineralized soil capped with 1" of expanded shale will become anaerobic and cause problems? I can build up these areas with layers of inert tile to reduce the depth of the soil.
 

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From my experience, anaerobic is not bad if you have the right material in your substraight. The anaerobic areas in the soil have more acidic ph which helps to cheate the minerals for the plants to use. Your take will fart but that is ok. It will be a mixture of CO2 and methane. If you use peat, the tannin does have a tendency to leach out causing your water to yellow at first but it can be easily removed by water changes. I found if you use the humic compost, the peat is already broken enough that I didn't get the tannin leaching into the water. Do not use any compost with hard wood. It will release toxic noxious gas that will be harmful to your tank. (Learned that the hard way). I use 2 inches of humus compost, capped with 2 in of sand/gravel mix.

To answer your question about the depth, I don't think you will have any problems because your on the right track. Make sure your cap is thick enough so when you uproot plants, you won't have too much soil coming up with the plants. If you want to enrich the soil with iron, just spread steal wool over it before you cap with expanded shale.

It is looking GREAT!!
 

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Sounds like you have a plan. I would be very careful about 3"-4" depth if you are talking about the soil. I think that is too much. Anaerobic conditions will rot roots. If too much of it is disturbed it can kill your fish. If you are just putting the shale that deep with the soil staying rather shallow I think you are ok. I have read many threads where the soil too deep has poisoned the tank. I have had anaerobic pockets that have rotted the roots of my plants before.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks, Tex Gal. I was so concerned about this that I started a separate thread in "Substrates". Davemonkey replied, saying that he had used a uniform depth of 1.5" of MTS, then layered the inert cap to the depth he wanted, up to 4".

So this is my plan, no more than 1.5" of MTS, then cap as needed. The cap in the deep parts will be expanded shale (ES) which is rather coarse and allows good gas exchange. At Phil's suggestion I am going to mix the MTS half and half with ES to add porous bulk. Phil thinks this helps to keep the soil from compacting and allows better root penetration. ES is a substitute for Turface, Soil Master Select, or Schultz aquatic plant soil--none of which I have been able to find without driving a long distance or having shipped.

Phil, I apologize if I have revealed your secrets, or misquoted you, LOL!
 
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