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Discussion Starter #1
Would this be too big for this system? Or does size not matter? Tank has the option of up to 546 watts of T5 lighting (14 39W bulbs on three switches). Tank is All Glass 220 w/built in overflows, using a sump.

Thanks in advance - still in EARLY planning stages. Already have tank,etc as I have taken down my salt reef.:(
 

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I am sure the natural system can be used for any size tank.
Have you been looking into substrate, decor, plant species...
I understand the watts/gallon guideline is not as accurate for larger tanks. Seems like they can get by with a bit less light and still be medium-light tanks. 2+ wpg on your large tank will be more like 3 watts per gallon on a smaller tank.

Will the sump be sealed? The larger water surface seems to be a great place to lose CO2. Maybe a planted sump?
 

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What are the dimensions of your tank? I have a 30" tall tank and the WPG really doesn't count for much, IMO the main thing to consider is the surface area and length. Plants will grow slow for me when I use 2 T8s, and 3 T8s will grow everything just fine for me. The main problem I ran into is plants shading each other out. My tank is only 18" wide, so I place a 4ft. T8 every 6" from front to back. T5s are a lot more efficient and usually have very nice reflectors! If I used T5s, I would only consider the spacing out of the lights based on how quickly I want everything to grow.

What are your goals with this awesome aquarium? Do you want moderate growth, or more on the high tech side? Do you like more of the difficult stem plants, or cryptocorynes? IMHO the 220gal number doesn't matter much, but length and spacing out of the lights does. Take a look at the large aquarium threads, it might help you get a feel for how plants grow under a certain amount of bulbs. Ask people who have large aquariums that appeal to you, they would be happy to share notes on what plants did fine, and what plants really needed the light levels higher to do well. This way you will know what to expect, and you won't have to buy more lights than what is needed to achieve your goals! Keep us updated, and document your build (and plenty of pics)!:D
 

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Discussion Starter #4
The tank is 72"L x 24"W x 29" tall.

The lighting fixture is an Aquatinics Constellation - 72" Long and 14" wide. Up to 14 39W bulbs. Each bulb has an individual reflector. Lights can be turned on/off by pairs of rows. I can turn on as many/few rows as I need depending on the types of plants I guess.

The overflows on the tank have custom standpipes, adjusted so there is no "waterfall effect" through the overflows. THe drain lines get increasingly wider so the flow out at the end is hardly turbulent. It sould be easy enough to make a cover for the sump.

My reef tank was decidedly high-tech, even though I am sure I didn't need some of the stuff. I would like to try to get away from high tech (even though that light fixture definitely qualifies). Maybe Mid-tech? I have been reading the large tank build threads on here and am gathering all the info I can first.

I still have'nt decided on plant types yet. I like everything from Swords to Crypts to Anubias. I definitely would like a nice lush carpet of something in the foreground, large pieces of driftwood with something growing on them. Still looking at books, galleries of member tanks, etc.

I will definitely document the build. Right now, the tank is still a reef. I am in the process of selling the corals,then fish, then live rock, then equipment.

BTW, I have an Oceans Motions Super Squirt on a closed loop right now to provide random water flow in the tank. Basically has four outlets, and it directs water flow out of each outlet sequentially or in pairs. Would this be useful on a planted tank, or do they prefer less current/turbulence in the water. I just thought it might be a nice effect with the longer plants swaying back and forth, like my corals.

Thanks for the input, I will keep you all updated!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
A planted sump? Hmmmmm.......Kind of what I have on the salt tank sump right now. I grow Macro algae in the sump under intense light for nutrient export. Might work here to.
 

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I don't know anything about saltwater, but I did look at some of the standpipes that are used as I am thinking about building a sump some day. I think you will be fine, the standpipes that you described work a lot better than a plain tube where water crashes down (and makes a horribly loud noise!!). I wouldn't worry about losing Co2, unless you plan to inject it. I am envious of your wave maker! As long as it won't blow plants out of the substrate, you should be fine. At worst, just dial it down (if possible) or direct/spread out the flow so its not too intense.

Take a look at this thread: http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/el-natural/showthread.php?t=56594 Rlking is building a refugium/sump and has had great success so far! He will give you some good tips that you might want to try.

I have never played with a tank this big, nor have I used any T5s, but IMHO 8 36" T5 bulbs is the max I would use without going hightech and injecting Co2, for swords and anubias I would probably use 6. A lot of people think you need tons of light and Co2 just to keep plants alive and healthy for some reason, in the end just listen to what your plants tell you! Leggy, slow growth? Add a couple bulbs. Nice growth, but tons of algae? Remove a couple. Once the plants settle in and the chaos of a freshly setup tank dies down, it is easy to see what your tank needs if it is lowtech.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
That was a good read on the refugium. It will be very easy to incorporate into my existing sump. I will definitely be trying that.

The wave maker is easily adjustable for flow amount and direction. I'll keep it on there then.

Thanks for the advice. I also ordered Diana Walstad's book today - looks like it would be a good source to have on hand.

Here is the standpipe I made for my overflow: www.dursostandpipes.com under DIY to make your own.
 

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Fancy lighting! I would set it up so that you have perhaps 2 wpg (or lightly less) most of the time, with a few hours mid-day with more light. Sort of replicates a tropical jungle with the trees shading the river morning and evening, and the sun shining brightest mid day through breaks in the trees.

Most ground cover plants prefer plenty of light. I see a few ways to make this work:
a) Clover is one of the traditional ground cover plants that seems to require the least light.
b) Time the lights so that the ones in the front (directly over the ground cover) are on most of the time
c) Choose a plant that may grow a bit higher, but in your tall tank will work as a ground cover. Perhaps some of the smaller Crypts. 3" -6" might be a bit much for a ground cover in a smaller tank, but would be acceptable in your tank.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks Diana. I was playing with the new lights today. I have it set up on three timers right now (over the reeftank still). Rows 2 & 6 come on first (actinics), Then 1, 4, and 7 come on an hour later (10,000K), then 3 and 5 come on an hour after that (more 10,000K). Its a really neat effect as the tank gets gradually brighter. Then I reverse it at night.

When the tank becomes a freshwater planted, I was planning to switch out the bulbs for the GE 6500K daylight bulbs.

There are alot of T5 bulb choices out there, and I have the capability to really mix and match, so should I have some 10,000 K bulbs in the mix as well? I also saw some 3000K? Besides differences in visual color, what would be best for the plants?
 

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Kaptain Karl
Wow! 220 gallons! Awesome! My wife would kill me if I tried anything like that...;)

I had a hi-tech setup with T-5, HO lights and have been using them on one of my NPTs. They're the 10,000 degree color and I have two 39 watters over 45 gallons. So far I'm very happy with the plant growth. Amazon Swords, Anubias and Ludwigia Repens all do well under this light. I still get a little BBA (Black Beard Algae) in that tank, but I suspect it isn't the light amount or color so much as the nutrient diversity in the water column which is the cause.

I don't know about the actinics but I would suggest keeping the 10k bulbs purely as a money saver in the beginning. You can always switch them out later or blend in cooler colors as the 10Ks fade out. The nice thing about such bright lighting is some of it will actually reach to the bottom of your very deep tank. They'll also work well on your floating plants which you'll need to draw nutrients from the water. I'm thinning the Frogbit in the 45 NPT every couple weeks lately.

Have you thought about what fish you want to grow? And what about your tap water? Is it hard or soft? Inquiring minds want to know! ;)

Jim
 

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Kaptain Karl,
I'm by no means an expert but on the question of the kelvin temperature what I've read is that it's mostly about what your eyes like to see in the tank. My T5 fixture came with 10000K and it was just too blue for my liking, but a saltwater friend saw them and said they'd look great in his aquarium :D.

I've since switched over to 6000k Geisman bulbs and the lighting "looks" perfect to me.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks adechazal, I will probably keep the 10k bulbs that are in there now, and then switch out the Actinics for some 6500K bulbs.

Dustymac: I really would like to have some nice angelfish, serpae tetra, rummynose, and cardianl tetras. I'm sure the list will change...we'll see. I would like to have some large schools of three or four fish.

As for the tap water. We are running a whole house water softener. City water is hard that we are on. I will be getting some GH/KH test kits soon. I already have a pair of RO/DI units that I use for the salt tank. I hope the tap will work for the Freahwater tank. Or a 50/50 mix with the RO/DI.

This is all good stuff folks...keep it coming!
 

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Serpaes nip too much. Look at Red Phantoms instead.

A mix of RO/DI and tap water is often a good way to get just the right amount of minerals for the fish you want. Testing GH and KH is the way to get the mix you want.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I just did a search on the red phantom and red serpae. Interesting - I had always thought red phantoms and the red serpae were the same fish, and people just used both names for the same fish. They sure look alot alike. I'll have to make sure I am getting the right one from the store. Thanks Diana.
 
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