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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello Everyone, I apologize in advance for the long brain dump of a post.

I previously kept a planted tank back in 2016, a high-tech, medium-light 46 gal bow front, and enjoyed pretty good success. That tank used mineralized topsoil, a finnex ray 2, a C02 setup cobbled together from evil bay and parts from other hobbyists. Dosing wise I used an EI based method that I tweaked (with help from members here) for 25% weekly water changes. After getting everything tuned the tank ran well and turned into a massive jungle. Unfortunately, I ended up having to break the tank down for college and haven't been active in the hobby since.

With my graduation from college coming up quickly in May I am starting to plan my future tank. My goal is to reuse as much equipment as possible from my previous tank as I still have most of it. However, I will be going with a smaller tank this time round as I can not take the old bowfront with me when I move. So far the equipment I've found in storage includes the old 36" finnex ray 2 DS, my C02 regulator, a couple of eheim jagers, a big penguin HOB, dry ferts, and KCL, red clay, dolomite. With all of this it looks to me like I have everything to at least get started come May minus a stand.

So far my plan is to set up the 20 gal long using equipment I have to dust off the rust and get back into things. The Ray 2 is way to powerful and (to long) so I may look for something else but I'm also thinking about having it lifted way up above the tank and growing some plants emergent the top. After things are set up I will work on steadily upgrading and changing equipment as finances allow. Eventually, I want to switch to a shallow square tank with no visible equipment. So I will keep my eyes open for deals on frag tanks or reef AIO tanks that fit that bill. I also love to overcomplicate things so I will probably work on auto dosing eventually.

Flora wise I am wanting to a tank focused on crypts, buce, swords, anubias, java fern, and other rooted or epiphyte plants. I'm sure I will have stems but not sure what those are yet. Scape wise I thinking a stump or rock pile emerging from the water with covered with moss and ephiptyes both above and below the water. In the substrate around wood or rock lots of crypts and rooted plants tapering to a dwarf hair grass carpet. If I were to do this in the 20L tank this would be a left to right scape not front to back. Overall goals for the future tank include avoiding making a jungle, having plant colors other than green, and figuring out the emergent growth.

So far I do have a few questions, concerns, and unknonws they are the following:

Has anything big changed in planted tanks (methodology or equipment-wise) since 2016?

Lighting - the finnex ray 2 served me well but its way to much for a small tank. Rasing it is an option but I don't like how washed out everything looks under it.

Substrate - I did MTS before and liked it so I will probably do it again. Thinking about putting other additives in it as a setup since I love to overcomplicated things. Cap wise I am undecided, I prefer the look of sand but may give STS a dry just cause it's new to me.

CO2 - I used to use a powerhead to inject but that conflicts with my eventual goal of no visible equipment. Unfortunately, my regulator has a max output of only 25 PSI and I suspect that might rule out diffusers? If so I'll probably cook up a DIY reactor.

The theme as a whole - Most of the plants I am interested in right now are low light plants and usually kept in low tech tanks. Am I silly to try and keep them in a higher light, high tech tank? I find crypts and buce fascinating and got annoyed with pruning my old jungle all the time hence the focus on them. I do like stems and want color but don't want to prune all the time, any suggestions?

I would love to hear anyone's thoughts and I apologize in advance for future brain dump posts. I also plan to journal the tank once it finally comes time to set it up.
 

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If the Finnex fixture is high enough above the tank, you solve two problems: getting enough light and space for your stump/rock pile, and reducing light levels for the submerged plants.

I love your idea for the tank and can't wait to see photos.
 

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Congratulations! I'm going to assume you got an engineering degree, but getting any degree is a big accomplishment. And, more congratulations for re-naming yourself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
If the Finnex fixture is high enough above the tank, you solve two problems: getting enough light and space for your stump/rock pile, and reducing light levels for the submerged plants.

I love your idea for the tank and can't wait to see photos.
Thanks Michael, I agree raising the Ray seems like a good approach to get started. I do want to figure out how to add some colored lighting to help combat the washed-out look of the Ray. Cheap colored LED strips or an RGB spotlight might fit the bill. I will certainly post pictures when things get rolling but it will be a few months. Pretty much counting the days

Hoppy, thanks for the welcome! I am graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering and a focus on thermal energy. I suspect my inner engineer explains my tendency to research and overcomplicate everything. For example, I am thinking of setting up a PID controller for my heater. Isn't too complicated but I wonder how the accuracy of thermocouples compares to the built-in thermostats of heaters and if it would be worth it. I have lots of ideas, I just need a tank and time now!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I've looked at a few water reports for where I think I will be moving to and am seeing that most cities in the area use chloramine for at least part of the year at levels near the max allowable 4 ppm. I've never dealt with chloramine (only chlorine where I live now) before and my searching showed that people either deal with it by using Prime or RO water. When treating with prime doesn't that still leave the ammonia behind which is bad for aquatic life? I do have an RO system but I would prefer to avoid using it if I can since setting it up in an apartment may be tricky. I was also wondering if it is possible to use the carbon prefilters for an RO membrane to remove chloramine? My searching online was inconclusive. So how do yall that have to deal with chloramine do so?

I also saw that some of the cities are adding orthophosphate at nearly 1 ppm, is this a concern?
 

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Hello, welcome back to the hobby :)

Regarding too much light, the way I see it is that you’ll need to bring three parameters in balance; light-CO2-nutrients. If these are not in balance, you can get algae growth.

The way I’ve dealt with too much light in a shrimp tank was leaving salvinia cover the surface. That tank has salvinia, taiwan moss and anubias. No algae so far, everything looks fine. This probably won’t work well in a densely planted tank, as floating plants shade others that do need light. But there is a middle solution, you can make diy floating containers to keep floating plants in areas of your choice. The easiest way is with airline tubing, by connecting the ends with an extension connector in a circle. This way you can create shaded areas for crypts, anubias, marimo and whatever else low light. All of above will not be necessary if your light is dimmable…

You didn’t mention filtration plans. Are you going high tech again, or something different?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The way I've dealt with too much light in a shrimp tank was leaving salvinia cover the surface. That tank has salvinia, taiwan moss and anubias. No algae so far, everything looks fine. This probably won't work well in a densely planted tank, as floating plants shade others that do need light. But there is a middle solution, you can make diy floating containers to keep floating plants in areas of your choice. The easiest way is with airline tubing, by connecting the ends with an extension connector in a circle. This way you can create shaded areas for crypts, anubias, marimo and whatever else low light. All of above will not be necessary if your light is dimmable…

You didn't mention filtration plans. Are you going high tech again, or something different?
Unfortunately, the light I have is not dimmable short of cutting it apart. I like your idea about making a floating plant coral to selectively lower light levels in parts of the tank.

To answer your question, yes I am planning on high tech but I am planning on using a soil-based substrate as well. So I will have filtration just not sure what it will be yet. The ultimate goal is to move to a canister to keep the tank free of visible equipment, but I will probably start with a HOB since that's what I have. I've never used canister filters before so I need to do some more research before I pick one.
 

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ok, best of luck! Past experience will definitely help. And until you set it up you have plenty of time to do any research you need and come to conclusions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Anyone have any experience with an apartment complex wanting your renters insurance plan to specifically mention an aquarium? The new apartment I am moving to says they allow aquariums with management written approval and specific insurance coverage. The problem is the insurance people have never heard of anything like that before and don't know what to do with it and the apartment management also seems a bit unsure of what to do with it.
 

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Anyone have any experience with an apartment complex wanting your renters insurance plan to specifically mention an aquarium? The new apartment I am moving to says they allow aquariums with management written approval and specific insurance coverage. The problem is the insurance people have never heard of anything like that before and don't know what to do with it and the apartment management also seems a bit unsure of what to do with it.
There’s renters insurance that protects damage. The Whole issue with aquariums is that it could cause water damage. Maybe looks for that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
This has turned out to be something of a problem. After going back and forth between my insurance agent and the property manager, I've found out that the apartment wants specific coverage for any damage caused to the property by an aquarium. However, the insurance company will not provide this kind of insurance as they only insure my personal belongings and protect against personal liability, which is typical from my understanding. So I seem to be stuck between a rock and hard place. If anyone has any personal experience dealing with aquariums and insurance while renting I would love to hear it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
hmmm. I think I did a google on water damage insurance, State Farm came up.
Thanks mistergreen, I checked out State Farms website and unfortunately it seems to be the same problem. From their website under the section about what's not covered they list "Property damage to your buildings, roof, and siding (these are covered by your landlord)." This really seems to be the root of the problem as the apartment wants property damage coverage which should be covered by their insurance not a tennants renters insurance. Hopefully I can work something out with management, even if I'm limited to a nano tank I'd be satisfied.
 

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I wish I had a good suggestion. It sounds like the property manager doesn't want you to have an aquarium but won't say it directly. This is a long shot, but you might try a specialty insurance company that covers things like antique cars or other collectibles. Antique cars can be insured for replacement, repair, and liability in accidents under certain conditions.
 

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I would ask them if they would be more generous when using one piece acrylic tanks rather than glass and sell them on the thesis that such aquariums are unbreakable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Good news, It sounds like I was able to work things out with the property manager. I ended up going with travelers as they said they would cover water damage from an aquarium under liability.

The next steps determine if I need to set up my RO system. Really hoping to avoid it but I think it might be inevitable. From what I've gathered from the water quality reports for my area (Northern VA) the water is treated heavily with chloramines and pretty hard. It also tastes absolutely terrible, to the point I don't want to drink it. If anyone has any experience with keeping fish in Northern VA tapwater I would love to hear.
 

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Good news indeed!

You don't need an RO system for chloramines, any good aquarium dechlorinater. Hard water is rarely a problem for aquarium plants, but the opposite is often true. Others are more knowledgeable than me on this subject.
 

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Work in progress|conglomeration of 5 nano tanks. 10g|5g|4.5g|3.5g|1.5g Need some help learning! (:
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Good news, It sounds like I was able to work things out with the property manager. I ended up going with travelers as they said they would cover water damage from an aquarium under liability.

The next steps determine if I need to set up my RO system. Really hoping to avoid it but I think it might be inevitable. From what I've gathered from the water quality reports for my area (Northern VA) the water is treated heavily with chloramines and pretty hard. It also tastes absolutely terrible, to the point I don't want to drink it. If anyone has any experience with keeping fish in Northern VA tapwater I would love to hear.

Hey! I am from NoVa but I am on well water. . . There is a difference between city water and well water. Which from the sounds of it, you use city water. Many NoVa people have wells and I just use that water directly into my tanks with no issues. The plants use the minerals. But we could keep in touch since we can be NoVa aquarium buddies!! :) That would be fun! No distance issues. Haha.
 
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