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It is my pleasure to present the January 2005 Tank of the Month: Daniel Larsson's (defdac) 310 liter aquarium! Congratulations Daniel!



Introduction

My name is Daniel Larsson and I live in Sweden in a town called Linköping (pronounced "Linchirping"). I'm 30 years old and am currently working as a consultant for Ericsson.



Experience

My parents have had a 160 liter stainless steel aquarium since I was a kid, and this is me caught on film doing something to a fish I probably shouldn't do.

I didn't think much about aquariums until I got high speed Internet access while at the University and stumbled over a couple of Takashi Amano tanks. I immediately decided that I was going to have an aquarium like that when I moved out of my dorm.

When I got my first job and moved to a bigger apartment I got my 310 liter tank and made all the mistakes a planted aquarist can possibly do - using massive amount of clay and peat as suggested by other planted aquarists here in Sweden was one of them. I've battled all the kind of algae and cyanobacteria was especially hard for me to get rid of.

So I started to search the Internet for information about planted tanks and started to discuss them on Swedish forums. I found my way to the Aquatic Plant Digest, and from there everything started to look better, especially thanks to Tom Barr.

I started to understand cyanobacteria and that some of them use heterocysts to extract nitrogen from the air. High levels of KNO3 and KH2PO4 irradiated them for good and I could start to focus on aquascaping instead of plants and algae. I'm into this hobby for the design and aquascaping part, and all the weird plant physiology knowledge is just a "bonus" for me.



Tank Details

  • 310 liter tank with the dimensions of 125x50x40 centimeters. I think it's too big and clumpsy so I will convert to three 60 liter tanks in the future so I can have several designs going on at the same time.

    6x40 watts of T8 Philips Aquarelle without reflectors in a hood that's too tight. New tanks in the future will probably use some kind of pendant T5 lighting or Metal Halides so I can have an open top.

    Hagen Fluval 404 acting as a CO2 reactor. I hate it, especially the fact it has broken down a couple of times and above all it's noisy! - I have it wrapped with towels. I will get an Eheim in the future.

    CO2 cylinder with JBL regulator + needle valve and BioPlast magnetic valve.

    Hagen Biomax, Ehfimech and Ehfisubstrat in the Fluval 404, and also a Hagen Quickfilter which I use after water changes to polish the water really well. I try to fiddle with the filter as little as I can so it's important to have filter materials that don't clog but still provide for excellent nitrification to get low and stable ammonia levels.



Parameters
  • My tap water is soft in both alkalinity (~2.5 KH) and total hardness (~4 GH), so I've been troubled by the Ca:Mg ratio quite a bit. When I dose 5 ppm Mg as suggested by calculators I get severe Calcium deficiencies, and even if I stop Mg-dosing I still get Calcium deficiencies in plants like Althernanthera reineckii and Ludwigia glandulosa. Raising the total hardness with CaCl2 has helped a lot. The other tap water parameters are good (low on everything).

    I make >100% water changes once a week. I take two hoses, one in and one out and let the water change as I prune and fluff the plants and scrub of algae from the glass. I also let the filter run. This usually takes one hour. When things look bad I let the water change even longer and I kick back in the sofa watching TV and fluff the plants every 15 minutes. Very effective way of getting rid of green water. The trick is the fluffing and letting the filter run as the water change.

    My current dose is: 0.2 tsp KNO3, 0.2 tsp K2SO4, 0.2 tsp MgSO4, 25 mls of KH2PO4 stock solution (2 tsp in 200 mls of water) and 30 mls of NutriSi stock solution (1.2 tsp NutriSi in 300 mls of water). This should render me about 0.1 ppm Fe, 2.5 ppm NO3 and 2.5 ppm PO4. PO4 is good. My plants love it.

    Substrate is plain gravel. All my substrate fertilization experiments have gone bad and water column fertilization was the key turning point when everything started to grow really fast.

    I start my CO2-injection one hour before lights go on rendering me a tad to high CO2-level in the morning ~40-50 ppm but this goes way down in the middle of the day to around ~10-15 ppm when the plants photosynthetisize at their peak rate, but it works.



Aquascaping

The current design is convex and concave. The wood is concave and the plant group is convex. I wanted to try the 3D-perspective-illusion Takashi Amano often makes with driftwood making the tank look deeper and leading the eye away from the confinements of the tank. The driftwood forms a big hug, hugging and welcoming the viewer and in it's lap I placed the solitaire Ludwigia glandulosa.

My first intent was to make an all hair grass design, but I couldn't throw away all the plants I've collected over the years and I don't have several CO2-enriched tanks so I did the best I could with the plants I had.

I never think of biotopes when I aquascape. I've seen pictures of biotopes and they are frankly quite dull (well ok, I've seen some that look rather nice). I'm in this hobby because I strive for the Takashi Amano look. That is what I like, and I don't find it important to find a completely new way of designing tanks or finding the "Swedish" look or something like that. I know what I like, I do it and it will be written Daniel all over it even if my inspiration mostly comes from Amano.

Here are some more picture of my tank as it changed:

September 7, 2003


September 14, 2003


October 8, 2003


January 10, 2004


June 4, 2004


September 11, 2004




Should you have any questions, please let me know.

Regards,

Daniel Larsson
 

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Thanks Daniel, wonderful tank.

In the early pictures the background is dark, almost forboding, and does not do much for the tank in overall asthetics. In later pictures the backgound is much lighter with a purple aura, yet it does not look like the tank was redone as everything is still in the same place. How did you transition the background?

Thanks
 

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Very nice!

Did you plant new hairgrass between June & September 04? It looks like the September pic has some hairgrass that was grown emersed (due to the notched ends of the blades). If not, that's the 1st time I've seen that happen on submerged growth.
 

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gnatster said:
Thanks Daniel, wonderful tank.
In later pictures the backgound is much lighter with a purple aura, yet it does not look like the tank was redone as everything is still in the same place. How did you transition the background?
I just removed the black felt blanket I had behind the tank, and revealed my very weird purple paint in my livingroom. I took a couple of overexposed shot with the purple wall and I liked it.

If not, that's the 1st time I've seen that happen on submerged growth.
Yes the Philips TLD89 "Aquarelle" is good at pinching everything down in "crawl-mode" (a tri-phosphor almost exactly the same as Interpret Triton and Sylvania Aquastar).
 

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Congratulations Daniel, that's a lovely aquarium. I'm happy to see that you've been able to enjoy the hobby for such a large portion of your life. I'm hoping my children will do the same.
 

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Hi Daniel,

Which magnificent aquarium:)

So I have a question, could you describe what sort of plants have you in the aquarium?

Thank you in advance for your reponse.
 

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I love the progressive photos as well! It really helps to see what was happening in the design of the tank! Beautiful btw!
 

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Hi Daniel,

Beautiful tank. Great layout, color and balance.

Had a question and a suggestion.

Question - How do you like the Philips Aquarelle TLD 89 bulbs? I'm looking for them in T8 48 in. and 24 inch size in the U.S., but they are hard to find. Just found an importer who will bring them in, but there's 60-90 day wait time. I have found them here, but not in the T8 48" and 24" sizes I'm looking for. How are they for plant growth compared with full spectrum bulbs? I'm interested in mixing them with my Verilux 6280K 94.5 CRI bulbs and with Philips ADV850s for balanced bright lighting and more robust plant growth.

I may try to bring them back from a business trip to Cambridge and London in two weeks. Anyone know any good local fish stores in Cambridge and London, UK that would carry them?

Suggestion - stay away from Fluval 404s. They are not made well and not very powerful. Eheims are solid but expensive (at least here), but I'll tell you that I've had fantastic experience with the Filstar XP3 at half the price of the comparable Eheim. Lots of room for media, easy to clean and no flow around filter media. The Filstar XP3 is the best canister I've ever used.

Keep up the great work on your tanks. Really enjoyed the photos on your blog.

Thanks and Best Regards,

Fishstein
 

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How do you like the Philips Aquarelle TLD 89 bulbs?
I like it very much. I also have Sylvania Aquastar with near identical color rendering (a tiny bit more blue from the Aquastar). The color when looking at the bulb itself will scare you though. It looks awfully pink, but when it's over the tank and illumnates it the color feels white.

Among the bulbs I've tested (SunGlo, Biolux, GroLux, ReptiGlo, Aquarelle, Aquastar) the Aquarelle/Aquastar gives the most pearling by far, which also is confirmed by my PUR-efficiency-calculations:
http://www.defblog.se/permalink/1402.html

The Fluval 404 is the worst buy I've ever made. I will never buy Fluval canisters again. Thanks for the tip on Filstar XP3!
 

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That's exactly how I thought they'd look, based on your photos and other photos and what I've read of them. I've figured out a combination of bulbs that should work even better for you and I plan on using this combination myself. The Aquarelles have a photosynthetic red/blue ratio that is the perfect complement of the Philips ADV850 (Advantage 850) 5000K bulb.

Red/Blue Ratio:
Aquarelle 0.37
Philips ADV850 0.63

see this link for the best research I've read on the subject:

http://www.aquabotanic.com/lightcompare.htm

Also, the Philips ADV850 was found to be even higher efficiency than the Aquarelle, though the Aquarelle was rated very highly as well. The whiter and brighter visible light of the ADV850 should be a perfect offset for the deep pinkish light of the Aquarelles (which I also enjoy - I used to use Triton bulbs years ago when they were easier to get here in the sizes I needed then).

The ADV850 is also a low mercury higher energy efficiency bulb which is environmentally friendly.

I am picking up a case of Philips ADV850 shortly and I hope to pick up a case of Aquarelles on the way back from a business trip to the UK in the next few weeks. If anyone is interested, I certainly don't need all the bulbs in a case and I plan to make a bunch of the Aquarelles and the ADV850s available to New York area aquarists - will post these soon.

Can anyone suggest a good UK source for the Aquarelles (I'm looking for T8 48" and 24") that will ship to my hotel in Cambridge or London?

Thanks,

Fishstein
 

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Thanks Daniel, that website confirms my thoughts on the Aquarelles and ADV850s perfectly balancing each other not just from a visible color perspective (ADV850s white with yellows and greens and Aquarelle's with pinkish glow) but also from a photosynthetic balance of the most beneficial red and blue light.

I'm fairly certain 2 Aquarelles (10000K) + 2 ADV850s (7000K) would have a similar effect in terms of visible light as using the full spectrum 6280-6500K I've been using, just much better for plant growth than the full spectrum bulbs.

I'm looking for better growth and color enhancement not just for aesthetic purposes, but because my local fish store actually buys so many plants from us that they pay for all of our pet food and supplies (for all our pets).
 

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Ahh.. Maximizing yield with as little energy possible. That's cool =)

But.. I don't think you will see any difference between the ADV850 and Aquarelle. Both seems to be tri-phosphorous and have almost identical spectral distributions:
http://www.aquabotanic.com/images/light_fig2.jpg
http://www.prismaecat.lighting.phil...ges/LMP Ind_Fam/TL5 HO8/LDPB3_TL5-HO8_850.GIF
http://www.akvanet.cz/DOC/5278s.pdf

The only difference seems to be that the ADV850 wastes more energy in the yellow-green portion of the spectra, and that would be wasteful as plants reflects yellow-green and that light will not contribute much to growthrate. That said the differences are very small, so whichever bulb of the Aquarelle and ADV850 you can find will do very good.
 
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