For years I've kept fish. Had a standard 20g as a youngster. College, marriage... went to Hawaii and fell in love with saltwater. Had an incredible 180 for a year, and then 2008 happened and we lost our home--and my tank. Ended up moving to a mountain farm where power outages and distance from any fish clubs make saltwater out of range. But, I can't give up my fish! Mounted a 36g bowfront low-tech Walsted tank three years ago. Gotta say I was disappointed. So, recently, my BEST friend and husband said "yes" to a 120 in our bedroom. (We call it the Wetter Chanel).
I got a huge deal on Craig's List... but sometimes you get what you pay for... so, I got a stand and canopy that the seller built and wired for himself. It looked pretty nice: stand, tank, lights--all for $100! We drove 3 hours each way to get it, and were so excited!
When we got it home, there were some not-so-nice surprises. First, I had not checked for scratches. I had checked for leaks, but the light was dim and the guy had done us a favor to meet us near the end of the only day that Hubs could come. So, the tank was scratched. I tried to live with it, but couldn't. The next week, I went and bought a new one at a LFS for $400. It's a Marineland, and I love it. SO CLEAR!
Then, the lights. They are VHOs... which, in case you don't know is old technology. They are BRIGHT! There are 4 4' bulbs that the seller wired himself on a nice ballast, so they don't use much energy. BUT: finding bulbs for them has been impossible except for 3 types, all in the 10K - 12K range. I am thinking that someday I'll replace them with a hydroponics T-5 (or maybe T-8) fixture. I'm not a fan of LEDs; had them on the 36 bowfront and they had no spread: they were like a lot of laser lights boring down circles on my plants... especially my mini water lily. (But I digress.)
(The forum is making me split up this initial post about the tank into smaller chunks... read on!)
Here's the light array:
The challenge in having these lights to start with has been battling algae. The lights are super bright and only one spectrum, so I have sudden on/offs. For now, I'm using them and have four replacement bulbs to carry me into the new year while I decide if I want to augment with one red T-5 bulb, or replace the whole array. Meanwhile...
I brought the new tank home on 10/27/16, painted its backside the next day, and set it up. I filled it with water and decided to use Black Diamond substrate, lightly salted with Osmocote+ granules. I bought two Eheim 2217s. One is attached to the two spray bars that came with the two filters (linked with a bit of hose) and the other is plumbed into a manifold under the substrate (6 under gravel jets) for movement. As I understand it, for planted tanks we want gentle flow (unlike with saltwater, where we blast the heck out of every corner). This is an area where I still have questions.
Here's a picture of the manifold as we were painting it: it's 1/2" CPVC.
Into this manifold I plumbed one of our Eheim 2217's returns. Water goes into the siphon on the right of the tank, into the canister, out of the canister, through an inline CO2 atomic diffuser (from GLA) and then into the manifold, and out into the tank, laden with CO2.
Seemed like a good idea at the time, but we've had problems getting our drop checker to register enough CO2 in the tank. I think initially, the problem was with the CO2 setup. But now we've definitely got CO2 going into the manifold. We just need to run it for enough hours that we register 30 ppm yet, via drop checker or pH readings. One question I had raised in this process of bringing CO2 online what how much ripple one ideally has at the top of the tank...
Got some great plants from Burr740 to start off right. After adding water and planting them, this is my first FTS.
So, here was the first night, when we had the spray bar for just one Eheim at one end of the 60" run (left to right).
The flow blew over the Mayaca fluviatilis (at the bottom right corner) on the opposite side! It was then that we conceived of a double spray bar gently rippling the surface from back to front of the tank. (Later still, we added Eheim 350 skimmers to both sides to aid with taking film off the top and adding water movement to the two sides.)
And here was last week's shot.
My camera work isn't very good, but here's something to note in the shots that follow:
First, I added yet more plants from two other great hobbiests here on this site, Bartohog and Junglefowl. All plants were excellent!
Second: please note that I've done no landscaping yet. I'm just seeing what plants grow, waiting for algae problems to be resolved, and learning how to work with these plants. For instance, I've got anubias nana petite growing on the driftwood, but I'm expecting more driftwood soon, and plan to put some pieces of the nana and also the buce that's lying on the sand to the right of the driftwood.
Third: look at the evidence of using EI dosing:
That is not a shadow. The bottom, brighter parts of the plant show how they came from Joe. Then, how they grew without CO2 or dosing for about 10-12 days. Then, how they've been growing with EI dosing and increasing levels of CO2 as our equipment comes online.
The next big steps for this tank:
1. Grow out existing plants, making new cuttings.
2. Defeat algae (I've got brown and green so far) by stocking Otos and managing CO2/lights better.
3. Explore whether I need more filtration/flow (opinions courted)
4. Insert more driftwood (on order) and then landscape
5. Stock with more fish. Currently, I have 5 Sterbi Cories and 3 Denison Barbs
Thanks for looking!