I love the tank. Great set up.
Thanks GV, I'm really enjoying this build thus far.
I thought some might enjoy this - Below is an excerpt of a post I wrote in one of my favored reefing forums. In it, I try to explain my first impressions (and how wrong they were) about planted and what I've learned thus far in the journey...
...I'll admit the planted learning curve is steeper than expected. I incorrectly had the expectation that for anyone successfully keeping Reefs, planted tanks would be relatively simple - Wrong. In marine we take a few things for granted namely water/nutrient levels. We have it relatively easy - just start with 0 TDS water and the salt mix and feeding the fish takes care of most else - maybe some 2-part or CA/Alk adjustments but they are easy to measure and control. In fact, we spend more time trying to remove
nutrients form the water column. In planted, pH, Kh and Gh levels are often managed for specific species, as are various nutrients which cannot be easily measured/monitored and there are a thousand different ways to do so - EI, ADA, PPS, PPMD.. plus dozens of other dry and liquid dosing schemes AND the substrate is often another variable that has to be accounted for.
The use of technology in monitoring/controlling all of this appears to be less often used in FW/planted. This is perhaps due to the costs, but also that planted tanks can
be very simple - heck often a heater is not even used. As most planted builds don't use sumps instead choosing canister filters finding a place for equipment (probes, heaters, ATO...) is another challenge. Lighting - for plants, 8,000K is about ideal, but not very much. Anything higher than about ~60PAR is considered high light. Perhaps the biggest dichotomy of all is CO2 - In reefing we work diligently to remove CO2 from the water column in an effort to support pH levels (degassing calcium reactor effluent, CO2 scrubbers...) In planted, you intentionally add TONS of CO2 as a carbon source for the plants and to suppress CO2 levels, bubbling the stuff directly into the water column, with many tanks running with pH levels of ~6.
Learning curve aside, there are some wonderful differences in planted and freshwater over marine tanks,
Cost - Virtually every facet of planted is significantly
less expensive than maintaining a saltwater tank. Fish typcially range from $2-$10 with plants about the same. Many complain about the cost of ADA products (one of the preeminent brands in planted), but even those pale in comparison to the costs paid by reefers in virtually every way.
More relaxed and less Hype - The general feeling seems a bit more relaxed. No name games, "Limited edition" plants or the elevated pricing associated with it (I fully admit to being part of the name game having a Frag tank full of "gotta have" corals.) Because many get their start in FW, there are more kids involved in the hobby. It's refreshing seeing someone ponder or save up to purchase a $3 plant
We're not in Kansas anymore Toto....
I would wager that when many (perhaps most) reefers think of a planted tank - they picture an aquarium simply full of plants and perhaps a few guppies or tetras. I too largely had this image hearkening back to my youth and keeping freshwater fish. Let me show you how I see planted tanks now (1080P/full screen is best)...
Top Planted Tanks of 2011
Here's an image that portrays the "style" that I'm striving to acheive...
So much of this is foreign to a long-time reefer, but I'll admit I'm enjoying every new challenge