50G with 30G sump - month 10 update - Page 5 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #61 of 96 (permalink) Old 09-08-2012, 03:25 AM Thread Starter
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Wheee! Lots of progress tonight...

Front view:
The drains are 99% done (need to glue the bulkhead->drain piece, that's it). The returns are 'dry fit' (one needs a few more parts), and pretty much ready to glue up. Not super happy with how many joints there are, but to be expected with the weird angles and whatnot.

'Office' view:
I admittedly see a lot of piping rather than tank...but who says that's bad? This has come together much better than I had initially imagined, very pleased. My wife is just as pleased, so this is good.

  • Finished draining/moving the tank/sump
  • Will clean after all gluing is done
  • Caulked the chip, will trim tomorrow
  • Pretty sure we'll go with a piece of glass instead of a hood
  • Checked the level of the tank - good enough!
  • UPSes are in place, stuff just needs pluggin' in
  • Wife is doing hardscape tomorrow
  • Plumbing is remarkably strong...not certain if it needs a lot of bracing
  • Plumbing is 90% done
  • Picking up fish food, ammonia, dechlorinator, and extra piping tomorrow

Will also do the substrate tomorrow night, get some water in there!! Progress!
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post #62 of 96 (permalink) Old 09-09-2012, 03:22 AM Thread Starter
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Teaser pic:
(The Blackberry camera is truly a pathetic thing, honestly.)

I will post pics tomorrow, but here's a preview list:
  • Tank plumbing - 100%
  • Hardscape - 100%
  • MTS - 100%
  • Gravel - 100%

I very much overestimated how much MTS I needed to make (used about 15%), overestimated how much gravel I needed (probably 2.5" across the entire tank, with some left over!), and definitely spilled the PVC primer on my desk. (half the tin...thankfully most went on the sheets I had laid down)

On the other hand, all we have left to do now:
  • Sort out covering the tanks
  • Water testing to establish baseline
  • Fill with water and begin cycling
  • Plants (next weekend)
  • Shrimp (two weeks after that)
  • Fish (one week after that)

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post #63 of 96 (permalink) Old 09-09-2012, 01:00 PM Thread Starter
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Okay, pictures. Getting really close to breaking down, getting an actual camera.

Hardscape install
This is what we ended up going with. Didn't realize at the time that most of it would be covered up!

Sloppy Joes!



MTS in

The work area

Gravel in

More to come tonight when the water is in, and tests/cycling started.
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post #64 of 96 (permalink) Old 09-10-2012, 03:10 AM Thread Starter
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Yup, tank is online!!
  • Water in and Seachem Prime added (1.2 cap-fulls = ~70G water)
  • Gravel has settled and I filled in the sinkholes (due to placing hardscape before placing substrate)
  • Water is coming up to temp nicely (@73.4, started @72.2, target is ~76)
  • No leaks in any of the piping
  • Had one issue with the drip tray - resolved with an air tube to prevent overflow in the drip tray area
  • Water level was initially low in the pump area, water falling was causing micro-bubbles to be spit out by the pumps - resolved by raising the water level almost to baffle height
  • Cleaned the inside using magnetic scrubber
  • Added filter socks in an effort to cut down on the cloudiness

I waffled on starting the cycle with the Seachem Stability...I should just go get the ammonia and do it as listed.

We are definitely on track for plants this weekend, and shrimp probably the week after, and fish the week after that!

My last 'mental hump' is the water testing...never done it before is all.
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post #65 of 96 (permalink) Old 09-10-2012, 05:03 PM
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Looking good man! Such great progress.
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post #66 of 96 (permalink) Old 09-10-2012, 05:53 PM Thread Starter
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This week I'll work on building the light/lid hood assembly. The hood for the sump is something I'll leave for another day, I think...or maybe do some sort of rubber grommet system to fit around the piping.

The water was just under 75 this morning, so I must need to adjust the heater (the twist dial was a bit imprecise), and clarity seemed the same as last night, so guess that's as clear as it'll get.

Mental note...buy ammonia on the way home tonight...
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post #67 of 96 (permalink) Old 09-11-2012, 03:14 AM Thread Starter
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Temperature has stabilized just under 78, so started the fishless cycle (I've read it should be more like 82, but might as well keep things consistent).

Here are my initial test results using the Tetra Laborett kit I inherited.
  • GH - 36dH (Hagen test kit says 140 (7 drops * 20))
  • KH - 5.5-6.0dH
  • pH - ~7.75
  • ammonia (initial) - 0.25mg/l
  • ammonia added (+7cc) - 1.5-2.0mg/l
  • ammonia added (+10cc) - 3.5-4.0mg/l
  • ammonia added (+4.5cc) - should end up around 5mg/l

The GH thing seems wrong...I will post about that elsewhere.

Tomorrow will test ammonia and nitrites again...just a waiting game now. Guess water testing isn't that bad after all!

Edit: Update, Hagen's calculator indicates that 140ppm on the GH test is actually equal to a GH of 7.8. So perhaps the Tetra test went bad.

Last edited by crazymittens; 09-11-2012 at 03:30 AM. Reason: Update
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post #68 of 96 (permalink) Old 09-12-2012, 02:00 AM Thread Starter
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Ok, update time.
  • Water @ 78.6F & still clear
  • Ammonia levels at ~3.0mg/l
  • Added 8.4cc of ammonia, brought levels up to 4.0-4.25mg/l
  • Water level in pump area of sump is down another inch since yesterday - averaging 1" per day

So, cycling seems to be progressing - ammonia levels went down as they should have. The water evaporation rate is alarming, though. Already the return pumps are spitting out tiny air bubbles due to the 'waterfall effect' the baffle creates. I now have two major tasks left:
  1. Fabricate tank covers
  2. Set up slow-drip refill system

And get the plants this weekend, get them planted. :S
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post #69 of 96 (permalink) Old 09-12-2012, 03:08 AM Thread Starter
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Automated top-off system
Thanks to the cache of parts I inherited, the bits were all here, just needed plugging/trimming.

The relay.

The 'aqua lifter' pump.

Upturned output so I can hear when it's on.

Secret jug o' redi-water.

The float switch.

Drip tray siphon
I mentioned this, but don't think I showed it. Slightly concerned about the big fat drips I keep seeing appear at the bottom, and the 1.5mm increase in water in the drip tray area...will monitor the situation.

And the money shot. UPSes look like baddies hiding in the cupboard. I thought I should mention, so far it's noisy, but not obnoxiously so. Sitting behind it at my desk, the rattling of the check valves is the most annoying, then the pumps. The overflow box noises are fine...more splashing than I'd like by the return through-piping, but I can live with it. Yeah, if the pumps were silent and the check valves did not rattle...would be pretty much silent.

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post #70 of 96 (permalink) Old 09-13-2012, 11:20 PM Thread Starter
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Quick updates:
  • Tank is evaporating around 2L every 24 hours.
  • Testing for ammonia is troublesome - uncertain which test kit to believe (and now one has run out).
  • Going to pick up Ammonia Watch by Seachem this weekend.
  • Picking up plants on Saturday, planting later that day.
  • Thus far the auto top-off system is working perfectly.
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post #71 of 96 (permalink) Old 09-14-2012, 01:38 PM Thread Starter
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Well, for whatever reason, the siphon on the tank went nuts last night, started sucking the overflow dry. I played around with the valve a few minutes before I left, but still not sure why. I 'think' that the siphon tube on the secondary drain came unstuck from the suction mount, drooped into the water, and magically became air tight (it was previously requiring some glue to seal it back up).

Something to consider this weekend.

Ammonia levels were back down to 0.7ish (I guess), so tossed in another 10cc and called it a day. Oh, and nitrite levels were up...a bit...0.1 the day before, I'd guess 0.125 or 0.15 now, slight increase. Should go up further once the plants are in.

Also, the auto top-off system stopped working, not sure why, have to investigate.

Still evaporating ~2 liters/day, so definitely have to take those measurements this weekend and get glass cut for the main tank. Princess Auto has a 0.25" glass bit ($4), so I can still have the siphon tube going into the tank off the secondary drain. Will need a grommet of some sort to allow for removal of the glass. Hm...actually...

Instead of two large squares (what the tank is designed to hold due to center brace), I can do four rectangles. Means I only need to lift one panel to do trimming/etc, and also means the piece with the siphon tube won't need to be moved all the time. This might also be a little cheaper.

To lift the glass, I'll just silicone on some acrylic handles. The lights are already on little legs, so will leave that be for now.

For the sump...I'm thinking of using the existing glass for the forward section (part that will be removed to access the filter, etc), and a framework with custom-cut rubber sheet to fit around the piping.
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post #72 of 96 (permalink) Old 09-14-2012, 11:52 PM Thread Starter
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Haha, well, Big Al's didn't have the Ammonia Watch, so I got a new API ammonia test kit.
  • Ammonia @ 5.0 (or 6.0?? scale gets squirrelly at the high end)
  • Nitrites @ 0.25 or 0.3

So, did not add any more ammonia, we'll re-measure tomorrow. Nitrite levels are definitely increased from yesterday, so that's encouraging.

The siphon issues have disappeared, so maybe it was just the secondary siphon tube acting up. It was a safe kind of failure (too much siphon ), but I will definitely be working on securing that.

Some fun updates tomorrow with the plants!!
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post #73 of 96 (permalink) Old 09-17-2012, 01:52 AM Thread Starter
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Big update time! Plants are in!!

Crazy weekend, but so nice to see plants swaying in the current.

Things I have learned:
  • Plants that come in those plastic 'pots' are a huge pain to remove safely
  • Whoever decided that using thread to tie plants down was a good idea has dexterity level 60
  • Having a 12x turnover in the tank means crystal clear water within minutes
  • The tank temperature appears to have dropped 0.5-1.0 degrees F after planting
  • I have no idea how my light timer works

Water update:
  • Ammonia still registering high according to the API test, guessing 5.0 or 6.0.
  • Nitrite I have decided to start measuring with the Tetra test kit since I'm pretty sure the Hagen one is expired - levels at 0.8
  • Water increased back up to mid 79F over the course of the day, but was low earlier.

List of plants
  • Aponogeton ulvaceus
  • Anubias nana
  • Anubias afzelli (thought it was barteri...but this is on the receipt)
  • Cryptocoryne lucens
  • Vallisneria americana (var natans)
  • Vallisneria spiralis (Italian val)
  • Hygrophila difformis (Wisteria)

Yeah, not 100% on that list after some google images, but close enough. The tank is probably not 'heavily' planted, but I'm not sure I could have fit any more in there comfortably. Also, guy at Menagerie assured me the Vals will grow rather fast.

I am thinking if I had it to do over again, I would have gotten a lot more Wisteria, just fills things in much more than the Vals.

On a brighter note - I am already seeing plant growth on all species. It's only been 24 hours, so maybe things will change, but that is encouraging. The crypts (I think the red ones in the middle) are melting, but I expected that. They gave me a 'nut'-shaped thing I'll assume is a tuber or root base that had one little shoot coming out of it, and a few semi-full plants. The nut/tuber has new growth, the others not so much.

I used a rubber band to affix the Anubias Nana onto the driftwood, and just 'sat' one in place. Using the thread underwater is a joke.

On to more pictures...

Full view with regular lights.

Planting the anubias, rhizome above the substrate.

Peeling the weird 'fiber' foam stuff out of the potted plants.

Right-hand side of the tank:

Left-hand side of the tank:

View from my desk:
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post #74 of 96 (permalink) Old 09-18-2012, 01:52 AM Thread Starter
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Quick update...
  • Water still clear, @79.5F
  • Ammonia has decreased to ~4mg/l - definitely lighter blue-green than yesterday
  • Nitrite has for sure increased, guessing to ~1.6, much stronger red than yesterday
  • Plants appear to still be healthy - I can see little roots poking out here and there, some new growth
  • The Val melt is not that bad - I expected everything to die off, but for the most part things are a healthy green colour
  • The Anubias are getting a brownish haze on them - assuming this is due to the acclimatization process - it is most obvious on the Nana

I also tied down the roots of the upper Nana with an elastic, they should have a much better chance to tie down on the driftwood now.

Finally, I observed the water in the drip tray to be 1" higher than normal, so I checked the filter socks - they were chock-full!! Emptied them out, water came down a bit, but not that much. Something to keep an eye on.

Oh, and I ordered the glass for the display top - four pieces that I just might hinge. Just the sump cover to deal with now.
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post #75 of 96 (permalink) Old 09-18-2012, 02:51 AM
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Bushing looking it going to make some fish very happy.

I don't know where I'm going but I'm on my way.

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