180 Gallons of Ferny Wood - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 136 (permalink) Old 11-02-2012, 03:53 AM Thread Starter
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180 Gallons of Ferny Wood

First the saga...............

Well the creaky cloudy old 180 long is in the back yard waiting for a new home. Found a standard 6'x2'x2' 180 gallon tank on Craig's List that was drilled with 3 holes and had a clear back, actually intended as a peninsula tank. No stand, dubious looking repair to the bottom and best of all --- coralline algae residue on the panels intended for the left and front of the tank!

First up, the stand as I couldn't leak test unless the tank was on something. I read the whole thread started by RocketEngineer on Reef Central and got brave enough to try it out. Came out okay, tank has been filled for several times now and it seems just fine. Stand isn't finished as the doors have been a very sticky point but I WILL get them done!

Next was the repair. I tested the tank and it was more oozing than dripping. I used solvent and acrylic bar to reinforce the repair on the inside of the tank rather than trying to stop it on the outside. Not leaking, fingers crossed.

Tank on stand, see the coralline algae residue at front right? That was the worst of it but the whole end opposite the overflow was unsatisfactory. See the cardboard mock up of the sump?

I tried vinegar, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, bathroom hard water deposit cleaners and diatomaceous earth to get the stuff off. Nothing. So I spent the big bucks and got a set of micro mesh polishing cloths. I tried them out on the rear of the tank that didn't much matter and the stuff came off beautifully with the #3200 mesh. So hand polished with that just where the residue was and continued with the rest of the meshes. I didn't get it all and the tank isn't perfect but it isn't bad. Then I went to diatomaceous earth with water and a wool pad on the drill to finish the whole thing then polished it.

Scary at this stage of polishing.

Filled polished tank, clear enough.

Outside ready to come in the house, window film on and scape concept set up. This was taken Saturday afternoon. Thought I was tired then.

I picked up and carried home reddish volcanic rocks from around here. The largest is too heavy and large for me to pick up with one hand and I sure was tired after carrying it 1/4 mile. The wood is recycled from the previous tank, screwed and tied together into 3 jumbles of wood then one end of each has a bit of acrylic sheet screwed to help anchor it in the substrate. I went over each bit of wood with a dull paring knife to roughly scrape off softened wood and did find a couple pieces that were quite rotten inside. Basically the same hardscape as the 180 long with more foreground area.

The window film is definitely not perfect but seems to be sticking fine. I wish it was a bit more translucent but lit up the color matches the wall color very nicely and it sure looks better than a plastic drop sheet taped to the tank and the wall! Even though I tried to take my time and get out the bubbles they still formed and even though you are supposed to be able to work the film for a few hours before the adhesive sticks for good I wasn't able to easily remove and restick it so thought it best to leave well enough alone. It was fun anyway, used lots of soapy water and it was fun to squeegee it out.

DH and I got the tank and stand into the house just fine with a couple of dollies and sliding pads. I had forgotten to measure the door opening and stand, made it by 2". My stand was perfectly level once in place. Remarkable as the patio where I built it was NOT level anywhere! Thought that was a tiring day............

Hardscape and ground covering plants in, see the very dirty partial fill that gets dumped to rinse the substrate's surface? This was taken at about 6pm Tuesday after a total of 5 hours work.

Half an hour after planting with filter on and nearly cleared up. Taken Tuesday evening about 9:30pm. Now I am definitely tired!

What was I doing Monday you ask? I put the sump in place which wasn't easy but it did fit perfectly. And I set up the lights. Two of the ballasts decided to quit on me. Lovely. I only need 2 so another one is on order. But that took it out of me so I decided to quit for the day.

The tank is perfectly clear now, enough flow is an amazing thing! I blasted the tank with CO2 for a day even when lights were out and the tank has window screen over the top. I am moving the single metal halide from side to side and it is on for 11 hours a day. At some point I will take pictures of how nice it looks but first I need to wipe the water marks off.

Today I returned the fish to the tank which took about 1/4 the time it took to net them out of the old tank. Turned off the CO2 for the night, made sure the fish bin and tank had about the same water temperature and no ammonia and moved the fish in this morning. The fish spent 4 nights in a 25 gallon bin with the HOT filter serving as a power head with its intake covered with a prefilter sponge and a heater. One platy jumped out somehow and a female Congo tetra was dead but several tiny platies survived the rest of the hungry fish somehow. I remembered not to feed the fish the day before the move and they weren't fed while in the bin. I put the largest clumps of fern in there for cover and stuff to pick at though.

Next post will be the plants, fish and specifics on set up. Maybe even a photo of a clear tank without water spots but don't count on it.
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post #2 of 136 (permalink) Old 11-02-2012, 06:10 PM
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Lots of work, but the result is great. Something to be proud of!
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post #3 of 136 (permalink) Old 11-02-2012, 08:55 PM
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wow looks great so far... very nice work
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post #4 of 136 (permalink) Old 11-02-2012, 11:02 PM
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This is so beautiful ! keep it up, cant wait to see ur progress

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post #5 of 136 (permalink) Old 11-03-2012, 03:10 AM
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Looking great Kathyy! Can't wait to see it evolve!
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post #6 of 136 (permalink) Old 11-04-2012, 02:59 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you! I am enjoying this tank a great deal. Not finishing it up yet though.

Hard ware.

This tank is reef ready with a trapezoid overflow box centered on one short end. It has a 2" bulkhead and two 3/4" bulkheads. I am using the 2" as the main drain, one of the 3/4" as the emergency drain and the other 3/4" bulkhead as the return from the CO2 reactor. The main drain has a Poret foam block with a hole carved out of the center as a prefilter. Having an open drain with a ball valve, not such a good idea. Didn't check to see how large the opening is in the ball valve when the drain is running full but not sure fish that fit through the skimmer teeth can fit through the partly closed ball valve.

It worked out that outside the stand plumbing is PVC and under is mostly tubing. I discovered that hose clamps aren't just screw end but also hex so found a wrench and leaks don't stand a chance now.

Back to Reef Central to research pumps and I ended up with a pond pump - Laguna Flo-Max 1500. I am using the Laguna and the old main pump, Rio 2500 for water flow. The Laguna's return goes outside the stand and up the overflow end of the tank and is painted black. A true Y splits the return and there are two simple PVC elbows serving as returns coming in through holes drilled on the top panel of the tank. The Rio is plumbed through the bottom of the tank and is running the 20" Cerges CO2 reactor. If the output has no head then it looks okay on paper, 1500gph+780gph and not even too bad at 4' head of 1320+430gph but the truth is probably more like half that what with the inevitable turns to fit the thing together.

For some reason the Cerge's is working better now than it did going up and over and with 6' of horizontal pipe like in the 8' tank. I have its output on 6" of Loc Line pointed at about 45* down and diagonally to the left rear corner. The Black Neon Tetras adore the big 1" returns and half the time are schooling near one or the other of them. I have some extensions I can put on them and may as the fish tend to explore and I am hearing some slurps as the fish hit the skimmer teeth and escape.

I can see debris moving steadily towards the skimmer and all the plant leaves seem clean and gently moving. There is quite a ripple on the tank's surface and somehow the left end is perfectly clean. Not sure how that works with the strong ripple from the right and the skimmer also on the right but it seems to be doing so.

The sump has two drains, one 2" and one 3/4" emergency drain. The 2" drain is causing quite the ripple in its section of the sump. I may end up drilling a number of holes near the bottom to diffuse the flow more. The 3/4" drain is just dumping straight down into the return area but I will add bits of hose and elbows so it drains to the drain area soon. Running two 200 watt heaters as before and the pumps have prefilter sponges on them as before. The filter media is the same, the original sump sponge plus some scrubbies sandwiched between a 4" 10 pore per inch Poret sponge and a 2" thick 30PPI Poret sponge. I cut a piece of sponge to make pads to dampen the vibrations of the pumps and it sure helped. At the moment I do hear a hum and water falls through the skimmer teeth, not bad. I will cut a longer 3/4" pipe so I can raise the level of the water in the overflow box at some point.

There was a platy in the overflow so I pulled up the emergency drain to flush her down. Not a great idea. I couldn't see where the pipe went in and the emergency drain blew all sorts of mulm into the return pumps so the tank was cloudy and I don't even see the platy in the sump! The tank was mostly clear inside 15 minutes and when I returned home in an hour the tank was again crystal clear. Wow.
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post #7 of 136 (permalink) Old 11-04-2012, 03:49 AM Thread Starter
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Plants currently in the tank.

All are replanted from the 8' tank.

On the wood -
Anubias nana
Bolbitis heteroclita
Bolbitis heudelotii
Microsorum pteropus varieties
'Narrow Leaved'
'Dwarf Needle Leaf'

Foreground -
Eleocharis acicularis
Marsilea species
Staurogyne repens
with these planted in front as well
Blyxa japonica
Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Green'
Lindernia rotundifolia 'Variagated'

Behind the wood
Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Bronze'?
Hydrocotyle leucocephala
Myriophyllum mattogrossense
Persicaria 'Kawagoeanum'

Since I have one working ballast until next week I am using a 12 hour photoperiod and moving the one light half way through. Tank is covered with window screen at the moment as well. I don't see any great distress from the light loving plants yet, Staurogyne leaves seem firmly stuck to the stems so far and Kawagoeanum is red at the top.

I made up root tabs and they are placed about 4" apart where ever rocks and wood aren't. Just used what Sewingalot uses, should be just fine. Fun to make but not sure I did it right as I didn't make much of a mess!
How to make DIY root fertilizer tablets with clay

Tank is lit with 2 150 watt metal halides currently about 40" off the substrate. The bulbs are 8000K.
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post #8 of 136 (permalink) Old 11-04-2012, 09:36 AM
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You did a AWESOME JOB on the Tank!!!

I too can't wait to see this tank as it matures!!!

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post #9 of 136 (permalink) Old 11-04-2012, 04:09 PM
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I agree the tank look super and I know you put in a lot of hard work!!! I'd love to see some new photos of the tank as it stands today.
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post #10 of 136 (permalink) Old 11-06-2012, 12:20 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks everybody. That means a lot to me.

Did the first water change on Saturday. Despite all the ominous slurps against the skimmer teeth these were the only surfers, 3 platies, 1 oto, 2 black neon tetras and a corydoras. Been hearing fewer slurps, hoping they have figured it out.

It turned out to be easy to get them out. I turn off the pumps, pull out the emergency drain pipe for more access and net them out. There is still about an inch of water in the overflow box so they were fine. Just need to be sure there is enough room in the sump for the extra water or I would not be fine!

I thought there would be a lot of mulm to vacuum up but it was gone. Kicked up by the corydoras and picked up by the water flow? Some plant debris was it. I have done a pretty good job of keeping the rocks and wood away from the tank panes so it went well. The wood seems nice and stable too.

The ballast hasn't arrived yet so only one light on. Here is the tank today. As soon as the lights are both on I will break out the tripod for steadier photos.

There is a floating Anubias I need to reseat and the pennywort is a tangle again. Not sure why the narrow leaved java fern looks odd, IRL it is flowing with the current and looks great. Except for a few melting crypt leaves so far so good. I do need to think on the background plantings, bit lumpy looking so far.

The fish have settled down, less frantic schooling by the corydoras and Black Neons. Black Neons adore current and love to school in front of the returns. Bristlenoses look great hanging from the tangle of wood and piled rocks.
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post #11 of 136 (permalink) Old 11-06-2012, 11:46 AM
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This looks good, right from start.
will be nice to see this a few months from now.
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post #12 of 136 (permalink) Old 11-06-2012, 01:04 PM
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That's a awesome! Nice work you did.

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post #13 of 136 (permalink) Old 11-06-2012, 05:39 PM
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Very well done

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post #14 of 136 (permalink) Old 11-06-2012, 06:08 PM
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Nothing beats ferny wood .
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post #15 of 136 (permalink) Old 11-06-2012, 11:23 PM
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Great project.
I hope you're proud of yourself
Tank looks amazing as is. It already looks mature.

I'm glad you were able to rescue your fish!
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