Oi everybody! I'm going to share with you guys my newest project. Sorry if some parts of the text are messed up, english is not my native language.
Since the begining of this project I wanted to use some of the best products I had available on my country.
My previous projects were all budget restricted so I used tons of DIY: substrate, filter, CO2... pretty much everything was DIY.
Because of that and my inexperience I had tons of problems (leaks, algae, sky-high amonia levels due to filter clogging, even a light bulb was droped in the water once.... just to name a few). So for this project I wanted to be high tech, no more DIY substrate no more pain because of leaks no more hassle!
My second goal was to have a "greener" project, so I introduced some energy efficient products and concepts. The first concept was to adopt LED rather than HQI lamps. Currently I'm running my tank in compact bulbs, I'm still waiting for the LED drivers to arrive form deal extreme (bought the wrong ones), but in about 20 days I will switch to LEDS. The second concept was to use a precision temperature controller, and a less wattage heater, this allows me to control accurately the tank temperature and then saving energy. My filter is also a low consumption filter, and I adopted a digital timer with different programs, so I can control more precisely my lights, CO2 and UV filter, making my energy bill drop even a little bit more.
The LED that I will use in about 20 days!
Well enough of jibba-jabba and let's get down to business.
237G/hour canister filter
50W heater controlled through a precision controller
6W UV filter
CO2 cylinder (non DIY)
For substrate I used a brazilian substrate called Amazonia from Mbreda. I also used a really thin black sand as inert layer (no need for that I just used for scaping). I also used tourmaline on the bottom. Hard-scape are basalt rocks.
My last project (100G tank), the filtration was a disaster, I used DIY biological media and got screwed later when fishes started making a mess, so for this one I spend a little extra money on biological media and used Sera Siporax, and Aquamazon X100 media. I also started cycling the media about 2 weeks prior to the build, dosing amonia everyday in a bucket.
I bought a chinese brand filter for a really reasonable price, so far it is working great, and it has great water flow. For this project I wanted to have most of the stuff out of the tank, so I attached the heater to the filter though a DIY so I do not have anything other than the necessary inside the tank. My UV is also attached to the filter. Currently I'm working on my cabinet to put the filter inside, outside is ugly as hell.
CO2 I'm using a 1kg cylinder actuated by a solenoid valve (UPDATE: The manometer blew off at night so I'm using DIY CO2 for a couple days until my new valve kit arrives). CO2 is dosed during the photoperiod (6 hours now and from day 7 I'll start climbing it slowly until I reach 10 hours/day) I opted for a diffuser not an atomiser, because of the reasons Frank Wazeter stated in his journal. Page 11 post #60 Frank's Planted Tank How-To Mini Novel - The Mini S Returns! New Layout
The hardscape was very simple, I just wanted a flat rock on the right and a large boulder on the left, so that was fairly easy to achieve. When I was laying the hardscape I also dosed tourmaline to the bottom of the tank (some say it works, some say it is just Amano marketing, I'm with those ones that believe adding it could not cause any harm...)
The substrate itself is a really nice shaped sand (2 to 3mm grain), I added a layer of about 3cm on its thinest point, then I added the black sand just because I like the look, this substrate does not need an inert layer
For flora I decided to go with some simple plants, nothing very unusual. I decided to go with these plants because I had such a great experience with them in the past and they really fit what I had in mind for scaping.
The plants are: Blyxa japonica, Eleocharis minima, Glossostigma elatinoides and Hemianthus micranthemoides. In the future I might add some riccia rocks, but I dunno yet
The aquarium as it looks in the very first day (August 1st). 5 minutes after filling the tank
This is a picture of the water of one of the water changes. As you can barely notice the water is kinda green, but is less green than it was in the first day. I do water changes (80%) daily and leave the UV filter ON for about 8 hours after the water change to kill any possible algae spore. I'm trying to avoid algae the most I can, but I think they will appear at some point, I just hope they will not be massive.
Currently I'm dosing Gibberellin every day since day 1. Tom Barr says gibberellin is not suitable for aquariums, and the plants do not benefit from it. However, I'm using it and I really think it helps when you build an aquarium. I'm going to dose it every day until the end of the 1st month.
I'm also dosing amonia since day 1 (and on my bio media even before the tank was filled). I started dosing potassium on the 3rd day. My tap water PH, is really high (7.6), and I need to dose an acid buffer in order to reach 6.8PH.
The aquarium on the 5th day (Aug. 5th).
And my carpet already got some runners (I'm gonna assume that the Gibberellin works, because I could see those guys since the 3rd day, and today I popped out one plant by accident and it already have a fairly dense root system, considering they were planted not even 5 complete days ago)
Currently I'm not very concerned about NH3 and NH2 levels, because I'm doing daily water changes. I still dose ammonia just to keep my bacteria alive. I'm more concerned about getting a really good plant development rather than a tank suitable for fish. I plan adding the 1st fish in only about 3 weeks so by then my tank should be stable.
I will do daily water changes for at least 2 more weeks.
I'm gonna try to keep this topic updated every couple days.
And last but not least I would like to say that most of the concepts I'm using were adopted according to successful tank journals in this forum and another brazilian one. If you have any doubt let me know. If you have any sort of critic or advice let me know too!