Megalop's first planted tank - 135 Gallons - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-08-2007, 01:23 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
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Location: Broward County, FL
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Megalop's first planted tank - 135 Gallons

After much reading here, and after posting a few questions, I'm finally setting up my first planted tank. This is a former reef system, but the only piece of equipment I kept was the T5HO TEK lighting hood. Everything else including the sump is gone.

My ultimate goal is to have Discus in this tank, so I will be getting only warm water low light plants. I will be copying what Scolley did in his latest tank, no substrate (a couple potted plants) and mostly plants that will grow on driftwood.

Here is most of the basic information:

Tank dimensions: 52" x 26" x 26". I had this aquarium custom built a few years ago. My rational for these dimensions was to maximize gallonage for a pair of MH bulbs. A MH bulb with a good reflector will cover a 26" square area pretty well. I often times refer to this tank as a 120 gallon, because its dimensions are very close, but actual water volume in this tank is right around 135 gallons.

Eheim 2028 canister
Tunze nano stream 6025 powerhead for circulation
Hydor 300 watt inline heater
Rex Grigg CO2 bubble counter and CO2 reactor
Rena 400 bubbler (on timer for nighttime only)
20lb CO2 tank w/Miii regulator and Ideal metering valve

2 ea Giesemann 6000K bulb 54W
2 ea GE 6500K 54W
Since I plan on low light plants, I will initially try using only one of each bulb in my TEK fixture.

Most of my free time spent in the past couple of weeks has been on designing and building an automatic water change system for this tank. I know there are several methods that have been described here on, but I've developed a hybrid solution which fits well with my setup, especially since my water has chloramines.

Here are the details on my AWC system:

This system will automatically change 27 gallons of water every day which equates to 20%/day. It is controlled by a 4 zone sprinkler timer whose signals energize a bank of relays to power 120 volt valves and pumps. Here is a picture of the control center.

The display tank drains 25 gallons of water via gravity thanks to an ASCO 8030G16 solenoid (zone 1 on the timer) which I purchased on eBay for $35. This gravity line goes directly outside. I have this duration set to 15 minutes. The water drains in about 12 minutes, but cannot drop any further thanks to a standpipe inside the tank which can be seen in the right rear corner of the tank.

The display tank is refilled from a 30 gal. holding tank which is mounted on a shelf near the ceiling of an adjacent room. The water from this holding tank feeds back into the display tank through the same standpipe thanks to an ASCO 8030G66 ($28 from eBay) solenoid (zone 2 on the timer) also via gravity. This zone is set for 20 minutes, although actual refill time is right around 16 minutes.

This holding tank has two standpipes inside. One which goes right to a half inch from the top and acts as an overflow preventer. The second is a small standpipe which only allows 27 gallons of water to drain leaving 3 gallons inside. This is because I keep a 300 watt titanium heater in this holding tank, and a small powerhead to circulate the water. Here is a picture of the holding tank.

The holding tank is refilled via a 1/8" solenoid which I purchased from (zone 3 on the sprinkler timer). This duration is set for 38 minutes. It actually fills in 37, but I let it run for one extra minute to be sure. The overflow standpipe just releases the extra water outside.

A peristaltic pump (which I ordered from APT but havenít yet received) will pump in 15ml of AMMO-Lock to neutralize the chlorine and ammonia (zone 4 on the timer). Until it arrives, I am adding the ammo-lock manually.

I built the relay box of the control center to include 6 relays. This is in case I decide to upgrade my 4 zone sprinkler timer to a 6 zone unit. I could then easily add one or two more peristaltic pumps for dosing fertilizer into the holding tank.
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-08-2007, 01:46 AM Thread Starter
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Join Date: May 2007
Location: Broward County, FL
Posts: 74
Here's a picture of the tank. I just put in the sand and driftwood today, so the water is quite cloudy right now.

I got the driftwood from The total with shipping for five x-large pieces came out to $85. I'm quite pleased with it. I'm not sure if I'll be rearranging the driftwood or keeping it as is. I'll have to wait until I get my plants to see how it will look. I plan on placing a plant order early next week from Once the plants come and are in the tank, I will post updated pics.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-08-2007, 01:53 AM
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I really like the look of the tank. Do you have a look in mind you are going for?

Will watch for updates!

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-08-2007, 02:05 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
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Location: Broward County, FL
Posts: 74
Originally Posted by pittiepride View Post
I really like the look of the tank. Do you have a look in mind you are going for?

Will watch for updates!

To be honest, I'm just setting the tank up for discus. I'm pretty certain the plant list will be limited to a couple of potted swords, anubias and java ferns.

It will be a community tank which will include a few sterbai corys, a few loaches, a school of either rummy nose tetras or cardinals, and a few plecos and/or SAEs.

The discus will be the main focal point of the system though.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-08-2007, 02:27 AM
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Wow going all out for your first tank, impressive! Those driftwood pieces look really good too, the dimensions are also quite interesting.
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