What's your top "hack" for making your tank easier to maintain? - The Planted Tank Forum

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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-21-2016, 01:41 PM Thread Starter
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What's your top "hack" for making your tank easier to maintain?

I'm doing an overhaul on my 120 gallon and I'm thinking on what I can do to make things easier and/or more convenient. I've already pimped this guy out quite a bit: pH controlled CO2, automatic water changes, automatic fert dosing.

I run closed loop filtration systems on both of my tanks, so all of the equipment is in-line under the stand. As a result there's a bit more plumbing than what most people are used to with just a cannister filter in and out. As a result, it's more than my filters can prime on their own, so one of the better things I did on my upstairs tank (that I'm adding to my 120g) is a priming port/burp station. It's a off-shoot from the main filtration/equipment line, with a valve, and an open tube. After filter maintenance all I have to do is point that tube into a bucket and open the valve for a few seconds to fill the filtration line with water from the tank. I create a leak that lets the air out of the line.

So, what's the most convenient feature you've add to your tanks?
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-21-2016, 03:07 PM
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Is this port on the intake line or output line? I'd like to see a photo if you can provide one. If I can make this work for me, I might go back to using a reactor. Sometimes repriming a canister filter with a reactor on the output was a real pain.
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-21-2016, 03:14 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by hbosman View Post
Is this port on the intake line or output line? I'd like to see a photo if you can provide one. If I can make this work for me, I might go back to using a reactor. Sometimes repriming a canister filter with a reactor on the output was a real pain.
It's best when on the output, because you can use it to prime the entire filter with tank water. In this situation it's a prime port.

On my 120 gallon, I have three filters, so I'd need three of these (one per output) so instead I have it on the intake. In this situation it's more of a burp port because it let's air out, but might take two or three times to get water into the filters.
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-21-2016, 03:21 PM
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I've found that the largest time sink is often trimming. I've slowly been trying to move exclusively to slow-growing non-stem plants that do not need regular maintenance (or even worse - replanting).

Beyond that, careful manipulation of flow in the tank can keep the substrate clean and eliminate the need to vacuum.
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-23-2016, 07:16 PM
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The more light you use, the more maintenance you will have to do. Light drives the plant growth rate, so more light means more pruning and other plant maintenance. Algae love light, so the more light you have the more likely you will have algae problems, which take additional maintenance to control. The more light you have, the more fertilizing you will have to do to keep up with the plants demands for nutrients. And, the more light you have, the more you need to use pressurized CO2, and keep it adjusted to give you an optimal concentration of CO2 in the water - CO2 systems need regular maintenance.

Limit your lighting to around 30-40 PAR and "low maintenance" becomes possible. This is offset by the limit on what plants you can grow, the limit of how colorful the plants will be, and how few "carpet" plants you can grow successfully.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-23-2016, 08:16 PM
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I see you have auto water changes, but will that do Auto Top Off?

ATO is one of the best things I've done to my tanks! Not lugging buckets every other day is awesome. It was really simple to do with a DIY kit.

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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-23-2016, 10:05 PM
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For me it was transitioning from lugging buckets or Python hose to simply having a 20 gallon tank sitting under my 75 gallon tank. I have hot & cold water run directly to the 20 gallon tank. I have a drain stand pipe next to the 20 gallon tank. When it is time to do a water change, I drain the water into the stand pipe. When it is time to fill the 75 gallon tank back up, I close the canister filter valve, open the storage tank valve, and pump dechlorinated water directly into the 75 gallon tank. Most days I can do almost everything sitting on a small stool. WAY better than 5 gallon buckets!
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-23-2016, 11:42 PM
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Regular observation for functioning of tank components and ecosystem. It's much better to nip problems in the bud then let them fester (even if only fora few days) - this saves one many hours of maintenance.

But all your high tech stuff sounds very exciting - do you have any other threads detailing it? I've been wanting to get into that lately, but am presently focused on finding a maintenance regime and system that works for me, so I have a better idea of what needs automating.

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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-28-2016, 11:20 PM
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All sorts of things can help but the best single item for me has been adding drains near tanks. The refill part is almost a given but being able to dump water without buckets is great. Many don't realize how flimsy many houses are until they get into looking. Too many people get trapped in houses in an emergency when if they really knew, they could often kick a hole in the wall to get out!
Punching a hole out through the wall and letting that water run outside can be a pretty simple thing in frame houses. Brick? You have to drill the hole between the bricks and at a joint.
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-02-2016, 06:42 AM
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the drain port on my 265G just dumping the water in the sewer and not having to pump it in the kitchen sink at a low rate..

I might be dutch but I don't have a dutch scape.

the tank
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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-02-2016, 10:26 PM
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I agree. Putting plumbing in behind the stand is what makes having my 125 workable.
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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-02-2016, 11:19 PM
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I hate the 5 gallon bucket routine with a passion. Unfortunately my well water is horrible with huge fluctuations depending on the season. I run RO water in a 40ish gallon reservoir in my crawlspace. I would love to do a direct drain, but I need to know exactly how much water I remove and add as I individually remineralize the water on a tank per tank basis. I like to do WC in 5 gallon increments, but found marking the side of the tanks inaccurate. Any suggestions? I usually have all my equilibrium premixed in 1 litre bottles so it's dissolved, then fill 5g buckets with the mix + RO then pump back to tank, repeat. For emptying I use buckets to remove exactly 5 gallons at a time. Was thinking flow meters, but seems expensive. I used to go by markings I had put on the back corner of my 40g. But I find with the larger tanks it's not as accurate.

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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-02-2016, 11:23 PM
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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-03-2016, 01:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PlantedRich View Post
All sorts of things can help but the best single item for me has been adding drains near tanks. The refill part is almost a given but being able to dump water without buckets is great. Many don't realize how flimsy many houses are until they get into looking. Too many people get trapped in houses in an emergency when if they really knew, they could often kick a hole in the wall to get out!
Punching a hole out through the wall and letting that water run outside can be a pretty simple thing in frame houses. Brick? You have to drill the hole between the bricks and at a joint.
Awesome advice. I guess if your tank is behind a bathroom, you could even pipe a drain to go down with a bathroom sink drain.
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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-03-2016, 06:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Big Buddha View Post
I hate the 5 gallon bucket routine with a passion. Unfortunately my well water is horrible with huge fluctuations depending on the season. I run RO water in a 40ish gallon reservoir in my crawlspace. I would love to do a direct drain, but I need to know exactly how much water I remove and add as I individually remineralize the water on a tank per tank basis. I like to do WC in 5 gallon increments, but found marking the side of the tanks inaccurate. Any suggestions? I usually have all my equilibrium premixed in 1 litre bottles so it's dissolved, then fill 5g buckets with the mix + RO then pump back to tank, repeat. For emptying I use buckets to remove exactly 5 gallons at a time. Was thinking flow meters, but seems expensive. I used to go by markings I had put on the back corner of my 40g. But I find with the larger tanks it's not as accurate.

.
still is better than to calculate the amount of water using flow and time as parameters.
you could do it using weight, you know how much a empty tank weighs and you know how much 1 gallon weighs.
multiply the weight of 1 gallon by the number of gallons you want to exchange, add the weight of the empty tank and you know what to aim for.
if you use an empty tank you can construct a telescopic drain (to compensate for the height difference with a full or empty tamp) on the bottom of the tank, or simply pump out the water to a drain.

I might be dutch but I don't have a dutch scape.

the tank
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