Help needed for science classroom investigation in Muncie - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-25-2013, 04:18 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Delta High School, Muncie, IN
Posts: 18
Smile Help needed for science classroom investigation in Muncie

In my science classroom at Delta High school we've been working on creating a freshwater aquascape tank with a chambered refrugium which will serve as a resource and data collection tank. While I've had a variety of freshwater and reef tanks all my life I was hoping to create a centerpiece which will be actively be used in classroom projects throughout the year. Even though I've got some technical skill with aquariums and biology, a planted aquascape on this level is a new adventure for all of us. The expert advice and support we have received from other hobbiest and industry leaders has been amazing. With Limited classroom budgets and personal funds, we had to start by seeking the support of the aquarium industry to support our project. The generosity and support received was beyond expected and I want to first thank the following companies:

Marineland- donated our 200gal deep dimension tank, stand, hood, 40 gal refrugium filter tank, pump, fish food, and heaters.

Coralife- donated three T5ho units with led lunar lights for the main tank and refrugium, a pump, and algae scraper.

Current USA- donated T5ho bulbs for our planted tank

Seachem- donated a variety of planted tank chemicals and supplements. They also are sending us Seachem Flourite black substrate for our tanks and we just are covering the shipping cost.

Bell grants- for supplying funding to custom build our refrugium filtration system and science classroom water test kits.

Now that we've received all of our structural elements we've begun construction.
The pumping lines get installed. Using 1" PCV with inline check valve and CO2 atomizer on the input and two separate 1" drains into our stage 1 filter box on top of the refrugium.

Below is the start of our custom 16" x 10" x 10" filter box which sits on top of the main sump. It will have two 1" spray bars which stray over a course filter media tray. This media tray slides out on one side for easy maintenance. Under this level will be a 5" deep bio ball filter section with a 2" drain down into the main sump area.

Directly below the upper filtration box is our 40gal three chambered refrugium filter tank. The first chamber will be a fluid sand filter, chamber two will grow Anacharis for use by all the science teachers at our school, and the last chamber will contain our return pump and media.

Below are two Manzanita branches that I found online and then drilled and mounted them to a flat stone. We hope to make a Phoenix moss tree with these branches.

We're now shopping for our plants and seeking plant donations. Based on the recommendations of other hobbyist a we hope to utilize the following plants:

Indian red sword (Echinodorus Indian red)
Blyxa auberti
Cryptocoryne blasii
Cabomba purple (red) (Cabomba pulcherrima)
Blyxa japonica
Micro sword (we need a lot of this for the foreground)
Phoenix moss (needed for a large moss tree)
Vallisneria spiralis (I love the look of this for a background and haven't found a source yet)

As for fish, we plan to have a large school of GM neon danios, 4-6 Koi Angelfish, many Otocinclus & Nertite algae eaters, and hopefully a variety of Rainbow fish.

Any advice, support, or donations towards our project will be greatly appreciated! I'll keep adding to the post as our project progresses.

Dr. Lance Brand
Delta high school

The hard scape got installed this week and we would love to hear everyone's feedback on our setup. We hope to being a dry start with plants next week.


We tried to utilize a dry start method to give our plants and moss opportunity to get off to a strong start. However after about a week of misting our covered tank, we started having major issues with fungus and mold growth. We eventually had to remove much of the hardscape and soak it in a mild bleach solution and then dechlorinate thoroughly before rebuilding everything.

We gave up on the dry start method and proceeded to plant any of the plants we had received then filled and started our tank filtration system.

Our tank has clearing up nicely and the plants we developing nicely. We of course did have several plants loose many of their initial leaves, but they all showed signs of good new growth. At this point we don't have our CO2 system up and running yet because we haven't received our tank yet. We have been supplementing our tank with Seachem Flourish & Flourish Excel with good results thus far, but I'm hoping we can have our CO2 injection system up an running very soon.

At about week 2 our tank started to have major issues with Diatoms that were growing on the sand. We thought we had utilized non-silica based sand but our Diatom growth said otherwise. I loved the look and contrast that the sand provided in the foreground, but the Diatom growth was pretty bad and we had to siphon it all out and replaced it with black gravel. Thus far my students and I are loving our classroom tank and we look forward to more favorable weather so we can continue to add more plants and fish.

Last edited by Dr. Brand; 01-19-2014 at 10:49 PM. Reason: Many updates and changes along the way
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-25-2013, 05:39 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: The swamp
Posts: 13,588
You could use DIY yeast CO2 as a source of CO2 addition to increase plant growth.

You can use the CO2 and see how that influences plant growth via O2 measurement of the water near the end of the lighting cycle.

You can measure the stem lengths over say 4 weeks and compare that to no CO2 enrichment.

CO2 and the yeast brew can do quite a few interesting things:
You can alter the pH and temperature of the solution and see how this changes the CO2 production rates. To do this, you make a simple DIY 2 liter set up and bubble the gas over time into inverted test tubes of a known volume under water. Measure the total gas produced over say 10-15 minutes after the brew is producing a steady rate of gas.

Say pH of 5, 7, 9
Say a temp of 40-50-60-70
That alone is a good lab paper and test.

PM me with your address, I have plenty of Blyxa.

Tom Barr
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-26-2013, 04:51 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 159
+1 to plantbrain. DIY Co2 is an excellent idea for the science behind underwater plant growth. Think beyond the obvious lessons that you can teach using this aquarium. Extend certain lesson out to smaller tanks to experiment on lighting, water depth, too much of certain nutrients, pollution etc...
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-07-2013, 07:29 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Delta High School, Muncie, IN
Posts: 18
The hard scape went in this week. What do you think?

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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-20-2014, 05:39 AM
Silverkestrel's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Indiana
Posts: 4
Ooh this is cool. I'm a student at Ball State and it would be neat to see this. I probably could also donate a few plants if you're interested. Unfortunately none from your list, but I have Rotala (not sure on species), pygmy chain sword that grows pretty fast so I've got extra, and possibly a tiger lotus and crypt Wendetii bronze. Don't have a lot as I only have a 10 gallon, but if every little bit helps.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-07-2014, 09:35 PM
Dragonfyre16's Avatar
Join Date: May 2014
Location: USA
Posts: 3
This is an awesome project, your students are so lucky...
The hardscape looks as good as any I have seen anywhere, including on the web...
Hope the moss tree works out, as that would be really beautiful...
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