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nature boy 07-03-2011 05:24 AM

90 gallon planted tank with sump
I finally got around to starting a thread for my tank. Here are the details. Been up and running without plants for at least a month now. The current plan is to do a heavily planted high tech tank. Fish will be a mixture of South American species with either angels or discus being the focus.

Equipment in use right now

90 gallon aqueon reef ready tank
maple stand and canopy
25 gallon trigger system sump
mag 7 return pump
4 by 65 (260) watt power compact fixture with dual daylight bulbs

Looking to aquire

mechanical and biological media for sump
pressurized Co2 setup with ph controller

Now, I know there is much debate on whether sumps are good for planted tanks and if they can be efficiently designed to minimize the co2 loss. I am working on this. My plan is after 5 years this planted tank I will convert this to a saltwater system.

Here is a reverse durso that I did out of 2 1/2" pipe which is working perfectly as there is no bubbles what so ever in the sump and zero turbulence. More on this later.

My driftwood is from and is supposed to resemble a buried stump. I am considering adding another piect to fill in the middle.

My substrate is 1 inch of a very sandy, nutrient poor topsoil capped with 2 inches of pool filter sand. I am very excited about this substrate

I did add 10 Otocinclus affinis to help with algae. They will be permanent residents in the tank. They ate all algae in a short few days and I have been feeding with algae wafers but not sure they are eating them yet.

I need to get plants in this tank!!!!!!! Thanks for looking. I welcome any comments and suggestions as this is my first serious planted tank.

TwoStrokeKing 07-03-2011 06:50 AM

Cant wait to see this planted!

ElectricBlue 07-03-2011 07:13 AM

Beautiful setup!!

I would love to have a sumped 90 gallon for a number of cichlids.

jcgd 07-03-2011 07:15 AM

I would like to hear more about this reverse durso. If you don't have turbulence when using it I think you have solved all your CO2 issues and I would like to possibly copy the design. I have a tower I can seal, but my other sump will just be an empty tank and I don't want to mess with a airtight cover for it. Please do share some details.

On another note, nice start. I like how you are concealing the overflow with the wood but I do think you should add another piece. Maybe something a little taller to hide the top a bit more? I've also thought of using cork to conceal my overflow but since yours is round it may work well if you wanted to fake a stump (the overflow surrounded in cork) and attach anubias or something. Just an idea for ya.

nature boy 07-12-2011 05:21 AM

Thanks for the compliments guys. Having a hard time moving forward with the rest of the setup due to all the summer activiites.

I agree that another piece of driftwood is needed to cover the overflow and complete the stump. I'll look into finding one.

The biggest question I have for you guys that are running sumps on planted tanks is what kind of media to use. I need some kind of mechanical filtration, and would like add a little biological filtration as well. Those ceramic rings came to mind.

I will also get some more pictures, maybe a video, and some details on the reverse durso. The negative side of the durso is I can't really use the filter socks that came with the sump for mechanical filtration. Not sure I want filter socks as I hear they become a dreaded maintence chore.

nature boy 09-07-2011 04:08 AM

Ok so this is officially the slowest build ever.

Here is the tank again with a new piece of driftwood. Now I have the full buried stump effect I was looking for. It came with some java fern on it. Not sure if this will stay or not.

Update on my planning. I am going to focus a little more on discus than plants on this tank. I am going to run co2 to keep ph where I want and help the plants a little. I am going to run the marine pure ceramic bioballs in the fuge section of my sump. These will be elevated in a basket. The water enters this section in the middle. The idea is clean water will move up through the bioballs and particles will settle under the basket. This is where crap is settling now and I can vacuum it out during water changes. Discus i guess are like corals. You need to get the crap out asap. I have a hole drilled through the floor right into my fish room in the basement and another storage container ready to go with the discus water.

I am struggling with what water to use. Lincoln county rural water has a gh of 15 and a alkalinity of 3 dkh. I am going to mix ro/di water but not sure at what ratio is best for discus. If I go 1 part tap and 3 parts ro/di then my gh is where I want but my kh is pretty low. I can add baking soda to correct this though. Or should I just go half and half?

Any planted discus experts out there throw out a recommendation?

The video on this reverse durso is coming. Colder weather is coming and I will have more time.

nature boy 09-24-2011 06:36 AM

I just ordered's regulator and co2 reactor (external 5000), and a drop checker and misc items. Getting closer to completely set up.

I have decided to go with 1/2 tap and 1/2 ro/di water. Now I have to get the pump that can push it upstairs from its mixing barrel.

londonloco 09-24-2011 04:02 PM


rbarn 09-24-2011 11:53 PM


Originally Posted by nature boy (Post 1504774)

Any planted discus experts out there throw out a recommendation?


Be patient. Start off raising healthy established plants than start slowly turning the temp up. Planted Discus tanks are hard because the coldest water the Discus will tolerate is a little warmer than plants will usually tolerate.

Coltonorr 09-25-2011 01:42 AM

nature boy,
have you considered sumps generally outgas co2. the co2 you are injecting into the tank is going to be lost as water passes through the sump. I'd try to minimize the amount of splashing/trickling water

nature boy 11-06-2011 02:41 PM I finally got this tank fully set and ready for more plants and discus. Here is the elevated basket made of eggcrate with ceramic bioballs. The basket just sets on the stand pipes and the particulate waste settles out underneath (to be vacuumed up).

Here is the the co2 reactor plumbed into the return line, co2 tank, and reef keeper power control, and ph module. The reef keeper is controlling the co2 regulator to maintain a certain ph. And then it is on a timer as well that shuts it off at night. I am experimenting with this to figure out how much co2 it is going to take and how large the flucuations will be between night and day. I had a drop checker ready to go but it had a hole in it and all the fluid ran out instantly It dawned on me that I probably should have just done the herbie overflow method from the get go to help reduce co2 off gassing. The reversed durso works but still sucks down a lot of air and expells it before water enters the sump. Oh well, we will see how bad it is and the herbie mod is a good winter project.

The reef keeper lite is also a back up control for temp. It will kill power to heater if the thermostat on the heater is stuck on and temp rises. And lastly it is controlling the lights. I am starting off with 130 watts running 12 hours a day and then 260 watts total for a couple hours in the middle of the day. I mounted the reef keeper head on the outside of the cabinet. I have mixed feelings on what this does to the overall look of things.

And here are the pictures of the vallisneria and cryptocoryne from the butterfly house. Not sure what other plants I will add. Probably some short grass like plants on the right side. I honestly don't really know a lot about aquatic plants. Any suggestions?

And of course add some discus.

cheeman 11-06-2011 04:28 PM

I am trying out a sump on a non drilled tank with over flow box. I used pvc 1/2 inch n the back off the overflow box so most of the water is making it to the sump through full siphon . If that brakes the water will flow throug the normal tube to the sump. Help a lot as far as gassing the co

nature boy 11-13-2011 11:51 PM

As far as plants go, I'm going to do a little research before I put anything else in the tank. I need some short grass like groundcover on the right side in front and then maybe only a couple of other species of plants. Want to keep the plant layout dense but simple. They also have to withstand discus temperatures.

I have my bubble rate at 1 per second all day and then off at night. So far this has been moving the ph down to 8.0 in the evening from 8.2 in the morning. I suspect I am going to have to crank it up in order to make a substantial difference. I was going to wait, however until I got a new drop checker, got some more RO water mixed in, and tested alkalinity and such.

As far as fish, I did get 9 bloodfin tetras. These weren't necessarily what I was planning but saw them big, fat, healthy, extremely colorful and cheap ($0.99 per fish). They fit the bill. Might add a few more some time. This is all they had.

So the stocking is basically like this

10 otocinclus (not sure if there are still 10, but they are sure devouring my driftwood)
9 bloodfin tetras (maybe more)
and eventually the discus (5 or so bluish green in color and will see what happens)

That is going to be about it for fish I think. Unless adding a bristlenose or something.

Question for you planted tank guys. Do you use any kind of "clean up crew"? On these forums people are always talking about snails, and amano or red cherry shrimp. Are these worth getting or just tasty snacks?

Here are the bloodfins

nature boy 12-03-2011 05:33 AM

Its planted!!!!!

I just got done putting the rest of the plants into the tank. I don't think I'll add any more. I think the more simple designs are more effective. Just the discus to add now. Got an order in from

So I have for plants

Echinodorus bleheri (Amazon Sword)
Echinodorus tenellus (Narrol Leaf Chain Sword)
Alternanthera reineckii 'Rosaefolia' (Telanthera?)
Vallisneria americana (Jungle Vallisneria)
Cryptocoryne wendtii (Red/Bronze Crypt)

The plants from look awesome. Got more quantity than I ordered.

Here are the pictures

Let me know what you think

smiller 01-21-2012 01:54 PM

How is the tank doing? Did you have any problems with your Co2/sump setup?

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