18" cube equipment questions
I’ve been out of the hobby for a while, but I’m thinking of jumping back in with an 18” cube planted tank. I’m looking to set up a heavily planted, mid to high light tank with CO2 injection, but I’d like to incorporate some of Diana Walstad’s approaches with a soil bottom and high flow/low biological filtration. I was wondering if you veterans could share some wisdom. Please bear with me, as I’m not quite caught up with the state of the art of planted tanks.
I’d like to have a carpet of low foreground plants (e.g. HC). I am thinking of lighting my tank with an Ecoxotic panorama pro 19w LED module (12 LEDs @ 8000k). Would this give me around 50 PAR directly underneath the lights (3” through air, 15-16” to the substrate surface) which I understand to be the necessary light for plants like HC? I see that the 13w panorama module only gets about 36PAR @ 18” from the LED lighting compendium which has me wondering.
2. Water circulation
For aesthetic and safety reasons (less tubes going in and out of the tank) I’d like to get my filtration done in the tank. I was thinking of utilizing a submerged pump with a foam pre-filter pushing water through PVC rigged like a spray bar. I’d plumb it so the foam-covered intake would be in the mid-to high water column, and the spray bar pushing water about 2” above the substrate.
I would section off a portion of the bottom of the tank so that the pump can sit very close to the glass, hiding most of it below the level of the substrate. Plants on drift wood situated over the bar would hide the bar, and their leaves would hide the foam pre-filter. (Thinking of using microsorium for this. Would the light be too high?)
My main question is about the pump. I’m thinking of using a Mag-drive 2 which pushes water at 250 gph. Would this be too much flow, even with fairly large holes in the spray bar? I want good water circulation around the plants, but I’m thinking of keeping some smaller rasboras. It’d be great if this made them swim higher in the tank, but I don’t want them to be blown all over the tank. Any alternate pump ideas would be greatly appreciated.
I also intend to send a loc-line nozzle off of a Tee in the spray bar to the surface to give it some water movement. I would use a ball valve to divert most of the flow to the spray bar.
3. CO2 injection
I plan to insert the CO2 line directly into the base of the spray bar and use it as a reactor (or a venturi). Is there any reason this won’t mix the CO2 well?
I’m wavering between ADA aqua soil and a true soil substrate with a thin sand cap. I’ll probably dry start the difficult plants. Any thoughts?
Excuse the long post. Any input would be greatly appreciated.
You definitely sound like you know what you're doing. The only thing I worry about your proposal would be the lighting to make sure it's enough. Since the tank is 18" high, I don't know if it'll be enough. I recently got an 18 inch cube tank myself and ended up getting this Kessil A150 led light. This isn't my tank but it's from my LFS and they've used it successfully on a number of their tanks (and reef ones as well but with a different variation kessil)
http://www.neptuneaquatics.com/conte...allery_image=4 <- More pics there
I've only had my Kessil up for a week now and I'm not going co2 route (yet anyways) so I can't comment on how good the light is but it's the most expensive light I've bought so I think it'll do well. Also, as you can see from the picture, it's pretty clean if you go with a canister - just two tubes there. You could also do inline heater, and co2 reactor, making it even more streamlined... just my 2 cents though.
I have a pump in the tank with a foam prefilter sponge and the output goes under the substrate to a vertical spray bar. With the tank being 8' long and CO2 line inserted in the intake I got small bubbles but did get good enough diffusion of the gas. Currently the gas line is in the sump pump's intake so the CO2 travels 12' to the spray bar and I get just about the same amount of tiny bubbles. You may want to use a needlewheel pump for a mist rather than bubbles since your gas won't be in the plumbing for 8-12'!
My cheap and old pump vibrates a good deal. Perhaps it is unhappy running upside down? Your plan isn't doing that, you are planning to run it on its side. You may want to wrap it with foam to see if that helps the noise.
I love to make spraybars and have used vertical and horizontal top and bottom ones in my tank. Currently I have clear ones that are vertical, see the last couple pages of my journal linked in my signature. I disliked the low horizontal one as plant growth killed the water movement very quickly. You can see the tank so plumbed in my first journal. I ended up using a couple powerheads for water movement which looks worse than a simple spraybar.
You may prefer a discharge that widens like the ADA lily pipes to reduce flow instead. Perhaps your ferns can be on wood a bit above the spraybar which could shadow it and not block water movement? Just don't plant tall stems in front of a low spraybar!
Look at the ADA video channel on youtube. Plenty of tiny fish in high flow tanks there. Fish like swimming against a current, that is how food arrives. Here is a random one I saved [BGA in hairgrass, gone at the next update] see how the fish are staying at the bottom looking for goodies to arrive in the tiny tank starting at about 2:25?
The fern leaves will cover the sponge just fine. Perhaps you could make your own cover custom carved to remove the straight lines so it blends in the tank better.
Outside the tank might be a bit cleaner with just the heater and pump power cords coming over the edge and you will only need to disguise the CO2 tank but inside the tank it might look cluttered. Prefilter sponges are big, even in my huge tank it looks big. As you are planning to use it mostly to protect the pump's innards possibly you can reduce the size. How are you hiding the heater?
If I planned the same sort of thing I would probably chose to make a vertical spraybar or simple outflow facing forward in one rear corner. At the right height you get the surface ripple and the water bounces off the front of the tank to reduce the flow nicely. The foam prefilter would then be horizontal near the substrate level with the heater just above or below it horizontal as well. Over and in front I could have my tangle of wood covered with ferns and such to disguise it in the shadows. I would be sure to check that the sponge can be removed and reinstalled with the wood in place!
More of my two cents worth. Not a fan of less biological filtration. I ran my sump with just a prefilter sponge and had repeated GW episodes. With huge sponges in the sump I [crossing my fingers and knocking on wood] haven't had that particular plague since. Consider lighting, perhaps my bright light is the issue.
RE: 18" cube equipment questions
Thanks for your advice fusiongt. Ha ha, not sure I know what I’m doing but always trying to learn.
Those Kassils look really nice. I like the gooseneck fixture a lot. Unfortunately, they are a little more than I am willing to pay for a light right now. If the Panorama Pro Module is not going to cut it, I might go with two T5HOs. Something like the Aqualife 2 x 18W fixture. Hoppy’s chart in the sticky fluorescent thread suggests that would be enough light, and those sliding legs look like they could adjust to a 18” rim.
I’d like to avoid the heat of those tubes since keeping the AC on during the day costs a pretty penny down here, though. Wondering if I should post in the lighting section to see if anyone’s actually given the panoramas a go in a 18” deep tank (with no disrespect to your input—you’re probably right).
Love those tanks that you linked to. I agree that a canister might not be too bad aesthetically. Good luck with your cube, and shoot me some tips.
RE: 18" cube equipment questions
I really like your tank Kathyy! Clean lines, minimal visible equipment, etc.--it’s the way I hope to go. I’m definitely stealing those spray bars. Do you mind sharing how you made them? And that careful aquascape planning is really paying off!
Your experience with CO2 diffusion, pump vibration, and green water has me reconsidering my plans. My original plan was as you put it—spray bar underneath driftwood so the flow would be coming out a “cave.” I think I am going to keep that idea because I’m interested to see how fresh, CO2 rich water flowing in at the bottom will help foreground cover growth. The vertical spray bars have me thinking, though.
On the other hand, I’m switching filtration to a canister. Reading your post it occurred to me that hiding intake tubes is much easier than a 2.25” x 4” sponge (duh). It would also allow me to easily raise the spray bar if necessary, and I don’t feel like battling green water. Thinking of going with a 2215 with an in-line CO2 reactor. I need a cabinet to hide the CO2 tank anyway, and I’m sure I can fit a canister and reactor in there too.
This would also allow me to aquascape better. I’m confident that I can hide a pump, but it occurred to me that the foot print would really limit my driftwood placement options.
Great advice. Thanks!
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