Reef Tank Conversion - Concerns and Questions
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Old 09-13-2004, 04:15 AM   #1
Silent Running
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Default Reef Tank Conversion - Concerns and Questions

Hi everyone,

Iím very seriously considering converting my 100 gallon acrylic (60L x 18W x 20H) tank from a full blown reef tank to a planted tank. Iíve had aquariums (both fresh and salt) from the time I was a kid (many years ago ), so Iíve got the basics down. Iíve got several initial questions about making the move.

I think one of the most important things to consider when making this switch is my reasoning behind it, so please bare with me. Please let me know if my thinking is on target or mis-guided. Iím making the switch because: a) Iím tired of ďchasingĒ a reef tank and all of the expensive equipment and livestock required to keep it in optimal condition; b) Iíd like a tank that is lower maintenance (please tell me if Iíve lost my marbles here); c) lower cost of setup, operation and components; d) The sheer beauty of a planted tank is stunning Ė I know this part sounds shallow, but my tank is in my living room and I really need to make sure that if I make the switch, Iím able to setup something that will easily compare with the beauty of my reef tank and that it would be something that Iíd be able to pull off. Thatís my reasoning in a nutshell I suppose.

Hereís what Iím considering for setup:

Filtration: Eheim 2028 canister filter.

CO2 tank (from calcium reactor) feeding a CO2 reactor

Lighting: Iíll be scaling back the lighting (from 500 watts MH and 280 watts VHO actinic) to 3 or 4 48Ē (110 watt) VHO tubes (or possibly using NO GE Daylight Ultra driven by an IceCap 660).

Substrate: 2 Ė 3Ē Flourite substrate with layer of sand on top.

How do you address chloramine and other possible tap water chemistry issues when using a python for water changes?

What options are available for automating the fertilization process?

Sorry for the long post and multiple questions, I just want to make sure I know what Iím getting myself into before making the leap. Iím sure Iíll be back with more questions as well

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Old 09-13-2004, 12:28 PM   #2
Rex Grigg
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IMHO don't go over 3 wpg for lighting. You should be able to grow most anything you want at that light level in that size tank.

You really can't do a good planted tank "on the cheap". Planted tanks are expensive. But you do already have most of the equipment. So that does help a tremendous amount.

I would either go with Flourite or Eco-Complete as the substrate. If you put sand over the Flourite the Flourite is going to end up on top unless the grain size of the two substrates is similar. I have mixed Flourite with fine gravel/coarse sand in a 50/50 mix based on depth and had very good luck with it. But I was careful to keep the grain sizes similar. In another tank which started out life as a fish tank I mixed in the Flourite with the existing small LFS rock. Well the Flourite is now a base layer and the Roan River gravel is all I see. And it's a pain trying to plant new plants is the seemingly coarse substrate. The larger substrate is always going to end up on top.

IMHO there are no good methods for automating the fertilization process. You can add nutrients on a nilly willy basis without causing problems. By automating the process you will either end up with too much or too little of any or all of your nutrients. A worst case scenario would be a 100 gallon algae display tank.

When filling my tanks via the Python process I treat the entire tank volume with Seachem Prime just as the directions on the bottle state. As for tap water chemistry.... I mix up a couple of gallons of very hard water and slowly pour it into the tank while it's filling.
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Old 09-13-2004, 03:47 PM   #3
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a high tech planted tank is only slightly less work than a reef, so keep that in mind
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Old 09-13-2004, 04:06 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by malkore
a high tech planted tank is only slightly less work than a reef, so keep that in mind
I have to disagree. While you might have to do some frequent testing at the beginning, once a Planted Tank is established and dosages are worked out, you'll only need to do periodical testing to verify nutrient uptake is constant.
With my reef tank, I had to test at least once a week, and dose almost daily. With my planted tank, I test every week or two and dose once a week.

Reef tanks are far more sensitive to change, and unfortunately, also far more prone to alterations in parameters. With a well set-up calcium reactor and a working sand bed, a reef tank might get fairly close to a well set-up planted tank, but never the same.
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Old 09-14-2004, 03:39 AM   #5
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Hey, thanks for the insight folks!

I'll go with either 2 or 3 of the 48" VHO driven tubes then. I'm curious to see how the GE Daylight Ultras will look off of a VHO ballast. I may have to set that up in the next day or two just to run a test...

Good point about the sand as well. I've found the same thing when mixing sand sizes in my salt water setups.

Sounds like I've got my work cut out for me regarding researching the appropriate fert regimen.

I guess the work (i.e., time dedicated) to maintenance is the least of the concerns that I have regarding the switch. My main beef with my reef tank is that every time I turn around, I need to spend another couple hundred bucks on something that stops working right. The lighting alone, with two $80 MH bulbs and two $25 VHO tubes is enought to nearly break my laid-off-guy's aquarium budget.

Thanks again for the responses!
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Old 09-14-2004, 02:37 PM   #6
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Once things balance out you could do something like this,
Just more money you don't really need to spend. You can design a planted tank however you want to. Low light/ low maintenance.
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