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Old 12-07-2012, 01:54 PM   #1
howze01
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New tank advice/help


So I am in the very preliminary stages of setting up a tank. I have some ideas of what I want to do as well as some of the equipment.

I don't do well skimping on things so I was thinking high tech. Pressurized Co2, ferts, LEDs.... pretty much the whole 9 yards. I have had planted tanks in the past but this is going to be the first serious one.

The tank. I have 2 choices. A 120g reef ready (has 2 overflows) and a 75g not reef ready. I haven't seen much in the way of tanks with overflows used for plants. Is it ok? Would I use a sump like with a reef tank? What would be in the sump? Any info on this would be hugely appreciated.

Lighting. Am thinking LEDs but halide is another option. I already have a few 400 watt halide fixtures. I am guessing that 1 would be insufficient (mostly because of the center brace on the tanks) and 2 would be overkill. LEDs. I had a pair of AI Sol blues over my reef tank and I loved them. The power consumption alone is making this the direction I am leaning towards. Thinking of making one or using buildmyled.com.

Substrate. I have always used Flourite in my tanks but have always wanted to try a dirt substrate. Was thinking maybe MTS capped with Flourite. Another consideration is Aquasoil.

That's pretty much the totality of what I have in mind or am considering. Like I said, the very preliminary stages but I want to do this right and take it slow. Any help, criticisms or suggestions is more than welcome!
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Old 12-07-2012, 05:57 PM   #2
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I would use the 75 and go with CPR brand overflow and wet dry kit... Definitely aqua soil though I have yet to try it...as for as lighting some people don't like the shimmer of the LEDs...unnatural... I use t5s... I would skip on the metal halides...too much light

Try do some reading on the wet/dry sump system....
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Old 12-07-2012, 08:26 PM   #3
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A wet/dry huh? I just assumed since they are like the plague when it comes to reef tanks it would be the same here. Supposedly the bio balls are a nightmare trap for nitrates. Which, come to think of it, wouldn't be much of a problem in a planted tank. I guess I have to adjust my thinking from a reef tank to freshwater again.

Why would you choose the 75 over the 120? I am not the hugest fan of the HOB overflows, just a flood waiting to happen. If the 120 has them built in already why not just do that?

The only thing that is making me hesitate is the cost. It will be A LOT more to get the 120 going. More tank = more substrate (that aqua soil isn't cheap!), more lighting, more ferts, more Co2.... more everything.
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Old 12-07-2012, 09:01 PM   #4
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Go bio/mech in the sump and skip the wet dry (imo).
3 sumps in use here and the last two use sponge panel dividers for a direct flow path eliminating splash and CO2 losses. Threads on all my crazy stuff here on TPT.
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Old 12-07-2012, 09:26 PM   #5
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You forgot hardscape. Gotta have the rocks and/or wood!

I would go with the drilled tank, so nice not to have that U tube. 24" front to back is nice, I was so cramped in the 18" front to back 100 gallon tank.

I didn't care for bioballs either in a wet dry or floating. Haven't had a case of green water since the sponges were installed, many cases with the bioballs. My tank only has sponges, every where I can stick one there is a sponge. Standpipes, pump intakes, actual filter.......

Unless you have a less than 10000K bulb, don't pay for electricity and have really high ceiling rehome or store those 400 watt MHs. 150 watt MH fixtures are all planted tanks under 30" tall need and they are overkill. Love the look of those new build it LED fixtures!
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Old 12-07-2012, 10:08 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wkndracer View Post
Go bio/mech in the sump and skip the wet dry (imo).
3 sumps in use here and the last two use sponge panel dividers for a direct flow path eliminating splash and CO2 losses. Threads on all my crazy stuff here on TPT.
Ahhhh, your thread breaking down a wet/dry and building a sump is what I was looking for! I built a sump for my reef and it looks about the same for this. Should be no problem! Thanks a bunch!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kathyy View Post
You forgot hardscape. Gotta have the rocks and/or wood!

I would go with the drilled tank, so nice not to have that U tube. 24" front to back is nice, I was so cramped in the 18" front to back 100 gallon tank.

I didn't care for bioballs either in a wet dry or floating. Haven't had a case of green water since the sponges were installed, many cases with the bioballs. My tank only has sponges, every where I can stick one there is a sponge. Standpipes, pump intakes, actual filter.......

Unless you have a less than 10000K bulb, don't pay for electricity and have really high ceiling rehome or store those 400 watt MHs. 150 watt MH fixtures are all planted tanks under 30" tall need and they are overkill. Love the look of those new build it LED fixtures!
Believe me, I didn't forget at all about it! Hardscape is the best part! Just wanted to nail down the equipment first. In my last tank I built a wall out of river stones and had a 2 tier effect. May try something along those lines but bigger and better. It seems that whether its a reef tank or a FW tank women have a better eye as far as design. My sister has that eye and she is going to help (more like do it all) with the design of it. We worked together for years in the same pet shop and with her eye and my brains we built some awesome tanks for some customers.

I am thinking along the lines of a Amazon type set up. My favorite fish are Cory Cats so I thought, why not try and make them feel at home? I am thinking a shoreline kind of set up with some big wood roots in the back. Maybe even have it come out of the tank and plant some stuff on the emersed part. All just ideas for now though.

As far as lights, I have talked to Nick at build my LEDs about what to use. The initial cost may hurt a bit but I think I will make that up with no bulb replacing and electricity savings within a year or 2. He suggested 2, maybe even 3 () of his 48" strips for it. Will have to really think about it before I drop $800+ on lights.....
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Old 12-07-2012, 10:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Supposedly the bio balls are a nightmare trap for nitrates.
I am surprised that this thought is still prevalent in salt water circles.

What would you rather have: Ammonia and nitrite? Or nitrate?
If you add nitrogen (such as high protein food) it is going to show up as one of those three molecules. Take your pick!
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Anyway, choices:
I would go with the larger tank, if you can afford to set it up.
Sump, no matter what you call it, has the maximum room for whatever filter media and equipment you want. Do not skimp on the sump.
I like Matala mats as filter media and bio media (they do both), rather than bio balls. Look at the surface area of each!
Other filter media is up to you, but I would go with sponges and floss, and if you need chemical media, save a little room for that. I use peat moss in most of the filters.
Cover the sump to retain CO2.
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Old 12-07-2012, 11:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by howze01 View Post
So I am in the very preliminary stages of setting up a tank. *****

Substrate. I have always used Flourite in my tanks but have always wanted to try a dirt substrate. Was thinking maybe MTS capped with Flourite. Another consideration is Aquasoil.
Another one for the list of options. Consider an organic rich base also. Using soils with a high organic content have been very cost effective and rewarding here. Tried MTS once here (tank is still running) but several combinations using organic rich potting mix including one with all the additives used with the MTS mess,,,
not one potting mix system would I consider a failure to date and it doesn't get any easier. Oldest system is >3yrs wet.

Look forward to seeing what you end up doing.
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Old 12-07-2012, 11:09 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
I am surprised that this thought is still prevalent in salt water circles.

What would you rather have: Ammonia and nitrite? Or nitrate?
If you add nitrogen (such as high protein food) it is going to show up as one of those three molecules. Take your pick!
__________________________________________________ ___

Anyway, choices:
I would go with the larger tank, if you can afford to set it up.
Sump, no matter what you call it, has the maximum room for whatever filter media and equipment you want. Do not skimp on the sump.
I like Matala mats as filter media and bio media (they do both), rather than bio balls. Look at the surface area of each!
Other filter media is up to you, but I would go with sponges and floss, and if you need chemical media, save a little room for that. I use peat moss in most of the filters.
Cover the sump to retain CO2.
I can afford the 120. Especially since I am not going to set it up until Spring. Should be more then enough to get what I need. Never seen Matala mats, will go look around now. I usually prefer not to run chemical unless I need to, and even then just some carbon.

I guess the best way to retain the Co2 is to have the sump plumbed for an external pump? I assume I would be best off injecting the Co2 directly into the sump? Would it be better to plumb it into the tank?

My other thought is ferts. My roommate is a Plant Science major and we had a thought about how to dose. I'm sure it's been thought of, or even done, before but wanted to see what the experts think. Basically it would involve running tubing along the bottom of the tank. Put some holes in the tubing and somehow inject the fert into the tubing and directly into the soil. Any ideas? Obviously the tubing would have to be rigid enough to hold it's shape under the weight of the substrate and plants. Would also have to figure out a way to do it so that all the fert doesn't just pour out the first hole. Just an idea but it seems like it might work.

Thanks for all the help and suggestions so far!
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Old 12-08-2012, 12:22 PM   #10
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Hey Howze01
welcome to the plant side lol. I would go with the bigger tank but thats just me. Im pretty new to the planted tanks as well its a whole new world. Here are a cpl of mistakes I made that if I had to do over I would do differently. I started of with 2 hob filters def go with a canister and have your co2 go directly into the canister it will be distributed more evenly that way. I made 2 mistakes with my soil . First I bought this black amazon soil from foster and smith looked great in my tank but it never settled so I had to buy something to cover it with. I bought a top layer not sure what its called its brown and kinda looks like little pellets. I didnt read the bag until after I had put in my tank. It needs to be replaced every year or so.
I did a few things right
I bought my led lights from a local guy named wingo and I love them. They have the shimmer like mh but no heat and you dont have to replace the bulbs but every 3-4 yrs. My plant love them and my fish have amazing color from the lights. I can give you his number if you like? I started off with shrimp and even tho they are beautiful I found them boring so as they died off I didnt replace them and when they were all gone I added fish that I couldn't with shrimp (rams). Im planing a fishing trip with another guy from here durring the first week in Jan were going to hit pacific and win fish stores over in china town your welcome to join us. we go out for sushi afterward
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Old 12-08-2012, 03:07 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by partobe View Post
Hey Howze01
welcome to the plant side lol. I would go with the bigger tank but thats just me. Im pretty new to the planted tanks as well its a whole new world. Here are a cpl of mistakes I made that if I had to do over I would do differently. I started of with 2 hob filters def go with a canister and have your co2 go directly into the canister it will be distributed more evenly that way. I made 2 mistakes with my soil . First I bought this black amazon soil from foster and smith looked great in my tank but it never settled so I had to buy something to cover it with. I bought a top layer not sure what its called its brown and kinda looks like little pellets. I didnt read the bag until after I had put in my tank. It needs to be replaced every year or so.
I did a few things right
I bought my led lights from a local guy named wingo and I love them. They have the shimmer like mh but no heat and you dont have to replace the bulbs but every 3-4 yrs. My plant love them and my fish have amazing color from the lights. I can give you his number if you like? I started off with shrimp and even tho they are beautiful I found them boring so as they died off I didnt replace them and when they were all gone I added fish that I couldn't with shrimp (rams). Im planing a fishing trip with another guy from here durring the first week in Jan were going to hit pacific and win fish stores over in china town your welcome to join us. we go out for sushi afterward
Thanks for the advice! It seems like not that long ago I was trying to do the same with you on MR! The student becomes the teacher!
I have actually decided that the 120g is what I am going with. I love the dimensions of that tank and seeing as though there is one just sitting in the basement, why not? I think I am going to go with a sump design like wkndracr did. I like the huge amount of bio and chemical filtration possibilities as well as the clean factor in the tank. I can run my heater, CO2 and any reactors I may want down there and not in the tank. Just like my reef I had set up. Plus, that is a $20 or so filter compared to $300 or so for a good canister. It adds up!
I talked with wingo way back when I was setting up my reef looking for some different color LED supplements. I remember he was a good guy to deal with so I will shoot him a PM. What kind of LEDs are you running? What colors do you have in there?
I actually really like having shrimp and other random inverts in my tanks. If I go with Amanos or Ghost Shrimp they should be OK with GBRs. If not, the GBRs get a good, healthy meal. I had a breeding population of Amanos in my last planted tank and I loved them. I had clams and stuff in there too. I figure the more biodiversity, the healthier my little ecosystem will be.
I am sure my tank won't even be anywhere close to being setup by January. I wouldn't mind a trip though. We will have to see when it gets closer to the date but I really appreciate the invite. My tank is going where my roommate currently has his 120g reef. He is moving out (slowly) so mine is going in the same place. Just easier that way.
Thanks again for the advice and invite, I am sure we will meet up at some point if not soon!
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Old 12-08-2012, 05:40 PM   #12
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Hey Howze01
Ill let you know the date of the trip as soon as I know it. I know it will be on a sat. I have the white with red green and yellow lights. I really do love them.
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Old 12-09-2012, 03:25 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by wkndracer View Post
Another one for the list of options. Consider an organic rich base also. Using soils with a high organic content have been very cost effective and rewarding here. Tried MTS once here (tank is still running) but several combinations using organic rich potting mix including one with all the additives used with the MTS mess,,,
not one potting mix system would I consider a failure to date and it doesn't get any easier. Oldest system is >3yrs wet.

Look forward to seeing what you end up doing.
Sorry, somehow I missed your comments there. How do you think compost would work? I have a pretty good amount going. Was going to use it for the gardens next year but I can always sneak some into the tank. Never even thought of it....
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Old 12-10-2012, 06:47 PM   #14
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Sorry, somehow I missed your comments there. How do you think compost would work? I have a pretty good amount going. Was going to use it for the gardens next year but I can always sneak some into the tank. Never even thought of it....
The trick pony (my thinking) is finding something that releases low amounts over time limiting what ends up in the water column. Tree barks and chopped wood fines take more time for the bacteria to break down as opposed to tuber plant debris and grass cuttings. Time released plant foods for the growth in the tank. A rich compost mix might release to quickly (I don't know).
On the other side of this opinion is what Dogfish has done within his tanks.
Forum search posted threads by Dogfish and you will find amazing extremes proving points many thought would lead to disaster. (including me)

I've settled into using Miracle Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix.

MGOCPM (potting mix) contains soil and a large portion of organic material (55-65% by volume). Sphagnum peat moss, composted bark fines, leaves, twigs, wood chips etc. and "pasteurized poultry litter" (cooked chicken crap).

NOT Miracle Gro Organic Choice Potting Soil.
MGOCPS although a number of folks have used it both intended and by mistake. It contains cow manure and all using it report ammonia spikes the first few weeks using it. Manure tends to spike ammonia early on in a rather rich release. So I stay away from manure rich mixes.

or mix up something similar to the following;

50% composted tree barks and fines, 30% sphagnum peat moss and 20% worm casting. Powdered clay can also be added to the mix if you like.

About a 1.5 to 2" layer of the mix capped with 1 to 1.5" of fine gravel or coarse sand.

Using either one moving rooted plants you have to work slowly moving things around and pulling plants.
tip; setting up the tank hold back a baggie full of capping material or even several lbs. if you like for the long term this can be tanked. Touch ups are needed time to time. Much later I find it hard to find a good color match as even flourite batches vary. (imo) Bang for the buck and the least effort go dirt because it works

More people seem to be deciding on dirt tanks rather than waiting for the soil to be mineralized or going with daily dosing EI, high light and CO2 lately. Asking for options, I think this is cool . Hopefully most are reading enough information first and thinking it through. Several years ago most were high light tanks that were the topic here on TPT. Most still are but we the dirty are growing in number LOL

Two HUGE considerations doing this.
Using 'natural' soils READ the contents on your bag of dirt if you bought it. I know it contains dirt,,, (duh),,,
but NO COW crap in the bag plz! Small amounts of chicken waste can work but no! no! moo! moo! . Worm castings are another option. Still other mixes but that's for others to post about as I post what I use.
Also remember PLZ that while natural tanks (dirt base) and seeded filters can be stocked from day one go lightly with your first stocking list. Dirt goes through changes going from dry to saturated (submerged) and the rate of break down on the organics changes too. Sometimes it can be more than the tank and fish can handle.
For the first couple of months whether you want to or not test your water weekly. Starting out every couple of days for ammonia and be ready to change it if the soil burps (it can happen). You might have a tank like most of mine that ran straight through the issues quickly and were trouble free from then on. The majority of new setups here never tested for cycling shifts on the water tests. Lots of plants (including floaters), no hard scape to trap the soil gases, control the light (a big key to dodging algae), watch things and let the tank settle (month maybe two). The capping material needs to be small enough to contain the soil yet allow the gas exchange to occur.

That's the first trade off for not waiting for the dirt to finish the mineralization process outside the tank. Attention starting out, more or less high maintenance in the beginning., Things can get busy if a bump in water parameters occurs. All the organic material and the bacteria that chew through it do give you free CO2 for a period of time.

The second major trade off you make with any soil base is that rooted plants should be there to stay. Placement is important. Removing plants with a good root structure is a HUGE PITA. I had an Amazon Sword that had to go. Cutting around the root ball directly under it I killed the plant taking it out and left all the root runners in place. Thinning a field of crypts means a water change and repairing the cap adding more material. Soil tanks are a set it and forget it type of tanking (imo). If you like to change things around, re-scape, swap out plants then soil use is not for you. If you want to top off the tank when the water gets low, trim to make room for the fish to swim and not dose for months it might be what your looking for.

Any number of things can vary on how to care for a system once established but large rock placement, big plants, things of this nature need to be thought out ahead of time. Pushing growth with higher light energy, CO2 injection, water column dosing all can be added,,, or not.
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2012 update adding table top pleco pans & a 90g (Nutz)
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