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Old 04-02-2013, 04:17 PM   #16
O2surplus
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My thought in mentioning the stem plants was just to get something in there that grew quickly. I definitely don't want a lot of stems longterm, though there are a few I may keep just because I really like them. I'm terrible with names so I don't even remember what they're called, though I recognize them on sight.

Part of my master plan for this system is to ditch the built in "canopy" above the tank in favor of a suspended lighting unit, in order to allow emersed growth to be observed. It's obliterated in the photo I posted above, but that planted 60g I had featured a lot of cool emersed growth, I want that on this system, too. Just on a larger scale. I'm thinking also about some riparium planters along the end that butts up against the wall (the end with the overflow box).

The issue with this desire is that as the tank sits right now, the water surface is pretty much at my eye level (and behind a 4" plywood rim). So even if I tear the hood off, only REALLY TALL people will be able to enjoy the emersive growth. So I'm thinking about tearing the whole thing down and rebuilding it with a shorter stand.

Hey, drywall is cheap. :lol:
Oh boy, here we go again! Drywall's cheap- so's a step ladder! LOL
It's your tank after all, so I'm just watching to see what you come up with.
Just do yourself a favor and don't consult "Kcress" about this. He'd immediately start running load calcs for a system of under tank "screw jacks" and "cheap" will fly out the window. LOL
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Old 04-02-2013, 04:27 PM   #17
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Keith is among my idols when it comes to DIY! I really am serious about keeping it simple for this system though so I won't be copying any of his awesome projects.

I don't mind the construction work up front to get it the way I want, especially since it'll be a one-time effort. Plus, tearing it down will give me the opportunity to do something different with the space underneath the tank. Right now it's full thanks to stuff that is all going away or getting moved (return pump, closed loop pump, sump, etc.). I may do built in shelves or something like that this time around.
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Old 04-02-2013, 04:34 PM   #18
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I really am serious about keeping it simple
Then check out the El Natural section at APC.
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Old 04-02-2013, 05:27 PM   #19
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Keith is among my idols when it comes to DIY! I really am serious about keeping it simple for this system though so I won't be copying any of his awesome projects.

I don't mind the construction work up front to get it the way I want, especially since it'll be a one-time effort. Plus, tearing it down will give me the opportunity to do something different with the space underneath the tank. Right now it's full thanks to stuff that is all going away or getting moved (return pump, closed loop pump, sump, etc.). I may do built in shelves or something like that this time around.
LOL- I'm just ribbing you with the "Kcress" bit. I understand that you want to keep this set up simple. I like the idea of lowering the tank and making provisions for emerged growth. The added growth above the water line will make the tank appear more like an indoor pond with a viewing window, rather than just another fish tank. Very cool.
I can tell from your previous projects that you're patient and very thorough in the planning stages, so when it comes to project execution, I don't see any reason why you wouldn't be successful with this endeavor.
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Old 04-02-2013, 05:47 PM   #20
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Then check out the El Natural section at APC.
I've been lurking in there for years. This system will feature some elements of El Natural.

On the whole though I really don't find it effective, personally, to subscribe to a particular method verbatim. The systems I've been happiest with have always been the ones where I concerned myself with doing what I found to be effective for a given set of criteria, rather than following a prescribed method.

I will likely be doing a soil substrate in this system, so that at least will be "El Natural" in style. I will probably have more light than most El Natural tanks, and I'll probably be adding ferts from time to time. And I'll have CO2.

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I can tell from your previous projects that you're patient and very thorough in the planning stages, so when it comes to project execution, I don't see any reason why you wouldn't be successful with this endeavor.
Ha, that's amusing - the strongest self criticism I would have of myself would be that I rush into things too quickly without adequate foresight. Though I think a more accurate statement would be that I tend to over-think some details and not even plan other details at even a high level. Honestly, the time it'll take to re-do the "install" of the tank itself at a lower height will be good, because it'll force me to think the rest of the system through while I'm waiting for the construction work to complete.
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Old 04-03-2013, 03:10 AM   #21
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On the whole though I really don't find it effective, personally, to subscribe to a particular method verbatim.
I agree too. The basic idea of having dirt is great though. I use reptile coconut bark on the bottom. Thus the sand I top the dirt mixture doesn't get compressed.
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Old 04-03-2013, 01:50 PM   #22
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Definitely going to have some soil in there. I'm debating the cap though. I'd like something dark. Seems hard to find dark, cheap sand. Thought about blasting grit, but I don't know if I want to risk scratching the glass (it's an abrasive after all). I've done plenty of turface in the past (or whatever other fired clay soil product I could find) and I liked it, except for how "light" it is which makes it hard to plant...
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Old 04-03-2013, 07:03 PM   #23
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Very impressive build. I went through a lot of it on your link before I saw you had a lot of it here.

One thing I thought about when reading your thread regarding noise. You may want to google "Owens Corning 703 acoustic panels". I had the idea since you have so much room. It will not soundproof, just absorb some noise. You could use some acoustic foam on top of that which will absorb some higher frequencies. This stuff is way better than off the shelf stuff you would find at a hardware store but the sump area would have to be completely sealed as well to be actually sound proof. Never done this myself on an aquarium but I use them in my studio's I have built over the years.

I can't give too much advice here as my biggest tank has been a 29 gallon. I think a medium light (maybe on the lower end of medium light) would work well for what you sound like you are trying to achieve with CO2 and soil could work really well. Just be aware that soil can leach a lot of nutrients at first so it's something that can take time to get right since it can go from having excess nutrients in the water column to not very much in a fairly short period of time. It also leaches tannins for awhile if you care about that.
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Old 04-03-2013, 07:43 PM   #24
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Not worried about sound this time around as the biggest contributors to noise are all going away. Hurrah! Thanks for the info though, I'll tuck it away in case I ever need it.
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Old 04-19-2013, 02:19 PM   #25
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Well there's a BIT of progress. I bought a package of plants from a user on here and they arrived yesterday. Nice variety and quality. They're planted in a temporary tank in the dungeon basement until the big system is ready. I figured this gives me a chance to get my green thumb back and experiment with some options before setting up the monster and potentially making a mistake. And, growing some things out ahead of time will prevent the problem of not having "enough" plant stock on hand.

One of the things I want to experiment with is substrate choice. One of the factors I'm most interested in is what I'd call "ease of use" given the size/scale of the tank. Most of the planted systems I've had in the past have been fired clay substrates (whatever the athletic field product of the day was - soilmaster select or turface I think). Anyways I liked everything about it except the fact that it was SOOO light (in weight) that everything floated out. Given the size of this system I am not going to buy anything marketed within the aquarium hobby, I don't want to pay $1/pound for substrate if I can get it for a few cents a pound.

Well, when the plants got here, all I had on hand was an old bag of that athletic field stuff, so I used it. Since I am planning on experimenting with substrate I want it to be "modular" in this temporary tank so I put it in some of those plastic produce containers you get lettuce or spinach in, then put them on the bottom of the tank, planted, and filled the tank with water.

EVERYTHING had floated out within about 10 minutes. GRRRRRRRRRRRRR

Back to the drawing board. Next up, I think I'll try MGOCPM capped with black diamond blasting grit. Hopefully the grit is heavier and things won't float out.

If anyone has ideas for cheap, dark substrate that can be used as a cap for soil, or on it's own, and is easy to plant (plants don't float out), please let me know!

Also discovered that my old CO2 rig doesn't work, sounds like the solenoid is stuck closed as no gas comes out and there's no click when I plug it in. Off to ebay...
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Old 04-19-2013, 11:54 PM   #26
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Back to the drawing board. Next up, I think I'll try MGOCPM capped with black diamond blasting grit..
I am planning on using the black diamond blasting grit in a 20G. Can't wait to here how it works. Wondering how much rinsing it needs.
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Old 04-20-2013, 12:45 AM   #27
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MGOCPM isn't much better than peat moss and will make a mess if you try to rescape. I'd suggest regular dirt with a sand cap. Or MTS if you want to spend the time on it. With the limited overhead space you have it seems to me you'll need the least maintenance substrate as possible. ADA or any other made-for-purpose substrate would cost an arm and a leg for that tank.
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Old 04-24-2013, 06:37 PM   #28
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I'd suggest regular dirt with a sand cap.
Sorry for the obvious ignorance, but what do you mean by regular dirt? Like, digging up my lawn? Or, purchasing topsoil or some other product?


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Or MTS if you want to spend the time on it.
I've skimmed the thread. Not really interested. I could see myself doing it if it was for a tank small enough to fit the MTS in a reasonable bucket or bin, but for this tank it would take a garage full of bins...

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ADA or any other made-for-purpose substrate would cost an arm and a leg for that tank.
Yup. It's not that I don't have the money, it's more that I don't think it's worth it if I can get a suitable product for cheaper. And I think I can, I just have to find it.
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Old 04-25-2013, 05:53 AM   #29
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Yep. Dirt dirt. Diana Walstad famously did it. Dogfish has done an impressively gross version of it. I found a 'topsoil' at HD that I think I will be using in my big tank. If I can find some certifiably pesticide free dirt somewhere I'll use that too. I've heard some guys used mud out of their backyard pond (I wouldn't. Too many unwanted little pests).
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Old 04-26-2013, 05:22 PM   #30
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What kinda sand are you going to cap with? I really want something dark.

I did a trial run with the MGOCPM and I was disappointed. It seemed to just disintegrate. Maybe I filled the container with water too quickly (I was filling it by siphoning through an airline, about as slow as possible I think) but it seemed like more than half of the product ended up as floating scum.

I did get some time last night to work on some odds and ends again and took some pictures. Here's the driftwood I have accumulated:



The white pieces towards the back are "filler" pieces from Blooms and Branches. They're nice and all but very twiggy, and they appear to be more or less fresh cuttings from living trees, which makes me nervous. I will soak them for a while before using them to make sure they're cleaned out. It seemed like a bargain (eight 24" pieces for around $50 shipped) but honestly unless someone wants twiggy stuff I would not recommend it.

The smaller dark pieces towards the front are from Tom Barr. A friend of mine bought them from him a few years ago and isn't using them, so he donated to the cause. They're nice shapes, for sure. And they actually look like real seasoned driftwood, though I'm honestly not sure if that's the way Tom shipped them, or if they got like that after being in my friend's tank for a while.

Then, there's THE BEAST. The Monster. The single biggest piece of driftwood I've ever owned. This is big enough to be a lawn ornament. It's the piece I mentioned above, which I bought at a local fish auction. The price was VERY very cheap compared to what large driftwood sells for in the LFS or online. I'm pretty sure it's because it's so big - there probably weren't many people at the auction who could actually use it. To give an idea of the size, it took me a good 5 or 10 minutes to figure out how to fit it in my car to bring it home. Granted, I drive a small car, but I had the back seats folded down and the passenger seat all the way forwards, and it still barely fit.

Also snapped a photo of my poorly implemented holding tank:



You can see the plants have, again, mostly floated out of the substrate. GRRR!

I also got the solenoid I bought for the CO2 system. It came in a box that looked older than me:



It's not one of the hallowed brands typically mentioned on these forums, but the specs are correct for this application and it's definitely solidly built.
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