New 55G Planted Tank, Wouldn't Mind Suggestions!
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Old 07-13-2010, 07:36 AM   #1
soundgy
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New 55G Planted Tank, Wouldn't Mind Suggestions!


Hey All,

I am brand new to planted tanks. I have a co-worker friend that started the snowball down hill and I am already addicted. I have a decent amount of hobby flex money and have decided to dump it on my first 55G planted tank. I will post pictures of what I have already purchased and I am already working with. I am open to any and all suggestions. I have a few ideas myself and wanted to share them with you guys to see what you have to say. Hopefully some of you will agree with my ideas and not crush them, but criticism is welcomed. I want to design over the course of the new few months a High Light CO2 tank. I would like to buy some water storage barrels (kind used for emergency water rations). The idea is to have a 55G tank visible, but 2 x 30G barrels in a closet. The inlet/outlet tubes will be glass in the tank and convert to flex tube behind it. The tubes will run into the wall then into the closet. I have designed a schematic for a water leak detection system so it will shut off electricity to everything plugged into it whenever any of the sensors are tripped. My barrel idea is to have an auto-topped-off RODI barrel this will always be filled for quick water changes. The second 30G barrel will be in line with the tank effectively making it a 85G tank to lighten the bio-load. I have researched some on here, but have tons to learn still. I will post some badly drawn pics of my ideas. Please post any suggestions in here and I will run with them. I will also provide as many pics as possible. Thanks in advance!

Matt
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Old 07-13-2010, 07:36 AM   #2
soundgy
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Here is a Pic of what I have so far.

Aqueon 55Gal
Aqueon 55Gal Black Stand
All-Glass Tripple T8 8k 32W
Rena XP-3
Hydor 300W

Plants:
Not sure, donated for Free

Hardscape:
eco-complete
Random small log donated for Free

Fish:
TBD
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Last edited by soundgy; 07-13-2010 at 08:12 AM.. Reason: Added Picture and Notes
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Old 07-13-2010, 07:40 AM   #3
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Here are some diagrams:

Top diagram shows my water loop and RODI system. This system allows for a pump to drain the right barrel. A filter for the barrel with inline heater on the inlet of the filter. A pressurized CO2 system with a diffuser in the barrel. This design uses a high flow pump to move water between tank and barrel creating a live loop of water constantly flowing. The lid is air tight which creates a vacuum to suck water back out of the tank. On the left, there is a constantly topped-off barrel of RODI water and a siphon to pump water out of left barrel into right barrel.

Bottom diagram: This uses a 120v 10amp relay with a 12vdc coil. This allows me to wire a 10 amp power strip into the switch side of the relay. There is a 12vdc power supply that feeds a few leds and the coil. There is also a sponge (rectangle) with leads in it. When water enters the sponge, the circuit is closed. This creates a short and the coil looses power killing the switch and turning off the power to the power strip. This is a leak detection system that automatically kills power to any device plugged into it when a leak is detected. I can add as many sponges in parallel for various areas. All it takes is one sponge for it to kill the circuit.

Let me know if you have any questions and comments and I can explain anything else in more detail.
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Last edited by soundgy; 07-13-2010 at 07:48 AM.. Reason: Updated Explanation
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Old 07-13-2010, 07:47 AM   #4
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Hi Matt... sounds like you came from reef keeping?

The bioload you are concerned about isn't nearly as much of a concern with a planted tank. The plants themselves act as natural filters and keep the nutrients out of the water column. We have to dose ferts because the plants literally eat all available nutrients in the water.

I really can't see an advantage in keeping the extra water to cycle through your tank unless you wanted to overly stock your tank with fish. The old 'dilution is the solution to pollution' doesn't exactly apply in a planted tank. With a high-light, high-tech setup you are going for, plants are going to be sucking up those nutrients out of the water. Of course water changes are going to still need to be done and the plants don't remove everything, but I think that extra water would be better off reserved for a water change than cycled into the tank IMO.
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Old 07-13-2010, 07:53 AM   #5
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I can't comment on the plumbing.. But I understand the badly drawn electronics schematics.

Actually, it's not that bad. You're powering the relay coil through a resistor and an LED or two. When the sensor is tripped (closed), it provides a lower-resistance path (and lights a different color LED), which lowers current through the coil enough to deactivate the relay.

Now my question is this... How are you going to implement that sensor? Aquarium water isn't all that conductive.
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Old 07-13-2010, 07:55 AM   #6
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Lycosa,

The primary reason for the 30G barrel tied into the water loop is for fast water changes. I can close two valves on the inlet/outlet lines going to the barrel, flip a sump switch, and then water is evacuated from the barrel. I can then flip another switch and pump RODI clean water into the barrel. Add my ferts and traces. Then run the filter and heater for a bit. Once the water is prepared and ready, I can open the valves and turn on the high power pump again. This prevents any chemical/temperature changes during WC and makes a 30G WC done in less than 10 minutes. With my busy schedule, a complicated high tech system that makes changes quick and easy is a major relief.

Matt
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Old 07-13-2010, 07:55 AM   #7
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A monster has been created
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Old 07-13-2010, 07:59 AM   #8
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DarkCobra,

I hadn't really thought about the conductivity of the water. I figured with the two electrodes close enough in a dry sponge. Any water would be enough to complete the circuit. I guess this needs to be tested lol. However, this design is so inexpensive, can't hurt to try. Any electrical suggestions are apprecited.
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Old 07-13-2010, 07:59 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soundgy View Post
Lycosa,

The primary reason for the 30G barrel tied into the water loop is for fast water changes. I can close two valves on the inlet/outlet lines going to the barrel, flip a sump switch, and then water is evacuated from the barrel. I can then flip another switch and pump RODI clean water into the barrel. Add my ferts and traces. Then run the filter and heater for a bit. Once the water is prepared and ready, I can open the valves and turn on the high power pump again. This prevents any chemical/temperature changes during WC and makes a 30G WC done in less than 10 minutes. With my busy schedule, a complicated high tech system that makes changes quick and easy is a major relief.

Matt
Ok.. gotcha'. I must have misinterpreted what you were saying. I assumed you were more concerned with having more volume.

Actually pulling it all off is a cool idea. Nothing wrong with making water changes easier.
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Old 07-13-2010, 08:19 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soundgy View Post
I hadn't really thought about the conductivity of the water. I figured with the two electrodes close enough in a dry sponge. Any water would be enough to complete the circuit. I guess this needs to be tested lol. However, this design is so inexpensive, can't hurt to try. Any electrical suggestions are apprecited.
A few ideas off the top of my head:

The thicker the sponge, the more resistance when wet. So perhaps create a sandwich of aluminum window screen separated by a thin piece of fabric. This would allow creation of a large sensor.

Still, the wet resistance will be very high. You might be able to enhance it by pre-soaking the fabric in salt water, then allowing it to dry. If it gets wet again, salt water conducts electricity pretty well; though I'm not sure if this will reduce resistance enough to successfully deactivate the relay in the configuration you propose. As you said, it's a cheap experiment, so feel free to try and let us know if it works.

A possible further refinement: Build the screen/fabric sandwich, pretreated with salt, as described. Power one side with 12VDC. The other side goes to the base of a simple one-transistor amplifier. A low current will be enough to activate the transistor, which is connected to the relay coil. When activated, the relay will connect the hot and ground AC wires through a suitable resistor. This creates exactly the kind of fault that a GFI is designed to protect against. So if you replace your wall outlet with a GFI, and the leak detector triggers, the GFI will trip until manually reset; cutting off power to everything including the sensor. GFIs are recommended for aquariums anyway, as they protect you from other disasters.
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Old 07-13-2010, 08:36 AM   #11
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That's some great stuff Dark! I will experiment will the sponges and aluminum sandwiches and see what works best. I like the GFI idea ALOT, but am a lil more scared with essentially shorting a high voltage circuit than a low voltage circuit. Although, from the theory behind it, your idea is WAY more safe than mine is. Can't wait to start experimenting. I've got some flex money coming in and I'm on vacation from the 14th - 31st, so plenty of time to build and play with the aquarium. I'm designing all of the electrical into a project box of sorts that will be mounted with the barrels. Toggel switches and LEDs galore! I'll post more pics and ideas as the become available. This isn't really a speculation thread either, I will be working on this pretty much daily, and I have already started purchasing the required electronics to make this work. Thanks for all of your suggestions so far guys! Please keep them coming! I could used some aquarium suggestions too! Fish, plants, lights, anything will be welcomed.

Matt
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Old 07-13-2010, 08:50 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soundgy View Post
I like the GFI idea ALOT, but am a lil more scared with essentially shorting a high voltage circuit than a low voltage circuit.
To clarify, you will NOT really be shorting the AC.

The resistor I mentioned limits the current to be just high enough for the GFI to detect. According to Wikipedia:

"In the United States, the National Electrical Code requires GFCI devices intended to protect people to interrupt the circuit if the leakage current exceeds a range of 46 mA of current (the trip setting is typically 5 mA) within 25 ms."

To make darn sure the GFI trips, cause 10ma to flow. Ohm's law tells us we need a 12k resistor. That resistor will be dissipating only 1.2W, which is perhaps not the "short" with obligatory sparks and smoke you might have been picturing.

And it will be doing so for less than 25ms; so although a common 1/4W resistor would survive that current for that time, I would use a 2W resistor just in case the GFI is defective and fails to trip.
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Old 07-13-2010, 08:54 AM   #13
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Dark, Well Put! Your right, for some strange reason, I did picture sparks, dead bodies, and 10 foot flames with a 120v short. But anywhoo... Thats a great idea on the resistor, clearly overlooked that part lol. I'm sure I can order that resistor with the relay and try a few configurations out. I was planning on putting in a GFI outlet where the tank is regardless, so this is even better...Thank you!

Matt
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Old 07-13-2010, 09:15 AM   #14
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A few more scattered thoughts:

Figure #3 here is a perfect example of the transistor circuit you'll need. Replace R1 with the moisture sensor, and the other side of the sensor (the one not connected to the base of the transistor) will actually be connected to the DC ground (not 12VDC as I earlier said). Get two of those transistors - if you need even more sensitivity, you can connect the transistors as a Darlington pair for higher amplification.

If there's any chance water can trickle down the wires that attach to your electrical box, make sure to use drip loops - basically just a loop of wire hanging down that water will drip off of at the bottom of the loop, instead of travelling all the way into the box.

Some other good electronics sources for basic components - look into Electronics Goldmine, BG Micro, and Sparkfun. Mouser, Newark, and Digikey have fantastic selection; but as you've seen, they can be overwhelming.
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