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Old 10-25-2012, 07:46 PM   #1
bbrackeen
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Bill's 90G High Tech Planted


First off new to the forum, not new to aquariums. I've been in the aquarium hobby off and on for about 25 years when my dad bought me my first aquarium way back... I've been out of the hobby for about 5-6 years while I had somewhat of a life reboot, new house, kids (my oldest is 4, my youngest is 6mo, and I now have one on the way!).

My last tanks were a 55g community planted low tech with DIY CO2, and a 36G reef with anemone, corals, the works. Back when I did the 55G, I vowed that if I ever did a planted tank again, I would do it right, and not spare expense with DIY, and go all high tech (get everything I wanted in the start). I enjoyed the low tech approach, but had I had the money that I spent in trial and error, I probably could have gone high tech anyway.

As for reefs, I immensely enjoyed that as well, but that was a level of insane that I'm not sure I want to ratchet back up. lol. All my tanks were very successful, especially the reef, but this time I'm going for as much automation as I can and keeping the insanity level to a moderate crazy.

After about 6 months of planning, reading, and catching up on the latest trends I have arrived at a 90G no expense spared high tech planted tank. The primary fish focus will be discus. I chose discus because one, I have never done discus, and two the coloration and variety really appeal to me and I wanted a more focal species.

Tomorrow morning I pick up the tank and begin setup (so new pics will start tomorrow), I'll try to dig up some of my previous tank pictures tonight as well. As for equipment its been raining boxes all week. (this has to just about be my favorite part, opening boxes with new equipment!).

Main Equipment List
* 90G Aqueon with Cherry stand
* Rena Filstar Xp4 - I fell in love with these filters long ago.
* Lily Pipe (on order)
* 300w Inline Heater, Inline UV
* Fully Automated CO2 system from AquariumPlants.com (external reactor with probe holder & 10lbs bottle)
* AquaticLife 48" T5 HO 4x54 with moonlights
* Seachem Flourite Original - Always worked well for me in the past.

Much of the focus is to minimize any in tank equipment and make as much exist underneath the tank or be hidden out of view.

Livestock
* Cardinal Tetras (Cardinal Tetras instead of Neon as recommended by Paul)
* Marble Hatchets
* Discus (not sure)
* Cleanup crew (Siamese Algae Eater, Various Shrimp, otocinclus, etc)
* Pygmy Dwarf Puffer - My son insists we must have a puffer fish! Honestly they are a very cool little fish!

Being personally heavily influenced by a lot of the Nature Aquarium World books by Takashi Amano, this time I wanted to plan out and keep the fish somewhat themed instead of picking up the "fish of the day" and having 50 different species. Not that their is anything wrong with that. I've done it many times, its how you learn about all varieties, but this time is a little more focused.

As for discus, I'm undecided. I've been considering Red Turquoise, leopard/snake skins, etc... To go with all the same, or all different. Advice is encuraged here especially.

The hardscape will be mostly driftwood (which won't arrive until Monday), and the overall theme will be "amazonian". While I am specifying an overall theme, I don't intend for that to dominate choices in plant variety's. This is after all a personal tank, and other than maybe .01% would even notice if an African plant was in a Amazon themed tank.

So far plant varieties up for consideration are;

Ground Cover
Dwarf Baby Tears (Hemianthus callitrichoides)
Micro Sword (Lilaeopsis brasiliensis)
Parva (Cryptocoryne Parva)

Attatched to Driftwood
Christmas moss (Vesicularia montagnei)
Java Fern (Microsorium pteropus)

Midground/Focal Species
Amazon Sword (Echinodorus bleheri)
Red Wendtii (Cryptocoryne wendtii)
Red Mellon Sword (Echinodorus barthii)
Red Tiger Lotus (Nymphaea zenkeri)

Background/Sides
Red Ludwigia (Ludwigia glandulosa)
Rotala Wallichii (Rotala Wallichii)
Corkscrew Vallisneria (Vallisneria americana var. biwaensis)
Ludwigia Broad Leaf (Ludwigia repens)
Rotala Magenta (Rotal Macrandra)

Local Water Chemistry
PH 8.0
GH 80 mg/L
KH 90 mg/L

I'm somewhat happy with the local water. Preferred the KH/GH be a bit lower but with CO2 I think I can get the PH down around the 7.0 mark and have my CO2 be in the 30ppm area with little or preferably no additives. From everything I read modern tank raised discus benefit more from frequent water changes than from perfect 4 KH and 6.5 PH. Given the tap water is adequate, my attempt will be to use it as is, and make it easier to do changes without having to balance additives in the water column (which can cause more damage than good).

So... Here we are.

The eve of it all. Months of planning, saving, dreaming. I'm like a kid before Christmas. Tomorrow morning I pick up the tank, the filter/co2/lighting should be delivered by the afternoon, and that should give me the weekend to setup, fill the tank and iron out any issues with equipment before Mondays driftwood delivery. Then I can arrange the hardscape and substrate, finalize the plant species, and get an order placed for delivery by next weekend for aquascaping!

Last edited by bbrackeen; 11-09-2012 at 02:32 PM.. Reason: updating livestock/plant list as I research
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Old 10-25-2012, 08:46 PM   #2
discuspaul
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Well done. Looks like you're well on your way to setting up a superb looking tank, and I for one will follow developments as you move ahead.

Couple of suggestions:
- Although you're going high-tech with CO2 (glad to hear you have expreience with that),
I suggest you don't plant the tank too heavily. Give your discus some swimming space, and arrange your planted environment so as to permit yourself to maintain a very good tank/substrate cleansing routine - very important to successful discus-keeping.

- Be sure to get reasonably-sized, more mature discus (suggest 3.5" or larger), and only from a well-known, reputable, experienced source to ensure you get good quality, healthy, well-shaped fish. I can direct you to high quality sources if you wish.

- Discus tankmates: Avoid Neons - the don't deal well at all with the higher discus temps and would not last long. Consider Cardinals instead.
Hatchets are jumpers, so keep your tank well-covered.
Most shrimp would quickly become lunch for the discus. Amanos may be ok.
Be careful with SAE's, and Otos. At times, when they get older,larger, and lazier, some may tend to take a liking to discus' slime coats as part of their diet.
The Puffer may be ok, but I don't know if it will do well at the higher discus temps.

As for discus strains, colors and patterning, it's all a matter of personal preference.
Suggest you may want to have a look at various strains & pricing on the simplydiscus.com forum. Click on the 'message board' & go to the sponsors section - check out Kenny's Discus, Daly City, Ca. - he's an importer of very high quality discus - find his thread on 5th Anniversary Promotion of Forrest discus from Malaysia. You'll see his price list and many pics of his discus.

If I can be of any help at any time, please don't hesitate to PM me. Meantime, it may be helpful for you to have a read of my Beginner's Guide to Getting Started with Discus, located here in the 'Fish' section - first thread - the sticky - click on that that for my guide.
Best of luck to you.
Regards,
Paul
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Old 10-25-2012, 09:22 PM   #3
bbrackeen
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This is all terrific information Paul, thank you!
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Old 10-26-2012, 06:43 PM   #4
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We have tank!

Man, the size of this doesn't do justice until you see it in person. Tank is in great condition, seems hardly used at all.

Now we wait for the lighting and CO2 system then I can finish routing all the plumbing, and fill for a test run. Happy happy!
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Old 10-26-2012, 09:16 PM   #5
discuspaul
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That is going to make an outstanding, very striking showpiece with discus in it !

Can't wait to see it all set up.
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Old 10-27-2012, 04:35 PM   #6
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Last night I was able to get the Filter, CO2 system, lighting, and heater all set up. Filled the tank to leak test everything. I was again reminded of the tenacity of water to find every possible route outside of its intended path. The reactor had at least a dozen joints that needed Teflon tape, as a tip I would recommend on a minimum of 6 trips around any threaded joint. Its better to over do it than have to dissemble plumbing full of water, which I had to do on multiple occasions. I now have a greater appreciation for the shutoff valves on both sides of the reactor!

The UV sterilizer was missing pieces which made it non-functional, but I don't need it anyway for a while, so no big deal.

Here is the reactor and filter;



Another picture with the doser. Very cool doser, almost makes setup a no brainer. Want 4 bubbles a second, turn the knob, done.



Lighting all set up and mounted in the canopy. The automated timers are awesome, and the led night lights turn the tank into a deep royal purple. Looks beautiful and nothing is even in it yet.



Overall very happy with the CO2 performance, dropped the tank from 8.0 to 7.0 in about an hour and has stayed rock solid on 7.0 consistently.

So far so good. Now we wait for the hardscape to arive.

Until then here are a couple of pics from my saltwater reef days.



and my anemone and the gold stripe maroon.

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Old 10-28-2012, 02:47 PM   #7
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That's a nice saltwater setup
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Old 10-31-2012, 05:57 AM   #8
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Thank you! I really enjoyed reefs, and DFW marine aquarium society is a great organization. When I tore it down, all the corals were given to members.

OK... Hardscape and substrate are done. Plants are ordered and should be here Friday for the aquascaping, and refill!

Driftwood was a little larger than the design I had in mind, but isn't it always. What you can't see in the pictures is the 13" ceramic tile all the pieces are mounted too. They seemed very buoyant so I took extra care to make sure they don't start floating up mid-fill!

Anyway.. Long day, but nice having it ready for Friday since the next two days are Halloween, and dinner with the wifey. She deserves it after all this madness! (although shes super excited too!)







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Old 10-31-2012, 06:57 AM   #9
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This is going to be a AWESOME TANK!!!

I had a 110g X-High which is th same foot print of the 90g but was 30" tall! Same look to the stand and everything, except it was all Oceanic, and I got it used too! It was a awesome tank too, but I took a bath every time I had to do maintenance! So the 90g is the way to go!

Wood looks very nice too!

a couple of things I noticed and a question or 2. First is the tube you are using for the Co2, actual Co2 tubing or silicone? IF it is silicone I would change it ASAP! You will loose a lot of your Co2 before it gets to the tank, as it leaks through silicone tubing! Also hopefully you have better luck with the plastic check valve in the Co2 line then I did! The check valve I had looked similar, and failed pretty quick. I don't know if it was the Co2 breaking it down or what but I would get a good brass/SS inline check valve! You can find them in the Classified section on this site!

As for the questions, where did you get it and what brand is the tubing you have connecting your filter and stuff together? It looks very bendable without kinking, like regular poly tubing is!

Lastly did you rinse the Flourite? I started off with Flourite, and it needed to be rinsed VERY WELL to keep from clouding up the water for long periods when planting! I read you used it before, so you are probably aware of it, I was just checking!

AGAIN I think this is going to be a AWESOME SETUP! I just wanted to point out a few things to save ya some trouble at a later date! Also HAPPY to see another Texan here! Are there any good Fish shops in the DFW area that deal with plants? The family Farm is on the north side of Corsicana so it isn't a far drive to DFW!

Best of Luck with the new setup!!!
Drew
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Old 10-31-2012, 07:03 AM   #10
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P.S. Your Reef looked AWESOME TOO!

I too was into salt water/ reefs for a long time, but cash flow has kept me out of it for a while now! I miss the beautiful fish and inverts, but not the extreme maintenance need for the reefs! Also if I loose a fish now I am not flushing a hundred bucks or more either! Since I have gotten into planted tanks I find a well laid out and taken care of planted tank just as beautiful as a reef anyday! Especially with discus and some of the beautiful shrimp that have hit the market in the last 5 years!

Maroon Clowns are one of my all time favorites!

Thanks for the pics of your reef!
Drew
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Old 10-31-2012, 04:35 PM   #11
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Thanks Drew, really happy to have some others to join the journey with me! Sometimes I get so excited in my vacuum with no one to share with, which is what makes forums like these so great.

The CO2 tubing came with the reactor, and says its "CO2 resistant tubing", but I'll keep a close eye on it, and a metal check valve couldn't hurt.

As for the Flourite, I did not wash it (gasps). My experience with it in the past was that no matter washed or not, its going to make a mess (and I fully expect to have some staining as well from the driftwood for a while). In the past I had best results by trying to minimize disturbing the dust by filling the first few inches very very slowly (with a plate). Washing 6 bags of flourite would just be a nightmare that I'll let time sort out instead.

The canister tubing is what comes with the Rena (now API) Filstar filter (16mm (5/8")). I agree it is really nice tubing, very thick walled.

I'm really liking the 90G size. I had worried about the depth a little, but last night with the canopy off it didn't seem too bad. Although with it full of water, there isn't much chance of reaching the bottom, so trimmings are going to be a bit of a bear. Hopefully my plant choice and aquascaping will ensure I shouldn't have to do that very often.

A few comments on the driftwood. I'm really excited about how it came out. I've never had a tank with hardscape that had any height to it, and the "tree" looking piece on the right should come out really nice. I plan to use the Christmas moss to to do something similar to this;



You can read that full article here
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Old 10-31-2012, 07:56 PM   #12
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COOL DEAL!!!

Thanks for the info on the tubing too!

Yep the "Tree" on the right is really really cool! after posting I was looking over your pics more, and thought the same thing about some kind of moss on it would be awesome!

The 90g can be a bit difficult to trim the lowest plants, but a good pair of long handle double bend scissors will help, I bet! They kind of look like a squished "Z", with the handles being higher, but parallel with the blades. Ya get what I am trying to describe? LOL The 110g X-High was soo high it was dangerous for me! I am only 5'9", but I have a long reach. I would have to stand on the edge around the top of the stand take my shirt off and with the tip of my fingers or long tweezers plant cuttings! All the time having to turn my head to the side and almost put the water level up to my Ear to reach the back of the substrate! All of this was going on a month or two after having my 3rd Spinal Fusion!!! So after almost falling a few times I decided to sell it before I had to spend another $100K to redo the surgeries that had been done the few years before!!!! This is NO BS EITHER! So I will NEVER have a 30"+ deep tank again unless it is big enough for me to SCUBA in!!!! The stand for the 110 was 36" tall, so that is why I had to "work" on the tank like that! With the hood on the tank and the Metal Halide Pendants resting on the top of the hood the cords of the pendants touched the ceiling! I wish I could find the pics of it, but after looking through my pic cds I still haven't found them. But I do have some, somewhere! LOL

Anyway sorry for the side track!

The Co2 Tubing will be fine then! There is a blue co2 tubing, and it is hard to tell which is which in pics!

Well keep up the great work!
Drew

P.S. Any local fish shops with good fish and plants you can recomend in your area?

Last edited by BoxxerBoyDrew; 10-31-2012 at 07:58 PM.. Reason: added info
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Old 11-03-2012, 03:49 PM   #13
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"Things didn't happen the way I had planned" seems to be a theme going here, but honestly I don't mind, its a fun trip and everything seems to be turning out well.

The plants I had ordered didn't ship, so instead of getting delayed another week, I went to the LFS and was able to pretty much find everything I wanted. Maybe not in the best of condition, but good enough and cheaper to boot. Everything will improve from here on.

Overnight, still a little cloudy, but improving all the while..


Glad to see all the driftwood staying in place.





The tree turned out pretty neat, whether I keep it long term or not I don't know, but for now its fine. The java moss is beneficial stuff at any rate (if you can keep it in check).



Lots of pearling already.

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Old 11-03-2012, 04:37 PM   #14
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Nice start
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Old 11-10-2012, 03:49 PM   #15
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Its been a week, so a little update. First off, everything is going swimmingly. /rimshot

I added 4 otocinclus, 18 cardinals, 6 hatchets, 3 SAEs, and my betta is hanging out in there as well. Everything is going good, growing out. Little BGA started in on the dwarf tears, so I added a Koralia Evolution 750 power head to get a little more movement. Currently its wired into the CO2 so it kicks on when the CO2 starts dosing.

Fertilizer dosing regiment is based on the Seachem dosing chart more less. Starting some NPK this week. Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate all registering NIL all week. Dosing a little heavy on iron since I can't seem to keep any in the water column. 8ml flourish iron is gone in about 30 minutes, then by a couple hours the red plants are showing signs of dullness again. Good tip BTW, if you have red plants in your tank, usually they start getting dull when they are lacking iron. The reason I love Oriental swords so much, they are like an iron deficiency indicator.

Kh has dropped a little to about 6.5 which is perfect, so keeping the ph around 6.9-7 to get around 25ppm CO2... Temp around 81.


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