Few pieces of advice on a new tank build
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Old 11-18-2012, 01:17 AM   #1
uglybuckling
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Few pieces of advice on a new tank build


New to this forum, returning to planted tanks after many years away (keeping reefs).

In the early building stages of a shallow acrylic system; already have tank and stand. The tank holds 75 gallons; its dimensions are 60 x 24 x 12 inches (the 12 is the height). The top is eurobraced, but mostly open.

A few questions:

Question 1:
I'm still trying to decide on a planting plan for this tank. I have two distinct ideas:
1) iwagumi, or
2) emergent "paludarium" or "riparium" type tank with one or two large manzanita islands. I also keep orchids, bromeliads, and numerous other plants, so I have all kinds of stuff to stick above such a tank. I also have a whole pile of manzanita stashed away, from 10 years ago when I used to keep plant tanks.

The inspiration for the latter comes from the spawning pool and crazydaz's 200g.

Opinions on which of those plans would be better-suited to this tank's size and shape?

Question 2:
I see a lot of discussion on here about the use of sumps with planted tanks. This is new since my last time in the planted tank game. I understand the principles (and as an anti-bio-ball reefer (they make nitrates!) I got a kick out of the use of them here. Finally somebody found a way to make them useful!), but with an open-top system I'm worried about open-top + churning up water in overflow tube together causing too much CO2 off-gassing to make it worthwhile.

The tank and stand do have three holes drilled in the bottom at one end, which will take bulkheads appropriate for one inch pipe. I could easily turn these into a durso-style overflow and return pipe. I could also easily just seal them off and use CO2 the way I have in the past (external reactor, fed after filter), or using one of the new ways I've found (atomic diffusers look pretty cool!)

Opinions?

Question 3:
I have an old Milwaukee CO2 regulator with solenoid and bubble counter. It is several years old but might still work. Would you recommend sticking with that (I knew when I got it that it wasn't the best regulator in existence, but it did work for several years), or would you recommend buying a new one (and if so, WHICH new one?)

And finally, question 4:
I've built a lot of custom LED rigs for my reef tanks, including a pretty nice full-spectrum build over my 75g display, which Jedimasterben helped me build (on a different forum...). I see that most folks building custom LED arrays here use cool whites and not much else. Is there any freshwater equivalent of "full spectrum?" Does anyone use any other colors in their LED arrays? I've run several searches for DIY LEDs but so far it has mostly returned people considering DIY and instead buying a FugeRay 2, and people using cool whites, without a whole lot of discussion about wider spectra. I'd bet there's a thread on here somewhere that I missed; if somebody could point me in the right direction I'd be much obliged.

Thanks for reading and for your help, and if you only feel like answering one question, by all means please still post; I know this is a wall-o-text. =)
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Old 11-18-2012, 05:22 AM   #2
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Sounds like a really fun tank shape, was it a frag rack at one time?

I'll try to help with your questions in order

1) I would do something with an island, whether manzanita or not. Iwagumi can be stunningly pretty but I've been growing less fond of them lately, they just aren't realistic for most fish's habitats.

2) It seems that most planted tank keepers cover their sump and overflows, possibly you could use a bean animal overflow that keeps the main intake submerged at all times?
Or just crank the CO2, it's reasonably cheap

3) Test your Old Milwaukee (yeah, I just went there...) and see if it still works. If it does and you trust it, why not use it. Most serious CO2 users suggest using a quality dual stage regulator and either buying a post body kit from another hobbiest or piecing one together yourself. I think the hot ticket lately is second-hand high end stainless dual stage regulator with an Ideal needle valve #52-1-12 and whatever brand of bubble counter you like best.
I put something together for about $45 with a single stage welding regulator I got (stole) for free from my brother's garage and some parts from local industrial supply shops and it works like a treat.

4) I can't go into too much depth here as I'm running store bought LEDs myself but it seems to me that DIY LED is a LOT of work, involving skills and time that most people don't have and it's really not that much cheaper when you can just go buy something like the Ray 2.
I know that the lighting requirements for reef keeping are MUCH higher and more demanding so I think that the DIY stuff is much much more popular because it boils down to spending $200 on parts and a weekend or two in the garage or throwing $600+ down on your local retailers counter for a single Radion.

Basically, we don't really need to DIY to get effective lighting when you can do it for under $150 with a warranted store bought light.

That's just my thoughts on the matter however, I'm sure that others who are more disagreeable will disagree with me lol
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Old 11-19-2012, 01:05 AM   #3
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Thank you for the advice.

I'll start looking for that CO2 regulator; if I don't need it because the Old Milwaukee (I see what you did there) still works, then great.

The tank was indeed a frag rack in a store at some point in the distant past. Here are some pictures of it:

In the process of being taken down in the store:





After removal of the overflow (because it was in pretty much the absolute worst place, aesthetically:


And after a lot of sanding and buffing (note the lack of any residual on the front panel):


Given that I've got three holes, a Bean Animal is a real possibility. I'll have to look into that a bit, as well. Sadly the drilled holes are spaced in a way that seems incredibly arbitrary and horrible to me. Maybe I'll wind up covering over one or more of them, and re-drilling. Or not re-drilling, if it turns out I don't need all three. Also considering drilling the back (rather than the bottom) for the return.

The trouble with store-bought LEDs for a tank this size (5 feet long) is that I'm not entirely sure they are offered in that size by Finnex. I'll take a look again later. Other brands are a possibility too, I suppose. Worst possible outcome? I tack a bunch of cool white XM-Ls or the new Luxeon M's on a heatsink and wire it up. I have the tools and the knowhow, and have done this many times for my reef tanks; if anything, this should be easier than those builds because there will be fewer drivers and fewer colors of light involved. Anybody happen to know what color(s) (and brand(s)) of LEDs the FugeRays use?

Thanks again. Maybe I'll start a build thread in a week or two here.
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Old 11-19-2012, 02:36 AM   #4
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I would so do something like Crazydaz's tank if I could, that tank is just amazing. Got burned on jumpers and don't want my congos to jump and the top is sort of high up to enjoy the view so for now I am passing.

Been using a sump for over a decade. 10 pounds of CO2 lasted 2 months in the open top 100 gallon tank, I could live with that. That was with a regular U tube single drain overflow with lots of turbulence in the sort of covered sump. Now I use 10 pounds in 2 months with a mostly covered sump and 180 gallon tank with a Herbie style overflow and a better regulator. Whether it is the covers or the Herbie I don't know for sure.

If you do a do over on the drilling what about an external box with calfo overflow and Beananimal drain? Cleanest way to go for sure. See jcgd's tank for instance. http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=137043 He has a DIY LED set up on his tank, could pick his brain for some ideas on what spectrum to use.

Regulator. You could leak test the regulator. I used a Milwaukee with a busted low pressure gauge for a while. Just watched the high pressure gauge to see if it was about to dump. I LOVE my new to me dual stage regulator though, completely worth it.
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