Importance of Water Flow? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-27-2017, 11:15 PM Thread Starter
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Importance of Water Flow?

Hi all,

I wanted to get some feedback regarding the importance of water flow in a planted tank and to what extent (high, low, etc.) The reason I ask is because the other day I was watching youtube videos of Japanese planted tanks (mainly ADA or similar builds in Japan) and I noticed most of the tanks had seemingly very little observable flow. Even the ones in the ADA Nature Gallery.

I've read on forums that you want all your plants to have an obvious gentle sway in the current with zero dead spots. But again, most if not all of the ADA tanks seems to have very little plant movement in the tanks yet the plants are extremely healthy. Are there any tell-tale signs that your tank doesn't have enough flow?

In my own tank I am experiencing premature die-off in the lower half of my Rotala H'ra and I'm unsure if this is related to lack of nutrients, light, or water flow so I'm researching all angles.

Thanks in advance!


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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-27-2017, 11:48 PM
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first of all ADA tanks are totally different animals. they literally have staff that maintain, prune, and clean these tanks all the time. I don't know about you but I do not put nearly that much work in. If I did then I too could likely produce showroom-quality scapes. Not going to happen though.

IMO as much flow as you can get away given plant and fish selection with is ideal. low flow often causes waste to build up among plants, on bottom of tank, everywhere. in a 'fish tank' most of the tank is totally open so flow is mostly unimpeded and rarely results in dead spots. fish waste, dead plant matter, junk, etc is much more likely to be swept into the filter and handled appropriately.

in planted tanks (especially densely planted) this is not so much the case. no flow penetrating between plants means more and more stuff will settle in those hard to get areas. then it is up to you to vac it out. not fun. To me it is less about nutrient dispersion throughout the tank (you just need flow everywhere aka no dead spots... not a LOT of flow) and more about making sure the tank is manageable from a maintenance perspective.

getting flow right is HARD. if you have a scape with a ton of plants and hardscape you need to plan for how to make flow work for you. powerheads can often be too much for plants in certain areas but out-of-the-box flow from canister filters is often not enough for a tank. for example in my 75g i run 2x EHEIM 2217 canisters and at least one 250gph+ powerhead. without the powerhead I get a lot more waste buildup throughout the tank. with the powerhead my plants are visibly swaying near it but on the other tank you can't even tell. you CAN however see small particles moving around in ALL areas of the tank. which to me is a solid setup.


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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-28-2017, 12:16 AM
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..In my own tank I am experiencing premature die-off in the lower half of my Rotala H'ra and I'm unsure if this is related to lack of nutrients, light, or water flow so I'm researching all angles.
Thanks in advance!
The lower half is more likely light. How big is the tank and what filter are you running?
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-28-2017, 12:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MadMensch View Post

In my own tank I am experiencing premature die-off in the lower half of my Rotala H'ra and I'm unsure if this is related to lack of nutrients, light, or water flow so I'm researching all angles.
Point not touched on is movement of Co2 or lack of it due to flow.

The lack of Co2 reaching the lower portions of plants due to insufficient flow also plays a major role in leaf drop.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-28-2017, 01:03 AM
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Flow to me is more important if you have a large fish load and it's accumulating in the tank. Things like co2, fertilizer are easily distributed throughout most tanks even with heavy plant load. Yes the tanks in the ADA Gallery are maintained by a crew like @klibs stated, after all it's a living art gallery it's not going to look to good with visible algae showing.

Now if we're talking about healthy plants you really don't need anything more than a gentile current IMO. If you look at ADAs product line they don't sell (last I looked) powerheads and they don't sell or use reactors to dissolve and distribute co2 even in their six foot tanks.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-28-2017, 01:46 AM Thread Starter
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The lower half is more likely light. How big is the tank and what filter are you running?
The tank is a 30C (7.2 gallons) cube. I'm running an Eheim 2211 which is rated for 60GPH. I try to shoot for at least 10 times the tank volume per hour as a minimum.


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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-28-2017, 04:51 AM
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I just swapped out a DC pump on a 24x24x24 cube this evening and learned a few things about High flow.
Obviously, flow keeps the turnover rate good and fish healthy.

To not push substrate, I open up the small nozzle-like output to be a bit more volume friendly (oversized output).
Use a small powerhead inside the tank if needed (no need currently).

For flow, up until tonight, I ran an Ecotech Vectra M1 model on Setting 10 of 12 and had great success on the 60gal cube with a 20gal sump.
It was running hot on the pumps transformer using 1" I.D tube to the display.

The new Elos pump runs at 36%, stating 38 watts used.
It is a 2905gph pump on High.
I cant run the pump any higher. The pipe that lets the water drain (3/4" I.D pipe) is almost maxed (no problem).
If the pipe clogs with a snail, the emergency takes over. Look in your bathroom sink. The sink has an emergency too. Little holes near the side closer to the front.

Just about all pumps vibrate and make noise, so turning it down takes most of the noise out of the room.
Running a pump at 1/3 speed keeps it very quiet, but still very fast in cycles per hour.
It is about the same level as the kessil A160WE above the tank now.
-Just a little spinning noise when you put your ear down by the sump.

Volume:
No heat issues with the Elos pump and the water line is a millimeter or so higher, so I'd say the turnover is higher than before while still saving total watts.

I have to change the foam filer blocks down in the sump every 3 months, just because I like to.
Go High flow, low watts. The turnover rate is awesome.
-Initial equipment cost is always a bummer.



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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-28-2017, 07:20 AM Thread Starter
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I just swapped out a DC pump on a 24x24x24 cube this evening and learned a few things about High flow.
Obviously, flow keeps the turnover rate good and fish healthy.
Appreciate the input. I came from the reef keeping world and in that hobby max flow with the best equipment was always the goal. In this hobby I'm trying to find a balance of maximum health of the tank with simplicity but it's becoming increasingly more tempting to just get the best equipment!


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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-28-2017, 02:06 PM
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The tank is a 30C (7.2 gallons) cube. I'm running an Eheim 2211 which is rated for 60GPH. I try to shoot for at least 10 times the tank volume per hour as a minimum.
I'm not saying increasing flow isn't helpful in some instances, but if your running 60GPH on a 7G nano flow is not your problem. I know flow is different than turnover but there is no way that any co2 and/or ferts aren't making it to all the plants in that tank. Saltwater and FOFW are different. There you have larger waste that isn't being processed by plants so it's MORE important that it's removed by flow to filter.

You would laugh at some of my tanks and the turnover. My 72G had an Eheim 2215, one filter no powerheads a spraybar mounted on the side glass. I didn't do crazy maintenance either, once a week water changes, normal EI routine. I also had a 46G with an Eheim 2213. The effective turnover was probably around 2 times.

Did you ever notice the GPH on the Eheims is much less than then those of other filters for the same tank volume? Eheim believes in the efficiency of biological filtration not just pure power. Eheim definitely markets it's canisters to the planted tank hobbyist.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-28-2017, 04:37 PM
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have a filter that will give you enough power. having more power is better than have too little power. try to shoot your flow from one side of the tank to the other width wise.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-14-2017, 07:36 AM
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I need to ads more movement in my tank. The left side is where all the fish poop collects. Also not many plants grow over there.

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