First Planted Tank - 650l - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-15-2016, 10:54 AM Thread Starter
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First Planted Tank - 650l

I'm new around on the forums, but not new to fish-keeping. I'm living in Cebu, Philippines. Finally, I'm at a point where I have a bit of free cash ready to setup a high-tech planted aquarium. I first came across planted aquaria when I picked up a Takashi Amano book when I was about 18 years old. Since then, I really wanted to setup a planted aquarium, but I lacked the financial resources and the know-how. It's wonderful that information is now so freely available.

I finally found the tank I was looking for a few weeks ago. Someone in Cebu was selling their 180cm x 60cm x 60cm tank (with a hardwood stand) at a reasonable price. So I jumped onto it and went the next day to pick it up. The original owner did an amazing custom build; it must have been a long process! The tank was surprisingly big and took around 5 or 6 people to move it. The wooden stand itself is also really heavy, taking around 4 people to move it. We managed to fit it into a flat bed truck with about an inch to spare on either side.






I am totally not a DIY guy. I have a drill and a hammer and that is about it. But some parts of this project are DIY and I'm sure will be quite fun.

The first thing I did was buy some cabinet doors. They are made from Germalina wood, the same wood as the stand. The tank and stand are to be viewed from two sides, so we installed cabinet doors on either side (4 per side). They did not have the number of cabinet doors we needed, so we had to pick some slatted doors too. I paid two carpenters to cut and fit the doors and they did a terrific job. I am really pleased how it turned out. I don't really like the original wood stain and most of the wood in my house is dark, so I am going to get a painter in to sand it and stain it dark.







I'm not sure about the canopy height. I find it a bit distracting and would prefer something more low profile. I could certainly pay the carpenters to come back and alter it. If I want to leave it unaltered, I think the lights are going to sit too high above the water unless I use spacers?

For the lighting, I'm going DIY here. I read up a bunch on the lighting. This has changed a lot in the last 20 years! I bought 4 x 50W LED floodlights. Not sure if it's overkill, but I was basing it on this thread: https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/10...llon-tank.html. I know people say they don't last very long, but these are relatively cheap and production quality usually improves over time. I found the LED floodlights to be a bit too 'white' and I liked nicholz's use of the RGB floodlights. However, I did not like the cones of colored light that they cast. So I instead bought some RBG strip lights to correct the color. I will probably set one strip to blue and one to magenta.






Next I went to the local fish-store because they had the Eheim 2250 filter. My tank is 650l, and I suppose the real volume is less if you compensate for the displaced water owing to the gravel and rocks. I could have purchased the Eheim 2217 for about half the price, but I really think the 600l limit of the 2217 is the absolute max you want to push the filter. I'd rather oversize the filter and be sure. Of course, I could have gone with two 2217s, which has redundancy but also two sets of pipes. Just personal preference I guess . Probably I'll buy the 2217 for another tank I have. At P6k ($129), the 2217 is a steal. I think they come with filter media too.

Since the water is Cebu is very hard, we'll be using bottled water. The store suggested using Oynx sand on the base, both to prevent an anaerobic soil condition and to add some hardness to the water (to buffer the pH).

Currently waiting for the delivery of the filter, stones and soil. So more pics to follow when that arrives.

Spend so far:

AQUARIUM AND STAND
Aquarium + Stand + Driftwood + ADA Amazonia Soil (18l) - P18k - $387
Transport - P2k - $43
Cabinet Doors + Hinges + Handles - P10k - $215
Labor for Building Cabinets - P3.5k - $75

LIGHTING
4 x 50W LED Floodlights - P2.5k - $54
2 x 5m RGB LED Strip lights - P1.6k - $34

FISH STORE
Eheim 2250 Filter - P12.5k - $269
Filter Media (some kind of volcanic pebbles) - P4.5k - $97 (Perhaps I overpaid for this)
Dragon Stone (11.75kg) - P3.5k - $75
ADA Amazonia Soil (6 bags or 54kg) - P10k - $215
Oynx Sand - Price Update to follow

Total Spend ~ $1,500

STILL TO BE PURCHASED
Fish
Plants
CO2 bottle (2l) - P4.5k - $97
CO2 regulator + solenoid - P4.8k - $103
Reactor - ~P800 - $17

Last edited by AquaticArt; 08-15-2016 at 02:08 PM. Reason: Updated orignal post
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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-23-2016, 11:55 AM Thread Starter
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The tank is now painted and the lights rigged up. I did some hardscaping. I ran out of soil as not all the bags are delivered and I'm still missing my Eheim 2250 filter. One of the pipes was crushed and needed to be ordered in. There were some issues getting a replacement. It also feels like some smaller stones are missing. It's hard to get smaller ones .

Sorry, the pics aren't the best as the there are some reflections.





The view from the other side:

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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-23-2016, 11:58 AM
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wow looks really nice
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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-23-2016, 12:00 PM Thread Starter
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Ty
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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-24-2016, 01:01 AM
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One tip I would give is to angle the largest piece of driftwood down a bit, and the next closest one to just rotate it 180 degrees.


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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-24-2016, 01:25 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the advice; I will try it out.
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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-24-2016, 03:42 PM Thread Starter
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Switched the hardscape as suggested by Opare .



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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-24-2016, 03:48 PM
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To be honest you need a few more pieces the size of the one on the left in the last picture. The other two can be positioned more toward the mid/front of the setup. That'the way I see it anyway.
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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-26-2016, 02:35 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by houseofcards View Post
To be honest you need a few more pieces the size of the one on the left in the last picture. The other two can be positioned more toward the mid/front of the setup. That'the way I see it anyway.
Thanks, I have some larger pieces that I received with the aquarium. Some where odd shapes that I couldn't figure out how to use.

I suppose I might need to figure out how to use them. In general, finding large pieces of driftwood is quite hard where I live.

Learning to hardscape and do it well is definitely something that harder than it looks! How would you suggest to use the larger pieces?
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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-26-2016, 11:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AquaticArt View Post
Thanks, I have some larger pieces that I received with the aquarium. Some where odd shapes that I couldn't figure out how to use.

I suppose I might need to figure out how to use them. In general, finding large pieces of driftwood is quite hard where I live.

Learning to hardscape and do it well is definitely something that harder than it looks! How would you suggest to use the larger pieces?
It's hard to say without seeing the pieces. but you want to try and make a grouping. Use the rocks in and around the front of the wood areas. Also try making the substrate higher where the wood grouping will be.
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post #11 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-28-2016, 05:08 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by houseofcards View Post
It's hard to say without seeing the pieces. but you want to try and make a grouping. Use the rocks in and around the front of the wood areas. Also try making the substrate higher where the wood grouping will be.
The pieces of woods (except the twisty driftwood) is in the first picture. Later pictures show all the rocks and the two pieces of twisty wood I purchased.

Would you mind showing me an example tank of the design you are thinking about? I see amazing tanks, but it feels like total sensory overload. I just want to simplify down, so it's easier for me to take some action.

I should probably also mention that at a later point, I'd like to keep discus in the tank. So I'm intending on leaving some open space.
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post #12 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-28-2016, 04:14 PM Thread Starter
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Well, I finally got brave enough to do a total rehash of the hardscape. The soil level is a bit low in places, but I'm feeling happier with the design.



Reverse angle with just the magenta light on (to reduce reflections)

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post #13 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-29-2016, 03:16 AM
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I like this re-do much better.
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post #14 of 27 (permalink) Old 09-04-2016, 03:32 PM Thread Starter
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I got the tank up and running a few days ago. I made a few noob mistakes that cost me a lot of time. I used Styrofoam under the rocks, which was not glued to the glass. After planting the entire tank and starting to fill it with water, the entire structure became unstable and I had to tear it down. I had to drain about 1/4 of a tank and dig out all the buried plants. As a result of shifting the substrate, some of the Oynx Sand has come to the top of the ADA substrate. Also the water got terribly dirty and took a day or so to clean up.

Owing to some stability issues, I had to make some hardscape design changes.

I am not 100% happy with the lighting. I don't think it's bright enough to grow what I want. I thought 4 x 50W would be enough, but it seems like I will need another 2 50W lights for a total of 6 50W LED floodlights.

Today I did a 50% change of water and tested the total/free ammonia. The tank is looking pretty clean. The Eheim 2250 does great work
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post #15 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-24-2018, 12:45 PM Thread Starter
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This tank is still alive, I moved about midway through last year, so I had to strip the tank down and start again.

I made a bunch of mistakes in the last year. Perhaps enumerating them can help someone else not make the same mistakes.

1. I bought the wrong lights
I bought LED flood-lights on Lazada for a cheap price. They were supposed to be 50W, but my plants withered away initially. I suspected they were substantially lower than 50W, so I bought a Watt meter. Sure enough, they were drawing less than 20W. I replaced these with 4 50W LED I got from eBay. About a year and a half down the line, they are still going strong.

2. I didn't check the PAR
I'm not part of an aquatic club and I couldn't get hold of a PAR meter in the Philippines. Finally, I found a deal on the Senseye in December for $160 and imported it. After running the lights for a year, I figured out the PAR at the substrate is exactly 50. I can't stress enough how important it is to measure this.

3. Taking too long to get a CO2 cylinder.
I bought a dual stage regulator from Aliexpress for $50. I took a long time because I couldn't figure out what outlet type they use in the Philippines. I should have just jumped right in. Eventually, I bought the US standard outlet and it didn't fit my cylinder. Fortunately, I was able to get a connector machined for a relatively low price.

4. I was bad at balancing the CO2
I was terrible at figuring out how to balance the CO2. Maybe I didn't even know how to check it properly. I think part of the issue is drop checkers need the solution replaced every few weeks or they become inaccurate. Also my tank is 180g. A tank this size needs the CO2 injected 3 hours before lights on, or it will be quite low in CO2 at the start and too high in CO2 at the end of the day. I highly suggest a pH controller instead. I bought a Weipro one on eBay for $60 a few weeks ago and it's great. It automatically opens/closes my CO2 solenoid value and makes sure the pH is between 6.7. and 6.8. I leave it on at night since I noticed the pH can fluctuate from 6.6 to 7.5 at night without it.

5. Low Flow Rate
After I tested by Eheim 2250, I realised it's only outputting 90gph into my 180g tank. It rated to have a flow rate of 300gph, but this is if the head is 0 and the canister is empty. This flow rate is in line with other articles I read about the filter. This contributed to some algae issues I detail below. Currently, this is solved by attaching a Rio Hyperflow with a 660gph output. I'd say this is about right for a tetra tank. Any more flow and I'd blow the fish away. Long term, I have a Fluval FX6 on the way. This has a much larger flow rate.

6. I was terrible at nutrients
I've known about EI dosing for a while. Potassium nitrate is extremely difficult to obtain in the Philippines because it is used to make dynamite to catch fish on the reefs. I sporadically dosed with Excel as my interest waxed and waned. This led to fluctuating nutrient levels. Combined with fluctuating CO2 and low flow rate, I ended up with a pretty bad algae situation. I had a bunch of algae, in particular, clado. Months of physical removal couldn't get rid of it, but I finally annihilated it with the 1-2 punch H2O2 and Excel treatment and it has not returned.

During the last few months, I managed to successfully import chemicals for EI dosing from the US and I currently EI dose daily.

7. Water changes
Some of the issues were in part due to the difficulty of water changes. My tap water is extremely hard at around 20kH. Initially I was mixing it 50-50 with bottled water. After a while, I got a kH test kit and realised my water was still too hard. For some reason, I assumed the bottled water would be 0 kH, but it is actually around 4 kH - perfect for a planted tank. So now I have a 300l water tank. I empty the bottled water in there and have used only bottled water for the last several months.

I tried to purchase a RO system about 6 months ago, so I can stop paying $10 a water change. That didn't really pan out and it didn't work at all. During the December sales, I picked up a SpectraPure unit with a booster pump, as my water pressure is low. I didn't do this initially due to the cost of importing it to the Philippines, but I expect this purchase to last a lifetime.

8. Plant deformaties
Now with the lighting, CO2, nutrients and water changes all in order, what could go wrong? The plants aren't really growing as expected. The pearl at times, but new growth is coming out twisted and deformed. I believe the ground cover is Glossostigma elatinoides, but the leaves seem quite oversized. There are dark veins on some of the leaves. I think the twisted leaves generally indicate potassium toxicity or a calcium deficiency. I cut back on the EI dosing to see if it would improve, but it has not. I tried, but I cannot get a GH or Ca test kit from the local fish stores, but I am guessing a bit. I dumped 4 tablespoons of Barr's GH Booster into the tank and I think that will sort out the issue. Everything else will stay constant, so I should be able to tell in a few days.

PS, not too sure how to add images. There is about to be a sceduled power outage here, so I will need to figure it out another time





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