120 Gallon - High Tech Planted Tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-16-2017, 03:43 AM Thread Starter
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120 Gallon - High Tech Planted Tank

Soo.... I am in the process of starting my first big tank. I'm new to the hobby (~3 months), but it has completely taken me over. It's all just so fasinating. My only tank ever is a fish only 20 gallon tank which makes this a huge next project, but I've been doing my research and have read hours upon hours of information out there. Not to mention all the YouTube videos and podcasts I've listened to that have inspired me. It is going to take some time for it all to come together (and $$$), and I would really like to hear all of your comments, feedback and suggestions as I make this journey. I know I could use some help from the more experienced people out there.

This is what I have so far:
- 120 gallon 60x18x26 (LxWxH) Marineland tank
- 60 pounds Ohko Stone (Dragon Stone)
- Two manzanita driftwood branches

What I plan to buy:
- Fluval FX6 canister filter
- 2 Fluval Fresh and Plant 2.0 LED 48in (I would like to only get 1, but I think 2 is a must if I want to grow carpeting plants at 24 inches)
- Finnex 500w titanium heater with controller
- 9 bags (180 pounds) of CaribSea Ecocomplete for an average 3 inch substrate
- 20 pound CO2 tank from local welding supply store
- GLA GRO CO2 regulator
- CAL AQUA pearl drop checker
- NilocG Rex Griggs style CO2 reactor advanced version with bypass valve
- DIY tank stand and canopy
- Another good piece of driftwood


Next on my to do list is to build the stand and canopy. My dad and I are going to do it together, so I'm looking forward to spending some time with him. It should be fun.


Here are a few pics...

The tank itself which my wife just absolutely loves. And by love I mean despise. I wish you could have seen her face when she first saw it! I actually did tell her about it, but she didn't realize how big the dimensions would be. She's actually fine with it now though.


The Dragon stone I cleaned this afternoon. It took a long time to get all the clay out of all the little holes and groves.


The one piece of manzanita driftwood I have so far.


Where I am going to put the tank. It is 72inches between the windows. The blinds will stay closed when the tank is up.

Last edited by PharmDawgRx; 05-19-2017 at 05:13 PM. Reason: Updated supplies
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-16-2017, 04:28 AM
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Only thing I would change is not to go for Ecocomplete it's basically an inert substrate and stuff like black diamond blasting sand is cheaper and will do the job. Although I do think Eco-complete can hold nutrients you dose, the sand cannot. Also, the sand has a bit of scum when you first use it. I guess there's other commercial options for black sand too.
Additionally on the lighting, I've heard decent things about the Fluval Fresh LEDs but they are a bit expensive right? For a big tank like yours a T5 setup may work well, I feel many on the forum are moving back to T5s because of the colour combinations you can have. Although the power bill may be a bit higher with T5s, the initial cost probably won't be as much.


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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-16-2017, 05:00 AM Thread Starter
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The reason I went with Eco Complete was that the ADA Aquasoils were very pricey and the Seachem Fluorite seemed like a nightmare to clean. I love the contrast sand gives, but I wanted to be able to make some slopes that stay. Dosing ferts is a given, and I figured i could use root taps for any heavy root feeders I planted. But with all the said, I have no experience with soil substrates, so I really don't know what I'm getting into with the different products except what I've read.

For the lights, I really want to do LEDs because dimming and color changing can be easily automated. I've looked very close at the Current Satellite Plus Pro and the Finnex's newest LED for plants, but the Fluval one just seems to be the best the more I compare them, especially with the Wi-Fi adaptor. This 60 inch tank is killing me though. None of the LEDs cover all 60 inches.
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-16-2017, 05:17 AM
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nice driftwood you got there. Have you already started soaking it? yeah the dragon stone is a pain to clean. I had to clean it 3 times before i got all the mud out and i'm sure there is some still there.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-16-2017, 05:30 AM Thread Starter
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Oh I'm certain there is still muddy clay in there. Every time I thought I got it all, I'd find more. I even split my biggest piece in half trying to get it clean.

I love that driftwood piece too. I eyed it for a long time but never bought it because it was so expensive. I finally gave in! Lol. It's probably going to be a while before I get the stand built and all the equipment here, so I haven't started soaking it yet. How long do you think it will take? I keep hearing about people boiling or pouring boiling water on their pieces, but I don't think manzanita will need that. Any idea? I also feel like I need to get one more piece to balance it all out, but I can't decide what go buy. It's hard to find the perfect piece without holding it in your hands.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-16-2017, 05:40 AM
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I didn't pour boiling water or anything I just soaked my driftwood for around a month or so in regular tap water. I'm sure glad I did that as the color of the water and smell that came out was terrible.

I would get the same type of driftwood if I were you, just to make it look natural. Do you plan on having the rocks on one side and the driftwood on the other?
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-16-2017, 03:55 PM Thread Starter
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I didn't pour boiling water or anything I just soaked my driftwood for around a month or so in regular tap water. I'm sure glad I did that as the color of the water and smell that came out was terrible.

I would get the same type of driftwood if I were you, just to make it look natural. Do you plan on having the rocks on one side and the driftwood on the other?
Was your wood manzanita? I hear read that it doesn't have many tannins and that it is so dense that is sinks fairly quickly. I'm definitely going to soak it for at least a week or so. Also, did you change your water frequently when you were soaking it?

When it comes to the hardscape, the piece of driftwood is going to be on the left side of the tank, and I may can wedge a rock or two around it. On the other side, I am definitely going to put more rocks, but I feel like I need another small piece of drift wood to balance everything out and make it look natural. I have a feeling I bought wayyyy too many rocks. I just didn't have a clue how much to purchase. At least I'll be able to be more selective on the rocks I use. The look of the tank is most important to me, so I'm fine with not using them all.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-17-2017, 07:26 AM
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Don't worry about how many rocks you have it's best to have more than you need! It gives you a bigger variety of stuff to play with and each piece may come good in the future.


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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-17-2017, 02:19 PM Thread Starter
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Don't worry about how many rocks you have it's best to have more than you need! It gives you a bigger variety of stuff to play with and each piece may come good in the future.


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Very true! I definitely have a lot to choose from. I got 60 lbs of dragon stone for $2/lb which was the by far the best deal I could find online. If only I had that stuff laying around in Mississippi.... Same with the driftwood. lol
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-19-2017, 02:28 AM Thread Starter
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My last piece of driftwood arrived today. I'm planning for one end of this piece to be anchored by the dragon stone on the right side of the tank with the other end suspended high across the middle of the tank. Once I get my stand built, I'll be able to set up some mock hardscapes and get your opinions.



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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-11-2017, 02:03 AM Thread Starter
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I finally got some time to work on the stand today. The front left corner is about a quarter inch too low, but it tapers back to being flush over a few inches. I'll need to make a little adjustment next time I work on it. I think a small bow in the front 2x4 is causing it. Next up is wrapping it with birch plywood, adding the trim and staining.






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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-26-2017, 01:50 AM Thread Starter
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I found some time to work on the stand today. It is entirely wrapped with 3/4 inch birch plywood now! My next steps are to add the trim and finish it with a stain.





I included a picture of the back because I wanted some feedback from any of you experienced DIY stand builders. When I initially built the stand, the corners were not co-planar. In particular, one corner of the plywood top was not flush with the tank by about 1/8th an inch. I think this was due to the garage floor not being level as I had used the floor a lot as a guide. My fix was to shim the mess out of the back side of the stand between the plywood and the 2x4s. Now, all the corners are flush with the stand. The tank is also flush with the stand along the entire length of all sides except the back. There are two locations along the back where there is about a 1/16th inch (maybe a tad bigger but definitely not 1/8th inch) gap between the tank and the plywood. Do you all think this would be ok? Once again, all 4 corners are flush.



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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-02-2017, 11:24 PM Thread Starter
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I finally got around to working on the stand a bit more this weekend. The trim has been added and the doors are made (not connected yet). Next up is some fine sanding and staining. Once that is complete, it's finished!





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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-03-2017, 12:06 AM
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Great start! Any ideas on stock? If you get 2 48" fixtures you can stagger them
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-03-2017, 01:46 AM
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With all that work on the stand, i think its within your abilities to build a canopy with diy led lights.
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