150 Gallon Re-Scape Overhaul - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 100 (permalink) Old 03-20-2018, 02:55 AM Thread Starter
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150 Gallon Re-Scape Overhaul

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I haven't posted in quite some time. But, the time has come for me to totally overhaul my 150 gallon tank and I would like input along the way. Just to be clear, this is going to be more of a journal. Being in grad school simply doesn't permit me the budget or the time to do it all at once. Also, I'm not the most tech-savvy so I may struggle keeping up with any photographs. Anyway, lets start with current set up:

150 gallon tank, standard size. (6' long, etc.)
Fluval FX6 Filter with filter pads, Purigen, etc.
Eheim Heater
72" EVO Green Element 6500K LED, hanging from ceiling about 18" above the tank. 96 LEDs, each 3w. About 15 of the lights have failed, which is part of the reasoning I'm overhauling. I knew that I was buying a lower end light 2 years ago when I purchased it, but the time has come to upgrade. I notice more failed lights every week it seems.
20lb CO2 tank with diffuser placed underneath FX6 intake- so far no issues with that, but I'm planning on using an in-line of some sort.
2-3" layer of Eco-Complete Substrate
Driftwood and various crypts, amazon swords, dwarf sag, rotala
Discus, Cardinal Tetras, Rummynose Tetras, High Fin Spotted Plecostomus, Sidthumunki Loaches, Skunk Cory Cats


Ok, so the general plan is to go big or go home with the lights: I'm planning on purchasing 3 Kessil A360WE Tuna Sun lights with A-Series arms this week. Then I'll allow some time for my bank account to recover.

Planning on putting in a reactor for CO2 that fits the 1" FX6 tubing. I've got one in mind from searching the forums but if anyone has any suggestions, let me know. I'd like to avoid building anything on my own (I'm working on being a nurse practitioner, not an engineer), but if it's simple I'll at least consider it.

I want to scoop out all of the substrate and replace it with 3-4 bags of Amazonia, and cap it with pool filter sand. Of course, I would allow enough time for the ammonia and such to cycle from the Amazonia.

I want my hardscape to essentially be a giant piece of driftwood that spans most of the tank. I've got a general idea of what I want but I'm in Texas, where nice driftwood is either hard to find or expensive. So I'll know it when I see it.

For plants, I'm thinking a few Swords first. I've got a few flame swords already so we'll see if they make the cut. Otherwise, I'd like to glue some Java Fern to the driftwood, and then place Cabomba at the end of the tank with my hardware to crowd in and cover a lot of it. My inspiration here is actually the Boa tank at the Dallas World Aquarium. Sand bottom, cabomba, and swords everywhere with hundreds of rummy nose and cardinal tetras, not to mention the giant snake.

Once the tank has cycled I'll add a few dozen amano shrimp and maybe 50 Cardinals? This is really the least of my worries. I've also got a Pigeon Blood Pair I grew out from DiscusUSA that I'm thinking I'll put in as the showcase fish. I know I know, they may eat my shrimp. We'll see.

All I've got for now is this plan. Planning on ordering lights later on this week. So, thanks for the input in advance let the games begin!
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post #2 of 100 (permalink) Old 03-20-2018, 01:41 PM
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I can tell you that if you can screw in a light bulb you can build a Griggs reactor that will handle as much c02 as you want to pump in there. About $30 in parts and less than 10 minutes to build. Just a couple pieces of PVC and some unions and caps.
I'll be following along, sounds like a cool tank. I've never understood the use of expensive substrate outside of shrimp keeping with a requisite low pH and the temporary buffering abilities. On a tank that size I'd do an RO unit before special substrate.

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post #3 of 100 (permalink) Old 03-20-2018, 02:29 PM
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I agree with TheDude on both points.

1.) A Rex Griggs reactor is a very easy build. I just built a 2" x 25" one last week. It cost me $18.79. The only tool needed was a drill with a single drill bit.
2.) Fancy substrate isn't needed and is very expensive on large tanks. Your money is better spent elsewhere.
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post #4 of 100 (permalink) Old 03-20-2018, 02:39 PM Thread Starter
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This is a picture of the tank as it stands now. If you look closely you can see some of the failing diodes. Also, some of the plants are having trouble growing because I think that the substrate is tapped out. I add GLA fertilizers periodically but I don’t have time for a true EI dosing schedule.

Bump: Also, thanks for the suggestions on the reactor, I'll do some research and see what I like. As far as substrate, I've had good experience with Amazonia, both with and without shrimp in the tank. I suppose I could go with some fresh eco-complete or something else, but I've seen a lot of conversation lately about how it needs fertilizer over the long haul. I'm nervous about various fertilizers because of ammonia content and copper if I'm going to end up with shrimp. I'm happy to use something that will last a while before I have to do something with it, especially if its cheaper.
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post #5 of 100 (permalink) Old 03-21-2018, 11:51 PM Thread Starter
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Took the plunge on the lights today: 3 Tuna Sun A360WE LEDs with A-Series Arm Mounts. Should be delivered sometime next week. I'm excited and also cringing a bit at the price tag, but they'll look awesome and I know I'm getting quality.

In the mean time, I've been researching my substrate options. It appears that public opinion favors ORGANIC miracle grow potting soil. Several folks on this forum and elsewhere appear to have used it with success. Anyone have any cautionary tales regarding this? I'm still wary of ammonia, nitrate, etc. with any fertilizer. I still plan on capping it with sand. So I'm thinking about 0.5-1" of soil with 1.5-2" of sand, with a bit of an incline taper so that the soil can't be seen from the front of the tank. So, feedback anyone?
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post #6 of 100 (permalink) Old 03-22-2018, 08:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sub-Mariner View Post
Took the plunge on the lights today: 3 Tuna Sun A360WE LEDs with A-Series Arm Mounts. Should be delivered sometime next week. I'm excited and also cringing a bit at the price tag, but they'll look awesome and I know I'm getting quality.

In the mean time, I've been researching my substrate options. It appears that public opinion favors ORGANIC miracle grow potting soil. Several folks on this forum and elsewhere appear to have used it with success. Anyone have any cautionary tales regarding this? I'm still wary of ammonia, nitrate, etc. with any fertilizer. I still plan on capping it with sand. So I'm thinking about 0.5-1" of soil with 1.5-2" of sand, with a bit of an incline taper so that the soil can't be seen from the front of the tank. So, feedback anyone?
Those are some sick lights!!
As to soil.... Ive used it. There is no doubt it grows plants... but its dirty... builds up toxic gas pockets, and will eventually need to be completely replaced. Any time you move plants it will make a massive mess. The same thing will happen if you have fish that dig. It will also release tannins into the water depending on how you prepare it. It also stinks after a period of time. If it were me.... having used several substrates... I would use black diamond blasting grit or some kind of inert sand. Once plants are placed where you are relatively happy you toss some DIY root tabs in there. I would never use dirt again.
Are you going to do C02??
It takes me 1 minute each day to dose all 5 of my tanks and everything is completely under my control. I can control Ca, Mg, Fe, Kno3, potassium, phosphate, sulfate, micro's.. and I can adjust them based on what I am observing in my tank.
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post #7 of 100 (permalink) Old 03-22-2018, 11:43 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input TheDude1!

I'm still waffling a bit with the substrate. I definitely know I want the look of light colored sand. I don't mind taking the time to vacuum it, I've read a lot about using PFS with Discuspaul's threads. If root tabs with straight sand are the better option I'm not opposed, as long as they can keep up with the demands of swords when they get larger and cabomba when it starts to grow. I can dose the water column for the java fern if it comes to that with some ferts from GLA.

To answer your question, I am planning on using CO2. I'd hate to waste the potential of those lights by not using it. I won't be running the lights at full intensity for the sake of the java fern, at least not at first (we'll see how that goes for the cabomba). The CO2 will be run in via a reactor I'm putting in-line with my FX6.

Another issue just occurred to me, not sure if it will be a real problem or not. The tank is 72" long. Should I use a powerhead of some sort to circulate the water a bit better for CO2 distribution? I suppose that I could use a drop checker and eventually figure that out, but if anyone out there has experience with pushing CO2 with this setup, feel free to chime in.
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post #8 of 100 (permalink) Old 03-23-2018, 02:37 AM Thread Starter
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Ok, so substrate is settled. Going to go with PFS, with root tabs. Now on to other things...heaters? Also, lights shipped today.

Currently planning on the Finnex 800w titanium heater with external controller. Objections? Honestly, everyone seems to really love these and with the current downward trend the Eheim heaters seem to be experiencing, so I'm preparing to make the switch.

Planning on going by Fish Gallery, Dallas to check out their driftwood tomorrow. They usually have a pretty good selection of large driftwood, and although they're rather expensive, I don't have a lot of good options. Hopefully I find that perfect piece.
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post #9 of 100 (permalink) Old 03-23-2018, 10:01 PM Thread Starter
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Got lucky and found an awesome piece of driftwood for the scape today. That’s my lovely wife holding it up and my 20g in the background. It’s about 4 feet long and the piece sticking up is about 3 feet long.
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post #10 of 100 (permalink) Old 03-24-2018, 12:01 AM
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Epic piece of wood!! I don't have measurements showing the variation in C02 levels in a 6 foot tank. I know Greggz has his C02 splits between 2 filters on either end of his 120 which would lead me to believe that a powerhead would be a good idea. I have a powerhead aimed at the filter output plumbed for C02 in 2 of my three large tanks.
Good choice on the heater. I need to buy new heaters for my tanks and that the direction I'm going. For something that can quickly wipe out a tank, it's not a huge expense.
I think you.will be pleased with PFS. I used a root tab with each of my swords and with maybe 4 months I was forced to rehome them due to their size. Root tabs, ferts, good light, and C02 makes for some huge swords.

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post #11 of 100 (permalink) Old 03-24-2018, 12:23 AM Thread Starter
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Cool, I've already got a Hydor sitting around dormant somewhere I can use for a bit of extra current. I also ordered my CO2 reactor from NiloCG Aquatics. He custom builds them with the size fitting I need and it ships in about a week. While the RG Reactors appear easy to build, I work this weekend and then I'll spend most of my time next week studying and such- so I spent the extra money to have it put together to the specifications I needed by someone that's had lots of practice. Can you really put a price on peace of mind? Next up, PFS and a big ol bag of flourish root tabs.
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post #12 of 100 (permalink) Old 03-24-2018, 10:35 AM
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I WISH I SAW THIS EARLIER

REGARDING THE LIGHT , THERES ANOTHER 72IN LED ON THE MARKET THAT I HAVE ON MY 125 , 72IN Snake eyes LED , 3 watt 112 LEDs (28 each row)

if ur gonna use an inline heater , add another filter and run it thru that. the FX6 Hose is too big..
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post #13 of 100 (permalink) Old 03-24-2018, 03:11 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input owens81jw...I saw the snake-eyes light on ebay and considered it when I was going through all of my options. While it isn't nearly as costly, it appeared very similar in a lot of ways to the light I already have, and I decided to just buy the expensive stuff and not have to worry about the diodes going out prematurely.


Also, no plans for an inline heater. The only ones I can find are the Hydor ones that aren't nearly large enough for the FX6 hosing. I'm going to go with the Finnex Titanium heater.
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post #14 of 100 (permalink) Old 03-24-2018, 03:42 PM
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if the stocking isnt completely set in stone, in a tank as large as that i think 7 or so altum angelfish would look stunning. havent seen much with altums for a very long time.

Sometimes you just need a little more cake.
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post #15 of 100 (permalink) Old 03-24-2018, 09:57 PM Thread Starter
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The Bungulo, I've still been keeping my options open for a "center piece" fish. I'm considering the discus I have simply because I already have them. I haven't really seriously considered my livestock yet, as I'm still in the infancy stages of just getting materials together. I know DiscusUSA sells altums, that's where I've gotten some very nice discus and angels in the past, but their site is currently under maintenance. I like the idea, but I also am still partial to the idea of having a breeding pair of 5-6" discus. Maybe I'm just wishy-washy, but when you're starting over, the possibilities are almost overwhelming (in a good way). Maybe I should hold a vote at some point. Anyway, still a few weeks away from settling on fish species, but altums are definitely in the running. Overall, I guess you could say I'm trying to decide if I want a planted tank with fish or a fish tank with plants.


Meanwhile, I've been lightly perusing the choices for root tabs. Since rootmedic is no longer a thing, I thought I'd settle on flourish tabs, but now I'm pretty much set on some osmocote tabs (especially since I can get 300 for around $15). These along with the Finnex heater will be my next purchases.


Speaking of the Finnex heater, the site recommends the 800w model for a 150g tank. Anybody know if this might be overkill? 800w just seems like a lot, especially since the eheim I have is only 300w and up until the last couple of months worked like a champ.


Lastly for today, I've been considering Aqua Quartz #20 as my PFS of choice. Its the lightest color I can find. However, I can only find it online in 50 lb bags, and I'd like to avoid shipping that much weight. Anyone familiar with a location in or around Dallas that might sell this type of sand?
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