Flow to Go style stream tank (Oliver Knott inspired) - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-06-2018, 08:59 PM Thread Starter
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Flow to Go style stream tank (Oliver Knott inspired)

OK, Gus6464 deserves mention as his recent thread introduced me to this concept. Oliver Knott has a video showing a stream tank that he called Flow to Go. This is the most realistic stream/river tank I had ever seen.
His video:

Well, I had an empty 90 gallon tank.... My next project has been decided!

I will do a journal as there were several challenges during construction and a few things I would /did do differently than Oliver's tank. In the mean time, I just finished setting it up and took a video to show you how well this works. I think others will want to try this format too.


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post #2 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-06-2018, 09:56 PM
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That is awesome! Great job!!! Would love to see/hear about details in constructing a tank like this. Did you cut all the glass yourself? What kind of pump are you using?

Looking forward to more updates!


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post #3 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-06-2018, 10:49 PM
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Very cool.
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post #4 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-06-2018, 11:09 PM
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Pretty darn cool!
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post #5 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-07-2018, 03:58 AM Thread Starter
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The design

As explained by Oliver Knott, the stream tank achieves its linear flow by essentially creating a circular path. Basically a tank within a tank. The upper level is the stream aquascape and the lower level has the pumps.
The pumps are key. The stream effect requires a laminar flow of sufficient volume to fill the bed of the aquascape. The Panta Rhei pumps are very cool but at $500 apiece (x2), they were not a realistic option. I have two small Maxspect Gyre pumps on my 180 gallon and they provide the right flow pattern. Maxspect’s biggest pump, the 280 is perfect. It is a big cylinder 14.5 inches long by 2 inches tall. This would almost fill the 17 inch width of the 90 gallon tank I planned to use. Also, at two inches high, I could make the lower chamber 4 inches tall and save space.

The glass

So, my plan was to create a 4 inch channel under the top platform, ie a 4 inch space at either end of the tank with a 4 inch “basement”.
The dimensions of my 90 gallon: 47” long – internal dimension X 17-1/8” width ID X 23” tall

My glass cut list:

2 pieces @ 4” tall by 47” long. These will support the upper platform
1 piece @ 17-1/8” by 39” this is the upper platform. It leaves 4” on either side.
2 pieces @ 17-1/8” by 4” These are the right and left side of the upper platform
4 pieces @ 17-1/8” by 3-1/2” These pieces will support the ½” grates on either side of the platform to keep livestock out of the lower chamber.

My plan was to use 3/8” plate glass. The platform would be supporting a lot of weight from the rocks I planned to use so I wanted to beef this up.
I toyed with the idea of cutting the glass myself but needed to go to a glass shop to buy thick glass. Home Depot doesn’t carry any. I would need to also buy a glass cutter. Hmm. Instead, I got a quote to have the pieces cut and flat polished. The quote was over $400! I asked how much for ¼ inch plate and this was a lot more reasonable (slightly less than $200). I went for it. Of course now I was worried about the weight of the stones…

Here is what I got:



I ordered some GE SCS 1200 silicone. This is one of the most strongly recommended on many of the reef forums. When that came in, I started gluing…until I found out that several of the glass pieces were slightly bigger than 17-1/8’. Ugh! Thus started several hours of sanding….
In the end, it came together pretty well.

Here is a picture with the platform put together. Please ignore the ugly silicone work. I plan to hide it eventually.



Notice the ceramic plates under the rocks? Those are Brightwell Aquatics Xport-Bio filtration plates. All of the large stones are sitting on them. The plates are light and distribute the stone’s weight over a larger area. Hoping to prevent any breaks. The plates also have a huge surface area. Not really needed but what the heck. Biggest downside – which I found out after I bought them – they are doped with aragonite. Untreated RO water settles in at a pH of 8 with these stones! Adding CO2 drives it down to 7 or under. I will keep an eye on the KH and TDS readings.

Here are a couple of closer shots:





I also have a piece of thin acrylic on top of the upper platform. Hope it will help distribute the weight and protect the glass from scratches.

More on the build in the next post.

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Last edited by billb; 06-07-2018 at 04:02 AM. Reason: pictures
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post #6 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-07-2018, 04:10 AM
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Very cool, love the scape looks very natural, I tool was inspired by Oliver Knotts flow to go tanks and built a river tank, but much more simple design and not true liner flow, check it out here - https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/12...lf-tank-4.html

I love the effort you have put in, seems to work really well, do you have a estimate on the LPH the pumps are pushing? Did you also add bio filtration / a canister filter or something? I see the tank is also drilled, any details on this? perhaps you are running a sump?

Personally it seems a bit shallow for fish, perhaps hillstream loaches wouldn't mind the shallow water, would there be any issues in just adding more water since the original 90g tank is very tall?

Keep us updated!


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post #7 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-07-2018, 04:44 AM
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Awesome! Time for throw in some darters!
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post #8 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-07-2018, 02:52 PM Thread Starter
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Doylecolmdoyle, I love your tank - and your awesome pics and video of the loaches. A beautiful tank.
My tank is located in my garage. This provides an opportunity to do some things that would not be wife-acceptable. You'll see more about my filter set up in a post later today. But to answer your questions,
- I do have a drilled tank and I used this to add a closed loop filter and pump. Definitely over sized. The pump is rated at 3000 gph (11000 lph) at zero head height. I am running it at 30% and expect something like 500gph.
- The main flow comes from the Maxspect Gyre 280. This is rated up to 6000 gph (22700 lph) I am running this at 50%. Any more and I start losing sand!. If I filled the tank more, then the extra power would be useful.
- regarding the depth, I agree that the current 3-4 inches will not function for a lot of fish. My plan is similar to yours, Maybe a half dozen Borneo suckers. My challenge with going deeper is the desire to have a "bank" with emergent plants. To go deeper would likely require bigger stones and I am not confident the 1/4 inch glass would support it!

The ferns at the back of this tank are crepidomanes. I have had these grown submerged for over seven years and they get tall, up to the surface of my 24 inch 180 gallon. These are daughter plantlets and my first attempt to grow them emersed. I expect they will grow enough to help fill the extra height! Here is a picture from my other tank:



Here is the picture that drove my design. It is a stream in the Sarawak region of Borneo



I couldn't do the large stone like the picture though!

More details and pics later!

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Last edited by billb; 06-08-2018 at 03:24 AM. Reason: correctig specs
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post #9 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-07-2018, 11:42 PM Thread Starter
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The Hardware

What to chose, what to chose….

The Tank

Well, the tank was a given. My old 90 gallon LeeMar with the drilled bottom. LeeMar tanks were built very well and this one is still solid. This pointed to me using the bottom ports for my filtration system. Unfortunately, this ruled out a sump. Maybe not as bad as it seems though as the bottom section of the tank kind of functions like a sump. I can hide my heater, pumps and CO2 there. I also still had the stand. It would have been nice to get something with a 24 inch width and maybe a 5 or 6 ft length, but, this was a bit of an experiment. Figured I would learn first and version two can wait.

The tank has three, 1” bulk heads. Two act as filter inlets on one side, and one as the filter outlet on the other side. Pics below:





The outlet has a ¾” LocLine split into two channels. These point up and at the side wall to spread out the flow.

The Pumps

Originally, I used a Lifegard Aquatics 14000 that I had purchased when I hoped to do a pond. It sat, unused for 8 years. The pump was rated for 3000 gph but was an AC pump. Not efficient!. This was proven out when I tested my set up. The pump threw a ton of heat into the water. I pulled the plug when the tank got to 86 degrees and still climbing! So…

So long LifeGard 14000



Hello to…



…The Ecotech Marine Vectra L1.

Much quieter. Much easier on the electricity bill. Same power, upto 3100 gph at zero head pressure. As a DC pump, it was also flow adjustable so I could dial in the flow I needed. Currently I am operating at 30% ( up from 20% I used initially). This was a blow to the piggy bank though. Especially since I had already purchased…

The Maxspect Gyre XF 280!



This is the heart of the system. It is rated up to 6000 gph and this linear flow sweeps fully across the 17 inch width of the tank. It too is adjustable and I am running this at 50% of capacity. I cranked it up once to see what it would look like, Well I spent the next hour trying to siphon out the sand from the bottom compartment. More power than I need unless I decide to go with a deeper water lay out.

The Filter

Sitting next to my pond pump for 8 years or so, unused, was a big filter housing and a 20 inch tall by 8.5” wide pleated cartridge (70 sq ft, 30 microns) by Purflo. It probably holds 4 gallons of water when filled. There is also room for media bags of charcoal or Purigen as needed. A pic:



Did you notice the garden hose at the bottom? One of my favorite features of this filter is that valve at the bottom. Water changes are a breeze! It helps that this is in the garage of course – I could never have that monster filter in the house.

The Plumbing

Always an adventure. First draw out your detailed plan. Show every fitting you will need. Use plenty of valves and unions – you will thank me. Here is mine:



What? You were expecting this to be organized and legible? That probably explains why I average at least three trips to the hardware store to buy plumbing parts. Crud, the plants are already arriving! Wish I could plan better…
The fittings get expensive, especially tru-unions. For this reason I try to incorporate threaded fittings as much as possible. Slip joints never seem to leak, but, they are forever. Your $40 tru union can last through many scapes if you can disassemble it! As mentioned, threaded joints leak. Expect to redo a few, tighten a few more, etc. One suggestion, especially if you are using 1” pipes and larger. Use Teflon joint sealer. Get the non-setting type.



And what is this thing? A musical instrument?



No. Well maybe? No!
This manifold is for attaching items like chillers or UV systems that need a reduced flow. The large middle ball valve can be partially closed to divert more or less flow to your chiller or UV as needed. I have added a 1/10 hp chiller for later in the summer when to garage gets hot.

What else? Oh, yes.

The Lights!

Boy I went back and forth on this one. Read as many Jeff Kroll posts as possible. Decided I didn’t understand most of them and then created my short list anyways. This tank is going to house an awfuchs (aufuks? awlfu…better stop now before I get introuble!} Periphyton eater.

Per Wikipedia: “Periphyton is a complex mixture of algae, cyanobacteria, heterotrophic microbes, and detritus that is attached to submerged surfaces in most aquatic ecosystems. The related term Aufwuchs (German "surface growth" or "overgrowth") refers to the collection of small animals and plants that adhere to open surfaces in aquatic environments”

So how to grow this and not BBA and hair algae? I decided again to get a strong light that can be adjusted for intensity and wave length. In the end, I chose three AI Primes.



Yes, they are mounted to my old Current USA Satellite pro fixture. At least it is finally being useful. Long story. The aluminum frame is pretty strong! The lights are hung from an angle iron and are very solid. Not living room pretty but definitely garage ready!



The Rest

My side grates are made of 17” x 4” x ½” white plastic egg crate light panels covered with a sheet of #5 wire mesh. 304 stainless steel. Total open area of 71%. The openings are 3/16” small enough to block any critters from getting sucked into the basement (except fry). The mesh was glued on with silicone adhesive.

I have an Apex system and added the following to control and monitor the new tank:

Monitoring
pH probe
Temp probe
Conductivity probe – tracking that aragonite in the bio plates

Controlling
Lights
Heater
Chiller
Pumps – feed button and on/off. I think there are more things controllable on the pumps but that is another project

A long post – sorry.
I’ll discuss planting and stocking plans next time.

Last edited by billb; 06-09-2018 at 02:31 PM. Reason: specs
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post #10 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-08-2018, 02:18 AM
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Love it! Thanks for all the detail with your posts, they are an interesting read! I wish I had space to create something like this currently I am in a 70sqm apartment, hence I only keep nano / bookshelf tanks.

Looks like you have the flow sorted with power to spare! I was very tempted to create a closed loop myself, basically I just wanted to buy a Ecotech Vectra, they look like great pumps!

Your inspiration photo is great, your hardscape really reflects that location and will look great when your ferns grown in. I was going to suggest ditching the lids (so the light can have more power for growing algae/awfuchs) but I guess you need to keep the humidity high for the emersed plants. I am not sure how one goes about trying to avoid BBA while growing GSA / GDA / soft green algae... if you figure it out let me know, I have started to notice a small amount of BBA on my rocks closes to the light. I have read a fair few other simular builds for loaches / awfuch eaters and it seems sometimes the BBA comes first, but reduces and green algae builds.

You also plan on injecting co2? I did this at first before I added the loaches, I read co2 and hillstream fish dont mix, I did actually notice my loaches gasping at the surface, actually climbing out of the water line when I first added them while co2 was still being injected into the tank, I since removed the co2 and they seem much more happy and active.
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post #11 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-08-2018, 11:22 PM Thread Starter
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So, what will this tank be when it grows up?

I guess in keeping with my inspiration photo, I should think about fish and plants from Borneo/Indonesia. Crypts and Borneo loaches representing Gastromyzon or Neogastromyzon would be excellent. I also like Sewellia, Stiphodon, and panda loaches are cool too. Based on the size of my “stream”, I think small is best. Maybe Gastromyzon.

What do you guys think?

Substrate

Mostly rocks and sand. I did use Aquasoil on the island and underlying the areas I planned to plant in the stream. These areas were capped with sand.

Plants

Here is a full tank shot – sort of. I will follow up with closer shots of the plants I chose.



Crepidomanes auriculatum (or Asplenium cf. normale) - Some debate on this plants name. I bought my original plant from Aqua Forest Aquarium back in 2011 or 2012. Originally I had this in a tank with SoCal tap water, hard and alkaline, with CO2 supplementation. It grew slowly and spread a bit. I didn’t really do much with it. When I set up a new tank in November of 2016, I used this fern in several locations. The tank is CO2 supplemented and contains RODI water. The plant is much happier and the original plants have fronds growing to the surface! But I digress.
The fern grows plantlets (like java fern) on mature fronds. I wanted a tall back ground plant on the island so I decided to try this plant emersed. I took one of the fronds with plenty of daughter plants and placed it on the island.





So far so good.

Bucephalandra sp Brownie Blue - My first Buce! I got four groups of this plant and placed them on the “shore” of the island. If the ferns grow tall and remain vertical, I may add more of these elevated above the first plants to create a layered look like the shrubs in my inspiration photo. We will see





Cryptocoryne lucens(?) – This was sold to me as C. undulata “red”. It is not C. undulata. The plant basically has just sat and survived in my other tank so I figured I would try it emersed. The two big plants have already sprouted new leaves! Go plants go!





Cryptocoryne wendti “Tropica” – These crypts are going gangbusters in my other tank. I wanted to try one plant here, submerged, because the plant lays flat and the color blends in with the stones. I think it looks very natural.

From above the water line:



From below the water line:



Cryptocoryne crispatula “tonkinensis” – I got this a tissue culture plant probably placed it in a bad location in the previous tank. The ferns over grew it and I thought it was gone. I did a clean up, and lo and behold, there was one spindly plant hanging on! I placed this in the stream where it’s long thin leaves could sway in the current. It too has a new leaf. Yes!



Eleocharis vivipara – I wanted a taller hair grass to grow in the shallow, sandy bank at the back of the aquarium to the left of the island. I wanted a reedy plant. Reedy? Is that a word? These are tissue culture so they have a lot of growing to do.



Micranthemum “Monte Carlo” – I placed these in a couple of submerged locations around rocks. Out of the main flow. We will see if they can handle it. I also have a little on the island.



Fissidens sp. – This was sold as Fissidens nobilis. Who knows. I have a clump placed with its toes in the water. We will see if it spreads into land or stream. Or both!



So, what’s next!

Mature the tank and grow that biofilm

To that end, and because this is an experiment, and because I have the patience of a fruit fly (are they impatient? Maybe?) I plan to seed some biofilm critters.
In the past, I bought some materials to culture diatoms. This was an attempt to provide food for Sulawesi shrimp. The diatoms grew. The Sulawesi shrimp did not. So I still had the two part algae growth media and sodium metasilicate from Kent Marine. This is what the pros use to… grow… diatoms. Are there professional diatom growers? Is the money any good? Any way, here is the stuff.



Carolina Biological Supply carries two species of freshwater diatoms



I did some homework and found out that Synedra may be pelagic, floating with the phytoplankton in lakes. It is non motile and it may settle in quiet locations. Navicula on the other hand looks very promising. I found this:

“Epipelic biofilms
The commonest epipelic microphytobenthos are biraphid diatoms, with the genera Navicula, Gyrosigma, Nitzschia and Diploneis usually well represented. In fine sediment habitats, light penetration is very limited and, in order to photosynthesize, cells need to be able to position themselves at the sediment surface.”


G.J.C. Underwood, in Encyclopedia of Ocean Sciences (Second Edition), 2001

I don’t know what language that is and Google wouldn’t translate it. I did pick up “Navicula” and “biofilm” though. Figured I was on the right track!
I decided to split the culture between the tank and a plastic container I used to culture these on my patio previously. I used the recommended algae growth media in the patio container and about ¼ of the recommended amount in the tank.

So the experiment begins! I will try to document what happens and share the pictures here. Remember to make any stocking suggestions with something that likes shallow steams!

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post #12 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-09-2018, 01:59 AM Thread Starter
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Can't beat the sun

In June and the first part of July, the sun shines into my garage windows for about 30 to 45 minutes as it begins to set. The new tank catches some of this direct sun light and with the low angle, it produces a cool effect. Here a two pics I just took. Wish I had a real camera – and some talent!



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post #13 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-10-2018, 05:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billb View Post
In June and the first part of July, the sun shines into my garage windows for about 30 to 45 minutes as it begins to set. The new tank catches some of this direct sun light and with the low angle, it produces a cool effect. Here a two pics I just took. Wish I had a real camera – and some talent!



That is quite the atmosphere. This is a really awesome tank idea, will be watching this!

Looking great!
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post #14 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-14-2018, 03:04 AM Thread Starter
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Quick update - diatoms?

As I mentioned previously, I am now in a sit and wait for things to grow mode. This is unbelievably hard! I keep second guessing the plant positions, speculate on whether another type of Crypt would do well emersed, fight an urge to add a little more fertilizer…. All of those would be bad. I just need to wait.

In the meantime, I have taken satisfaction in seeing new growth in all of the crypts in the tank. Practically sprinting to add new leaves ( well they all have added one new leaf anyway). The Bucephalandra are just sitting there. I know they are slow so I need to relax. But perhaps the best news:





Loach food!

The stuff is kind of olive green and growing in nooks, crannies and cracks. I inoculated the tank with the two diatom cultures during a water change when the rocks were exposed. Maybe the diatoms in these protected locations were not swept away when I refilled the tank and started the current. It looks like they are attached now and spreading. One thing is a little odd though. My outdoor culture container is growing too but the film is yellow/brown. It has brighter light and no current. I guess the jury is still out. What I can say is that it doesn’t look like hair algae or bba. Fingers crossed.

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post #15 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-16-2018, 02:48 AM Thread Starter
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Growing algae – without a safety net!



Carolina Biological Supply is a cool place

So, why am I getting more diatoms? What the heck is a desmid? Rotifers? …..Let me explain before you judge me too harshly.

Yup, I am definitely trying to encourage even more algae growth. For fish food. Lately I have been a bit obsessed with periphyton communities. There are all kinds of stuff growing on those rocks that hillstream loaches feed on. Algae, diatoms, protozoa, bacteria, cyanobacteria, micro crustaceans, insect larvae, etc. And desmids. Samples taken from streams in the cases I read had anywhere from 60 to over 100 species of diatoms! I need to try and provide my fish with a healthy, varied diet! ( yes, I know my wife is laughing at me. I may or may not have lived solely on pizza during college.)

Here is what I bought:

Field collected fresh water diatoms – unidentified. This is a potential challenge. Not sure if any of these diatoms will be a problem. My goal was to boost the number of species. We will keep things on the lean side with regards to the fertilizers.

Mixed desmids – Desmids are pretty cool! Most are unicellular and live in bogs, swamps, lakes, streams, and even damp soil. The mix from Carolina biological Supply (CBS) contains three of the genus’ that were associated with clean stream habitats and grow on substrates. Worth a try. More veggies.

Mixed Fresh water rotifers – Also surface dwellers and rotifers are commonly used as a food source in marine aquaria. Figured I would add a little protein to the mix. In addition to inoculating the tank, I will try to culture some for the dwarf rainbow babies I am finding in my other tank. Not sure if I will ever be able to tell if these guys establish themselves. Algae and diatoms cover the rocks with a green coating. Rotifers, not so much.

So here are my current patio cultures:



The big green one is daphnia. The one with the leaves has Navicula and Synedra diatom cultures.



These two new patio cultures will contain the mixed desmids and the field collected diatoms.


So. Smart guy. Is this going to work or are you wasting our time?

Maybe! (I won’t be specific on which one)

I know the first two cultures are growing in the stream tank.





The cracks and crags on these stones were definitely a benefit. I inoculated a few smooth, rounded river stones in here – no diatoms yet. I think they needed protection from the current until they could attach and grow,

A few more pics





This one is a little different



This one is a brighter green.

When I bought my three AI Prime lights, they shipped me two AI Primes and an AI Prime HD. The HD is a marine fixture. A lot more blue wavelengths. Being lazy, and curious about the adjustable spectra, I kept the HD instead of returning it. So, is the brighter green a function of the diatoms being grown with more blue light than the ones on either side of them? The HD is in the middle and right over the rock in the last picture. Or is this simply a function of me viewing it illuminated by a bluer light?

Some additional data.



The leaf that these Otos are going to town on was in the patio culture growing in full sunlight. It was solidly covered by the green colored diatoms you see in patches the Otos haven’t eaten yet. This picture was taken while the leaf was illuminated by a standard fresh water LED light source. Bluer light = brighter green diatoms? Can’t really say. Too many other variables. I can say that the algae eating fish like it. So do my CRS and Amano shrimp.

And now a couple random pics:



This is the grate that is positioned over the Maxspect Gyre pump. The water on the left reflects the level of the water all across the stream. The pump is sucking down the water level over the whole 17” x 4” grate. Tried to measure the displacement. It is down about 1/3 of an inch. Impressive.



The Monte Carlo looks happy. This is the PLANTED TANK after all. I need to show that I can grow something other than algae (although I have always had a knack for it…)

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