I've been lurking around here for 2+ years, so I figure that I would finally start a tank thread. I bought my Oceanic 105 Show aquarium of Craigslist about 2 years ago. I paid $600 for everything including 25 fish. There was a random mix of fish; everything from angle fish to two large oscars to a 8"+ pleco to fish that I haven't seen before. I didn't want anything except the 3 angles, so I traded the rest into the local aquarium store. I got over $200 in store credit. The stand and hood for the tank was original a 'washed oak' finish. I didn't like it, so I sanded it, primed it and painted it semi-gloss black with a Rustoleum brand enamel paint. It turned out great and has held up beautifully! As you can see from the pictures, I was in a rush and didn't paint the inside. I now regret this.
After I got it setup, I got very busy with work had did a lot of extended long term traveling. I would be gone for 3-4 weeks at a time. However, the tank kept right along and never missed a beat. The few fish I had were fed with an automatic feeder and I had zero plants to worry about. I am not home 99% of the time, so I am back to trying to make a successful planted tank. I'm a Mechanical Engineer, so I really enjoy the technology side of things. I enjoy the build as far as the electrical and plumbing goes as much as the end result. That will explain a lot of the 'high tech' approach I have taken.
I'll skip my previous setups and detail my current one starting with the plumbing. I made a manifold plumbing system underneath the tank. This allows me to isolate whatever I want as well as hook up a garden hose and run it out the front door for water changes. For filtration, I am running two Eheim Classic 2217's. Each 2217 is fed by a Hydor 300W ETH inline heater that I use to keep the tank at 80°. I also have an Eheim 1103 needle wheel pump. I was using this for CO2 injection, but I got tired of the noise (more on this later). Now, the pump is adjusted all the way down (211 ghp) and provides a flow for my 25W Gamma UV sterilizer. I use to have ick problems in my last tank regularly, but in this tank with the addition on the UV sterilizer I have not had a single fish get sick!
As far as the lighting goes, I am running four 48" T5 HO bulbs in a Tek-Light fixture. This is hanging from the hood lid and spaced down ~2.5". This puts the light .5" off the top of my glass lids. I am currently running three Giesemann Midday bulbs (6K) and one Aquablue+ (15K) for some extra color. Once my plants get going, I plan to swap out the Aquablue+ for something in the 6500K range. I am using a 8 hr photo period with the 'midday burst' method. I only have both lights on for 6 hours in the middle of my photo period. I also added some moon lighting recently. I picked some moonlights up off eBay and mounted them directly to the Tek-Light fixture. Since I am a late night owl, this allows me to get some extra 'use' out of the aquarium.
For CO2 injection, I put together my own system. I started with a new 10lb aluminum CO2 bottle. Next, I added a brand new Concoa 212 series dual stage regulator from eBay. I am now using a Burkert 6011 solenoid that replaced my old Clippard. I am using the standard JBJ bubble counter. Before a couple weeks ago I was using the Eheim 1103 needle wheel to diffuse the CO2. It worked good, but it was loud when the bubbles hit the needle wheel. I picked up a couple of GLA's Atomic 12/16 inline diffusers and I two of these; one in the outlet of each 2217. I use the provided spray bars, but I oriented them in the vertical position to help saturate the tank with CO2. These things are AWESOME! The CO2 bubbles are extremely small! The Eheim 1103 needle wheel is now used for air injection for ~2.5 hours after the lights go out. I have it hooked up to a small Tetra air pump that is regulated by an inline valve. I only get about air 1 bubble every 2 seconds with this setup. It is just there because I thought it would be kind of cool and also provide the plant and fish with enough O2 through the night.
For fertilizers I am using the EI method. Currently, I have modified this and only dose during the beginning of the week due to my low plant load. I will adjust and increase as the plants grow. I dose 1.5 tsp KNO3 and .5 tsp KH2PO4 on Mondays and .5 tsp Plantex CSM+B on Tuesdays. I have almost finished my auto doser. It started life as a AquaMedic Quatro reef doser, but the controller was prohibitive for the way fresh water plants need to be fertilized. I removed the controller and added one power cord for each pump. I will be using 3 pumps for fertilizers and one for an auto top off system when I get more time.
To control the aquarium, I took a concepts that Wasserpest dubbed the Wasser-Controller. I used it for a little while, but it was prohibitive. I modified it and added a second timer controller and dubbed it the Wasser-Controller 2.0. I can now control up to 9 timers (limited only by my power supply) and up to four timers at once. Everything can be controlled down to the second. This is what I am using to automatically control my two sets of lights, moonlights, CO2 solenoid, Air pump, and four dosing pumps. It is acting like a complete aquarium controller.
Here are some pictures before I bore you to death with text: