40g Shrimp/CPD Planted Tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-10-2019, 06:44 PM Thread Starter
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40g Shrimp/CPD Planted Tank

I previously posted about our 10g tank that will form the foundation of this new tank. It seems I have fallen for the new-aquarist trap of starting with small aquariums. We started with a 7g. Then upgraded to two 10g. Now we will be migrating to a 40g. Nothing wrong with the 10s, just would like less to maintain and more space for the inhabitants. Here is the current tank when we first set up:



This tank will primarily have fish and inverts from southeast asia, but I am not strictly sticking to a biotope.

The tank is a Fluval M90 reef aquarium. This tank/stand was picked up at Petco on a super steep sale by a family member (~$300 for the tank, stand, lights, etc.). It was then donated to me when they decided to go with a 75g. For this project we won't be using most of the kit from the M90. It is a ~40g tank with ~7g sectioned off as an internal sump. I will be cutting out the divider so that it is a single ~40g area.



The filtration will be handled by two Fluval C2s [changed plans later to single G6] with sponge intake. They should provide sufficient filtration (advertised at 30g filtration each, though I know that is fairly arbitrary). The filters are currently in use in the two smaller tanks, and are already well cycled.

Lighting will be the Fluval Plant 3.0. I have no experience with this light, but it did well at growing some plants when it was previously used on this tank.

A heater will be used to keep this at about 75F, which is to split the difference between the shrimp that prefer cool water and the fish that prefer warmer water. This is within tolerance for each inhabitant based on web research.

I may use a powerhead to get more flow if needed.

I plan to use ecocomplete as substrate and Seachem ferts until they run out, then I plan to switch. Suggestions for easy 1-step fert solutions appreciated. Ease of use matters more to me than optimal plant growth.

Pressurized CO2 will be injected under one of the filter outputs to keep the bubbles suspended longer.

Will likely use the Apex system for control of electronics.

Plants include: large portions of java and "spiky" moss, hydrocotyle tripartita, purple temple, lilaeopsis, and a couple other plants that I don't have positive ID for (inherited in my shrimp tank).

Definite Fauna includes:
-~20 Celestial Pearl Danio. We started with 7 but they have been breeding well in their current tank.
-~150 Crystal red shrimp. [decided later to use neocaridina instead]
-2 Gold mystery snails that we hatched out ourselves a couple of months ago.
-~5 nerite snails.

Here are our shrimp and one of our CPD fry:



Now, we are working on figuring out what else to put in the tank. My wife would really like a bamboo shrimp, and I would really like a few threadfin rainbows. We are looking for suggestions for dither fish that will help the CPD be less timid. Maybe green rasboras? Ideas appreciated. Our plan is to set up the tank in the coming weeks.
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Last edited by ohaple; 08-05-2019 at 07:03 PM. Reason: corrections
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post #2 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-18-2019, 08:28 PM Thread Starter
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We have made a little progress. Ended up going with a Fluval G6 for the filtration. We got the tank set up next to the current 10g so we can make the transition easier. This week and next will primarily be plumbing and figuring out the Apex system. We have decided to install an auto-water change system as well, but that will not be ready for a while.

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post #3 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-24-2019, 10:05 PM Thread Starter
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We tackled the hard part of the auto water change system this week. One of my primary concerns is redundancy in the drain/fill cycle. I want two or three layers of redundancy to ensure that I do not drain the tank and kill the livestock, or overfill and flood the house. The fill is controlled using a solenoid and the house's water pressure. The drain is controlled with a solenoid coming off of a T in the canister filter output so the pump can start the siphon and help push the drain a bit faster.

We ran polyethylene from the cold water supply on the hot water heater using a saddle valve for the supply, and followed the same path the use the basement drain for the drain cycle. 3/8" for drain, 1/4" for supply. These small diameters are nicer to work with when running the pipe through the basement ceiling with coax cable, but make filling and draining slower. My dad uses the same setup on his 75g, so we largely mimicked that. A slow water change is also advantageous for keeping water parameters stable.

The first layer of redundancy is using the Apex optical water sensors. We built an acrylic frame to allow four of the water sensors to be placed in a "7" shape. The two sensors on top are in-line with each other to read the high water mark. When one or the other is triggered, the fill stops. The other two are placed vertically to read the desired low point and the "emergency" low point. You can see how the programming would work to make it so that there would have to be problems with both high or low sensors for it to fail. If they artificially read water as present (like if a leaf is stuck to one) the water change will not occur, but I will be notified.

In case the sensors fail in some way, a timer will also be set in the Apex system so that the drain or fill stops after the time it should have taken (we will have to time it the first time). This will stop the tank from over-draining or over-filling if the optical sensors do not work.

Finally, we need a solution separate from the Apex in case the control unit is the point of failure. For the next layer of redundancy we are using an "emergency" drain tapped off of the drilled bottom of the tank. This will be a pipe that sticks up in the back a little higher than the high sensors, but lower than the rim of the tank. This drain will operate much like the high-water drains in sinks and bathtubs. If the water happens to fill past the sensors, the drain will automatically drain (mechanically) as the water goes over the tube. The flow sensor on the drain line will also notify me that there is flow in the drain when there shouldn't be. This should eliminate the possibility of overfilling since the drain can drain faster than the fill line can fill. To keep the filter from over-draining the tank if the optical sensors fail, we put the intake at about the 50% mark. If the tank is drained to 50%, the water goes beneath the intake and no more water can be pulled by the filter.

Between redundant optical sensors, the timer, and the mechanical safety, I feel confident that the system will be safe for my home and for the livestock.


We also wanted to prepare for the filter and CO2 install. Unfortunately neither system fits in the doors of the cabinet for the stand. We used a jigsaw to cut out part of the top shelf so that those components will sit on the bottom shelf and stick up past the top shelf, giving plenty of room. Since we were taking out some of the stability of the top shelf, we reinforced it with additional screws. Through this week I plan to mount the apex system. This setup will have many sensors and other electronic components, so cable management becomes a large part of the project. Off the top of my head we will have:
-Filter
-Light
-CO2
-Apex base
-Apex power strip
-Apex display unit
-2x Apex sensor hubs
-4x optical sensors
-Heater
-2x probes (temp and ph)
-2x solenoid valves
-2x flow valves
-filter plumbing
-auto water change plumbing.

Together, that is a a lot of tubes and wires. If it is not organized well then maintenance becomes a problem or it becomes unattractive. After all of the electronics are mounted, we will begin programming and do a test run with no livestock. Once we see that it works as intended, we will drain, add substrate, and do our aquascaping. Fish will come next, then finally shrimp. I plan to seed the cycle using our existing bio-media. Between using cycled media, doing daily water changes, and lightly stocking the tank, we are planning to do a fish-in cycle.
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post #4 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-01-2019, 06:14 PM Thread Starter
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I got everything installed this weekend. Now onto the programming. The programming is a little intimidating, but it will be made substantially easier since I can start out by copying all of my dad's code from his tank, which has very similar setup. The mounting and routing of everything took much more time than expected. I expect that I will be able to do my test run over the long weekend and begin stocking early next week. Will post photos soon of the apex setup.

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post #5 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-01-2019, 06:18 PM
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We have made a little progress. Ended up going with a Fluval G6 for the filtration. We got the tank set up next to the current 10g so we can make the transition easier. This week and next will primarily be plumbing and figuring out the Apex system. We have decided to install an auto-water change system as well, but that will not be ready for a while.
How are you liking the Fluvel G6? Its a nice filter isnt it? Its been one of the most reliable filters Ive ever owned.


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post #6 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-01-2019, 06:47 PM Thread Starter
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How are you liking the Fluvel G6? Its a nice filter isnt it? Its been one of the most reliable filters Ive ever owned.

So far so good, but I have only rinsed and installed the media and hooked up the hoses. No water through it yet. The build quality is great and should allow me to do everything I need. I have been very impressed with the Fluval Plant 3 light. The app makes it easy to program and it does everything most people need. The Apex has also been great. I have been surprised by the overall ease of use and how well thought out the system is. I can't imagine trying to put together a complex system without it. I imagine that is doubly true in the reefing community.


I am very excited to give our CPD a good new home. They are breeding much faster than anticipated even without separating out adults and fry. In a few months we went from 7 to ~20. Those aren't great yields for breeders, but for a community tank I am very happy with it. We will have too many if this keeps up. Our shrimp seem to have hit a wall with breeding. I suspect that our density is too high (more than 15 CRS per gallon), so it will be good to give them some space as well.



I had the good fortune to visit Greg at Select Aquatics yesterday. If you haven't heard of him, it is worth checking out his site for the green dragon plecos alone. Most of his fish are not suited to a shrimp tank, but it was great to see what he is working on. A very kind guy with a lot of knowledge and fair prices. I picked up some of his proprietary RapidGrow fertilizer to test as well as a starter culture of vinegar eels so I can hopefully have success with feeding the threadfin rainbow and clown killi fry. My hope is that I can feed springtails, baby brine, and vinegar eels in conjunction with crushed flake to allow all of these nano-fish to thrive.


I am excited to try out his fertilizer mix, because I am tired of tinkering with Seachem ferts, which I inevitably forget to dose on the proper timetable. I don't think his mix will be a magic bullet, but I hope it is a quality low-maintenance replacement for what I have been doing.
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post #7 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-01-2019, 06:54 PM
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So far so good, but I have only rinsed and installed the media and hooked up the hoses. No water through it yet. The build quality is great and should allow me to do everything I need. I have been very impressed with the Fluval Plant 3 light. The app makes it easy to program and it does everything most people need. The Apex has also been great. I have been surprised by the overall ease of use and how well thought out the system is. I can't imagine trying to put together a complex system without it. I imagine that is doubly true in the reefing community.


I am very excited to give our CPD a good new home. They are breeding much faster than anticipated even without separating out adults and fry. In a few months we went from 7 to ~20. Those aren't great yields for breeders, but for a community tank I am very happy with it. We will have too many if this keeps up. Our shrimp seem to have hit a wall with breeding. I suspect that our density is too high (more than 15 CRS per gallon), so it will be good to give them some space as well.



I had the good fortune to visit Greg at Select Aquatics yesterday. If you haven't heard of him, it is worth checking out his site for the green dragon plecos alone. Most of his fish are not suited to a shrimp tank, but it was great to see what he is working on. A very kind guy with a lot of knowledge and fair prices. I picked up some of his proprietary RapidGrow fertilizer to test as well as a starter culture of vinegar eels so I can hopefully have success with feeding the threadfin rainbow and clown killi fry. My hope is that I can feed springtails, baby brine, and vinegar eels in conjunction with crushed flake to allow all of these nano-fish to thrive.


I am excited to try out his fertilizer mix, because I am tired of tinkering with Seachem ferts, which I inevitably forget to dose on the proper timetable. I don't think his mix will be a magic bullet, but I hope it is a quality low-maintenance replacement for what I have been doing.
Just took a peek at Select Aquatics page- the Xiphophorus helleri Rio Otapa would be a fish I would definitely be interested in if I had the room. Nice stock he has there.


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post #8 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-01-2019, 07:07 PM Thread Starter
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Just took a peek at Select Aquatics page- the Xiphophorus helleri Rio Otapa would be a fish I would definitely be interested in if I had the room. Nice stock he has there.

He mostly focuses on rarer livebearers. The highlights are definitely the green dragons, the xiphophorus montezumae (he has a male where the tail is more than double body length, looks awesome in person), his line of odessa barbs (best coloration I have seen in person), and the sailfin mollys (large molly with a great dorsal fin). Having seen his setup, I would not hesitate to order from him. And, if you want wild type neocaridina, he has great prices on them.

The coloration of the Rio Otapas are much better in person than on his website. I will say that is true of much of his stock. Online it looks like a lot of plain grey/silver fish, but in person they have awesome iridescence and really stand out.

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post #9 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-03-2019, 05:05 AM
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Since you're already automating everything, why not try an autodoser too? The jebao ones are less than $50!

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post #10 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-03-2019, 04:39 PM Thread Starter
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Since you're already automating everything, why not try an autodoser too? The jebao ones are less than $50!

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My dad's tank uses the Apex DOS system and it is really nice, if a little expensive. I actually already have the jebao on the wish list but am holding off for a minute until I can get things planted and start to get settled in.


Here are the photos of where the Apex system is at as of last night.


Excuse the blurry photo, this is the front when closed up. You can see the bottom of the filter and the display for the apex, but none of the other automation.



Here is the inside of the cabinet. A lot of wires and tubes but fairly organized:




Here is the back:





Now that the plumbing and electronics are hooked up, I need to get working on the code. Programming basic functions is easy, but when you start having systems interact (for instance, when the drain shows flow but the drain solenoid is off, shut off the heater and send an alert) it takes more time to make sure everything is tight and that you haven't missed a critical condition.
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post #11 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-05-2019, 06:27 PM Thread Starter
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I completed the code over the holiday except for the auto water change system. I am planning to finish that code today and then do a test run with water so I can make sure there are no leaks and that everything is functioning properly before we start to aquascape. Hopefully that will work out today and then we can scape over the weekend.

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post #12 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-09-2019, 11:18 PM Thread Starter
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Was able to fill it up with water and run some tests over the weekend. Glad I did a wet test, because I still have a few bugs in my code. The Apex system is easy to use generally, but the multiple error states are difficult to get correct. If everything isn't quite right, an error state will trigger, which causes a cascade of errors. My current problem is just that the fill cycle will have an error part way through filling, which will terminate the water change cycle. The drain and everything work fine, and the redundant sensors/drains/etc are doing their job by shutting it down when there is a problem.

As a little bonus, I edited together a quick video of my CPDs in their 10g while feeding 24hr brine. Not the best footage, but we have a few males that are looking great. If you watch closely you will also see the lone ember tetra that they brought into their school. Every time I look, there seem to be more fry. I think the large amount of moss on our overgrown tree scape (we are trying to let plants in the 10g grow out rather than trimming much so there is more to transfer to the 40g) is allowing them to breed fairly well, and feeding crushed flake and baby brine is probably also helping. They have outgrown this tank, so it will be good to move them to a bigger home and add some other fish and shrimp. The shrimp are still doing great and breeding, but seem to have slowed down as they hit higher density.
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post #13 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 05:17 PM Thread Starter
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Made some good progress this weekend. Once we were sure that the auto-water change system is working as intended, we drained the tank and set up substrate, hardscape, and some plants.

This tank will be primarily viewed from the left side, but is actually fairly centered in the room. As a result, I decided to go with a right-skewed "V" shaped scape. This will allow the tree to have a better sense of scale up on a hill, but still look reasonably symmetrical in the room (unlike a normal triangle scape). In the past I have only worked with small tanks, and have tended to over-fill the scape. I am going to try to exercise some restraint this time and begin small and slow. The "tree" is the focal point, and should provide a good playground for the cherry shrimp underneath, egg-laying space for the fish, and a good perch for the bamboo shrimp near the highest flow areas of the tank. I have never been good at artsy things, but I think it turned out well.

We are using eco complete for this project. I used 2 new bags as well as ~1 more bag of pre-used from our other tank. I planted API root tabs as instructed. The hardscape will be our spiderwood and flame moss tree, transplanted from the 10g tank, some small dragonstone pieces, and a piece of artificial driftwood that we had. I tried to arrange the dragonstone in a way that would help prevent erosion on the hill and also appear like the tree is on a rocky hill. I really like the sense of scale between the tree and dragonstone.

We have been reasonably unhappy with some of the plants we have kept in the past. The Purple Temple stem plants have not been growing well and are not maintaining good coloration. Additionally the stems are very brittle which makes them a pain to work with. The Hydrocotyle tripartita we had grew well but was more unruly than we care for in a foreground pant. The lilaeopsis has been a favorite as far as looks go, but it seems that the snails always uproot it, causing it to look messy.

We planted a portion of hydrocotyle in the back corner, to hopefully grow into a large tangled bush. We planted some lilaeopsis in the back center. The flame moss remains on the tree, and we planted a little more on the driftwood and dragonstone.

I could use an ID on one of the plants we used. It was in our shrimp tank, doing quite well. It has medium size green leaves and grows in a sort of chain, typically crowing in a straight line in our shrimp tank. The runners also send off very fine brown roots. It is the plant that lines the front of the driftwood in the following photos.

In addition, we ordered some new plants from Han Aquatics. Amazon Frogbit and Salvinia cucullata will be our floating plants. They should stay in the left side of the tank due to water flow, and we are planning on investigating retention methods to keep them where we want them. We ordered a portion of monte carlo to begin carpeting the front left of the tank. I also have been growing monte carlo in my work tank, and will be adding that. We ordered a couple stems of Ludwigia Senegalensis to add some color, and a Green Waves buce.

That concludes our plants for now, but I assume we will continue to tinker with it. The stems will go in back, and I am thinking of planting the buce on the hillside. Tonight, now that things have settled out, we plan to move over the CPDs and the snails. We will also be temporarily moving the C2 filter to the 40g to keep things cycled. I hope that the existing bacteria and zooplankton in the moss and used gravel will help the transition for the adolescent fish and snails.

Here it is drained with hardscape:


A short video of it filling showing the rock and parts better: https://imgur.com/If2P0jq

The plants in the back and some of the plant for ID:


Here it is filled, also shows the plant for ID:


Here it is in the room, next to the old tank:
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post #14 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 08:48 PM
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Nicely done. I like...


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post #15 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 09:35 PM Thread Starter
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Nicely done. I like...
Thank you. After weeks of plumbing and running wires and coding, it is so satisfying to have things up and running. CPDs will go in soon, then we will add more fish, and once the tank has time to settle in, we will begin adding shrimp. I was surprised by the number of CPD we had in the 10g. We originally had 7 but now we have easily 25. The live foods seem to be helping them color up and breed.


Here is a little peak into the power of Apex Fusion for those that have not messed with it before.


Here is my dashboard. This is configurable, but lets me turn things on and off remotely, view media (eventually an IP cam), monitor power usage, flow, and other stats. You can see some interesting things here. The CO2 is on, because the daytime CO2 rule is on, because pH is over 6.4. The heater is off because the temp is over 74F. The Low and Full optical water sensors are "closed" meaning they both detect water, which is correct for the normal tank conditions. The redundant High sensors are open because the water is below the sensors, which is correct. I am using 69 W, which is primarily the Fluval Plant 3.0 (44W at 100% give or take) and the Fluval G6 (23W). The heater uses about 170 when it is on, but it shoudn't be on much since we keep our home in the low 70s. I need to confirm the pH calibration to make sure I am not gassing out my fish, but I calibrated it a week or so ago.



Here is the graph of Temperature. You can see the serious drops in temperature from filling the entire tank with cold tap water twice. This graph includes some temps from my tinkering, so will not be a good example of the future, which should be more stable between 74F and 76F. You can see a more typical curve in the right half of the graph.




Here is the graph of pH. You can see the pH of my tap water from the fill on the left, then watch it come down. The dip in the middle is representative of my nighttime CO2 control, which triggers CO2 to run if pH goes over 6.9. This should keep our day/night swings a little smaller. The dip on the right is representative of the daytime CO2 cycle, which tries to keep the pH at 6.4. I still have quite a bit to do to sync up the CO2 levels with my lighting.



Here are the drain and fill flow meters. You can see data from when I filled the tank completely and did a large drain on the left, and a typical auto-water change on the right. Both fill and drain function at about 10gph.




The system will also text me and send a push notification if any errors are found. Low temp, high temp, high ph, low ph, flow on the drain or fill when they should be off, leak sensors (one in cabinet, one on floor behind), all will trigger the error states. Depending on the type of error, it may stop the auto-water change mid-way to keep from accidental flooding or draining, or even shut down everything if a leak is detected outside of the tank. It is an expensive system, but I really enjoy the control and security. I plan to add an auto-dosing system and IP camera soon. Critical items like water draining and filling have multiple levels of safety to make sure no one error could cause a dry tank or wet floor. The heater has its internal thermometer as well as the Apex thermometer, so both would have to fail to cook the tank. Additionally, low or high power usage by the filter or heater trigger an error to shut them off and notify me to further protect things if a component fails.
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