carlsj2012's 75 Gallon Upgrade Experiment - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-18-2020, 04:08 AM Thread Starter
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carlsj2012's 75 Gallon Upgrade Experiment

Hello again! I've been on a bit of a hiatus from this forum while I was trying to figure out what I wanted from my tank. I've used the term "paralysis by analysis" before, but I think in this case I was jumping around at every idea I felt sounded good until a better one came around. I'm afraid I don't know a catchy phrase for this. For reference, here is the link to my last journal:

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/1...k-warning.html

I had seen a video by Dennis describing his 4' "Cave Scape", and was very much drawn to it. Finally, the trigger was pulled and I picked up most of the required material. Some changes had to be made due to unavailability of materials in my immediate area or price gouging, but I THINK I have found some decent alternatives. Let's begin with a breakdown of what I currently have on hand before I dive head first into whatever this is going to become. For reference, here is the tank in question which inspired me:


As far as materials go, I tried. For "baked clay chips" I picked up 3 bags of Oil-Dri (everything they had in stock):
[/IMG]

But I also picked up two bags of kitty litter, as they were low on Oil-Dri supplies. I may or may not use this, just seemed like an okay alternative at the time. It is an odorless, non-clumping cat litter:


For soil, I picked up four bags of this:


Some hardscape I picked up today. It's a bit less than what Dennis has, but I'm not copying...I'm emulating :P Pen for scale


Will I regret this? I don't know. All I know is this will either end in success, or epic failure.

As far as hardware goes, there is some flexibility here as I still have some equipment sitting around from the teardown.

From the top down:
Lights are AI Prime 16HD Reef. I know these aren't great for planted tanks, but I've seen successful tanks with reef lights. There are also plans to eventually make a move into the SW world, so I figured "why not?". I still have my Current USA + Pro light bar.

CO2: Picked up an in-tank diffuser at Christmas. I'll give it a shot, as I felt my last DIY reactor was sub-par. May upgrade to in-line for the sake of matching my inspiration tank. I am currently sourcing out a new supplier of pressurized CO2, as my last vendor has vanished.

Filtration: Here's where I'm really in a mess. My last build had an Aqueon 400, and while it is a high flow filter (as per their rated 400gph capacity), I felt it was underwhelming. I was using the spray bar attachment and suspected maybe the flow rates were lower as a result? I also have in my possession a Eheim Classic 350. I picked it up with the plan to use two filters, but sine there will be a lower volume of water in the tank, perhaps that is no longer necessary? Guess I don't know what I should use.

Ferts: On hand I have the standard: KNO3, KH2PO4, K2SO4, and Plantex CSM+b.

I have some concern with this setup, seeing the reports I've read on baked clay chips causing havoc in water pH. I don't plan on having livestock any time soon, but is this something that will eventually clear up on it's own? Will it wreck havoc on new plants?

Some other questions I have for the forum members:
1) Should I bother "prepping" the baked clay? Seems to be a non-consensus across multiple forums.
2) Does the soil need to go in a mud bucket to separate organic materials?
3) Am I shooting myself in the foot using all this clay product regarding pH swing/acidity levels?

All in all, I am very excited for this re-build. While I lack some confidence going in, I am determined. The tank has been sitting empty for quite some time now while my mind jumped from one option to the next and I'm tired of looking at an incomplete mess. It's time to commit!

Finally, for the sake of crediting my inspiration tank, @Xiaozhuang do you have any tips/advice before I take the big leap?
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-18-2020, 07:36 AM
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Sounds fun will be looking forward to it


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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-18-2020, 11:24 PM Thread Starter
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I managed to play around with the hardscape today. I enjoy the look I've created on the right side, but I'm not sure what to do with the left. Over-all, I think I need more small rocks to fill in the spaces. It looks a little empty, even the right side. I've got some more drainage cells to build more height. For now I'll leave it as is and glance at it every time I walk by. What do you think?

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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-19-2020, 02:52 AM
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As far as filtration, MFG's claim their GPH usually with empty canisters, once you pack media in usually you can cut that in half. You can always experiment with drilling out the spraybar holes the next drill bit size up to reduce the restriction it could create. But put it this way, I have on my 10g tank an Ehiem 2211 and a 2213 filter and I still don't think it's a bunch of flow for the tank. Besides with two filters if one breaksdown you have a backup in place already. Plus you can alternate cleaning them to prevent knocking out your BB.

If you question the clay and it's pH test some out in a bucket of water and see what it does.

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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-19-2020, 06:33 AM
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I think your layout looks very good. It's a little hard ignoring the drainage cells in evaluating the balance of the composition. Find if I squint real hard looking at the picture it helps. The three rocks in the middle on the first layer of cells possibly seem too similar in height/size/depth. May want to toy with lowering the middle one or moving it back some. Also may want to try the far left rock in a more vertical pose. And the lowest rock in the front may ultimately want to be more in the center or even more to the left but that's easy enough to test post substrate. And truly do think it looks really good as is and the above suggestions may show no better. Cheers
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-19-2020, 07:17 PM Thread Starter
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Okay! Thanks @chayos00 and @schooldazed! I've played around with it a bit more, added more stone and a bit more height. The rock you see bottom center will be broken up for "rubble". I think it's an improvement!

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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-19-2020, 08:05 PM Thread Starter
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Follow up question: Is this slope too steep? I have some smaller drainage cells I can use, but I would lose 3-4" of height.



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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-24-2020, 08:37 PM
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I think you probably need more rocks as a whole... The slope is quite steep, would be easier to aggregate strips/areas where soil is held back by rocks. Think about building rice terrace layers (with better aesthetics) rather than a smooth slope. If you have 4 different strips of height different front to back, that's enough to give quite a few layers when viewed from the front.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-30-2020, 07:18 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xiaozhuang View Post
I think you probably need more rocks as a whole... The slope is quite steep, would be easier to aggregate strips/areas where soil is held back by rocks. Think about building rice terrace layers (with better aesthetics) rather than a smooth slope. If you have 4 different strips of height different front to back, that's enough to give quite a few layers when viewed from the front.
Thanks @Xiaozhuang, I really appreciate the feedback! During this slow time, I will most likely be playing around with the hardscape some more.

Bump:
Quote:
Originally Posted by chayos00 View Post

If you question the clay and it's pH test some out in a bucket of water and see what it does.
So I did a bucket test and ran into some surprising results. Definitely does not match any experience I've read about using heavy CEC materials. I filled a bucket with 4 gallons of tap water, and poured Oil-Dri in until I reached the five gallon mark. Once everything settled, I tested the water and compared it to my control (tap water)

Tap Water
pH: 7.5
GH: 12 drops
KH: 6 drops
Ca: 60ppm
Mg: 15.7 ppm

Oil-Dri Bucket:
pH: 6.8
GH: 38 drops
KH: 6 drops
Ca: 150 ppm
Mg: 74 ppm

Not what I had expected. I thought my GH would drop off to almost nothing, not go the other way! Is my bucket test not a valid one? Maybe I will try again, this time rinsing the media before pouring it in.

With the way the world is at the moment, I've sadly had to push the big fat PAUSE button on this project. Should give me some time to experiment a bit with my hardscape, and figure out what the heck I'm going to do with this substrate...
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-08-2020, 06:51 AM Thread Starter
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After two months, I have an update! I decided to go ahead with the original plan of OilDri->Potting Soil->Amazonia 2. Pictures always tell a better story, so let's break this down:

Here is the layout I settled on, along with the layers. Not sure why I didn't take a FTS with clay, but too late now!








I then flooded the tank and let things circulate while I waited for the plants to arrive. The tannins from the organic matter in the soil caused some discoloration. This was (mostly) resolved with daily water changes. Plants arrived about 5 days later, and the fun began!






I've only just set up the CO2 tonight, so I'm not 100% dialed in with it, nor am I certain of it's effectiveness as it is the first time I am using a diffuser. I imagine I will have to move it around a bit to find the right spot for it.

Lighting is AI Prime HD. They are reef lights, but so far so good. I've got them set for 5 hours of light at a low intensity for now. I'm going to have to play around with the interface for the lighting, I'm sure I can fine-tune it better than what I've got at the moment:


I've kept my Aqueon 400 canister filter and split the discharge to two duck-bills at each corner, with the Eheim skimmer also on the back corner. We'll see how it works, I do have the smaller Eheim I can plug in for additional filtration and flow.

Ferts for now are on the lower end. Weekly macros in ppm are 9.6/1.8/8.31 (N/P/K), and a single dose of CSM+B to reach 0.1ppm Fe. First dose was tonight after filter maintenance and water change.

The flora is as follows:

Rotala Rotundifolia
Monte Carlo
Hydrocotyle Tripartita
Staurogyne Repens
Rotala Vietnam H'ra
Ludwigia Arcuata
Alternanthera Ocipus
Alternanthera Lilacina
Pogostemon Helferi

I've left some areas bare for plants I couldn't locate, namely Pogostemon Erectus, Cryptocoryne Wendtii, and Bucephalandra.

Latest water test (no CO2 or ferts) was as follows:
pH: 7.07
NH4: 0.25ppm
NO2: 0.5ppm
NO3: 0ppm
PO4: 0.25ppm
dGH: 10
dKH: 5
Ca: 45ppm
Mg: 16.12ppm (calculated)

I am very pleased with everything so far. I'm looking forward to seeing this fill in, hopefully without too much melting or headache. It'll be nice to be back on a schedule of dosing and water changes though. Very therapeutic!
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-06-2020, 03:43 AM Thread Starter
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It's been a month now, figured it's time for an update! Things seem to be going very well. I started seeing the first algae bloom which appears to have cleared up (knock on wood). So far there are no fauna in here yet, but I've started looking at getting a clean up crew together. Amano shrimp and nerite snails would be nice, however it seems to be tricky finding amano at this time. Guess I just need to continue being patient.

I do have a question about trimming and planting the tops. I the photos, you'll see the lower parts of the plant are "sprouts", with the new growth having matured to its proper shape. Should I trim the mature parts and replant them in place of the "sprouts"? Or can I just trim normally and let it thicken?









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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-13-2020, 10:21 AM Thread Starter
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Another Sunday has passed, which means another water change! Yesterday I trimmed off all the baby sprout bottoms and re-planted mature tops. I also found where some plants were not thriving, there were hollow spots under the substrate. These were "collapsed" and filled in with fresh aquasoil before re-planting healthy flora. I also added a couple of Osmocote pellets underneath the Alternanthera. Dosing hasn't been super specific. Every week I add an extra pump of my macro solution (DIY), as I've been finding my residuals by the end of the week are a little low. Not a bad thing, guess it just means I'm closer to a PPS-Pro than EI. Anyway, some photos!

Pre-Trim


Post-Trim



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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-16-2020, 07:36 PM Thread Starter
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Hi! Just wanted to share how my Pogostemon Helferi is doing



I'm picking up 15 Amano Shrimp on Saturday. Can't wait!
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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-17-2020, 02:28 AM
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Any plans for some red plants in the scape?


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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-17-2020, 03:06 AM Thread Starter
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Any plans for some red plants in the scape?

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The majority of the background plants will (hopefully) turn red as they mature. They're still young. Colour is starting to show on the alternantara ocipus and ludwigia arcuata.
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