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:
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):
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?