It has been a couple of weeks of slow progress. I decided to replace the inlet and outlet with glass lily pipes, so I had to wait for them to be delivered. The equipment is now all installed and plumbed in. First up, here's a shot of the empty but plumbed tank (sorry for the reflections):
I chose a "poppy bowl" type inlet, the idea being that they diffuse the flow and prevent strong currents, which is something I want to avoid. I went with an inlet with a floating surface skimmer, I'm not sure how I'll get on with that (I wish it was longer, but I know in such a tall tank, that's asking a lot) but I wanted to give it a try. You can also see the pH probe (oh how I wish they weren't bright yellow) and the substrate, 27l of ADA Aqua Soil Amazonia Ver. 2 (at this stage just emptied into the bottom, that's obviously not the final profile). For this build, I've done my best to have as little equipment in the tank as possible (hence why the pH probe bugs me), but with the narrow footprint of the tank, getting everything out of sight wasn't easy:
Here you can see the canister filter bottom left (an old but reliable Fluval 304) and as you can see, I've replaced all the ribbed Fluval hose with 16mm (5/8") clear hose (I like the flexibility of the Fluval hose, but the ribs trap a lot of muck so restarting the filter is always a mess, and it isn't great with inline accessories). I had to mount it "sideways" to fit everything in the cabinet which required a bit more hose on the inlet side, but its not kinked so no real problem there.
Next inline is an Atomic CO2 diffuser, hidden behind the CO2 cylinder in this shot, followed by a Coralife Turbo Twist 3X UV sterilizer mounted to the back of the cabinet. After that, there is a Hydor 200W inline heater behind the tank and then the lily pipe inlet (I found I needed to heat the hose with my hot air gun to soften it to get it very far onto the lily pipe).
Also in the cabinet is the CO2 cylinder (the cylinder is empty, I'm getting a full cylinder from Airgas tomorrow) with a Green Leaf Aquariums Pro-DS dual stage regulator with solenoid and bubble counter (there's an Atomic check valve in the CO2 line, just before the diffuser). The USB cable attached to the solenoid is pretty short, far too short to reach the power strip behind the tank, but fortunately I had a spare USB extension cable which works fine (USB extension cables don't work well for data, but are just fine for power). The CO2 controller is a Milwaukee MC122. The various power bricks are attached to the back of the cabinet with 3M Command Velcro strips.
Next up was filling the tank and starting up the filter:
This shot was about 24 hours after filling the tank - the water is a little cloudy as I'd just re-primed the pump to get a bit of trapped air out and the pretty bright lights (three 20" Finnex Planted+ 24/7 CC fixtures) show the glare against the black background. The two plant pots are the start of the hardscaping and have both had their bottoms cut out (I've previously found that if you don't do this, plant pots tend to collect a lot of muck standing up, and create dead spots with now flow on their side. The substrate still needs moving around and more added to the larger pot. I'm not absolutely sure if I'm going to leave the smaller pot or not, I'm on the fence at the moment.
Next up will be initial water tests (per research here and elsewhere, I'm expecting the substrate to give off ammonia, but that's not necessarily a bad way to fishless-cycle the filter) and then get started on planting...
Hopefully the next round of pictures will be more interesting than endless shots of an empty aquarium, but thanks for your patience!