65 Gallon Serenity Build - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-11-2020, 05:01 PM Thread Starter
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Post 65 Gallon Serenity Build

The first post in this thread is a repost from a thread asking for advice re: plants to fill out my first seriously planted tall tank found here. As I get the thing put together I'll keep updates coming!


Hi folks! I managed to snag a 65 gallon tank from Petsmart for 48% off and am looking for a couple things to put in it. Today I bought this awesome piece of driftwood from manzanita.com and am starting to consider the kinds of plants I can attach to it or surround it with. The dimensions of the piece are basically the dimensions of my tank (36x18x24) and so I'm pretty set on scape except for a few rocks I might pick up from the LFS.



The tank itself is pretty deep both in height and in depth, so here's what I'm thinking: I'd like to attach some plants to the branches of the driftwood with swords beneath them. In the big root ball I see a lot of potential for mosses or anubias of some sort. Especially because the tank's a little deep, I feel like the light diffusion lends itself to lower light plants at the substrate level. The trick is I get some filtered sunlight on one of the sides and am looking for some fast-growing stem plants to suck up that light and filter it out so it doesn't cause too much of a problem with algae. Perhaps water wisteria? I already have lots I can transfer over after a quick bleach dip.

I love having more room to plant and am hoping you guys can guide me a little bit on scaping and plant choice.

Substrate: Pool filter sand with root tabs
Lighting: 36" Current+ full-spectrum LED (on top of glass lid included with tank)
pH: 7.8 (tap)
CO2: Pressurized injection; reactor in the works
Temp: 75
Livestock: 5 cory catfish and assorted shrimp, two nerve snails
Filtration: Eheim 2217 coming in next week (fingers crossed)

"What we learn to do, we learn by doing." - Aristotle (385-325 BCE)
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-11-2020, 07:16 PM
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beautiful piece of wood! I love those dimensions, anything 36 x18 is going to give you a great footprint to grow things and the added height over a 40breeder gives you more flexibility

excited to have this journal going!

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-13-2020, 10:38 PM Thread Starter
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Finally moved my 20 gallon to its new home today and put the 65 in its place. I spent well over an hour leveling the stand, just to fill the tank and find that one corner was 1/8 inch off. As one wise poster here once said, "water levels never lie." So I'm currently draining the darn thing to up that corner and see how that works out. There is a mat underneath the tank, and it has a frame, so I'm not too worried about stressing it. I'm more concerned about what happens if the unthinkable happens and my apartment... well, we won't go there. It's tricky because one half of the tank is on one type of carpet and the other half is on another. To level the stand I used furniture slide pads with adhesive on them. I'm not sure what else I could do to make this work. The reason I flooded it a few days before substrate coming in and such was so I could watch for carpet compression and move the tank without too too much trouble. I'd sure hate to have to wrestle with leveling the thing by myself once it's full of substrate, etc (even empty the thing's a monster to move!).



I did finish installing the housing for the inline heater today, and all the rest of my materials are coming in on Tuesday. Heater, filter, fittings, substrate, the works. Here's a shot of how I mounted it into the underside of the stand.



The next step is to mount the reactor inside the stand to keep it off the floor and make room for chemicals and other supplies. I'm also hard plumbing the reactor instead of using tubing to keep the connections strong and consistent. After leaving the filter and entering the heater housing, the water will not exit in a hose until it reaches the return to the tank.

Update: Well don't I feel foolish. I learned today to never trust the manufacturer. The 1/8" I was missing was because of the frame being 1/8" high in that corner. I thought I was losing my mind or broke the laws of physics there for a moment.

"What we learn to do, we learn by doing." - Aristotle (385-325 BCE)

Last edited by WaterWelder; 06-13-2020 at 11:13 PM. Reason: Update
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-16-2020, 04:08 AM Thread Starter
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Added Filters and Initiated Purge

Yesterday I picked up a Marineland Magniflow 220 (I think that's the one) and went on and began my cycle to prep filter media before substrate comes in on Tuesday. I also finished up some of the plumbing inside of the tank stand and hooked up the Eheim 2217 that came in today. I really like the Eheim. Its filter media is outstanding and I love the footprint and the sheer bulk of media it can fit. The Marineland, not so much. Try as I might I just can't get the thing to stop sucking air from... somewhere? The only place I could see was a little air pocket at the top of the intake hose where it connects to the actual intake lily pipe. It's a little frustrating, but it'll get there. I'm going to try burping the filter and some other tricks to try and get the air out of there.

The plumbing is coming along nicely. I did forget to cement one of my PVC connections with almost disastrous results. I also decided not to hard plumb the reactor for ease of maintenance. Instead, it's just connected with hose so it's easy to disconnect when cleaning. Eheim has done us a yuge favor by including those quick disconnect valves. It made my modifications exponentially easier. Note that the filter is only hooked into the reactor at present. That was also intentional to seed the reactor before discovering The Plague.



Did I mention the Plague? I did. My previous tank appears to have been infected with columnaris. I won't go into detail here, but it's not good. I don't know where this gunk came from and I'm not sure I can trust almost any store now. My woes are catalogued in the tank journal for that tank. Unfortunately this means my two-days-in cycle with filter media from the 20 gallon has been for naught. I yanked out previous media and flooded the 65 with a concentration of bleach-water to kill any of the nasties that might have made their way into my tank. I also dumped all of my tools - siphons, nets, algae scrapers, clippers, thermometers - into the bleach-tank. I'm going to let the filters run overnight and drain in the morning. My water bill's going to be through the roof this month.

Substrate comes in tomorrow; as does the heater, driftwood, and the last of my plumbing. The silver lining to this whole affair is the dechlorinating process is going to force me to go slow and spend more time on my aquascape. I have some ideas for plant placement that I vomited out into Photoshop. Here they are in all their glory.



What I'm hoping for is to use some lava rock or some other rock structure to create a hidden airstone that runs when the CO2 is off at night in one of the back corners and have a hill somewhere in there. Of course this is all speculative. I'll post pictures of my experiments once I finish dechlorinating and cleaning the tank.

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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-16-2020, 04:11 PM Thread Starter
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Rinse and Wash, Wash and Rinse

Today's prep: Playing in bleach water again. First thing I did this morning was drain the tank, fill it with fresh water, and drain again. While I filled the tank, I kept a small pump running back out into the sink to get some good water exchange during the "rinse" phase. The filters aren't running, but I'm not too worried about that considering one of my fittings has a slow leak. I won't jinx it, but I'll count my blessings that it's only one so far. Nothing a hacksaw and some more plastic can't fix. Last night I picked up some H2O2 to dip the plants that are coming in over the next few days.

Things I've learned:
  1. Don't use media from a tank that you even THINK might be compromised.
  2. If a label says "2 hours to cure," give it four.
  3. Always give yourself an extra day or two to deal with setbacks. I'm under some pressure now with plants coming in. Maybe I'll set them up in the quarantine tank I'm starting just to keep them wet and let them eat while I scape.
  4. Basically the same as above. Just because you plan something to go smoothly, doesn't mean it will.
  5. Bleach water clouds vinyl tubing.
  6. ALWAYS quarantine new fish.
  7. Planted tanks are hobbies. Hobbies are projects. Projects are good for the soul.

I'm once bitten, twice shy, but haven't given up hope yet.

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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-16-2020, 08:17 PM
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yes, I love the 2217! and the quick disconnects are awesome feature, makes cleaning and modifications so much better!

aww sorry about the columnaris but hopefully the sterilizing everything will get rid of it

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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-18-2020, 05:07 AM Thread Starter
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Driftwood Addition and Plants Arriving

Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyruler90 View Post
yes, I love the 2217! and the quick disconnects are awesome feature, makes cleaning and modifications so much better!

aww sorry about the columnaris but hopefully the sterilizing everything will get rid of it
It's really great for a first-time canister user too. As much as I planned things out, it's nice to have some accoutrements to facilitate workability. It looks like whatever disease is in my 20g is spreading from the area in front of the dorsal fin backwards. One of my poor emeralds has a reddened dorsal fin and redness at the joints of his pectoral fins. If, God forbid, it should transfer I'm going to break down and get a UV sterilizer.

In other news, half my plant order and some medication came in today. The plants underwent a quick H2O2 dip before being placed in a brief quarantine to check for algae and pest snails. They're so pretty in the bare bottom tank I almost just want to keep them in there.



I put the driftwood in the tank last night to soak and leach tannins as well. And leach it did. When I woke up today I couldn't even see the piece in the tank. When holding up the flashlight on my phone to the glass, visibility was still only maybe 1-1/2" just to see light particles. I wish I had taken pictures at the time. Here it is after a few water changes and the 2217/Magniflow running with Purigen this evening. Still pretty tea-colored but the filters are doing good work.


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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-19-2020, 12:17 AM Thread Starter
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The Cycle Begins

The last of the plants I ordered came in today and either the driftwood has finished leaching tannins or the Purigen is making short work of it. My pH is back up to tap levels so I'm inclined to believe the former. The cycle continues apace using Ace Hardware's janitorial strength ammonia (10%) with Seachem Stability to get it going. Nitrite was present in small quantities from the first day. Plants are going in tomorrow after a ~70% water change that's going to be executed purely for the sake of scaping.



One small point of concern I didn't think about. I'm using a rooftop protective mat from Wally World underneath the frame of my aquarium. I got frustrated trying to put the tank on the pad (which is designed not to slide and was causing problems) while it was on the stand so I went on and hot glued the darn thing to the underside of the tank, then put the tank on the stand. There's plenty of articles out there about unlevel tanks or those with poorly distributed weight failing. I'm thinking this won't be an issue due to having the mat underneath, but sometimes I get a little nervous that the tank is putting too much weight on that thin bit of glue. Any thoughts?

Otherwise, the tank is ready for CO2 injection and getting some plant life established. Heater is hooked up and running, reactor is complete, and the Beamswork DA 6500K 0.50W is exceeding expectations. There was a bit of a mishap when altering the plumbing and I realized just how dangerous external filtration can be. While I was under the cabinet working on the plumbing, the Marineland connection got bumped and OPENED THE VALVES. Thank heavens for quick reflexes, tower fans, and bath towels.

"What we learn to do, we learn by doing." - Aristotle (385-325 BCE)
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-19-2020, 01:57 AM
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Originally Posted by WaterWelder View Post
The last of the plants I ordered came in today and either the driftwood has finished leaching tannins or the Purigen is making short work of it. My pH is back up to tap levels so I'm inclined to believe the former. The cycle continues apace using Ace Hardware's janitorial strength ammonia (10%) with Seachem Stability to get it going. Nitrite was present in small quantities from the first day. Plants are going in tomorrow after a ~70% water change that's going to be executed purely for the sake of scaping.



One small point of concern I didn't think about. I'm using a rooftop protective mat from Wally World underneath the frame of my aquarium. I got frustrated trying to put the tank on the pad (which is designed not to slide and was causing problems) while it was on the stand so I went on and hot glued the darn thing to the underside of the tank, then put the tank on the stand. There's plenty of articles out there about unlevel tanks or those with poorly distributed weight failing. I'm thinking this won't be an issue due to having the mat underneath, but sometimes I get a little nervous that the tank is putting too much weight on that thin bit of glue. Any thoughts?

Otherwise, the tank is ready for CO2 injection and getting some plant life established. Heater is hooked up and running, reactor is complete, and the Beamswork DA 6500K 0.50W is exceeding expectations. There was a bit of a mishap when altering the plumbing and I realized just how dangerous external filtration can be. While I was under the cabinet working on the plumbing, the Marineland connection got bumped and OPENED THE VALVES. Thank heavens for quick reflexes, tower fans, and bath towels.
Really excellent piece of wood!

Where did you order the plants from LFS or online?
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-19-2020, 02:06 AM Thread Starter
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Really excellent piece of wood!

Where did you order the plants from LFS or online?

Everything I got for this build was online. The LFS around here don’t have much of a selection (college town in West Texas) and I figured I’d just browse and order myself. I fount what I was looking for at Aquatic Plant Factory and Buce.

The only thing I couldn’t find for a decent price was narrow lead hygrophila. The one place I found it was like $40 plus almost that for shipping to get a couple.


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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-20-2020, 06:19 PM Thread Starter
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At Wit's End with Plumbing

Everything was going smoothly until a couple days ago. For some reason, my Eheim 2217 decided it just didn't want to push water through my inline heater and reactor anymore. This shouldn't be a problem considering it was doing just fine until the last few days. The canister takes water in through the tank, then pushes it through a 1-1/2" PVC assembly past the heater, then through the reactor (repurposed residential water filter [DIY Cerges style]) and out into the tank. This is how the plumbing works:



Also, here are the components that I'm working with. I've checked them all to see if there's any blockage and the good news is that there is none.



1. Beginning of inline heater with plastic ring to keep equipment from making contact with pipe.
2. Inline heater assembly. No leaks.
3. Ball valve. Tested twice, no blockage.
4. Reactor air release button.
5. Reactor body and housing.
6. CO2 input. The photo makes it look kind of wonky, but the nipple is on the back side of the elbow leading into the ball valve.

Now all I'm getting is a trickle through the return and the filter pump is making some noises; half the time it's a grinding "I'm out of water!" noise, and the other half it's a "I"m having a hard time pulling water" noise. I know there's pressure in the line because I see bubbles/water pushing back through the airline towards the CO2 tank. Here's a few things I've tried to get this thing running properly again:
  1. Bleed the reactor of bubbles via built-in blowoff.
  2. Checked all connections and confirmed there is no blockage.
  3. Filled the intake, canister, and return with water to no avail.
  4. Tried using a hand-pump to start the flow.

Nothing's working. I'm considering rigging up the inline mechanisms to the Marineland, which has a priming button on it. To be honest I think that would be easier to deal with in the long haul by being able to manually prime the pump and force air/water through the lines. The 2217 is a great piece of machinery but I don't know that I'm ready to wrestle with the inline gear when the semester starts back up. And to all the engineers out there, I know the sayings and science about 90º angles in plumbing. Duly noted, deliberated, and disregarded. I'm looking for a solution to why a system that was working flawlessly is now failing.

"What we learn to do, we learn by doing." - Aristotle (385-325 BCE)

Last edited by WaterWelder; 06-20-2020 at 06:21 PM. Reason: My computer is an idiot and autocorrects words spelled properly.
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-20-2020, 11:42 PM
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Everything was going smoothly until a couple days ago. For some reason, my Eheim 2217 decided it just didn't want to push water through my inline heater and reactor anymore. This shouldn't be a problem considering it was doing just fine until the last few days. The canister takes water in through the tank, then pushes it through a 1-1/2" PVC assembly past the heater, then through the reactor (repurposed residential water filter [DIY Cerges style]) and out into the tank. This is how the plumbing works:



Also, here are the components that I'm working with. I've checked them all to see if there's any blockage and the good news is that there is none.


1. Beginning of inline heater with plastic ring to keep equipment from making contact with pipe.
2. Inline heater assembly. No leaks.
3. Ball valve. Tested twice, no blockage.
4. Reactor air release button.
5. Reactor body and housing.
6. CO2 input. The photo makes it look kind of wonky, but the nipple is on the back side of the elbow leading into the ball valve.

Now all I'm getting is a trickle through the return and the filter pump is making some noises; half the time it's a grinding "I'm out of water!" noise, and the other half it's a "I"m having a hard time pulling water" noise. I know there's pressure in the line because I see bubbles/water pushing back through the airline towards the CO2 tank. Here's a few things I've tried to get this thing running properly again:
  1. Bleed the reactor of bubbles via built-in blowoff.
  2. Checked all connections and confirmed there is no blockage.
  3. Filled the intake, canister, and return with water to no avail.
  4. Tried using a hand-pump to start the flow.

Nothing's working. I'm considering rigging up the inline mechanisms to the Marineland, which has a priming button on it. To be honest I think that would be easier to deal with in the long haul by being able to manually prime the pump and force air/water through the lines. The 2217 is a great piece of machinery but I don't know that I'm ready to wrestle with the inline gear when the semester starts back up. And to all the engineers out there, I know the sayings and science about 90º angles in plumbing. Duly noted, deliberated, and disregarded. I'm looking for a solution to why a system that was working flawlessly is now failing.
I would try process of elimination by bypassing some of that plumbing. Start with just running the pump alone and then try it without the repurposed filter chamber. Sounds like a clog somewhere or air lock.

Last edited by mourip; 06-21-2020 at 12:32 AM. Reason: edit.
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-22-2020, 12:51 AM
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Quote:
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I would try process of elimination by bypassing some of that plumbing. Start with just running the pump alone and then try it without the repurposed filter chamber. Sounds like a clog somewhere or air lock.
Also, make sure that you didn't lose siphon in the inlet side. I did that once and it took a day or so to figure out that was the problem.

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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-23-2020, 03:38 AM Thread Starter
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Eureka!

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Originally Posted by mourip View Post
I would try process of elimination by bypassing some of that plumbing. Start with just running the pump alone and then try it without the repurposed filter chamber. Sounds like a clog somewhere or air lock.
You're absolutely right - I had an airlock in the horizontal PVC assembly. After much trial and error I was able to diagnose the problem and get it taken care of. Third time's a charm! After many many trips to HD and other stores around town, I finally got my physics all figured out. I rectified the situation by including a bleed valve up top. An This way I can break the vacuum on one level with the valve, and on the next level with the blowoff included on the DIY reactor.



I know it looks a little busy, but it finally makes sense. Secondly, I missed a sponge in the reactor that was severely restricting flow. Nothing a hacksaw and a 1-1/2" drill bit couldn't fix. It feels good to have all that junk out of the tank and tucked away out of sight. That being said, it doesn't do my anxiety any good knowing that I've got 65 gallons running through pipes outside the tank. Although I feel like one of the cool kids now having my first canister, CO2, and inline setup

Plants went in the tank a few days ago. I just couldn't sustain them in the spare tank long enough to cycle so I went ahead and planted. The swords took the heck off once they had extra room to grow. Not that I could see any of the plants through the brown haze that was my tank water. It also has a strange smell. Like manure. Not stockyard-stank; more like driving by a well-populated pasture. Like a healthy bacterial culture, if one that needs to be monitored.





After a 75% water change to get rid of all that murky particulate, the tank was refilled and has a good bloom. There's a little slimy white stuff on some of the branches. I think it's just biofilm though and will keep an eye on it. Removed purigen and replaced it with carbon after reading that purigen can slow the cycle.
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Last edited by WaterWelder; 06-23-2020 at 03:38 AM. Reason: Added image
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-27-2020, 05:32 PM Thread Starter
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Today's Test Parameters
Nitrate: - (Dosing ferts for the plants, so Nitrate is present, but not a consequence of cycling.)
Nitrite: 0 ppm
GH: 120 ppm / 7 gpg
Chlorine: 0ppm
pH: Tetra strips say 8.4 but I don't believe it for a second. Seachem pH Alert and API kit both peg pH right around 7.4-7.8.
Temp: 86 - 88 ºF

A week into cycling and still not seeing nitrite. There have been a couple times I thought I saw nitrite show up but I’m beginning to think that those were false readings. Using the API master fresh water test kit, the nitrite reading was just barely tinted purple; not the baby blue of 0 ppm, but not enough to register a “true reading.” Maybe ≤ 0.25ppm. The hygro pintafada has completely melted away, leaving a thick scum on top of the water. There’s also some gunk coming out of the cut ends of the Manzanita burl.



I don’t think this stuff is sap per se, and I know for a fact it’s Manzanita hardwood. Maybe it just didn’t have time to cure completely completely. Rich at Manzanita Burlworks did say that it was a relatively new piece that had been sandblasted, so maybe it had some stuff left in it. Alternatively, the bubbles coming out of the wood are giving fungal/bacterial cultures an ideal environment to take hold. Even if it is sap, it's leaching very slowly and I don't believe it's any cause for alarm. There are still bubbles coming up from the driftwood every now and then, indicating the water is still permeating the burl.

The driftwood is covered with a thick layer of bio film. The stuff looks like cotton candy, especially in high-flow areas. I’ve never seen such a thick layer of BB. Test kit says 4 ppm ammonia, 0ppm nitrite. I’ve got two canisters running full time. Patience, patience, patience. At least the cycle will give me time to quarantine new fish and let the driftwood really get rid of its tannins. In a perfect world there’d be some kind of wonder fish that could plop in there and chow down on dead stuff in the meantime. It's a little disheartening to see my plants melting away, but you live and learn. Despite research indicating the contrary, I think the process of cycling is too hard on these particular plants. Back to the drawing board.

For a time there was a thick scum on top of the water that has since been rectified with an Eheim 350 surface skimmer and manual removal. It has not returned, leading me to believe it was a product of melting plants and coagulating tannins. The next time I change the water I'll investigate the filter pad in the skimmer.

The good news is that the filters are still going strong. I don't see any clogging, and the return pipes have been angled up to promote gas exchange and give the bacteria more oxygen.

"What we learn to do, we learn by doing." - Aristotle (385-325 BCE)

Last edited by WaterWelder; 06-27-2020 at 05:34 PM. Reason: Auto-correct changed "trite" to "trate"
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