Hlca's 60p High Tech Journal - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-13-2020, 09:22 PM Thread Starter
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Hlca's 60p High Tech Journal

Background

I haven't kept a fish tank in many, many years. In 2005, I setup an Eclipse 6 gallon curved tank in my office. Gave that to a co-worker a year later when I changed jobs. I stocked it with some neon tetras, a zebra danio, an oto, sparse plants like crypts and anubias, blue gravel, low light, no CO2. I had no time for maintenance between work and law school. Our office services guy used to feed the fish when I was out and he always dumped so much food in there. In 2009, I also kept a Betta and some floating plants in a repurposed 3 gallon glass food container. After a year, I had my now-wife take care of it since I was traveling all the time. Now I have a much more stable situation and I (like many other people) are working from home. We also have a toddler, who would love a fish tank. I've admired high tech tanks for many years, starting with Amano's works and had always wanted to try it out for myself.

Selecting and Installing the Tank

First, I had to decide how big of a tank to get and where to put it. I was coming from small tanks and wanted to get a relatively bigger tank. We have a built-in cabinet area that I thought would make a good place for a tank. Here's a picture of the area before.

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The top is 36 inches wide and 24 inches deep; and there's 19 inches to the bottom of the upper cabinet. I thought a 24" wide tank would be a good starting point, either a 17.1 gallon like an ADA 60p (or equivalent) or a 20 gallon like a UNS 60U. There weren't many options in stock so I ordered a Landen 60p.

The cabinet construction is pretty typical 3/4" plywood over MDF. I was concerned about whether the top could hold the weight of the tank so I decided to retrofit a torsion box to support the weight of the tank without any deflection.

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I had to buy a brad nailer for this project. I bought 24 feet of 1x2 and glued/nailed it to the bottom of the plywood. Then I used 1/2" plywood as the bottom skin of the torsion box.

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According to the Sagulator, a calculator to determine the amount of deflection on a shelf surface, I shouldn't have any sag for even a 300 lb load.

I also used a hole saw to drill holes for grommets. I will use the left hole for filter connections and the right hole for power.

Here's a pic of the tank sitting on its leveling mat and the new reinforced cabinet top. I also added frosted white film to the back and one side.

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I also replaced the outlet with a GFCI outlet and added a smart power strip in the cabinet.

Hardscaping Is Hard

I put in my substrate (ADA Power Sand Advance) and soil (ADA Amazonia II). I found hardscaping very difficult. I bought most of my hardscaping materials sight unseen. I originally wanted seiryu, but then heard it hardens water. Instead, I got 20 lbs of Ohko (dragonstone) but had a heck of a time putting it together. I looked online for inspiration, but they were either over the top or just didn't appeal to me. This is my initial hardscape.

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But I felt this lacked height. I went to my LFS and bought some driftwood I thought could look like roots embracing the stones, but they didn't fit quite that way.

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In the end, I removed the driftwood and rearranged the stones more vertically. The smaller rocks also helped add a sense of detail, although I wonder if they will be more of a hassle when I have to trim the foreground plants.

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Starting the Dry Start

Ever since first seeing Mr. Amano's work, I've wanted to have a nice lush carpet. I was sick of the giant leaf look from my prior tanks. I decided to get the smallest leaf I knew about -- hemianthus cuba (dwarf baby tears). I figured I could handle it even though I read later it is tough to cultivate.

I bought 4 containers of lab grown HC from my LFS. I think I broke them up too small though. Here's how it looked on the first day:

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Almost immediately, I had fungus/mold growing on the smaller pieces that were dying off. Three days later, I already had bare spots.

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A little while later I started to spot treat with a 3-1 ratio of water and 3% hydrogen peroxide using a 5 ml syringe. After a while I had defeated the mold. But I got nervous about adding moisture to the tank and I think the HC suffered because the big leaves turned brown. I started misting more and airing out more. I even changed to distilled water. So there have been changes that might have caused a little more die off. There is a lot of new growth and some spreading, but it's not uniformly green.

This is what the dry start looks like today, about 30 days in.

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It's not an amazing transformation like you see in other people's tanks. But the roots seem well established. I'm waiting a few more weeks for Black Friday to get an RO/DI system since we have hard, alkaline tap water.

The Gear

As I wait for the dry start, there's a lot of gear collecting in the cabinet underneath the tank. Here's what I have so far:

Tank
Landen 60p

Filtration
UNS Delta 60 w/ 2 doubletap valves

Lighting
Twinstar 600E
S2 Pro LED lighting controller (to provide ramp up and ramp down of light)

CO2 Injection
CO2art regulator, solenoid, check valve, bubble counter, inline diffuser
2.5lb tank -- this barely fits in the cabinet once the regulator + hose are attached

Substrate
ADA Power Sand Advance
ADA Amazonia II

Accessories
ADA hang on thermometer 6 mm
Twinstar Nano+ w/ Aquacradle
JARDLI lily pipe outflow and skimmer inflow

Questions
Should I use RO or RO/DI water? As I mentioned above, our tap water is hard ~13 dGH, 7 or 8 dKH, and slightly alkaline (7.9 pH). If I don't use DI resin, then I assume the KH will stay the same. Some people say the aquasoil is a good buffer, but what about when it runs out? Is our KH too high? Will it deplete the buffering capability of the aquasoil? I asked Green Aqua via YouTube and they said to use RO water, but I don't know what KH levels they have in their tap.

EDIT -- I have figured out this question. RO also removes KH and no need for DI. I will use another carbon stage instead of the DI resin stage.

Should I be removing dead leaves? They are tiny and there are a lot of them. It would be a challenge for even a surgeon.

I'm looking forward to getting this tank fully planted, flooded, cycled, and stocked!

Last edited by hlca; 12-01-2020 at 06:34 PM. Reason: Updated links to photos
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-18-2020, 08:48 PM Thread Starter
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Here's a photo showing the growth of my HC.

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There are a lot of brown leaves, but also a lot of new lush growth. I vent for 30 minutes to an hour every day and mist the planted areas once a day. Does anyone see any issues with the growth or have any suggestions to improve the health of the carpet?

I am waiting for Black Friday to purchase a Bulk Reef Supply 200GPD Saver Kit, and will likely flood the tank after I get my hands on RO water. I will plan to cut back on the light to 6 hours and jack up the CO2 until the drop checker turns yellow.

As for cycling the tank, I assume the Amazonia has high levels of ammonia so I should perform water tests until I have zero ammonia and nitrites? Will high ammonia levels hurt additional plants I want to add prior to flooding?
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-21-2020, 08:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hlca View Post




As for cycling the tank, I assume the Amazonia has high levels of ammonia so I should perform water tests until I have zero ammonia and nitrites? Will high ammonia levels hurt additional plants I want to add prior to flooding?
Amazonia II does not have high ammonia compared to the original Amazonia. Unless you plan on sensitive plants like some eriocaulon and syngonanthus then it shouldn't hurt additional plants. You should wait until you have no ammonia and nitrites to add fish, but you should still change water to get rid of melting plants (your carpet will almost certainly melt at least a little).

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-24-2020, 06:29 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by gjcarew View Post
Amazonia II does not have high ammonia compared to the original Amazonia. Unless you plan on sensitive plants like some eriocaulon and syngonanthus then it shouldn't hurt additional plants. You should wait until you have no ammonia and nitrites to add fish, but you should still change water to get rid of melting plants (your carpet will almost certainly melt at least a little).

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Thanks! That's reassuring. I actually got impatient and ordered some additional plants to do a second stage dry start. Then once all the plants have rooted, then I will try to do a transition at the same time. Will probably do 2-3 weeks. The HC has stabilized quite a bit and it's getting greener every day instead of yellower. The trick was airing the tank out twice a day and misting with distilled water each time before covering the tank.

I'm going to add:
  • S. Repens around the rocks as a transition to midground
  • Two groups of AR mini in the midground
  • Lobelia Cardinalis Mini as a transition / contrasting plant for the AR Mini
  • Pearl weed for a spot that's in the shade of the big rock
  • Rotala green in the background

Possibly another reddish plant next to the rotalas.

Hope it will all look OK.

Here are a recent shot of the tank. I added some more Amazonia at the back to create a little more height for the background plants.

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Last edited by hlca; 11-24-2020 at 06:39 AM. Reason: Typo
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-24-2020, 09:29 PM Thread Starter
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I received my order of additional plants today from BucePlant.com. They were out of stock of tissue culture H'ra but that's a good thing as I don't think I can fit many more plants in my tank. As I stated in my last post, I want to these tissue culture plants to establish roots before I submerge them. So maybe 2-3 more weeks.

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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-29-2020, 03:22 AM Thread Starter
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I was getting a little frustrated with the top-mount light. Every time I take the saran wrap off, I have to put the light down and it doesn't shine in the tank. I decided to see if I could figure out a way to mount the light on the cabinet above when I'm doing maintenance on the tank. I started to look at various clamps and suspension cables, but ended up going with a simple cantilever mount utilizing the face frame of my cabinet. There is a horizontal back piece that contacts the vertical divider and two vertical pieces that contact the front of the frame. When a weight is placed on the arms, the vertical pieces press against the front of the frame while pulling the horizontal piece against the vertical divider.

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My design required a lot of gluing, two pocket holes and four screws. I somehow only had scraps of 5/8" thick wood which didn't match up well with the 3/4" wood of the cabinet so I had to rebate the horizontal piece with a chisel. My sloppy chiseling meant I had to use wood filler and I used it all over. Then in my haste, I sanded and lacquered the whole thing, and of course the wood filler didn't blend with wood. I might paint over the lacquer and re-lacquer to make it look better. But at least it fits like a glove. Here it is in action with the light.

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Last edited by hlca; 11-30-2020 at 09:37 PM. Reason: Grammar
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-30-2020, 08:43 PM
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Very creative! Do you notice any shadows from the two pieces that suspend the light? Is there a way to remove the feet that previously supported the light?

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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-30-2020, 09:32 PM Thread Starter
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Very creative! Do you notice any shadows from the two pieces that suspend the light? Is there a way to remove the feet that previously supported the light?
It's definitely much dimmer due to the increased distance, but the shadows are not that noticeable. I think you can probably remove the acrylic feet, but I only use the mount when I'm working in the tank. The rest of the time, the light sits on the tank and the mount goes into the cabinet.


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