Xman's ultra-low power cold water planted tank - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-30-2011, 01:48 AM Thread Starter
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Xman's ultra-low power cold water planted tank

G'day all!

I have been a "watcher" on this great forum for some time now, but today I thought it was time to show off my little "treasure" (to me any way).

About 3 months ago I decided to get back in to aquaria after a lengthy break away. I used to keep reef aquaria and had a huge, money hungry, reef system. With electricity costs in Australia climbing steadily, I found my electricity bill was around $4k per year, half of which could be attribute to the reef tank!

To cut a long story short I installed a solar electricity system and cut my usage down enormously, with the aim of eliminating my electricity bills all together. Unfortunately the reef tank had to go because it was my number one electricity drawer, so I broke it down and sold it off.

After a number of years I began to really miss having an aquarium. So I decided to look into possibly starting a small freshwater planted tank with the aim of creating a beutiful tank I could enjoy with minimal running costs. But it would need to be a setup that would draw as little power as possible away from my solar system.




After months of research I have set the following system up:
  • a cold water planted tank of around 80 litres. No heating saves lots of power.
  • energy efficient 12W LED lighting
  • an eheim internal pickup filter, using 3.5W of power, and using seachem matrix media
  • a variety of plants, rocks and driftwood. Plants include: anubias, crypts, Hemianthus callitrichoides, Lindernia rotundifolia and Cardamine lyrata. All plants are doing very well and pearl up beutifully. This was a little trial and error however. Some plants did not like the colder water (obviously) and wilted. These current plants are thriving in the 13-20 degrees celcius.
  • Fertilisers are added weekly and include seachem products: iron, nitrogen, flourish, potassium
  • Substrate is a 1 inch layer combining seachem onyx and flourite with a 1 inch layer of white quartz sand over the top
  • CO2 is via DIY: a 2 litre drink bottle, sugar, water and yeast. Diffusion is through a glass diffuser. This works really well for me. Each batch lasts 2 weeks or more.
  • Liverstock is light: 4 white clouds, 2 zebra danios, 2 cherry shrimp
  • Maintenance involves a weekly 50% water change and regular glass cleaning
To say I am enjoying this tank is an understatement. It brings a smile to my face each time I see it. It's positioned right in the middle of my main living area and is viewable from every side. It's like having a living garden in my kitchen, family and dining rooms.

And as far as power goes, it only uses 0.204 kWhrs per day, or around 4.7 cents per day. Therefore no more than $20 per year! A big reduction from the $2000 bill my previous reef aquarium used to cost.

Anyway, here are some pictures (courtesy of my iphone 4s, SIRI approved). Thanks for looking!
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-30-2011, 02:14 AM
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Looking 'green'

Fluval Spec III Shelf!

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"C'mon, they're just plants, man, no big deal -- try some"
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-30-2011, 02:48 AM
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and "golden" ; ) Typical pet - they see you paying attention to the tanks, and they run right over for their share...lol

The tank looks beautiful, and I really admire how you converted to solar! I would love to try that. I've also always wanted an underground home : )

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-30-2011, 03:05 AM
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Looks awesome, I really like the idea you have going here. What do you have stuck next to the filter?
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-30-2011, 03:27 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by i'm a ninja View Post
Looks awesome, I really like the idea you have going here. What do you have stuck next to the filter?
Thanks!

The glass CO2 diffuser sits directly underneath the filter. I found the larger bubbles were rising to the surface so quickly they weren't really diffusing properly. So I moved the filter about a centimeter away from that side of the glass and put a sheet of filter padding in the gap. It catches the bubbles as they rise beside the filter and keeps them in the floss for quite a while until they dissolve fully. It actually helps my CO2 levels quite substantially. I replace it when it gets dirty.

What I really love about this setup is the health of the plants despite the fact it isn't actually "tropical". Of course it does limit the selection of plants and fish. But I've never really been a 'fish' loving person. I've always been more interested in the aquascaping and overall ecosystem of these compact environments.

I did do a reasonable amount of research into the feasibility and requirements of cold water planted aquaria and really didn't find too much. I'm very pleased to report it actually works well, for me anyway. I think it's a viable option for those who want to keep a cheap and simple planted tank, especially when combined with DIY CO2.

And yes, that's Bella, our Golden Retriever carrying her toy around. We have another too. A puppy named Amber. Here they are waiting for dinner.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-30-2011, 03:33 AM
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They're gorgeous!

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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-30-2011, 01:30 PM
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I love the concept of this tank! (it looks great, too.) Switching over to solar is a goal of mine too, but the start up cost is still too prohibitive for me at the moment. As it is I have already drastically cut back on my electric bill this year by making some changes, which makes solar (for me) even more expensive by comparison...but I still love the idea of it.

Adorable dogs, too. Retrievers are by far my favorite dog- I had a golden too when I was a kid, and a black Labrador retriever too.


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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-30-2011, 02:37 PM
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Beautiful tank. Since you went cold water have you seen some cold water saltwater tanks? They are also quite interesting. But I digress. Keeping energy costs down is a tough thing. Are you using any other means of supplementing your energy costs beside solar? I know there are kits available for wind power. It's too bad there's no way to harness the water movement within the tank to generate power to power itself.

Beautiful dogs too. I've got two Italian Greyhounds and they are always having a good time running everywhere.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-30-2011, 03:23 PM
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This Cardamine lyrata is gorgeous !
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-30-2011, 08:05 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys!

I agree, the cardamine is amazing. I cannot believe how much it has thrived. I need to cut it back each week. The fish and shrimp love it too. They zip around in between all the hiding spots from the large leaves.

I had thought about cold water marine before. Here in Melbourne we have some beautiful marine life in our bay, which is cold water. Examples are sea horses and sea dragons. But there is a big difference. They need the water to be constantly cold, requiring a chiller. Where as my freshwater cold tank can vary from 10 to 25 degrees Celsius and the fish and plants are still happy.

As far as keeping energy costs down, it certainly influenced my choice of products for the tank. The filter and light are deliberately chosen for their low power ratings and efficiency.

Other than that I have installed energy saving led and cf fixtures throughout the house. We installed a solar blanket over the pool to reduce the hours needed to filter it. We installed whirlybirds in the roof to keep the roof space cooler and reduce air conditioning needs. Other than that we have cut down use of the dishwasher and dryer to almost nothing. At the moment our electricity bill is fully covered by our solar which is a nice feeling, and financially sound at the same time.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-30-2011, 09:27 PM
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All this talk about solar had me dreaming again (it's only ever going to be a pipedream). I knew it was too expensive for me, but I had to get estimates. Mind you, I live in a 22 year old single wide mobile home, and no one asked me about that! They only wanted to know my annual electric cost & kilowatt usage. The best estimate? $45,000 before the tax credits, a mere $33,000 after the rebates. I would break even, based on my electric use, in only 22 years. What a joke. Meanwhile, I get to pay the electric company $45.00 per month in the summer, but a whopping $330.00 a month in the winter. I think I'll spend my $$ on new insulation, etc...

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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-02-2011, 10:45 AM Thread Starter
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Here's a few pictures of the photosythesis I'm getting using my diy CO2. I'm still really suprised at how well these plants are growing in cold water.
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