Hey everyone- I've been keeping fish for approximately 15 years, started with fresh water, moved on to salt water and reefs, moved back to freshwater planted... and after getting tired of my low tech set-up I decided to revamp my 120 gallon planted discus tank.
A recent picture of one of my Blue Scorpions:
The display tank is a 120 gallon oceanic tech tank. It has a starfire "low iron" glass front viewing panel, beveled and polished tank edges, eurobracing, a built in 4 hole overflow box, and a black background. At the time I bought the tank it was intended to be a saltwater coral reef tank. I had been toying around with the idea of having a tank custom built for me to the exact specifications that I desired, but ended up getting a much better deal on the Oceanic Tech series than I would have on a custom build (estimates in the $1,800-2,200 range) for what I wanted.
After not really ever getting started with the reef tank, I decided that I wanted to change direction and make it a planted discus aquarium. I had kept discus before, and really enjoyed them... and now that I had a nice 120 gallon aquarium I could create a planted display.
I used the light that I already had from the saltwater hobby, an ATI 6x54w T5 sunpower:
Initially it was run with 2 bulbs on my low-tech tank, now it runs with 4 out of a possible 6 bulbs on my high-tech tank:
The filtration is provided by an external canister filter, an eheim professional 2075, as well as an external sump tank. The tank is heated by a JBJ 500w titanium heater located in the sump, as well as a 300w glass eheim jagar for back-up purposes. The whole tank is controlled by a digital aquatics reefkeeper 2 aquarium controller. It monitors my tank temperature, and ph. It has my lights on timers and safety temperature shut offs, and fans that turn on to cool the tank if it gets over 82 degrees. It also controls my return pump, which is an eheim 1260 hobby pump, and eventually the burkert solenoid on my co2 set-up.
Here's a few photo's of all that good stuff:
The display unit:
A side view of the sump. As I noted earlier, the display tank has four 1" holes drilled in the bottom and a built in overflow box.
From left to right: Return line from eheim 1260 to tank, water change line, compensating drain, full siphon drain. If you know anything about tank overflows and plumbing this is my own sort of adaption on the "herby overflow". The full siphon drain line is adjusted via the precision gate valve to exactly meet the flow demand that my eheim 1260 pump puts out. This creates a full siphon which allows no air into the drain line. The final result is far less noise and far less surface agitation/co2 off gassing.
This is the main full siphon drain line. The baffle on the left is raised 2" from the bottom of the tank, so water flows under the baffle not over the baffle. Helps to reduce sump surface agitation from high flow rates. This whole section can also be covered with an acrylic panel to further prevent off-gassing of co2. A final note is that the heaters, temperature and ph probes sit in this compartment. They are soon to be accompanied by some ceramic filtration media in mesh bags.
The tank had humble beginnings to say the least.
This was my first delve into the planted tank world:
the tank had sand on the right, and fluorite in the back left corner as you can see. all of the plants were random assortments that members from this forum sent me to try out. As you can see there wasn't any hardscape in place.... lol
I added ~50 wild caught cardinal tetras. They were pretty small when I got them. I fed them consistently and heavily with NLS small fish formula sinking pellets, and think I may of only lost 2 or 3 out of the batch. Around three years later I still have about 40 of them, a great testament to the wholesaler that brought them in. Also you can see I added some wood. This was not a natural piece (in case you couldn't tell) it was a stump with other branches screwed onto it. Also added 10 schwartz cories and some amazon frogbit...
It didn't take me long to fail with most of those initial plants, I then decided to order some plants online and replant the tank...
Here's what it looked like next:
As you can see, jungle fern, amazon sword, and java fern were added. Frogbit grew in nicely.
From the side panel:
a (blurry) fulltank shot:
Next I added the discus. 5 adult wild caught Matta Limpa's:
I obtained these from Han's Stendker Discus USA, MD. Again, a great retailer. Incredibly pleased with my fish and service from Hans over the years.
Here's a shot shortly after the discus were added with all five in the frame. You can see some significant growth on the sword vals and frogbit as well.
Some shots of the discus posing for me after a large water change:
And then without the cloudy water....
A breeding pair that formed out of the group of 5 wilds:
They're pigs... love to eat right out of my hand. Even if i stick my hand in the tank without any food in at they'll peck at me a few times just to make sure I haven't got anything for them:
The amount of time i spent on the tank dwindled, and the tank suffered. Plants began to develop issues overtime until I wasn't left with really any plants at all (except for some real hardy anubias). This made me decide to rework the whole tank, and give the "high-tech" part of the hobby my first try.
I pulled all of the fish out and kept them in a heated and aerated 50 gallon brute trash can, as well as a 29 gallon aquarium for the purposes of reworking the tank. I pulled out all the old substrate and gave the tank a good cleaning. Replaced the old substrate with ADA Aquasoil Amazonia. I added two more light bulbs increasing the total lighting to 4x54 watt T5's. I constructed a co2 reactor to be plumbed inline with my return pump and put together a dual-stage victor co2 regulator and post body and attached it to a 20lb co2 tank. Here's some photo's of that stuff:
The regulator model, a victor GPT272. A dual stage regulator.
Pictured with the CGA-320 fitting in place, and the Fabco NV-55 needle valve and burkert solenoid
Fully assembled and operational
What's the tank look like now? Well it's a work in progress still. Growth rates and overall tank health are great, co2 seems to be pretty well dialed in. I've got to diversify the flora in this tank a bit (you'll notice all the E. Tenellus and Sagittaria Subulata)
Questions, comments, and opinions welcomed!