300g Planted Tank Journey (Photos Updated: 8/12) - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 59 (permalink) Old 07-22-2006, 05:54 AM Thread Starter
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300g Planted Tank Journey (Photos Updated: 8/12)

A few months ago, I decided to downsize my 300g reef tank into a 65g I had laying around and convert the 300g into a FW planted tank. Spending several hours a week scraping coralline algae off the acrylic walls, coupled with the energy and maintenance costs of the large reef convinced me it was time to try something different. Planted tanks had always been appealing to me, and visits to websites such as this one inspired me to go through with the switch.

After tearing down my reef and shedding a tear, it was time to get the 300g ready for plants! I started a journal here that details the process and can be read at: 300g Planted Tank Journal

>>>FAST FORWARD>>>

I finally had enough water prep'd as of July 20th, and was able to get everything running that evening. So far so good!

The hardscape is still very much a work in progress, and I would greatly appreciate any and all advice about how I can improve it. I was very much inspired by a photo I recently saw of an aquascape that contrasted a dark substrate with a white sandy river bed and hoped to recreate that in my tank. I also arbitrarily placed several pieces of driftwood in the tank, but I'm not sure that I like them exactly as they are. I like the overall effect of the 'scape so far, but I think I need to do something with the rocks surrounding the "river bed" and possibly add some additional rocks, especially near the driftwood. Any suggestions?

Here is a full tank shot as of July 21st:




The plan now is to let the tank "settle in" for a few days to make sure everything is functioning properly, re-work the hardscape, then start adding livestock and get the system into a routine as quick as it will allow me to!

Last edited by RobChuck; 08-13-2006 at 03:44 AM.
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post #2 of 59 (permalink) Old 07-22-2006, 06:01 AM
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frickin AWESOME. i'm so jealous.

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post #3 of 59 (permalink) Old 07-22-2006, 06:17 AM
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That is awesome. I am looking forward to more pics..

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post #4 of 59 (permalink) Old 07-22-2006, 06:20 AM
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Wow i can't wait to see how it progresses.

Tank: 20 gallons, 62 watts t5, DIY CO2

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post #5 of 59 (permalink) Old 07-22-2006, 07:39 AM
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seems like an awesome project!

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post #6 of 59 (permalink) Old 07-22-2006, 11:02 AM
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You're going to spend eleventy billion dollars fulling that thing up with plants... Unless you're willing to wait for stuff to spread.

It's going to be sexy tho, good lord.
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post #7 of 59 (permalink) Old 07-22-2006, 02:43 PM
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Wow,that is really one very big tank. It'll be nice to see how you are going to transform it into a planted tank. All the best.
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post #8 of 59 (permalink) Old 07-22-2006, 03:12 PM
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Looks like the wood is all placed in the middle (front-to-back) of the tank. You may want to mix it up a bit to add visual depth. Also, consider sloping the substrate up in the rear for depth.

That's a lot of tank ... good luck!

John P.
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post #9 of 59 (permalink) Old 07-22-2006, 03:16 PM
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I agree slope and work the substrate and wood. I love the sandy bed with the pebbles though...this will be amazing!
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post #10 of 59 (permalink) Old 07-22-2006, 03:28 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone!

Zulu,
I'm a patient person, so I don't mind waiting for everything to growout, but I do want to be sure to get enough plants in at the start to avoid algae issues as much as possible. I hope to plant by next weekend at the latest!

John P. & fresh_newby,
The photo doesn't convey the 30" front to back depth of the tank very well. The wide piece of DW in the middle-left is actually positioned about 8-10" in front of the branching piece hanging over the "river bed". Do you think it needs to go a little more to the left maybe? I'm not very familiar with hardscaping materials...is there any type of rock that might be able to help break up the visual impact of the current DW layout?

The substrate must also be visually deceiving! It's at about 2.5-3" deep at the front of the tank, and slopes up to anywhere from 5-6" deep at the rear.
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post #11 of 59 (permalink) Old 07-22-2006, 06:32 PM
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Maybe do a grouping of the branches off center and leave an empty zone to the other side for certain plant material? I am a big fan of assymetry, but that is because I am so obtuse...lol
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post #12 of 59 (permalink) Old 07-22-2006, 10:24 PM
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that is an awesome setup so far!


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post #13 of 59 (permalink) Old 07-25-2006, 02:47 AM Thread Starter
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To keep the thread going while waiting for an opportune time to purchase a good amount of plants and get them planted (looking like the 1st week of August now), I will get into the details of the system (some of this is copied and pasted from the journal).

As mentioned, this tank is taking the place of my former reef tank. The 300g reef was built in-wall in the lowest level of my tri-level home. Not much other than a good cleaning and a couple of tweaks to the plumbing was needed to get the tank ready for plants. I was fortunate enough to have space behind the tank dedicated for fish gear, though the room doubles as the entryway into our utility room. And, my 65g reef tank sits opposite of the 300g in our family room.

The display tank itself is actually a hair shy of 300g. The dimensions are 92"L x 30"W x 24"H and is constructed of acrylic. The tank walls and bottom are all 1/2" with gussets in all seams and the top 1-1/8" thick (1/2" & 5/8" laminated pieces). I am the second owner of this tank and the original owner had it custom built. As previously mentioned, it's built in-wall in the family room of my tri-level home.

A 3-5" layer of Eco Complete (a small section of the substrate is augmented with 20 lbs. of Schultz Aquatic Soil to help acheive the proper depth) over a dusting of peat moss was layed down a few weeks ago, and the hardscape started taking shape shortly there after. I finally had enough water prep'd as of July 20th, and was able to get everything running that evening.

300g Display & Fish/Utility Room Entrance:


65g Reef Tank (across from 300g):
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post #14 of 59 (permalink) Old 07-25-2006, 02:49 AM Thread Starter
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Beneath the tank in the fishroom lies the life support for the tank. A 50g sump is central in this system and flows approximately 1,000gph. That flow is provided via a Pan World 100PX-X flow-rated pump pushing through a Georg Fisher check valve and splitting into 2x 3/4" Loc-Line returns, each terminating near the far ends of the tank. The water drains back into the sump through two corner overflow boxes with Durso standpipes. Each overflow box has the return line and closed loop plumbing passing through its walls. All of the plumbing throughout the system includes an abundance of ball valves and unions to allow for easy adjustments and cleanings.

A 200W Ebo Jager heater is placed in the sump, though it's not often in use, as the ambient room temperature and heat from the metal halide lighting keeps the temperature fairly stable in the upper-70's range.

This sump was originally constructed as a reef sump and came equipped with a 12g chamber to serve as a refugium. My plan is to use this area for plant growout and possibly keep a breeding pair of German Blue Rams.

Also beneath the tank is a CO2 closed loop powered by a Pan World 40PX pressure-rated pump that flows through an Aqua Medic 1000 CO2 reactor and fed CO2 from a 20 lb. tank with a Milwaukee CO2 regulator. With the restrictions of 1/2" tubing and a slight closure of the pump's ball valve, this loop pushes around 250gph and terminates in an open area of the tank where the discharge water is easily distributed throughout the tank. pH is measured by a Pinpoint pH monitor.

With a relatively small return pump area in the sump, an auto topoff system is a must. I installed a Tunze Osmolator from the previous reef setup to draw water from a 20g resevoir located under the tank. Topoff water is 100%RO/DI.

I wanted to make water changes easy on this tank, so I plumbed in a true union ball valve to the intake side of the closed loop that will allow me to attach a garden hose, open a valve, and easily drain the tank. A 44g Rubbermaid Brute trashcan sits next to the tank circulating freshly-mixed water for water changes. I devised a system using ball valves and other PVC parts attached to a Mag 7 pump that allows me to turn two valves and the water in this vessel stops circulating and instead gets pumped directly into the tank. This trash can is the largest I have space available for, which means water changes will come a little more frequently, hence a simple system to prevent me from slacking on water changes.

Other than the lighting, all of the equipment on the tank is powered through a switchable DJ power station mounted under the stand near the pH monitor and Osmolator controller. It's wonderful having easy access to the power of everything running the tank!

Lighting is provided by 3x175W metal halide lamps mounted about 12" above the surface of the water. The lamps are all XM 10,000K and are each mounted in a large parabolic reflector. The ballasts are located on shelving adjacent to the tank and create minimal heat in the tank room.

Here are a few pictures from behind the scenes:





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post #15 of 59 (permalink) Old 07-25-2006, 02:53 AM
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wow! no joke~ nice work
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