Son of Kahuna (56K!) - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 623 (permalink) Old 06-03-2007, 06:24 AM Thread Starter
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Son of Kahuna (56K!)

Well, it's taken a long time to get a new tank designed, ordered and up. And I'm still a good ways from finished. The aquascape has not even been done. And the plumbing is still incomplete.

But there are a gosh-awful number of parts to a this delightfully amusing puzzle, and Rome wasn't built in a day.

So many people have requested pics and updates - here and in other forums - that I'm changing my original plan. I was going to wait until everything was finished and put everything up in a big splashy "I'm back!" kind of thread. But I decided that's just too vain. So in the interest in some modicum of humility, here's the Son of Kahuna - warts and all. I promise it will get better with time.

Last weekend I got the tank up. M. Lemay, our esteemed moderator, came over with some of his crew and hoisted the tank out of the garage, and put it on the stand.

His availability to come get it on the stand for me was limited, so I was unable to finish everything in the stand before the tank went on top. In fact, I'm still not finished. So the stand pics below are a real nightmare. But they can at least be used to help explain what's going on in there.

This seems to be a good place to start explaining the stand. The outflow manifold - as in the tank flows out into this contraption.

This is the culmination of my f*rting around with stuff like this for a few years now. It's not mounted in this pic, but you can imagine how it works. 3/4" flexible PVC attaches to each of the three ports on top. That brings water in from the bulkheads in the bottom of the tank. No siphon required - just gravity fed. That water then goes through the manifold and ports in the bottom. The two large bottom ports are attached to my pump/filter combos. I have two separate closed loop filter loops - this is one port for each.

And that third port out the bottom is actually NOT and outflow of the manifold. It's an inflow to it. If you recognized the John Guest type tubing, you may have surmised that it is from my tank filling apparatus. This is where fresh water comes into the tank from my home plumbing.

Likewise you may have noticed that I've used a ball valve or two. Get used to that. There's lots more coming. I've had it with water draining on me every time I need to disconnect a line or replace something!

And you may have noticed the True Union connections? There's gonna be lots of that too.

Swapping things out in this stand is EASY. Everything worth mentioning has ball valves to shut off the flow, and True Union valves to make replacement a snap. And please note - to simplify the changes - every component adheres to a standard: Each True Union connection has two pieces, as small male threaded half, and a large female threaded half. Consistently though out the tank, water flows in the small male side and out the large female side. Hope that made sense...

And in the middle of the manifold you can see the "processing" components. The gray bit on the far right is a ground probe. On the left is a temperature probe. And the black liquid tight fitting sticking out the front is for the pH probe (not yet installed - they have to stay wet).

The probe is horizontally mounted because that is far down as the tips can point. And when you insert it - it goes through the ball valve. The ball valve is there so that I can loosen the liquid tight fitting, slide the probe out a bit, close the ball valve, and then remove the probe for calibration with minimal water loss. And that one middle port that is capped off is just for future expansion.

This next pic is simple. It's the inflow manifold - everything goes through this before if flow into the tank.

After the water goes out the outflow manifold, it travels to the two pumps and filters and gets heat, CO2, and all that stuff. Both of those two closed loops return to the bottom of this "H" shaped manifold. In this picture nothing is attached to the bottom of the left side of the "H". But in the stand now, one pump goes to one side, the other pump goes to the other. Inside the manifold the water pressure evens out, and I get fairly equal flow out both the right and left top sides of the manifold. Yes - in the pic the right side has a ball valve turning off the flow - this was taken during a test with only one pump, and one inflow tube hooked up.

Also, this pic does not show the 3/4" barbed outlets connecting to 3/4" hose that returns the water to the tank. Those are some of the very, very few barbed connections in this rig. I did almost everything I could to eliminate barbed connections. I've made almost everything possible a threaded connection. I've had it with barbed connections. Call it a personal hangup, but I find them both a major source of failure in a system with many connections. And they are IMO a PITA to work with.

You can see that I can shut off flow to either side of the tank, and I can turn the ball valve in the middle and isolate the outflows from the two pumps if I need to. And you can also see two of my favorite pieces - the clear True Union check valves. This way I never have to worry about an inadvertent siphon back flow from the tank.

This next pic shows the overall layout of the "wet" side of the stand - the right hand 2/3rds of the interior. The left 1/3rd is the "dry" side with all the electronics. That is not shown (- and BTW I was unable to make it completely dry - compromise for space did occur). This pic shows mostly what's in between the outflow and inflow manifolds.

Since this is a pic from my "testing" phase - messy and everything not hooked up, let's start with the things to ignore:

1) Ignore the Eheim Universal pump sitting on top of the filter. That is gone (completely) now.
2) Ignore the solenoid sitting on top of the stand in the bottom left corner. That is mounted in a different place now.
3) Ignore the wires going all over the place. That's been fixed.
4) Ignore the two grey boxes to the right. Those are peristaltic pumps that have since been mounted on the right hand wall
5) Ignore the fact that the outflow manifold has no water coming into it. It's not hooked up yet.

Can you see a pump in the top left, on the floor of the stand? That's a Poseidon PS1 pump. Its inflow is on top, and outflow is on the right. The inflow in this pic is a 3/4" flexible PVC hose with ball valve attached. That was temporary for testing. Now the outflow manifold on the right has one of its two output ports connecting to 3/4" PVC that flows into the top of the Poseidon pump. Please note - the pump has True Union valves on both inflow and outflow for easy maintenance.

And you might ask... "Why put it in back, so far away from the outflow manifold?" Good question. That placement allow me to put a 2+ foot length of PVC between the pump and the manifold - which dramatically cuts down on the vibration the pump contributes to the plumbing.

And while on the vibration topic, in subsequent shots you will see the pump in the same place, but mounted slightly differently. I had to mount the pump to vertical piece of wood, and mount the piece of wood to the stand with some rather expensive little vibration damping jell-filled, sorbothane type grommets. It reduces transmitted vibration from the pump to the stand to near zero.

So, while the inflow on the pump here is not from the manifold, everything coming out is right. So let's follow it...

The flow goes to the right through a 3/4" flexible PVC pipe. Please note - all the plumbing on this loop is 3/4". It is generally either flexible PVC, or threaded PVC connectors and parts.

So out the right of the pump to the right hand side of the stand, where it makes a right angle to the Ocean Clear filter. Water flows out the filter on the left. And it's hard to see, but there is a ball valve just before the intake on the filter, and a ball valve just after it leaves the filter. If I turn those ball valves off, the water reroutes to a bypass (seen as a diagonal bit of PVC) that circumvents the filter for maintenance.

From there the PVC routes the water into the four horizontally mounted Pentair units. But before it gets there, there is a somewhat hard to see ball valve that shuts off the flow to the Pentairs, and forces water straight up to a bit of plumbing that ends in an un-terminated gray True Union valve in this shot. Under the stand now that valve attaches to a line going into the inflow manifold. This allows me to bypass not only the filter, but the Pentair modules too.

Another bit of complexity to simplify maintenance. The four Pentair uints are 3 heater modules and 1 big UV module. The UV unit is sized to my flow so that it FAR exceeds the fastest flow through it. Anything going through that puppy is toast - if it's turned on. And I only turn on a UV for a few hours a night.

The other 3 Pentair units house 300 watt heaters. Why so much? Because I live in a colder part of the country, and I've got an automatic water changer built into this system that changes the water with water that has only striped the chlorine out. Other than that it's straight from the household pipes. And in the winter, that water is COLD. 900 watts of heating power allows me to change the water reasonably quickly without the water temp dropping more that a degree or so. After the water flows through the UV and three heater modules, it comes out on the bottom left hand corner (this is going to be easier to see in another pic), where it has CO2 injected and ferts injected. From there it hit the curved piece of PVC that goes into the outflow manifold on the back of the stand.

Earlier I pointed out that I have two closed loops - this was only one. I don't have pics of the other yet. But it is just an Eheim Pro II attached to both the outflow and inflow manifolds. I'm using that now to ensure continuity of my biofilter from my old tank. Once I know the biofilter is stable on this tank I will probably replace it with another Poseidon/Ocean Clear pair.

In this next shot you can see the CO2 and fert injectors I mentioned earlier.

Coming out of the four Pentair modules, the water from one of the two filtration loops goes to the CO2/filtration area. The other loop bypasses this altogether. So if my Pentair loop fails (heat and UV) then this fails too. Simply put... all water processing beyond simple mechanical and biological filtration is in this loop. And if it fails, I'm losing heat, UV, CO2 and ferts.

In this pic you can see the water coming out of the 4 Pentair modules in the top left hand corner. That water would flow straight through to a lower loop that has multiple fert injections connections... except that a ball valve restricts the flow so that much of it flows through an alternate path through a Mazzei injector. That injector, sized at 3/4" at a flow of @5 psi,
pumps CO2 into this system like nobody's business! It is SO EFFICIENT that makes pH plummet like a stone when I pump CO2 into it! You GOTTA try this! It is not cheap. But it beats the pants off of traditional CO3 reactors.

Under the CO2 Mazzei injection area you can see a stip of PVC with 3 fert ports. These are NON FUNCTIONAL. I'm currently having to add ferts manually, because these ports (while leak free) do not work well with the relatively high pressures (5-10 PSI) of this system. So I'm still working on a better fert injection system.... more to follow soon on that!

And finally pics of the tank!

This pic folks, is the PROOF that I'm not in this for my ego. This is a journal from which we can all potentially learn. I would love to have waited until this tank looked great, and THEN showed you pics. But that's gonna be a few months from now. These are the pics that are available today...

And in this final shot, you can see a bit of the "dry" side of the stand. The biggest thing I suppose is evident on the door. That holds the Aquacontroller III that controls everything in the stand. And is shows the wireless router that connects the AC III web server to my home network. That way all the temp, pH, and control info is available and modifiable by on any pc - at home - or when I'm traveling.

Thanks for all your MASSIVE moral support as you have advised me on building this tank! It's a work in progress, but a work that requires much thanks to the community for guidance and help.


The aquascape is massively incomplete. It is just sufficient to support the fish (for now!), and it should look much better with time.

And the stand is much more complete than these pictures show. But I had to take the pics in a hurry, and this at least documents a bit of that build-out process.

This hobby is my passion. And I REALLY, REALLY look forward to your feedback. But in advance I want to say "THANK YOU!" for your help and support!

Warm regards - Steve
Zaki and Zaki like this.

Steve - 33g reef and a 180g planted in need of a re-scape.

Last edited by scolley; 06-07-2008 at 02:58 PM.
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post #2 of 623 (permalink) Old 06-03-2007, 06:34 AM
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Good God, talk about high tech! You obviously know what you're doing, I can't even imagine coming up with this myself.

Can't really comment on the design, a head on shot might be easier to comment on. Tanks looks nice, hope this one goes better.
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post #3 of 623 (permalink) Old 06-03-2007, 07:48 AM
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WOW. Like Casty said you are a madman. I like the tank as it is right now but I CANT wait to see what it looks like when it grows out. Good work.
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post #4 of 623 (permalink) Old 06-03-2007, 09:23 AM
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Holy smokes! NASA called and they want their Space Shuttle life-support system back!

Wow, I can't even imagine how much thought and effort you've put into designing and building it. And the tank itself looks great already. I'll be very interested in the long term maintenance, especially the pipe-cleaning, as it looks very complicated to me. Very impressive, Steve!
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post #5 of 623 (permalink) Old 06-03-2007, 09:42 AM
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Good to see your journal started.
The Discus look very nice and it seam that you don't have lost to many green neons.
How did you plant your echinos, in pots?
Your set up is mind blowing.
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post #6 of 623 (permalink) Old 06-03-2007, 01:23 PM
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Is the other discus tank still up?

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post #7 of 623 (permalink) Old 06-03-2007, 01:28 PM
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It looks like we have a new definition of "high tech planted tank"

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post #8 of 623 (permalink) Old 06-03-2007, 01:54 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks folks. I guess this is a bit on the high tech side.

These pics I had to snap before the top was on don't really do the stand justice. It's much better now. But I'll wait until everything is complete before I take more - probably later this week.

Things I didn't describe in the pics is my fert injection system, the auto water change system, nor the halogen lights inside the stand. And I didn't give a picture of the left hand "dry" side. All that will be in a few days.

One thing worth noting though, is something I really love - a "Feed" button. In the picture on the stand door you can see a little black box with a black wire running out of it. That wire connects to a Neptune Systems break-out box, which is in turn connected to the Aquacontroller. So when I want to feed the discus I push the button. The Aquacontroller senses the circuit being momentarily closed, and it follows its program that I've set up to shut off the pumps for 10 minutes. That way I can just toss a few cubes of frozen bloodworms in the tank and not worry about them blowing around everywhere.

And one thing that is not too obvious in the tank pic is that there is no substrate. I don't want to worry about bits of food rotting. Some of it settles in the plants, but most makes it's way down to the sand on the bottom where the discus happily pass the time picking it out.

Steve - 33g reef and a 180g planted in need of a re-scape.
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post #9 of 623 (permalink) Old 06-03-2007, 01:55 PM
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Steve. Fantastic looking set up. As usual you have us dumbfounded with the technical prowess of your systems. The discus look extremely healthy- speaks volumes for keeping fish in a trash can for months.
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post #10 of 623 (permalink) Old 06-03-2007, 02:17 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for stopping over Senso!

And yes, the sword plants are in pots. Everything else is on driftwood resting on sand. But sand doesn't cover the entire bottom - some of it is bare.

That's because I don't have any inflows yet - just inflow tubes hanging in the that on both sides. The tubes point straight down at the moment, and blow all the sand out of those spots. So I have to BIG bare spots. But that, and many more, little problems will get fixed over the next few weeks. For now I'm just happy to get the fish out of the darn trash cans!

Steve - 33g reef and a 180g planted in need of a re-scape.
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post #11 of 623 (permalink) Old 06-03-2007, 02:20 PM
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I would love to have waited until this tank looked great, and THEN showed you pics. But that's gonna be a few months from now.
It's already look great now. What kind of anubias are you using on the right side of the tank? Could you please take a picture of them.

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post #12 of 623 (permalink) Old 06-03-2007, 02:21 PM
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Oh. My. God. . I don't have time to read and study all of this right now, as I'm about to go out the door to the BORG to pick up more "supplies" for this year's house project, but . . . words escape me.

Except to say - STEVE'S BACK ! Heh, heh, couldn't resist. And THAT is a totally awesome setup!



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— 2wpg CF lighting; pressurized CO2; 18 watt Turbo-twist UVS; Eheim Pro II 2028; eco-complete; 2 Pearl Gouramis; 7 Harlequin Rasboras; 3 Otocinclus catfish

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— lo-tech; 1.8 wpg DIY CF light; no CO2; Aquaclear mini; Schultz substrate; java fern; java moss; 7 Neon Tetras; 1 flame dwarf gourami
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post #13 of 623 (permalink) Old 06-03-2007, 02:50 PM
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YES! WHOOHOOOO! Been waiting for this thread! Everything looks amazing so far Steve. I'm sure the discus miss their trash can though . Loking forward to the progress!

Sergio C.
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post #14 of 623 (permalink) Old 06-03-2007, 03:40 PM
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Wow! This is really well thought out and laid out. I know you've stated you have some kinks to sort out, but those are minor. Your tank is classic case of spending time upfront to save time later. I wish I had thought my 125 out prior like you prior to starting it. Maybe my next one...

Congrats on getting the fish out of the trash cans!

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post #15 of 623 (permalink) Old 06-03-2007, 03:51 PM
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Lordy! That has got to be the most technically advanced tank I have seen yet. You have a great set up and this is going to be something great to watch grow.

Best wishes.
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