The success of my Mini-M project encouraged me to setup an old 180 G that had been sitting unused in my garage for well over a year. I decided from the start to scrap most of the existing equipment and start fresh. The DIY sump worked well but I wanted something a bit cleaner. I designed a wet dry sump for the tank and had several local aquarium shops and acrylic guys give me a quote. The feedback was shocking: prices ranged from $500-$800 for just the sump alone. After more research I bought a pair of Red Sea Ocean Clear 320 canister filters. I returned these in favor of the similar, but far superior Nu-Clear 530 Canister filters instead. These were significantly less expensive than the sump, modular, and completely sealed in case I decide to add CO2 down the road. Months ago I wrote this thread
about the two.
The original plumbing was all scrapped; I dislike vinyl tubing for tank plumbing due to flow restrictions of spigot fittings and significantly decreased flexibility over time (when constantly exposed to water). Hard 1” PVC was used with SCH80 true flow valves and unions. The valves can be shut off to allow complete removal of the canister and/or pump if needed without having to drain the overflow.
I over-engineered each side of the tank to be completely independent of the other. Each overflow has a separate power strip, heater, temp controller, pump, and canister. In the event of any component failure, the other side can maintain tank temperature and still provide adequate flow and filtration for the tank. After 5 days of testing there was no variance in temperature or water parameters.
I ditched the Quiet One 4000 pumps that were previously used in favor of an external, higher flow pumps. I settled on a pair of BlueLine 30 HD-X pumps when Champion lighting was running a screaming deal. Heating is still performed by dual 200W Jager glass heaters, but each is controlled by a Ranco ETH 111000 temp controller, each wired into a separate GFCI. The heaters are located in the overflows which keeps them out of view and also submerged when I’m doing a water change. Ranco suggests that the probe can degrade/fail if submersed in water; rather than use heat shrink tubing, silicone, or some other method of waterproofing the probe, I set the probes in SS thermowells. The thermowells are plumbed below the stand to keep them dry and out of site. This has been employed on both of my tanks and will continue to be used in other setups.
The Durso overflows and returns were also rebuilt using black PVC/ABS and shortened to help squeeze these into the corner overflows. They are nearly invisible against the overflow boxes.
The light is a custom 72” BML XB fixture in the “Orchid Spectrum” (similar to the Riparium 6000K but with additional red 660nm LEDs for a warmer color) with a manual dimmer. I ditched their suspension kit however and used a Sunlight Supply Tek suspension mount. These are my favorite suspension mounts; the cable length can be adjusted on the fly without tools and they are surprisingly beefy. To use these mounts with the BML light I created some mounting tabs out of 1/8 aluminum plate.
I used ~400 lbs of quartz river stones as it is one of the few inert rocks local to this area (most rock is limestone, shale, and other unsuitable varieties). The main stone weighs just over 80 lbs by itself. Tom Barr sent me a huge pile of Manzanita for the scape. 300 pounds of pool filter sand was added for the substrate.
I wanted something unusual for the stock; after several intentional and unintentional changes-
4 Metynnis fasciatus (F0 Rio Capim)
6 Myleus schomburgkii Thin Bar (F0 Brazil)
3 Myleus schomburgkii Wide Bar (F0 Peru)
2 Metynnis lippincottianus
L190 Royal Pleco (F0 Brazil)
7 Corydoras sterbai
This tank will be temporary as I am expecting some large growth out of some of these fish. Their eventual home will be an 8ft acrylic.
Plants are a problem - these fish readily consume just about anything that grows. Java Fern, Bolbitus, and some crypts have survived; Anubias and most other plants have become a delicious (and expensive) snack for these guys. After review with Hydrophyte from Riprarium Supply, I decided to try a riparium setup on the tank. He hooked me up with a lot of knowledge and all of the planters/gravel needed. After some experimentation on my own, the following are currently growing:
Limnophila Rugosa – This has proven to be a fantastic submersed, emersed, and riparium species.
Philodendron Scandens Micans
Philodendron ‘Red Sunburst’ hybrid
Ruellia brittoniana 'Katie' Mini Bluebell
Schismatoglottis sp ‘Long Huriel’
More pictures of the scape and stock coming once the fish wake up.