Returning to the hobby and DIYing just about everything - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-23-2020, 02:19 PM Thread Starter
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Returning to the hobby and DIYing just about everything

Hello everyone,

About 10 years ago I had to get rid of my two tanks (1 planted, one not) because I lacked time to care for the tanks and my kids. The kids are older now and I recently acquired a free 20 gallon Hex tank so I am getting back into things.

The stand that came with the tank was MDF and already water damaged so I tossed it and built my own. I am building my own custom filtration system which is effectively a 5 gallon bucket filled with plastic scrubbies and pond filter mats. It will be a very oversized filter, but I want to have a decent # of fish and be able to keep the water in good shape.
I plan to stock with fish and plants that are relatively easy to care for and that don't need a ton of supplements and crazy technology.

I am currently stuck on two items.

The cover for the tank is not complete and had no light so I plan to custom build a lid/hood, but I want to keep it low profile and clean since this tank will sit in my family room.
Based on my research I think that I can get by with around 1500 total lumens of light as long as I stick to plants that are OK in low to moderate light levels.
I am planning to build my own light fixture and was thinking about using 3 of either these or these.
Will that lighting be adequate?

#2
I am trying to figure out what substrate would be best. I am trying to keep this project affordable and sustainable. My kids and I scavanged some cool rocks from a local stream which I plan to clean up, bleach and test with vinegar before using them to hopefully form a rock wall up the back of the tank. I want the tank to look natural, so what substrate makes sense? Can I just use a natural gravel? Do I need a fancier substrate meant for plants?

Thanks in advance for the advice!
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-23-2020, 02:37 PM
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I like Black Diamond Blasting Sand for a substrate.

I like your lighting approach because it lets you add or subtract lights as necessary. If you are DIYing it, I'd recommend wiring a dimmer into the hood as well for better control. Make it a smart dimmer and you won't need a timer.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-23-2020, 04:01 PM
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Yeah, there are some home automation products out there like the tp link strip and smart dimmers that make aquarium keeping much easier to maintain.
Those lights look good for the price. you can adjust how many bulbs you'll want depending on the plant's needs. How tall is the tank?

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-23-2020, 04:32 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the responses, the tank is a hex with 9.5" sides and is 19.5" tall.

I have a spare plug in timer and was planning to just connect all of the lights to a single plug and plug it into the timer.

I figured that I would have the lights on for 8 hours or so while we are home every day and it is close enough to some windows to get indirect sunlight for part of the day as well.

I am an experienced DIYer so I could certainly hook up a dimmer or fancy automation, but what benefit would I really get?

I am not planning to add CO2 reactors or other more advanced tech.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-23-2020, 05:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlederma View Post
Thanks for the responses, the tank is a hex with 9.5" sides and is 19.5" tall.



I have a spare plug in timer and was planning to just connect all of the lights to a single plug and plug it into the timer.



I figured that I would have the lights on for 8 hours or so while we are home every day and it is close enough to some windows to get indirect sunlight for part of the day as well.



I am an experienced DIYer so I could certainly hook up a dimmer or fancy automation, but what benefit would I really get?



I am not planning to add CO2 reactors or other more advanced tech.
It's not really fancy automation imo. I just built the dimmer into my canopy and it lets me do things like turn the lights on or off remotely and set schedules for different parts of the day. I like being able to see my fish outside of when I have my lights on full, so I start at 10% in the morning, ramp to 30%, then go to full. I split my photo period, so I drop back down to 30%, back up for another bout of full, then drop to thirty for awhile before going into 10% again which is a decent moon light setting for me. It also means not having to turn the lights on full if I am late coming down to feed them. It lets me play with things and see my tank without farming algae.

The dimmer is a feit smart dimmer and cost me less than 20 bucks.

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-23-2020, 07:09 PM
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I really relate to your "design brief" if you will: affordable, sustainable, natural looking, low input, and something that can support a lot of fish. That's more or less what I aim for, too.

It looks like other folks are helping with lighting, but I wanted to chime in about substrate. The top post of this thread gives a very nice rundown of the pros and cons of different substrate options. There are no truly free lunches, so you need to figure out which drawbacks you're ok with. I chose to do dirted tanks (Miracle Grow Organic option in the referenced thread) with a gravel cap. I wouldn't recommend going down that path without doing a lot of reading about it first, but I have been very happy with my results. I think using aquasoil is probably easier in a lot of respects, but it's way more expensive and honestly I don't care for the look.

But you could probably make most substrates work as long as you figure out what you're going to do about plant nutrients. I know you said you didn't want to add a bunch of supplements, but they have to come from somewhere and what you choose as a substrate will affect that (i.e. dirt and aquasoil will provide nutrition themselves, substrate with a high CEC will be more forgiving about fertilizer).
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-23-2020, 08:41 PM Thread Starter
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It's nice to know that I don't seem totally crazy by trying to make this cheap and easy.

That link for substrates was great, if I go the Aquasoil route I assume that is somthing like Carib Sea Eco Complete? Assuming that is the correct product, I saw some reviews that it raises PH rather than lower it are there other brands that would be better?

I don't think that an initial surge of Ammonia will be a problem at all. I was planning on a fishless cycle anyway so that would save me the trouble of adding ammonia to get my filter started.
If I do get an aquasoil, is it dense enough that I don't vacuum more than the very surface of the substrate?

@Bunsen Honeydew, that switch looks pretty cool and the price is great. The last time that I bought a switch like that it was close to $60. for a price that low I may give it a try.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-23-2020, 08:48 PM
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I have bought a few at Menards. They are on Amazon too. I am using direct drive led picks from some lighting fixtures, but I think lensed lights like you are looking at would work better for you. Way easier to get a different spectral balance too.

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-23-2020, 09:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlederma View Post
Hello everyone,


I am currently stuck on two items.

The cover for the tank is not complete and had no light so I plan to custom build a lid/hood, but I want to keep it low profile and clean since this tank will sit in my family room.
Based on my research I think that I can get by with around 1500 total lumens of light as long as I stick to plants that are OK in low to moderate light levels.
I am planning to build my own light fixture and was thinking about using 3 of either these or these.
Will that lighting be adequate?

Need to be careful w/ beam angles and height above the water for good success.
household "flood" isn't what you think..



You may end up w/ 3 "spots"..

Fine if that is what you want.. not if it isn't..


Tanks about 15" wide and 24" deep?
How high off the water do you think your lights will be?

Feit beam angle 40 degrees
3" off the water spot size is 2"..
@ 12" it's 8"..

Need to consider this in placement..


7w, reflector ? 80cri 5000k
6w 450L 40 degree reflector 5000k cri> 90

Single high power COB with a120 degree spread and 5" and off the water line should do.

https://www.digikey.com/product-deta...74-ND/11203639
https://www.bridgelux.com/sites/defa...%20Rev%20A.pdf
$7 cob 6500k, 95cri 2683 Lumens at 600mA current (est.)
$15 copper heat sink (Dell J9145 PowerEdge 850 Processor CPU Heat Sink | Tested | Fast Free Shipping) Type is really optional
$8 driver Ldd600-HW
$16 power supply 48V 100W (need 38-40v power supply.. adj 36V will work)
https://www.ledsupply.com/index.php?p=cart

bit of soldering, some wire and thermal adhesive (not paste)
$

Last edited by jeffkrol; 07-23-2020 at 11:34 PM. Reason: edit
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