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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-18-2010, 10:53 AM Thread Starter
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Where to begin?

After some months of effort and money, I now have in my possession -

A DIY cabinet (nine weeks and $350 later, I realise woodworking is actually kind of tricky)
A 2' tall 90 gallon tank, some pool filter sand and some dish-washered and soaked ocean driftwood as well as commercial bogwood
An Eheim 2215 Classic with Eheim media
Twin T5 fixture

As well as a sizeable stock of:

KH2PO4 powder
KNO3 powder
Seachem Flourish
Seachem Equilibrium

Very soon I plan to add water, fish and plants. Unfortunately CO2 (except possibly Excel) is out of the question at this stage, given the $350 price tag and difficulty in getting a bottle refilled around here.

So my annoying vague question is: how can I best put all these ingredients together to make something other than algae soup?
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-18-2010, 11:04 AM
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Re: Where to begin?

I'm still a newb, but I would imagine the first questions you'll get are - what kind of T5 lighting are you going to use? What kinds of plants do you want to grow? No co2 means you can't go with high lighting or else it's algae city. I don't know about excel dosing, but, Low light = plants that tolerate low/moderate lighting. Swords, crypts, java fern, etc. The experts here have much more knowledge than me, and will certainly help you out.

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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-18-2010, 12:46 PM
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Do you have T5NO or T5HO?

If you have T5HO my advice is to suspend the fixture 4-6" up off the tank for a better light level. I run 108 watts of T5HO over my own 90gal and have to stick with a 6-7 hour photoperiod to keep algae in check w/out CO2.

I think you're going to need quite a bit more flow once the plants grow in. Either another filter (I run an XP3 and an XP4 on my own 90gal) or a few powerheads should do the trick.





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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-18-2010, 11:22 PM Thread Starter
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The light fixture, like yours, is 108 watts of t5ho. Thanks for the tip, but suspending the lights will be tricky - I was planning to use the brackets, and can't secure it to the ceiling. Why would I need more flow for more plants?
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-19-2010, 12:18 AM
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A 2215 alone won't give you enough flow to prevent dead spots if you heavily plant the tank. The plant leaves and stems block the flow of the water.

Dead spots accumulate debris, and debris buildup contributes to water parameter and algae issues.





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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-19-2010, 12:54 AM
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When I was thinking of adding CO2 for my large planted tanks (500 G divided between 3 tanks); I faced the same trouble as you have - for the refill I needed to send the cylinder to a distant town. So I built myself a crazy DIY CO2 system and called it Mad Hatter system (you could search this forum and come up with the thread). It used 3 X 40L cans and could store CO2 at night. You could repeat with a 3 X 5L can and have the CO2 you need for your tank. I had used the system for 5 years without any hassle except refilling one can each week till I went pressurised when a refilling plant was set up in the suburbs of my town.

108 W of HO light above a tank without canopy does not seem to be too much light. The only thing that I feel you should review is your substrate. I use 2" of laterite under 1" of sand as substrate and get great plant growth. I have found growing rosette plants in sand is a problem even with added fertilisers to the water. Laterite also supplies a lot of the iron necessary for aquatic plants.

As to water circulation inside your tank - set up inlet and outlet of your filter to give a circular motion to the water in your tank. That will do the job and you would not need more filters. I use much less powered filters and have had no hassles with dead spots.

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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-19-2010, 12:56 AM
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I agree about raising the light about 6 inches. You should be able to make a bent conduit bracket to hang the fixture from. Search the DIY forum for various designs for those brackets. And, even with the fixture raised 6 inches you will need to dose Excel or an equivalent material to avoid algae problems. T5HO lights really are very bright.

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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-19-2010, 07:28 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the tips. Unfortunately pool filter sand is not so much a choice as a necessity, enough Flourite (or even laterite) for the tank would cost as much as the tank itself. Not surprising since it has to be shipped tens of thousands of kilometres to get here.

I've been told that pool filter sand, once it has accumulated enough mulm, with good water column dosing, can be almost as effective as Flourite etc. Any thoughts?

Cheers Hoppy, I might give that a go. In the meantime, while I have a low plant density, I might just run a single bulb. I'm also considering using Excel, or gluteraldehyde, I've seen some lovely tanks running just that stuff.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-19-2010, 12:47 PM
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Just use good garden soil under the sand - thats what I was using 30 years ago for my planted tanks. It works as long as it does not contain too much organic material.

If you have a choice, you have a problem, till you elect your choice. No choice, no problem, only consequences, learn to live with them.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-19-2010, 12:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by essabee View Post
Just use good garden soil under the sand - thats what I was using 30 years ago for my planted tanks. It works as long as it does not contain too much organic material.
unfortunately alot of garden soils now are made of mostly composted organics, you would have to find mineralized topsoil.
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-19-2010, 02:00 PM
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if you cannot raise the light and cannot inject CO2 as well, plan to cut back light duration considerably. I have a low tech tank for ferns and mosses only but use a T5HO (that's the only spare light I have in hand). I light it for 5 hrs daily, no CO2 (except what is released by 5 mollys in the tank), dose dry ferts once a month and WC never (except top off). So far no algae issues and plants grow slow but healthy.

Patience is the name of the game.

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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-20-2010, 10:15 AM Thread Starter
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Following your advice, I've decided to use Excel, or rather a local variant (essentially just 10% gluteraldehyde solution). I hear that it is roughly 50% as effective as pressurised CO2, which is frankly more than enough growth rate for me.

Does this mean I could survive without raising the lights? The tank is two foot tall after all? Or maybe just remove one globe and leave only one running?

Garden soil isn't really an option since I have to strip the tank and move house in a year. I'm putting fertilized laterite balls through the substrate where all the root feeders are, but that's it.

Finally, following Tom Barr's suggestion for low-tech Excel tanks, I would need to change 50% water per week. That's a lot of water to be throwing out in a drought. Will my normal 20% suffice with slightly lower fertilisation levels?

Thanks again for all the help guys
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-20-2010, 04:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snafuspyramid View Post
Following your advice, I've decided to use Excel, or rather a local variant (essentially just 10% gluteraldehyde solution). I hear that it is roughly 50% as effective as pressurised CO2, which is frankly more than enough growth rate for me.

Does this mean I could survive without raising the lights? The tank is two foot tall after all? Or maybe just remove one globe and leave only one running?
Plants can get 50% of their carbon from Excel. For every molecule of CO2 a plant uses, it can use one glutaraldehyde (Excel) molecule instead of another CO2 molecule. CO2 must be present for it to use the Excel.

In a low light tank with low CO2 demands, this can extend the small amount of CO2 absorbed from the air enough to make a nice difference.

But in a high light tank with high CO2 demands, the naturally available amount of CO2 is exhausted quickly, and any remaining Excel is then useless.

You're somewhere in the middle, and reducing your lighting to bring you closer to a low-light tank would be a good idea. If you can't physically raise the lights, then reduce photoperiod, or put some screening under your hood to block some light. Many two-bulb fixtures won't run with only one light installed, the only way to know for sure is to try.

Quote:
Originally Posted by snafuspyramid View Post
Garden soil isn't really an option since I have to strip the tank and move house in a year. I'm putting fertilized laterite balls through the substrate where all the root feeders are, but that's it.
I see you were originally considering Flourite, which is just fracted clay with extra iron. There are other fracted clay products available, like Soilmaster Select and Turface; and even without the iron, fracted clay works well because it attracts nutrients from the water and holds them where the roots can use them. A 50lb. bag of Soilmaster Select cost me only $20 USD - considerably cheaper than Flourite. And because it's so light, 50lb. goes a long way. Though Flourite may not be readily available in Australia, I would be surprised if there wasn't some other fracted clay product that's available to you without overseas shipping.

Quote:
Originally Posted by snafuspyramid View Post
Finally, following Tom Barr's suggestion for low-tech Excel tanks, I would need to change 50% water per week. That's a lot of water to be throwing out in a drought. Will my normal 20% suffice with slightly lower fertilisation levels?
Keep the fish load low so organics don't build up, and 20% should be adequate.
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-20-2010, 11:36 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks mate, very informative answer, especially about the way Excel works. However, I don't expect to have especially high CO2 demands, I'm not after a tank planted as heavily as those I see on this site. Not yet, anyway. Would a 5-6 hour photoperiod be appropriate?

I've spent a lot of time looking around for a suitable clay product but can't find anything. Does anyone know where a fracted clay substrate can be found in Australia? ADA Aquasoil, Flourite etc. are prohibitively expensive. Turface and Soilmaster Select aren't available. I can't find anywhere that mines Australian laterite, which is odd, given half the bloody continent is covered in lateritic clay (before you ask, the other half of the continent to the one I'm on).

Anyway I would have though that pool filter sand and plenty of laterite root tabs (they at least are very cheap and locally manufactured) would be not too far inferior to Flourite. Correct?
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-21-2010, 02:33 AM
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Have you read through the Mineralized Topsoil thread sticky at the top of the Substrate forum? DIYing may be perfect for your tank.





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