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post #1 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-21-2010, 11:44 AM Thread Starter
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starting out-ish

I have a 120g reef tank that I am converting to a freshwater planted tank. its all drilled for overflows ( replaced the bottom pane, resealed and drilled it myself) I have not decided if I will use the overflows for a sump or just cap them off.

After a disaster with an automated top off unit crashing my salinity and killing several thousand dollars worth of live coral, fish, and anemones, not to mention other invertabretes etc. I just dont have the heart to rebuild the reef for now.

I used to breed several species of fresh water fish (many) years ago before I got heavily into marine aquariums (Angels, swords, guppies, oscars, etc) but I never really got heavily into plants. lots of the tanks did have your usual suspects when it came to plants (ferns, moss, etc) but nothing spectacular, more function than form, if you will. so I feel like branching out, and trying my hand at creating a planted wonderland with many smaller fish.

I am sure I will have dozens of questions probably a lot of simple ones untill I dig the basics back out of the recesses of my mind.

but I may as well start at the beggining. The first order of business would be substrate. I am considering a laterite, ecocomplete, and sand mix. what are your suggestions? and what would my minimum depth be? I am thinking no less than 3-4 inches at the from maybe 6 at the rear? any thoughts and suggestions would be great. or just pop in and say hi.

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post #2 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-21-2010, 04:39 PM
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hello should be a fun build to watch, what are the dimensions for a 130g tank? not really a common size.

for substrate 6" might be a little deep, especially if you are going sand, but if you are densely planted the roots should keep any gas buildups under control...
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post #3 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-21-2010, 05:05 PM Thread Starter
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sorry that was a typo its 120g (18"x26"x60"=28080/233=120.51gallons)

I have fixed the typo in the original post.
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post #4 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-21-2010, 05:05 PM
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Welcome to TPT!

I strongly recommend not exceeding 3" with your substrate. I went with close to 6" in the back of my 90gal and I regret it now, as I believe it's gone all anaerobic and I have a hard time getting anything to grow there. Anything more than 3" is just wasted space, anyways- most plant roots don't go much deeper than that (except swords... which is what I'd planned to keep in that back corner, just they never did well to begin with... *sigh*)

Before you finalize your substrate choice, be sure to read through the Mineralized Topsoil sticky at the top of the Substrate forum. With just a little DIY and patience, that's one of the cheapest ways to get a very nutrient-rich substrate that plants will thrive in.





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post #5 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-21-2010, 06:52 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the tip on that, I dont really have the space available to attempt the topsoil mineralization (with 16 cats there is no place that wouldnt be prone to litter usage attempts if I left uncovered dirt out to dry). LOL
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post #6 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-21-2010, 07:09 PM Thread Starter
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ok here is a picture of the tank at the end of tearing down the marine setup. not quite finished but close.

what you see underneath is the old top off unit and protioen skimmer in the sump. this will all be eliminated. I am going to run an aquaclear hob with just polyester filter for mechanical and a cannister filter with bioceramics and carbon bags for biological and chemical filtration. I will not use and ammonia absorber or anything like that I have never been a big fan of those products.

I have decided not to use the built in overflows simply due to the difficulty maintaining co2 levels in a heavily planted tank. I have to go get some parts. at the hardware store.

I have decided to use a topsoil, clay, ecocomplete, sand, peastone, laterite, mix as substrate. at this point I have everything except the ecocomplete which will be arriving next week sometime. so I can mix and wash all my substrates except the ecocomplete.
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post #7 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-21-2010, 07:19 PM Thread Starter
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mixing and washing the substrates, they have all been dumped in and mixed together now I am filling and draining the tank while stirruing the substrate, to rinse.... boring but way further than I thought I would go today.
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post #8 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-22-2010, 08:33 PM Thread Starter
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day 2

ok got rushed a bit, the tank isnt even done clearing and some one dropped off some plants. I dont have my filtration running properly or anything like that. well on the bright side some of the used water will help seed bacteria into the tank for cycling.

set up the lighting today. 220w VHO 65000k, 220wvho 10,000k (these second two are temporary 'till I get more bulbs), on an icecap 660 ballast. here is a picture. they are on a pulley system so I can raise and lower them for access to the tank. (and yes I know the fixture is slightly out of level I lost one of my clips off the rope so I had to knot it.) the bioballs floating in the top of the tank are also just matured bio media to help seed the tank with bacteria.
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post #9 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-24-2010, 08:53 PM Thread Starter
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day3

Water paramaters,
ammonia 1.0
nitrite .25
nitrate 4
phopshate 0
ph 7.2
gh 70-80 (hard to be exact on this kit) not a big fan of hagen kits. too vague but its what I had on hand.
temp 76.2-76.8

Visual appearance: the water is discoloring (darkening) a bit from the extremely large piece of driftwood. also gained the milkey haze of a water borne bacterial bloom. not supprising.

next step will be to set up my uv sterilizer to prevent the oft occuring "greenwater" bloom. and to knock down the waterborne bacterial bloom. probably add carbon soon to help reduce the discoloring of the water. but probably not enough to eliminate it. I kind of like the darkwater look. we'll see.
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post #10 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-24-2010, 09:37 PM Thread Starter
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Picture from today (day 3) dont mind the filter on the front, its temporary, apparantly I broke my cannister filter and didnt realize it. the case has a big crack in it...
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post #11 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-26-2010, 11:58 PM Thread Starter
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day 4

in case your wondering how it goes, day 4 has arrived. I just noticed one of my heaters is all cockeyed.... damnit Sloppy slopppy sloppy.

Last edited by ReefkprZ; 09-18-2010 at 12:51 PM.
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post #12 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-27-2010, 10:58 AM Thread Starter
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OK now the questions begin. I need suggestions on pieces for a decent, not super expensive, co2 set up. I have a line on a co2 tank and valves. I just need a needle valve and the big thing (that I really need tips on) is an effective and unobtrusive co2 diffuser.

I dont want a powerhead blowing co2 bubbles accross my tank. any suggestions on how to effectivly disperse the co2 with out lots of gaumy equipment in my tank would be greatly appreciated.
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post #13 of 57 (permalink) Old 09-01-2010, 03:41 PM Thread Starter
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made a run to a local fish store owned by a friend and picked up my ecocomplete as well as some more plants. I am waiting for the water to clear up a bit before I post a new picture with the ecocomplete in the tank.

side note: may not be able to do much for the next couple weeks may be having surgery on a double hernia. will know more tommorrow. I was hoping to dodge the bullet and not have to have surgery, but that doesnt look like its going to happen. I may be spending a lot of time on here. and/or watching the paint on the ceiling age.......

oh, I found used co2 tanks 15lbs full for 45$
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post #14 of 57 (permalink) Old 09-01-2010, 07:09 PM Thread Starter
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day 12

Water paramaters,

ammonia 6.0 (huge increase of 5ppm, dosing prime, my nessler kits are no good after this I will not be able to moniter ammonia, as nessler regent kits are unreliable when dosing prime, will have to pick up a Salicylate
ammonia test kit)
nitrite .1
nitrate 2 (decrease of 2ppm, plants must be using faster than my minimal bacteria is producing it)
phopshate 5 (large increase in 8 days
ph 7.2
gh 70-80 (hard to be exact on this kit) not a big fan of hagen kits. too vague but its what I had on hand. (unchanged)
temp 76.2-76.8 (unchanged)
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post #15 of 57 (permalink) Old 09-01-2010, 07:56 PM Thread Starter
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picture from today. Thoughts, comments, critiques, insults all welcome. ok maybe not so much on the insults, but if there is something you dont like about my set up feel free to mention it it may give me ideas (especially if you have a suggestion on how to fix it)

Last edited by ReefkprZ; 09-18-2010 at 12:51 PM.
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