Help Me Redesign an Old All-In-One Saltwater Tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 1 (permalink) Old 03-14-2019, 07:04 PM Thread Starter
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Help Me Redesign an Old All-In-One Saltwater Tank

My tank has been in storage, but I had an all-in-one saltwater setup about ten years ago that I would like to convert to a planted aquarium. The tank is the Red Sea Max 130. The dimensions of the tank will be shown below but it is an aquarium that holds 29 gallons in the display tank and 5 more gallons in the attached filtration area for a total of 34 gallons. If you’d like to see the tank’s setup and features, watch the first two minutes of this video:

There are two areas I need to address for this conversion: Filtration and Lighting.


I think the filtration compartment is similar to having a small sump, but instead of being located below the aquarium it is attached to the back of the tank. I will not be using the protein skimmer so I would like to occupy that space with filter media in the best way possible. Here are some images with the tank dimensions and the current flow.

Just so you have an idea of the bioload I am planning, here is what I am thinking for livestock: 6 Corydoras, 6 Danios, 15-20 tetras, and 1 Rainbow Shark or Betta. Not sure on some of the specific varieties yet but this will be close to what I end up with. My first idea to fix the filtration is to cut a piece of glass or acrylic and silicone it in place so the water from the inflow will flow straight down. I would fill this chamber with course sponge. Water would be able to flow through the bottom 3 inches of this chamber into the next chamber, and I would put fine sponge pad right at this entrance. The rest of the large chamber would be filled with bio rings or whatever other media you would recommend. The water would then flow over the next wall where the heater would sit and down through some more media before being returned to the tank. Here is a diagram of this option:

My other option would be to install the glass or acrylic as in the first version, but also add a horizontal piece that would allow more sponges to be placed in the larger compartment. Bio rings could go to the left of the sponges and above them and the glass or acrylic. Although this would allow for more sponge media, my concern is that it will be difficult to reach the sponge media to clean or change it out under the glass or acrylic. The compartment is only 3.5 inches (front to back) and it’s difficult to reach the bottom already without my arm getting stuck. I could use some tongs if you believe this is the better option. Here is a diagram of version 2

I need a recommendation for a circulation or return pump. I cannot locate the pumps that came with my aquarium and I think the flow would have been too strong for a freshwater tank. Do you know of any pumps that have a nozzle that would screw on so that the pump could sit behind the glass wall and be secured by the nozzle that would be visible in the display tank? This was the design of the original pumps, but if I need to find another solution to securing the pumps that is alright. I’ll go with your recommendation on flow strength. As you can see, there is room for two pumps but I can just use one and fill the other hole if you think that would be better.

Finally, do you think I should have an airstone or something similar in one of these compartments to bring more oxygen into the water? If so, where would you recommend putting it?


The lights on this aquarium are enclosed in the hood. I was originally thinking of trying to find a suitable dual T5 to replace these bulbs, but the ballast and the included fans required to cool this unit are louder than I remember, and it’s too noisy for the room the aquarium will be in.

I would like to find a good LED unit and retrofit it into the hood. I wanted the Fluval 3.0 but my hood is exactly 24” wide which I believe the light bar on the Fluval is too, so that light is not an option. I also looked into the Finnex Planted+ 24/7 but that won’t work because the remote needs line of sight with the end of the light bar in order change the light settings.

The tank’s light compartment is 20” long and 4” wide. It looks like I can go a little longer than 20” once I take the current lights out. I think the Finnex Stingray 20” would be a good fit, but I don’t know if the light is strong enough so this is where I need your expertise. The lights sit at a height of 21” above the bottom of the tank, so it will be roughly 18-19” to the substrate. Is the Stingray strong enough to grow plants at that depth? I’m not planning on running CO2 or having a full carpet in the tank. I’m looking at easy plants like Anubius, Val, etc… I’ve also looked at, but I would prefer to go with an off the shelf LED unless that is the best option for a light less than 24” long. Are there other lights you would recommend that I can look in to?


Just so you can easily remember all my bullet points, here are my questions:
  • Do you like one of my suggested filtration plans or is there another setup you would suggest?
  • Should I use only bio rings or are there better options in those spots?
  • Can you recommend a pump (preferably with a screw on nozzle that would lock the pump into place) but at least a pump that would have a nozzle that fits through those holes?
  • Flow strength and one or two pumps?
  • Best placement for an airstone if you recommend me using one?
  • LED lighting suggestion?

Thank you very much for your time!
Enriched is offline  

filtration, lighiting, low tech, new build, saltwater to freshwater

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