155 gallon bowfront - design advice? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-08-2006, 06:06 PM Thread Starter
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155 gallon bowfront - design advice?

hey i'm a newbie to the whole planted freshwater thing but certainly not to aquariums in general. Below is a picture of my current 125 gallon reef. Now on to the purpose of my post . . .

I have been volunteering for a local elementary school by maintaining a 155 gallon bow front marine reef. The system was purchased from a local pet store but was poorly designed and has caused nothing but headaches since. The pet store was maintaining the tank at first but were soon fired by the PTO. That's where I come in. I've finally convinced them to go to a freshwater plant/fish display. I believe it will much easier to maintain versus the saltwater system in a school setting. (I was lugging plastic gas containers full of salt/RO water back and forth from my house for the last 2 years!). Basically I would like recommendations on substrate, lighting, filtration, fertilization, and livestock (plantstock?). I'd like to reuse as much as possible from the old tank. I have a pair of 250watt metal halides (i'd replace those bulbs with bulbs suitable/recommended for freshwater plants - any ideas?), 4 - 400gph powerheads, wet/dry filter, 2400gph magdrive submersible pump, 2 built-in corner overflows, 2 3/4" returns, a 3/4 HP chiller, etc. The biggest thing is that I want to ensure that I do not develop algae. I know you will probably recommend a CO2 injector . . . that's fine . . . what type? So yeah . . . I'm very familiar with aquariums just not plants . . . thanks in advance for any help!

~ matt


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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-08-2006, 06:20 PM
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Basically I would like recommendations on substrate, lighting, filtration, fertilization, and livestock (plantstock?). I'd like to reuse as much as possible from the old tank. [/IMG]
Welcome to TPT.
Substrate: if you have a budget try Aquasoil or Eco Complete (reviews of each can be found with the search function ) if no budget try soilmaster or DIY (such as sand etc).
Lighting: Sounds fine. You might consider A) raising the fixture, B) adding supplement fluorescent tubes, or C) reducing the MH on times.
Filtration: I have a sump (no wet/dry stage, maintained at ~2/3 full) and I love it. The 2400 GPH return is a little large. You can sell the power heads.
Fertilization, and livestock: There are several methods. Pick the one that works for you. Note: on livestock decide early if this is an "open" tank ie are staff allowed to add fish? If so be ready for a mismatch and questions as to "where did MY fish go?"

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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-08-2006, 07:56 PM Thread Starter
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Talking

the budget is not too much of a concern. I'd like to do it right but I'd also like to utilize whatever we can from our existing equipment. I'll check into soilmaster. Do you think the metal halides will be too much for the tank? Is that why you suggested raising them? What would supplemental flourescent fixtures do? I was thinking of purchasing some 6500k metal halides . . . any ideas for brand/color temp? I actually have a sump too. I was just going to make it a wet/dry since this is a freshwater setup. I guess those would allow a lot of CO2 to escape? Well the 2400GPH return is actually only around 1700GPH to the tank with the head that it has to overcome. Hopefully that's not too much?? I do all of the maintenance and stocking of the tank. The only thing anyone else does is feed. I have one person assigned to that . . . thanks for the info!
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-08-2006, 08:00 PM
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I have 15000k metal halides and it is growing on me. Especially in a more heavily planted tank. I wont be buying lower temp bulbs any time soon. But the 500 watts seems a bit much. Raising them is a good idea...

The good...the reef is lit most of the time.
The bad...the planted tank wont be lit all the time. (with that lighting) Thats where the supplemental lighting comes in...so you can actually see the tank just not during the light period.

Ive read wet/dry filters do not impact co2 levels as you would think. Ill see if I can dig up that link. The surface agitation of bio-wheel type filters is the wet/dry to stay clear of. The drip sock in the sump shouldnt be an issue. Please someone correct me if I am wrong.

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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-08-2006, 09:04 PM
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Sounds like a cool project for the school! I'd suggest checking out Rex's Guide to Planted Tanks for an FAQ-like overview of planted tanks.

When you settle on a plant scheme, start another thread and I'll gladly donate any plants I have that fit your scheme. If it's for the kiddies, I'll offer up what I can!
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-08-2006, 10:27 PM
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i would get a pressureized CO2 setup with a solenoid. i think your 2 HIDs will be more than enough. i would go with 2 big canister filters instead of the sump because the splashing with waste the CO2.

more importantly though, since you're going for low maintenace, make sure you get slow growing plants like swords, ferns, mosses and cryptocorynes. otherwise you'll be up to your armpits (or worse if you're short!) in that mammoth tank for a few hours every 3 weeks to trim the plants.


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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-08-2006, 10:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brilliant View Post
Ive read wet/dry filters do not impact co2 levels as you would think. Ill see if I can dig up that link. The surface agitation of bio-wheel type filters is the wet/dry to stay clear of. The drip sock in the sump shouldn't be an issue. Please someone correct me if I am wrong.
The link:
CO2 Loss Rates

I think if you were starting over canisters might be better but given that you have the drilled tank, sump, installed, and working! you would not be served by switching now. Compressed CO2 gas is relatively cheep. You should get ~6 months out of 10#.

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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-09-2006, 12:41 AM
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You should get ~6 months out of 10#.
Lots of variablitiy on this one. I get 4-5 months on my 10# in my 46g, so at 155g, I'd recommend at least to 20# tank. I know others get longer life on their CO2 tanks, but I've yet to figure out why mine doesn't last longer.

As with many things in planted tanks...YMMV,
Brian.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-09-2006, 01:56 AM Thread Starter
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thanks everyone for the great advice! BSS, i'll definitely be in contact about those donated plants! The kids love the reef we have now but its just been so hard to keep up with it. Plus all the reef fish hide when you get within 6ft of the tank . . . that's the cost of buying relatively easy-going marine fish . . . they end up being pretty flighty! I actually already checked out Rex's site and am in contact with him regarding the pressurized CO2 system. Good to hear others recommending him. He's seems very knowlegeable and helpful!

As far as using flourescent bulbs as auxillary lighting . . . I have 4 - 96watt power compacts I could put on top of the tank as well. How many of these would your recommend? Also, should I have all of the flourescents and the metal halides on during the peek lighting time or should I not overlap their exposure? Thanks again for all of the help! I never thought I'd be this excited about aquatic plants! Corals are still cooler but I'm really stoked!
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 02:52 AM
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No experience with MH or with a tank near that size. What are the dimensions? Is it 72" wide? If so, the 3' 96w CFs would fit over it nicely. Using four of them would give you 2+ WPG, which, IMO, would be find for this project. But, since you have the MH, and since the tank is likely a bit deeper, using those gets you over 3+ WPG, so they might be the better option.

Personally, I would go with all of them on at any one time. In larger tanks, the WPG rule starts to break down, so getting much above 3-4 WPG is asking for a pretty delicate balance, and that might not be the best place for you to start with your first planted tank. Perhaps you could use the 2+ WPG CF for 3 hours, then the 3+ WPG MH for 4 hours (for a mid-day light boost) and then finish the day with 3 hours of CF. But that seems more complicated than it might be worth. I'd guess the MHs, raised slightly as suggested earlier to try to reduce dark corners should suit you fine.

But, again, these are my gut feels,
Brian.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 01:45 PM Thread Starter
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yeah that tank is 72"L x 30"H x 24-30"D . I had a custom made canopy built for the top of this tank. It gets the metal halides 8" off of the surface of the water. With money we spent on the canopy there is no way I could change that. Setting up a dusk and dawn light cycle is no problem. I have that with my own reef. Pretty easy if you get the right timers (the ones that allow multiple on/off cycles). What do you think of this scenario?

complete photoperiod - 7:30am - 8:30pm (these are the hours the school is typically occupied)

(4) 96 watt CF's 7:30am - 1:30pm
(2) 250 watt MH's 1:20pm - 5:30pm - I will be stopping by each day around 5pm - this way i can see the tank with the MH active
(4) 96 watt CF's 5:20pm - 8:30pm
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 02:38 PM
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You may just want to use the CF for the initial cycle till the tank balances out. If you throw that photo period at a freshly planted tank it may be hard to control and keep algae at bay.
All depends on what is planted initially. Itís usually suggested to get the tank loaded up with fast growing stems for the first step. Then focus on the aquascape after the tank cycles. Nothing says you have to just plant like a farmer. The scape can be started with proper placement on the initial planting. Main thing is go for quick growth and use the light as the limiting factor for growth of the plants and algae. You have a flexible tool with this light setup so the sky is the limit of what youíre making available to the plants. If growth is moving to fast for your liking shorten the photoperiod. Not fast enough kick in those MH for a period while the CF on an overlapping schedule. Main thing is look for little signs of hair, stag horn and black beard algae. Hair algae can be green to brown in color.
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I would definitely suggest reading through rexís guide.

Good luck and keep us in the loop. Sounds like a fun tank.

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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 08:23 PM Thread Starter
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yeah i read every page on Rex's site already. So i guess I'll just use the CF's to cycle. So what would be a good species of plant(s) to start with? Where do you recommend I get them? Thanks!
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-11-2006, 02:52 AM
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Well, I heartily recommend the Swap and Shop on this board to get started with the plants. As to which plants to get, that's a tough one. It really is a personal choice kinda thing. You might want to spend some time on the Photo Gallery here and see what appeals to you. But, be forewarned, there's are reasonable chance that lots and lots and lots of things will appeal to you. Fortunately, you have quite a footprint there to work with, so you can sample quite a few things. But, beware of the dreaded 'collectoritis'...which all too many of us suffer from .

Do you have any goals for the tank? Lots of color? Minimal maint? Targetted fish species (e.g. tetras? angels? cichlids?...)? As much variety as is humanly possible ?

Doesn't it just suck when you seek advice and the response is "do what you'd like"? It really is the best response, but I never appreciated it, while in school....that's for sure!
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-11-2006, 10:49 PM Thread Starter
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yeah I guess I'd really like to have a nice aquascape with vary color and morphology on the plant side. I'd like to have a large number of small colorful fish. Mostly looking for variety I guess. Just want the kids to have lots of stuff to look at. When I asked about the plant species to start out with I meant what's good to start the cycle with? Some thing easy and cheap that can later be swapped out for some more interesting plants? Thanks for all of the help!
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