It's funny, I've had this whole monologue that was in my mind ready to translate into digital ink and now I don't even know where to start.... OK, first I need to bore you with some reflections so skip this part if you don't want to fall asleep in front off your screen
Looking at my old tank journal thread I see my last real update dated at 04-04-2010 which would translate to an almost 4 years break from freshwater aquariums. When I bought my first saltwater tank I still kept the 75g discus planted tank, although slowly but surely my interest switched to reefkeeping and after few months I decided to break from the planted community (it wasn't easy back then) and keep saltwater tank only. Long story short, I upgraded from the initial 34g cube to a 59g tank that I have a real success with ( not trying to sound like a douchebag, but that was my best period in reefkeeping, where I could grow and propagate Acropora species and my tank looked like a real piece of the reef) to my current custom build tank that is 48x24x20 high and around 100g in size. I also managed to create a website with reef and diving pictures (link in signature), met many great people by being a member of a New York saltwater forum and gained tons of knowledge about the ocean that surrounds us as well as reefkeeping in general. I wrote several articles about the saltwater side of the hobby, you can check them out if you're interested here:http://www.reefs.com/blog/author/Marcin-Smok/
Anyway, I started having problems with my 100g tank several months ago and to this day I can't explain what went wrong and why my tank doesn't look like it used to. I learned that a reef tank is a great challenge and people who manage to keep their aquariums in great shape for years are the best breed of aquarists out there. I love the challenge of reefkeeping to this day and I would love to take action to restore my aquarium to it's former beauty, but with saltwater fishkeeping comes a great deal of money I need to spend to correct mistakes I made and at this point in life I just can't justify these costs. I have to lower my electricity bill significantly due to recent rent hike and other factors so with a great pain in my heart I need to call it quits and break down my tank. However, being a hardcore fishkeeping fan, I need to have fish in my everyday life, which brings me back to my roots...
I will start the process of selling my corals and fish next week and while everything is gone I am going to take a break and travel a little bit. I'm planning for a two weeks trip and will be back first week of June. I would love to start a process of gathering equipment for FW setup to fill it up with water after I come back. I didn't make up my mind regarding the setup I would like to start and since I was absent for so long I have tons of questions for you guys/gals...
First of all, it's good to be back. I remember this forum was full of really cool, informative and friendly people and I made a lot of friends while being active here. From what I see lurking on the site now not much changed and I see that few old friends are still here (you might not remember me but I sure remember you and help you provided while I had my FW setup. Since I was absent for so long I wasn't following advancements in planted tank keeping and so I need your help with my planned build
Second of all, just to give you an idea of what are my goals regarding planted tank, I would love to have something like my old tank (here's thread https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh....php?t=92339)-
a high-tech, pressurized Co2 and ferts and I want to have Discus and apistogramma cichlids in my tank. Here are my thoughts:
1. I will be starting from scratch, most of my FW equipment is gone and I am hoping to do it without spending any extra money (if possible) beyond what I'll gain selling my SW equipment. As I mentioned before, I have a custom made 100g tank that is 48x24x20 high and it's drilled with central glass overflow and two outputs on either side of the tank and a sump beneath(here's a link to my journal http://www.manhattanreefs.com/forum/...reef-tank.html
) My first and biggest dillemma is what to do with the tank. On one side, I would like to reduce the size to something like I used to have, which is AGA 75g, but it's only 25g which don't seem like a big downgrade. Other than that, I spent some time and money building the stand and tank and will certainly not get it back. The problem is that it's a reef ready tank and I've read that sump is not the best option with CO2 dosing. I can always modify outlets to be connected to canister filters and just lower the water level to kill the overflow. My question- does anyone have experience with having a high tech aquarium with sump? How bad is the CO2 outgassing? Does it make sense?
2. Lighting- oh boy I am backwards in this topic. Since I switched to saltwater my lighting changed dramatically. I used to have a 4x54W Catalina Aquarium fixture on my planted tank, but when I took down that aquarium and went saltwater I pretty much abandoned T5 in favor of Cree LED fixtures. I built a LED light for my reef tank (check my SW thread to see how it looks like) and I was thinking if planted tank keepers also adopted the new technology or T5 is still king. I would love to save money on electricity and I've seen these Finnex FW light strips so my question is- how good are they for high-tech tanks? I can modify my Led light to planted tank but I am afraid it might be way too much light and unnecessary $$$ spent on electricity, but please correct me if I am wrong. Just FIY, I currently have three channels with 24 3W Cree Leds each on my reef. What's your opinion on lighting a tank like mine?
3. Substrate- in my 75g tank I used to have a mineralized topsoil I bought from a friend who's screename was “torpedobarb “ (he is TheCryptKeeper nowadays). And I have had a great success with it. My question is, does anybody still sell this stuff? Do we have better, commercial options for planted tank substrate? Secondly, I've topped MTS with a product called 3M Colorquartz Black “T” grade mixed with Saechem Fluorite Sand and it was a perfect combination of money saving and looks as the Colorquartz was jet black, just like I wanted. Unfortunately, this stuff is very hard to get I heard and was thinking if there are any alternatives to this stuff nowadays. I am looking for a very fine gravel that is black and doesn't cost a fortune. Please correct me if I am wrong and you still can get Colorquartz anywhere (I live in the NYC area).
4. CO2 setup- here is what I used to have (https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...ad.php?t=90710
) and I would like to replicate a similar setup with a 20lb cylinder ( places close to me only swap tanks so it would be the best option). What are good options on press.Co2 now? Is making your own regulator and solenoid combo still a cost-effective option? Also, what is the best way to dissolve Co2 nowadays? I used to have a custom build PVC pipe reactor and I was happy with it, although it took an almost constant flow of bubbles to my bubble counter to achieve a light green color in my drop checker.
5. Manzanita wood- I remember buying a bunch of branches from a guy named Jake aka badcopnofishtank but I found out he's not around anymore and since I loved the look of manzanita in my hardscape, is there anyone here on the forum that sells manzanita for a good price these days?
6.Dosing- this is the part I completely forgot about. From what I do remember, I was dosing my tank everyday and did a 50% water change on the weekend, so I am pretty sure I was following a EI dosing regime using dry ferts. I have an automated doser for my reef tank now, how does dosing planted aquarium look nowadays? Dry dosing was very cost effective and I didn't mind doing that, but I remember you couldn't really mixed these ferts with water and store them to accomodate a liquid doser (or maybe I'm wrong) so my question is- should I sell my 3 pump doser and come back to dosing manually or are there automatic methods now where my doser could be used for?
I think these are all my questions for now, thank you in advance for your help and once again- I'm glad to be back. I love this hobby and coming back to the roots feels right. I am not in a hurry and would like to make my decisions and purchases slowly since I need time to get rid of my SW setup first to save money for FW. Thanks everyone!!!