I'm back after 4 years of absence and have TONS of questions - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-15-2014, 03:33 PM Thread Starter
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I'm back after 4 years of absence and have TONS of questions

Hi all!

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!!!

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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-15-2014, 04:44 PM
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#1 if your sump is a wet/dry type which drips the water into the sump it may not be good for CO2 as I'm relatively sure that part would outgass some of the CO2.
But a person specificallyexperienced/w those could help more on that one as a few here do have sump filters/w CO2 successfully(and those usually say they think it's better than any canister and would not use an HOB on a tank that sized).
#2 obviously you will need two of the strips of LED lights for that wide of tank and
they now come/w plant oriented bulbs. Depending on the desired light level it
should be easy to get lights suitable for high tech/CO2 injected type set up as
the water's not exessively deep at all. People do use two on 18" tanks so if three
are needed is the real question but I think two in the higher range bulbs would surfice.
#3 I have a formula for MTS but it takes a couple of weeks to make. Prepared by a
biologist and top rate stuff according to those who use it.
http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...on-talbot.html
Though it's not a regular commodity I have heard of people on here selling MTS.
Black Beauty(blasting sand) is widely used here and sold for like $8 per 40lb at Tractor Supply but if you look around I think that stuff you refered to is still available.
#4 there are threads here that show how regulators are made which tells me it's
still an option. Haven't looked at them to say what details they contain.
#5 someone on here just bought a stock of it from another member and I presume he intends to sell most of it. E-bay is a good source though. Most who sell it there have pictures of the individual pieces you would get.
#6 there is a liquid EI "kit"on here telling me it may work to use it in a liquid dispensed
system. Also PPS is liquid. Perpetual Preservation System
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...393&highlight=
PPS link:http://greenleafaquariums.com/aquarium-fertilizer.html
http://aquariumfertilizer.com/index....ditU=1&Regit=2
I noticed your thread a couple of days back and was surprised to see it still blank today so I thought I'd throw you a few pieces of info to get you started/w.

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-15-2014, 05:22 PM
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Hi Smoq,

Welcome back! Well, I don't think I can rightfully say that since I was not here when you left .. but I do remember seeing one of your pics when I was looking into dirting a tank. I also skimmed your old threads real fast and I must say, they are a great resource so I'm sure someone would've been thankful for the time you put into them.

Anyway, to pay back a little, let's see if I can throw some input concerning your questions..

Quote:
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?
So I'm going to name drop here and say that I'm sure Tom was around when you were on these forums in the 2010s. If that man can run a sump with his tank, you can run a sump with your tank. The trick is to seal the first dry stage to prevent much outgassing. Interestingly, I had done a bit of thought on this as I was tempted to go with a sump if only because he mentioned it was also a great way to get more dissolved oxygen into the tank.

http://www.barrreport.com/showthread...dvice-Comments
There's this guy, gerry, that's been making a bunch of useful videos of his setup too
http://www.barrreport.com/showthread...w-installation
http://www.barrreport.com/showthread...nal-Demo-Video

Granted, he had his sump custom made but the point is to just seal that first section since the outgassing in the wet section is kind of minimal.

Here's the link to more of his videos so you can burn your saturday drooling or something
http://www.barrreport.com/forumdisplay.php/2-Articles

I ultimately decided against it since a) it was overkill for my measily 20g and b) I'm not sure I wanted to deal with all the trickling -- but that's a non-issue for you since you always had it.

Here's one of some fellow plantedtank members
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=166350
and one of a straight up google search to give you ideas on modifying your current sump.
https://www.google.com/search?q=seal...h=923#imgdii=_


Quote:
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?
If you build your LED light, there's no reason why you can't keep your fixture change out a couple of your LEDs for the red ones that help with a planted tank. There's guys on here that are all about building their own leds too. And yes, we've embraced LEDs quite a bit. That's why T5s are somewhat going on fire sales at the fish stores. The only big issue with LEDs that I've read about is the color not matching what they wanted, but, you've built your own fixture, so you have control to do whatever you want. I don't know what programming or dimming your fixture is capable of but I can imagine you dimming your fixture, lighting half the leds, lighting up all of the leds for a noonday burst, etc. I mean you've built it, so why not go customizing? Having said all that, those finnex led fixtures seem to be pretty good based on the rave reviews their owners have for them. The Ray2 will give you the higher light if you so desire. There's also the Current Satellite+ that comes with a remote to give you light effects and some guys have built an arduino controller to completely substitute the remote and run things on a schedule. The only bad thing about the Current is that it's less light than the Finnex fixtures. They've promised a higher light one but it's been taking forever. And if you REALLY wanted high power (which is kind of not the point since you already have one), then you can look into the BuildmyLed fixtures.



Quote:
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).
The current stuff I've seen is Miracle Gro Organic Potting Mix topped with that sandblasting Black Diamond Sand .. https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=153192
but I think there's some concerns about what grit size to use and whether they scratch up bottom feeders or not.


Quote:
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.
This has not changed. Building your own is still the best and cheapest solution. You've already done one so it should be easy for you. There ARE newer solenoids and fittings and stuff so you might have too much fun there but if you want to make it easy, Bettatail is active again, he can probably just sell you a post body kit and you find the regulator. He's even got a regulator thread going where he's posting good fleabay finds..
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=575922
As for reactors, there's the cerges reactor/dwell time reactor. Gerry from above has a pretty nice video on his setup that's fed from the sump. http://www.barrreport.com/showthread...d-Video-Part-1. His is a "dwell time" that takes co2 before it enters the reactor but there's other people who inject the co2 directly into it.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=110100 Too bad most of his images are gone, but I'm sure you'll get the idea.


Quote:
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?
I got nothing for this one


Quote:
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?
EI and dry dosing is still the way to go. There's some undercurrents about micro fertilizer overdosing introducing some toxicity to plants but it's still being debated. And yes, you can autodose them. You have to keep your macros and micros separate and introduce some excel/metricide/glutaraldehyde or ascorbic acid (especially into the micros) to keep mold from forming. http://www.barrreport.com/showthread...mix+with+excel

Happy weekend reading!
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-16-2014, 01:46 PM Thread Starter
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First of all, thank you for your replies and kind words.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raymond S. View Post
#1 if your sump is a wet/dry type which drips the water into the sump it may not be good for CO2 as I'm relatively sure that part would outgass some of the CO2.
But a person specificallyexperienced/w those could help more on that one as a few here do have sump filters/w CO2 successfully(and those usually say they think it's better than any canister and would not use an HOB on a tank that sized).
Quote:
Originally Posted by ipkiss View Post
Hi Smoq,

So I'm going to name drop here and say that I'm sure Tom was around when you were on these forums in the 2010s. If that man can run a sump with his tank, you can run a sump with your tank. The trick is to seal the first dry stage to prevent much outgassing. Interestingly, I had done a bit of thought on this as I was tempted to go with a sump if only because he mentioned it was also a great way to get more dissolved oxygen into the tank.

http://www.barrreport.com/showthread...dvice-Comments
There's this guy, gerry, that's been making a bunch of useful videos of his setup too
http://www.barrreport.com/showthread...w-installation
http://www.barrreport.com/showthread...nal-Demo-Video

Granted, he had his sump custom made but the point is to just seal that first section since the outgassing in the wet section is kind of minimal.

Here's the link to more of his videos so you can burn your saturday drooling or something
http://www.barrreport.com/forumdisplay.php/2-Articles

I ultimately decided against it since a) it was overkill for my measily 20g and b) I'm not sure I wanted to deal with all the trickling -- but that's a non-issue for you since you always had it.

Here's one of some fellow plantedtank members
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=166350
and one of a straight up google search to give you ideas on modifying your current sump.
https://www.google.com/search?q=seal...h=923#imgdii=_
I visited my reef buddy yesterday and it looks like my sump/no sump dilemma has been resolved already as he has an eheim 3e 2078 he'll give me. I was a fan of having two filters in a planted tank, but since I won't spend a dime on my filtration, that is the way I will go. I am planning to drop the intake into the overflow area and seal the bulkheads or modify them to accommodate 3e intake. That way I will have an already functional surface skimmer. The only drawback to this approach would be that I won't have an intake near the bottom of my water column unless I drop another intake in the tank itself (I wouldn't like to do that for aesthetic reasons) or drill a hole in my overflow to accommodate another intake. What are your thoughts on that?
And yes, Tom was around when I started and he was one of my mentors that helped me do things right.

Quote:
If you build your LED light, there's no reason why you can't keep your fixture change out a couple of your LEDs for the red ones that help with a planted tank. There's guys on here that are all about building their own leds too. And yes, we've embraced LEDs quite a bit. That's why T5s are somewhat going on fire sales at the fish stores. The only big issue with LEDs that I've read about is the color not matching what they wanted, but, you've built your own fixture, so you have control to do whatever you want. I don't know what programming or dimming your fixture is capable of but I can imagine you dimming your fixture, lighting half the leds, lighting up all of the leds for a noonday burst, etc. I mean you've built it, so why not go customizing? Having said all that, those finnex led fixtures seem to be pretty good based on the rave reviews their owners have for them. The Ray2 will give you the higher light if you so desire. There's also the Current Satellite+ that comes with a remote to give you light effects and some guys have built an arduino controller to completely substitute the remote and run things on a schedule. The only bad thing about the Current is that it's less light than the Finnex fixtures. They've promised a higher light one but it's been taking forever. And if you REALLY wanted high power (which is kind of not the point since you already have one), then you can look into the BuildmyLed fixtures.
I've compared the three most often used lights for planted tanks- the Finnex FugeRay, the Orphek pendant and the buildmyled xb series. I found it interesting that none of them use 3W leds in their build and while Finnex light is a cheap alternative, it uses SMD LEDs which I can get from my workplace for way cheaper. I was suprised you can grow plants even with SMD Leds. Buildmyled.com has a nice fixture but for two of them I would have to shell out $650 which I am not willing at the moment.
Then I realized that if I intend to keep my current LED light, converting it to FW planted would be as simple as turning off the blue channel- the white spectrum in my light consist of about 30 cool white XM-L leds with few green and cyan LEDs. Question is, is it gonna be enough LEDs for a high tech tank? Do I need any other colors except Cool White and Green? I'm gonna have a lot Royal Blue, Violet and few Red Leds left that I can use to make an additional channel. Here's a picture of how this fixture looks like:





Quote:
#3 I have a formula for MTS but it takes a couple of weeks to make. Prepared by a
biologist and top rate stuff according to those who use it.
http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...on-talbot.html
Though it's not a regular commodity I have heard of people on here selling MTS.
Black Beauty(blasting sand) is widely used here and sold for like $8 per 40lb at Tractor Supply but if you look around I think that stuff you refered to is still available.
This is exactly what the guy I bought it from followed when he made MTS for me. Since I can't do it myself (I live in an apartment building) I would have to ask somebody to sell me some or turn to commercially available base layers, if any are existing.
I've read about this blasting sand but I am planning to keep a lot of bottom feeders so I need to be certain this stuff won't damage their whiskers and underbelly. If anyone know where to get 3M colorquartz, I would prefer that...

Quote:
This has not changed. Building your own is still the best and cheapest solution. You've already done one so it should be easy for you. There ARE newer solenoids and fittings and stuff so you might have too much fun there but if you want to make it easy, Bettatail is active again, he can probably just sell you a post body kit and you find the regulator. He's even got a regulator thread going where he's posting good fleabay finds..
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=575922
As for reactors, there's the cerges reactor/dwell time reactor. Gerry from above has a pretty nice video on his setup that's fed from the sump. http://www.barrreport.com/showthread...d-Video-Part-1. His is a "dwell time" that takes co2 before it enters the reactor but there's other people who inject the co2 directly into it.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=110100 Too bad most of his images are gone, but I'm sure you'll get the idea.
Great, I will look into that thread with regulator finds. Regarding the reactor, does anyone has success with these:

http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...7&pcatid=24117

or that one http://www.amazon.com/Sera-Flore-Active-CO2-Reactor/dp/B007A0PI0U
Quote:
#6 there is a liquid EI "kit"on here telling me it may work to use it in a liquid dispensed
system. Also PPS is liquid. Perpetual Preservation System
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...393&highlight=
PPS link:http://greenleafaquariums.com/aquarium-fertilizer.html
http://aquariumfertilizer.com/index....ditU=1&Regit=2
Great, I would plan to autodose liquid EI then, thanks for the link.

Once again thank you for your replies and keep the comments flowing

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-16-2014, 11:41 PM
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Welcome back, this place is the Valhalla for reefers I like to joke.

I would keep the tank, that thing is sweet, large rimless planted are awesome to behold. the larger volume of water doesn't hurt either. The benefits of the overflow are also useful, surface skimming (scum/protein layer), hide equipment, easy access, etc.

Don't know about the CO2 degassing, I would run a diffuser in the tank at 6-8bps w/sump.

I would probably add some more red LED's to the fixture as that would help balance the color/spectrum for a planted tank. Plants actually really like the blue light, but it just doesn't look that great on planted. 50-100 PAR should be able to grow anything.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-17-2014, 10:55 AM Thread Starter
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I can add Red Led's to the light without problem. That would be cool as I would save money on light+filter. Would you run just Eheim 2078 on that 100g of water or it's better to add a second filter, like 2217 or so...

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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-19-2014, 04:43 PM Thread Starter
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I've received quote for estes ceramaquartz T grade 2x50lb bags shipped to me $23 + $45 for shipping? What do you think?

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