Bought a fixer-upper tank and got it planted - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-07-2014, 05:17 AM Thread Starter
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Bought a fixer-upper tank and got it planted

Long post ahead warning....

I've kept fish for years, run of the mill 55 community tank with pretty colored gravel and fake plants. I always thought the planted tanks I'd seen looked so much better. My interest in having a planted tank led me here and the more I read I thought why not give it go. I didn't want to tear down my 55 and start over and I've always wanted a bigger tank so.... I browsed my local Craigslist and $250 later I hauled home a 100 g Clear For Life acrylic Uniquarium, stand, canopy, light hood, 1 year old Fluval 406, 2 broken heaters and 3/4 of a bottle of Prime. Not the steal of the century but I think I did OK. Here's the tank in my garage, lots of mineral deposits and dried sludge. Excuse the messy garage.



Cleaned the tank with vinegar/water and a micro-cloth. The mineral deposits and sludge were gone but it looked like the previous owner must have tipped the tank on its front to dump out the substrate, it was covered in scratches, inside and out. Notice that nice deep nick on the corner.



After watching YT vids of other people polishing up acrylic tanks I thought that doesn't look to difficult. So I procured some Novus polish and a large Flitz buffing ball, broke out my drill and got to work. Took my time and 4 hours later here's how it turned out. The Novus heavy scratch polish wouldn't quite get out the deep nicks and scratches so I used some polish from a headlight repair kit, it was much grittier. That did the trick.





The tank in its new place. I know, risky location with those hardwood floors but no other options.



Filled it up this past week, being a beginner with plants I'm going low tech. Tank is cycling, so far, so good.

Substrate: Eco Complete (sprinkled a little Osmocote + on the bottom first)

Plants: Anubias and Java Fern and two unknowns at each end. Slim pickings at the LFS.

Light: 10K 60" LED - Being returned, to bright, to blue, spotlighting. Dimmable 6500K LED arriving on Monday.



Now for the questions. This tank has what I believe was a trickle filter in the rear(see first pic). The previous owners didn't have any the parts for it, they just used a Fluval 406. Currently I have the intake from the 406 in the right side rear chamber. I like how you don't see any tubes visible inside the tank but will this work OK? Is it necessary or beneficial to have the intake inside the tank section? Is a single 406 enough? It's rated for a 100G.

The 406 doesn't produce much flow going thru the double nozzle inside the tank. I have an extra 306 but there is no place to run the the tubing inside the tank without running hoses across the top and going thru the cutouts in the center. The tubes could be secured to the back with suction cups. Or... I could place the 306 intake in another chamber in the back use a Y fitting to run the outputs from both the 306 and 406 thru the one nozzle. Any advice one way or the other?

Or should I investigate how to get the trickle filter working like it was originally? Or just get one filter large enough to do the job .... sounds $$$$

Any critiques, advice and pointers would be much appreciated. I know I'll have some questions as things move forward and hopefully not backwards.....
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-07-2014, 05:41 AM
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I don't know if this helps, but I did manage to find an image of the original filter configuration. Pretty sure those back partition filters are wet/dry filters but I have no experience with them.

http://www.advanceaquatanks.com/uniqrectangle.html

It seems you can also buy the parts you would need to reconstitute that filter from the same site. Really all you need is the filtration pads and bio balls or other media, and a pump all of which are collectively less expensive than a canister and less risky to run as there is no chance of it springing a leak. It looks like all of the partitions are intact within the wet/dry system so it wouldn't take much to put it back together.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-07-2014, 06:59 AM
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That is a nice tank,good job on refurbishing it.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-07-2014, 01:37 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goodbytes View Post
I don't know if this helps, but I did manage to find an image of the original filter configuration. Pretty sure those back partition filters are wet/dry filters but I have no experience with them.

http://www.advanceaquatanks.com/uniqrectangle.html

It seems you can also buy the parts you would need to reconstitute that filter from the same site. Really all you need is the filtration pads and bio balls or other media, and a pump all of which are collectively less expensive than a canister and less risky to run as there is no chance of it springing a leak. It looks like all of the partitions are intact within the wet/dry system so it wouldn't take much to put it back together.
Thanks for the info. I did some googling on this setup and quite a few people mentioned using bio balls, the phrase "ammonia factory" came up often. Never used this type of filter so I'm in the dark. It looks like all I need to get it working is foam/sponge pads, some type of bio media and a powerhead. I need to research this further.

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Originally Posted by Riceman View Post
That is a nice tank,good job on refurbishing it.
Thanks, believe me I was a bit anxious at the idea of taking an abrasive polish and a power drill powered buffer to an acrylic tank at first. I experimented on the back and when I saw that it worked great I went to town.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-07-2014, 02:31 PM
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Bio balls are used in pond filters where you can set up a large filter, and the coarse structure allows more debris to pass through without clogging the system.

They are not very efficient spaces to grow bacteria.

In an aquarium you can set up the filter media to remove the debris first, then use a more efficient bio media that does not take up much room, but grows a lot more bacteria.

The common derogatory term for a bio filter is 'Nitrate Factory'
But think!
If the bacteria were not turning the ammonia and nitrite into nitrate, the ammonia and nitrite would kill the fish. Would it be better if these materials stayed in their more toxic forms?

In a planted tank the plants actually take the nitrogen out of the water, hold it in their leaves. You remove the nitrogen when you prune the plants.
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-07-2014, 02:33 PM
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I think Bio Bale, found on the Flea Bay is a great bio-media for a trickle filter.
A lot better than bio balls. Price check them because the price varies greatly from one seller to the next.
I use it in both my tank filters on top of the other media in each.
Water direction is down. Comes in lower left and then down through the media.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/pi...ictureid=43401

The shortest distance between any two points is a straight line...in the opposite direction...
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-07-2014, 03:27 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for info Diana and Ray. I think I will give this a try, would some of the same type of bio media that is used in a canister filter be a good choice?
There are two chambers for bio media, I could try that in one chamber and use that floss in the other.

Could someone point me in the right direction for a powerhead and recommend a solid, reliable brand, I have no experience with these. Thanks.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-07-2014, 07:11 PM
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You did a great job on your tank!

I ended up going with wetdry micromesh paper as the coralline build up was bad on my tank then doing the polishing. Hard work but sure couldn't use the tank as it came.

My first modern day planted tank was a SeaClearII, tank with a built in sump. I was lucky and all the parts were there but it was still pretty confusing. It sold me on using sumps and I don't plan to ever run a tank without one again. I think it was the consistent water level in the display that won me over first.

The pump needs to be the right size to fit in the unit and doesn't need to be very strong as it isn't pumping up more than a foot or so. A brief search shows a 90 gallon Uniquarium takes a 690gph Rio 2100. Rio pumps come with a wide assortment of attachments, one being a ball valve to adjust the pump flow in case your pump is a bit too much for the overflow to handle. Reef people hate Rios, I haven't had any trouble with them. Measure the actual space between teeth [not the length of the toothed area] to estimate how much water can go through the system using this calculator. http://www.captivereefs.com/forum/dr...alculator.html Go in reverse, pick a number and see how large an overflow is needed. A 600gph pump needs 9 linear inches of a flat overflow. Since a toothed overflow might be 1:1 that means you need 18 inches of toothed overflow. Then check the room available for the pump to be sure your choice fits. Probably will.

It actually looks like most of the plumbing is already in your tank. Bulkhead to return? You would turn the right angle to face down and run a bit of plastic hose down to the pump in that case.

I just used the bioballs already in the unit but would use the biobale or Poret sponge instead. The bioballs definitely aren't as good as Poret. Another filter substrate used by cheapskates are $ store scrubbies but they fell to bits in a couple years, not so cheap after all! You don't need many sorts of filter media, get your choice for the main one and use a piece of firm foam to catch stuff where the water goes between the overflow and the next sump compartment that you can rinse out often. Floss is a mess as it compacts more every time you rinse it out, use foam. Reef tank people hate nitrates, us planted tank people like them fine as they serve as plant food!

Summing up, a pump and hose, then something to serve as a prefilter and your filter media to buy. Disregard all the compartments and just use them for biomedia and your heaters. I'd think it would be cheaper than a new canister.

Makes for a nice clean set up with zero hoses outside the tank with no equipment in the tank as heaters can go in the sump area. The black return vanishes as well.


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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-07-2014, 09:10 PM
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Nice tank and for a good price.

Yes that's wet/dry and putting your intake in the back won't make much difference as long as you clean your bottom with a w/c. The big advantage is the surface of the water will be clear and without a film. Good for light. But if it was me I would see if you can get the parts to get it to work. No canister to leak because your filter is build in to your tank. It doesn't look that difficult to figure out. My only concern would be it's little harder to maintain.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-07-2014, 10:33 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kathyy View Post
You did a great job on your tank!

I ended up going with wetdry micromesh paper as the coralline build up was bad on my tank then doing the polishing. Hard work but sure couldn't use the tank as it came.

My first modern day planted tank was a SeaClearII, tank with a built in sump. I was lucky and all the parts were there but it was still pretty confusing. It sold me on using sumps and I don't plan to ever run a tank without one again. I think it was the consistent water level in the display that won me over first.

The pump needs to be the right size to fit in the unit and doesn't need to be very strong as it isn't pumping up more than a foot or so. A brief search shows a 90 gallon Uniquarium takes a 690gph Rio 2100. Rio pumps come with a wide assortment of attachments, one being a ball valve to adjust the pump flow in case your pump is a bit too much for the overflow to handle. Reef people hate Rios, I haven't had any trouble with them. Measure the actual space between teeth [not the length of the toothed area] to estimate how much water can go through the system using this calculator. http://www.captivereefs.com/forum/dr...alculator.html Go in reverse, pick a number and see how large an overflow is needed. A 600gph pump needs 9 linear inches of a flat overflow. Since a toothed overflow might be 1:1 that means you need 18 inches of toothed overflow. Then check the room available for the pump to be sure your choice fits. Probably will.

It actually looks like most of the plumbing is already in your tank. Bulkhead to return? You would turn the right angle to face down and run a bit of plastic hose down to the pump in that case.

I just used the bioballs already in the unit but would use the biobale or Poret sponge instead. The bioballs definitely aren't as good as Poret. Another filter substrate used by cheapskates are $ store scrubbies but they fell to bits in a couple years, not so cheap after all! You don't need many sorts of filter media, get your choice for the main one and use a piece of firm foam to catch stuff where the water goes between the overflow and the next sump compartment that you can rinse out often. Floss is a mess as it compacts more every time you rinse it out, use foam. Reef tank people hate nitrates, us planted tank people like them fine as they serve as plant food!

Summing up, a pump and hose, then something to serve as a prefilter and your filter media to buy. Disregard all the compartments and just use them for biomedia and your heaters. I'd think it would be cheaper than a new canister.

Makes for a nice clean set up with zero hoses outside the tank with no equipment in the tank as heaters can go in the sump area. The black return vanishes as well.
Kathy,

Wow, thanks for the knowledge transfer, really appreciate it. I measured the toothed overflow, it was 11.5 inches. When I plugged 700 GPH into the calculator in your link it returned linear overflow size = 11 inches. Found info on the Rio 2100, it will fit in the sump, I will go ahead and order one. Getting the bulkhead return orientated down into the sump will be a snap, the previous owner rotated it 180 and attached an elbow and an extension tube so it would work with the canister filter. Found Poret sponge material and BioBale, too. This may be easier to get going than I believed, again, many thanks.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clear Water View Post
Nice tank and for a good price.

Yes that's wet/dry and putting your intake in the back won't make much difference as long as you clean your bottom with a w/c. The big advantage is the surface of the water will be clear and without a film. Good for light. But if it was me I would see if you can get the parts to get it to work. No canister to leak because your filter is build in to your tank. It doesn't look that difficult to figure out. My only concern would be it's little harder to maintain.
I believe Kathy has provided me with enough info to get it going, once I get all the components assembled and get it going I will reply back with the results. Thanks for advice, appreciate it.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-08-2014, 03:40 AM
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If the total length of the overflow is 11.5" and the teeth and gaps are equal in size then you have a 5.25" linear overflow! The overflow on my current tank is 15" or so and with the teeth present only had 7.5" of lineal overflow. I wanted to put 1000gph or so over it so I knocked out the teeth with my little old Dremel and a cutting wheel and was good to go. Sure hate that that calculator was right but it was.

Trickiest part of the whole thing is getting the right amount of water in the system. Full to the top in both tank and sump means tank will get too full. Too much pump for the system means tank will fill too high as the overflow cannot handle that much water, that is where the ball valve comes in. How I never had a big flood is beyond me, worst that happened was full to the brim in the tank. I don't even remember what I did to fix it, drop the moveable overflow teeth down? Remove some water?


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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-08-2014, 12:34 PM Thread Starter
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Kathy, I understand now. I will downsize the powerhead to 400 GPH. I don't want to dremel any teeth away from the overflow. Is turning the water over 4x per hour adequate?
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-08-2014, 09:25 PM
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Maybe it is okay, maybe not. You would just add a powerhead near the return to add more water movement if you aren't seeing movement all over the tank. Right now I am satisfied with about 5x where I wasn't happy with ~3x. The pattern matters a lot as well and apparently this ordinary commercial pattern works just fine.


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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-09-2014, 01:33 PM Thread Starter
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Kathy,

On removing the teeth from the overflow, did you you have any issues with fish getting into the filter area? That is my primary concern. I would like to increase overflow in order to go with larger pump, reconsidering removing the teeth now.
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-09-2014, 02:00 PM
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I have a screen in my overflow to prevent fish and larger debre from entering my sump it's made out of black plastic fencing like u see around gardens sometimes I don't know the exact name of it but it works well , ball valves are a big plus on both sides the return and the intake it allows you to fine tune the system to get the right overflow amount your better off with a bigger pump then too small of a pump that can't keep up
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