to cover or not - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 32 (permalink) Old 09-30-2015, 11:55 PM Thread Starter
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to cover or not

Just a general question.
some people use a top cover for the tank, usually that came with the tank. some people keep the tank open.

any reasons for one or another, besides:
pros covered tank: less evaporation, fish will not fly out of the tank, protect the light from water especially if the light is close to the water, ?
pros not to cover: more light gets into tank (condensation will obscure some light), enjoy the tank from the top view, ?

any impact on CO2 or O2? or any other important factors for plants or/and fish?

Just curious.

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post #2 of 32 (permalink) Old 10-01-2015, 12:29 AM
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Hi alphabeta,

You summed up the major reason as to why and why not have a glass top. I use them because I have lost fish from jumping and I don't like to have to fill my tank more than once a week.

As for the loss of light; I did some tests to quantify the amount of loss using our club PAR meter. I used my standard 30 gallon (36" length) with an 2X36 watt (6700K) AH Supply kit over a Aqueon Versa-Top. With new bulbs in the fixture and no glass top the PAR = 110; with "dirty"* Versa-Top in place PAR = 96; with cleaned Versa-Top in place PAR = 101. All readings were taken at the substrate level about 13 inches below the fixture.

dirty* = lots of dried water spots on top, condensation; dust

So in answer to quantify the response it does block light; a dirty* glass top reduces light by about 13%; a clean glass top reduces it by about 8%.....not a much as some might think.

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75 Gallon, 2X55W AH Supply CF 8800K, 1XFluval F&P 2.0; 45 Gallon Tall, 96Watt AH Supply CF 6700K; 30 Gallon Long; Fluval F&P 2.0; 20 Gallon, 1X26W AH Supply LED; all with CO2 and (Calcined) Montmorillonite Clay
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post #3 of 32 (permalink) Old 10-01-2015, 12:31 AM
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I personally decided to go lidless. For 2 reasons, i dont have enough money to afford a glass top , and i dont really keep fish that are known for jumping
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post #4 of 32 (permalink) Old 10-01-2015, 12:33 AM Thread Starter
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@Seattle_Aquarist thanks! interesting and very useful actually to have some PAR numbers on that. indeed, ~10% loss is not a big loss.

I am still interested regarding O2. Probably i am overthinking it, but if the water is to the top, say 1/2"-3/4" to the glass, and the glass covers the tank very well, with little room at the edges. Does that impact how much O2 is dissolved actually in water from the current rips of the filter? Can that create O2 deficiency for the fish, while CO2 is run at 25-30ppm? How that squares?

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Last edited by alphabeta; 10-01-2015 at 12:34 AM. Reason: adds
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post #5 of 32 (permalink) Old 10-01-2015, 12:42 AM
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Tank Covers or No

Hello alph...

I have both covered and uncovered tanks. If you have fish that tend to be jumpers, then you've got to keep the tank covered. i have emersed plants in some tanks and the leaves must be out of the water for them to grow properly. I have these uncovered to allow the leaves to grow above the tank. Either way, I don't think CO2 is affected. It's in the surrounding air and in the dissolved fish and plant wastes and this seems to provide enough nutrients for my plants.

Your call.

B

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post #6 of 32 (permalink) Old 10-01-2015, 01:02 AM
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There is a difference with gas exchange as well. I can't say for sure what the difference is with added CO2 since I run low tech. But since I am low tech I don't run a glass lid. Plus I like the look and don't feel like buying one. A canopy might be another way to go as it won't block the light but keeps the jumpers in place. Also, some people use egg crate for jumpers but it does block some light as well.
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post #7 of 32 (permalink) Old 10-01-2015, 03:19 AM
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I have hatchets and eels and four little kids that throw things.... I have a versa top with the black rubber strip removed
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post #8 of 32 (permalink) Old 10-01-2015, 07:37 AM
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cover vs non-cover

Quote:
Originally Posted by alphabeta View Post
I am still interested regarding O2. Probably i am overthinking it, but if the water is to the top, say 1/2"-3/4" to the glass, and the glass covers the tank very well, with little room at the edges. Does that impact how much O2 is dissolved actually in water from the current rips of the filter? Can that create O2 deficiency for the fish, while CO2 is run at 25-30ppm? How that squares?

alphabeta,

Your question regarding O2 is really important and you are not overthinking it !!

When you have a tightly covered tank with little room at the edges, you essentially have a CLOSED system! Under these conditions Henry's law has to be applied when it comes to estimating the amount of dissolved gasses in the tank.
[Henry's law states: "At a constant temperature, the amount of a given gas that dissolves in a given type and volume of liquid is directly proportional to the partial pressure of that gas in equilibrium with that liquid."]

This means, if you sparge a single gas (in your case CO2) into a CLOSED Tank system, this gas will eventually replace all other gases in that system. In other words, given enough time CO2 will drive O2 out of your tank (not just oxygen, but nitrogen too). Consequently, your fish will suffocate due to the lack of O2. [NOT due to the presence of CO2]

However, in the planted tank things are somewhat different. As long as the light is on, the plants photosynthesize and produce ample of O2 in situ, so your fish have enough O2 to breathe (min. of 4 ppm is needed).

I want to emphasize that the danger of driving O2 out of your tank ONLY exists for the CLOSED system. If your tank is OPEN, the gasses (over the water column) mix so fast with the surrounding air that you can no longer drive O2 out of your tank i.e. below critical levels.

THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT DIFFERENCE between an OPEN and glass COVERED (CLOSED) aquarium!
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post #9 of 32 (permalink) Old 10-01-2015, 09:51 AM
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I cannot say on which side you all think I belong in this discussion - I personally place myself with the advocates of the open tank though all and each of my tanks (all planted) are completely enclosed by canopies on the top.

The inside of all the canopies have good reflective surfaces and are water resistant. The canopy houses the lights and to prevent condensation and accumulation of heat are provided with ventilation and exhaust (air extraction) fans. There are no glass sheets or any other transparent barrier between the canopy and the tank's water surface. The canopy will prevent attempts of escape by even the best jumpers as there are no gaps and all the air ducts have 5mm screens.

Technically speaking my tanks are covered, I have hatches through which I feed the tank and do the necessary chores. I appear to have the best of both the worlds.

I did not consciously hatch upon this canopy system. My first tank was a birthday gift from my parents more than 50 years ago - that tank had a double sloping shed type canopy with an incandescent bulb; and wire meshed ventilator spaces on its 2 triangular sides; and a small hatch opening on one of its sloped roof for feeding. That tank was a 2'X1'X1.25' tank with sheet metal frame and base. As I grew more ambitious I started building bigger tanks for myself and stuck to the same basic model. The town we lived in did not have any aquarium shop those days - in fact I believe my little tank was the first for that town. Over the years my canopies only got a little more sophisticated but has the same basic features.

If you have a choice, you have a problem, till you elect your choice. No choice, no problem, only consequences, learn to live with them.

Last edited by essabee; 10-01-2015 at 09:58 AM. Reason: add
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post #10 of 32 (permalink) Old 10-01-2015, 12:01 PM
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I use lids to keep the moisture (evaporation) down in the canopy AND under my stand since I have a sump. With 8' of open top tank, I'm sure I'd be loosing too much water to evaporation. Right now, I lose about an inch or so from my sump (55 gallon tank) every week.

I also want to mention children and pets. I have both. Well, not to mention I'm known for tossing things when I play with my daughter. A lid is a great safety net so that Doc McStuffins doesn't go for a swim with the fishes.


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post #11 of 32 (permalink) Old 10-01-2015, 01:02 PM
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Running close to 30 tanks and in the area of 1,000G of water, I'll just say that I only keep a few of them topless and that's largely determined by plants and inhabitants. The large majority are glass-covered and they are DIY's with glass that's scavenged from broken or Petco cheapo tanks. The glass tops do not go edge to edge and simply serve to at least limit evaporation and contain splashing from filters, not eliminate it. Even the glass tops aren't 100% "jumper-safe". I've had fish squirt through the 1/4" gap in the back of some tanks that allows the heater cord through. Lastly, glass tops that are a little thicker than versa tops gives me a safe place to rest fish food containers, and just as conveniently a safe place for my coffee cup.

Angelo

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post #12 of 32 (permalink) Old 10-01-2015, 02:43 PM
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I currently have my 75 gallon uncovered. I run into over-heating issues. Removing the lids keeps this to a minimum.

g4search: I had learned differently. That adding CO2 to the water column is exactly that. Adding CO2 does not remove any molecules, it just adds to it. So I'm not sure about the driving O2 off. Since I doubt anyone plans on adding CO2 to their system without plants, I suppose it's a moot point anyway.
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post #13 of 32 (permalink) Old 10-01-2015, 02:54 PM Thread Starter
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thanks All for sharing the info. Useful and instructive. Looks like there is no one solution, as expected, but looks like having some open area while covering with glass is recommended.

@g4search very interesting, and backs up what i had at intuitive level.

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post #14 of 32 (permalink) Old 10-01-2015, 03:33 PM
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I do regular 50% water changes and loose less water if there is a top. I'd rather not
top off mid week. Sure it depends on the humidity level where you live. But TDS changes with top off's if you don't use dist. or R/O water for it. But I use an air stone to power my filter so that adds to evaporation.
I do get a glass place to cut a glass top for me that is short by 1" on each end for access. Heater line/air line/feeding. Cleans easier and doesn't have that strip.

The shortest distance between any two points is a straight line...in the opposite direction...
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post #15 of 32 (permalink) Old 10-01-2015, 03:53 PM
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I usually end up using a lid depending on the time of year it is. In the summer I don't use a lid but in the winter when the air in the house gets dry and I start noticing a lot of evap...that's when I'll put the lid on.
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