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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

For the last 20+ years my main tank has been a 45 gallon (tall) that I've kept mostly Cichlids in. However, I have also kept some things that I had no business keeping in that tank, with various amounts of success;
(Silver Arrowana, Jardini, various Gar, Clown Knives, Pacu, Oscars, African Frogs, Fire Eel, Needlefish, etc.)

I've had this tank through College and have taken it down and set it back up over a dozen times from various moves. My wife and I are settled into a more permanent home now, and I have been wanting a larger tank.
I've planted with some, but not too much success. Mostly augmenting my plastic plants with some live ones. I have gone as far a building a low tech yeast based Co2 setup. I didn't see enough results from it, and lost interest in pursuing that route.

Below is a shot of the old 45 gallon.


I have always been pleased with how much value live plants have brought to my aquascapes, and have always envied lushly planted tanks. This time, I'm going all in. In November, I acquired a "new to me" 110 gallon setup. Tank, stand, hood, sump, and pump for $350 on Craigslist. I have been slowly getting it ready to transition out my 45 gallon and replace it with this 110 gallon.

The "new to me" one is an Oceanic 110 (60" wide x 24" tall x 18" deep). It has built-in overflows and is bottom drilled for drains and returns. It's sump is 36" x 18" x 12" (30 gallons). It was used as a marine reef tank and was pretty dirty when I got it. I have experience with under-gravel, HOB, and canister filtration. This will be my first attempt at sump filtration. My goal is to keep all equipment and lines out view, so the sump seems ideal for that.

So far, I have been busy cleaning the tank and sump. I have also been refinishing the stand and hood to match some of the accents of our living-room. I am now setting everything up in my garage before bringing it inside. Trying to ensure that I have no leaks, etc. The last owner intended for the pump to run outside of the sump. I feel that I would save a lot of space by running the pump inside the sump. I can see that I am going to have to make some alterations for that to work. I am going to have to move a sump partisan wall, to accommodate the pump (taking away space from the refugium). I am also going to have to re-plumb the tank return line to reach the in-sump pump.

I'm in no hurry and want to take my time to do this right.

Below are a few shots of the 110 coming together.









I am debating with myself whether I should try a dirted setup or not;
I like the low cost and DIY nature of using mineralized topsoil substrate. However, I am concerned with this being my first real planted setup, I will be wanting to make adjustments to the scape often and will be mudding things up by disturbing the substrate. I have around 120lbs of Black Diamond in the garage so far. I was planning on using it to cap the soil, but I may just get more and use it by itself instead.

I am planning on injecting Co2 and adding as much light as I can afford to.

I was given a single stage Victor regulator by my father in-law. For now the single stage will do, and I can apply my budget to lights and everything else. I already have a 10lb Co2 tank, needle valve, bubble counter, and I'm looking at solenoids also. I have already started buiding a Cerges reactor from a 20" Westinghouse water filter. I am planning on running it in-line from the sump return to the tank.

I have purchased an Ecoxotic E-120 Full Spectrum LED 48-Inch. I am a little concerned that with this much tank depth, I'll have a hard time getting enough PAR with only one.
I really don't want to have my planting limited by the lighting, so I am questioning whether or not to start with 2 E-Series or not? I got a pretty sweet deal on this one (@ $160 on Amazon ), I am going to wait and see how I like it before deciding. Soon it will be time to shop dosing pumps.



As far as tank inhabitants go...

my list of desired Fauna;
1 x Cockatoo Apisto
3 x Gold Nugget Pleco
5 x Bandit Cory
5 x Threadfin Rainbow
5 x German Blue Ram
7 x Glass Catfish
13 x Rummynose Tetra
21 x Neon Tetra (May want to consider more)

I'm considering adding shrimp as well, but have no experience with them at all.



My list of desired Flora;
Dwarf Baby Tears
Dwarf Saggitaria
Alternanthera reineckii "Mini"
Rotalla Wallichi
Eusteralis Stellata
Bucephalandra motleyana
Pogostemon stellatus

Anyway, that where everything stands now. If anyone has any advice or critique, let me know. I'm fairly thick skinned. I'll be updating my progress here as things come along.

Thanks for reading.
 

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Hello Texan,
You have a lot of things going on...

I think sumps are easier of maintenance that other type of mechanical filtration the problem is that your have a wet/dry filter and it will mix a lot of oxygen into the water. Search for sumps for planted tanks and for beananimal overflow systems, the goal here is to keep C02 in the water. Try to modify it.

The specifications of your light are showing that for a depth of 24” it’s going to have 45 pars. This is between low and medium intensity. If you’re going to use C02 is better to have high intensity, more than 50 pars. Some setups use more than 100 pars to really speed plant growing. You can read this article for more information: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/10-lighting/184368-lighting-aquarium-par-instead-watts.html.

You are debating if you should try a dirted setup or not to lower your costs but if your’re going to use CO2 I think you will have more operation costs. Also with dirted setups you can’t do a lot of adjustments to the scape, especially to the rooted plants, this can cause an ammonia pick.

I’m not an expert, just my two cents.
 

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Looks like a very nice set up and will be a nice addition to the room once complete.

I don't currently have a wet dry but it was fine and I have run sumps under my planted tank for 15 years now as have many other people here. They are noisier than a submerged drain for sure but you can easily tape up the wet dry area so CO2 doesn't escape and the wet dry actually serves as a CO2 reaction chamber. Oxygen is good for all living things, we just want to try to keep turbulence down so CO2 stays in the water. Or take out the wet dry and run submerged media instead. I have been extremely pleased with Poret foam for example, found it to work better than the wet dry's bioballs by a long shot.

Planted tanks don't often run refugiums but you can simply cover the pump intake with a prefilter sponge over a perforated pipe to protect critters rather than having 2 separate areas.

I do suspect you would be happier with 2 of those lights over the tank. Not for intensity so much but for good coverage. With 2 on different programs you will have a good time designing lighting. LED light can be on for much longer than with fluorescent bulbs as using less than 20% doesn't seem to encourage algae much. I run LED lights from 8am to 12am but most of the day the light is just for viewing as I detest having another giant black rectangle in the room. The TV is bad enough and the tank is much larger.

I take it from your fish selection that some are already in your tank? Gold Nuggets are really large and territorial, rummynose and glass cats might not be very compatible and too many schoolers/shoalers just make for a chaotic looking tank. What are your must haves?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Thanks for the feedback.

Whonc, I appreciate the link, very useful.
The cost savings of the dirt setup are negligible at this point. My interest in it lay more in the DIY side of things.

Kathyy,
Actually, none of the fish on my list are in my current tank. Right now I only have a large Oscar and a large Pleco, neither of which are not going to be in the new setup. I thought I remembered the Gold Nuggets being smaller, but I guess I was wrong. The glass cats are really a sentimental choice more than anything. I always liked them when I was a kid.
My only must haves right now are the Blue Rams really. I originally wanted to have a small school of Congo Tetras, but I am hesitant after reading about them eating plants. I was thinking the Threadfin Rainbows may be good alternate for them.

I have been shopping a 2nd Ecoxotic E-120. I got a great deal on the 1st one. I'm really regretting not getting the 2nd one then.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So, I have gotten some work done.
Its going much slower than I'd like. Having a 5 month old daughter is really occupying my spare time right now. I'm very happy to be busy with her...
With that being said, I was able to rebuild the return lines to accommodate my reactor and push the pick-up over enough to run the pump inside of the sump. I used unions to incorporate the reactor, and I built a reactor bypass (straight through with union connectors) incase I need to remove the reactor for whatever unforeseen reason. Its sitting on the corner of the sump in the picture below.



The tank came with a Sicce Syncra 5.0 pump that the previous owner claimed was "brand new". I found that when I tried to power it up that the impeller shaft was rattling around, and there is a small crack in the intake neck, which makes me regret not inspecting it closer when I bought the setup. But, I still think I did okay overall on the purchase. I found a rebuild kit for the Sicce online consisting of a new impeller and bearings for @ $69. Considering that there are so few moving parts, I thought I'd try to refurbish it before I bit the bullet on a new pump. I got the rebuild kit installed, and no-go, its still rattling pretty bad. Not picking up any water. So, I went ahead and got a Jebao DCT-8000. From what I have researched about them, I understand that these are fairly new to the market and there is not enough history behind them to really judge them yet. It wasn't much more in cost, than the Sicce re-build kit. So. if it turns out to be crap, I won't be too hurt about it. I have it in the sump, running now. To be honest, its running very quietly. I'm impressed so far.



So, the tank is filled, and running for now. The pump seems to be pushing enough water through the reactor. I realize that will change once I add some media inside it, and the sump. I'm shopping for Poret foam, as Kathyy suggested. I plan on adding some white vinegar and letting it run for a week or two, There's still a bit of calcium crusted from the reef setup it contained prior to my ownership. I'm going to let it run, and see if it leaks anywhere. Then, I'll drain and clean it more thoroughly.

In the meantime, I'll get to work on my regulator, it appears to have the wrong post body for my application. That will be a different thread.

I'll update again soon.

Thanks!
 

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Hahaha, you think having a 5 month old is keeping you busy. Give the kid another 3 months until crawling. You put them down on a blanket, and they dart for the farthest corner of the room.

I see you are from texas. The reason the pump was outside was maybe to help keep water cool in summer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hahaha, you think having a 5 month old is keeping you busy. Give the kid another 3 months until crawling. You put them down on a blanket, and they dart for the farthest corner of the room.

I see you are from texas. The reason the pump was outside was maybe to help keep water cool in summer.
Yeah, I keep learning all these things as we go. At the rate that the tank is coming along, she'll be in high school before its in the house.

The pump may have been outside the tank for temperature reasons. I imagine that would be more important with a reef tank than a planted fresh water. Either way, there is much more room down there now for everything else. Also, I think if my memory serves me correctly, the Jebeo DCTs are supposed to be run submerged.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
why didn't you get a DCS pump? jebao claims that they are even better than the DCT
I'm hoping to have my DCS7000 in the mail today so I can test it :D

Not sure. I don't remember seeing them when I was shopping. I'd love to hear how the DCS works out for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I have made some progress with the tank, its now inside.

I got held up on plans to tap the plumbing and add an automatic water change system. I was trying to hold off bringing everything in, before that was ready. The more I though about it, it became clear that even under the best designed plan the potential of flooding the room would be raised exponentially. I suppose that is actually true of any aquarium. Anyway, we are not going to tap the plumbing for now. Besides, its been months, and I miss having a tank. Enough hold ups.

You will notice in the first picture that its sitting under the stairs. This caused a problem trying to open the hood. The piano hinge was along the back, which resulted in the hood hitting the angle of the stairs. So, I moved the piano hinge on the hood from the back to the left hand side. I can now open the hood, and prop it up with a stick. I try not to mess around under it, as I feel like I'm in a mouse trap that's ready to spring. It will be fine for feeding and day-to-day maintenance. If I need to do anything complicated, the hood will have to come off.

You will also notice in the pictures that the glass is pretty foggy. There is still a film on the glass. I've been scraping with razors and scrubbing with mr clean magic erasers for weeks. It looks clean for a bit, but fogs again shortly after.

I hope it will subside with water in the tank.


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I took the ceramic medium from our 45 gallon's canister filter, and added it with the medium in the sump. I hope it helps to cycle the tank faster.

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Its also been hardscaped.


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We used Black Diamond blasting medium for our substrate. It was washed in a large cooler. I let it soak for a week and would step outside and rinse it with freshwater once a day, making sure to agitate the sediment. At the end of the week, I was able to syphon a lot of the sediment off, it had settled in a fine layer on top of the Black Diamond. As a result we had very little of the oil-layer that I read people complain about. It was evident while rinsing, but have seen nothing in the tank.
I got way too much Black Diamond. We washed 3, 50lb bags. I still have 3 unwashed. I didn't use all the washed either. Probably 2/3s of it. But, there are spots where is has settled, and I plan to add more. Good thing it was relatively cheap.

The driftwood is Manzanita mostly. I am not sure about the large piece. There is also some small pieces and rocks from our previous set up, that I hope will also help the tank cycle.

The rock-wall may come off as unnatural. Our scape isn't intended to be realistic. It was something that we wanted to try in the landscaping in our yard, and tried it here first. I like the topography that it helps to provide. I think it will be a little more subtle with some moss, and time.



Anyway, that's where we're at for now. I'll update again soon. Hopefully with some better pictures.

Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
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So, I have gotten the plants in the tank. Just in time to go on vacation. Hopefully when I get home, I will find growth and not melt.

I'll be keeping my fingers crossed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
So, its been over a month since my last update.

First off, the sump is awfully loud. It was really loud at first. I change the overflows to Stockmans and it got a little better. I need to enclose the back of the stand next. Its echoing off the wall right now.

We have added some more plants; Rotala Wallichii ( a lot of this ), Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Brown', Hygrophila Lanceolata Araguaia. Everything is growing and looking pretty good. I see growth in everything. Looking forward to getting everything dialed and flourishing.

I was running Co2 for a week, but had a hard time maintaining a consistent air feed with the shady regulator I have. For now it isn't running. I'm looking for a new regulator now. I have also been manually dosing Metricide, daily. I still need to set up the dosing pump to handle this.

I've also had a Diatom outbreak. I've wiped it off of all the surface areas I can, and it doesn't seem to be coming back as quickly as it was going at first. I suspect it has to do with the silica still present from the former reef. I look forward to getting a better regulator soon to help with that.

We are still seeing a lot of "fogging" on the glass. There are small areas that appear to be the outlines of small starfish, present again from the former reef before we bought it. Not sure how to address that yet.

We have added some fish as well; 20 Red Serpae Tetra, 12 Lemon Tetra, 4 Congos, 2 Cory Cats, and a Betta. They are all looking great. I know its a whole lot of Tetras, but we enjoy the movement. I need to get something a little larger in there to get them to shoal better. That and stop feeding only on the right side of the tank. They are always stacked up right there, it drives me nuts.

All in all, I'm happy with the progress of the tank. I sit down and stare at and I'm always seeing new little areas I hadn't noticed before. Our daughter, who is 1 today, will have pretty epic meltdowns lately. I pull up a bench and sit her on my knee and she calms down everytime, its amazing. Anyway, I'm really enjoying it now, and can imagine I will enjoy the tank more as it matures.

Here's some pictures.


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I had a similar tank (200 oceanic) with the dual overflows. If yours is the same each corner has two holes of the same side drilled. To quiet this thing down, I ran a full syphon in one of the holes and the emergency flow in the other. I then ran the return over the back center of the tank. You could probably get away with using the four holes total as one set for a bean animal over flow which is an excellent design. I currently have a 120 tank and only have a single overflow. There is a calculator on reefcentral's main page for drain size.

How are you liking the Jebao. I have a Sicce now and keep looking at these pumps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks Lost South. That gives me plenty to think about.
As for the Jebao, I have no complaints. The features all work as advertised, with a simple controller. Its pretty quiet, especially compared to everything else. For the money, I may buy a 2nd as a back just for peace of mind.
 
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