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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After many months off tending to some serious reef tank issues, I'm back and ready to get my first freshwater planted tank up and running! I've had reef aquariums my whole life, but there is a certain subdued, simple, yet striking beauty to a well done planted tank that has always drawn my interest.

Tank Goals:

1. Full bottom carpet plant.
2. A terrestrial look.
3. Galaxy rasboras.
4. A fulfilling experience.

I'm a tinkerer. I love all that goes with setting up a tank. Every part of the build, testing, tweaking, researching, etc. I believe that will be reflected in this build. I hope I can lean on the experience of those more well versed in this hobby for the assistance I will most certainly need to be successful. As such, I thank everyone who contributes in advance, and would like to reiterate my thanks to those who have helped to this point!

Bump: Every build starts with a stand. First things first, the skeleton:



Fresh coat of white paint:



As I usually do, I used Rocketengineers basic skeleton concept, found here:

http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1169964
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
You'll have to excuse my mess of a garage. It'll get cleaned up when the build is finished, but I usually work in a state of organized chaos.

Anyway, you'll see I added some lights. I put lighting in all my stands, and prefer mogul based bulbs that I can wire to a switch:



You'll also see the outlets. I like having outlets built into the stand. It's infinitely more convienent. Of course, you must make sure to have the first outlet in the chain be a GFCI!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Tank stand skeletons are ugly. Well, I like them, but they tend not to fit with the decor of a room. And it's generally convenient to have the guts tucked away. People and animals have a tendency to do major damage to fish tank guts... So, time to "skin" the stand.



I built this panel, and two matching side panels, but couldn't figure out what color to stain the Xs. Thanks to the advice of someone on a hockey forum of all places, I found my answer.



Grey! Just like the rest of the panel... But the second part of the suggestion was to make the background a dark walnut, which I think turned out very nice.

Bump: One thing I hate on stands: Hinges. I hate doors. They are so inconvenient. But I found a great workaround online that I have been using for years now. Magnets! Those magnets that hold cabinet doors closed are surprisingly strong. Strong enough to easily hold that large front panel on with just three. That panel is about 32 inches wide by 36 inches high, by the way:







This way, all three panels are completely removable, and exceptionally easily replaced. You would be amazed at how much more access this grants you to the inside of the stand. Removing the entire sump, if necessary, becomes much, much easier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I really have to thank a few people for assisting in solenoid selection. Particularly @jeffkrol, @PlantedRich and @guy4123. I learned a lot about solenoids and what best suited my needs. Went with the Clippard and it works great! I managed to squeeze the entire setup into a small space because the solenoid was so small.





Also a huge thanks to @Aqua99 for basically walking me through regulator selection. I got a tremendous deal on the regulator following Aqua's advice.

Bump: Those pictures are a bit of a teaser, so here is a slightly more finished state of the stand. I admittedly started to get a bit lazy with plumbing. It's not super clean, and I'm not super proud of that fact, but it should be very functional, and that matters most. You can see that this tank will be controlled via an Apex.

 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Some may recognize this overflow setup. for everyone out there that has ever run any type of overflow system and not used the beananimal setup, do yourself a favor and try it out on your next setup BeanAnimal's Bar and Grill - Silent and Fail-Safe Overflow System. By far my favorite return system. It's not complete yet as I just got the glass to construct the actual overflow box, but you can see the beginnings of it.



I had to get a couply pipe support brackets to hold the pipes on the back, which worked quite nicely:



I'm interested to see how much space this actually takes up in the tank. I don't think it will be too bad once completed. It's certainly going to be far less obtrusive than having any equipment in the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
If there is one thing that I am terrible at, it's silicone seams. I will always and forever be awful at them. That said, it's doesn't help when you order glass pieces that aren't quite large enough and you end up with 1/4" gaps on either side of your sump baffles... At least they seem to be watertight seals!



The glass for the internal overflow fit very nicely. It doesn't take up too much room in the tank, and the seals also seem to the water tight!



Getting a bit closer every day! Light is on order, just need to stock up on some test kits and ferts. I'm thinking of trying a dry start to for the carpet plant. Got some ideas for that process.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Light shipped today! Got a good deal on a second hand Seneye. I've read mixed reviews, but I'm interested to give the PAR meter a shot.

Thinking about ferts. I'd love to do a solution to dose via a doser. This is where I would like to lean on experience (@Greggz, @burr740, @Seattle_Aquarist) and where I lack it completely. I'd like to follow the EI method, and would greatly appreciate suggestions on ferts, as in what and where to purchase. I think I understand micros vs. macros. If I understand correctly, the main macros are phosphate and nitrate. Each can be added via different compounds. Micros include iron, calcium, magnesium, etc. Is there a good micro mix that would be recommended? Specific Macros?

Thanks!
 

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Nice build! As for ferts, the easiest thing would be to purchase this - Estimative Index | Aquarium Fertilizer Bags | GLA Dry Ferts

They have articles on their website how to mix and calculate and all that, links to the EI method etc

Read up on some of that stuff. Once you have a better general understanding, post any specific questions and someone will be glad to help
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Getting close! Light arrived, just have to mount it. Doser arrived, a few other odds and ends will arrive tomorrow. I'll get some more pictures up soon.

I have a question regarding water. Is there a general preference between dechlorinated tap water or reminerlized RO/DI water for a high tech build? I have an RO for my reef tank, so either option is equally viable. I like the idea of being able to precisely control the makeup of the water after going through the RO, but if it isn't worth the effort (or potential of screwing up the remineralization process) for the potential gain, I'd rather not go down that path.
 

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That rock kinda looks like mica. Is it a bit flakey? A quick search shows it seems ok to use if that's what it is, but I have no experience with it myself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
That rock kinda looks like mica. Is it a bit flakey? A quick search shows it seems ok to use if that's what it is, but I have no experience with it myself.
It's not particularly flaky, no. I don't think it's mica, but I'm not sure.

In any case, I took some tap water and filled one of the sections of the sump. Then I watched the pH via the Apex. It settled out at 6.9. Then I put the rock in and have been watching the pH all day. It went to 6.86 over the course of the day, so I at least don't think it's contributing any buffering capacity.
 

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Subscribed. This is a really educational thread, and I wish I could hire you to build a stand for me. :biggrin:
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Subscribed. This is a really educational thread, and I wish I could hire you to build a stand for me. :biggrin:
Thanks! But to be honest, if I can do it, anyone can :grin2:

I have to start taking pictures with my DSLR, as the LED blue nonsense starts again... I did end up going with the 18" SB Reef Light Freshwater fixture. I'll be interested to see the PAR numbers once the tank is filled. It looks like hanging it eliminated any shadowing, but I'll have to wait and see what it looks like once it's filled.
 
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