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65g SA Planted Tank

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Thought I'd start a journal, mostly to bounce ideas off of the group as well as get some valued input. Quick background, been doing aquariums for a while but took last 10yrs or so off. Last tank was a reef, and a FW planted before that. Have learned a lot but techniques and technology keep changing.

For this tank, I'm going with a 65g. White Frosted film on back. I only have 36" or so to work with and 40 breeder not big enough. Using a 20g long for a sump. Once you go sump (marine) you never go back!! Intent is fish endemic to South America, apisto, angel, pencil, etc. Will use shrimp, maybe snails and tank will be planted, but not too heavily.

As for equipment, using a Modular Marine 800g overflow, hoping to get 8-10x turnover of water, will have a gyre pump circulating across top, down side. bottom, up side, not front to back. I have CO2 if needed, most likely will use with an Aquamedic 1000 on separate loop feeding into return. Lighting most likely will be Chihiros WRGB II 90 (65g tank is deep!!).

Will break up the topics as I go along to make it easier to ask questions and to keep track of answers.

I am currently at the planning stage, no tank, only left-over equipment from previous tanks. Hoping to get a tank within next several weeks and then building the cabinet to fit. Here's a sketchup of my thoughts so far. Front panel of cabinet will be removable and have a french cleat at bottom with magnets across top. Haven't decided how I want to handle side panels yet. Anyways, we'll leave it here and then hit some of the other topics later, like my sump and substrate thoughts.

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Chip
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I love a good sump!

Not sure if you already own the modular marine overflow, but if not, go a bit bigger. I have one on my crayfish tank and I've learned that if you push it past half of it's capacity per hour it doesn't do a good job skimming anymore (because the water level rises up on the slits in the weir and it stops sucking in film on the surface.

I would also consider dumping the gyre. Unless you have almost no flow coming into the tank, the gyre is going to be producing a LOT of current that could rip up your plants. If you are calculating the 8-10x turnover per hour WITH the gyre, then you have the right idea for flow, but you could achieve that flow without the gyre involved at all, so why have the extra equipment in tank?

For the sump, my advice is to just leave it an open chamber and put some poret foam stretching across from one wall to the other. No need for socks or anything else in a freshwater tank and this way you can make a completely silent tank. My crayfish tank is almost completely silent. The only noise is a 3 decibel increase due to the fans running on the light I am using. Otherwise, literally nothing as measured by a phone decibel app.

Regarding livestock, if you really want shrimp, you will need to rethink your fish. The angels will definitely eat the shrimp and probably the apistos as well (never clear to me how many of my shrimp went into the belly of the angel fish or my apistos...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
First breakout topic, sump design. Thoughts behind design below. Overflow at tank will skim surface and thus remove film. Gyre pump is below surface so little to no surface agitation. Thought being to reduce losing CO2. Drain into sump is into an aeration chamber to oxygenate the water for the filtration. Looking for thoughts on this. From here, it flows over an algae scrubber (small led light is above this section) and initial 10ppi filter. From here, space for various ideas, probably Indian olive leaves (Catappa), other "additives", and possibly grow out. Then thru the sequence of poret sponge filters. 3" thick with exception of last polishing one at 2". Then to return pump which will dump at opposite side from gyre pump to force "clean CO2 enriched" water down and across bottom. Open to thoughts ideas!!

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I love a good sump!

Not sure if you already own the modular marine overflow, but if not, go a bit bigger. I have one on my crayfish tank and I've learned that if you push it past half of it's capacity per hour it doesn't do a good job skimming anymore (because the water level rises up on the slits in the weir and it stops sucking in film on the surface.
This is nice to know, will reconsider!

I would also consider dumping the gyre. Unless you have almost no flow coming into the tank, the gyre is going to be producing a LOT of current that could rip up your plants. If you are calculating the 8-10x turnover per hour WITH the gyre, then you have the right idea for flow, but you could achieve that flow without the gyre involved at all, so why have the extra equipment in tank?
Yeah, really wanted to make sure I had good flow, thus the gyre, but would only use the 2k one, because others are way too strong. Would one lily pipe and a strong enough return pump get me good flow across the length of tank (36")?
For the sump, my advice is to just leave it an open chamber and put some poret foam stretching across from one wall to the other. No need for socks or anything else in a freshwater tank and this way you can make a completely silent tank. My crayfish tank is almost completely silent. The only noise is a 3 decibel increase due to the fans running on the light I am using. Otherwise, literally nothing as measured by a phone decibel app.
See next post. Great minds think alike!!
Regarding livestock, if you really want shrimp, you will need to rethink your fish. The angels will definitely eat the shrimp and probably the apistos as well (never clear to me how many of my shrimp went into the belly of the angel fish or my apistos...
Shrimp would primarily be Amanos and in the early stages but I do realize they may be expensive fish food!

Thanks for your comments!

Chip
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Next, substrate. Planning on going with Safe-T-Sorb (STS) for the base, capped with Black Diamond Blasting Sand (BDBS) medium grain. Thinking of putting the STS in media bags, kind of like what MD Fish Tanks does. Media bag mesh would be only large enough to contain the STS. This should allow plenty of space for roots to penetrate. I will be rinsing the STS thoroughly as well as prescreening it through 1/8" hardware cloth to screen out the fines. I do have a question about "pre-charging" the STS. I have raw chemicals but am actually leaning towards just using root tabs. Thought was to place thin layer of peat on bottom, then root tabs (leaning towards APT Jazz) spaced every 2" or so, then lay down the media bags of STS, and finally cap with BDBS (rinsed as well).

Thoughts?? Ideas??
 

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First breakout topic, sump design. Thoughts behind design below. Overflow at tank will skim surface and thus remove film. Gyre pump is below surface so little to no surface agitation. Thought being to reduce losing CO2. Drain into sump is into an aeration chamber to oxygenate the water for the filtration. Looking for thoughts on this. From here, it flows over an algae scrubber (small led light is above this section) and initial 10ppi filter. From here, space for various ideas, probably Indian olive leaves (Catappa), other "additives", and possibly grow out. Then thru the sequence of poret sponge filters. 3" thick with exception of last polishing one at 2". Then to return pump which will dump at opposite side from gyre pump to force "clean CO2 enriched" water down and across bottom. Open to thoughts ideas!!

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Soooooo your plan will work fine. But it will work fine in a way that adds additional complexity without corresponding function.

There is no reason to have an aeration chamber. It will add noise but it won't do anything else. The algae scrubber is likewise not needed. Algae scrubbers are used in saltwater because people want to get rid of every bit of nitrogen in their water along with all the other things algae can absorb and grow from. BUT in a planted tank, the plants are there for that. If you are not going to have any plants, or if you are only going to have a couple of slow growers (like java fern) then it could be useful. But you are already talking about pumping co2, so I am assuming you want more then 1 or 2 slow growers. The amazon is full of really cool plants which would be easy to incorporate into a tank like this so you will have plenty of options if you wanted to keep to only 'local' plants.

Your foam also has additional complexity that is not really needed. You really only need 2 layers of 30ppi foam (this is what I am using). If you want more layers you can go with it, but having 10ppi foam doesn't really do anything. You are not going to be able to clog these layers up.

Run your co2 reactor off of the return pump on a bypass. That will simplify your plumbing.
 

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Next, substrate. Planning on going with Safe-T-Sorb (STS) for the base, capped with Black Diamond Blasting Sand (BDBS) medium grain. Thinking of putting the STS in media bags, kind of like what MD Fish Tanks does. Media bag mesh would be only large enough to contain the STS. This should allow plenty of space for roots to penetrate. I will be rinsing the STS thoroughly as well as prescreening it through 1/8" hardware cloth to screen out the fines. I do have a question about "pre-charging" the STS. I have raw chemicals but am actually leaning towards just using root tabs. Thought was to place thin layer of peat on bottom, then root tabs (leaning towards APT Jazz) spaced every 2" or so, then lay down the media bags of STS, and finally cap with BDBS (rinsed as well).

Thoughts?? Ideas??
Regarding the substrate. My strong advice is to just go with a single homogenous substrate. If you use loose substrate layers, they will eventually become mixed defeating the entire purpose of layers. STS is super light and will float to the surface of any layer system if its not in bags. If it is in bags, it won't float to the surface but other then adding height, it won't be doing anything else for you. STS has some CEC capacity, but not a lot. Your tank will rapidly build up mulm in the substrate all on it's own and it is this mulm that will provide significantly more CEC capacity then any other substrate you wish to name since it is literally mud. Likewise, don't add peat or anything else to the substrate. You will instead want to look into what fertilizer you will be dosing. Since you have a sump, I would be highly tempted to use a dosing pump to simplify your life. Most fertilizer system will be either EI or PPS-Pro. EI floods the tank with nutrients and then you use water changes to reset things every month. PPS-Pro provides much more minimal amounts of nutrients. PPS-Pro needs to be dosed every day whereas EI is typically only dosed one or a few times a week.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Soooooo your plan will work fine. But it will work fine in a way that adds additional complexity without corresponding function.

There is no reason to have an aeration chamber. It will add noise but it won't do anything else. The algae scrubber is likewise not needed. Algae scrubbers are used in saltwater because people want to get rid of every bit of nitrogen in their water along with all the other things algae can absorb and grow from. BUT in a planted tank, the plants are there for that. If you are not going to have any plants, or if you are only going to have a couple of slow growers (like java fern) then it could be useful. But you are already talking about pumping co2, so I am assuming you want more then 1 or 2 slow growers. The amazon is full of really cool plants which would be easy to incorporate into a tank like this so you will have plenty of options if you wanted to keep to only 'local' plants.

Your foam also has additional complexity that is not really needed. You really only need 2 layers of 30ppi foam (this is what I am using). If you want more layers you can go with it, but having 10ppi foam doesn't really do anything. You are not going to be able to clog these layers up.

Run your co2 reactor off of the return pump on a bypass. That will simplify your plumbing.
The aeration chamber, algae scrubber and poret foam sequence ideas came from Halfman Half cichlid.

But I tend to agree with you on the algae scrubber.

Had thought about a bypass for reactor but the AM100o only has 3/8" ID inlet and outlet. If plumbed as a bypass, not sure how much flow and if inline it will restrict flow too much, thus the thought of its own loop.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Here are my local water parameters per a Lab. I am well water so these could change over time.
pH 7.64 SU
Temp
Alkalinity 52mg CaCO3/L
2.91​
dKH
Fluoride 0.61mg/L, ppm
Lead <0.001 mg/L, ppm
Copper <0.010 mg/L, ppm
Chloride 12mg/L, ppm
Iron 0.12mg/L, ppm
Manganese 0.044mg/L, ppm
Conductance /TDS190umhos/cm
Sodium 8.7mg/L, ppm
Total Hardness 51mg/L, ppmsoft
2.87​
dGH
 
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