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65g SA Planted Tank

1146 Views 22 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  raharlow
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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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!


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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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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
Alkalinity 52mg CaCO3/L
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

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Just a quick update. Have been trying to source a tank without a tempered back. Didn't want to go custom. Aqueon is using whatever glass they have so could be tempered or maybe not. I have tried playing around with the polarized lens/laptop technique to tell the difference between tempered and non, and I'm not confident I can tell the difference, Looks like Seapora tanks do not use tempered on side panels so going with them. Hope to have tank ordered tomorrow,

Question on color for back glass. I've been leaning towards going with window film, frosted white. Have always used black. If going white, I will use MM white overflow. I understand maintenance may be more with algae, but if I do this tank right, algae won't be a big concern. Any experiences with white backgrounds and white overflow boxes?? (not worried about frosted film and bulkheads, easy enough to trim the holes and any errors will be covered by internal box.)

Once the tank is in, I can leak test it, drill holes, and start constructing the stand!

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thought I'd post some progress. Going slow as I'm still waiting on a tank. Decided to go with a Seapora tank as they are not supposed to be tempered on back panel. Out of stock here in the NE so will have to wait. Been building the stand and sifting Safe-T-Sorb through 1/8" screen. Oh, and washing rocks!
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Some more progress. Cabinet built and painted. I like how it came out. The "false" front is kind of cool. Bottom is held in by a french cleat and magnets are used to pull it tight on the top. Just pull out and up and the whole thing come off. Got some Mopani wood. Have a potential scape laid out a little. Got the 20G long on sale at Petco, so sump is good to go. Poret Foam ordered. All I need now is a tank!!! Come on Seapora, start making the 65gallons!!
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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Been heavily looking at plants. Since this is a South American tank (or at least trying to as much as I can), most of the plants are endemic to SA. There are some others that I couldn’t resist. Will not be doing any major carpeting, as I’d like the substrate to be open in areas. Water parameters will be soft. Using well water for source, pH 7.6, KH and GH about 2.9deg. Temp will be about 27C. My guess is that when running, KH and pH will be lower and GH will go up some based on dosing. Will be injecting CO2 (aiming for a 1 point drop) and semi high lighting (WRGB2). Tank is about 60cm tall, and while substrate and hardscape will raise some, this tank does have some height for taller plants. Will be dosing home brew, macro and micro daily. Here are the plants I’ve been narrowing down to, but open to ideas/suggestions.


Micranthemum tweediei 'Monte Carlo'
Cryptocoryne wendtii var.'Flamingo'
Helanthium bolivianum 'Quadricostatus'
Ludwigia sp. "Mini Super Red"
Alternanthera reineckii 'Mini'
Staurogyne repens

Echinodorus 'Rose' A sword is a must have but which one is the question. Probably only 1 sword)
Echinodorus 'Reni'
Pogostemon erectus/deccanensis
Syngonanthus macrocaulon or lago grande
Rotala rotundifolia
Rotala Narrow Leaf Sp. Red
Rotala mexicana "Goias"

Hygrophila polyserma 'Roservig' 'Sunset'
Hygrophila difformis - Water Wisteria – floating for startup then maybe keep or toss
Ludwigia palustris 'Super Red"
Ceratophyllum demersum - Hornwort floating for startup then maybe keep or toss
Heteranthrera zostefolia – floating for startup then maybe keep or toss
Myriophyllum Elatinoides Mini
Myriophyllum 'Guyana'
Eichhornia diversifolia
Mayaca Fluviatilis

Other/on Hardscape/shade
Vesicularia sp. "Mini Christmas Moss"
Anubias barteri 'Nana Petite'
Anubias Nana Bonsai
Bucephalandra Brownie Ghost
Bucephalandra Red Mini

Thoughts? Conflicts? Also, thoughts on submersed vs culture. Leaning towards submersed for as much as I can for the good bacteria and the initial startup. Will wash/rinse and inspect, maybe even dip. Thank all!!

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Tank finally was in stock!! Started the slow process of setting up. Drilling 2 holes was nerve racking but we got it done, overflow installed. Using Rabbitgoo frosted for background and one side (up against a wall). Looks better than it was. Had to redo it this morning. We'll see how it turns out overnight, but I do like the look. Had to trim the standard trim a little to fit the Chihirios WRGB2 light. Next up is plumbing!!

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