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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

Couple year lurker here. I have been reading and keeping up with a number of the journals on the site for quite a few years. I am excited to finally start a journal of my own.

My Background:
I have had an ongoing love affair with aquariums for the past decade and a half. It has shifted and morphed over the years as my interest in different areas of the hobby have waxed and waned. About a year and a half ago my father ,who is big gardening nerd, came across an ad for some red mangrove seed pods and bought them for me as a present. I had no idea what I was doing but went ahead and dropped them in the fish only 20 long I currently had. Turns out mangroves are pretty resilient plants and they didn't mind my ignorance so much. Pretty soon I was getting new leaves about once a month. I would get so darn fired up to see these new leaves that I started looking to add some other plants to my tank. I didn't really do any research before buying ,but In retrospect I chose some great plants to start with (java fern, rotala rotundifolia). Pretty soon after, I was fully bitten by the planted tank bug. After many months learning about fertilization, co2 injection, and lighting periods (PAR , PUR) thanks to this community, I had some success converting my fish only 20 long into a moderately lit high tech planted tank. It has been steadily running for about 6 months in its current state and looks the best it ever has.

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Moving Forward:
I learned a lot of lessons from trying to convert a tank into a planted aquascape. My new plan is to take what I have learned from my last tank and build a better system with a central focus on growing plants. Conveniently, I have also recently graduated and started a full time job in my field. With some extra income at my disposal and the approval of my wife, I have selected an 80g rimless tank made by deep blue. The tank is 48" x 24" x 16" giving me almost 8 square feet of real-estate to play with.


Goals of the project:

1) I am a scatter brained and fast moving kind of guy. I tend to not plan my projects all that well. As a result many of my aquarium projects in the past look rather thrown together and tend to not run as well as I had hoped. Taking inspiration from some of the more meticulous folks on this site, I am trying to force myself to move slowly and really think this thing through.
2) Budget. I have seen instances of people dropping 1500 bucks on a 20 gallon high tech tank. There is no problem with that ,but I also think there are better ways to spend money. This isn't a "budget" build in the sense that I plan to pinch pennies on every peace of equipment. I am however planning to focus my funds on the things that I believe add value to the function of the tank. Items that provide less value per dollar I am planning to go DIY or budget minded. I hope to share in my wins and failures in this strategy so that others can benefit from what I learn.
3) "lowish" maintenance. I'm not really married to using and particular species of plant at the moment. My working plan is to mostly go with some of the easier epiphytes and crypts but also include some more moderate carpeting plants like S. Repens and Monte Carlo. Whatever plants like my water and fertilizations strategy will stick around and if a plant melts, I don't plan to spend much time chasing parameters to make it grow. My hope is that this strategy will simplify maintenance to essentially weekly water changes and trimmings with less focus on testing params constantly (lol we will see how that goes).
4) Documentation. I have loved watching the progression of tanks on different threads in this forum. I plan to consistently update this thread for my own journaling purposes and hope that some find it interesting or valuable and would like to follow along with me and provide much appreciated advice.


Current status:

I found an insane deal on a used deep blue rimless 80g. I intended to buy new, but per goal #2 I had no choice but to go with the used tank. Also In the spirit of goals #1 and #2 I sat down and decided exactly what I wanted in terms of a stand. I just finished building a DIY stand and placing the tank in its new home. I started to fill the tank (leak test) and found quickly that the floor is not level at all (should have checked that first haha). That means next step is shimming the stand so that tank sits level.

I intend to organize my progress in phases. phase 1 was building the stand and getting the tank ,which is now essentially done. Phase 2 is building the semi-DIY sump and complete all plumbing. For now I will be acquiring parts to move forward with phase 2.


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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Can't wait to see what you come up with. Your 20 gallon is gorgeous!!
Thanks!
I dig the stand! What kind of wood are the doors made from?

Do you have an idea what kind of substrate you plan to use? Look forward to the progression of this build!
I don't remember the type of wood, I just liked it for the dimensions of the board. I just chopped it in half and wahla, 2 doors. In terms of substrate I am still torn. I have heard good things about eco-complete and its relatively kind to my budget compared to some other options. That is especially true considering the amount of area in need to cover. I may spring for one of the aquasoil options in the areas I place the carpeting plants, but that is still TBD. Any advice ?
 

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I'm not personally a fan of eco complete by itself, it's way too light to hold plants down and doesn't do anything regular fine gravel/ course sand doesn't do for quite a bit cheaper. That's my experience with it, though.
 

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Thanks!


I don't remember the type of wood, I just liked it for the dimensions of the board. I just chopped it in half and wahla, 2 doors. In terms of substrate I am still torn. I have heard good things about eco-complete and its relatively kind to my budget compared to some other options. That is especially true considering the amount of area in need to cover. I may spring for one of the aquasoil options in the areas I place the carpeting plants, but that is still TBD. Any advice ?
Nice! I am a big fan of pool filter sand. It takes a little extra effort to get it clean and looks pretty natural. It also does not have sharp edges which makes it safe for bottom dwellers like corydoras. The major selling point is it like $8 for a 50 pound bag.

I did a "dirted" tank. My swords, crypts and various stem plants love it. It is about 6 months old, and Im not a huge fan of how it tinged the water brown. If i did water changes twice a week, it was fine.

If I were to do it over again I would either do straight sand or a very thin layer of worm castings and cap with sand. Different strokes for different folks. Im very DIY and budget oriented. I have a hard time shelling out $50 for 20 pounds of substrate that I may cover up with something else. I think the aquasoil/stratum look terrible by themselves.

It feels like a rant, so I am cutting myself off. Hope this helpful.
 

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Check out the Sumida Aquarium ADA builds. They did a pair of open-top, drilled, tanks that may work out very well for you. My last tank was a non-drilled version of what you've got and the 16" height got to be a problem for both plant growth (too fast) and aquascaping. The 24" front to back was just too much for the 16" height when growing anything that puts on 6+ inches of length per week.

However, if you arrange things right, you can make a really nice low-maintenance setup that incorporates a raised portion around the overflow that will let you grow plants emerged. If my tank had been the drilled variety I'd have done that, no question.

watch
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Check out the Sumida Aquarium ADA builds. They did a pair of open-top, drilled, tanks that may work out very well for you. My last tank was a non-drilled version of what you've got and the 16" height got to be a problem for both plant growth (too fast) and aquascaping. The 24" front to back was just too much for the 16" height when growing anything that puts on 6+ inches of length per week.

However, if you arrange things right, you can make a really nice low-maintenance setup that incorporates a raised portion around the overflow that will let you grow plants emerged. If my tank had been the drilled variety I'd have done that, no question.

watch
Thanks for the recommendation. I will definitely check that out. I have been digging around on this site for a while and have found a handful of build in the same tank as mine (some drilled, some not). I agree on the fast growing tall stuff. You totally read my mind on the raised portion near the overflow. My plan is to build a nice raised rocky area to obscure the baffle, then sweep down to the right and have most of the right third of the tank open swimming space. Scaping sure feels like a long way off at this point. Right now I am focused on plumbing and filtration!
 

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I'm not sure if you've seen my 80 gallon journal, but here it is. green-acres-80-gal-high-tech.1223466

It's a long one, journaling both the tank's progress and my journey through heavy cancer treatment. This place was as much of a tank-talk venue as it was a social outlet at that time. When reading it, please keep in mind that I was at home all day, every day, when I wasn't in the hospital. I didn't have a whole lot to do other than stare at the tank, which led me to making too many changes too quickly and doing a lot of "experiments' that I wouldn't normally do in a display tank. I hope you find something of use and the opportunity to learn from my experiences and mistakes to help you avoid them with yours.

Kind regards,
Phil
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I'm not sure if you've seen my 80 gallon journal, but here it is. green-acres-80-gal-high-tech.1223466

It's a long one, journaling both the tank's progress and my journey through heavy cancer treatment. This place was as much of a tank-talk venue as it was a social outlet at that time. When reading it, please keep in mind that I was at home all day, every day, when I wasn't in the hospital. I didn't have a whole lot to do other than stare at the tank, which led me to making too many changes too quickly and doing a lot of "experiments' that I wouldn't normally do in a display tank. I hope you find something of use and the opportunity to learn from my experiences and mistakes to help you avoid them with yours.

Kind regards,
Phil
Spent my idle moments this week reading this thread. It was really wonderful to see the amount of community and friendship there was on this forum then. It seems like you have a had a big impact on this hobby with all of your encouragement and advice to us new folk over the years. I hope all is well
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
This week I got started on the plumbing and filtration for the tank. As I mentioned, I went for a semi-DIY sump option. I bought a sump baffle kit by a company called Jax Rax. The kit was designed for a reef tank but is easily adapted for my needs. While I was at it, I picked up some plumbing parts and dry fit the drains and returns yesterday. The plumbing still needs to be glued up, but I'm going to leave it for a bit in case I want to change something. Once I have my return pump and the tank is level, I will be doing a wet test to make sure nothing leaks.

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This tank came pre-drilled as a "reef-ready" setup. This was great for me because I intended to use a sump but the layout isn't all that great. The manufacturer intends for you to use a durso style drain in the larger bulk-head and the return in the smaller one. This tank is in a public space and any durso drain I have ever used is really "gurgley". I followed a pretty well known work-around and used both bulkheads for a herbie style drain and plumbed the return over the back. It is a little ugly at the moment. I painted the fittings black in hopes to hide them a little better, but they are still pretty obvious. Maybe I can obscure them with plants in the future. All in all I'm pretty happy. I think the quietness of the herbie drain is worth the eyesore of the over-the-back return.
 

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Spent my idle moments this week reading this thread. It was really wonderful to see the amount of community and friendship there was on this forum then. It seems like you have a had a big impact on this hobby with all of your encouragement and advice to us new folk over the years. I hope all is well
Three years with no evidence of disease so I'm well on my way to earning the big R-word. :). Thank you for the kind words as well.

Regards,
Phil
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
That's some high quality plumbing porn right there! I love the sump design, thumbs up!
Much appreciated, that's a high compliment lol. I really like the baffle design as well. Its a prefab kit I found on ebay. I just siliconed them in place so I can't take much credit.


Just ran across this thread.

Looks the makings of a great set up.

Looking forward to seeing where this goes. Keep the updates coming.
Will do! I am really enjoying the building and Journaling processes. The discussion and advice is really fun to read.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
My return is set up almost exactly the same as yours, would recommend a "U" with a cage on the end of your herbie drain to cut down on even more noise, though you might have to cut it down a bit to hide it in the overflow. Otherwise great looking setup! Any thoughts on lighting or CO2?
Thanks for the advice. I may look into that. I left the standpipe flat and tall to keep the water from falling too far behind the weir to prevent off-gasing co2. For lighting, I am planning to go with a 4 bulb t5 fixture (I don't think ill need all 4 though). Co2 has been a big unknown. I plan to run co2 but I'm having a hard time pinning down information about the different reactors out there. Id really like to know what flow rates (water) each configuration needs and how efficient they are at dissolving co2. Semi leaning towards a cerges reactor just because they look cleaner imo. Any advice on which direction I should go would be really appreciated!
 

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Thanks for the advice. I may look into that. I left the standpipe flat and tall to keep the water from falling too far behind the weir to prevent off-gasing co2. For lighting, I am planning to go with a 4 bulb t5 fixture (I don't think ill need all 4 though). Co2 has been a big unknown. I plan to run co2 but I'm having a hard time pinning down information about the different reactors out there. Id really like to know what flow rates (water) each configuration needs and how efficient they are at dissolving co2. Semi leaning towards a cerges reactor just because they look cleaner imo. Any advice on which direction I should go would be really appreciated!
The less the water falls, the less you'll offgas CO2, but with your sump and it's overflows I wouldn't imagine it to make a huge difference, the sump's overflows will offgas a lot of CO2. I find that the durso style drain opening helps cut down on a lot of the noise of water splashing into the sump.

A lot of people have success with cerges, and should work well for your tank. Reactors like lower flow, to increase dwell time, though specifically will depend from tank to tank on how much CO2 you inject. They usually have to be run off a separate pump, or if you want to use the return, you need a bypass with a few valves to restrict flow
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
have had a fun Saturday with the tank.

A bunch of the life support equipment I ordered a couple weeks back has arrived. I also knocked out some of the less fun tasks like leveling the stand and gluing up all the plumbing (okay this one just plain sucked haha). Spent some time cable managing all the new toys and I suddenly realized I could finally give the tank a full leak test, So I'm currently baby sitting the tank checking for leaks and playing with drain to get it as quiet as I can.

if anyone is interested in the specific equipment I decided on...

return pump: Hygger 5000 series (DC). its good for about 1300 gph at no head. A little overkill but I'm going to run the co2 reactor off a manifold from the return so I opted for a little extra umph.

Heater: 300w hygger unit. we will see if it does the job, may have gone a little small on that one. I picked it for the controller. it has digital control with separate measurement from the heater body. I was going to go with an inkbird but this offered me all the control and reliability (hopefully) I was looking for. The digital temp read out is a plus as well.

Dosing pump: I bought a 4 head Jebao doser that I found on sale. I think it is pretty much the most entry level unit on the market. not wifi enabled or anything, just a simple programable timer is all. I haven't put it in the stand yet. i'd like to build a shelf for it in the position pictured below for a nice clean look. didn't get to that project this weekend.

also added a simple dual channel outlet timer with battery backup. Going to control the lights and co2 with it for now. I am dreaming about a Milwaukee controller in the future but figured id go simple and save the cash for now.

Still lots to do but i'm really loving the ride. I have to say, going slow and attempting a more meticulous build has been a a real challenge but the pay off has really made it worth while. It will be a a while before I get to fill the tank for real, but it is sure exciting to see it running. Pics below if anyone is interested...

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(tank with pump at 70%. Really happy with the amount of flow and surface agitation at this speed)
 

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