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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys,
I have had reef tanks for over 15 years and I am looking for a change. In so doing I have decided to convert my reef tank to a planted tank. I have a bit of a plan formulating as I have poured over some of the information here and was hoping to begin formulating my thoughts here in hopes of gaining feedback as I go so as to avoid major mistakes.

My current setup is a 1000gish display at 10' by 5' by 32" deep. Dual 2' overflows into a 300g remote sump. Lighting consists of 6 x MH (adjustable ballasts 250W-400W) and 8 x 54W T5 bulbs (currently actinic). Flow, in addition to return pumps (hammerheads) there are 6 tunze streams in the tank.

So below are my thoughts on lighting, substrate and CO2. Hopefully any glaring holes will be filled in by all of you and as I contine to research on the site.

I am thinking I would like areas of both high and low light. As I haven't totally decided on all types of plants yet I am thinking it would be nice to have areas of 250W and 400W giving me options as I go. I will need to change out to a lower K bulb it would appear. I currently run 12K and 14K bulbs, but the consensus is I will want to shoot lower. I have a few 10K XMs I might try unless even that would be too high. The T5s would be utilized for a dawn/dusk situation and color. So, I am considering alternating a pinkish red bulb with the actinics.
I'm wondering if there is a popular 6500k to 10k bulb most folks are happy with? Do you think the 400W will be too much even for highlight plants considering the lights are fixed at 10" above surface of water and 3ish " of substrate will be used?

Substrate: I think the only financially available option for this will be a soil mix of some sort. I was thinking about utilizing the method of soaking/drying/sifting and adding clay/sand wth some potash, then topping with a layer of sand (sand blasting sand probably). Probably run somewhere between 3-4" depending on scaping.

CO2: I have the cylinder/regulator from the reef system it would just be a matter of deciding how best to distribute this throughout the tank. I guess I havent' come across a good post of how quickly the CO2 degasses but most folks seem to feel you lose a lot of it pretty quickly?
This leaves me with several options. 1. run into my sump via atomic diffuser- easy and out of the way. 2 Run a separate pump in the tank with an atomic diffuser and postiion under a stream 3. drill a direct line into one of the return loc lines that has an eductor on the end of it 4. drill a CO2 line into one of the streams.

I haven't begun to narrow down plant selection yet as I am hoping I will be able to have low and high light areas. I'm not familiar enough with all the growth patterns of plants yet to be selective yet. Several pieces of driftwood for hardscape and some rock pieces if I can find a style I like.
As for fish I am imagining discus with a variety of smaller schools of tetras/danios/raspboras/gouramis. Plecos and otos for cleaning crew with a type of shrimp. Corys on the bottom.

MY reef is still running as I am in the process of selling the livestock, so nothing is immediate, but I just want to plan well.

Any glaring concerns?
 

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Damn - what kind of investment is in that reef? 1000Gish? I had a 30 Gallon and was sick of the cost :)

Regarding the lighting ideally you would want to drop from the 1200k to 10k and 6700k. The actinics will be deemed useless by most reports. I see some suggest a 10k and 6700k for a well-rounded spectrum.

The rest I will leave to others who are experts in the area, but I would suggest getting your driftwood asap and start soaking it now, so that it is ready to go by the time you get everything setup. Most are amazed at how long driftwood leeches tannins, months to a year if not soaked. You can expedite the process by boiling - but letting it soak in a bucket for months and changing water every so often would be a good move starting it now.

PS - I am sure you have plenty of pics of this tank? It would be awesome if you could share some. I know this is "PlantedTank" but who doesnt appreciate a reef? Especially 1000Gallons... :)
 

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So what makes someone with a 1000 gallon reef decide to switch over to freshwater by the way? Might be educational for us to know!
 

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...and im subscribed. I hope this happens :) I have a special place in my heart for big tanks. Do you have a par meter? Seems like having a setup that big you would probably have some sort of access to one. There is a member here (hoppy) who has some benchmarks set up for what you should look for in par # I'm sure he will be chiming in. For co2 I am going through something similar (about 1/5 scale) of what you are. I am thinking of using diffusers under the bio ball's. Not sure what your sump looks like but that may be N option. A fantastic resource for you would be Tom Barr. I am pretty sure he has done a couple of tanks that size and would have a lot of input on what is feasible. Best of luck :)
 

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The 6500k iwasaki 250w would be good, they are one of the highest par value 250w halides and last the longest with people getting 18-24 months out of them, have been around for ages, and arn't that expensive. It would be worth getting one and running it for 24-48 hours to burn in to see if you are happy with the color.

You will most likely end up using 2 of the streams dialed back, I have one, a nano version in my 90 running at 25% at the lowest volt setting and its almost too much. 2 should be enough to create a gyre.

The 300 gal sump would make a nice bio filter with bio media or being planted on a reverse light schedule. May even end up as a grow out for fry.

CO2 wise, injection on this scale would work with injecting into a mesh or needle wheel pump that pushes into a larger CO2 reactor chamber. a skimmer pump like a Sicce Syncra from ATB(airstar mini) would draw 21 watts and could handle up to 800l/h of CO2, more than you would ever want to inject. I used one of these for a skimmer pump and it was awesome.
The pump chops up the bubbles very fine while the reactor would increase dwell time with the micro bubbles, reducing the amount of bubbles that make it to the tank while allowing it to all dissolve into the water. You could pipe the effluent of the CO2 reactor in-front of the hammer head so its sucked into the display.

You will want to limit gas off from the overflows, if you do not have standpipes installed you should look into them. I'm a fan of the 3 drain beananimal type of setup my self. You should also be able to cut back the flow from the returns. Depending on the plumbing you may be able to get away with using only one of the hammerheads in conjunction with the streams, making things quieter and possibly reducing gas off of CO2.

Substrate wise I cant offer up much advise but in a tank that size I would consider using something like Turface pro league. 2,000 lbs of Turface pro league would be about $550(cost wise close to MTS but much less labor) and would be maybe 5-6" of substrate if you added it all, places like Sears sell it by the pallet. I haven't used it my self but a few people have posted good things about it and its high CEC.
Just another option and one that may be simpler and you would not have to worry about the possibility of dirt storms.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Photos are on my other computer, so I'll have to try and dig them up tommorrow. :)

As for why the change.....
2 reasons:
1. Coraline algae: I have a hard time getting ahead of it with a little bit of neglect. It then takes a few hours of hard labor to get it off. I dont' mind any of the other water monitoring and cleaning, but coraline is the pits on a tank of this size. Even wiping down with a magnet daily it starts to build a bit. So, hoping that freshwater algae is still as I remember it and not quite so labor intensive on the acrylic.

2. I'm after something different. Sometimes reef tanks are made to be the end all and be all of the aquarium world. And they are nice, but not any nicer than a beautiful planted tank with schools of smaller fish. They're just different. So, I'm after different, I"ve done reefs, been there and done that. Just looking for a change. Dont' ever let anyone lead you to believe reefs are better than freshwater. Like I said just different. :)


I do have a PAR meter, one of the Apogee quantum meters. I'm not sure how exactly acurate it is, but I use it to monitor drop off in my MHs as time goes by. I'll check my actinic T5s and see where it falls on the substrate.

Dogfish, thanks for the link. As for fish, the large main species will be either discus or angelfish. I know there are supporters and detractors for both of those in a planted community tank. The interesting thing with fish is that I found most of the "rules" about the way a reef fish behaves don't always apply in a tank of this scale. I had many well behaved fish in my reef that weren't necessarily well behaved in a smaller tank.
Having said that I would then also be looking to have several schools of smaller type fish (tetras/raspboras). Then otos and small plecos for cleanup, so I dont' think I'm planning anything too debatable.

My sump is completely open to whatever. It is simply a 300g stock tank that dumps in one end and exits the other, so I can design and build pretty much anything into it. I do like the idea of a growout area with a reverse lighting period. That's done in reefs commonly as well.

I figured I'd have too much flow and have to play with that, starting low and adding streams as need is perceived. There are definately standpipes in the overflows (how coudl one not as it would by annoying loud otherwise!!) They are durso standpipes essentially. I am thinking IF I keep the sump online (I assume taking it off is an option with this setup) then I am going to have to screen the teeth so my smaller fish don't end up always going for a ride. One hammerhead and dropping to 250W is going to save a lot of electrical cost if it really works out that way! :biggrin:


Ill have to look into the turface pro and see what is the story there. Hadn't run across that option, but if it'll save me washing and drying all that topsoil.......

I'll try to get some photos off the other computer tommorrow.
Thanks for all the feedback.
 

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If you in Northern Ill. you are running out of time to make the MTS. You'd want to get going on that now, then store in it rubber made totes. Black Diamond blasting sand at Tractor supply would be a cheap cap.

A lessor labor option might be planting in clay pots. They can be moved easily. the void space between pots could be filled with any type of gravel you choose. The best place in Chicago area is a stone/gravel supply over in DesPlaines they sell mostly to contractors. Stuff like red flint pea gravel & smaller.

You could do a outstanding Amazon bio-type Angels, Discus, Neons, Bristel Nose Plecos, with plants like swords, val, sag.

check out the G.C.C.A for ciclid breeders, catfish etc. They have great swap meets and an huge auction.
 

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Sounds like it'll be a beautiful tank.

If you want it planted, don't try a "Discus biotope" - those are full of driftwood and floating plants, and generally look nothing like a big Amano planted tank.

I'd try something simple first. How about needle leave java fern on rocks and/or driftwood, then one of the easier carpet plants, like dwarf hairgrass?
 

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While I think that a large planted tank in the 1000 gal range would be fantastic, I will also say that the methods used in SW reefs are very different from FW planted tanks. From the questions you ask, I can see that your background in planted tanks is limited. For example 400w and 250w MH are ideal on a reef, but would be way too much light for almost any planted tank.

Obviously, setting up and maintaining such a tank is going to cost quite a bit in time and money, and like reef systems, if you make a major mistake you can kill all you fish, and possibly your plants, and possibly have to tear it down and start over.

I think the ideal thing for you to do would be to set up a modest pilot tank first, and maintain that for awhile, and work out what you want to do with the big tank. Pick a tank size that is decent, but not too large, say something about 50 - 100 gal. Make your mistakes on the small system, where it's comparatively easy to tear down if something get out of control. You'll also want to try out various plants to see what works for you.

Then when you do the big tank, you'll know what you need and want.

Like all aquarium systems there are a lot of ways to do things, and most of them are correct, for the right system. However, only a few are going to be just right for you.

Long term this is going to be a fantastic project, and you want the tank to have that "wow factor" rather than being just another planted tank only bigger.

Good luck!
 

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Pond, I absolutely agree with you in terms of fish compatibility.

With a tank that large, its like a small ecosystem. If developed well (and I would HIGHLY suggest investing proper time in making some nice rock structures), you'll be able to support fish that wouldn't be compatible for normal aquarists like the rest of us.

Now having said that....I don't know much at all about SW tanks. However, I can't imagine that FW planted tank, especially the size you're talking about, will be easy to maintain either. Depending on how it's setup, you're talking about a ton of CO2, pruning/trimming/cutting (can't imagine that being easy in a 1000G), nutrients and balancing all that across an incredibly large tank and one that may have different lighting requirements throughout the tank.

However, and I'm sort of going back and forth here, I think you can manage it if you managed a SW tank. My point is, you may find yourself just as sick of the FW planted lol. The only way to keep it low maintenance is to have it sparsely planted (or if heavily planted then only in certain spots) with more inert volume (rocks, formations, etc.).

A tank that large is really professional aquarium size and if you look closely at those, they're designed to be low maintenance...even with pro crews!

Point is, it'll be a pain to manage an extravagant planted tank - I don't think the typical densely planted, beautifully trimmed layout will be an option for you without having to work at the tank constantly. The extravagant tanks are typically much smaller and thus much more manageable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
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Thanks guys, don't misunderstand my reasons...
There is plenty of maintenance with a reef as there will be with the planted tankas well. It's just that one aspect that I view as a pain.

As for experience with plants, I certainly am new. I maintained a flourite based planted tank around 10 years ago now under VHOs and it did well. Now after so many years of not being able to get enough light it's just hard for me to accept scaling back to such low levels of light again.....kind of a paradigm shift if you will. I'll adapt after several sessions of therapy!
I'm even open to the idea that the better option would be to do away wth the MH and add a few more T5 bulbs. Would love to go LED, but at my size would have to DIY and I'm not sure my electrical prowess would allow that to happen.
Totally understand the experience thing as my reefing ability certainly adapted over the course of several tanks. That's part of why I want to dot the I's and cross the T's prior to doing anything.

As for the substrate, I had a suggestion of Turface for the main component and thus avoiding the hassle of MTS creation for something this big. Definately leaning that direction at the moment.

Pots are an interesting option, but I believe I am after the spreading ability of some of the different plants that would be inhibitied by pots. If I am going to create a substrate that will allow growth for some areas, I might as well go the whole thing. At least that's my current thought.

Here are some bad photos to give you an idea of what the tank is currently as a reef.
 

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I was considering a 125 for wild Angels. It would be a fish room tank vs, a display tank in a a living room. If I do it will be planted in pots and the bottom will be bare

Red clay pots come in a lot of shapes now. In better garden centers one has a l;ot to choose from. There are low profile that don't have that deep root taper shape, they would work well for swords. Look at rectangular window box pots. I've seen them 7"x7" x14" those would make nice pots of giant Val. I looked at the big pot trays that typical go under a pot tot catch drained water. Some have a 3" lip. That would work for dwarf Sag. I saw a red clay wine bottle cooler at a store a few months ago, that would work for a single plant in back corners to get elevation.

If everything is potted in red clay using red flint gravel would work pretty good to blend in color wise.

That would get you up & going faster. You could move plants around. Later, you could go MTS or a full bed of Tech gravel and replant after you get you 'scape, lighting & equipment resolved.
 

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Even if it was a lot of work the reef looks awsome. I would contact Hoppy about lighting (you can find him in the lighting section) and I would have the co2 going to multiple bulkheads or diy co2 reactors (?) that way it circulates better. You should also buy dry ferts in bulk other wise it will cost a ton. You also need to Aquascape it, because if there isn't a hardscape in a tank that your eyes begin bounce with no focal point. Look up Tom Barr's 1600g Discus tank and Takashi Amano's Private tank. I would have a school of discus and rummynose tetra with other fish, but discus and rummys school great. And if you have a frag tank I would turn that into a plant nursery, so you can grow them out to a couple stems, and sell some.

I almost forgot you will need 2ft scissors, or a snorkle to work on that :)
Good Luck!
 

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Oh brother this is going to be SWEET! If done right this tank is going to look even better. You are obviously a salt water master, a planted tank this big done by a person who is dedicated like this should be epic.
 

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Here is the aforementioned 1600 gallon tank thread. http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/t...634-behemoth-1600-gallon-planted-tank-36.html

It seems with a tank this size I'd take a very close look at some of the low-tech approaches, and perhaps a read of Ecology of the Planted Aquarium. For the low-tech approaches tend to be lower maintenance approaches as well. And that doesn't mean that you can't use CO2 as well to get your plant growth to where you want it still. You just don't want to be having to do loads of trimming and replanting. It seems that avoiding stem plants and sticking primarily with rosette plants should help considerably with that as well.

I'd been interested in the FW/SW switch as I very carefully had been indecisive between the two for quite some time before deciding to stick with FW for now. And even if I'd have done a SW tank then it would have been a planted SW tank like one of these - http://www.reef2reef.com/forums/reef-discussion/48650-macro-algae-index.html. I was curious though whether macroalgae and seagrasses might help prevent coralline algae in the same way that good plant growth prevents algae in FW tanks, but never found an answer.

I'd really wanted to do a big tank with Discus and Congo Tetras, which isn't exactly biotype obviously. You'd have to keep the discus at the lower end of their ideal temperature range and the congos at the higher end though. I'd thought a few oddballs such as African Butterflyfish could add some decent character as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Mxx,
I think they are just 2 different styles. Almost like a good action movie or a good comedy, which are you in the mood for? :)

The macros won't stem your coralline, the coralline is a calcium based algae while the macros are much more akin to your current FW planted aquarium. Had a ton of macro in my sump. Great for absorbing extra nutrients, but that's about it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I've decided to go with a turface/osmocoat substrate capped with sand.

Definately going to add CO2, just trying to decide if I want to keep the sump and battle what will be a large degassing issue with the overflows and sump return turbulence or ditch the sump and function as a self contained aquarium.

As for lighting I'll probably stick to just the 250W and not try any 400s at all or even consider going with just T5s and ditching the MHs altogether.

I'm going to have to try some stems. May end up pulling them I suppose, but I just think they work too well at providing some depth and side coverage. Hopefully, I am going to be able to make the total switch in the next month or two. I'll start a setup thread when I get that going.
Thanks for all the help!
 
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