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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had a tank on here several years ago that was a high tech 40B. This time around it will be low tech because now I am married and have a child and made some time commitment promises regarding the new tank.

Lighting is two Finnex Stingrays. I have them set up for a 7 hour concurrent photo period now, but I may try other plans such as maybe having each one on for 4 hours with only a one hour overlap or something like that, because I need to light the whole tank but not necessarily full strength the whole time. Time will tell!

I am using Tapatalk, so hopefully photos work properly. I have plants from at least two For Sale ads in this forum coming this week including 100 stems of Hygrophilia Corymbosa, two species of crypts, and Stauro Porto Velho. I am hoping this will sufficiently pack the tank initially.

I finished my DIY stand earlier this week, put the tank on it Thursday evening and filled it Friday.

It has 40 Lbs of Saf T Sorb substrate, and a stand I built myself. Well water comes out of the tap at 0 KH 0 GH and I am dosing baking soda and equilibrium to get about 5/5. The STS will strip KH for a few weeks presumably so I will monitor every day or so and add a half tsp as needed.

I will be dosing ferts per the Tom Barr low tech non CO2 method; weekly additions of KNO3, KH2PO4, and Equilibrium.

My driftwood has not yet shipped and no idea on ETA (manzanita-driftwood.com) so when I do my initial planting later this week I will leave plenty of room for driftwood.

I will be stocking, I think :
6 Amano
6 Otos
18 Rummynose Tetra (maybe cardinal tetra instead)
1 or 2 Bolivian Ram
1 Pearl Gourami, if and only if I can establish floating plants that work with my filtration and I find the floating plants manageable and attractive.

Filtration is an Eheim 2217 with an inline heater, fluval-style skinner intake, and spray painted black all in-tank equipment.

Temps at 79F.

 

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Hi Doc7,

Nice start!

I have a couple of comments,

"Well water comes out of the tap at 0 KH 0 GH" is your home on a water softener? I don't believe I know of any wells where the water comes out that soft. If it is really that soft you will need to add Equilibrium / GH Booster to get the dGH up to about 5.0 and the STS will drop the dGH substantially for several weeks due to the high CEC value of the substrate. If you have a water softener, check out some of the posts here on the forum about possible issues.

" I will be dosing ferts per the Tom Barr low tech non CO2 method; weekly additions of KNO3, KH2PO4, and Equilibrium." - with two LED fixtures (depending upon PAR) the output may exceed what qualifies as 'low light / low tech' - watch for nutrient deficiencies and algae issues.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks. I have no water softener. Yes as I stated in the original I am using baking soda and equilibrium to get to 5 KH 5 GH and will test frequently (24-48 hours) until the STS stops stripping KH.



I think the Stingray is on the very low PAR end of lights and talked a bit with a poster named Michael (on the other big planted tank forum) who uses two of these fixtures on his 40B with no ferts and it looks great. However, his is a Walstad setup so a ton more nutrients in the substrate. He uses a 5/3/5 siesta schedule in his tank. I will definitely keep an eye out for algae and may incorporate a siesta or, more likely, splitting my light timers up. If I had each light on for 4 hours or 5/6 with only an overlap of a short period in the middle, it would give each half (front half, back half - 40B is 18" front to back) lighting for the plants but probably cut down on algae.



What do you think about having each light on for 5 hours with 2 hours of overlap (so it is 3 hours back only, 2 hours all, 3 hours front only)? Or should I start with the straight 7 and work from there?
 

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Hi Doc7,

If I am looking at the correct Finnex model then each unit should provide about [email protected] at a 15" depth; two fixtures will provide about [email protected] - probably well into the "medium light" range. Depending upon your plant species (after all they determine the amount of light needed) and how densely you plant the tank the 3-2-3 photoperiod may work but I would certainly not start with that long a period. I have found that when I start a new tank, and the nitrogen cycle is just beginning, that I can experience a lot of algae with a long photoperiod. Algae seems to thrive especially during the ammonia and nitrite part of the nitrogen cycle. I would recommend starting with an abbreviated photoperiod - maybe 2-1-2 (five hourrs total) or even less. Gradually, over several weeks as the ammonia and nitrite levels drop to "0" and the nitrate level stabilizes, you can increase the photoperiod - I usually increase the photoperiod by 1/2 hour per week until algae becomes an issue then I back down.

Hope this helps!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I have a PAR meter on loan being sent to me this week so I will post some data that will help others and myself in this situation in the future.

For now, based in visual evidence alone, I will be going with my lights at one fixture 6" from front glass and one 6" from rear glass. This keeps it from being totally dark when only one or the other is on like they did at 4.5". My initial photoperiod will be 6 hours with a 1 hour overlap for "burst" - Rear light is on 4-730P, Front light from 630-10P.

I have no fish, no ammonia, and will buy fish after I see some initial growth from all my incoming stem plants. Not really sure how I will dose as the fish won't be there to produce waste from food so I may just dose the N P and K every 3rd day for right now.

Here is my stand's guts when I was gluing up one of the 3/4" ply sidewalls:



Here is what it looked like on my first fill after rinsing the STS 15 times for each quart of it (total approx 5 gallons).


 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
My PAR meter rental will arrive tomorrow so I look forward to experimentation to try and achieve somewhere in the 30-40 range of PAR as even as I can get it throughout the tank. This would dispel any notions of playing with differing photoperiod for front and rear, etc.

In order to prepare and start with the most modified system, working my way back towards the least, today I cut 4 36" strips of window screen material and jury rigged two of them to each of my LED strips with clips. If I end up needing the screens after all I will come up with a prettier solution.






I will take PAR readings from front to rear at the center and near the side of the tank (I can see dark spots at each end of the tank where less cones of LEDs overlap, which will likely lead to an additional variable to explore). Afterward I will remove one screen strip from each LED and re-do the readings with one layer only of screen material. Finally I will get the data with the LEDs completely unfiltered.

Hopefully this data will all be of use to any future users investigating the 40B and 2x Stingray fixtures, as I found plenty of threads on this topic but not a lot of concrete data reports.

In other news, today I got some rocks (which I probably won't use after all) from Manzanita-Driftwood.com, so I am thinking my driftwood might arrive tomorrow, the same day as I am also expecting to receive 100 stems of Hygrophilia Corymbosa, 2 species of Crypts, and Staurogyne "Porto Velho", and of course the PAR experimentation. There is little chance I will handle all of this in a single evening, so I suspect I will lay out the plants "farm style" just to get them growing in the tank, and leave the driftwood for later in the week or whenever I can get to it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks to the Hoppy PAR meter I can provide some information on a 40B with two Finnex Stingray fixtures. My satellite internet is so bad at uploading photos that I will be doing this on my phone, so I won't be doing some annotations right in the photos that I would have liked to do.

First you will note that I set up the lights at 5" and 13" from the front rim which I found gave a very even PAR from front to rear of the tank for a given distance from the side walls. The clips are holding on two layers of window screen I attached the previous night to prepare for tonight's testing.





My substrate is a bit shallow from about 2" front to 3" in the back. I estimate about 14-15" substrate to light.




With two layers of window screen on the lights, PAR (which for this meter must be multiplied by 1.08) was about 23 in the center of the tank and 18 on both ends of the tank, where less LED cones overlap.


With one layer of window screen on each fixture, PAR is now 31 at the ends of the tank, and 37 at the center.



The next step I took was to cut off screen covering 4 LEDs at each end. This allowed a more even light throughout the tank. I can always replace this later with a longer length of screen if I like. I also upgraded my clips.



Now, my PAR is 37-40, end to end, throughout the tank. (this is the status to which I returned my tank after conclusion of testing, for my first plants which went in afterward).

Finally, I tested the numbers without any screen material. Here is what 2 Finnex Stingrays mounted on a 40B rim will get you:



55 PAR at tank ends and 60 in the center!



Here are my starter plants with my one layer of window screen except for the last 4 LEDs on each end.


Hope this helps!
 

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Hi Doc7,

Nice! +/- [email protected] is a good place to start; start with a shorter photoperiod and gradually increase it over the next month. As the tank starts its' nitrogen cycle the first thing that is produced is ammonia, if I run high light or long duration photoperiods during the ammonia phase I usually end up with hair algae. After the ammonia portion of the cycle has dropped off then comes the nitrite phase, this is when I usually start to gradually increase my photoperiod by about 1/2 hour per week. Do you have a timer on your lights yet? If not, I recommend the Defiant Heavy Duty digital timer....check out post #5 in this thread.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I am using two of the timers I put on post #4 on that timer thread. I have a 6 hour photoperiod right now. I don't have any fish in the tank yet, only nitrate source from macros, until I see a couple inches of growth on my plants then I will order a few small schooling fish maybe 5-6 every 7-10 days while watching ammonia levels.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I planted some Crypt Wendtii Bronze, Crypt Lucens, and Stauro 'Porto Velho' this afternoon. They aren't really where they will end up because I need to wait for this wood to arrive! I also won't give them root tabs till they are in their next position.

 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Any idea how long it will take plants to adjust to a low tech tank and begin growing? I want to wait to add fish until I see actively growing plants (maybe until my starter stems are halfway to tank top).

It's been several years but in my high tech tank the stem plants would grow in terms of inches per day and slower growth will take getting used to for me!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I'm not so sure... I planted this tank Wednesday and from the photos, most all of my plants have definitely added about 1/4" per leaf on the top new growth sections. Happy to see definite growth! Photos definitely make it a lot easier to see progress. I put a stick next to one of my plants just to track it for a bit.



There is still about 0.25 PPM ammonia from when I initially started a fishless cycle (I dosed to 4 PPM, then decided to buy plants instead, so did one large WC 6 days ago) I've decided not to get rid of this ammonia with another large WC but instead wait until it hits 0 and nitrites are 0 before I buy my first fish. With the growing plants and the seeded bacteria colonies from these plants that came with their own cycle, I think it will be manageable to add 6 Rummynose tetras and watch for any signs of ammonia/nitrite spike.

If all goes well, I will add stock every 2 weeks, focusing on 6 fish increments to get to 18 rummynose, 6 Oto, 6 Amano, and not really concrete past that point.

I am irked that my driftwood hasn't arrived even though my rocks from the same vendor did and he is not responding to my emails. This is similar to other reviews on the internet about this vendor. I am sure he will come through, it's just that I wish I could put some sort of timeline on my wood so I could proceed with plant placement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
That particular stem is up over the black line now so I have 1/4" growth in 48 hours - should be over the stick in a week, maybe less because the plants will constantly get closer to the light and grow more surfaces to contact nutrients in the water column, gaining momentum. We are rolling now! Hopefully I can start laying out some more permanent plants and a scape in the next several weeks. Just need that manzanita!
 

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That particular stem is up over the black line now so I have 1/4" growth in 48 hours - should be over the stick in a week, maybe less because the plants will constantly get closer to the light and grow more surfaces to contact nutrients in the water column, gaining momentum. We are rolling now! Hopefully I can start laying out some more permanent plants and a scape in the next several weeks. Just need that manzanita!
Hi Doc7,

That Safe-t-sorb is a great substrate, give those plants 2-3 weeks and you will not believe the roots they have put out. Do continue to monitor your dKH and dGH and adjust up as necessary; STS will absorb a lot of Ca and Mg for several weeks to several months.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks Seattle. I've been maintaining KH to this point with about a 1/4 tsp a day and dosing Equilibrium every several days as the GH tells me to. I changed my goals to be 3 drops of KH solution and 5 drops of GH.

A bit of a mixup occurred with the wood vendor. He is trying to make it right and I do appreciate that. I have a new piece on the way, #3150:




Never had branchy wood in an aquarium before so it will be fun to work with this material. I will try to do some rule of thirds hardscaping with the wood initiating in the back far right of the tank, but also need to cover my filter suction (possibly a sword or java fern plant back in the right corner).
 
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