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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all!

First, an introduction of sorts. I am a stay-at-home mom of a toddler, and main caretaker of an urban homestead, complete with extensive gardens, goats, fowl and a pond.

I have had tanks, both freshwater and saltwater reef my whole life.

Currently I have three tanks running. One is a low tech planted 55 gallon stocked with mainly endlers, and a few each of cory's and otto's. The second is a 3.5 gallon low tech planted tank for a dwarf puffer. The third is a saltwater.

Now that you have some background, the reason for this post is to ask for some assistance/ideas for my current project. I am converting a 210 gallon reef to a planted tank. I am aiming for a low-ish tech for this one too.

While it has the setup for a sump, I don't plan on using it for the planted tank. Also, I'd like to avoid CO2, at least for now.

I have a few options for lighting. I'd like to use something I have on hand, if possible. So, with that in mind, I have up to 3 400 watt metal halides. Overkill, I know...but would it be possible to raise one far enough off the water to make it work? I really like the shimmer effect, and I live where it's gloomy 8 months out of the year.

Second, while reading threads here I saw slate tile in a tank. I really like the look, and wonder if it would be possible to cover the back wall of the tank with them? Any potential hazard from that much slate in the tank?

Third, I like the idea of a dirt tank. I have the option of using decomposed granite as the cap. Any concern/hazards from this?

Thank you for your time and help.
 

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LOL it all sounds good to me, I used eastern slate and have a dirt base in most of my tanks, welcome to TPT.
 

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Hello welcome to tpt! If I were you I would stick with the sump they are great for fresh water too. You can hide your equipment,save money by not buying another filter,and add stability to your tank with the extra water volume. Sumps are way more efficient filters than canister or hob filters. I have one for my 90 gallon planted it works great. You could raise the 400 watt light 2 feet off the water mabye even more than that. The only thing is your light spread won't cover the whole tank. You could plant the middle of the tank and leave the edges unplanted. You could check to see if your ballasts are convertable some can run 400 and 250 watt lights. Two 250 watt lights would give you a much better spread than one 400. I'm not sure if you can use actual slate for your background I see a lot of people making their own backgrounds on here though. The search function on this site is your best bet or Google. Dirt is a popular choice for low tech tanks. I've never used it before organic. I see that organic
Miracle grow is popular though. I'm not sure if you have to mineralize it or if you can just dump it in and cap it. Do a search for soil substrates a lot should pop up. As long as the granite doesn't leech anything into your water you should be ok. You can check if it leeches by filling a container like a gallon of water or so and then let it sit for 24 hrs. Test the ph,kh,and gh. Then soak your rock and retest the water and see if your parameters change. Soak the rock for about 48 hrs. Sorry if my post is jumbled I'm in a hurry .
 

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:smile:Hi! my forum name is wkndracer and I'm a tankaholic
these are my current dirt tanks
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/low-tech-forum/86457-55-gallon-low-tech-soil-sub.html
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/tank-journals-photo-album/90878-110g-w-30g-sump-56k-warning.html
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/t...bum/131940-stainless-2-story-56k-warning.html
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/low-tech-forum/143352-another-npt-ds-dirt-tank.html#post1472836


I'm a dirty tanker

The rest of those admitting it to date are listed here with links to their threads.
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/general-planted-tank-discussion/144812-fraternity-dirt.html

I'm sure the Fraternity membership one and all will be glad to answer any question they can about our dirty little hobby.
 

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I'm not sure about lighting a tank that size, probably best place to ask that is in the lighting section. Be sure to mention that you don't want to do CO2.

Slate tile should be no problem. Just keep in mind how heavy a 210 gallon tank it alone, plus the substrate and water, then add rock its going to very heavy. Make sure your floor can handle it.

Dirt is great as long as you aren't the type of hobbyist that likes to move things around alot. Make a plan of your layout ahead of time and try not to change it much after you planted it, otherwise you'll have a dirt clouded tank and dirt on top of you cap.
As far as type of dirt I would recommend Miracle Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix. Mineralzed Top Soil is good as well, but takes more time and there a few ingredients you need. For Miracle Gro all you need to do is take out the big pieces of wood, put it in the tank (1.5 inch depth), plant, cap, fill. The advantage of Mineralized Top Soil is that the nutrients will generally last longer.

As far as capping material the granite should work.
 

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Don't be posting that 'lasts longer nonsense' plz but the rest sounds good LOL
There is nothing time released in the tank using MTS but there is going NPT yet this gets posted all the time. Myths are hard to kill. Those few added ingredients are easily incorporated into a natural dirt tank substrate as well. Up all night and been in this debate toooooo many times already, I need to ready reference those threads for times like this.

I'm the one that did the only permanently attached slate background I've seen on this site too.
Did I mention I run sumps on two of my systems.
 

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Don't be posting that 'lasts longer nonsense' plz but the rest sounds good LOL
There is nothing time released in the tank using MTS but there is going NPT yet this gets posted all the time. Myths are hard to kill. Those few added ingredients are easily incorporated into a natural dirt tank substrate as well. Up all night and been in this debate toooooo many times already, I need to ready reference those threads for times like this.
So if it doesn't last longer why do people choose MTS? IMO Miracle Gro was cheap and sooo easy and works well.

What are the benefits, if any, of MTS over Miracle Gro?
 

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So if it doesn't last longer why do people choose MTS? IMO Miracle Gro was cheap and sooo easy and works well.

What are the benefits, if any, of MTS over Miracle Gro?
No settling in period, no transition to submerged decay/decomposition of the organics and no substrate gassing make MTS more predictable. I did one MTS tank and 8 NPT's so asking me what the benefit is I can't answer because I don't see it.

Easier for me to just point out the arguments I saw Tom Barr engaged in with people objecting to water column dosing being suggested for use in tanks using MTS as a substrate, read pages of that going back and forth. Why not use both? Makes perfect sense. Yet the arguments continued.

Getting through the break in period on a new NPT is no bother for me and way better than the PITA and mess of making MTS.

Maybe if you go through all that effort you need to feel it's better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you for all the replies thus far.

This tank has been set up in it's current location for 5 years as a saltwater reef, and the house was built with the weight load in mind. Thank you for pointing out the issue, though...it's one seriously heavy tank.

While I do like to fiddle around with tanks, I'm not likely to have the extra time to be moving plants around and such, not to mention I'm a rather short person and reaching the bottom of this monster is no easy project.

Since I have been building up my garden soil for years, and I have absolute confidence in what it contains (or does NOT contain toxin-wise) I'll be using it. My main concern with the decomposed granite is the possibility for it to contain very small particles, along with the sand size and larger particles. I'm guessing they will settle out of the water column fairly quickly however.

It was my understanding that by running with the sump, I would be causing more CO2 to offgas. Is this not the case? Truth be told, I'm also enjoying NOT having extra worries about something going wrong there while we have a housesitter.

My next question would be why I see others set up the base with gravel around the edge. Is this for aesthetics only? As this tank is used as a room divider, it has a couch in front of it. I think it wound be interesting to be able to see the different layers of the base if I pulled the couch away.

Wkndracer, it was in one of your threads I saw the slate! Sorry I couldn't remember, or I'd have made sure to credit you. I love it! How did you attach it to the back?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Oh, one more question...if I put the light on a track, I could slide it length of the tank. I'm home most days, so other than possibly slightly uneven photoperiods, would there be any downside to this?
 

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Thank you for the kudo! It's in the thread that I linked above but I used tank sealant.
Use care not to get any on the face of the slate or it will be a permanent clean spot as the slate won't age under it being sealed off from the water.

Strictly aesthetics on the edging materials.
Thought you weren't going injected on the proposed setup but minimize splash and by covering the sump it's not that bad at all. (another myth or not setup correctly)
Sumps are just to cheap and easy to maintain for me to do away with any of them.
Mine was a trickle tower I converted learning my way through it.
I sold off three nice canisters on SnS just getting away from them here in the last year.
Hope you join the frat and journal the whole conversion as it developes.
HTH
 

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Oh, one more question...if I put the light on a track, I could slide it length of the tank. I'm home most days, so other than possibly slightly uneven photoperiods, would there be any downside to this?
I really don't see one.
If you felt like an issue was developing you could always go back and reset things
 

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Thanks again. I read the whole low tech angel tank thread over the last two days. I'll start on the other during naptime today.
hahaha thank you for knocking the dust off
 

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Is the reason for not going CO2 due to cost/desire to not maintain?

It really is not a difficult venture, does not have to be expensive, but is a key to good plant growth. May want to give it a 2nd thought...but certainly understand if not.

You can get away without it, but if luscious grown in dense planting is your objective, go with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I'm looking for slow to medium growth, with happy plants. I'd rather not have to dose fertilizers and such, but if using the metal halide requires dosing and CO2 to have a nice tank not completely dominated by algae, then that is what I will do.
 

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You could raise those MH really high and screen the tank to reduce the light. Is this a 6 or 7 foot long tank? My 2x150 watt MH were okay over 5 feet of tank about 30 inches over the substrate, if yours aren't in individual pendants but under a continuous not very effective reflector they might cover the whole tank. White paint rather than polished metal maybe.

Why not simply screen your decomposed granite to get the size granule you want so you don't waste the small stuff then rinse to get rid of dust? It sounds like a good substrate to me, very nice natural color.

My tank is 24" deep and on a 32" tall stand. I use 12" tools and a stepladder. If I work in the tank when the water is low during water changes I don't get too soaked.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
A screen is a great idea! I was considering putting some eggcrate along the back and sides anyway, to grow some cuttings of my houseplants.

I'm pretty sure it's a 6' long by 2' wide tank. That rings a bell anyway...

I know I can reach the bottom...it's just not something I enjoy, and it makes for a big project which means I can't get it done while my "helper" is napping. Water changes are pretty quick and painless.

What is the main function of a filter in these tanks? To remove debris?
 

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Yes, mechanical filtration is helpful. Water flow helps the nutrients get to all the plants and even though plants eat a lot of waste products a good biological filter helps a lot as well. Unless there is some water ripple the oxygen exchange can be poor and that can be really hard on the fish especially at night when plants aren't producing any oxygen. I don't use chemical filtration but lots here do use stuff like Purigen to polish the water as well.
 
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