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Discussion Starter #1
With my graduation from college fast approaching in spring I am looking forward to finally getting back into planted tank keeping after a four year long break. So I am going to start slowly working on my plan for future tank. Unfortunately due to the time commitment of school I have not been able to keep current with the going ons of planted aquarium keeping and was wondering if any major methodology or technology changes have happened since 2016?



I ran my previous tank with pressurized CO2, my own custom version of EI dosing that I tuned for smaller water changes, and a finnex Ray II for lighting. Luckily I still have my regulator, light bar, and most of my dry ferts (not sure of CSM+B expires or not?), so I plan to use these to get started come spring. All in all I am looking forward to getting back into the hobby but am a little daunted about having to relearn everything. I am hoping its like riding a bike and everything will start coming back to me!
 

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Oh hey! I also just started getting back into the hobby, welcome back!

I think 4 years ago, LED lights were only just starting to take off. Nowadays they seem to be pretty mainstream. I think they may actually be better than the T5s or T8s (shhhh, don't tell my 4 bulb fixture that...)

The forum itself seems to be much lower in terms of activity. It could be due to people moving to social media such as Facebook groups. Or they could be moving to megaforums like reddit.

Walstadt and Nature aquariums experienced a boom in part due to Foo the Flowerhorn's YT channel as well as the ease of use and simplicity of the method.

More nano fish seem to have made their way into the hobby, but they're usually the same species as 4 years ago.

Overall, there doesn't seem to be much in terms of innovation.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the replies, everyone!

I figured LEDs were going to be one of the big changes. With my previous tank, I remember LEDs just beginning to be widely accepted and the Finnex Ray II being one of the first decent commercially available light bars. The Ray II worked well for me on my old tall tank 46 bow front and I would like to use it again when I set up my new tank in the spring. However, I think I will be going with a smaller tank this time around and worry it will be too much light. I have do have a 20L tank I've thought about using but that is a fair bit shorter than the Ray II I have (36"). Aesthetically I like longer lower tanks so I might look into what 36" long tanks are available. However, that still leaves me with what seems like a lot of light at the substrate due to the shorter tank. I wonder if the Ray IIs can be dimmed? My biggest complaint with Ray II was the color, its a very white-blue light (only 7000K bulbs) so a lot of the colors in my old tank were washed out, so I will be looking to add some colored lighting to make things pop.

As far as the rest of the tank I am still a bit undecided, luckily I still have plenty of time to get back up to speed and make decisions. For substate, I am torn between going with MTS as I have all of the stuff for it (minus the dirt itself) and it worked well on my last tank. However, I have thought about giving ADA Aquasoil a try as I recall it being the bee's knees. Part of me also wants to give unmineralized soil a try. No matter what I choose I will probably do a sand cap as I really prefer the look of sand to gravel. As far as plants go I thinking about focusing heavily on crypts. I grew a few different types in my old aquarium and liked their look and low maintenance. I will am also thinking about having a fair amount of other rooted plants and anubias and buce. I am sure I will have a few stems but I don't think they will be my focus. My big goal is to avoid having a collectoritis jungle of tank this time round, but I suspect I might fail at that. The draw to add more and mores species is hard to fight. As for fish I am undecided and will probably weight till I figure out what the water quality is like at my future place. I do have an RO/DI system I am going to dig out of storage but I would like to avoid it if possible. I will probably stock RCS, and I am thinking about a BN pleco and maybe Dario Dario. I would like to have a few more fish than the three I had in my last tank. Undecided on if I want to stock Malaysian trumpet snails again, they were awesome for keeping substrate in old tank clean and prevent it from going anoxic but all the empty shells were ugly.
 

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Welcome back!

Forum participation is down. I participate on two forums (here and SimplyDiscus). I remember years ago people followed DIY Threads, Tank Journals, and Fish Room Build Threads religiously. Not so much anymore.

Folks have migrated to FaceBook and Instagram Groups... where you get nice short videos and photos... and lots of my Discus/Ram is sick posts. Not much depth. I think it just reflects the reality that folks don't engage one another in meaningful ways as often as they used to.

Welcome back to the hobby. I'm kind of a NEW Old stock guy... so I have allot of brand new equipment that is 5-10 years old (Hydor 110v Heating Cables, Ecoxotic Stunner LED strips, etc...) Your LED lighting is no doubt quite relevant.

I use a rather inert 2mm sized gravel that is about 1 1/2" deep. The lower 3/8" is mixed with laterite (and yes I have 25w heating cables in each of my 20 gallon longs in that laterite). So, I'm old school. I would love to see what you end up doing for substrate and fertilizing, as I have much to learn. I have two dosers, but I'm not using them yet, as i don't have a steady regiment started with prepared dry ferts.... Just going to use up the store bought liquid fertilizers for about a month... and then pursue at least a comprehensive Macro and comprehensive Micro fertlizers regimen.

Of course, I just read that you will start up in the spring... so by then I will be on my way. Just started up my 4-tank mini rack after years away. I have an RO system, but don't do DI.

If you post details of your thought processes.... I'll read them... I like re-entry into the hobby threads... folks giving it a go again with all the experience they've had in the past and a willingness to adopt new ideas, processess and materials. Good stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Very sad to hear that the forums are dying out, I used to spend way to much time reading posts and articles on here, APC, and a few other forums. Even though I am part of the social media obsessed generation, I've never really bought into it. I will for sure be starting a tank journal as I get a bit closer to spring. My inner engineer has a tendency to way over complicate things so I've been thinking about trying to make a black box of sorts to control dosing, lights, CO2, etc. Arduino based would probably work but coding is not my strong suit so we will see. In the next few weeks I will also be pulling out all the aquarium stuff I have stuffed in storage to sort through and see what's worth keeping and what I will be selling/tossing and start planning what I need to get.

One big thing that I remembered last night is that my CO2 regulator has an output pressure of 10 psi max. This isn't good as I would like to have as little equipment in my future tank as possible and most of the inline diffusers and reactors I've looked at need a higher working pressure. On my old tank I had a bamboo skewer stuffed in the end of my CO2 line which then feed into a power head with a modified impeller. It worked pretty well but like I said I want to limit the amount of equipment in the tank. If anyone has any suggestions for low pressure diffusion I would be very grateful. I really like my old regulator and don't really want to spend the money to replace it.

Another thing I am looking for input on is filtration. In the past I've always used HOB filters but I would like to switch to a canister to reduce the amount of equipment in the tank. However, I would really like the canister to be easy to clean as I like to rinse part of my bio media every week to encourage hetrotrohpic bacterial growth to help control dissolved organics. I started using this method based on an old forum discussion that I can no longer find. I don't for sure know that this method does anything useful but it seemed to help control algae in my old tank so I figure it doesn't hurt. I will also be using purigen as that did make a noticeable difference in water clarity and algae in my old tank. Again this unnecessary but its pretty cheap so I don't see a downside to using it.

For substrate I am now thinking I will go with mineralized top soil again as it worked well for me before and I already have the additives I need for it. However I might try adding some other additives like azomite, greensand, and sul-po-mag. Necessary? No, but I like to complicate things apparently. Water column dosing will depend on how many water feeding plants I end up with, at this time I leaning more towards root feeders. However I am going to see if I can find my notes from last aquarium on my dosing strategy. If I remember right I did the math to come up with a dialed back EI based scheme with water changes of 25% and 50% on alternating weeks. Then I watched for deficiencies and bumped the needed fertilizers to get healthy growth. After getting it tuned it worked really well, I was growing plants very fast (new leaves on my crypts every day or two, and inches of growth on stems each day) with out any noticeable algae. Granted my tank had very little bioload (a betta, 2 BN plecos, and shrimp in a 46 gallon) so I didn't really worry about accounting for extra nitrogen from the fish in my dosing scheme. The stability of my old tank was really the most impressive part, forgetting to fertilize, going on vacation, missing a water change, nothing seemed to really upset it. I suspect this was due the combination of less light (due to the height of the tank), co2 injection, and nutrients stored in the substrate making everything very robust, but I might have just gotten lucky.
 

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My inner engineer has a tendency to way over complicate things so I've been thinking about trying to make a black box of sorts to control dosing, lights, CO2, etc. Arduino based would probably work but coding is not my strong suit so we will see. In the next few weeks I will also be pulling out all the aquarium stuff I have stuffed in storage to sort through and see what's worth keeping and what I will be selling/tossing and start planning what I need to get.
A very effective DIY controller, requiring very little coding, comes from the SW side of aquariums. It's Raspberry Pi based and called reef pi. It was/is developed by a man named Ranjib Dey and has gained a ton of enthusiasts over on www.reef2reef.com
One member I know here, namely @bigtrout has a reef pi system he built controlling his FW planted. Bigtrout, like you, is an engineer with an abundance of knowledge regarding electric and electronics. Hopefully, we'll hear from him.

If you do decide to build a reef pi controller, please start a separate build thread on it and be sure to tag me. I know there are many here that would be very interested in following along!

On a side note; I cannot speak to online forums in general but do know that membership numbers and interaction has grown exponentially over at reef2reef in the last several years.

As far as canister filters are concerned, not a whole lot of changes in the last several years. Fluval FX series still very popular and Oase is gaining in popularity too. I believe the Oase filters are easier to maintain and also offer a built-in heating model. Something that may interest you since you are trying to move away from in-tank equipment. However, the Oase models do get pricey.

Oh, as to a LED lighting option; many folks are migrating to RGB, LED flood lights. There are quite a number of them available on Amazon and a model that would suit a 20g is linked below for you. The same manufacturer also offers a RGB+W option which I have been eyeing up to try on my 28g Nano AIO system.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07X55HSGB/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_fabc_uzl3Fb45VC0TC?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

Hope some of this helps!

Sent from my mobile device using Tapatalk Pro
 

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My inner engineer has a tendency to way over complicate things so I've been thinking about trying to make a black box of sorts to control dosing, lights, CO2, etc. Arduino based would probably work but coding is not my strong suit so we will see.
I'm building one... I have it operational now..

It's on a RaspberryPi running Node-RED. I use allot of Atlas-Scientific EZO sensors that communicate over i2c (a multi-drop serial type network meant for integrated circuits communication.. so trace lines of inches.... but folks have got it working over 30, 50 feet now....) Node-Red is flow based programming with Javascript as the underlying language. The best part is the way the community can share nodes/flows, etc... It even has a basic dashboard for creating graphics that render in the Chrome browser. Worth reading up on. RaspberryPi OS is nice because it gives you access to so many services, as opposed to programming everything bare metal via C, C++ with the Arduino.

The flow I will direct you to reads Temp, pH, ORP, Conductivity, Dissolved Oxygen, and Sump Return Flow (all are EZO circuits). Temperature compensation is available too for pH, Conductivity and Dissolved Oxygen as well. I have setup and calibration routines working as well. I didn't do it all on my own...note even a stretch... a few of us figured out pieces of it and shared our code. The other contributors were all brighter than me. I have control of Temp and pH (via CO2 injection) via a NCD Relay I/O Expansion Board... which also communicates to RaspberryPi/NodeRED over i2c. Working to finish up level control and dosing. Might do dimming of my lighting as well.

The name of my company is SonoraTechnical LLC, so I go by SonoraTechnical on GitHub, NPM, IoT sites, etc... This is my thread below on my aquarium controller (yeah, it needs more updates... and perhaps a BOM for the project):

https://discourse.nodered.org/t/aqu...tific-i2c-devices-ncd-i2c-relay-board/25839/8

Money wise... I think I would have been cheaper buying a neptune system. But that's becuase I've had so many false starts and changes of direction. Read that thread and you will see mention of another hobbyist who built a similar controller that is much better than mine.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'm building one... I have it operational now..

It's on a RaspberryPi running Node-RED. I use allot of Atlas-Scientific EZO sensors that communicate over i2c (a multi-drop serial type network meant for integrated circuits communication.. so trace lines of inches.... but folks have got it working over 30, 50 feet now....) Node-Red is flow based programming with Javascript as the underlying language. The best part is the way the community can share nodes/flows, etc... It even has a basic dashboard for creating graphics that render in the Chrome browser. Worth reading up on. RaspberryPi OS is nice because it gives you access to so many services, as opposed to programming everything bare metal via C, C++ with the Arduino.

Wow that's a really cool controller your working. I read through the thread you linked and it looks very impressive. I have to say something like that is probably well beyond my skills. The controller I had in mine was a lot simpler, really just more precise timers to control how long the peristaltic pumps run and small chunk of code so I could input the desired amount of a nutrient in ppm I want to add and it could calculate the corresponding run time and then implement it. For temperature I was thinking an off the shelf PID controller and a solid state relay. Cheap and pretty easy to implement.


I looked into dimming my Finnex Ray 2 and it doesn't look likes it possible without ripping the whole thing open. So a new light or lifting it way up is in order. I've been thinking about what I want to do for this aquarium and I thinking I might raise it up. I leaning towards this options (maybe with an RGB strip to add some color) as it would give me a lot of light spread outside the tank as well, which works perfectly for an open top tank with drift wood (and maybe rock) sticking out of it. So now the tank I'm picturing would be open top and have good sized gnarly stump in it that pokes up out of the water. Then I would plant ephityes and moss all along the stump both above and below the water. The challenge in this is finding a plan that is okay growing emmersed on wood at lower humidity due to the open top. If anyone has any species suggestions let me know. I am also interested in other aquatic ephityes and rooted plants.


I also started digging through my aquarium stuff to figure out what I'm taking with me when I move and what I'm getting rid of. I found my regulator and I was wrong before in thinking it was limited at 10 psi, it actually tops out at 25 psi which gives me more options but its still pretty low. The regulators body (brass) is also a bit tarnished so I look into polishing it to give it a nice shine. Some of the other items of note I found are the following: 20L tank (very dirty), 2 Eheim Jager heaters (125 and 60 watts), 46 bow front and stand, Hanna TDS and pH meters, a few big Penguin HOB filters, EI dry ferts, big jug of pond Prime, MTS additives, and like four tetra 200 W heaters. No idea why I have so many heaters, but I think I'll be keeping the eheims and getting rid of the tetras. I'll be keeping the meters, ferts, and the 20L tank if it cleans up nice. Planning on getting rid of or selling the 46 gal tank, stand, tetra heaters, and most if not all of the HOB filters. Not sure if the Pond Prime is still good, but I'll be keeping it if it is. Anyone know if Prime expires?


So if the 20L tank is in good shape the only big things I need to get come spring are a canister filter, stand, and hard scape. Lights and an inline heater are on the would be nice list as of now. I also be keeping my eyes out for a good deal on a frag tank, I really like wide short tanks and the built in sump filter would be cool so if see a good deal I might jump on it. Figuring out for sure what tank I'll be using is possible until I figuring out where I'll be living (apartment or town house) and the what aquarium policy is there. I suspect I'll also have to deal with bad water so I'll have to figure out how to get my RO system hooked up.
 

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I'm new here, but have been lurking for a while.

Microelectronics is something I have a lot of experience in. Planted tanks... Quite a bit less :)

I built a controller for a reef tank that used a pi and an arduino talking to each other. It ran perfectly for a few years before I moved and took the tank down. It monitored pH, temp, and float switches. It controlled all the pumps, top off, and the lights.

More recently I used an esp32 to dose thrive.

It uses one motor to spin a magnetic stirrer for 30 seconds and then doses the liquid. There is a web page you can use to calibrate the doser, set what time to run, and prime the hose going to the aquarium. It also monitors temperature. A future version of the software pushes the temps to a Mqtt server for notification if it goes out of spec.

The entire enclosure is 3d printed.



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It uses one motor to spin a magnetic stirrer for 30 seconds and then doses the liquid. There is a web page you can use to calibrate the doser, set what time to run, and prime the hose going to the aquarium. It also monitors temperature. A future version of the software pushes the temps to a Mqtt server for notification if it goes out of spec.

The entire enclosure is 3d printed.

That looks awesome, do you have a build thread or anywhere I could look more info on a dosing set up similar to to that?

On an unrelated note I have started questioning some of the Flora I've said I would like to use. I would love to have crypt, buce, anubias, sword heavy tank, possibly with a dwarf hair grass carpet. However the lighting requirements of the dwarf hair grass is way higher then the others which could be problematic. I'm also questioning the logic behind setting up a high tech low light tank, seems kind of a unnecessary but I already have the regulator so I don't know. Shooing for medium light might work, the crypts in my old tank did well with it but there was also a number stems in there that shaded them, but you also couldn't see them as well. I suppose I should look into stems for this future tank some more, nothing against them, they just aren't as interesting to me at the moment. Hygro pinnatifida is one stem I plan on stocking for sure though, love the leaf shape.
 
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