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Trying to design a 4ft (1.2m) x 2ft (0.6m) x 2ft (height) tank to be placed on an antique foyer table which measures 6 ft (1.8m) x 3ft (1m) x 30 inches tall and over 200 lbs (90kgs) in weight Specific requirement that is making the design intriguing:

  1. This tank will face a 8ft x 8ft double front door to set as some sort of visible barrier between the front door and an open concept great room of 1500 ft.
  2. Nothing under the table. Table as 4 large carved legs, we must not have cabinet, filter canister, CO2 canister etc under the table, just the clean open look.
  3. Nothing on the table except the aquarium.
  4. Plants in the tank and prefer to have plants grow out of the tank, and even better some trailing down the side of the tank,
  5. Being in the foyer, tank visible on all 4 sides.
  6. Love to have plants in the tank as well as (3)
  7. Lights hang down from the ceiling
  8. Water very hard at location, and humidity very low, Southern California desert.
My thoughts so far:
  1. Almost have to be a low tech? Nowhere to place CO2 etc.
  2. Not sure how to apply filtration, the most invisible would be under gravel? or some sort of foam filter with power head?
  3. No idea about plants selection.
  4. Fish, probably just bunch of small schooling types like neon or so.
Any help, idea or critiques are appreciated.
 

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Trying to design a 4ft (1.2m) x 2ft (0.6m) x 2ft (height) tank to be placed on an antique foyer table which measures 6 ft (1.8m) x 3ft (1m) x 30 inches tall and over 200 lbs (90kgs) in weight Specific requirement that is making the design intriguing:

  1. This tank will face a 8ft x 8ft double front door to set as some sort of visible barrier between the front door and an open concept great room of 1500 ft.
  2. Nothing under the table. Table as 4 large carved legs, we must not have cabinet, filter canister, CO2 canister etc under the table, just the clean open look.
  3. Nothing on the table except the aquarium.
  4. Plants in the tank and prefer to have plants grow out of the tank, and even better some trailing down the side of the tank,
  5. Being in the foyer, tank visible on all 4 sides.
  6. Love to have plants in the tank as well as (3)
  7. Lights hang down from the ceiling
  8. Water very hard at location, and humidity very low, Southern California desert.
My thoughts so far:
  1. Almost have to be a low tech? Nowhere to place CO2 etc.
  2. Not sure how to apply filtration, the most invisible would be under gravel? or some sort of foam filter with power head?
  3. No idea about plants selection.
  4. Fish, probably just bunch of small schooling types like neon or so.
Any help, idea or critiques are appreciated.
I don’t know what the budget is, but if there’s a wall directly behind the tank, you could use the hollow for a cabinet type thing to store all the supplies, filter and co2.. giving you more options for plants.

how dense do you want the growth to be? A low light walstad style jungle? Maybe a clean high light co2 carpet and rock tank, where 50 schooling neon tetras are the main attraction. But u did say about plants growing up and out.. hmm. Not too sure on that one. There are certainly a lot of aquatic plants that can grow out of the water and even blossom/flower. I don’t know many, but let’s say for a low/medium light.. many aponogetons will blossom, as will anubias,bacopa, and I’ve had both hygrophila and cabomba have apoked a few flowers through on occasion. You water parameters have to be spot on if you want this kind of growth. As for hanging off the side .. i know nothing. I’d tell you to get a pothos plant and just sit it on the aquarium with the roots in the water.

I don’t know what the budget is, but if there’s a wall directly behind the tank, you could use the hollow for a cabinet type thing to store all the supplies, filter and co2.. giving you more options for plants.

how dense do you want the growth to be? A low light walstad style jungle? Maybe a clean high light co2 carpet and rock tank, where 50 schooling neon tetras are the main attraction. But u did say about plants growing up and out.. hmm. Not too sure on that one. There are certainly a lot of aquatic plants that can grow out of the water and even blossom/flower. I don’t know many, but let’s say for a low/medium light.. many aponogetons will blossom, as will anubias,bacopa, and I’ve had both hygrophila and cabomba have apoked a few flowers through on occasion. You water parameters have to be spot on if you want this kind of growth. As for hanging off the side .. i know nothing. I’d tell you to get a pothos plant and just sit it on the aquarium with the roots in the water.
If you go for a heavily planted natural tank.. you won’t need a filter etc. you’ll have a mini ecosystem of plants eating fish waste, fish breathing plant photosynthesis, shrimp eating detritus, shrimp eating algae, fish eating algae, snails eating algae, snail eating snails and it will all be in perfect balance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
If you go for a heavily planted natural tank.. you won’t need a filter etc. you’ll have a mini ecosystem of plants eating fish waste, fish breathing plant photosynthesis, shrimp eating detritus, shrimp eating algae, fish eating algae, snails eating algae, snail eating snails and it will all be in perfect balance.
I am under the impress that heavily planted natural tank are not easy to achieve? or I am missing something? Thanks.

I don’t know what the budget is, but if there’s a wall directly behind the tank, you could use the hollow for a cabinet type thing to store all the supplies, filter and co2.. giving you more options for plants.

how dense do you want the growth to be? A low light walstad style jungle? Maybe a clean high light co2 carpet and rock tank, where 50 schooling neon tetras are the main attraction. But u did say about plants growing up and out.. hmm. Not too sure on that one. There are certainly a lot of aquatic plants that can grow out of the water and even blossom/flower. I don’t know many, but let’s say for a low/medium light.. many aponogetons will blossom, as will anubias,bacopa, and I’ve had both hygrophila and cabomba have apoked a few flowers through on occasion. You water parameters have to be spot on if you want this kind of growth. As for hanging off the side .. i know nothing. I’d tell you to get a pothos plant and just sit it on the aquarium with the roots in the water.
  1. No wall, the table will be standing in an open space.
  2. Medium to heavy would be idea, but not sure if possible being no space for CO2 etc
  3. I think I will attend to grow thyme and watercress aquaponically with trays sitting half way in the tank water? they are great trailing plants and good for cooking too.
 

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I am under the impress that heavily planted natural tank are not easy to achieve? or I am missing something? Thanks.
No personal experience but from my understanding heavily planted natural tanks is the defining characteristics of Walstad style tanks. As I said I don't know much myself about them, but there is a books by Dianna Walstad that outline the method and its supposed to be excellent.

An alternate idea if you want to give the high tech route a try. Since this would be a large tank I suspect you could use a smaller pond filter directly in the tank. These however are very ugly but if you hid it inside of a rock mound you could potentially have a very attractive waterfall rock feature that's also your filter. You could also stash your co2 tank somewhere away from the tank (basement, next room, etc) and run your co2 tubing along the wall, up though the floor, across the ceiling, or something similar. A small transparent tube if well placed would be hardly noticeable in my opinion. Dissolving your c02 with out visible equipment would he tricky but you could possibly hide a needle wheel power head in the same filter rock pile.

Not sure how practical these ideas are but might be worth thinking about.

Sent from my SM-G970U1 using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
No personal experience but from my understanding heavily planted natural tanks is the defining characteristics of Walstad style tanks. As I said I don't know much myself about them, but there is a books by Dianna Walstad that outline the method and its supposed to be excellent.

An alternate idea if you want to give the high tech route a try. Since this would be a large tank I suspect you could use a smaller pond filter directly in the tank. These however are very ugly but if you hid it inside of a rock mound you could potentially have a very attractive waterfall rock feature that's also your filter. You could also stash your co2 tank somewhere away from the tank (basement, next room, etc) and run your co2 tubing along the wall, up though the floor, across the ceiling, or something similar. A small transparent tube if well placed would be hardly noticeable in my opinion. Dissolving your c02 with out visible equipment would he tricky but you could possibly hide a needle wheel power head in the same filter rock pile.

Not sure how practical these ideas are but might be worth thinking about.

Sent from my SM-G970U1 using Tapatalk
great ideas!! really liking these out of the box ideas!!
 

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If you go for a heavily planted natural tank.. you won’t need a filter etc. you’ll have a mini ecosystem of plants eating fish waste, fish breathing plant photosynthesis, shrimp eating detritus, shrimp eating algae, fish eating algae, snails eating algae, snail eating snails and it will all be in perfect balance.
If you have successfully established a long running tank under the conditions that you have outlined please post some current photos for us.

I am under the impress that heavily planted natural tank are not easy to achieve? or I am missing something? Thanks.
Correct. You are not missing anything. Just do a search on the word "algae" here!

A few thoughts...

First. You might consider an "All in One" "peninsula" style tank which will allow you viewing from 3 sides and will have a built-in sump/overflow filter at one end. Even with that style you will still need to put your CO2 tank somewhere.

Second. You are describing an 100+ gallon tank which will weigh well over 1000 pounds when filled. You will need a very strong stand with support directly beneath the 4 tank corners, not several inches to the side of the tank edges as will be the case with your table.

Third. For a successful and also algae free tank you will want to do weekly large water changes, especially if you want many fish. In a tank that size you are looking at 30-50% or 30 to 50 gallons of water moved out and in. A Python water change device could work for that. The hose can be up to or exceeding 100 feet long but you will need a place to drain and a sink tap water source.

You have established a very high bar for design prerequisites. Let us know how it goes!
 

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I am under the impress that heavily planted natural tank are not easy to achieve? or I am missing something? Thanks.
They're absolutely possible to achieve, but they require a long time for the ecosystem to establish and they don't always look the best from an artistic standpoint. Since this tank's going to be in an area where it'll be viewed a lot, and it sounds like it needs to be aesthetically pleasing to SWMBO, you're better off not going this route to start with.

Given your situation I'd recommend one of these two methods, both of which are low-to-medium-light, low-maintenance, fairly slow growth.

1. No-soil, tank with Undergravel Filters run on powerheads. Since you're not running CO2 you don't need to worry about off-gassing. Also, since it sounds like everything has to be in the tank, a UGF will pull uneaten food and feces down into the root zone where it will help the plants. Since the filter's also pulling oxygenated water through the substrate you'll be providing a source of inorganic nutrients to the roots as well as oxygen that bacteria in the substrate can use to break down physical debris. While UGFs aren't ideal for high-intensity tanks, they work very well in your situation. Regular small aquarium gravel, coarse sand (see below), or other non-fine-grained substrates are necessary here to allow water to flow through the substrate.

I'd rig up a PVC spray bar for the powerheads to blow into for better overall circulation in the tank.

2. Soil-based substrate capped with 2-3 inches of 2-3 mm coarse sand or grit. Granite chicken grit works well for this if the color suits you. Another option would be the coarser Black Diamond Blasting Sand sizes. Avoid stuff like play sand as it's too fine and will cause the soil to go anaerobic quickly, which can cause a host of problems as well as stress your plants since they have to pump a lot of oxygen into the root zone to keep the roots alive.

3. Prepared aqua soil specifically for planted tanks. If it's within your budget, this may be your best option as it will work both with a UGF (suggested) or not.

In the case of 2 and 3, you'll need to have some sort of filtration. Hang on the Back filters will be fine if that works with your situation. If not, I'd suggest contacting Stephan over at www.swisstropicals.com and discuss the different options. A Hamburg Mattenfilter or his new Corner Filter could both work very well for you.

In all cases, you'll need an additional source of circulation and surface skimming. A couple of the Eheim Skim 350s will do well for you. Since this is such a large tank and you won't be able to put a strong filter on it, you're going to need additional sources of water movement. Also, since you're not going to be able to use Purigen, you'll need something to remove the surface scum that will inevitably show up in a setup like this.

If you can't fit an external filter on the tank, I'd suggest having a small canister available to use temporarily for things like removing particulates via flocculation, or running Activated Carbon or Purigen to remove tannins from the water when adding wood etc as tea-colored water isn't the most attractive.


I hope this helps,
Phil
 

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I am under the impress that heavily planted natural tank are not easy to achieve? or I am missing something? Thanks.
It’s actually one of the easiest things to achieve. Low light, lots of low light plants, rich substrate… done. The driving force behind any planted tank is singular. The light source. Algae is easily controlled with the appropriate amount of lighting followed by nutrient levels. A heavily planted tank solves the excess nutrient problem very easily.
 

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I'm gonna be the naysayer here and say you need to change everything.

You'll need a proper stand in order to support a tank like that - not an antique table. Just as @mourip suggested. There's likely no way around it. You're looking at 3/4 of a ton when it's all said and done. And you'll need to be able to hide some equipment if you want the tank to be viewable on all four sides.

Walstad and "natural" tanks are all fine and dandy but they're definitely not maintenance-free or easy if you want them to be attractive. And as a centerpiece tank that needs to be aesthetically pleasing no matter what? I'd run quickly in the opposite direction. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that but I've never seen a tank like that nice enough to be put on display in a large room. They look okay. But is "okay" good enough in this situation? Would love to be proved wrong.

Since you're in a hot, low humidity environment, you're going to be grappling with quite a bit of water evaporation and will need a reliable top-off system. If it's not something you can do yourself (or don't want to do yourself) on a daily basis, then you'd need to consider an auto top-off system with a reservoir beneath the tank. There's going to be a significant amount of evaporation from 120 gallons of water.

If you're able to ditch the antique table and go with an attractive stand to hide everything, you're going to open yourself up to a world of possibility.

Is there any way you could post photos of the setup so folks can get a visual idea of what you're considering? The table, the space, nothing complicated.
 

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They're absolutely possible to achieve, but they require a long time for the ecosystem to establish and they don't always look the best from an artistic standpoint. Since this tank's going to be in an area where it'll be viewed a lot, and it sounds like it needs to be aesthetically pleasing to SWMBO, you're better off not going this route to start with.

Given your situation I'd recommend one of these two methods, both of which are low-to-medium-light, low-maintenance, fairly slow growth.

1. No-soil, tank with Undergravel Filters run on powerheads. Since you're not running CO2 you don't need to worry about off-gassing. Also, since it sounds like everything has to be in the tank, a UGF will pull uneaten food and feces down into the root zone where it will help the plants. Since the filter's also pulling oxygenated water through the substrate you'll be providing a source of inorganic nutrients to the roots as well as oxygen that bacteria in the substrate can use to break down physical debris. While UGFs aren't ideal for high-intensity tanks, they work very well in your situation. Regular small aquarium gravel, coarse sand (see below), or other non-fine-grained substrates are necessary here to allow water to flow through the substrate.

I'd rig up a PVC spray bar for the powerheads to blow into for better overall circulation in the tank.

2. Soil-based substrate capped with 2-3 inches of 2-3 mm coarse sand or grit. Granite chicken grit works well for this if the color suits you. Another option would be the coarser Black Diamond Blasting Sand sizes. Avoid stuff like play sand as it's too fine and will cause the soil to go anaerobic quickly, which can cause a host of problems as well as stress your plants since they have to pump a lot of oxygen into the root zone to keep the roots alive.

3. Prepared aqua soil specifically for planted tanks. If it's within your budget, this may be your best option as it will work both with a UGF (suggested) or not.

In the case of 2 and 3, you'll need to have some sort of filtration. Hang on the Back filters will be fine if that works with your situation. If not, I'd suggest contacting Stephan over at www.swisstropicals.com and discuss the different options. A Hamburg Mattenfilter or his new Corner Filter could both work very well for you.

In all cases, you'll need an additional source of circulation and surface skimming. A couple of the Eheim Skim 350s will do well for you. Since this is such a large tank and you won't be able to put a strong filter on it, you're going to need additional sources of water movement. Also, since you're not going to be able to use Purigen, you'll need something to remove the surface scum that will inevitably show up in a setup like this.

If you can't fit an external filter on the tank, I'd suggest having a small canister available to use temporarily for things like removing particulates via flocculation, or running Activated Carbon or Purigen to remove tannins from the water when adding wood etc as tea-colored water isn't the most attractive.


I hope this helps,
Phil
YES!! My start in planted tanks as with walstad and ntp methods, this is an absolutely perfect summary. Dirt bottoms are messy and that's where the algae issues tend to surface from. UGFs work perfect for a first foray into ntp.

I do suggest keeping a polishing filter/ UV sterilizer on hand for potential blooms while you get things settled but a tank like this will meet your needs and provide relative ease of maintenance. If you achieve proper livestock/ plant balance in these all you really need to do is top off and water change a few times a year just for good measure.
 

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I am under the impress that heavily planted natural tank are not easy to achieve? or I am missing something? Thanks.
Another suggestion is to look through the tank journal forum to find examples of successful tanks, emphasis on successful allowing for personal taste.

A photo of someone's well established tank will let you know rather quickly if they are posting theory or hard won knowledge.

Find one that you would like to emulate. You can then follow those posters to get sound advice.

There are many here who are worth emulating.
 

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Another suggestion is to look through the tank journal forum to find examples of successful tanks, emphasis on successful allowing for personal taste.

A photo of someone's well established tank will let you know rather quickly if they are posting theory or hard won knowledge.

Find one that you would like to emulate. You can then follow those posters to get sound advice.

There are many here who are worth emulating.
This is excellent advice. I hope I didn't lead the OP astray with my orginal comments which were just theory.

@Phil Edwards and @somewhatshocked made excellent points. Personally, I looked to both of their tank journals for inspiration and advice when I was originally in the hobby before taking a multi year hiatus. Now that I'm getting back into things I've been looking to their journals and posts again for advice. There advice is worth following imo.

Sent from my SM-G970U1 using Tapatalk
 

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Find one that you would like to emulate.
Not only is this a great way to learn, it's also maybe the most fun way to learn. It'll be especially helpful in a large tank like this.

Find what someone else has done. Try to recreate it. Then try to change it up, see if you can improve, alter, make something different for your setup. It's how I learned to create Iwagumi setups after ~20 years of other styles of planted tanks. It's also how I learned to listen to my gut reaction when I'm putting together an aquascape - because I already knew what looked good after looking at tons of other tanks.

This is what got me hooked on tank journals a couple decades ago and now I just read through them for enjoyment.
 

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Is there a basement under the area? If you do go with the antique table idea, you can run your hoses (filter and co2) down one leg and through the floor to canisters on stands downstairs. I am doing this to cut any and all noise and it is working just fine for me. You can put a potted plant next to the table to further hide the tubing and add to the ambiance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Is there a basement under the area? If you do go with the antique table idea, you can run your hoses (filter and co2) down one leg and through the floor to canisters on stands downstairs. I am doing this to cut any and all noise and it is working just fine for me. You can put a potted plant next to the table to further hide the tubing and add to the ambiance.
great ideas but sadly no basement, not even crawl space. It's concrete slab floor.
 

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Trying to design a 4ft (1.2m) x 2ft (0.6m) x 2ft (height) tank to be placed on an antique foyer table which measures 6 ft (1.8m) x 3ft (1m) x 30 inches tall and over 200 lbs (90kgs) in weight Specific requirement that is making the design intriguing:

  1. This tank will face a 8ft x 8ft double front door to set as some sort of visible barrier between the front door and an open concept great room of 1500 ft.
  2. Nothing under the table. Table as 4 large carved legs, we must not have cabinet, filter canister, CO2 canister etc under the table, just the clean open look.
  3. Nothing on the table except the aquarium.
  4. Plants in the tank and prefer to have plants grow out of the tank, and even better some trailing down the side of the tank,
  5. Being in the foyer, tank visible on all 4 sides.
  6. Love to have plants in the tank as well as (3)
  7. Lights hang down from the ceiling
  8. Water very hard at location, and humidity very low, Southern California desert.
My thoughts so far:
  1. Almost have to be a low tech? Nowhere to place CO2 etc.
  2. Not sure how to apply filtration, the most invisible would be under gravel? or some sort of foam filter with power head?
  3. No idea about plants selection.
  4. Fish, probably just bunch of small schooling types like neon or so.
Any help, idea or critiques are appreciated.
WOW.. SOOO many negative needs.. ;)

Ok here is a thought:
1) Not really a planted tank as in anything in the water but rocks sticks and fish.
2) Go under gravel anoxic filter system using high CEC substate layer.
Look up specifics
Not sure how you would power a powerhead and I take it no heater so all vertebrates "cold tolerance" need to be considerd (assuming you AC at about 73-ish)

3) 1/2 full or less w/ background platform for terrestrial and marsh plants.
See Paludarium :



you can see that one could "hide" stuff in the rocks like the undergravel shortened risers..but again what? Battery powered?

As to lighting a RARE endorsement for Kessil...Now that they did a MAJOR spectrum upgrade to fw it won't be the last.

May be able to get it in white.. eventually.
Will need the narrow reflectors.
@ 35 degrees you can put them about 3' above the tank rim.
Higher you go the more light spill outside the tank footprint.
And probably 2 of them.
 
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Can you post a picture of the table? How about some kind of complimentary antique chest to sit underneath, housing equipment and filters.
1030982

Another idea is to have equipment in another room and run the piping under the flooring between the joists, then up through the floor again by a table leg.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
WOW.. SOOO many negative needs.. ;)

Ok here is a thought:
1) Not really a planted tank as in anything in the water but rocks sticks and fish.
2) Go under gravel anoxic filter system using high CEC substate layer.
Look up specifics
Not sure how you would power a powerhead and I take it no heater so all vertebrates "cold tolerance" need to be considerd (assuming you AC at about 73-ish)

3) 1/2 full or less w/ background platform for terrestrial and marsh plants.
See Paludarium :


you can see that one could "hide" stuff in the rocks like the undergravel shortened risers..but again what? Battery powered?

As to lighting a RARE endorsement for Kessil...Now that they did a MAJOR spectrum upgrade to fw it won't be the last.

May be able to get it in white.. eventually.
Will need the narrow reflectors.
@ 35 degrees you can put them about 3' above the tank rim.
Higher you go the more light spill outside the tank footprint.
And probably 2 of them.
So true about "many negative needs", that thought popped when I was writing for this post. I fully intent to run power to the tank, so power for heater and powerhead, but really like to minimize anything wise.

Really liking this photo, I might raise the top growing area a bit! Great looking tank to my eyes.

and this one too:
1030981


To all about pic of table and room. I am travelling and home being remodelled. Will take and post pic once home. Thanks for helping out!
 

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I think @jeffkrol is on to something with the paludarium idea. Would be a heck of a lot easier to to hide everything and you'd have a ton less weight to support. More importantly, you'd have the opportunity to use tons of marginal plants - fulfilling one of the desires to have plants growing out of the tank.

My heart skipped a beat when thinking about a tank that size being used in such a manner.

Really hope you consider going that route because it'll blow peoples' minds in the desert like that.
 
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