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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Psych! If you're looking for somewhere to tell you what to watch-out for when converting from a reef tank to planted, look elsewhere. I've not a clue and that's why I'm beggin' help.

I have an RSM 250. Pictured here.




Ya ya, that's not a picture of mine. I had a bunch, but not that much coral.

For those not familiar with the RSM 250 it's a 65 gal all in one system, designed specifically for reef systems. Specs

After having mine up for about a year, my corals PS, SPS etc) were growing well, fish were having a grand ole time. Then I got some really bad advice about some live stock from my LFS. I ended up with an unsupportable bio load and a major mess on my hands. Honestly, I should have realized it thought it out. My BS meter is normally pretty good. I finally admitted defeat yesterday. All the live stock and corals I could save went to the fish store for re sale (no not that one!). All the live rock went into the dead rock pile out back.

I cleaned the tank as thoroughly as possible. Filled it with water and chlorinated the heck out of the water. I'll let that cycle through the dual pumps and the chiller for a couple of days. After that I'll drain, clean out the filters and refill with water and start the biological cycle.

I've got a few questions I could use some help with.

1) Is the lighting on the system to much. It's 4watt / gal but are t5s OK? Light spec here (Lighting: Reef Spec lighting of 4watts per gallon is controlled by a high quality timer and consists of 6 39w T5 Linear Power Compact lamps giving 234 watts output. An additional fan is now included in order to aid cooling during hot periods. )

2) Is the amount of flow OK. There's 2 pumps. Total 250 gph out put. I can swap out pumps for lower flow if necessary.

3) Should I leave the skimmer in? Gut feel it can't hurt and the extra O2 would help?

4) What's the best way to deal with substrate? I don't want to over spend. But don't want to underspend and do something stupid either way.

5) Should I start with plants? Or let it cycle and then add fish, then plants? (If i add plants and they chew up the ammonia, will that slow the cycle? If it does, then is a cycle really necessary. Thought being; a cycle is to build ammonia and nitrate eating bacteria, right. If I have plants doing that work, then is the tank "cycled" per se?

NOTE: I'm leaning toward a mass of small free swimmers (tetras, danios, guppies, etc) and CUC as necessary. Mostly non aggressive, and < 2" adult size fish. (Really tired of big tank and only 4-5 fish in it don't ya know).

My aquascape ideas are pretty basic. Drift wood with some rocks for caves. Lots of plants. Lots and lots of plants. What kind, you ask? NO CLUE.....

Thanks in advance for suggestions and advice.

Steve
 

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1- I can you run less bulbs, unless you have plan of adding pressurized CO2 you will want to run 2 maybe 4 bulbs 2 would be a good starting point.

2- Flow should be fine you may find you want more flow in the long run. In my 150g I run 2 eheim 2262s with all inline equipment UVs/ Heaters so that reduces the flow of the cannisters but also have 4 of the Hydor Koralia 1s hooked up to a wavemaker for good water movement.

3- Skimmer will be pretty much useless in the fershwater setting if it is a protien skimmer. Unless you are refering to a surface skimmer.

4- Lots of options from cheap to expensive.
  • Organic top soil covered with sand
  • Turface/ Soil Master Select
  • Eco Complete/ Flourite
  • ADA Aqua Soil

5- I recommend you put in your substrate and stock it with plants, lots of fast growers to start with will help reduce the cycle and plants will benefit aswell.

Craig
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
HI Craig,

Thanks for the quick response. Couple of comments and a question below.
1- I can you run less bulbs, unless you have plan of adding pressurized CO2 you will want to run 2 maybe 4 bulbs 2 would be a good starting point.
From what I read (and please validate) for a 65 gallon tank I should plan on pressurized CO2. Are there good, decent value options for this or is just buck up and spend the money...

3- Skimmer will be pretty much useless in the fershwater setting if it is a protien skimmer. Unless you are refering to a surface skimmer.
Thats my assumption. I was thinking that with micro bubbles would add a lot of surface area to the tank.

Another option would be to remove the skimmer and replace with some bio balls????

5- I recommend you put in your substrate and stock it with plants, lots of fast growers to start with will help reduce the cycle and plants will benefit aswell.

Ok, I'm a bit confused by this one. If the purpose of the cycle is to build bacteria, and plants consume ammonia needed, how's the addition of plants speed the cycle. To my newbie thought process it would seem to lengthen the process?
 

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HI Craig,

Thanks for the quick response. Couple of comments and a question below.


From what I read (and please validate) for a 65 gallon tank I should plan on pressurized CO2. Are there good, decent value options for this or is just buck up and spend the money...



Thats my assumption. I was thinking that with micro bubbles would add a lot of surface area to the tank.

Another option would be to remove the skimmer and replace with some bio balls????




Ok, I'm a bit confused by this one. If the purpose of the cycle is to build bacteria, and plants consume ammonia needed, how's the addition of plants speed the cycle. To my newbie thought process it would seem to lengthen the process?
For the CO2 there are super cheap options that may or may not be reliable, Milwaukee regulators come to mind. They have been around a long time some have had no problems with them some had more problems with the. If you the DIY kind of guy you can build a CO2 rig for fairly cheap if you shop around there are several members on this board that build setups as well for a decent price.

I would ditch the skimmer and bio balls, maybe toss in some ceramic media like eheim substrat pro or the like, you will want to minimize splashing in the rear chambers to help prevent off gassing of the co2. If you can seal the top of the rear sump area that is ideal in the co2 reduction area.

The plants will consume the ammonia which if planted heavy enough almost eliminates the cycling proccess but you will need lots of fast growing plants to make this happen.

Do a search there is I believe a thread started by Tom Barr in this forum about heavign planting and no cycle.

Craig
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Thanks again Craig.

DIY is my middle name. I DIY'd a 10gal fuge/sump for a 24 gal nano, complete with night lights, ect. I'll look for ideas here.

Have a bunch of ceramic media in there, and can sure add more.

I can't seal it, but I can keep water levels high to reduce splashing.

I'll look up the thread.

Again THANKS for the help.
 

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The best and cheapest way to add a very good substrate is to do what Craigthor said and use organic potting soil(dirt) capped with very small pebbles or gravel. Try to stay away from sand though, you can use it but it can cause problems down the road. But dirt is my favorite substrate. Look up dustinsfishtanks on youtube. He has great videos over dirt. Or you can do a search on here. Both will help you out a lot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Update on the conversion.

So far what I've done in the conversion so far.

  • Removed the skimmer and filled the space with media for biological filtration media (bio balls).
  • Removed big pump on left side and replaced with one about a 1/3 the power.
  • Reconfigured the nozzles on the pumps to open them up some. Same amount of flow, just not a concentrated. Fish and plants seem to be happier with this configuration.
  • Removed 2 10k actinics and 1 (burned out) 10k daylight and replaced with 3 T5 HO plant lights.

Things are going well. Tank is cycled. A few plants are in. I wanted to start small with the amount of plants, in case i really fubar'ed the process.

A few fish are happily running around.

Couple of mistakes on my part:

  • Substrate -My local store didn't have enough of the substrate i wanted to use, so i bought what they had and capped it with rock. Not enough nutrients. Specifically low on the IRON side so I've started dosing with Brightwell's plant suppliment and plants are doing well now.
  • Fish Size - My neons are swimming through the outflow into my filtration area. I keep loosing them and having to dismantle the entire pump and filter system to rescue the fish. I'm adding a filter sponge to the outflow to block the fish. Actually will be a nice little pre filter for me anyway.

Next two conversions planned.
  • C02 - Not really a conversion, but I'll be adding a CO2 System soon. Working on locating a refills locally. Probably end up with paintball bottle(s) and refill at the paint ball shop in town.
  • LED Lights -I like what i have for lights, but do not like the heat generated by 6 T5 HO bulbs. We live in the CA desert and house temps in the summer can reach in the mid 90's. Between the heat and lights my chiller just can't handle it. Options are, 1) turn on AC (wife don't like the Electrical bills), 2) bigger chiller (i like the small one and wife will bark at a big 1/4 horse chiller next to the tank, 3) reduce heat from lighting.

Front View


Side View
 

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interested to see some pictures of how this is coming along

**i wanted to convert my RSM 130 to a planted tank, but i thought about it and decided to just sell it and buy a different setup
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
interested to see some pictures of how this is coming along
Pics Added
**i wanted to convert my RSM 130 to a planted tank, but i thought about it and decided to just sell it and buy a different setup
There is no way I'd get anywhere near what was spent on the tank back so I just decided to go with this.

So far it's not been a big deal.

I also have an AquaPod which will get converted as well. Now the wife sees what planted tanks are all about. I think I'll do one for her and her beta.
 
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