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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everybody

Here I am writing a journal of yet another planted fish tank. A brand new one that is in a build phase at the moment. I've “switched sides” more than 4 years ago and ventured into the reefing world, got through three upgrades to a 100g monster and finally LIFE kicked in and I had to tear everything down and focus on other goals. I had a plan for future tank roaming inside my head for a while and decided that instead of setting up a smaller reef aquarium (due to costs), it's time to get back to the roots and try myself in the aquatic gardening once again. I loved having a reef aquarium and especially the “science” aspect a saltwater hobby provides. That being said, with all the beauty and pride of having a healthy reef full of stony corals, I've often found myself thinking there is something that bothered me- the lack of the “relaxing”part of aquarium keeping I've so much enjoyed in a freshwater planted tank. It's hard for me to say because from the moment I set up my first reef tank I considered myself a “saltwater for life” kind of person, but having the experience with both reef tanks and planted aquariums I have to admit that reef tank is mostly work with no room for error while caring for a planted aquarium is a relaxation therapy in its best form. I wish I could have both but I'm glad I'm finally back and excited to get started making my own underwater jungle...
Anyway, sorry for the lengthy introduction, let's get to what this thread is about. My new aquarium is a kind of experiment for me as I will try to morph what I learned by venturing into the saltwater side of the hobby with my previous experience with planted tanks and try to get the “best of both worlds”. First, the tank: it's a custom made reef-ready (meaning drilled in the bottom and with overflow box sitting in the far right corner-for those who never had this kind of system) aquarium with three sides starphire glass and dimensions are 48Lx22Wx20H. The tank was made by Mark from Reefomania in Brooklyn, NY. His work is nothing short of amazing and I would recommend him to everyone in the NY metro area looking for a rimless tank. Look at the pics:









This tank will drain to a sump that is one of the leftovers from the saltwater times:) I research on the topic of sumps and co2 injection and found that the outgassing effect of an open sump is is a little bit exaggerated in the eyes of people having successes with such setups and pressurized co2. So here's a picture of my sump:



In my opinion, if the CO2 out gassing will not affect my plants, the sump is a far better idea than any filter. It increases the total tank volume, allows for very easy maintenance and with proper planning, creates an area to rear fry/ grow extra plants. The cost compared to a canister filter is also a big factor- you can make a simple sump out of any 10-20g ADA tank.
The return pump is the DC powered Jebao 3000 I bought recently. I've used an Eheim 1260 on the reef tank but decided to switch after reading positive reviews from people using these Chinese made pumps. Their main advantage to me is power draw- 25w at full speed (800gph-claimed) vs earlier mentioned 1260 that draws 65W at “only” 635 gph (and it costs twice as much).



The pump comes with a dedicated controller that allows to reduce flow by actually slowing down the impeller rather than “choking” the exhaust as it is normally done in AC pumps.



While I can't compare the reliability of Eheim brand with some brand that was virtually unknown few years back, I think a DC powered pump is future of water movement and Jebao is the only brand with pump models that don't cost an arm and leg. I will update on how this pump works for me. I've received it few days ago and my first impression is quite positive- the built quality, while not in the same league as royal aquatics or Eheim, seems to be pretty solid. The controller is neat and has a speed setting as well as feed mode where it slows down to create very gentle flow for fish feeding (apparently as I didn't test this feature yet).
Other equipment in the sump is the 7” filter sock, baskets that will eventually be filled with various media (here's what I've gathered so far), an Eheim Jager 200W heater and Rena 1000 CO2 reactor. I wanted to build my own reactor but I've grabbed a great deal on the Rena so I will see how good this reactor is. Anyone have any experience with it?


Rena co2 reactor

The tank will be under total control:) of yet another relict of my reefing past (and the most important one at the same time)- the Neptune System Apex controller. It's my favorite piece of equipment and with the recent update and the Apex Fusion inclusion it's even better. I will be controlling my return pump, lights, ATO system and CO2 reactor with it. I have a temperature and pH probe for it and I am planning to setup the CO2 system to be monitored with the pH probe for easy shut off in case emergency. I can share my programming code if someone is using apex on his/her tank, just lmk.

As for lights, the tank will be lit with a DIY LED panel I've built recently. It has four channels of dimming (cool white, warm white, royal blue and red+green) that I hooked up to the Apex to create scenarios throughout the day. I will not get into details in here, I have an article about this built that I would like to share with you guys, but that's a topic for another thread. Nevertheless, this is how the light looks like:

All channels on



red+green



Royal blue



Warm white



Cool white



The Apex fusion control panel (one channel has an... umm inappropriate name after causing me some headaches therefore I had to blur it out)



The outside shell is made of Corian, a plastic-like, quite expensive material we use at work for making counter tops, bathtubs and whatnot. There was some leftover at one job and my boss allowed me to take it along with an epoxy for it so I made this little box.

I am going to do some plumbing on the tank this week so I will update with a sketch for you to see and comment:)

The dosing pump I will use for ferts



PH probe to control co2



And a little treat. It's an expensive piece of glass but damn it's sexy:)



I'm glad to be back, hopefully I will be up and ready by the end of the year and will need some plants. I have some spare LED lights that I can trade for plant packages, I will take some pics later. Thanks for all your comments!
 

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I agree 100 percent with your stance on sumps including the co2 aspect. However, I cannot say I am using a beautiful ADA rimless tank as my sump.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Ok, I just finished plumbing the tank. It's funny how much simplified it is compared to a reef tank. No reactors, manifolds and all that stuff, just simple return and one T for a co2 reactor. I've used 3/4" pvc for return and 1" for drainpipe.





The drain pipe has a ball valve in case a fish swims into an overflow and I need to remove obstacles (durso pipe and return pipe) without draining the overflow.



The return has a union valve for easy removal/cleaning of the pump and a manifold for a Rena CO2 reactor loop. I will connect the reactor to the manifold using 16/22mm Eheim tubing.



And this is the overflow area. I am planning to use the black pvc pipe that runs along the tank as a spraybar (I need to drill holes through it tomorrow). I just need two 45 degrees elbows to push the spraybar against the back wall.



I had to Dremel the hole slightly to fit the 3/4" pipe



And the durso pipe



Since the pump is DC powered I didn't have to put valves or sump loops to reduce flow (in case it was needed), which is a big plus. Normally I would end the return line with a Tee with one side capped in case I would need to add something to the plumbing, but this time I thought there is very small chance that I would need additional equipment to run the tank. I can always cut the pipe somewhere and put a tee anyway.

Next step: Apex configuration. I decided to top off evaporated water directly from my RODI unit instead of a reservoir container. To prevent any possible leaks I will run the solenoid controlling RODI line at certain times only and I am planning to wire two float switches programmed to shut down pump and send me text message if the water level in the sump/overflow gets dangerously high. I also have Apex Leak Detection module that senses moisture and can also trigger the shut off program.
LMK if you have any suggestions/comments.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I've put together some twigs and would like to know your opinion. I have three versions of the scape:

Version #1



Version #2



Version #3



I can also ditch the left side and put some more twigs on the right running horizontally toward the left. Anyway, what do you think?
 

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The piece of the right is gorgeous but I feel like it needs balancing out and the rocks and random pieces included don't really do anything for me. Maybe move the larger piece more center and doing something that ties both sides together might help
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for your input. I followed your suggestions, moved the main tree closer to center and added two pieces on the left. I will make a slope on the left so only the curved part of the branch will be above sand. How is it now?





 

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I would have more horizontal driftwood leading out from that piece on the right that spans the entire length. The right side has a strong composition, while the left is lacking.
 

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Its always surprise and amaze me when a reef man jump in/come back to planted tank. The knowledge earned from reef is so wide to me. Well may be because i have never try reef before. Do you plan to seal the sump section where the water comes in ? To help keeping the co2 level in the tank?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks everyone for feedback.

I would have more horizontal driftwood leading out from that piece on the right that spans the entire length. The right side has a strong composition, while the left is lacking.
That is one of my scenarios. I was planning to leave a couple of horizontal branches poke out of substrate, as if the "tree" got uprooted

Your CO2 reactor is not Rena. It is a Sera Flore 1000. I have been running one on my 125 gallon for 2 years, with an unsealed 1100 gph wet/dry filter. I really like it.
You are absolutely right Mark, I don't even know when I confused Sera with Rena. I'm happy it works for you cause it does look like a good piece of equipment. I always have been a fan of Sera products, since when I lived in Europe.

Its always surprise and amaze me when a reef man jump in/come back to planted tank. The knowledge earned from reef is so wide to me. Well may be because i have never try reef before. Do you plan to seal the sump section where the water comes in ? To help keeping the co2 level in the tank?
Just like I said in the first post, my decision to switch back to freshwater was partly because reef was just too much money to maintain and partly because I missed the "relaxing" part of being a fishkeeper. With a reef tank you're basically running a full time chemical lab, your tank has more wires and tubes than a PC and there's always something that just isn't as you'd like it to be despite all the effort you put into having everything in check. That being said, the knowledge one is gaining from a saltwater side of the hobby is remarkable and quite eye-opening. There are numerous devices and methods that can be translated to FW in order to have more control over the tank (aquarium controllers), do less maintenance (sump, Automatic Top Off) and to prevent disasters before they happen (again, aquarium controllers and the accessories like float switches, pH probes, Leak detectors etc). I hope I can share my personal experience with all these things by writing this journal.
I am going to keep the sump unsealed and see if the CO2 out gassing is as severe as some people claim. From what I've heard asking people on this forum, it's not that bad and can't beat the advantages a sump provides.
 

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Personally I'd stuff the bur from version 1 and the branch fro yesterday's photo that are on the left in with the mass on the right, they seem too small to be out on their own on the left but that's just my 2¢
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Great to see you come back to plants.

Can't wait to see how this turns out.
Yeah man, it's been a long time. I'm glad you are still here. I've got a little romance with saltwater, but I'm back for good. How have you been?
 

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Can I ask why you use a spraybar and not a simple return nozzle? Just curious as it detracts from the beauty of the rimless setup, IMO.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Can I ask why you use a spraybar and not a simple return nozzle? Just curious as it detracts from the beauty of the rimless setup, IMO.
Hmm, I didn't think about that:) I made a spraybar to evenly distribute flow, but I can change it to a twin locline nozzles anytime as I didn't glue the overflow plumbing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Update: I played with my dimming channels and came up with this:





Cool white (6500K-8000K) runs for 8 hours with a peak time of 4
Warm white (4000K) starts the cycle and runs for 2 hours before and after cool white (to simulate warmer sunrise/sunset light temperature)
red and green go on with warm white but at lower intensity
Blue runs along with cool white

The total photoperiod is 10 hours with 2 hours dimm up and 2 hours dimm down.

Any suggestions?
 
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