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Discussion Starter #1
Introduction and background:

Got the AR850 as a second hand unit in 2011 and sold my old 2ft tank with cabinet (with home-made cabinet since 2000 and was mainly used to keep goldfish).
. Then, after a year, I ripped the guts out off the light housing and replaced with LEDs (20x 3LED modules producing 1200LMs). I then replaced them with 20x 4LED modules producing 1600LMs a few months later. The AR850 uses non-standard sized fluorescent tubes and because of that, costs a fair bit. The light cover is also very tight and I gathered that is why there is a crack in it with constant taking off and putting on. Have since replaced with a brand new cover.

I have since replaced the LED modules with 4 high powered LED offroad lights in August last year. These are 9W, 1000Lumens each. They were too deep for the lower section of the light hood so I completely gutted out the light hood.

Testing the light:

Test fit into light hood:


The lights were meant to be flood beam type but were still too narrow so I used a dremel tool to cut out the lens.

I have also made two timer boxes using jiffy boxes and 4 digital timers. One timer for daylight, one for moonlight, one for CO2 solenoid and one for cooling fans.

Pics of one of them:






Current Specifications:
* Aqua One AR850 with cabinet and built-in filtration (new power head as I snapped the impeller shaft during routine cleaning). Using Japanese Filter Mat, fine wool and Seachem Matrix media.

* 4x 9W/1000lm LED offroad lights for daytime and 3 low powered LEDs painted blue for moonlight. The high powered lights are cooled by 3 Noctua 40mm fans which run very quiet.

* Eheim Jager 250W heater (I had a Shogun Ocean Free 200W heater which failed after 6 months of use and swapped it for the Eheim with a $5 refund).

* Internal powerhead driven CO2 reactor using Aqua One Maxi 101 powerhead and two NUK brand baby bottles superglued together for the chamber. It is based on Tom Barr's dual venturi reactor:




* Up Aqua 1L/660g CO2 bottle with ISTA compact, dual gauge regulator with integrated solenoid, ISTA check valve, generic stainless steel check valve, ISTA bubble counter and ISTA drop checker.



* Aqua One Nautilus 1100 canister, yet to be setup as I am awaiting the completion of external CO2 reactor and possibly external heater chamber.

* Substrate consists of inert gravel caped with quartz sand. The gravel has not changed since getting the tank (not planted for some years) so have actually got quite a bit of nutrients built up.

* 2 pieces of driftwood

* 2 camouflaged Bristlenose caves

Flora (Jungle theme):
* Java Moss - some on one of the BN caves and some on DW.
* Subwassertang - on DWs.
* Hygrophila Polysperma - planted everywhere.
* Alternanthera Reineckii Purple - planted together off centre on the right.
* Hydrilla Verticillata - planted on the left.
* Limnophila Aromatica - planted off centre on the left.
* Java Fern - Regular - planted below the filter outlet.
* Java Fern Windelov - Planted off centre on the left.
* Crypt Balansae - planted at the back left and right.
* Crypt Wendtii - planted at the back left and right.
* Native Vallisneria - planted at back left and right.
* Lindernia Variegated - planted next to the Windelov.
* Anubias (can't remember which type) - planted near font right.
* Staurogyne Repens - planted in the foreground.
* Blue Stricta - planted in the backround.

Fauna:
* 19 Cardinal Tetras.
* 6 Lemon Tetras.
* 2 Bristlenose Catfish.
* 6 Caridina Typus shrimp, the Australian equivalent to the Amano shrimp.
* 100+ Red Cherry Shrimp.
* Lots of ramshorn and pond snails.
* Blackworms and bristleworms in substrate.

Fertilisers:
I am not using any dosing regime, just dosing daily according to the recommended amounts of the following:
* Dino Dung root tabs when ever needed.
* 6 drops of Dino Pee daily.
* 0.5ml of Dino Spit daily.
* 0.5ml of Seachem Flourish daily.

Photo of the tank in the beginning with Plays, Mollies, BNs, Java Moss, Banana Lilies, Alternanthera Reineckii purple and Hygrophila Polysperma:


Photos of tank after last weekends trim:




That is all for now. Stay tuned for the external CO2 reactor, heater and canister filter installation.

Cheers,
Vlad
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Update:
Took 4 hours to do the swap. That is, move the power board from the left side to the right side (which involves passing cables around the back). Put in a Fluval 2 Plus with one of the wool pads to do filtering while I removed trickle filter. I also moved the heater to have the head on the left as the cable was not long enough due to moving the power board. I then fitted the reactor and held it in place temporarily with electrical cable (ran out of long cable ties) and hooked it up to the canister and then fired it up. The canister is quiet, the reactor, however, is not. Oh well.
Pic of the new setup on the left cabinet. Note I am using string and cables to hold things in place. Will have to get some more cable ties tomorrow and use them to secure the various hoses etc.

Pic of the plumbing on the outside:

Pic of the right cabinet (top shelf):

Finally, pic of the tank:

Using the same bubble count as before, 1BPS, there are heaps more of plants with streams of oxygen going off them (more tightly packed bubbles then before as well). Pearling is also everywhere. What you can see below the water surface are clumps of oxygen bubbles.
I will need to redo the outlet. Currently, I have a short piece of hose connected to the u-bend. I was going to run it all the way to the right but am thinking the extra length of hose of 80cm will create too much back pressure and reduce the flow.
Also, it looks like there won't be room for an inline heater, unless I have it on the outside of the cabinet.
Cheers for looking,
Vlad
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Some more photos:
Pearling on the Subwassertangs:

Pearling and streaming on the Hygrophila Polysperma:

Big oxygen patch at the surface:
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Update:

Placed a piece of soft Styrofoam behind the CO2 reactor and the rumbling noise disappeared immediately. The reactor is now quieter with the door open than it was with the door closed. I also stuck some foam on the inside of the door to absorb any sound. I no longer hear anything unless the door is open and I am within a metre of it.

I also lowered the BPS to 0.5 BPS and am still getting way more oxygen streams and pearling than with the old internal reactor at 2bps.

Still contemplating whether to do the inline heater or not. If I glue the heater into a PVC reducing coupling then the whole unit will only be around 50cm long but if I use a cable gland, it will be like 65cm long. The Eheim Jager 300W is so big.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Update:

Went to one of my local hardware stores and managed to get all the parts for the inline heater.

Note 32mm is equivalent to 1.25".
* 1x 1mx32mm press pipe, plumbing section.
* 2x 32mmx1.25" valve socket (these slot over the ends of the 32mm press pipe to allow the threaded fittings to screw in (white in the picture), plumbing section.
* 3x 1.25"x1" threaded bushing (to screw the cord grip and the two barbed directors), plumbing section.
* 1x 1.25" elbow, plumbing section. Irrigation section only had sizes up to 1".
* 1x 1.25" tee, plumbing section. Irrigation section only has sizes up to 1".
* 2x 1" threaded x 19mm barbed directors, irrigation section.
* Heyco cordgrip (free from the Australian distributor).

Picture, minus the 32mm press pipe:


I will use the Eheim Jager and keep the Aqua One Thermo 200W as a spare and as it is shorter, will fit in to the chamber without issues.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Update:
Pressure tested the inline heater via garden hose at the bottom and the top partially blocked. No leaks. Also tested it with a small internal pump pumping water through it with the heater turned on and the temp was slowly rising from 20 and switched off at 23. It was rising about 0.1 degrees every 10 seconds.
Anyhow, took 30 minutes to hook it up as I had to drain the water from the tank so water does not continuously drain. May put two taps right at the top, just before the u-bends for future ease of maintenance.
A photo of it just after installation:

A photo of it running:

Still had plenty of flow with the inline heater in place. I am quite surprised at my spray paint job. Near perfect and nothing came off or scratched in the process of fitting it in. Those hoses don't have much play at all and the cabinet could have done with an extra 5 cm of width.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Update.

I have modified my lighting yet again. I have bought a 80mm wide x 3mm thick x 1000mm long piece of aluminium flat bar (the lights are currently mounted on a 30mm wide x 3mm thick x 750mm long bar). The new bar will be shortened to fit inside the light hood. The off-road CREE LEDs were gutted and then mounted to one side of the bar and heat sinks mounted to the other side. In addition, I have 4x 1W 7000K CREE eagle eye LEDs to add more white light as well as 14x 3-LED module RGB LEDs. I also added 2x 3-LED module RGB LEDs in blue only for moonlight.

I am still using the 3 timers to control the lights. The main lights (CREES) will go on/off with one timer and the RGB LEDs and the fans will go on/off with another timer. The latter goes on 15 minutes before the main lights timer and off after 30 minutes after the main lights timer. The moon lights, on the third timer, will go on after the fan timer goes off and off before the fan timer goes on. So basically, moon lights, then RGBs, and then RGBs together with main lights, then RGBs and then moon lights again. So basically:

0800 RGB > 0815 main > 1815 RGB > 1845 all off > 1930 moon > 0730 all off. CO2 on at 0700 and off at 1745.

Photos of progress:
The aluminium plate with just the RGB LEDs and the two blue-only moon LEDs in the middle:


With one of the spare 9W/1000 lumens off-road lights (gutted) test fitted:


Finished, well almost finished the light upgrade. Miss calculated the number of bolts required so short by 5 M6 bolts. Doh.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Must excuse the poor phone camera photos below.

Anyhow, here is a before picture with just the CREE LEDs taken on the 13th:


Here is one with just the RGB LEDs taken last night (16th):


Here is one with the CREEs and RGB LEDs taken last night (16th):


Anyhow, I may have stuffed up the power supply for the CREEs as I heard a loud buzz when fiddling/fishing for the adapter body behind the cabinet and as a result I don't think it is at 12V as the CREE LEDs don't appear as bright as previously and the 4 eagle eye CREEs appear to be a lot warmer than their 7000K temperature. Will have to open up the cover again on Wednesday to test the voltage which I forgot to do last night.

Looks like the Hygrophila Polysperma, Ludwigia Repens and Hygrophila Corymbosa needs a trim again. Growth was 1 to 2 inches in 3 days and two of those days were with makeshift lighting.

I have also added two stems of Ludwigia Glandulosa, one behind the DWs with the Ludwigia Repens and on the right, again, with the Ludwigia Repens. I also bought a pack of 3 Fluval pre-filters and am using them now. They are black instead of the yellow ones I was using. They are blocked off at one end and as they had a slightly bigger ID, I had to slot them over the strainer instead of straight into the uptake pipe.

Will have to post another update once I fixed the power supply.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
So, could not wait for 2 weeks to get an eBay power supply and have the plants suffer so got one from JayCar.
We now have light:
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Update:

I have bumped CO2 to 2 BPS from 1. Here is an updated photo after a trim of the Hygrophila Polysperma and Ludwigia Repens. It is amazing how much light the Hygros block out.



I also programmed the moonlight timer to also come on/off with the RGBs to add some to the centre.
 

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Nice tank setup, btw love your icon, I have something very simular but of my Leopard Sailfin Pleco as my phone's background image.
How did you make a hole to see the heater "on" light without leaks? I have pvc DIY inline heaters too but the light's in the tube and unseen.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Nice tank setup, btw love your icon, I have something very simular but of my Leopard Sailfin Pleco as my phone's background image.
How did you make a hole to see the heater "on" light without leaks? I have pvc DIY inline heaters too but the light's in the tube and unseen.

Cheers. The hole I drilled was exactly the size required for the clear acrylic rod (5mm) and then used the high pressure PVC cement to glue it in. As the rod protruded almost 1cm, I was able to coat the outside with Permatex Black Silicone for additional seal as PVC cement is not an ideal bonding agent between acrylic and PVC. Some people have just used physical force (as in using a clamp or vice) to squeeze the rod in place without any adhesives without leaks.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Haven't had an update for a while. Took a photo this morning after a trim on the weekend including removing a huge Java Fern (the one on the back right from my last photo above quadrupled in size in 3 months). What is left is the original Java Fern and what was removed was its offspring.

The AR Minis and the remaining Ludwigia Glandulosa now have a chance of survival as that Java Fern was blocking all the light.



The Staurogyne Repens definitely loving the extra CO2 as did that large Java Fern. Here is a photo taken on the 20th of September:


I also sold my two BNs so only have Cardinal and Lemon Tetras, RCSs, Caridina Typus (Australian Amano shrimp). The BNs kept on uprooting the plants.
 

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I envy your monster java fern! Is it Philippine java fern? I hear they can get bigger than the regulars.
 

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I envy your monster java fern! Is it Philippine java fern? I hear they can get bigger than the regulars.
Cheers. I think it is just your regular Java Fern. The Windelov on the left grows at 1/10th of the speed of the regular one.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Bought a sheet of coreflute and a can of flat black spray paint from a hardware store for the background. Measured up and trimmed the coreflute and gave it three coats of paint and then spent an hour on Saturday trying to put it in position behind the tank. Finally managed a temporary fix. I then thought about pulling the tank out from the wall a little to have more access so on Sunday, sitting on the floor, feet against the skirting, I pulled each side out 10mm, enough to stick my hand behind the tank and redid the attachment. I have left the tank in that position to make it easier for future maintenance.

Anyhow, here is a photo before the background:


Now with the black background. The photo does not do it justice. It looks more dynamic in person and makes the plants stand out more and makes the water look clearer instead of like tannin:
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Haven't been on here for while so time for an update.

I have decided to remove all the DIY LED lighting except for the row of 6x 3W Eagle Eye LEDs at the back which were attached to the bottom of the empty top filter compartment. I have chosen 2x Make My LED's 90cm 10000K full spectrum LED tubes, custom cut down to 84.5cm. This meant that the ends protruded 2.0cm from one end of the light hood which I covered with two black project boxes from Jaycar.

These lights are passively cooled and at a combined power of 54W is a lot brighter than my previous DIY LEDs running with more power, mainly thanks to having 90 degree lens instead of 120 degree lens. The overall CRI was better and the red plants and reds and blues of the Cardinal Tetras really shows up. I have measured the temperature of the hood after it has been running for 8 hours and it was only warm to the touch compared with hot to the touch with the previous LEDs cooled by 3x 40mm Noctua fans and burning hot without the fans. This means an overall saving of power and no extra cooling in the summer months.

Here is a photo of the hood with just the brackets in place:


I used a piece of 20mm PVC pipe cut short to fit in the hood and wrapped to the same thickness as the MML tubes to use as a guide in drilling the holes on the side so the longer MML tubes can protrude.
Light tubes mounted and test at full brightness:


Lights up the room:


Moonlight using 2x 3LED RGB modules running at 12V. Will be using 6 or 9V instead, depending on how bright I want it to be:


Comparison shots. Old DIY LED lighting setup:


New MML LED lighting setup:


Bump: I then did some replanting and slight re-scape on the weekend. I removed all the Hygrophila Polysperma and did some trimming as well as rearranging some of the plants, like moving the Anubias from the left mid-front to the rear left corner and all the Rotalas (Colorata and Macrandra) that were front of the right crypt to the centre back.

Photo taken after the replanting (excuse the algae on the right side glass that I missed yesterday):


Here is a photo of the hood with the two Jaycar 38.8x38.8x26.5mm boxes covering the ends of the MML LED tube protrusions. I used Permatex Black Silicone to hold them. Will replace them with a single one with bulkhead type with flanged lids that can be screwed down instead when I find a suitable sized one.


The Anubias I got from a friend in January 2014 measuring 5cm across and 5cm tall has grown to almost 4x its original size to 15cmx20cmx20cm:
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Update:
Removed the large C. Wendtiis and C. Balansaes as well as the large Anubias and Java Fern. I also removed all the Ludwigia Repens x Arcuata, Rotala Macrandra and Colorata and Limnopbila Aromatica (these will be trimmed and replanted). I then applied a layer of river sand to the back to raise it and re-arranged the DWs. I then replanted trimmings of the above mentioned. I still need to trim the Java Fern Windelov and remove the GDA that is on the back glass. I also added a few stems of the S
yngonanthus
Belem from a friend to the back right.

FTS:


RHS:


LHS:


It will take some time for the stems behind the JFW and Subwassertang on the DWs to reach visible height. I will wait for the plants to grow a bit and may do some minor re-arrangement. I might also split the Stauro Repens hedge in the middle and plant the removed ones to make each side look more deeper than just a linear look.
 
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