Building A 300 Gal Planted Discus Nature Aquarium Tank

aeneas

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Feb 15, 2021
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Hi guys,
I am in the planning phase for my new "dream" build - a 300 gal / 1100 L planted discus nature aquarium tank. It will be 95" long, 25" wide and 27" high and my inspiration for the landscape is Josh Sim's winning Congo aquarium, although I know that with discus I will be severely limited in terms of which plants I will be able to use...

The basic layout of the tank is against a wall that separates the dining room (right) and reception/living area (left) with a glass sliding door in the back of the aquarium on the left side (shaded) which adds some restrictions in terms of backside piping...
9cSyuZl.jpg


Regarding the filtration I will certainly go with a sump and a Bean Animal overflow plumbing; I will probably just buy an Exotic Marine Systems or a Modular Marine overflow for that. the position will be on the right side (due to the glass sliding door on the left):
IVs5b7i.jpg


Regarding the sump, I am still struggling with in terms of the right design. I will make that my next post not to extend this one too much.

My final INITIAL concern will be regarding the return pipes; for such a long aquarium, how should I go about creating the right flow so that water will circulate well? Should I drill in the back or use a bunch of glass lily pipes? I will probably need to add a wavemaker or two?

Anyway, any comments or suggestions regarding return pipes and water flow would be much appreciated!
 

aeneas

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Feb 15, 2021
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Next phase of planning: I have done much reading now regarding sump setups... Please help with some of the dilemmas below.
Main aim: good performance and as silent as possible operation.
I am currently thinking of three possible designs - see the images below; one has 3 major chambers, one has 5 and one has 4 chambers with K1 media included. I also have no idea how to calculate the appropriate height of the baffles separating each chamber. Is there some recommended calculation?


BENNKBL.jpg

Option 1:
  • does the layout make sense?
  • Any suggestion regarding the mechanical filtration in the 1st chamber?
  • I noticed some people add glass strips on top of the baffle at an angle (see the small red coloured line on top of the baffle) which might make the water flow nicer and make less trickling sound. Does this make sense or is it unnecessary?
  • how should I calculate the necessary height of the baffles?
  • in 3rd chamber, are there any ideas of some additional coarse material I should use there - especially to prevent water trickling from the top of the baffle?


M5lxpNW.jpg

Option 2:
  • this one has maybe even more "organized" flow... does it make sense? I think I like it even more than the 1st option
  • any suggestion on the mechanical filtration in 1st chamber?
  • chamber no. 2: should I continue with some more mechanical or should I add bio?
  • same as Option 1: do these angularly placed glass strips (between chambers 2 and 3) make any sense in terms of quieting the trickling of the water flow?


k70KZyU.jpg

Option 3:
  • maybe best option??
  • lots of people praise K1 media... I just do not want to add aeration pumps... this would make more noise and also lead to more loss of CO2. I could replace this with a couple of wavemakers instead? If yes, does this chamber make sense? What should be the height of the baffles? How should I calculate this so that I get correct flows?
  • should I add some coarse filter to the chamber 4 before the pump, just to additionally protect the inflow there?

4dihfH6.jpg

Option 4:
  • this is a final alternative... ditching the baffles altogether and just doing a horizontal flow across a number of sponges and some bio... could be the most silent version of all?
Any other recommendations highly appreciated!
I hope you will find the sketches useful and thank you for any inputs on this...

upload_2021-3-5_19-49-9.gif
 
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easternlethal

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A few things I would consider for the sump:
1. have drainage outflows running out the bottom so you can easily wash it out if needed 2. Have a cover - that takes care of most noise and evaporation issues. 3. Use baffles because otherwise water will too easily flow around parts of the media instead of through it.4. use bags so you can easily replace media if you want.

I don't think it matters what biomedia is used as bacteria doesn't care, but you may consider coarse sand or kitty litter and make one of the sections anoxic (because - why not?).

Discus don't destroy plants so you can have whatever you like (even with co2).



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aeneas

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Feb 15, 2021
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A few things I would consider for the sump:
1. have drainage outflows running out the bottom so you can easily wash it out if needed
Thanks for the suggestions! :) You mean the drain-to-sewage part so I can wash the sump? That makes sense... I will adjust the height of the water level on the inside with the level/tilt of the pipe so I can have the drill at the bottom and the pipe opening reaching the appropriate height.

2. Have a cover - that takes care of most noise and evaporation issues.
Check! I was planning to have that.

3. Use baffles because otherwise water will too easily flow around parts of the media instead of through it.4. use bags so you can easily replace media if you want.
Some people commented that getting rid of the baffles and having the flow horizontal will make it run much quieter... If I have the sponges fit the sump very tightly end-to-end there probably should be no way for the water to avoid flowing through...?

Discus don't destroy plants so you can have whatever you like (even with co2).
True... but Discus like to have warm temperatures... In the past I always kept my Discus at 27C/80.6F... actually I started aclimatizing them at 28C/82.4F and then over some time bringing temperature to 27C/80.6F. This was as low as I could go to make them happy. They would still spawn at this temperature.
For many plants this is still high... some are OK, but some do not tolerate well above 25C as I hear?
...Also for later I will need to figure out how to very precisely control pH with an automated CO2 dosing linked to a pH meter. I always maintained only low-tech planted tanks (never CO2) but I hear Discus really do not like pH swings that happen when some people switch on- switch off CO2 to time concentration with the lights for the plants but not so much caring about the pH.
 

aeneas

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Feb 15, 2021
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Any other comments regarding baffles vs horizontal flow in terms of (a) sump efficiency and (b) noise of water flow and trickle?
I recently bought George Farmer's book and loved it... many great tips there regarding the build. But in the Sump section, there was very limited information and I feel there are still so many different DIY approaches where each one has a separate opinion on what works and what doesn't
upload_2021-3-6_9-33-14.gif
:)
Anyone knows what @Tom Barr thinks about the sump layouts? I was looking at various threads but many sump designs date quite a few years back...
 

easternlethal

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Water flowing horizontally through media will find the path which is least dense. If you picture a wet dry trickle filter you will see rivulets forming - it's the same thing if you try to force water through horizontally. Most likely channels will form at the bottom layer where the water pressure is greatest and much of the water will just flow through there. It still works but just not as efficiently compared to using baffles imo because you have gravity helping to sink the water through the media. The only part of a sump that's noisy is the point of entry. Rest of it should have no noise at all.

I think most of the advice out there for discus are provided by breeders or ex breeders who want maximum growth and coloration. But in reality they are much hardier than most other fish imo. I also have discus - kept between 27 and 30 degrees with co2, high light and can grow almost anything. They don't seem to care about ph swings (or nitrates or even a bit of ammonia).
 
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aeneas

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In addition to sump, I am starting to look into lighting options for this tank...
After several days of reading reviews and youtube videos, I am down to the following:

1) ADA Solar RGB: probably can't go wrong here, but the light only comes in one small size - I'd probably need 3 or 4 for the tank this size and they only come with an on-off switch; with today's LED technology I'd really like at least the sunrise/sunset effect so that lights come up and go out nicely. But this is not a deal breaker... love the ADA Solar RGB and probably can't go wrong with these?

2) Kessil A360x Tuna Sun: I like the idea of the shimmering effect... not sure if these will be powerful enough and how many I will need to use... but they do have very nice sunrise/sunset effect (plus many other tweaks). Looking at some videos, these seem a bit weaker for the red spectrum - the red plants just don't stand out as much as with some other lights? I worry a bit about a potential glare from these lights when people are seated... there are no shades unlike ADA.

3) ONF Flat One+: Looks like a very nice light... good spectrum, decent pricing, good app. Similar as with Kessil - does not have shades, so I wonder whether the glare might not be a problem when people are seated.

4) Chihiros Vivid 2: a nice set of lights at very good price range. However I really dislike the idea of having active fan coolers - adds to the noise in the room, which I really want to avoid. This one, however, does come with shades so it prevents glaring.

I would love some feedback on these. Any experience greatly appreciated.
Personally, I am kind of between ADA Solar RGB and Kessil A360x but all of these seem to be good options.
 

aeneas

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...my wife dismissed the idea of shimmering... she says it looks cute for a while, but having that always "on" would drive her crazy. She likes the peaceful nature of aquariums and the elegance of discus fish in there. So Kessils and other spot lights are out.

Another light set-up that is coming up as a potentially strong "candidate is the GHL Mitras LX 7004.
PROS: good integration with the rest of GHL automation & Profilux system. Seem like very high quality lights. Good programmability.
CONS: very "industrial" design. Not ugly in any way... just industrial. Not sure yet whether I'm warming up to such concept... Anyone here any experience with Mitras?

upload_2021-3-9_14-59-30.gif
 
I built a sump similar to your diagram, but I broke it up into two parts.... but that's because I have this sump on a central system of 5 (soon to be 6) 20 gallon long planted aquariums that are on two racks side by side.... So it became a no brainer to locate each half of the sump on each of the racks at the very bottom.... instead of trying to fit everything into one vessel on one shelf of one rack. So if you can ignore that huge difference... I've basically built mine like you are supposing.

SumpSectionsOperationalWithDualJoin.jpg


I have a few differences

On the inlets... I installed two 4" x 11" 400 micron filter bags.... basically they just catch any big debris that might prematurely block up my poret foam. I just quickly empty those filter bags about every two weeks.

Poret foam... I have 4 grades 2 pieces each grade that are 2" thick. 10ppm, 20ppm, 30ppm and 45ppm. I have quite a bit of water flowing through my sump, so wasn't sure about the 45ppm... but it seems to be okay... (maybe too much media, I'm open to criticism on that...)

Baffles... Didn't install them... I might one day based on what I've heard about horizontal flow finding it's way through weak spots. But I have the poret foam very, very tight edge to edge.... and there is a allot of it..

Ceramic media... yeah, I had some old hydor stuff laying around... so I installed it where you are thinking too... and I put it in mesh bags for removal as suggested..

Lids.. I have a lid tha covers about 80% of the top... the setup for the filter socks occupies the other 20% of the length. (well I have two halves, they both have lids... once covers about 80%, the other 85%)..

Skimmer... I run a tiny eheim skimmer in the 2nd sump section only becuase a film does build up and there is no media in that section, just sensors, heater, pump, float switches, etc..

Overflow.... I have an overflow on the 2nd chamber to handle 'mistakes'. Have not needed it yet... No shutoff valve on this.... so that I never do anything dumb like close it and forget it...

Drain... I have a drain on the 1st chamber (media) so that I can lower the water level quickly when cleaning the media... It's manual with a big 1" ball valve.

Float Switches... I use float switches to interrupt the sump pump if level gets low (which happens on a water change)... I also use float switches for auto-top off (evaporation control)...

Noise... this is where I fail! I have the 'blurps'... working on that... it's just the 2 lines coming from the lowest two tanks that make that noise.... the middle level and the highest level tanks do not (yeah... 4 levels in total... it's tall)

I ran a build thread on plantedtankdotnet, same username, that hightlighted building my little fish room (Fish Nook)... I cover the sump there... the good and the bad...
 
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easternlethal

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Separate sections are a great idea!

The connectors act almost like a mechanical weir - filtering out even more debris. I don't know why you'd have oil though, as they should be filtered out by decently configured pre-filters. Maybe try a wet dry instead of a sock.

If you want to stop blurping maybe add a one way valve to stop air flowing back (make sure you get a quiet one though)?

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I don't know why you'd have oil though, as they should be filtered out by decently configured pre-filters.

I think it's because I am doing my Macro and Micro nutrient dosing in that 2nd chamber... Wasn't so much an oil, as it was a bio film... and it would take days for it to accumulate. Now I have none. Still mastering the dosing... once I get a good formulation, I want to automate that with my EZO perastalic dosing pumps from Atlas-Scientific.

If you want to stop blurping maybe add a one way valve to stop air flowing back (make sure you get a quiet one though)?

I tackled the blurping last night. I found by directing the lines straight down there is no air being trapped...hence, no blurps.... instead I just see gentle misting and fine bubbles escaping with the water... it's very quiet. It's when I allowed them to bend a bit (they are made of hydroponic tubing...so they still have memory from being coiled on a 100' spool despite sitting them in the sun straightened out for days.).