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Finally setting up some nice sized planted tanks and aquariums for myself!

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by Tom Barr, Jul 12, 2007.

  1. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    At long long last I am finally able to providee both the space and resources to have the ideal tanks I've longed for.

    As I've helped many achieve this state over the years, I've long neglected my own desires and goals.

    However, having put it off and delayed for so long, it's really allowed me a chance to really and truly focus on what it is that I want from my own personal tanks.

    So the goals:
    This is where it all starts right? What is it that I want?
    Hummm........(obligatory head scratching)........

    Well,
    I hate water changes
    I hate testing
    I hate cleaning filters
    I hate ugly stands and lighting/hoods
    I hate over spray from pendent lights
    I hate noise from tanks
    I hate cleaning CO2 equipment
    I hate testing CO2
    I hate not being able to vary the light intensity.

    Let's see if I can over come these items I hate and achieve these sets of goals:

    I want to mainly prune, preen, maybe wipe glass, garden, feed fish, feed plants, and look at a nice aesthetic display with a good fish load.
    I want the primarily fish keeper and primary a plant keeper to be equally represented.


    So one room will have all south maerican themes in the decore and furnishings as well as the tank. Another will be African, another Marine etc.

    Each tank is required to have a pendent light.
    These have over spray issues. So, to get more out of the lights, I have chosen to use a light rail or disc to move the light around slowly to get better light dispersal and thicker growth without burning the tops etc. The light rotates around or else moves front to back to forward again etc each hour.
    This will allow me to drop the light right over the tank closely without poor lighting for the entire tank. The look of the tank will also change hour to hour.

    I'll also paint the lights a nice white to match the walls. I want the light and stand to blend into the wall so all you see is the tank's content.

    Each tank will be rimless/braceless and have an open top with a thin glass lid and S shaped hooks. Lemar in LA will be making these.
    Good prices also.

    The stand will be simple but I'll use flamed maple that will be bleached white. This will blend well with the walls but still show nice pretty wood.

    I will use metal(white painted) pipe to suspend the lighting and hide the metal cables that move the lights. This will reduce any noise from the motor.

    So this allows me a lot of light flexibily and aesthetics.

    What about water changes?
    I'll add a in the wall drain and fill valves. I turn a valve to quickly drain and another to quickly fill. This will have a carbon prefilter on the tap water line so I do not have to add dechlorinator.

    I'll have to get in to the crawl space and put these lines in place.
    I could entirely automate and use solenoids and float switch, but I can drain more water and change it as easy as flipping a valve so that's not worht the trade off there. Essentially I can change 50-90% of the water easy and fast but cannot with the solenoid float switch set up that's entirely automated.

    So when I drain the the tank, that water is going somewhere.
    So a wise aquarists will send this through their canister filter in reverse to back wash their filter each week. By adding a drain ball valve to force all the drain water through the out let of the cnaister filter throught the intake side, we can backwash all the dirt using the water change to do it.
    I just add 2 more ball valves to do this in line with the canister filter.

    Now I can do a similar thing for the wet/dry and/or add a sock type filter which are very easy to clean.
    Most of the finer flow reducing filtration is done through a canister while the surface extraction and bio is done through the wet dry which also maintains a constant level in the tank due to vaporation.

    I can add a solenoid and float switch for the sump to keep that maintained with refilling it for evaporation and still maintain my semi automated system for large water changes weekly.

    So I do not have to change water, clean the filter, nor test, nor worry about lighting or a tank that does not match the others.

    Each tank will have a canister and a wet/dry.
    I use a pH probe with a KH reference and membrane pair so I can monitor the CO2 well and have a data logging USB port to measure it on the computer. The CO2 reg is a light duty Victor. The valves are all Swagelok metering.
    Tubing for gas: tygon.
    CO2: venturi valve for each return with bypass loop plumbing/mixing.

    So for the tanks:

    Two 40 gal cubes, 24x24x20Tall

    One shall be a Rift cichlid (Tangys) and eventually will become a West African and a larger tank in the future for the tangys.

    Val foreground and a nice rocky center mound.

    The other will be a Californian rocky tide pool loaded with macros. Orange Garibladi are very pretty, red and blue banded gobies, severla neat local shrimp species and some other inverts.

    Baby Garibladis are very pretty.

    The next pair of tanks will be 180 gallon for a south american theme.
    Community tank shall focus on a large schools of smaller fish.
    The Aggressive tank will have larger, unusual, not normally kept fish and be a more open system with caves.

    Then finally a 120 gallon reef SPS with a nice displayed 65 gallon macro warm water refuge, main planted marine tank.

    That should keep me out of trouble and happy to boot.

    Some day I'll want another 120 and 180 but that is the limit:eek:
    7 tanks is enough for me.
    5 for now.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  2. George Farmer

    George Farmer Lifetime Members
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    Will you be using EI or PPS-Pro? :p

    Just kidding, Tom!

    Will you be running any journals?

    I look forward to seeing the "end" results.

    Out of interest, I take it you need lots more CO2 with wet/dry filters? How much more CO2 are we talking? 50%? 100%?

    Also is there any truth that the extra O2 oxidises some nutrients, rendering them useless. I'm sure I read that somewhere...
     
  3. sherry

    sherry Guru Class Expert

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    I'd comment but I am too busy gaping :)

    What a great plan!
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I tend not to run journals, but I have the camera etc here so it'd be easy. I like it detail out specific elments of the tank.

    Since the water change is automated, I can add NH4/urea, super high fish loads etc without algae issues.

    I can do methods others cannot.

    Extra O2 does increase the redox levels, but you want those high, the nutrients that are reduces, are in the sediments where they belong.

    The only element that gets oxidized is iron mainly. That's why they use things called chelators, to prevent them from being oxidized by O2 and strong bicarbonate ppms etc.

    The stands will be quite pretty, so will the lights.
    No one will have these nor the system set up.

    It'll be unique, look great, and be easy to care for.
    I've given this a lot of thought recently as I'm going to move here soon.

    If you search my name, George Booth, Steve Dixon on the APD, you can see we use wet/dry filters and we all 3 independently showed that wet/drys do not degas CO2 if you seal their dry sections(with Tape etc).

    If a wet/dry section is sealed, then the gas cannot escape, thus is dissolved back into solution.

    The overflow is the main point of gas lost and when you raise the over height level in the box, that reduces both noise and gas lost significantly.

    FYI, and you may ask JamesC about this one, PPS pro and EI+ water are the same other than PPS having 5x more traces(because PPs likes the junky CMS ETDA trace mix, I like TMG which is better).

    If you dose the week's total and divide by 7 for daily or 3x a week, the ratios are about the same otherwise.

    So it's an issue of lean vs richer nutrients, as the ratios are the same.
    If you use ADA aqua soil, then that will add more nutrients for the plants and not require as much PPS pro dosing to get the same growth.
    Oddly, given Ed's thoery about less is better, he does not support the use of ADA AS or rich sediments, likely because he has failed in the past using them and thinks they are bad.

    I on the other hand have not suggested they are not useful, just that they are not required nor save folks from algae.
    But adding them with water column dosing?

    That's the best of both worlds and provides the most buffer room for any method of adding nutrients.

    You get more out of the water column and out of the sediment that way.
    It's common sense, but still seems to elude those with agenda.



    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  5. George Farmer

    George Farmer Lifetime Members
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    Great stuff. Thanks Tom.
     
  6. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    I'm reminded of the old Peanuts cartoon, where Charlie Brown, Linus and Lucy are laying on their backs looking at the clouds. Lucy says, "Isn't it great how you can see so many things in the shape of the clouds?" Linus says, "Yes, over there I see the Sistine Chapel paintings, and over there looks like the Mona Lisa, and over there, isn't that the Taj Mahal?" Lucy says, "Charlie, what do you see?" Charlie Brown says, "Well, I was going to say I see a horsie and a duckie, but I changed my mind."

    With that in mind, I was going to tell you about the aquarium stand/cabinet I'm making, but I changed my mind.
     
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Well, we all have our own dreams and projects, it's your own deal, not someone else's. I do not suggest comparing yourself to others, you do what you like and enjoy.

    I try not to inject my goals into the client's views as much as I can.
    But when I'm allowed to do what I like, then I can really go wild and put all the nutty ideas I have into action.

    While I might not be everyone's nor anyone's goal entirely doing what I am doing, I know some of the ideas are very useful and can be added to other folk's tanks.

    Not everyone likes everything at a buffet, however, most like something that's there.

    Vaughn, not everyone will build the type of stand I have in mind, nor have a 180 rimless.braceless dream tank, nor an autowater changers etc, but many will try and do your idea.

    So post it.
    Even if you think it might be less than it really is.
    That does not matter in the real world.

    I do not like judging others and scapes for that reason, I see what I can do to improve and enhance the ideas they have, not critique it.

    I generally ask them what they like better and is it worth it for them to try and do it that way.

    The aquarium is for you, not anyone else. Always keep that in mind.

    Anyway, this means I'll have an open house for SAPS and SFBAAPS if they chose to come in about 6-8 months.

    So that's a good thing and to see such a system and example will really help an entire new cohort of folks get motivated and into having nice aquarirum plant tanks.

    Well, back to writing and getting ready to work on the research:(

    Tom Barr
     
  8. uklau

    uklau Junior Poster

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    Another great sharing, Tom. Keep it going, man
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    It should look nice.
    I am considering the look and plan to set up the lighting.
    I may not attach to the ceiling.
    Rather, have a nice metal box made to house the tracking rails from a sheet metal place and then paint with a nice enamel white paint.

    Nice thing is after all these years, I've had a lot of time to think about what I want, it's somewhat ADA, but it's also my own ideas, and some new ones, but trying to have all these work well together is another thing. Still, having done enough custom stuff, not liking the ADA stands much(do not like the finishes, having done cabinetry in the past, I have different taste/like different things).

    When folks see or hear of new ideas, they should consider how they might enjoy them, add them to their tanks etc.

    They should not compare themselves to anyone though, other than themselves.

    You challenge yourself and do the hobby for yourself, not others.
    I've not had any tanks of reasonable size for 4-7 years and nothing over 70 gal for over a decade.

    Tom Barr
     
  10. adechazal

    adechazal Prolific Poster

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    Tom, I do more reading than writing on this site and like VaughnH figured I'd keep my "horsie" to myself but then you said to "speak up".

    I'm new to the hobby but after many hours of reading things here I have successfully setup an in-wall picture framed 180 gallon Oceanic tank with overflow and 20 gallon sump that is thriving (albeit with some algae issues now and then).

    Your original list of "hates" matched some of mine and there are two in particular that I solved and thought I'd share:
    1. Hate noise: For a sump system, the Poseidon series of pumps are inaudible and produce no vibration, literally. The down side is they add a few degrees to the water temp. Highly recommended for the hearing sensitive.
    2. Hate water changes: I have a "flow through" water change system consisting of a hole in the side of my sump that runs to a drain in the wall. My water change consists of turning on a valve from an in-wall supply that feeds the water pump supply line, when the sump level hits the overflow hole it just drains on its own. If you slow the supply enough you can just leave it on all the time to achieve whatever changover rate you want. I know everyone knows about this flow through theory but thought I'd chime in since I have it in practice, and I'm a newbie so that proves it can be done.
    Aaron
     
  11. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Great!

    Glad you did the autowater change. On larger nice tanks, this is invaluable!
    The news about the poseiden pumps is also useful. Finding quiet equipment for our homes is critical.

    I think simply hearing about what others have done or are doign helps us to clairify what we would also like ourself.

    I'm not bragging etc, some might take it that way, but it really showing what can be done, how to go about it, how to make some things, when to buy others.

    I still think if folks make a list of things they want to do and not want to do, name one person out there that wants to test their water or do water changes?

    Both of these issues can be mitigated with our engineering.
    It's not hard.
    It does not cost that much relative to our labor.
    It's safe and feasible.
    It makes sense.

    This in wall take has a semi automated water changer, all I do is turn a valve:
    [​IMG]

    And this dang thing too:
    [​IMG]

    Is it practical for this though?
    [​IMG]

    Nope, but that's why this is a non CO2 planted tank.

    Using methods and engineering resolves so many issues aquarists place in their way and causes them lots of labor.

    After some time, folks slack off if it's a lot of work to care for. Testing or water changes etc.

    Heck, I'm no different than anyone else there, except I'm going to make the list, decide ways around those things, then focus on the parts I enjoy.

    Of course folks complaining about water changes, testing, or nagging others to do so will keep doing it to themselves, these ideas move beyond all that.

    I give advice, but I am someone that likes to take their own advice as well:cool:

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  12. 2wheelsx2

    2wheelsx2 Lifetime Members
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    Nice plan Tom. Can't wait to see some of it put into place.
     
  13. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Me either.

    I'll be doing the 40 cubes first.

    They are the prototypes and then on to the 180's.

    I hate going to fish wholesalers and seeing these really rare fish I love there.

    I have to wait:(

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  14. tcomfort

    tcomfort Junior Poster

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    Wow! I just found this place and joined two days ago, and this thread is pretty much exactly what I was looking for. I was getting thoroughly disgusted with the inability of my Dupla Reactor to get enough CO2 into my 125g open top tank, which is currently a sad and horrible BBA mess. I'm very interested if you have specifics on which injectors you will be using on the bigger tanks, and which pumps you are using from the wet-dry and canister to drive them.

    Actually, to say I am "very interested" is a huge understatement!

    I'm so excited that this place exists!

    -Tim
     
  15. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Hi Tim.
    You sound a bit like George Booth here with your location and Dupla stuff, haha. I like George, he's one of my "Plant brothers" from the APD.

    You can do a few things here for CO2 and O2.
    Increase the current and the patterning in your tank.
    Do this first, add enough to not quite cause a break the surface tension.
    Direct flow or add more etc to the plants, not away from them.
    Do so that you have the flow traveling a longer distance and spreadi out as it travels to the plant beds.

    Next, you can DIY a much bigger/higher flow reactor for about 10$ with some PVC. Ebay, sell the Dupla etc, some sucker will buy it.

    I am using the Venturis for other reasons, I use them on some client tanks and they work damn well.

    You can use these also, and a disc in the tank or both.

    Up to you.
    Some can use all three methods on their tank to compare or to see how each does for their system.

    You need 3 needle valves to control 3 different systems, but that's not too bad.

    Still, your issue can be solved by adding more flow through the Reactor(this will increase the response time to get a good CO2 level) and adding some surface movement(adds more O2 and degasses too much cO2 build up).

    The end result means you can add more CO2 evenly and more O2 so the fish are much less influenced by higher CO2 ppms.

    To help speed the BBA removal since you addressed the cause(CO2). drain the tank to do a 70-80% water change. Get Some SeaChem Excel, add about 50% water and Excel in a spray bottle.Add about 50mls of each in the bottle

    Mist the infected areas till gone.
    Refill tank.

    Repeat 2x a week until gone.
    Note, the large water changes will help and adding SAE's in there will also.

    Add ferts and good CO2 thereafter.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  16. tcomfort

    tcomfort Junior Poster

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    :) You found me out. My wife and I visited and got a personal tour of George's tanks (and trains!) when we were first breaking into the hobby several years ago. George was exceedingly kind and helpful to us, despite the fact we were total newbies (and random strangers for that matter). So I like George, too. :)

    Thanks for the advice, which I will implement immediately. However, I am still very interested in which venturis and pumps you will be using on your new tanks!

    -Tim
     
  17. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Glad you met George and Karla.
    They are a rare breed of planted aquarists.

    That's more true than either of us really know.
    They have helped many.

    George never grew up with the trains.
    I never did, either, I play in the mud and creeks still.
    Keeping that kid inside is a key to life.

    Regarding trhe venturi, I think several folks have really taken to this method of injection but they have had issues due to the smaller size of their tanks and the starting pump flow rates required are namely for larger systems/tanks.

    So 90-100 gal and up are the only ones I can see really being useful for.

    I'd drive 600-800gph through a 3/4" model.

    Just in line, if you want more mist in the tank or if you want it entirely dissolved, you simply place it farther back or closer to the end of the return.

    I make a by pass loop and add two ball valves to control flow rate though the valve.

    Greg Fisk really like this idea and I think a few others really took to playing around and trying out new things.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  18. tcomfort

    tcomfort Junior Poster

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    How's this project going?
     
  19. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Switching to a 50 gallon cube pair first. Next month I'll start!
    Then the 210 gallon community

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  20. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    I love the idea for the lights!! I mean, the whole plan is great, but the lights are really going to make it unique and interesting.
     
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