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First Tank-Setup Help/Critique

Discussion in 'Are you new to aquatic plants? Start here' started by UDGags, Sep 13, 2009.

  1. UDGags

    UDGags Lifetime Charter Member
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    I made a similar post of at plantedtanks.net and wanted to get from feedback from here as well.

    I've been looking, reading up on and learning about planted tanks for the past few weeks (so much to learn but fun) and I've found these forums one of the best source for information. I'm looking at setting up my first tank and wanted to run my setup/equipment list past people here to get feedback before I do something stupid.

    I'm more worried about doing it correct rather than the cost.

    My goal is to get a beautiful planted tank and I'm leaning towards a Discus tank but not set in stone yet on the fish.

    Setup/Piping Diagram

    [​IMG]

    Equipment List

    Tank
    125 gallon (72” L x 18” W x 24” H)

    Filters + Heaters
    2x Eheim 2180- 450gph for a maximum flow rate of 900gph (7.2x), each has a 500W heater for 1000W (8W/gal) total.

    CO2 System includes Reactor
    GLA CO2 Regulator
    Check Valve
    Aqua Medic CO2 Reactor 1000

    Control System w/Probes
    Neptune Apex System includes pH and temperature probes.

    UV Filter
    25W Gamma UV sterilizer

    Lightning
    72” Nova Extreme Pro (468W more than plenty and will cycle various 10k/6.7k bulbs)

    6-6700k bulbs to replace the 460nm bulbs

    The main questions I'm wondering are

    • Does my piping diagram look correct? Do I have things in the correct order? Do I need something else in there (e.g. an additional pump)?
    • Any other pieces of equipment I should consider? Are my choices for my equipment good or would you recommend something different?
    • Please critique and give me any feedback you feel is warranted.
    Thanks ahead of time for taking the time to help me.
     
  2. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    An extra filter using loc line for the intakes/outputs or some powerheads would be good to keep high current around the plants. I don't think it's a necessity, but I like to push my filtration up into the 10-15gph/gal range.

    The lighting seems pretty intense, but I'm suspecting Nova runs multiple ballasts/switches that you can use to compensate.

    Don't bother keeping the UV sterilizer on 24x7. It's a good tool for controlling suspended algae or helping along with outbreak of disease, but I haven't found any other detectable benefits. On the other side of things, there's some conjecture about mild harm it may cause. While the fish/plant health arguments are unsubstantiated, the added bit of cost on your power bill isn't.

    -Philosophos
     
  3. UDGags

    UDGags Lifetime Charter Member
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    Thanks for the advice.

    Yeah, I originally was going to try and get at least 10 gph/gal range but wasn't sure how critical it was. I had seen a lot of setups that were way under that amount but still looked very good. I'm not sure I follow the "loc line" or exactly how I would plumb it all.

    Correct, I would never have all the lights on at once. It has a couple controls/timers for the various lights.

    That was my plan for the UV....I figured if I was plumbing everything now I might as well put it in and run it maybe 1 day a week just to clean things up or run it more if I have an outbreak.
     
  4. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    The loc line is something you run in under the substrate with a pile of splitters so you've got nice flow coming in/out everywhere. Pre-planning your plants would be important with a setup using this stuff.

    The UV is definitely good to have ahead of time; if you've got a bunch of people coming over in a day and for some reason there's an outbreak of BGA in the column, you want it gone fast.

    Flow rates really depend on what you're doing with a tank in terms of height and density. You don't need tons for a sparse tank with a lot of low growth. If you're doing a ton of stems though, that's a different story.

    -Philosophos
     
  5. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi,

    Please note that the UV placed between the canister output and the AM1000 reactor will affect the flow into the reactor and thus the c02 diffusion and the eventual current to the tank.

    The flow rate on the UV will be less than the output of the two eheims.

    Can you provide more detail on how you plan to route the outlets?

    May I suggest that you split the flow from the canister output so that 1 line goes to the UV with a ball valve PRIOR to the UV so you can control the flow into it. The remaining flow would then go to the reactor.

    This allows just a small flow to the UV (so not all water is filtered by the unit) but allows more flow to the rest of the components and removes the restriction of the UV being first in line....

    You then need to either merge them again to go to the tank or to separate returns based on your setup.

    Loc line:

    ModularHose.com - Loc-Line Modular Hose System


    Please note that there is no way you should ever NEED all 6 bulbs to get the growth you want. Light is what drives plant growth and thus c02 and nutrient demand. The more light the more need. I would go with just 2-3 bulbs at first (if possible) and use them so you get a good spread over the tank.

    You can always add more light. It will be easier to get started with less light as c02 is not so easy to get right the first time :)

    I would also second the advice to get a powerhead of some type. The Koralia brand II or III model would be good for this tank.

    You may also want to see if you can plumb something to help with water changes. If you go the EI fert route, they require 50% weekly water changes. Anything you can do to facilitate this will help you and the tank in the long run.......even if it is to plumb a drain line that you can use to easily drain the tank as needed. Then just a hose to the tap and some dechlorinator/Prime for th refill and you are good to go!

    Hope this helps.
     
  6. UDGags

    UDGags Lifetime Charter Member
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    That makes sense Gerry. I guess in my head I was planning on doing something similar to that but didn't put it on paper. I was just going to have a by-pass tube parallel with the UV system. This way I can turn off the UV system entirely and replace if needed without interrupting the other systems. I'll update my drawing.

    I would think the slower the flow the better the diffusion. As long as I keep it turbulent with 90° elbows or filler media. I'll have to look back at my books (chemical engineer) on gas diffusion in a liquid.


    On the lightning....it was the only 72" T5 lighting I could find on petsolutions.com. The other option was to use two 36" but 72" just seemed like a cleaner look. The system comes with 12 bulbs (six 10k/six 460nm) so I was replacing the six 460nm with six 6.7k. I could then just run the ballasts I want. I don't foresee me ever running all 12 at the same time.

    Yeah, I googled the powerhead and loc systems after Philosophos made his comment and plan on going with one. I just have to figure out what kind of layout/design I want to do. I got some basic ideas but need to do more research in the plant area before settling. I'll check out the Koralia Brand, thanks for the lead.


    I thought about the automatic water change with a couple basic hoses and pumps. The system will be on a wall adjacent to a bathroom so plumbing is near-by and there is a basement below that I can plumb down to. The automatic water changes would probably be ideal especially if I plan on going with Discus.
     
  7. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    You would have seen it eventuall. The bypass would also work well, but since you didn;t mention it, I wanted to be sure :)

    Yes, the slower the better, but please note that the AM1000 has only 3/8 outlet and that will not flow much water.

    Your filter output is going to be pretty underwhelming for your size tank.

    Have you purchased the eheims?

    If not, an alternate would be to go with an external pump, flex PVC and some Ocean clear or Nu-clean inline canisters?

    Then you have one powerful enough pump to run all the components.

    You may want to think about powering the AM1000 with a separate pump (300-500 gph) so that the eheims just filter the water and provide flow to the UV. Then the c02 diffusion rate will NOT be affected as the filter clogs, so think about that as well. This WILL HAPPEN so be ready for it. It will force you to keep the filters clean but can really affect the c02.......

    Running things in parallel instead of in series has some advantages as well.

    Hope this helps.
     
  8. UDGags

    UDGags Lifetime Charter Member
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    I haven't purchased anything yet......wanted to post what my plan was and see what I screwed up before buying anything :)
     
  9. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Oh, don't forget to use throttle valves and unions if you can. These will allow you to control the flow to each component and also allow you to shut off flow to some components entirely for removal or maintenance. I know they are expensive, but think about the future and if you will ever need to remove or maintain a component in line.

    I ended up changing some things if an install did not work according to plan (a real possibility for me!), but I guarantee you will thank me someday if you use them!
     
  10. UDGags

    UDGags Lifetime Charter Member
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    No doubt I will.....I often have to pipe things for work so I'm all for shut off valves and bypass's.

    The Ocean Clear in-line filters could be nice since they have the UV built in to some of the larger systems. I would then just need to buy two inline Hydor heaters and a pump. Than decouple the CO2 with a separate pump and add a loc line....this would definitely save on some cash if it provides the same performance.
     
  11. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    I think the performance will be better.

    Since you are familiar with plumbing, you know that a larger diameter hose flows more water. The OC has 3/4 inlet/outlet and the NC has 1" which is why I went with them.

    Yes, Tom used the UV model OC on his 180...The Hydor are great I hear.

    All the components in your system are like 3/8-5/8 at most, I THINK. These wll further reduce volume and flow.

    If you plumb with 1" pipe you will get more inlet and outlet flow which will filter/flow more water per hour. The pump will operate more optimally and the canisters can easily handle the flow.

    Plants and fish benefit greatly from current for exercise and such. The fish can always more to a different area and as long as the plants are not at a 90 degree angle, they should benefit as well.

    I found with my 180 that size does matter and a 125 is a good size tank. You really need to beef them up more than say a 55 or a 90.

    Most canisters are rated optimistically IMO and you are now using them to power two other components. I would be concerned that they may underperform in this scenario.

    I went with a single large pump split to 3 parallel lines all of 1" flex PVC. Line 1 to an NC 533 mech canister, 1 to an NC bio canister, and 1 to a c02 venturi. This then flows via two 1" outlets back to the tank. I wish I had 2" intakes as the pump could handle it and I would get more flow, but the tank is already drilled when I got it.

    Oh, don't forget to pre-drill the tank if you can. This allows for hiding all the plumbing and makes things nice. I would drill at least 1-1.5" intakes and 1" outlets. Maybe 1 of each on each side.

    Then use the loc-line to route your flow from the BOTTOM of the tank up. The intakes would also be closer to the substrate and can be hidden.

    Remember that you hope to have the tank for many years, so any flexibilty built in now will facilitate changes later on.
     
  12. UDGags

    UDGags Lifetime Charter Member
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    I think I like your idea.....

    Line 1
    2x Hydro ETH 300 IN LINE HEATER 300W (in parallel)
    Ocean Clear 375 Filter w/UV 18 watt
    Koralia 4 (1200 gph)

    Line 2
    CO2 System
    Koralia 2 (600gph)

    Might make sense to move the heaters down to the CO2 system for better flow. (5/8" vs. 1" )
     
  13. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Random thoughts and paranoia to follow....

    I've found the GPH rating on the Eheim 2028s are a joke. They don't seem to push much. The 2080s are supposedly in the 70% range of rated flow but any clogging will drop that fast so you'll need to keep up on that. Bear in mind that 1mph = 18" per SECOND. 1mph is not uncommon for the amazon river system. 1 gallon in that size tank is going to be .5 - .75" of length on that tank depending on substrate depth. I'll let you do that math but seriously consider how much flow you're going to have in there. Even on the high end of 15x tank turnovers/hour you're nowhere near that kind of flow. Of course flow varies greatly depending on depth and plants but do bear in mind CO2 and flow are going to be critical. The subterrainean locline idea is one to seriously consider.

    If you intend to keep discus you NEED to automate that water change method or at least find a way to speed it up. For example: My 40 gallon breeder tank takes a while to drain, 20-30 minutes using a python to the tub. It takes another 10-15 minutes to fill up. That's right on the edge of where I'm comfortable stopping the flow through a cannister filter. Depending on your plumbing you may not have this problem. If you can't make it a turn one valve to drain and turn another to fill kind of system, think hard about faster methods. The ten feet of 1" tubing into a 44 Gallon Rubbermaid Brute barrel, or 2, on wheels will vastly speed up your drain times. Fill times are another problem entirely. You can dump out the barrels at your leisure. I would not use these for filling the tank as there has been speculation about the plastics not necesarily being safe. Something about coral spermatazoa being killed by storage in one of these. I don't have the link handy but if you're just dumping that water it shouldn't matter.

    Depending on what you buy for discus consider the following. Grow out any little ones in a separate tank. You'll be siphoning out uneaten food and doing a 50% WC DAILY if you want the biggest/best looking fish. Put that in a 125 gallon tank and the EI method and you're looking at a LOT of work. Plus all the food will get stuck in the gravel and plants requiring more maintenance. You could still dose macros one day and micros the next, but your doses are going to be much higher for EI. Most likely you'll be dosing one in the morning and one later on. Again, depends on what you want, just know that raising little discus into big discus takes a lot of work. You're better off with separate setups as learning plants is a pretty big project too. If you buy adults, then other than cost you're set.

    I'll assume your APEX will do this already, but if not, for heaters I'd STRONGLY recomend one of the heater controllers as a final check in the system. Submersible types fail all the time. The glass ones are often a better option as you can look into them and see if there is any damage allowing water to get inside and mangle the thermostat. The hydor inlines are nice, but are limited in size. You may consider some of the DIY options ( if you're handy ) where people use much larger sizes of PVC pipes with larger inlet/outlets. With a compression fitting on one end they keep the bits that are likely to leak outside any of the water but still allow for one to pull out the heater for inspection if desired. Finnex has some heater controllers ( I don't know how good they are ) and Jehmco has some of the industrial kinds which may provide for better peace of mind. Use multiple heaters if possible so that in the even something fails on you can't parboil your tank. With a single heater running full tilt this is a distinct possibility. Remember that most heaters have a dirt cheap thermostat controlling them. Failures on or off are too common. You don't want to find out the hard way. If the APEX can control them you're good. Set the heaters to a few degrees higher than you want to go as an added safety. Also consider a leak/moisture detector for the APEX so it can contact you in the event that something leaks, assuming it can do this of course. Many of the reef controllers can.

    You didn't mention anything about power. Chances are that your lights will be the biggest draw most of the time. Consider drawing out a complete electrical panel. You can just gang small 4x4 boxes together with GFCI in some and not others if needed. Having a switch to turn off the pumps and heaters and KNOW that everything in the tank is dead is a nice thing. Consider a grounding probe for the tank as well. With the GFCI it's dirt cheap insurance to know that you aren't going to get zapped when reaching into the tank. If you can run to separate circuits consider doing so with your equipment.

    Also, if it's worth doing with heaters, it's worth considering two smaller pumps running in parallel. Or at least don't put everything on just one pump without at least considering extra water movement on a separate pump or powerhead/props in the tank. Your tank can survive for a few days without light and without heat. Chances are you'll be in trouble without water movement though. Even a simple airpump and air curtain in the back can be enough. Consider a second GFCI and outlet for JUST the pumps. A nuisance trip on a GFCI will kill everything downstream of it. You don't want to find out a GFCI went wonky and dropped everything because a pump spike weakened it. There are some reefers who only run GFCI on non pump items for this reason. Test any GFCI religiously. Your life depends on it.

    Sorry to be the voice of doom here, but I'm running down all the scenarios in my head for my "ultimate" tank so it's a good exercise for me as well. I deal with server room environments so running two of everything to separate circuits and such is normal practice. It's all about risk tolerance and what you're willing to accept. You may feel it's all over the top and that's perfectly fine.

    -
    S
     
  14. UDGags

    UDGags Lifetime Charter Member
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    Thanks for the tips Shoggoth. Once I decide on equipment I'll do the electrical diagrams and make sure I take precautions in the grounding department. Point taken on if something gets tripped and everything down stream shuts off though.

    I think I'm pretty set on the Hydor inline heaters for now. I've read good things about them. If they don't do the job I'll be looking into a DIY setup using basic chemistry lab supplies.

    I'm going to go ahead and build in automatic water changes now that several people have recommended them. I'll research the various methods and controls tonight.
     
  15. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    UD,

    Please note that the Koralia is an in-tank powerhead and NOT a pump. You cannot 'power' anything with them. Sorry that was unclear.

    Hydor Koralia - Koralia Pumps, Koralia Magnum Powerheads, Koralia Controllable Pumps and Wavemakers

    Are you sure you need the heaters or two? Not sure where you are located?

    Remember that the 125 will lose temp more slowly than a smaller volume of water. Plus, some external pumps may add temp to the water as the pump runs hots.

    Just think about the flow of water you want and plan accordingly. I went from a wet/dry with sump to the config I now have. I wish I had gone the closed loop canister from the start. I would have had better success, but lessons learned :)

    The flex PVC comes in 1 - 2" sizes and is very nice stuff. Bigger pipe as well will cause less friction with elbows and such.

    Street elbows and using 2x45 deg instead of a 90 will produce a gentler curve.

    Here is a pump I think would work well for you:

    Iwaki MD Water Pump (Japanese Motor)

    Or something in that range. Many pumps less expensive out there.

    Nu-clear:

    Inland Seas Aquarium and Pond Products: Nu-Clear Modular Canister Filters

    I have the 533 and the 547 models....EZ to setup and maintain IME......

    Here is a (long) but informational thread re: pumps and my setup as well as several others that are working on various size tanks. has some pics:

    http://www.barrreport.com/general-plant-topics/5408-large-tank-owners-reeflo-pumps-fyi.html?highlight=large+tank
     
  16. UDGags

    UDGags Lifetime Charter Member
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    Right, the Koralia would work in conjunction with say a mag drive pump correct?

    I'm in Ohio so it does get fairly cold in the winter. I'd say the internal temperature of my house would be mid 60's at times before I have furnace kick on in the winter. But yeah large volume of water = larger thermal mass and water has a high heat capacity value.

    I'll work on a detailed plumbing diagram tonight and if I finish it post it just to make sure I got everything accounted for.

    Thanks again!
     
  17. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Not directly. You can certainly place the Koralia so that it blends/merges with the normal flow from the Mag, but they cannot be hard connected in line. The Koralia MUST BE in the tank, where the Mag can be in a sump or external if large enough.

    Ok,, Ohio I would have heaters too :)

    60 deg I hope you are breeding brook trout or something lol
     
  18. UDGags

    UDGags Lifetime Charter Member
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    Yep, in-line was a poor choice of words.....what you said is what I meant.


    Hmmmm a planted trout tank...... I think I'll stick with Discus :)
     
  19. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hey,

    Why not just step up to a 180? You have the same footprint, the 180 is just 24" deep as opposed to 18".

    You would get 1/3 more volume which is a great thing overall. The depth can be a pain for layout, planting, etc, but is worth it I think. Well, I have long arms too.

    I use a Koralia IV on one end and it shoots across the substrate and provides a nice flow.

    I use a model II and point it at the surface to provide a nice ripple to break up scum and to provide more 02 for the fish.

    Those two work well, but are very hard to hide. Only 'bad' thing about them.

    if you drill the tank and use loc-line from the bottom, and your pump/plumbing is up to snuff, there may be no need for an extra powerhead for the plants. You can then use a small unobtrusive one to provide some surface agitation if needed.

    Other thing I would adivse is to pick a pipe size to work with say 1" overall. When you come to a component with a less size (most common) simply reduce closest to the component.

    If I could do over, I would pick 2" for the intake and 1.5 for the outlets. I currently have 1 and .75 respectively. This is not enough flow for a 6' tank IMO.

    Remember that your pump will be most limited by INTAKE volume of water, so a larger intake is worth investigating....especially if you choose the one main pump option to run several things.....

    Sounds like you are coming along nicely. Think about your c02 and how easy it may be to change the methodology to say a needle wheel or venturi.

    Don;t forget a ball valve before and after a component such as the canister for easy maintenance. I can turn on or off any component in the system and control the flow of water. I have PSI guages here and there as well. The OC and NC models come with them for the most part.

    Hope this helps.
     
  20. UDGags

    UDGags Lifetime Charter Member
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    I have 125g already so that I'm stuck with.....everything else has yet to be purchased but I think I got a solid idea in my mind now. I just need to put it down on paper.

    The thread you linked with the larger tanks was very helpful in general.


    Yep, I figured out you had the wrong thing just from a simple Google search on OC and Nu
     
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