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Need help planning a 240g non-CO2, low tech tank.

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by toffee, Aug 24, 2012.

  1. toffee

    toffee Junior Poster

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    First time poster here and hi to all.

    I have been planning a 8'x2'x2' 240g as room divider, view-able on three sides. These are my thought so far, please help to improve it. I live in California low desert, so plenty of sun all the time.

    Low tech
    Why low tech? I travel a lot and totally inspired by Tom's thread here on how low maintenance low tech tanks can be. As I don't mind buying matured plants, slow growth isn't really a concern. Energy consumption is a concern, using less a welcome bonus.

    Tank
    Leaning towards glass as I am planning to use onxy sand, and I would like a bigger opening top too.

    Substrate
    Onxy Sand as recommended by Tom.

    Lighting
    240g even at 1.5wpg means 360W. I am thinking of using solar tube for day time lighting and a few hours of LED for the evening. Something like these:
    [​IMG]
    Except 2 instead of 4 tubes and not extended so they will be closer to the ceiling and about 5-6 ft from the top of the tank. Not sure if it will provide enough light? I can put 3 tubes of course. I have solartube in my house and they are pretty bright .. standing right beneath, each of them feels like a 150w bulb ... How does one calculate WPG when it comes to LED?

    Filtration
    Using two Nu-clear or Ocean-clear filters, one for mechanical and the other bio. After reading various forums, leaning towards Nu-clear for its clamp type closing and locking. Planning on using either 950gph or 1200gph pump. Not sure to use them submerged or not though.

    Automation
    I think I can automate the drain or backflush function of Nu-clear filter to perform a scheduled once every other day of mini water changes. The water from the tank will be used for irrigation of out door potted plans. I live in the desert, those plants need very frequent water to stay healthy, I figured that I need about 12 gal or so every two days. So by doing that, I will be changing 5% of the water every other day. I have found a controller for this automation that has wireless connection so I can even do it remotely.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Refill of water by float valve, an overflow to prevent spillage.

    Plants
    As Tom said, one can grow all kinds of plans under low tech no CO2. Just that they grow very slowly.

    That's what I have so far, thoughts?
     
    #1 toffee, Aug 24, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 24, 2012
  2. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi and welcome, sounds like a sweet project...

    Are you locked into the tank dims? Perhaps more front to back and less height?

    Lighting - Please eliminate the term WPG from your vocabulary. Replace it with PAR :) Do yourself a favor and invest in a PAR meter. Low light can be anywhere up to approx 35-40 umoles at the substrate..The level of light is PARAMOUNT to your goals, and guessing the amount of light you have visually is not the way to go...Light is what drives plant growth.

    I know I am partial to them as a new user, but the ATI fixtures are dimmable and thus can be used for any type of lighting goals.

    Or mount whatever you use so you can adjust height and thus have some control over this. Plus is nice to have out of the way during maintenance and such...

    You may find your goals change over time and I don't want you to buy a fixture where you cap the amount of light you have due to the fixture choice.

    Filtration - how about a sump and surface skimming? I had the twin nu-clear setup on my 180 and worked well, but I find the sump and wet/dry easier to maintain...and the sump can hide a heater, carbon, etc... Or a sump and the closed loop nu-clears?

    What type of fish are you think of?

    I would not say that ALL plants can be grown TOGETHER in a non c02 tank. However, there are so many that can you have a wide variety. What kinds are you thinking of?

    What are some of the goals for your setup other than low maintenance :) Will you breed fish at all or what will you have? Who will feed them while you are away??

    Do you have experience with fish keeping? I see the salt tank, is that yours???

    I like the auto w/c system but if you can add backup/redundancy here I would do so :)

    Keep us posted.
     
    #2 Gerryd, Aug 24, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 24, 2012
  3. toffee

    toffee Junior Poster

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    I am thinking of less height, my acrylic 180g was 2ft tall and I had problem reaching in thru those two small openings. May be 20"? I can't change the front to back though ...

    Good point!! Let me go and get a PAR meter (any recommendations?) and measure the light under a solartube.

    I have been using wet/dry sump for years, but in this case. I am not sure if it's the right way. The tank will be used as room divider. The stand will probably be 3ft or 3.5ft tall, and used for display of large objects like porcelain elephants etc. again open on both sides.

    So I am thinking of only 4 pipes from the tank to a closet about 8 - 10' away. Being a closed loop may make it easier? I may not need heating as winter temp here is 70s and summer (oops 110F+).

    We won't be in the house at all from July-Oct (see the need for automation?) The house will be AC to 90deg. In winter, we normally heat the house to 70-72F at night.

    The 4 pipes:
    0.5" copper water pipe to supply water to float valve
    1" from overflow to drain to prevent spillage.
    1" from in tank submerged pump to Nu-clear
    1" return from Nu-clear to spray bars.

    All pipes run down from the side of the tank then under floor to the closet 8-10' away. Tank only have one drilled hole on the side for overflow.

    I am also planning a simple in-tank overflow where a small pump with sponge filter at the bottom of the overflow compartment return the water to tank. simple thing just to keep surface moving. But this is at a lower water level than the drilled hole.

    Considering hotter summer water temp of close to 90F as the AC will be set at 90F or close to it so that automobile weather seals won't deform and wood furniture won't crack. And winter in mid 70s. I am thinking of large quantity of small schooling ones, may be Harlequin Rasbora and neons? LOL, the last time I have them ware the 60's. May be 6-8 Pearl gouramis as the bigger focal point fishes. These guys aren't too picky on food etc., ------ not too pricey to replace either.

    I haven't decided on any fishes yet. Whatever they are, they have to be able to deal with the temp.

    Haven't decided on them yet, but probably start with some Amazon Sword mother plants. Instant green.

    Large auto feeder and weekly refill by friends or security dudes from our HOA. Tank will be visible to me via webcam. I can manage the off and on of valves, pumps etc via the internet. For the 1-2 week trips, well, I am quite OK with less feeding. With my prior experience with bigger fishes, arowana, big cichlids etc., NO FOOD for a week or so caused no problem or visible harm. My frontosas grew to 12"+ and super color even when I 'abused' them with fasting.

    Doing some research now, found the controller, quite happy with that,
     
    #3 toffee, Aug 24, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 24, 2012
  4. toffee

    toffee Junior Poster

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    [​IMG]

    This is my thought on the automated water changer. Basically I need to water my outdoor potted plants every other day and takes about 15 gallon or so to do it. May as well take it from the aquarium?

    1. Pump 1 will be shut off during wc,
    2. Pump 2 is place with inlet about 15" or so from bottom, so the worst case, it can't remove more than 25% of water.
    3. Both will be managed by a controller with wireless connectivity.
    4. Water will top back up by a float valve.
    5. My water company is chlorine, so the line to the float valve goes thru a carbon filter.

    Have I missed anything?
     
  5. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Well my 220 is 6'x3'x20" tall. Much easier to reach things overall. Course you have less tall stem plants as well...

    Apogee MQ-200

    Yes, and canisters are much quieter in general than sumps and wet/dry.

    You may want to increase the size of the pipe due to this length for head loss.

    How about a naturally occuring local fish species?

    I might go 1.5 on the intake especially.

    Could you please elaborate?

    Not sure this is the best selection criteria ? lol

    Again, local fish?

    I would advise against this. Amazons tend to grow large and fast and scarf up most of the c02/nutes in a non co2 tank. This may cause even further deficiencies in other species. Plus, they need to be pruned more often and can easily grow too large and shade other plants beyond what you may like.

    Many other species provide instant green...Java ferns come to mind....

    Smaller fish tend to have to eat more OFTEN as they cannot store food reserves like a crocodile :) Also, fish that eat a lot of greens have long stomachs and must feed often. I would think more about this for those times while you are away. Fish spend a lot of energy/time scavenging for food and this needs replacement.

    I would be concerned about fish loss on longer trips. Feeding thingies can stop working and we all know the stories of letting others feed the fish. But they 'looked' hungry so I dropped the box of food in...
     
    #5 Gerryd, Aug 25, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 25, 2012
  6. toffee

    toffee Junior Poster

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    $300+, too bad I don't live in the Bay Area anymore. Otherwise I can try to rent Tom's for a day or two. Don't have much use once the gig is set up.

    Glad to know that, I was under the impression pressure are higher in smaller pipes.

    Got to research on those, I know fish farms and aquaponic farms around here use Tilapia. Quite sure I don't like them.

    Would you recommend a submerged pump in the tank to push water 10 ft away to the filters or place the pump next to the filters? would a push pull 2 pump system work better in my case? I assume the intake pipe is between the tank and the filter?

    Just like a tradition overflow compartment found in bigger tanks, but instead of having a hole/bulkhead at the bottom, I will place a small pump/sponge in that compartment. so water flows into the compartment and got pump back out to the tank. No drilling. I am doing this mainly because under the tank will be the display shelf for home decoration objects. and also less holes, less chance of bulkhead issues.

    Quote true, But I am quite fond of gouramis, so may give them a go.

    Good point on the swords. I did have the swords shading other plants in the past. Need to think this one though. Tom once sold a HUGE bundle of jave fern to me. Enough to dominate a 180g tank. May be I can approach him for more jave ferns.

    Good point on small fish eating more often. Got to figure out a way to feed them 2-3 times a day in small quantities. May need to design and build some sort of device and being monitored by the same controller for other devices.
     
  7. toffee

    toffee Junior Poster

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