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New planted tank 150 gallon low tech

Discussion in 'Are you new to aquatic plants? Start here' started by FastFreddy, Aug 27, 2010.

  1. FastFreddy

    FastFreddy Junior Poster

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    Hello everyone, firstly I'd like to thank Tom for creating such an amazing wealth of information. After having read a number of his articles and an even larger number of his replies to questions posted by newbies like me, I feel at great ease with the advice offered on this forum. The articles just seem to make a lot more sense to me than many other sites I have been to and the progression from complete novice into somebody that is ready to embark on there first planted tank adventure is easy to follow and well mapped out. Particularly the reassurance that everyone was in this position once and that I should not feel afraid to 'experience' rather than just be lost in a maze of acronyms and chemistry straight away is a breath of fresh air.

    I have a 150 gallon aquarium measuring 72x20x24 inches that I would like to make a planted community set up. I have decided that a low tech method would be best for me however I am still deciding whether I will be dosing excel or not. Primarily this will come down to the water changes involved as 50 percent each week would be unmanageable for me on a tank this size. However at 25 percent a week is very doable. Like I said I would like a community setup containing tetras, rasboras and maybe dwarf cichlid as well as hardy, easy to grow plants like hygrophila, ambulia, crypts, rotala, amazon swords etc. I already have 2 Eheim 2217 canister filter which I intend to use on this tank. My plan for lighting (which is very subject to change based upon the advice I receive here) will be 2 HOT5 fixtures with 2x39w bulbs in each for a total of 156w or just over 1wpg. I will be using Eco Complete substrate. My plan for fertilizers would be to use KNO3 and KH2PO4 as well as equilibrium as stated in Tom's article. Any feedback or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. cannibal

    cannibal Prolific Poster

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    Greeting
    What should I looked, and as far as lighting is that it would not based on the w / g, but across the aquarium have coverage with fluo tubes. in the front and rear.
    As it turns out the way you said, and you have 90% of plants without any problems related to the light.
    Regards
    Dario
     
  3. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi,

    What is preventing you from doing a 50% water change? Are you using RO water?

    I have a 180 gal and I change 80% of the water weekly. How?

    I have a spare pump and flex hose that I simply drop in the tank. The flex hose goes either outside or the kitchen sink. Takes 20 mins to drain to desired level.

    I attach another flex line to the kitchen tap and simply refill. I add Prime to the tank water FIRST before filling.

    I can do other maintenance while draining/filling.

    I think you may find that 4x T5HO may be more than you need.

    Remember that light is what drives plant growth and subsequent nutrient/co2 demand.

    The higher the demand, the harder it may be to meet it, esp with c02. Macros and micros are fairly easy. C02 is much harder.

    Other than that, sounds great.

    Best of luck.
     
    #3 Gerryd, Aug 27, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 27, 2010
  4. FastFreddy

    FastFreddy Junior Poster

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    Hi Gerryd, thanks for that great reply. I guess I never really thought of doing it that way. Coming from a saltwater background I suppose I had images of turning my tank into death soup. Although this seems like a common way to do it, I think I even saw Tom posting that he uses this method in a large tank. I don't know if you quite understood my lighting plans. It will effectively be 2 t5 bulbs running the length of the tank. But because I can't find 6' fixtures I will need to use 4 39w bulbs. But if this is still to much please say so. But I had my doubts as this was a 24" deep tank. I was also wondering about using the GH booster as the parameters of my tap water after aging are:
    KH:6
    GH:8
    PH:7.2
    Maybe I should use flourish instead or is equilibrium still recommended? I was also wondering about KNO3 and KH2PO4. If I can't find these dry here in Australia can I use the Seachem products instead? How would I go about converting from the tsp measurements given by Tom to milliliters? Sorry about the long posts but I really appreciate your help and any more I can get.
     
    #4 FastFreddy, Aug 27, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 27, 2010
  5. FastFreddy

    FastFreddy Junior Poster

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    Ok so I have decided to go entirely low tech no co2 (without excel) to see how it goes. I have my concerns as It does not seem to be documented on a tank this size but I don't see any reason why it shouldn't work. This means that I will need to dose equilibrium as the complete lack of water changes will mean I need to replace these elements. I have found suppliers of dry ferts that I need. I will also be stocking relatively lightly at less than 1" of fish per gallon of small tetras as per Tom's instructions. My primary concern now is if this will be too much light. As stated it will be 4x39w t5's with individual reflectors which will be spread out to make in effect, 2 T5 bulbs measuring the length of the tank. This will make a total of 156w or just over 1wpg bearing in mind that it is a 24 inch deep tank I doubt it will be too much. Any feedback would be great. Thanks.
     
  6. Whiskey

    Whiskey Subscriber

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    I vote "Try it". I had a 180 with around double the light in parabolic reflectors,.. It did great for a while - but I used soil and when it stopped producing CO2 I ended up with algae issues. At the time I decided that I either needed to cut the light in half (to your light levels) Or put CO2 on the tank and keep the light the same.

    I ended up going salt with the tank, so I can't tell you how it turned out - but if I were to setup a low tech 180 again I would start with lighting simaler to what your planning.

    I would also make a hood for the tank, and put the lights in it - about 6 to 8 inches off the water. The reason for this is to improve light spread, and eliminate small areas of intense light.

    Whiskey
     
  7. FastFreddy

    FastFreddy Junior Poster

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    Thanks for that Whiskey. My plan was actually to buy the kit and install it into the hood with reflectors as you said. So I will go with this. I'm a little confused about the part where you said your soil was producing co2? I've never read anything about this and I don't think it said it in Tom's low tech no co2 article. Maybe I missed it. I have ordered 10 bags of eco-complete and I hope this will do the trick.
     
  8. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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  9. Whiskey

    Whiskey Subscriber

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    It's from Diana Walstad's book,.. the idea of useing normal potting soil as a substrate under 2-4 MM Pea gravel anyway,.. If I remember right she also says it creates CO2 but I could have read that on the net too - basically the bacteria breaking down the potting soil will actually produce some amount of CO2 - I found that effect only lasted for about a year though,. some people say it lasts much longer.

    In my case it worked great,.. but when the soil gave out the tank kindof fell apart - if I have the room to do another large tank, I will not use soil - I will use something like Florite - use lower light,.. and add CO2 myself that way I can sustain it in the long term.

    Whiskey
     
    #9 Whiskey, Sep 2, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 2, 2010
  10. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Well , you can use anumber of methods that sustain the tank indefinitely.

    I use both the sediment and the water column, as well as the fish load.
    This is true for CO2 or non CO2 methods, where does not matter, but adding to both locations rules out anything running out at either.

    So adding to both locations and a good fish load is synergistic/redundant.

    All things that are wise with a lower maintenance tank.
    Soil based tanks should not give out after 1-2 years, I guess if you have no fish and do not feed them, maybe.........mostly you need to add N, the other nutrients should last for a decade or so otherwise.
    the same can be said of ADA As and worm castings and other similar methods.

    Some are gun shy after using soils.........I was curious about water column nutrients more than avoiding soils when I came up with the methods for non cO2 water column type dosing with plain sands.
    So it's not something I advocate really, I suggest both locations, not either or.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  11. FastFreddy

    FastFreddy Junior Poster

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    Thanks for the reply Tom, your an ongoing inspiration to me and I really appreciate the advice. You didn't make any mention of eco complete, however I've just had 10 bags of the stuff arrive this morning. I hope it will still work out. I read that you said it would work to someone else and I really like the look of it. My other concerns were the lighting levels, is two individually reflected t5's running the length of the tank too much? Also just that I haven't seen too many with low tech planted tanks this size. Also, if I want to keep it moderately stocked (1 inch of fish per gallon) should I adjust my ferts schedule accordingly? Thanks again.
     
  12. Whiskey

    Whiskey Subscriber

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    Oh,.. sorry - I should have been clearer, when I said the soil gave out,.. I didn't mean it became depleted of nutrients,.. I simply meant it stopped producing CO2. If I had added CO2 to that tank, I'm sure I could have turned it right around - but I really didn't want to do that.

    Whiskey
     
  13. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi,

    I understand your lighting plans.....:)

    I think that 1-2 bulbs on each 3' fixture should be plenty. One per side may be enough based on what your growth goals are...

    I would personally run 1 bulb on each side and see how that goes. You may not like it but better to start slow than high.

    Eco complete will be fine. It will complement nicely any water column fertilization such as EI. If you have a large fish population you can try less dosing and see how it works out...

    I have high-tech low light tank as do many others. Many of Tom's tanks. clients, and many ADA and other contest winners use much less light than you may assume....

    My biggest regret is spending almost $1K for a 3x150 watt MH fixture that now sits 30" ABOVE the tank to keep the light levels lower.

    I could have spent $60 on a t12 fixture and got the same result...Higher light can be very tough to maintain c02 levels for. Nutes are fairly easy..

    Co2 is a different subject altogether....go with low light at first and see how that goes.....
     
    #13 Gerryd, Sep 4, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 4, 2010
  14. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    I'm actually surprised you don't sell off the MH setup to a reefer and get the less powerful T5/8 rig instead. Unless it's maybe an aesthetic thing?

    For something back on topic, I've got a 4 foot T5HO rig ( running 2 lamps ) suspended 12" or so off the surface on a 5 foot tank. No complaints and I really like the open top feel to it. I've got egg crate over the top to keep what's in, in, and what's out, out. Every so often one of the fish hit the grid from aggressive feeding and whatnot, but at least I don't come home to find a discus dinner on the floor or a tired and soaked cat in the tank. You really will need much less light than you think.

    -
    S
     
  15. FastFreddy

    FastFreddy Junior Poster

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    Hi Guys, I have now decided that I definitely want to run with excel as a carbon supplement. I want a reasonable fish load and the thought of doing no water changes does not sit right with me. I have decided that my dosing schedule will look something like this.

    Dose 1 teaspoon KNO3 once a week
    KH2PO4, ½ teaspoon, once a week
    Flourish Comp. 15mls twice a week
    SeaChem EQ 1 teaspoon once a week
    50% weekly water change

    Dose 1.5-2x the rec dosing for Excel.
    After water change – 110ml
    Regular Day - 20ml

    I was wondering what peoples thoughts were as this sounds like quit a lot of dry ferts and excel (although I wouldn't be surprised if this is the case as it is a large tank. Thanks again.
     
  16. Whiskey

    Whiskey Subscriber

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    I honestly add more NO3 to my 30G in a week ;) Test that one at first, I'm betting you'll find yourself increasing it.

    Man,.. The cost of that excell is going to add up really fast. Why not just get a CO2 setup, then you can just dose full EI, do your water changes, and you'd have a group of people keeping tanks simaler to yours that you can lean on for help fine tuning it and getting things the way you want them?

    Whiskey
     
  17. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi,

    Please do NOT go over the recommended dosage of Excel. If you need that much, may as well go for c02..

    It MAY prove harmful to some plants and critters.

    I second the option to just go c02.......is cheaper in the long run....
     
  18. FastFreddy

    FastFreddy Junior Poster

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    Thanks for the response guys. Sorry I'm changing my mind on so many things. It looks as though my low tech tank won't be so low tech after all. I have decided that I will add a pressurized co2 injection system. I have also decided on a scape plan that I would like some feedback on. I realize I may need to up my lighting from what was originally planned in order to maintain such a tank

    I am hoping to have eleocharis parvula carpet in the foreground where it will be met in the middle of my tank by the taller blyxa japonica which will surround several pieces of driftwood on each side of the tank. I will also have a number of stem plants in the background. These are the ones I like:

    heteranthera zosterifolia
    ludwigia inclinata
    rotala walichi
    rotala sp green
    eustralis stellata
    rotala macrandra
    limnophila aromatica

    Fauna will be stocked very lightly consisting of only 20-30 cardinal tetras and 20-30 rummynose tetras depending on how the school sizes look in the tank. I will be dosing full EI. I guess from here the only thing to decide on is whether I will need more light for my choice of plants. I did have inspiration from a particular video however I am not sure if I'm allowed to post a link without permission. Thankyou all so much for your help, I apologize that this thread is so drawn out :rolleyes:
     
  19. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi,

    If your c02 is done well, you have plenty of light for all those species IMO....

    I would concentrate on good c02 diffusion and flow patterns. Keep the light low....

    Many folks equate high tech with HIGH LIGHT and that is the root cause of many issues..

    You can always add MORE light, but think you will find that more trimming is required...Plus more c02 will be required by the higher light...

    You may want to invest in some type of nutrient enriched substrate...they really seem to hold up well, whether commercial or DIY, and provide an additional source of nutrients beyond water column dosing....I think that will help long term....up to you. I use plain flourite in my 180 but will try a DIY earthworm poop mix soon...

    Why so few fish? Is that your goal? You have a nice sized tank, it seems a shame to have so few fish in it.....but that is just my opinion and was unsolicited :)
     
    #19 Gerryd, Sep 11, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 11, 2010
  20. FastFreddy

    FastFreddy Junior Poster

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    Hi Gerryd,

    First of all I think I saw your planted 180 on youtube and it is AWESOME! Anyway that was something else I didn't ask about. Here in oz the most often seen for sale choices for co2 diffusion is those glass diffuser like the ADA ones. I have read on here that many prefer inline reactors although these seem to be few and far between here in Australia. The fish is really just the "core" plan. I will probably find that I will want to increase the school sizes but that will come down to what it will look like when the first 20-30 are in. Thanks again.
     
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