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setup/design new tank

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by yme, May 23, 2007.

  1. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    dear all,

    I visited yesterday a somebody who is smart enough to make calculations about the strength of my floor and it appears that I can place a larger tank.

    Now, I want your help with the design/setup :D

    I have 3 questions/problems:

    -light
    -substrate
    -CO2

    To begin with the light.
    -I want to use 80 watt TL5 with a dim option. The size of 80 watt TL5 with caps is 149 cm. The tank itself will than have a length of 155 cm. because I will use 1 cm glass, the space inside the tank will be 153 cm. Does this sounds oke?
    -The tank will be 155x50x50= 387 liter=102 gallon. I think I will need 3 watts/gallon: 3x102= 306 watt. Thus I need 4x80 watt TL5. Oke? (It will be an EI based, high CO2 tank).

    substrate
    -also a problem. The ADA stuff is simply too expensive considering the fact that you need to change it once a year/2 years. Because the ADA AS is not available in the Netherlands, I need to import it from England: shipping costs 75-100 british pounds! I am willing to pay it, but only for a one time occasion (once in 10 year or so). So I looked further and decided that I liked seachem onyx sand. (is it in real live pretty as well?). My plan is now to buy onyx sand and place difficult plants in a bucket of ADA AS. Good plan?
    If yes, what are the amounts I need for this tank? I estimated 8 bags of onyx sand (56 kilo). And if ADA AS can be stored after opening the bag, I will order 1x 9 liter bag.

    CO2:
    -always a problem :D . The setup I want is like this: 2x powerheads connected with a CO2 tube/venturi and an external CO2 reactor. To get this setup I need a 3-way splitter. I have seen that I can buy it from aquatic magic. Sounds good to me. On that same site however, there were a number of interesting looking CO2 diffusors like the rhinox 5000. Is this (or a similar product) worthwhile buying or should I stick to the powerheads?
    The external reactor: I now have a dupla S reactor. I think it will be too small for this tank. So I will have to buy a new one. What do you recommend? I have seen the largest CO2 reactor from aquamedic. Is this oke?

    thanks in advance!

    yme
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    If the light has the dimmer, those are about as good as you can get. We do not have that option here. I've seen those and they are great.
    You will not use it all, perhaps 1/2 that amount most of the day and maybe a spike in the middle of day for 2-4 hours.

    ADA aqua soil is not mandatory. Seems it should not be that costly though. Italy and the UK have deals and I think there is one in France as well.

    In any event,onyx sand is very nice and great top plant in. It is heavy compared to Eco complete, and is a bit heavier than most sand. It is about 2-3x as dense as ADa AS which tends to be light weight.

    If you want a similar effect, mix some good black rich wetland soil, about 2-3 handfuls into about the bottom of the onxy sand. Pre soak and drain the wetland soil for a couople of week first. Mix well with the bottom 5 cm of onyx. Then add another 3-5 cm of onyx sand on top of that.

    Another method is to use Osmocoat. Make enough to light cover the bottom no more than about 1/2 cm apart. This will not produce as good results but will offer some source of nutrients over time.

    I have several pots at the lab with standard peat rich clay wetland soil and it grows the milfoil at the same rates as ADA AS, a tad faster most likely, I'll be doing dry weights shortly for more precise data.

    The main thing is to dilute the soil/enrichment fraction when mixing the soil and sand together, note: you may use plain sand as well for this, however, the onyx sand is better vs plain sand(8 bags = about 120lbs, that's okay, but more is better, I'd go with no less than 15lb per 10 gal, this allows for slopes and hillsides in the scaping). I prefer a darker or lighter substrate, onyx is a bit blue in color I do not care for. If it came in an off white/pure white, or deep black/brown etc I'd still use it.

    By adding a smaller amount to larger volume of sand, the uprooting and trimming does not make a mess and you do not over enriched the tank with NH4.

    You may add frozen "mud" (soil + water + ice tray= in freezer for 2 hours) cubes to re enrich the substrate later. the frozen mud melts after a few minutes in the warm substrate and does not make a mess.

    These are some options for you to consider.
    ADA As last much longer than 1-2 years. I'd say more like 5 or more. It does depend on uprooting frequency and pruning and scaping habits. If you can set a scape and leave it be, then allow it to grow in and top the plants and leave them root, then you can get more life of it. If you move things around a lot, uproot often, you might find it has a shorter life.

    If you used a pair of Rhinox 2000's at each end and had the flow that swirl it down and along the length of the tank, that would be great.

    I'm not sure why you think an AM or Dupla reactor is worth even 1/2 the cost.
    If you want to make a large CO2 reactor to fit any tank for the most part:

    Search DIY external reactor Ghori Tom Barr etc
    Cost about 10$.
    Most any hardware store has these parts.

    Make sure the CO2 equipment fits the sizes of fixtures and adapters you have there. I use 1/8" threaded brass fittings here, I buy the valves myself and thread them into the Tee's so I cn make them as long as I want.
    The valves from Aqua cave are nice, run about 21$ and have a 1/8" thread already that forms a very good seal with the 1/8" pipe and Tees.

    I screw this into the solenoid on the regulator.
    I use the Aquaticeco Tygon tubing 1/8" and it's a perfect fit and leak proof.
    I use a Victor light duty regulator and clippard solenoid..

    For a 3 valve unit this runs about 160$ with tubing/solenoid.

    Adding a reactor, another 10-15$, adding two rhinox diffusers, maybe 30-35$.

    Add a fire company CO2 gas tank, 20lbs for 60$.

    Total is about 270$

    Can you do it cheaper?
    Yes, but the above example will minimize the issues with CO2 a great deal.
    I can find reg's cheaper, use silicone tubing, clippard valves, no solenoid etc, or buy a cheapy reg all in one.

    I've never been happy with those.
    Look for hard scape materials, look at the NBAT tanks.
    Figure out what you really want, leave the harder species alone and focus on a design that does not demand exclusively harder species. chose species for the overall look, not because you happen to like that particular species. Consider easy plants that fit the design.
    You have already done the harder plant species.
    So now is time for something new..........time to branch out.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  3. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    thanks for the long answer!

    the light:
    -nice, I will stick to it! There are some nice systems on the market for dimming the lights. The cheapest one is called floramate and is a product from a DIY experiment. Together with some EVSA you can get really nice dimming.

    the substrate:
    -I like deep graveling and cleaning of the substrate together with lots of replanting and uprooting. Therefore I am am a bit hesitant to put in a very nutrient/NH3-rich substrate. I'd rather stick to some red clay/ and maybe just a bit of peat. Indeed maybe some frozen soil. I'll give it some thougths...
    About AS: I know from a belgium guy that he had to travel all the way to italy to get AS. If that's true, my "least effort" option is to order it at aquaessentials. At the checkout, there is an estimated shipping costs button. I tried it and wrote down the results below. I think I just have to live with it....
    For now, I think I will go for the onyx...

    CO2:
    -I'll look for a DIY reactor. If this saves a lot of money, I'll go for it.
    -the fittings: sharp thinking! the are probably not compatible. I sent an e-mail to aquatic magic anyway. We will see.
    -Do you state specifically I should get the rhinox 2000 and not the 5000? the 2000 is big enough for me?



    I love you last sentence!
    about the NBAT. I was the last 2 years at the presentations and rewards. I know the number 2 of the last two years (willem van wezel) pretty well. In my opinion, his scape was better than the #1. For me, a bit too dutch-style, but very pretty though. I would rather go for a similar setup (with the addition of wood) that I have now. Take in mind that we "dutch" are calling my tank a "non-dutch" layout :eek: I wondered very much at the AGA contest comments. It was stated that they were glad that there were more dutch scapings. I didn't see any! at least not what we call dutch...

    greets,

    yme
     
  4. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    aquaessentials is out of onyx :confused: . but as alternative they recommend ADA AS. they say it is cheaper because you only need 1 bag per 60 liters... which makes 7 bags....

    just too let you know...

    yme
     
  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    ADa and SeaChem ought to be priced similar.
    Yes, you only need one bag of the 9 liter for the ADA AS vs two bags of onyx.

    NBAT has a lot of rule for the gardens.
    But, they allow nice presentations of groups for each species kept.

    A well done simple easy plant group is a lot nicer than the rarest so - so looking group.

    The AGA has a large slice of folks entering.
    Many are not into the Dutch styling.
    I see a few that come close.

    I personally like the dutch styling and over flowing walls of plants in nice thick groups. Clean, organized etc.

    I think you folks need better photographers really, Amano is a very professional good photographer and in this hobby, pictures sell.

    Many of the folks that like ADA also are good photographers, few that win contest do not also have good skills for the pictures.:cool:
    You need both and a decent handle on the growing aspects/observation.

    You might consider a dutch styling for the plant groups and subdivide the sections up with various driftwood.

    This can look good and still win a contest there.

    Just a thought.

    Some said years ago I had a Dutch tank, I laughed.
    I've actually never tried one in earnest. Parts of my tank may have been, but never the entire tank etc.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  6. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I looked at the 2006 example and clearly it is better than the 1# place.
    He did better work on the tank from the prior year, most members did actually.
    Landelijke Huiskeuring 2006: gezelschapsaquaria
    Tweede plaats W. van Wezel

    He seems to do the best work in that contest.
    I like that the red plants where kept in the rear, unlike the winner.
    Looks better, more traditional and overall concept that the winner.

    I'm not there in person though.
    And it's not just about the top person, it's about making a nice tank that gets into the top 5 each year etc.

    You can also view the water parameters, I'm not sure how accurate the measurement methods are however.

    I know how much error is involved with CO2 ppm, NO3, PO4 etc.
    Still, there is wide variation and some rather rich nutrient levels in some.
    Tap water and timing for the measurement also influence things.

    One thing that bugs me personally, there is that web site that uses the Redfiled ratio............. incorrectly.

    The RR is an atomic ratio, it is not done by mass.
    That algae article is off by a factor 2.2X as they entirely missed that issue if you account for mass, which is what is then applied to the atomic ratio.

    It is a critical error.

    N = 14 g/mol
    P= 30.97 g/mol

    Accounting for their difference in mass: 30.97/14 = 2.22

    14 g/mol of Nitrogen/2.2 = 7.2 N:1P

    Quite a bit different than 16:1.

    FYI, most aquatic plants(out of say a field of 55 species analyzed) also have a ratio of N:p of 7:1.

    If you convert to NO3:pO4, you get about 10:1 ratio.

    So they need to address the basis of their assumption and correct it.
    Basically they need to add 2.2x more PO4.

    I sent a nice explanation, but never got any response.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  7. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    I must say I haven't seen the winner's tank in person as well. But willem's tank looked very nice. recently we had a contest from our aquarium forum with o.a. kasselman and pjan (from the old chinese garden) as judges. willem ended up second in his category, after his son fred :D
    here's the link:

    Veni Vidi Vissie Keuring 2006 :: Deelnemers


    In the future, there will be better pictures. A couple of people I know are now in training to become judge and a lot of them are photo freaks as well. It will take time though...

    mesurements are not accurate. most people dose by looking at the plant-health. none have a CO2 drop checker and CO2 levels are most likely determined from the pH/KH tabel.

    To who did you sent an e-mail? I don't really know the board of the NBAT, but I heard that things are not always going as nicely as it should go . Computers are not their strongest point. I could ask though if anyone knows something about it...

    greets,

    yme
     
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Yes, many need to focus on the photography and computer skills, I've not been that great at those, but I know folks that are............I'm better at 35 mm film than I am at digital. But it's too easy to use digital, I do not get the clarity or colors I use to get. But I need to learn how to use the digital format better is the main issue.

    Here's the link that has been references quite a few times in English speaking forums:

    Free of algae with Redfield Ratio | Aquariumpagina's van Charles Buddendorf

    When folks are clueless about why they have algae, they come with all sorts of reasons for the cure/issues etc.

    It is not bad as some........it does address nutrients and adding them(N and P), much like the old PMDD theory about 12 years prior, but attributes success for the wrong reasons, which is really a massive problem and has been for the last 50 years in this hobby.

    This is the old issue: aquarist assume that correlation = causation.
    Correlation does not imply causation.

    Back to your tank, think long a hard about the scape, think about the back ground, Cork bark etc. Think about what type of wood will look good with the plants, not just appeal to you without the plants.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  9. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    hi tom,

    unfortunately, I do not know charles. If I'm correct he wrote this together with adriaan briene. I do know adriaan, but he hasn't been online for quite some time now. Do'n't know what is going on.

    About my tank:
    I will go for the ADA AS after all. Two persons (you and richard from aquaessentials) is just too hard to resist... ;)
    I decided to but some redmoor wood from aquaessentials. I have heard the last years way too many stories about rotting wood in the netherlands (the wood is actually coming from poland). I do not know a reliable dealer. Only in germany, but that's a bit too far if you don't have a car.
    As background I was thinking again about slate. I like the material: it's natural. Most of the dutch scapers make their own background from tempex and epoxy. I don't really like that. A pre-fab background is out of the question.

    greets,

    yme
     
  10. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    If you use slate, layer it from top to bottom, this will give a nice shingle effect.

    Some have done it bottom to top and this allows for planting in the cracks etc for moss, Anubias, Ferns etc.

    Cork bark is nice also and less work.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  11. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    hi tom,

    paypal was fast! so I ordered AS after all. I hope I made the right decision...
    I was reading a lot about the longetivity of AS (in respect to disintegrating, not as much in respect to maintaining its nutrients). I read that in general there is not much experience with 3+ years old AS, but that it is possible without ending up with mudd only. I also read that care should be taken when uprooting plants. the soil shouldn't be moved a lot. If this is correct, I have a question: Can I use the same routine as I have now?

    normally I trim 1/3-1/2 of the tank every week. this means that I pull out these plants (at least the ones that can handle it) in one time. This leaves the bare gravel left behind. Next, I do a deep gravel vacuuming. I wash the gravel and put it back into the tank. Then the plants are planted again.

    -Can I remove a lot of plants from the gravel in one time without getting cloudiness?
    -can I still perform deep vacuum cleaning and washing of the soil in a bucket?
    -How carefull should I be in general in order to prevent premature decomposing?

    thanks,

    yme
     
  12. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Generally no, you will do a lot more topping instead.

    You top the plants, replant them if you have room and wait for the stumps to regrow.
    No uprooting, you can do the uproot method also, bit it does well to not bother.

    You can sculpt the cutting pattern and the new shoots will make a nice patterning, you have seen nice evenly cut/pruned Rotala?

    Nice large sized balls of it?

    That's how they do that, much like an evengreen hedge.
    Some light vacuuming here and there is fine.
    ADA As is not as forgiving IMO as sand/gravel etc however.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  13. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    owh wow!
    that means that I am a virgin again! I don't know anything about this approach. I am sure it will be a great learning process!

    It also means that I have to think a bitter better about the layout because I cannot change it that often. hmmm, don't know whether I like that, but we will see.

    just for the good order:
    -the stems of topped tonina do not really grow out, they are ratty anyway. I can remove those?
    -I started this tank 2 months ago with a couple of terrible looking byxa japonica. Now I have a really nice field that needs to be trimmed. As you know, they have quite a rootsystem. How should I do trim them? carefully remove a plant or 10 and let the others at peace? Or remove them all and place them back? anyhow, this will result in a lot of material from the AS coming into the tank. a problem?
    -the mayaca that I have grows very fast. even with just topping I am affraid that after 1 month there is a desperate need for reducing the size of the group. Is it better to cut of some stems just above the gravel (and let the rootsystem intact) or is it better to uproot them?

    As you can see, quite basic/stupid questions :D But asking never hurts....

    greets,

    yme
     
  14. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Those actually are not stupid questions at all. I'm sure that many reading here, like me, are looking for the same questions to be answered, even if they have been answered before. I constantly struggle with the decision about whether to uproot and replant, or trim heavily and endure ugly stem stubs for quite awhile. There really is a lot to learn about aquascaping.
     
  15. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I'll have to do some photos when I prune some sections at some point, I'm honestly bad about tank photos, etc, but like tot ake pics of natural systems.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  16. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    I am glad to hear that! It is really a different kind of sustaining a tank. Never done it before, But I a very willing to learn it!

    @ tom,

    That would be great!! Of course everybody shows his/her tank at its peak, but almost never the intermediate stages. Or at least not in detail. It would be great to have a sort of guide that shows what how and when things should be done.

    For me, I tried it today a bit. I trimmed the Hemianthus micranthemoides by scissors, I don't like the results. all those topless plants..:confused:

    greets,

    yme
     
  17. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    You pretty much prune like you might a green hedge that divides your property.
    Or much like those mazes that use with hedges.

    You can trim in whatever general shape, then you must wait a few weeks till the tips start regrowing again and fill in nice and thick.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  18. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    hello!

    I received my ADA AS today! I really like the garin and colour! But I am still worried that the stuff is going to crumble when you are treating the tank like a normal "dutch" tank. I will not....

    However, I cut the upper parts of my stargrass and replanted the new tops (the ADA AS way...). A week later, the old stems were completely melted, probablt due a lack of light. I have to learn....

    greets,

    yme
     
  19. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    because I didn't want to open a new topic and it is still concerning the setup of my new tank...

    I seem not able to finf large very thin slate pieces to construct a nice background. Now I was thinking to make these pieces myself by using portland cement. according to wikipedia, portland cement does not contain any carbonates. So my question is: is cement advisable for a fresh water planted tank?

    greets,

    yme

    ps: I don't really like epoxy, a bit too shiny and when you cover it with sand, I again don't seem to like it....:confused:
     
  20. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    There are quite a few different articles for DIY backgrounds, foam etc.
    A bunch of flat driftwood might also useful.



    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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