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Starting my dream tank, need some startup advice

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by Crazy Loaches, Oct 28, 2007.

  1. Crazy Loaches

    Crazy Loaches Guru Class Expert

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    Ok, I've been talking about my new 'dream tank' for a while and I am ready to start it very soon. And my current tank is the only heavily planted tank I've done and its evolved from an algae nightmare from before I was on any forum. So basically I've not started a planted tank from scratch very well before, and looking for any suggestions.

    Unfortunately I dont think Tom's method for starting a tank immersed will work well for me since a lot of my plants either dont have a immersed form or are very large already, or arent in the substrate at all (as well as it being really hard to seal off anyhow).

    My plan is to start off as plant only until they get going, then adding in my algae crew (SAE's, Ottos, flagfish). After I am sure everything is growing in well and balanced I will begin adding the rest of the fish.

    I am not sure if I should alter EI during the startup (as in reducing what I would normally dose) until the plants grow in. And I am not sure what EI will actually be in a tank this size. Tanks is 240G, avg 3" depth PFS, 66G sump. When I start planting it the sump probably wont be running yet, so it will be 240G... I may not even fill it all the way. I could just put 120g in there until things get going. My lights are two banks of T5HO, 340/680W with Icecap SLRs. WPG for 240g would be 1.4/2.8WPG. During the initial setup CO2 will either be full manual or set with timer, but eventually will use pH controller (on backorder right now). With no fish I can set it wherever. For ferts I have KNO3, K2PO4, and TPN, as well as TPN root tabs. Substrate is 100% PFS.

    So in summary, I would have the option to either have the tank full or down to half, either 340W or 680W lighting, co2 as high as needed, root tabs and ferts (but not sure how much to dose). I have my 75g packed full of plants to start with, but I am sure it will start out a little sparse in the 240. Any advice is appreciated. P.S. the sump portion wont probably be running for a few weeks, still working out the details there and some equipment is backordered. Thats why i can lower the water level if need be. Circulation will be two 1200gph Koralia pumps in the tank.
     
  2. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Why lower the water level? I don't think that reduces the amount of light needed at all. The lights will be much further from the water if you lower the level.

    Be sure to use a drop checker to determine when you have at least 30 ppm of CO2 in the water, then check the tank water pH and set the controller to that number.

    Since you will be moving plants directly from growing in a 75 gallon tank to a 240 gallon tank they should almost immediately start growing again, so I would start fertilizing at the full EI amount from day one.
     
  3. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    The advice I got from Tom when I was first starting my much smaller tank, was to use zeolite in the filter to absorb ammonia until it's cycled....this eventually becomes great biomedia as nitrifying bacteria populate the porus surface of it. I must say this worked splendidly, the only ammonia spike I got was after 3 weeks when it ran out of absorption ability, I should have started with a larger quantity. I just added more and it was ammonia free once again and I never got an ammonia spike again. I managed to avoid any major algae problems at all. I have a pleco that helps keep things clean, the only time I've even had to scrape was when I got a very minor gsa breakout (I think that was caused by a miscalculation of ferts...too low). Not sure if this will work for you in your setup but thought I would throw it out there.
     
  4. Crazy Loaches

    Crazy Loaches Guru Class Expert

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    Thanks for the replies. As far as why I would reduce the water line, nothing big, just would be easier to plant and I am assuming a lot less ferts at first. But I'm not sure, I've just dosed EI thus far without really studying it per se. Is it the actual amount of ferts per plant mass (unchanged by how much water is in the tank) or the concentration of the ferts in the water (would definitely change with the water level). Reducing the water line wasnt to do with light. I just have two options for light and I dont know if I should start off with the lesser amount till things get in balance (meaning that I worry about throwing 640W of T5HO at it from day one might be a lot harder to keep algae at bay). Heck I am guessing even at full growth I might not even need both banks going, I'll probably just switch banks mid day with a couple/few hour overlap for that 'noon burst'.

    edit>OK, after checking out the EI dosing levels on the EI Lite thread I am multiplying the 90-125g dosing by 3 for roughly 300g (when the sump is fully setup and working) so thats 4 1/2 tsp KNO3 x3 per week, 1 1/2 tsp KH2PO4 x3 per week, 90ml trace x 3 per week. Man thats a big jump from my 75g. I may back those off a little since the sumps wont be 100% full, etc. The daily dose will be a little different, since I am going to attempt to use auto dosing every day (micro one day macro next), meaning no day off. And water change I plan to do 10% daily, so 25-30g. If anyone sees anything that might be incorrect please let me know.
     
  5. FacePlanted

    FacePlanted Guru Class Expert

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    I have also read that it can be really hard to keep co2 levels up high enough when using a sump. The sump will require some modifications to prevent co2 loss, and should be ok after they are done. I would suggest to make sure your sump and co2 are working together properly before you go full on high lights.

    Good luck with the dream tank! My dream tank sure was fun to do, and so will yours!

    -Mike B-
     
  6. Crazy Loaches

    Crazy Loaches Guru Class Expert

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    Co2 loss shouldnt be too much a problem I hope. I am not doing a wet/dry and the sump will be relatively calm. Only the overflows in the tank will gas off a little (probably a 1-2" drop), and a little churning with air down the overflow (using a durso style standpipe) and a some bubbling were it enters the sump (but trapped with a small muffled PVC T bubble trap).

    But perhaps I should hold off planting the tank till I have the sumps all finished and running and co2 going - so I can make sure I can keep the co2 high enough. Else I might run into problems if the plants are growing well with good co2 then all the sudden I have co2 issues later. Hmmm maybe I should hold off.
     
  7. FacePlanted

    FacePlanted Guru Class Expert

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    Ohh, yeah, sump vs. wet/dry. Ok, I see. But yeah, I would think that if you are planning on having relatively high light in this tank, getting co2 high enough and consistent over the photoperiod FIRST would be very important. I think it would go a long way in preventing algae from the very start. Instead of trying to get rid of it after it has shown up. It would seem that high light and no co2 would really limit the plants and allow algae to gain a foothold. For me, I would wait to plant until I could implement all the parts of my tank--esp. co2, light, filter. As well as having in mind my dosing strategy/schedule and the quantity of ferts I will need/use. That way I can start the tank with ALL the pieces of the puzzle already put together and running smoothly. Then when all the plants arrive (or cuttings from your other tank) you can put 'em in and turn everything on, and only have some fine tuning/tinkering left to do to get the system the way you and your plants want.

    Whatever you decide to do, Good Luck & Have Fun!

    -Mike B-
     
  8. Crazy Loaches

    Crazy Loaches Guru Class Expert

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    Thanks Mike... I'll try to remember the having fun part. Actually its been a lot of fun planning and building everything DIY but after about 6 months of work and still no running tank its turning into more of a PITA than a fun project. Hence why I am getting impatient to plant it! But hopefully it wont be much longer.

    Yes of course getting co2 high enough first was what I planned. I even thought since I am doing it before introducing any fish that I could go much higher than 30ppm. It was just the realization that when I complete and turn on the filtration that I will then have to re adjust it due to extra gas off. When I said earlier that I fear I may not even be able to reach 30ppm was more of a worse case scenario. I am hoping I will barely notice it. So only the sump isnt complete yet, and along with it the heaters and automation but all that I can do manually at first (well except the heaters but those arent much worry till fish are involved and even then I could just throw em in the tank till the sumps done. But I am running out of time so I wont be getting it going till I probably have my automation in place. Backordered parts are now being shippped. And I have to start work the day after tomorrow so chances are I wont get a chance to touch it for another two weeks when I have a week off.

    I guess my main question still is in regards to dosing the new tank. Do you start out by dosing like half, or just dive in with the regular amount? I guess I'm just a little worried since I know it will be sparse at first. Maybe I should just buy a bunch of fast growing filler plants, but I hate wasting money. I guess with the cost of this project some extra plants arent a big deal though. Hmmm.
     
  9. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Yes, you should get a big bunch of fast growing stem plants to start the aquarium. Then after it gets settled in you can remove and replace the unwanted plants with those you really wanted, even if they are much slower growers. Most stem plants actually look good, so about the only big disadvantage of them is the constant pruning they require.
     
  10. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Here are my thoughts as I have a 180 gallon w/overflows. Much has been stated already by others.

    1. Completely fill the tank. You have the volume for a reason. Use it from the start. It is an advantage :)

    2. Since you have low bio-mass now, just use half the lights and increase as the plant load does.

    3. Work out your C02 issues NOW! As stated earlier, better to not have algae in the first place, then try and eliminate later. No wet/dry is good, but a sump has more area for gas/water exchange, and overflows lose a lot of c02, trust me!

    4. EI dosing. Tom has already told me that I could go 25% of EI to start with. I have a recent thread on this. I am only going about 60% of my EVENTUAL total, as my plant load is comparatively light for the size tank. As my plant load increases, I will increase EI accordingly.

    5. If you do go, all lights, full EI, then I totally agree that some fast growing plants is the way to go.


    Basically, I would suggest to be flexible. You have a lot of options at your disposal.

    Best of luck to you.

    P.S. Remember that each tank is different and every aquarist's goals are different as well.
     
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