Swiss Army 3.0

easternlethal

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Dec 26, 2014
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Ok this journal will be about my new build.

It will be 125 gallons, high tech with sump, deep substrate, and nature style.

It has been nearly a year in the making because I have planned pretty much everything from the stand, to the overflow system to the composition of the substrate.

First up is the stand. Here it is with my old 55 gallon on top. It is assembled from aluminium tslots (I hope it can take the weight!)
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easternlethal

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After that, installed a wooden base (painted white with the help of my kids) and then came the 15mm glass for the aquarium, which I had to get help to put together.

At this point I discovered that the glass was not low iron. No wonder it was so cheap! But nevermind.
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easternlethal

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Then I installed the power strip on the underside of the wooden base along with the water piping, finally added the substrate which was piled up in the middle of the tank. My plan was to cover the whole thing with a thick layer of sand so as to create an anaerobic layer.

The substrate was made up of potting soil, clay, iron oxide, mgso4, diatomaceous earth, osmocote and lime. I'm hoping this will help to reduce the need to mix my own ferts (which I have been doing for years for swiss army tank v 2.0).

At this point I'm still not sure my frame will be able to take the weight of the aquarium.
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easternlethal

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The three pipes you see at the back are my bean animal pipes and my outflow.

Technically you are supposed to have an overflow box and three outflow pipes but overflows boxes are a pain to keep clean and take up too much space. So I thought I'd just go with the pipes which hopefully I'll be able to cover later on.

Although plants at this stage are the least of my concerns as I've never had so much water in my living room before.
 
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easternlethal

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Then in went the sump, hardscape and water.

The hardscape was patched together with wood, super glue, tissue and cigarette butts and has to be weighed down by a huge stone.

Boy was I nervous filing the thing up.

But finally I did it, and managed to create a pretty silent siphon with the bean animal.

At this point the whole tank still sounded like someone was taking a shower because I'm using a jecod dcs 5000 which is a 40w marine pump and the water was gushing into the sump without any media.

However I put some sponge filters into the sump and covered it with towels which helped a lot. After doing, noise level was just 45db.

Previously I had always used biomedia in my sump but in this build I plan to experiment with deep sand below the trickle filter, which is supposed to have excellent filtration properties.

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easternlethal

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Going to let this run for a few days to get familiar with the behaviour of the piping and sump.

And also clean up the huge mess of tools, wood, aluminium frames, pipes, stone, sand and god knows what else I have cluttering the living room.

After the break in period I will install co2, lights and plants.

At this point I still have no lights because I am torn between getting nice looking lights (either a chihiros vivid 2 or kessil) and pro grow lights which have a wide spectrum and far reds (>700nm). Something I have been reading a lot about. Maybe the mars hydro or there is a shop in china which makes a lighting jig that can house kessils or similar cobs down the middle and t5s on the side (looks like the starship enterprise).

Any ideas anyone?
 
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DTWGulo

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Sep 6, 2020
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I have used Mars Aqua black box lights on a planted tank (full power on the RGB, minimal on the blue/actinic) with great success.
Also just installed 4 MicMol pendant lights (not their newest version, I'm one gen behind) that I bought last year and just got around to installing on my iwagumi. They're quite bright and are designed specifically for freshwater.
Both of these options were less expensive than some of the other high-end lights out there.
 
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easternlethal

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Now once the tank is set up I have always found the initial stocking stage the trickiest because there are so many factors to consider when adding all the plants fish and lights.

At this point not everything is fully established and balanced (even if fully cycled) because unlike show aquascapers, I cannot afford to fully stock everything from day 1. This means that bioload will continue to fluctuate as I add more livestock over the first few months. Anyway this is where I'm hoping the deep substrate will help.

During this time there's also algae and bacterial growth to contend with.

IMO this is the stage where dreams can turn to dust if the aquarist doesn't manage the tank well.

Anyway my regime is:

Lights: In the past I have found that blasting a new tank with lights 8 hrs a day accelerates tremendous algae growth especially when livestock is added. So in this setup I have opted for just 4hrs of hi-light and 4hrs low light.

Plants: I have added water lettuce and some other surface plants to help soak up excess nutrients. The rest of them are just random stock from my lfs. I'm hoping they will establish and start growing.

Livestock: All the community fish I can afford without overloading.

Water changes: at least twice a week to get rid of excess tannins and stuff from the sand.

Here are the pics. This is day 2 after a 50% water change and tannins are already starting to build up. Plants are nothing to look at yet. I just chuck them inside first and rearrange once they survive.

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Lighting: I finally went for the mars hydro sp3000 which is an industrial grow light. Colour temperature I would say is around 3500k.
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easternlethal

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2 months later and I'm still getting a feel for the tank - mainly co2 and waste levels, especially since I added discus and a ton of livestock and playing with different feeding regimes. Once I'm happy with those factors and I will start to increase lights and get more plants.

FERTS: Nitrites testing 0 and nitrates around 15ppm - probably being leached from the substrate.. Only adding 1/3 EI K2SO4 and full EI MGSO4 now.

FOOD and WASTE: Homemade beefheart, krill, garlic, peas and liquid vitamin fed at least twice a day - which generates a lot of waste and means I need to watch lighting and water changes more closely.

LIGHTS: Low due to low plant mass and because CO2 not fully dialled in yet.

PLANTS: Still going through GSA and GDA stage and some cyano but easily managed with water changes. Plants growing well but slow growers still getting a bit of algae on the leaves but growing well nonetheless. HC on substrate doing well also, so I will be looking to add more plants soon.

CO2: still being dialled in because a sump with wet dry trickle filter makes it bit more difficult. aiming to achieve 1-2ph drop with relatively low injection rate as I feel that tanks do better with low and slow rather than hot and fast. This means that co2 comes on 3.5 hrs before lights. pH measuring 6.5 without CO2. I have a bit of HC in the sand which I'm also looking at since thats quite a good indicator of co2 levels at the substrate also.
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easternlethal

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Here it is after 8 months. Algae is finally subsiding and even under high light I don't get much bba.

Lights now just 5hrs per day. I think the hc would appreciate a bit more but it's too much pruning for me if I have more.

Dosing regime is minimal as most of the plants are getting nutrients from the substrate. Occasionally I will add micros for the buce and a few tblspoons of k2so4 and mgso4 for the java fern but that's once in a blue moon.

Water changes just 10% every 2-3 weeks despite heavy discus feeding.

Nitrates measuring just 5ppm and I placed a pothos to see how much there is in the water column. You can see deficiencies in the leaves.

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