After a long 16 year hiatus away from any type of aquaria, my 7 year old son has reignited my deeply hidden passion for this hobby.
I used to have planted Nox Vidmate VLC tanks for about 5 years, way back between 2000-2004 when we lived in a one bed flat in Oxford. Such was my obsession with aquaria back then, our friends gave our flat the name 'A River Runs Through It'!
When we moved out of that flat, everything had to be packaged up and disassembled, and livestock moved on to new homes. It's stayed like that for 16 years, and across another house and county move, and remained in the back of the garage until three weeks ago when my 7 year old declared that he would like a fish tank for Christmas.
So into the depths of the garage I went. I had almost forgotten all the kit I had - two tanks with cabinets, several external filters, full CO2 dosing kit, stacks of expensive bog wood and rocks, numerous heaters including under gravel cabling - the list goes on.
In the loft I dug out an old box of books to give some inspiration to my son, including several glossy hard backed books by Takashi Amano with those glorious glossy photos of his tanks that I'm sure we've all seen. That was fortunately enough in about three page turns for my son to decide he wanted a fully planted tank, and dissuade him from the pirate treasure chest that opens every 2 minutes to release a cloud of bubbles, that he'd seen in the local aquarium shop that weekend!
I've spent the last three weeks reading extensively on the current thinking on planted tanks, with many of my google searches bringing me here to this forum, so I thought I would join up and see if I could get some direct feedback from members here.
Things appear to have changed a fair bit in the hobby since I was last involved. Back when I had my tanks, I spent countless hours trying to find a cost effective dosing solution for plant ferts - automated dosers back then cost a small fortune as only medical grade ones appeared to be available - now I see you can buy fully programmable versions off Amazon for less than 100 quid! CO2 dosing also hadn't been out long, and so the options for dosing ended at big plastic in tank spirals and the like. Now I see there is a plethora of reactors and diffusers, both in tank and inline. I also like the advent of all the in tank glassware - very nice! Finally to think I spent so much time and effort back then trying to extract the nitrates and phosphates out of my tap water with absorbant compounds to pre-filter the tap water thorough, and later a full RO unit, stripping everything out and adding salts back in - and now I've read about the EI system where we intentionally add nitrates and phosphates back in, which actually makes a lot more sense.
So a fully planted, high tech tank it is. It will be my sons tanks, but also, kinda mine too.
We'll be starting off just with my smallest tank, a 600mm 70L tank. I don't like the idea of my old potentially explodable mercury vapour halides sitting in his bedroom, so we'll be adding on the the Fluval Plant 3.0 LED unit - again to think I spent countless days in the past trying to create a day/night cycle with coloured lights to simulate sunrise and sunset, and a separate moonlight - now it all comes in one unit you can program from your phone!
I'm pressing into service an old Eheim 2028 filter which is still in perfect condition, and my old Aquamedic CO2 system with still mostly full 6Kg bottle.
The main change I'm going to make on this set-up is to automate the water changes - lugging buckets of water around a flat was the bane of my time with tanks back in the day. So as my sons room is next to the bathroom (literally the wash hand basin is on the opposite side of the wall the where the tank will be) I've decided to mount a small plastic header tank on the wall next to the aquarium tank, and will use timed solenoids to auto fill the header tank, and then drip release the resulting treated water - via a second low pressure solenoid - to the tank, with waste water going through a bulk head overflow (yet to be cut in the tank - gulp!) and back through the wall to the wash hand basin waste outlet.
This system should enable me to change up to 20% of the water daily if needed, but I will initially aim for a 20% change every three days, unless I get advise to the contrary on this forum.
I'll adopt the EI dosing system, and I'll employ one of these Jebao dosers I've seen on Amazon, to dose the micro and macro ferts to the tank, along with the necessary tap water treatment (Stresscoat etc) to the header tank.
I may open a Journal thread if I get time, so that I can track the set-up and changes.
Anyway, sorry for the ramble, but that's the stage I'm at right now.