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building a 1200L nature aquarium with Discus+Altum fish & "wild" nature feel

aeneas

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15 Feb 2021
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Slovenia
Hi from a new member; I've had Discus / Amazon-themed aquariums for 30+ years (basically since childhood), mostly 200-400L low-tech.
We recently moved to a new house and am now planning my dream aquarium build - a ~1.200L aquarium with a "wild" nature aquascape hopefully catching the atmosphere and concept of something close to Josh Sim's Congo. There will be many technical hurdles to overcome and figure out how to do this project and I look forward to learning and hopefully getting some good tips and guidance from experts here.

I have several initial construction concepts first I need figure out and your help would be greatly appreciated. Overall I would like to (a) keep aesthetics of as clean as possible with minimal intrusion of hoses and devices in the display area (using ADA glass accessories where needed etc.), and (b) design a system that is a quiet at possible - this will be in the main living/reception area so continuous humming sound of filter pump gets really annoying.

1) Dimensions of the tank: 240cm width (covering the wall connecting dining area with the main reception area / living room; with this width, I am considering 65cm depth and 80cm height to give reasonable dimension proportions, but could also do 240x65x70 if lower walls would be easier to fill with scape and avoid too much empty space at the top...?
2) Rimless open top: for such a huge tank & water pressure, I don't know if glass would hold rimless open top design? Any ideas how to calculate?
3) Clean ADA glass style inflows-outflows etc. from the top of the aquarium, or drilled-bottom design? Again, considering the size of the tank and the desired aquascape, I am not sure if drilling the bottom will be possible?
4) Canister or Sump for filtration? ...one VERY important factor in this decision is not only efficacy for filtration, but also quiet operation; we currently have Eheim Professionel 3 XL for our 400L aqurium and my wife complains that it is much too loud and wants something that would be able to run quieter.

I like the simplicity and ease of use and maintenance of canister (if there is one that can be quiet enough), but worry that I may need to canisters to ensure enough flow for 1.200L and that would raise the noise further. On the other hand, I worry about troubleshooting the sump and all the complexity it brings, but at the same time it would allow me a lot of added flexibility in terms of adding all the other devices incl. CO2, UV, etc., but most importantly, it would allow me an automated water exchange & top-up (e.g. on timer, each day 50L water would be drained from the sump and refilled back; also with a floater, water level would be continously maintained, as I would expect a lot of evaporation in case of open top design.

4) Surface skimming: a nice ADA-style skimmer or an overflow system? ...considerations of aesthetics, noise, functionality...?

There will be many next steps to consider, but this is the first stuff that I need to think about as it pertains to how we actually design/construct the glass housing itself and what technology will/can be used to support it.

Any tips and suggestions at this stage would be very very helpful!!! :)

cheers,
aeneas
 

aeneas

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15 Feb 2021
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Slovenia

aeneas

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Thread starter
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15 Feb 2021
Messages
68
Location
Slovenia
Hey @sparkyweasel , thanks for the link. Lots of good info and experience learned there, but waay to complicated construction for my taste. My current 400L is set-and-forget; just enjoy the views. That one seems to be a continuous maintenance and troubleshooting ;)
So, this is why I wonder if sump is the right way to go... too much DIY and not enough time to dedicate to thinking all this through. My wife is voting against it - she says it looks too messy ;)

I'll probably try to go with 2x canisters really thoroughly soundproof the cabinet underneath. Oase 850 looks really nice and has a built in heater and a prefilter chamber that can be cleaned up quickly without any mess... 2x canisters should probably be decent for handling ~1000L if the tank is very well planted with plants doing lots of support of the ecosystem. Alternative is 2x Fluval FX6...
 

aeneas

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to continue on this - with canister filters installed, I was thinking how to automate water top-up as well as do a ~50L water exchange per day. Here is a sketch that I'm playing with: one of the canisters will be linked to two separate solenoid-valve controlled hoses; first one will be timer-controlled and will open just enough to let 50L drain out once per day (e.g. during the night); the other solenoid is controlled by a water level detector in the aquarium - such as Hydor, which turns it on whenever water drops below the required level and then tops up with fresh pretreated water back to required level. This then takes care then of both the evaporation as well as when the other solenoid drains 50L per day.
Tell me what you think of the idea?
AQUARIUM-9.jpg
 

aeneas

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15 Feb 2021
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Here is a sketch I made of how the positioning of the aquarium could look like. I was playing with several dimension options but considering the pressure increase with each cm in height, I am now leaning towards 243x65x70cm (1105L or 293gal) or even 243x65x65cm (1026L or 271gal).
I have a glass sliding door on the lefthand side which limits my hoses/piping at the back only to the rear part of the aquarium. behind the wall is a toilet and so I have drilled through the wall plumbing with fresh pretreated (softened, filtered and de-chlorinated) and heated water as well as a drain pipe going into sewage.
Slide1.jpeg
 

Wookii

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to continue on this - with canister filters installed, I was thinking how to automate water top-up as well as do a ~50L water exchange per day. Here is a sketch that I'm playing with: one of the canisters will be linked to two separate solenoid-valve controlled hoses; first one will be timer-controlled and will open just enough to let 50L drain out once per day (e.g. during the night); the other solenoid is controlled by a water level detector in the aquarium - such as Hydor, which turns it on whenever water drops below the required level and then tops up with fresh pretreated water back to required level. This then takes care then of both the evaporation as well as when the other solenoid drains 50L per day.
Tell me what you think of the idea?
View attachment 163129

I would have your water change loop sperate to your canister filter to be honest.

Having tested a few different ways of doing it I've pretty much settled on having an overflow outlet on the tank, and then a simple but slow pump from the fresh water container up into the tank. Waste water then simply flows out of the overflow to waste, as you add the new water in. It removes some points of failure like the solenoids and level controller, as if you physically restrict the fresh water inflow rate into the tank so that the overflow can never be overwhelmed, you'll never be able to overfill.

I have two tanks running this way with daily automated water changes, and it works a treat.
 

aeneas

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I would have your water change loop sperate to your canister filter to be honest.

Having tested a few different ways of doing it I've pretty much settled on having an overflow outlet on the tank, and then a simple but slow pump from the fresh water container up into the tank. Waste water then simply flows out of the overflow to waste, as you add the new water in. It removes some points of failure like the solenoids and level controller, as if you physically restrict the fresh water inflow rate into the tank so that the overflow can never be overwhelmed, you'll never be able to overfill.

I have two tanks running this way with daily automated water changes, and it works a treat.
Oh, this also sounds like a great solution. Do you have any image of your set-up posted here in the forum? Would you mind pointing me to the right post so I could check it out? Or if you care to share a photo here. I'd really appreciate!
Thank you! :)
 

Wookii

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Oh, this also sounds like a great solution. Do you have any image of your set-up posted here in the forum? Would you mind pointing me to the right post so I could check it out? Or if you care to share a photo here. I'd really appreciate!
Thank you! :)

My journal is here: Kinabalu

This is an image of my low tech - it's an old tank (60 litres) and not a great photo, but you can see the overflow:

964c9b18-a822-4d6d-a561-8ecb597581df-jpeg.jpg


On this tank I have a small 18 litre header tank on a shelf above the tank. This fills with water from the mains (connected to an adjacent bathroom similar to your proposed set-up), an auto-doser add's dechlorinator, and an airstone mixes for an hour or so. I then have a low pressure solenoid on the base of the container which opens, and gravity drains it through 6mm tubing into the tank. Waste water then overflows out of the pictured overflow. That gives me 25% daily water changes.

This is my high tech:

f20961e8-8258-4674-8eb4-d2b45adbacb7-jpeg.jpg


Similar basis for the overflow, but a little more simplified (and white instead of black to suit the white background).

On this tank (100 litres), I have a 28 litre holding tank hidden out of view. That gets filed from an RO unit (with actuated ball valves on timers and with a float valve in the container) 12 hours before water change, and an air stone mixes and aerates it - and the time period allows it to come to room temperature. At water change time a marine grade peristaltic pump draws the water up into the tank, and waste water overflows down the overflow to a waste pipe through the wall and out into to a drain outside. Again roughly 25% daily water change.

Obviously because this system is a slow fill, and without draining before adding the fresh water its more of a dilution system that a straight 1:1 water change (i.e. a small proportion of the water going out the overflow will be the fresh water just added, or added the day before etc), but the fact that is happening daily compensates for that. In this tank, despite quite high stocking, by TDS remains pretty much bang on consistent, suggesting the water change is doing its job, and I'm not getting a steadily increasing organic load.
 
Last edited:

Wookii

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On your tank I would suggest a much larger overflow outlet. I'm not sure what your standard waste pipe sizes are in Slovenia, but if I had your tank in the UK, I'd be using a full size 1 1/2" BSP overflow outlet, to allow faster inflow for the water change.
 

ian_m

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to continue on this - with canister filters installed, I was thinking how to automate water top-up as well as do a ~50L water exchange per day. Here is a sketch that I'm playing with: one of the canisters will be linked to two separate solenoid-valve controlled hoses; first one will be timer-controlled and will open just enough to let 50L drain out once per day (e.g. during the night); the other solenoid is controlled by a water level detector in the aquarium - such as Hydor, which turns it on whenever water drops below the required level and then tops up with fresh pretreated water back to required level. This then takes care then of both the evaporation as well as when the other solenoid drains 50L per day.
Tell me what you think of the idea?
View attachment 163129
You will have couple of issues immediately straight off with this type of setup.

1. Most liquid solenoid valves are quite small bore, meant for letting reasonable pressure water ie mains @ above say 2 bar, through. Certainly not 16mm diameter, if using 16/22mm piping.
2. Large bore valves are not cheap. Here is a suitable one 1/2" solenoid valve. Bargain at £90.
3. Your outlet valve is running with tank water, I know it is after the filter, but still contains enough detritus to settle in the "dead leg" and block the valve. People trying this with their tanks report issues with valve not turning off 100% due to "muck" collecting in the valve seal.
4. If your incoming solenoid valve fails/leak, you have a flood....
5. If your incoming solenoid valve fails/leak, you have a back syphon route from the tank water to syphon out of the tank into your treated water and associated flood.
6. If your outgoing valve leaks (as it will 100% be guaranteed to with "dirty water") you loose your tank water.
7. All of the above will happen when you are not looking ie at work, on holiday and cause maximal disruption and damage :(

The much safer fail safe way to achieve water changes is by having a tank overflow. You pump clean water into your tank, water entering above the water surface, and excess water leaves via the overflow. Just ensure leaves and other plant waste can't block the overflow too much.

If your pump/solenoid fails to on all the time or leaks then excess water just overflows via the overflow. No flood.

Tank water cannot back syphon to your water storage if pump/solenoid fails.

In the end, you may be easing water changes, great, but part of the manual water change process is removing detritus from the tank substrate, wafting the plants to remove "yuck" and generally removing waste. How do you intend to automate that ? (people have done this with power spray bars etc etc, but detritus still collects in places of lower flow).

Below is the typical weekly detritus I syphon out of my 180l tank. How are you intending to remove this ?
1613638701477.png
 

aeneas

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guys, I've been trying to look more deeply into the sump option. Technically I get it - would allow for much flexibility and my needs. But as far as aesthetics, I was not able to find anything that would be really pleasing to my eyes... I like the "bean animal" concept of a quiet overflow, but most of what i was able to find were really big overflow boxes on the inside of the aquarium, taking lots of space and not looking pretty and all the ready-made are, for some strange reason, made with black acrylic instead of transparent.
Can anyone point me to a thread / build or a link that would show some nice well designed overflow that is not only functional but also minimalistic and clean-looking (in an ADA sense... clean glass, minimal intrusion into the aquarium etc.)? I'd really appreciate some pointers... I've spent hours googling but I can't find anything that I like in terms of aesthetics... :(
 
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its normally black or blue as its not an easy spot to get into and clean, and Coraline algae will soon grow along with loads of other bits of life, making the most of all those food passing by.
you would find a big range on a marine site like ultimate reef, there are many ways to get to the end goal and some have some very slimline weirs or there are options like

Ultra-Reef Drain for Hole, that is just a screw on bit of plastic into the tank through a drilled back or side

 

aeneas

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What I've seen so far, I have 2 options... (a) either make an external overflow box to the right side of the aquarium - small overflow box on the inside, drilled back wall and a bean animal box on the outside; or (b) install an overflow entirely on the inside of the aquarium and set it somewhere at the back to be covered by the roots and plants with the scape design. I've made two sketches of how that could look like. I worry that with option (b) I might need to make it black to cover the piping inside, which will make the whole thing uglier - and will likely need me to paint the entire back wall of the aquarium, which I would not like to do as it would make the entire aquascape even darker and gloomier...
Here are the sketches I'm thinking about:
overflow_position.jpeg
overflow_position2.jpeg

Any thoughts and recommendations of some really nice overflow designs that hide into the scape well and are as transparent / unnoticeable as possible?
 

Wookii

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For an off the shelf unit, the Eshopps units look pretty good:

eclipse-l.jpg

I think @DeepMetropolis uses a smaller Eshopps unit on his tank and so can give you some direct feedback.

On the larger sumped tank that I was planning, I was going to build a bespoke slimline internal weir but also with some bottom draw pipes rather than rely just on the weir.
 
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For an off the shelf unit, the Eshopps units look pretty good:

eclipse-l.jpg

I think @DeepMetropolis uses a smaller Eshopps unit on his tank and so can give you some direct feedback.

On the larger sumped tank that I was planning, I was going to build a bespoke slimline internal weir but also with some bottom draw pipes rather than rely just on the weir.
I have this exact model. Easy setup and looks great, blends right in to the background.
 
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Yes I have it. It works well. However depending on how high you want the water level it might be on the low side for rimless tanks. I modded mind so the water intake is higher but the problem is then that the water falls in the over flow making it noisier.. The back part of the overflow sits a lot lower then the inner part.. You can also cut a piece of the inner part before installation I've seen people do that.. There are other overflows that might be a better option. Besides this there is nothing to complain. You can check my journal about it too..
 

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