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forest 400

greenink

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2 May 2011
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London
Hi everyone.

It’s been a long time since the transparent tank. So….

Here comes my next proper journal, a few years on. Keeping this mainly to reflect, listen, learn and change what I’m doing. My aim here is to describe what I’ve tried and think about what’s worked or failed.

Have been oh so tempted by a paludarium, but that’s maybe for next time. So for now I’m going for a low maintenance, highly-automated jungle type tank.

I’m thinking bits of wood poking out of lush java ferns and a generally unkempt forest vibe. More plant species than is generally considered good taste. A bit overgrown. That sort of thing.

So, without further wittering:

Stuff.

Custom optiwhite tank 1400mm long x 500mm high x 580mm deep - 406 litres. Deliberately further back than it is tall to give greater depth. I’ve scratched it a bit over the years. Will be a test of my photo editing skills I guess.

Eheim Pro 3E 2078 filter - 1850 lph. Always loved Eheim filters. They never give up. Standard media with purigen added.

Aqua Medic 1000 CO2 reactor with media removed. Seems to do the job just as well without the bioballs though is a bit noisier. Might add an inline venturi loop at some point if I can find a T piece that adapts 16/22 hose to 4mm CO2 pipe anywhere. Suggestions?

Hydor inline heater. Not much to say about that. Take it for granted, would be lost without it.

Marine Colour dosing pump, providing 40ml per day (recommended dose) of Aquarium Plant Food. Starting with an ungainly bit of hose looped into the tank. Want to pop this inline but can’t find the right T-piece (as above) and a bit concerned about pressure - would it work inline?

3.15kg beer gas CO2 bottles with standard eBay regulator. Cheapest I can find in London and London Beer Gas are super reliable. I’ve got two bottles so each one is replaced as soon as it runs out.

UP PH CO2 Controller with CO2 solenoid regulator to maintain constant PH / CO2 level with lime green drop checker. This is a godsend. Keeps CO2 levels totally stable in an attempt to banish BBA but also means I never gas fish these days. Just twist a dial and it gets a bit more CO2.

Hydor Koralia 3200 powerhead in tank - flow rate of 2800 lph. Don’t like them as they’re ugly, but really helps with the flow. Will try taking it out when plants are a bit established and see what happens.

3 * TMC Grobeam 1500 LED tiles and controller. On for 7 hours a day, largely in the night. The tank gets a bit of sun in the morning through the window which is bad but hard to avoid.

3% Gluteraldehyde solution (DIY) for spot dosing

Seachem prime for water changes

Hardscape

Redmoor root

Seiryu stone

Molar clay. This is so much cheaper than other substrate and I’ve always found it works fine with EI dosing. Takes up the nutrients.

Unusual bits

Custom PVC pipes and return. Bent with a pipe bending spring and a paint stripping gun. Very hard to break and very easy to clean. Might move to a glass Lilly pipe one day if I’m feeling flush.

Refills using dedicated thermostatic tap set at 22 degrees with watering can head. This is probably my favourite thing about this tank: super easy to do big water changes.

PH controller for CO2 dosing.

Animals and fish

12 Amano shrimp

12 Otocinclus

5 Crossocheilus siamensis (siamese algae eaters)

Ramshorn snails

[Neon tetras to be added as shoaling fish]

Planting plan

Nothing very inventive. Rotala at the back, java ferns, anubias, crypts and a load of different carpet plants. Going for an untidy, mixed up look. And should help me work out what I can grow successfully. Never had much luck with HC before.

45414206732_fed5f2aa22_h.jpg
Planting plan by greenink@ukaps, on Flickr

Anywhere that's the theory. Plants arrived yesterday...
 
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greenink

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So here are the plants dropped in the tank and the lighting - normally that's hidden behind a flip top lid. (The tank is flush with the wall.) You can see the hose with watering can rose that's permanently plumbed in to do water changes on the right. There are two roller blinds behind: one blue and one black to give easy and quick background changes.

44551692375_7ac17fd2ad_k.jpg
20181019_211132 by greenink@ukaps, on Flickr

Here's how I'm doing the java fern - superglued to membrane pegs. Hoping that keeps them in place but also makes them easy to move if needed.

30525790897_ad5ae95550_k.jpg
20181019_211847 by greenink@ukaps, on Flickr
 

Zeus.

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Great project which you have put a lot of thought into:thumbup: :geek:

Regards the pH controller you have or plan to get I have the same one on mine. Whilst in the early months I used it to maintain a 'stable' [CO2] which we aim for OFC. I found the pH would swing throughout the photoperiod by at least 0.1pH which isn't too bad. Then via the PLC I use I use the pH controller only for the pre lights pH drop, which I do via twin CO2 injectors/APS EF2 reactors. Once 1.0pH drop in done in about 45mins the CO2 goes on single injection mode which after months of tweaking I managed to get it so the pH remains stable without any swing from lights on till CO2 off.
Trouble with the pH controller IME/IMO is the pH swing once target pH is reached, plus it's target is subject to errors with the probe inaccuracys hence recalibration of the probe is needed. Plus the tanks pH of the water if left in a glass for 24hrs changes from a WC just done to pre WC over the week. Having a target pH set on the controller doesn't account for the tanks water pH change over this period IMO. Hence IMO getting a stable [CO2] is better done without a pH controller and a constant injection of CO2 is better as there is no calibration errors of the probe or tanks changing base pH. Although getting the CO2 injection rate right can be hard.
 

greenink

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Great project which you have put a lot of thought into:thumbup: :geek:

You're not wrong! Here are the foundations going in...

11987136496_4486de5971_k.jpg
foundations by greenink@ukaps, on Flickr

Trouble with the pH controller IME/IMO is the pH swing once target pH is reached, plus it's target is subject to errors with the probe inaccuracys hence recalibration of the probe is needed. Plus the tanks pH of the water if left in a glass for 24hrs changes from a WC just done to pre WC over the week.

This is really interesting. Was hoping I'd come up with the magic answer to CO2 stability. I'm keeping it on permanently, so CO2 is on even when lights are off. I know this will use a lot more CO2 but hoping it keeps BBA at bay due to constant levels. Will report back on what I find.

Here's the AM1000 with no media - dissolves brilliantly with no micro-bubbles. But is quite noisy.

AM1000.gif
 
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Zeus.

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I dont think leaving the CO2 on 24/7 is the best way forward to achieve stable [CO2] esp if aiming for a 1.0pH drop. Folk do it with good results but they normally aim for a lower pH drop. My 500l tank uses a 6.5Kg clyinder every 30 days but do have an insane BPS

Trouble with CO2 on constant is the [CO2] will be highest pre lights when plants are not up taking CO2 then once they start up taking it the [CO2] will drop. I even regulate the CO2 injection at a lower injection rate via PLC as the lights are ramping up with timers via the PLC software. When the lights are on max intensity the CO2 injection timers are not used. That's how I manage to get stable [CO2] but without a PLC it would be tricky.
I would work backwards with the pH profile with the aid of a decent pH pen and DC.
Find the BPS that maintains a stable pH/[CO2] when the lights are on their max intensity you plan to use. Then just time how long it takes to get that pH drop with the lights off 2- 4hrs. But if you change the light intensity or flow in tank need to check pH profile again OFC and as the plants fill in and their CO2 demand increases as the biomass increases.
 

greenink

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The idea is that CO2 level is controlled via the PH controller. The controller turns on and off a solenoid for the CO2 supply.

So if plants stop using CO2 (eg when lights go off) then PH drops and CO2 is switched off. If CO2 levels drop (eg lights go on) then PH rises and CO2 comes on.

This should keep CO2 levels constant at all times, so long as nothing else is altering PH in the tank.

Am setting bubble counter rate that gets lime green drop checker when lights are on. Then seeing what PH that is (about 6.5 in this tank at the moment) and setting controller to target that.

Didn't realise this was controversial! Helpful comments already - thank you.

What would cause the PH to change on the tank apart from CO2?
 
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greenink

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Been playing around with the proper camera. Have just got a cheap off camera flash which makes a massive difference to the quality of photos - am very surprised. Here are some shots straight off the camera (details on flickr) with no edits.

43707832770_da0101be44_k.jpg
IMG_1189 by greenink@ukaps, on Flickr

30583938527_f43d16b5c7_k.jpg
IMG_1193 by greenink@ukaps, on Flickr

30583934977_3f69e187f9_k.jpg
IMG_1196 by greenink@ukaps, on Flickr

44799667334_a0846697f0_k.jpg
IMG_1199 by greenink@ukaps, on Flickr

30583932427_ac17d1b5f7_k.jpg
IMG_1190 by greenink@ukaps, on Flickr

Looking healthy so far... Amazingly the rocks seem to be getting cleaner. Must be the combination of ottos, amano shrimp and siamese algae eaters.

44799666114_351c058a3f_k.jpg
IMG_1185 by greenink@ukaps, on Flickr
 

TBRO

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8 Feb 2009
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947
Really interesting automation. Everything looks very healthy so far. I’ve struggled a bit with H.pinitifada, yours looks like it’s growing well. Seems to be a greedy plant in terms of nutrition, CO2 and light. Thanks for sharing T


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

greenink

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Got two pots of Anubias Nana that were pretty good value...

45672363951_9098c06eae_k.jpg
IMG_1201 by greenink@ukaps, on Flickr

Cut these into lots of pieces and wedged into the rocks.

Here's how it's getting on. First shot is with the £40 off camera flash. This time bounced off the white ceiling of the shed the tank is on. Gives a much better diffused light.

Haven't really used one before so any tips welcome. Am just fiddling about on manual mode at ISO 100 really. But even so, this is by far the best photo I've ever taken of a tank in terms of crispness and quality.

44960024094_0a94ba3b8e_k.jpg
IMG_1228 by greenink@ukaps, on Flickr

And here's exactly the same photo without flash.

43854362930_3602cd214d_k.jpg
IMG_1210 by greenink@ukaps, on Flickr

White balance is clearly off a bit in the second photo but is amazing how much difference getting a cheap off-camera flash makes.

Also feeling pretty happy with how things are going. Done a water change every three days so far and EI dosing. Everything seems healthy with no melting anywhere.

HC is particularly going for it. Marsilea seems to be sulking though. Was a bit brown when it came out of the pot so maybe was unhealthy going in.
 
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greenink

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Quick update a week later. Carpet of HC still looking healthy. Nice to see the siamese algae eaters having a potter about.

44886754065_43b3b455b2_k.jpg
IMG_1307 by greenink@ukaps, on Flickr

Stauro and Monte Carlo in the middle going alright. Stauro nearly ready for first trim and replant.

44886753115_109eae41f5_k.jpg
IMG_1309 by greenink@ukaps, on Flickr

And full tank shot - pleased with how this is going so far. Bit of diatom algae appearing on the rocks. Had the lights lowered almost to the surface and have raised them back up again to about 30cm above.

45634570722_d4e621885d_k.jpg
IMG_1235 by greenink@ukaps, on Flickr
 

greenink

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Nice diversity in carpeting plants this will look good grown in.
Hoping so! To be honest was just an experiment to see which ones would grow. Seems to be everything except marsilea at the moment.

Needs a lot more redmoor root too but it's just so expensive for a bit of twig.
 

greenink

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Nice shots and growth!
Am pleased with the difference flash makes. But having trouble with iPhoto and colour balance so these all look a bit super saturated. Used to use aperture but apple killed it... Might splash out on affinity photo.
 

greenink

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Put in a new stainless steel outpipe with a surface skimmer. Got it a bit wrong, filled the filter with air and reduced the flow massively. CO2 levels went a bit haywire and so now seeing BBA appear on the edges of leaves, which is very annoying. Also had quite a bit of melt on the Anubias.

Fixed the intake, which means flow is back up to how it was before. Trying it without the hydor pump (as this was shredding some plants at the back) for a while to see if I can run it like this. Don't think there's an issue with distribution of CO2. And looks so much better without it.

Wondering if I should raise the lights a bit higher. Can't get CO2 any higher without danger to the fish... But pleased with growth, especially comparing back to earlier photos.

Quick photo.

45943023381_dec163d174_k.jpg
IMG_0005_2 AF by greenink@ukaps, on Flickr
 
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