My first planted aquarium

neilharris

New Member
Joined
11 Nov 2008
Messages
7
Hi this is my first attempt at a planted aquascape. I have recently purchased a 180 litre black Italian glass rimless tank from the green machine at there recent ADA day. Great day by the way was left awestruck by the green machines shop its amazing I recommend it to all.
To be honest I'm after some advice about my planned spec for my tank, I have researched hard but as a aquarium novice I fully appreciate I still have a lot to learn.
My current plan is to run a Eheim 2126 external thermofilter and a Arcadia OTL luminaire 4x39w. My CO2 kits consists of mainly glassware, regulator, and tubing etc from aquamagic an ebay shop, I still need to find a C02 bottle I want fairly a large size but not sure what size is best. One of the main problems is I'm not sure about whether to use a Cal Aqua inline diffuser or an aquamedic reactor 1000. The reactor seems like less maintenance and I believe I can run it externally although I did hear you cant use power heads with them and I'd planned to use two Hydor Koralia 1's for water movement. Does anyone know if this is right? Any theories on my diffuser/reactor problem?
I fully appreciate all advice and sorry I had pic of cabinet and tank but couldn't figure out how to put it on.
 

ceg4048

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Hi,
Welcome to the forum. :D My first suggestion is that you plan on using only about half of the amount of light you have planned. 160 watts of T5 over a 45 gallon tank is a recipie for an algae farm unless everything is perfect such as flow, dosing regimen and CO2 distribution. There is a direct relationship between the level of lighting and the tendency for algal blooms, especially on a newly setup tank.

I would also recommend browsing the Tutorials section of the forum. There is a lot of good information there and some you might find particulary applicable is Ed Seeley's Setting up a high tech planted tank as well as Sam's Fire extinguisher CO2

Either of the Cal Aqua or the AM1000 can be used effectively and the decision should be based on ergonomics. The Cal Aqua is an attractive modern design, takes up about 10X less space and is much easier to asemble, however it is suceptible to algae buildup on the surface ceramic stone which reduces it's effectiveness significantly. It is difficult to clean mechanically but soaking in bleach is effective. One way to limit the algae buildup is to keep it in a dark place or to cover it with dark tape which makes it less attractive. The AM1000 is huge by comparison and is prone to gaseous buildup inside the cylindrical chamber depending on the filter outflow rate so matching the filter to this unit is a task. My personal preference is to use external diffusers as opposed to in-tank diffusers but others may have different opinions based on their experiences.

The general rule of thumb is to have 10X the tank volume per hour of rated flow so that means you'd like to get as close to (or to exceed) 1800 litres per hour of rated flow in whatever combination of filter rating and powerhead rating you can.

This site does not host images. You must upload your images to a third party image hosting website such as webshots, image shack or photobuckets and so forth and link to the image in your post.

Cheers,
 

Spider Pig

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Joined
18 Mar 2008
Messages
141
Check out tom barr's dry start method as well. Seems to be the way to go and definitely what I'll be using on my next tank.
 

neilharris

New Member
Joined
11 Nov 2008
Messages
7
Thank you for your advice much appreciated everyone. I have been told that the perfect light environment is 4 watts per gallon is this not correct? My plan is to use very fast growing plants to stem the initial algae growth to something managable as well as emplying many algae eaters. My filter I know can handle double the litrage I have but as I'm sure you can tell my concepts are still basic. As in in terms of dosing etc I haven't even begun to look into that I was kind of hoping to cement my spec down first but maybe that isn't possible without looking into other area's? As for the reactor can the aqua medic 1000 be run externally and still run 2x hydor koralia 1's? Is this reactor suitable for the job i need? I prefer the external reactors/diffusers as well. I promise I am still researching not just waiting for answers but there are so many opinions and theories that its good to get things confirmed from experienced aquascapists. So as an initial spec is it way out or does it just need some tweaking? Hopefully I'm heading in the right direction, thaks again for all comments and future comments all advice is welcomed.
 

ceg4048

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Hi,
For an inexperienced hobbyist 4WPG (I assume T5?) will be like putting your cat in the microwave oven for 15 minutes. It won't be pretty. I would suggest you read the links I gave you and run, do not walk away from whoever stated that 4WPG is perfect. It's only perfect or starting an algae farm. This is not to say that it's impossible, but rather that everything else about your tank such as flow, maintenance, CO2 and dosing needs to be perfect in order to have 4WPG be sustainable. You would be well advised to start out with 2WPG and to only increase the lighting level when you are more well grounded. I can't think of a plant that cannot be grown with 2WPG T5. Increasing the lighting only makes the plant try to grow faster and increases the chance of algae if the requirements for growth are not met. Do not think in terms of perfect light because there is no such thing. Only think in terms of "rate of growth" and that this rate is dependent on other things that must be satisfied first such as CO2 and nutrients. The equation of plant growth and requirements goes like this: More light=>more CO2=>more nutrients.

Also, think about this point of view: Instead of getting algae eaters, why not just not get algae in the first place? In order to accomplish that we have to avoid the things that cause algae:
Cause number 1 on Planet Earth is 4WPG. :wideyed:
Cause number 2 is poor CO2.
Cause number 3 is poor nutrition.
Cause number 4 is poor flow.
Cause number 5 is poor tank/filter maintenance

if you optimize these items you'll have a better chance of success.

The AM1000 is totally independent of any of the other powerheads you wish to use but it must be powered by an external filter return flow or a dedicated external pump. There are probably other configurations but this is just the basic idea. Remember though that the AM1000 does restrict flow somewhat so you should carefully consider what size canister filter you need. It's likely that you should get a bigger one than you might have thought initially. You need to seriously consider the 10X rule.

If you have even begun to think about dosing then you really need to study EI DOSING USING DRY SALTS because it's number 3 on the list. You may need to read it 3 or 4 times because it is a heavy article.

Cheers,
 

GreenNeedle

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19 Jul 2007
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Lincoln UK
There is a common misconception which seems to be spreading that very high light is needed for planted tanks. It sems to be on the increase these days from being 'you need to have 3WPG+' to even higher now.

If anything with the advancements in tube and ballast technology and efficiencies this figure should be falling and not rising.

As Ceg says 2WPG of T5 should be able to grow every plant known and well. 1WPG of T5 should be able to grow ALMOST every plant known!!!

You seem to have a few little conflicts in your aims. You want equipment out of the tank (external diffusion) yet you are using 2 x Koralia 1s for flow. If you want equipment out of the tank why not just get a large filter and ditch the Koralia idea and then use an inline diffuser/reactor. If you are happy to have the Koralias in the tank then why not also use an internal diffuser and site it under one of the Koralias?

I think Ceg details most of what I would suggest already in lowering the light etc but as for the diffusion/flow methods I think you should decide wether you want to up the filtration and get everything out of the tank or stay as is in which case I think an internal diffuser may be much more 'doable'.

With external diffusers the Cal Aqua is a nice design so if you are buying it to be seen then go for it. If it is going to be hidden away then just buy one of the £5 Boyus that Zig used.

The final thing with external diffusers is that they still output bubbles from the filter outflow so you need to make sure the filter outflow is powerful enough and directed in the right way that the bubbles do not just run along the surface and immediately lost.

A larger filter would help here whereas if you went for an internal diffuser/Koralia combo you can position them wherever you want and make sure the flow is not at the surface!!!

AC
 

Ray

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31 Oct 2007
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Switzerland
Your tank is similar size to mine and sound advice there from Clive and Andy. Especially on the light - see in my journal the mess I got into running just 78w over 200l. I'm growing Cyperus Helfrei and Posgostemon Stellata under 78w in a 50cm deep tank - you don't need more light than that. Andy managed to grow even higher light plants under even less light.

For flow you need about 1800lph. Either get an Eheim 2078 and ditch the Koralia's altogether, for nothing in the tank, or keep just one and use it to diffuse CO2 also (Ed Seely does this in one of his journals). I doubt you will need 2 Koralia 1's unless your tank is super heavy planted. I bought a Koralia nano and so far it gives me more flow than I need and sits in a drawer. When the plants really fill out this might change...

The final thing with external diffusers is that they still output bubbles from the filter outflow so you need to make sure the filter outflow is powerful enough and directed in the right way that the bubbles do not just run along the surface and immediately lost.

Diffusors, yes, but the Aquamedic is a reactor and shoud dissolve everything. But you still want to direct that away from the surface which is why I ended up with a powerhead for surface agitation.
 

neilharris

New Member
Joined
11 Nov 2008
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7
Hi guys thanks for the input. I think you can tell that I'm putting bits of things I've heard and read and trying to build a spec and not all of it is logic to someone who has the practical experience of creating a planted aqaurium. Thats why I'm so grateful for the help because alot of this is trial by error but i'm willing to learn.
To explain the power head confusion, I was under the impression that they would come in handy to keep flow throughout my tank healthy especially at night when i aim to turn my CO2 off. I know my filter is still going but thought i needed the extra flow around my tank although after your comments I'm looking upgrading original filter ideas to Eheim thermo filter 2180 which has capabilities of running a 12000 litre tank so that may remove the need for koralia's. Thanks for all the advice about the lighting, I have been reading about just using two of the four lights on my planned luminiare(4x39w) at the start then when the tank is mature introduced the other two as well into a staggered photo period using all four bulbs does this sound wise? Thanks agai everyoe will keep you updated and sort pictures soon.
 

ceg4048

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Well I think there is some slight confusion as regards "flow" versus "aeration". When we talk about flow our focus should be during the photoperiod. Flow functions to deliver nutrients and CO2 to the surface of the plant leaf. Plants growing in stagnant pools of water have difficulty because they use up the resources which are in their vicinity and they produce waste. In stagnant conditions the waste products aren't carried away and new resources has to find it's way slowly by diffusing though the depleted areas to actually reach the leaf. If we improve flow then the "used" water get taken away and "new" water arrives. When lights are on this is super important, but at night this is less so. Aeration is important to fish if the oxygen content of the water is low. Aeration by use of bubbles or by surface agitation removes CO2 which is a waste product at night and introduces oxygen into the water. Some folks find that their fish do better when the tank is aerated at night, while others see no difference. it depends on fish stock levels, plant levels and a host of other things. Essentially, at night plants consume more oxygen than they produce, and therefore compete with the fish, however the idea is to produce enough oxygen during the photoperiod to create a "reserve" of oxygen that will keep everything happy throughout the night.

The Eheim 2180 Thermofilter is an excellent machine and is rated at approximately 1700LPH. This means that it is ideal for planted tanks of size perhaps between 240-170 Liters or smaller. Again, we're talking about a gas injected high light planted tank and the 10X rule of thumb. The filter ratings and tank size by the manufacturers are all about fish only tanks, never about high tech planted tanks, so there is no way I would use this filter alone on a 12,000 liter high tech planted tank, but fish only might possibly be acceptable. Furthermore this filter would work on non-CO2 injected low light planted tanks of sizes much larger than 170 liter because in a low tech environment the growth rates are 5X-10X slower, so flow rates are much less important because you don't need to force feed the leaves as much. You can find a good discussion of flow on this thread High water turnover - discuss

Not only do you have to think about the magnitude of your flow but you also have to consider the distribution of that flow energy. How do you partition or allocate that flow energy? Large tanks have areas of stagnant flow so you must give thought to the flow outlets as well as the direction of the flow.

It's always a good idea to startup your tank with low light and add the additional bulbs a few months later when the tank can successfully absorb the additional energy. Staggering also is a good idea, especially for larger tanks as it allows for better CO2 saturation as well as lower CO2 demand at the beginning of the photoperiod where it's most critical.

Cheers,
 

neilharris

New Member
Joined
11 Nov 2008
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7
Thanks guys for all your input. Have ordered arcadia luminiare 4x39w but will start tank with half power then over time stagger my photo period. Ordered the Eheim 2180 external thermo filter and most of my CO2 kit and glassware from aquamagic on ebay. So progress is the word of the day but still got time to decide between glass diffuser and aqua medic regulator. Im going to let my filter handle the flow but may add a korelia nano on the surface if its needed. Have my ADA rock from green machine so between now and christmas going to get my substates understood and ordered so can look to set my scape out in mmy tank hopefully around new year. Then comes plant and fish decision time (probably should no already) I know i want a grassy meadow look something quite basic and open like green machines cardinal tetra tank just not sure whether to boost the look with some tall wavy background plants. Sorry on lunch break but I'll but all names of plant ideas on after work to give you a better idea of my plans.
Thanks again everyone and all continued advice is fantastic.
 

neilharris

New Member
Joined
11 Nov 2008
Messages
7
Hi sorry about the delay in reply been a busy couple of months. But made progress with the tank. Still waitingfor eheim 2180 thermo filter but have 4x39w arcadia T5 luminiare. Got my glassware from aquamagic on ebay, an aqua medic regulator and solenoid also ordered 2x3KG co2 tanks from green machine. Substrate is power sand m, aqual soil amazonia II Bacter 100, Clear Super and Tourmalne BC. Finished off with a path made of nile sand and forest sand branco.
Here are some bad quality pictures, little more progress sice photo's.








All advise and opinion is welcome as it is still an amateur attempt. Still worried whether it matters which is on the left and right out of the inflow and outflow pipes or if it matters? Also I am having my inflow and outflow pipes side by side and I'm planning to put my ceramic diffuser below my inflow pipe but that due to the length of the inflow pipe my diffuser sits just above the substrate and there is oly a 4cm gap between diffuser and pipe is that a problem?
All advise is welcomed thank you very much.

http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/20 ... 2324FRTSox
http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/20 ... 2324GSAuna
http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/29 ... 2324ILdCNg
http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/23 ... 2324IJUpUK
http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/25 ... 2324ZTOGwR
http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/20 ... 2324dYlSfG
http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/23 ... 2324NMzDIo
 

beeky

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21 Aug 2007
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879
Location
Chippenham, Wiltshire
Hi Neil.

Looks like a good start. I think your "path" on the right hand side might disappear though as it's quite narrow. Have you separated the substrates at all as it all might mix with time, depending on your chosen fauna.

By the way, if you want to post the pictures, left click on the image on the web-shots webpage and then "link to it". Select the box for the size you want (I chose 500) and then copy and paste the "direct link to image" URL inbetween the IMG tags as you did before.

Then, you should get this:




I don't think it matters too much where the in/out tubes go, although I think most people put them on the same side as you've done. Also, as long as the CO2 bubbles get drawn into the intake, then it should be fine.
 
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