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Need help with new upcoming project

john6

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So i am in the process of closing my reef tank and using it as a freshwater tank. It is a Red Sea Reefer 425 xl dimensions are 120x57.5x55 obviously sumped.
My plans are to have a single species tank (havent decided what yet) planted with easy, low tech non co2 plants. My initial thoughts are Angel fish but any other suggestions welcome.
Regarding equipment, what lights are there out there for a tank this size? i do like the AI Primes as i have them on my Discus tank but they are expensive so looking for alternatives.
Other than a return pump and heater is there any other equipment i need for a freshwater sump? I have an automatic fleece filter in my sump too, will this be okay or is it not needed for freshwater?
I have no idea really how to set up a freshwater sump so will ask in a seperate thread.
Regarding Substrate, I want a single substrate that will look nice and be nutritious for the plants, not a soil then capped with gravel or such like just a single substrate, I wont be chopping and changing the scape, once its done i will just trim and maybe tinker but nothing drastic. Ive looked online and its a mine field, all saying there's is the best so which is 'the best' substrate.
Any other tips and advice on equipment i need, dont need (despite marketing guru's telling me i do), tools of the trade, different ways to start up, basically any advice at all regarding everything.
Any questions feel free to ask.
thanks
 

Simon Cole

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Tropica soil - Great stuff. Downsides are it is expensive, it is light, and it can end up making it's way onto carpeting plants, so you end up with a mat of monte carlo with little black dots everywhere. It doesn't hold stems well unless planted deep enough. But it is reliable and long lasting. ADA is not my cup of tea. Tried a few others but moved to Tropica and feeling very content. Personally, I would prefer to go with something a bit cheaper and add fertiliser. If you did, Akadama is underrated. It's also very light but it's more angular and doesn't create as much mess, but there is just something about it I love. You never seem to get very much algae, the plants love it and it's cheap. But people have moved away from it a lot. Crushed black basalt is also great if you are adding fertiliser. It's great for getting slopes, very heavy, very cheap, holds well but you can find it a bit difficult to work with if you are doing lots of stems and the trick is to push in at a 45 degree angle. It has an unusual and natural look, also quite black. I know you don't want to add layers, but I always do to save money. I add Ikea crushed pumice under my soil. I don't use Tropica for slopes, I use basalt. I will put it underneath my basalt because it isn't going to move around.
 

seedoubleyou

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Do you have the Red Sea reef LED? Can you not use these?
I have two Reef LED 50 that I’ll be using during my conversion to freshwater.

Literally any light will grow easy plants. (Within reason)

The fleece roller, I never used one so not sure how they work. If they don’t rely on micro bubbles lifting the crud out of the water then yes it will work in freshwater. It’s essentially just filter floss that changes itself isn’t it? (Until full and needs replacing obviously)
 

john6

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Do you have the Red Sea reef LED? Can you not use these?
I have two Reef LED 50 that I’ll be using during my conversion to freshwater.

Literally any light will grow easy plants. (Within reason)

The fleece roller, I never used one so not sure how they work. If they don’t rely on micro bubbles lifting the crud out of the water then yes it will work in freshwater. It’s essentially just filter floss that changes itself isn’t it? (Until full and needs replacing obviously)
Yeah i have 2 reef led 90 but seems alot of wattage just to light some plants plus i dont really like them, only bought them really because my AI Hydra's packed up.
its a fleece filter on a roll yeah, i'm thinking of using it instead of putting sponges in the sump, then what else i'm not sure yet.
 

seedoubleyou

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Yeah i have 2 reef led 90 but seems alot of wattage just to light some plants plus i dont really like them, only bought them really because my AI Hydra's packed up.
its a fleece filter on a roll yeah, i'm thinking of using it instead of putting sponges in the sump, then what else i'm not sure yet.
You could go as far as you wanted with it really, in terms of your heater, you could dose ferts into there, ATO, media, etc…..

Your reef leds can always be taken down a notch, or equally sold to pay for some other light. I took my lights apart and sprayed them white. Why Red sea don’t offer them in this colour is beyond me, they’re far nicer to look at now.
 

john6

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You could go as far as you wanted with it really, in terms of your heater, you could dose ferts into there, ATO, media, etc…..

Your reef leds can always be taken down a notch, or equally sold to pay for some other light. I took my lights apart and sprayed them white. Why Red sea don’t offer them in this colour is beyond me, they’re far nicer to look at now.
I'll be keeping my ato and doser and fleece filter, i was thinking more of what media to use in the sump, I also used a refugium so i'm thinking of doing so again using floating plants rather than have them in my display tank as i dont really like the look of them in a display tank.
 

seedoubleyou

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I'll be keeping my ato and doser and fleece filter, i was thinking more of what media to use in the sump, I also used a refugium so i'm thinking of doing so again using floating plants rather than have them in my display tank as i dont really like the look of them in a display tank.
I was going to suggest some sort of refugium, but not overly sure if it’s effect for a freshwater tank. Could use Marino moss balls too.

As for media, take your pick, bio blocks from maxspect or IQuatics.

I’d stay away from sera siporax as I once read that it’s most effective with decent flow to help keep it clean.
 

john6

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I thought of just filling a section with alfagrog, its cheap and works.
My thinking so far is return pipes into fleece filter, then a section full of alfagrog and use that section for duckweed or similar and then use what was the skimmer chamber for i have no idea what to put in there as i dont think i need anything else, then the return chamber.
 

john6

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Just had a thought of what i can use the skimmer chamber for, dont know if it will work or not, maybe somebody will let me know, I could use it to breed live food for the fish, similar to what you do with copepods in a reef tank, maybe some type of worms or Daphnia or something similar.
 

seedoubleyou

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I’m not sure on the culturing of live foods if I’m honest. But everything else seems ok.

I used alfagrog on an old cichlid tank and had no issues.
 

Simon Cole

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I like the idea of California blackworms in the chamber. I get the maximum culture rate with boiled broccoli and other vegetables. You might not want to do this because they might generate too much ammonia, and the rapid breakdown of vegetables could cause excessive nutrients and other junk in your water column. They have a very low metabolism and barely need to eat, it just takes longer to get them to multiply. You could try leaf litter or just be a bit conservative with how much boiled broccoli you give them and I suspect you should be fine. They also love complete darkness. Daphnia might overflow. Tubifex are possible if you feed them pollen, but I've only done this once and you probably won't find a safe culture.
 

john6

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I like the idea of California blackworms in the chamber. I get the maximum culture rate with boiled broccoli and other vegetables. You might not want to do this because they might generate too much ammonia, and the rapid breakdown of vegetables could cause excessive nutrients and other junk in your water column. They have a very low metabolism and barely need to eat, it just takes longer to get them to multiply. You could try leaf litter or just be a bit conservative with how much boiled broccoli you give them and I suspect you should be fine. They also love complete darkness. Daphnia might overflow. Tubifex are possible if you feed them pollen, but I've only done this once and you probably won't find a safe culture.
Thanks
It is only something that popped into my head, i know nothing about freshwater culturing so i will do alot of research, tank setup is a few weeks away yet so will have time to research and learn. I just dont want to see an empty chamber in the sump.
 

Geoffrey Rea

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Hi @john6

My plans are to have a single species tank (havent decided what yet) planted with easy, low tech non co2 plants. My initial thoughts are Angel fish but any other suggestions welcome.

Altum Angelfish (Pterophyllum altum) are something else. You’re in a pretty great position to offer a habitat that is ideal.

They don’t appreciate flow, but like acidic, well oxygenated water that is calm. Having a sump, you can heavily aerate the water outside of the display. Just run an air pump in a sump chamber, but the main prize is having all that gas exchange from additional water surface area. Return the water using a wide bore pipe so turnover is good, but flow is minimal in the display.

It is a Red Sea Reefer 425 xl dimensions are 120x57.5x55 obviously sumped.

With the Red Sea overflow weir being at the surface, and crap wanting to obey gravity, you’ll find that the base glass will get layered with Angelfish dump if you obey the low flow thing. You could choose to siphon out the crud periodically like with discus tanks, or place a low power pump low down to keep waste suspended and ultimately heading down the weir up top.

Got more about plants, light, and sump layout. But first, are Angels top of the priority list?
 

john6

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Hi @Geoffrey Rea
Thanks for the detailed response.
The tank won't be ready until approx end of June so have lots of time to plan and get equipment.
I have 2 Angels in my discus tank and look beautiful but i think they compete rather than complement the beauty of the Discus, so it was a natural progression to have an Angel tank, so i have made my choice regarding fish to having an Angel tank.
 

Konsa

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Hi
+1 for Altum angels.
Here is an old Pic from The Green Machine of their Cryptocoryne heavy Altum setup for inspiration
DSC_0105.jpg

Regards Konstantin
 

Geoffrey Rea

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it was a natural progression to have an Angel tank, so i have made my choice regarding fish to having an Angel tank.

Cool 😎

You stated ‘low tech’ which means no co2 injection, correct?

My plans are to have a single species tank (havent decided what yet) planted with easy, low tech non co2 plants.

The first hurdle with Angels is water temp, we’re talking 27C and upwards.

Dissolving gases into water becomes increasingly difficult with each degree centigrade you go up. The benefit of the sump with Angels (can’t handle in tank flow/fast outlet speeds for surface agitation in the display) is you can manage the issue, by maximising surface agitation for a continual top up of dissolved gases in the sump.

Although the dissolved gas capacity of water at 27C will be lower compared with cooler temperatures, this continual topping up enables a stability at those levels 24/7.

If demand increases (for example you fed a lot and the system has to manage that ammonia through nitrification) you’ll have ample oxygen for bacterium to meet that demand. In theory you are topping up faster than oxygen is being used, despite the low ceiling of o2 concentration at higher temps. Fast and loose way of seeing if this is taking place, gin clear water all the time.

Second hurdle… getting all that surface agitation/aeration without having a roaring waterfall sound coming from the cabinet. Coming from marine you’ll no doubt have heard bad press about wet/dry systems being inappropriate and also noisy, but that’s just bad design.
Falling water can be silenced if it’s first contact is into a material with high absorption, like a sponge:

1648976991449.jpeg


Here is a cheap and cheerful wet/dry sump as an example. It’s been the same setup for high tech/co2 injected freshwater and now for reef:

1648977622466.jpeg


The initial water drop hits floss and is silent. This is also an easy way of running mechanical filtration:

1648977265770.jpeg


The box is a drip plate with holes drilled so water can rain down on the k1 media. Silent with cabinet door shut, keeps the media wet and gives bacteria access to the atmosphere for atmospheric levels of o2:

1648981063911.jpeg


Angels will produce a ton of waste, just like Discus. Having removal of solids like uneaten food/poop (replacing floss regularly) lowers the load on your filtration before it breaks down and needs handling, combined with media housing bacterium with ample o2 from the atmosphere, you have more than adequate filtration before you add in the benefits of plants.

Understand that this is different than the standard sump design you have with your Red Sea tank. But hopefully as an example, it demonstrates how much you can do with very little room if you incorporate it into your sump design.

Other chambers can have airstones running to create further surface agitation, Eheim air pumps are very quiet. Surface agitation in the cabinet also has the added benefit that it’s locally warm in there. Warm air already carries higher moisture than cooler air, lowering potential evaporation from all the surface agitation. Your roller mat can be used to remove solids as well/instead, use chambers for culturing live food etc.

Apologies if any of this is old news for you @john6 but have no idea of your experience so attempting to be explicit.

The next bit is growing plants low tech in 27C water that is maximally aerated will make the job easier, but it still needs thinking out. You also asked about lighting but will stop here as this is turning into a long post. Any questions so far, just holla.
 

john6

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Hi @Geoffrey Rea
I have no experience of the planted side of things or a freshwater sump but have over 20 years experience keeping and breeding Discus, and about the same keeping reef tanks, so be as explicit as you want.
That all looks straight forward and simple but my returns go straight to the fleece filter which filters 100% of the water as i have the bypass valve fully closed, so is it really necessary to utilise that wet/dry system? My thinking was return to fleece filter, the first chamber full of Alfagrog covered with a floating plant, 2nd chamber like you say an airstone or 2, if that is not enough surface agitation then a small pump in that chamber aimed at the surface will suffice and obviously return pump in last chamber.
You can buy different grades of fleece for my fleece filter so it would be trial and error with different grades until i was happy with a grade.
I plan on no co2, easy plants.
Do you think that would work?
 

Geoffrey Rea

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I have no experience of the planted side of things or a freshwater sump but have over 20 years experience keeping and breeding Discus, and about the same keeping reef tanks, so be as explicit as you want.

Nice, now we’re cooking on gas 😎 Have to ask as you never know what others already know without asking.

That all looks straight forward and simple but my returns go straight to the fleece filter which filters 100% of the water as i have the bypass valve fully closed, so is it really necessary to utilise that wet/dry system?

No, not a necessity at all, but really efficient. Wet/dry just maximises the filtration capacity of the media under those conditions. More bang for your buck.

With you feeding the returns into the fleece filter, you’re removing the organic load out of the water before it even needs processing. Most on the freshwater side don’t use rollers or know that they exist. That setup is excellent and automated apart from the occasional roll change.

You can buy different grades of fleece for my fleece filter so it would be trial and error with different grades until i was happy with a grade.

Would agree you’ll just have to test the grades against your feeding schedule. What fleece filter are you using?

I plan on no co2, easy plants.
Do you think that would work?

Yes. It’s just a little more challenging with lots of fish waste and higher temps but your design looks good. Keeping enough circulating flow in the display that gets waste into the weir up top without upsetting the angels will be key. You don’t want detritus settling on leaves if you to decide to plant out a substrate, will result in algae issues. Do you have hardscape plans? Wood?

Low tech freshwater only requires low light, some go with a little more light but blanket the tank with floating plants with access to aerial co2.
 

john6

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That setup is excellent and automated apart from the occasional roll change.
What fleece filter are you using?
Its a X-Filter 1.0, I use 25 micron rolls which lasted anywhere from 8-12 weeks, They do a 9, 17, 25, and 32 micron fleeces, i tried the 17 once and found it didnt last long although the tank was gin clear, I find the 25 micron a happy median between water clarity and fleece longevity
Do you hardscape plans? Wood?
I havent really thought of a 'scape yet as i'm not much of an artist but it will involve rock and wood, though i like the root type of wood more than the basic bogwood type.
Low tech freshwater only requires low light, some go with a little more light but blanket the tank with floating plants with access to aerial co2.
I want lights that will make the plants and fish 'pop' without too much light for the Angels, I looked at the Fluval 3.0 but the colour is far to yellow for my liking, i like a very white light. I dont like the look of floaters in a dt tank which was why i thought i could utilise them in the sump.
 
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