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Reef——>Planted convert (400+ gallons)

durb992000

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Joined
30 Aug 2022
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19
Location
Wales
I have recently shut down my large reef tank, moving a small selection of my favourite animals to a small redsea reefer 250. I have kept saltwater setups for the last 17 years and have become increasingly frustrated with rising energy costs and the various restrictions on obtaining livestock currently. I have made the difficult decision to close down the reef but I’m very excited on embarking on a planted tropical freshwater aquarium.

The tank size is 84x48x36” (lxwxh) and is hard plumbed to an outside shed that holds several glass sump tanks. I will be keeping the majority of the lights I used above my reef setup and intend to inject CO2 since I already have a large bottle and regulator. Most of the plants I intend to keep will be epiphytes.

I feel like a complete novice with this side of the hobby which is quite unnerving given my confidence with the saltwater side of things. I would very much appreciate people’s thoughts, opinions, expertise and advice to support me along my journey. I have been actively reading countless threads on here for the past few months, trying to absorb as much as I can.

Anyway, I’ll add some pictures of the tank as it stands. I have added some hard scape already but am expecting a further delivery from riverwood aquatics with about 60kg of Seiryu rock and more wood.

All thoughts and questions welcome!!
 

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durb992000

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30 Aug 2022
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Thanks, appreciate the comment. I do feel a pressure to live up to a tank of this size. It deserves to be special. Hopefully with the support of members on here, I can get it there
 

Lee iley

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19 Aug 2018
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Preston
Thanks, appreciate the comment. I do feel a pressure to live up to a tank of this size. It deserves to be special. Hopefully with the support of members on here, I can get it there
This site is full of brilliant members who have tons of knowledge. You will definitely do well with the help of everyone on this site.
 

foxfish

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11 Oct 2009
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Guernsey
Sounds great, I had a reef tank with the filter and chiller in the garage but mine was a cold water local marine, I am surprised more reefers dont turn to cold water!
Anyway… that is a fantastic looking tank, we have had a few massive planted tanks on the forum, it does appear that large tanks can make amazing plated displays.
However at the start you may need to plant it with more that just epiphytes and you may need some surface plants.
The big concern will be getting C02 to evenly distribute into all the corners and getting the right amout of light (as with most planted tanks) but it is all doable.
One thing is for sure, you will have plenty of support from the forum members.
 

Hanuman

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4 Jan 2019
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Thailand
However at the start you may need to plant it with more that just epiphytes and you may need some surface plants.
The big concern will be getting C02 to evenly distribute into all the corners and getting the right amout of light (as with most planted tanks) but it is all doable.
Couldn't agree more specially for someone who is getting in the planted tank hobby.

@durb992000 Only epiphyte tanks are usually more tricky and less flexible due how slow these plants grow and the fact that they are more prone to algae. It is feasible though with dedication and proper control. This said I would personally suggest something more hybrid to start with, with at least a good 30% of the plant mass being faster growing stem plants that will act as a buffer to the epiphytes and give you more leaway. The more you feel confident, the more you can remove these stem plants and then end up with a full epiphyte tank. Your tank is huge and as commented by @foxfish your first priority should be proper water flow > CO2 distribution > light. This is usually the single biggest problem new comers have. If you get this right from the beginning you will have a much more enjoyable adventure in the planted tank world!
 

durb992000

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Wales
I appreciate the words of wisdom.
Regarding flow, I intend to use my two gyre xf350s in some capacity and I have two 12,000lph pumps returning water from the sump system. I can dial down each pump as necessary as I know that the turnover required in freshwater tanks is significantly lower than reef tanks.

With stemmed plants, would they require aqua soil beneath the sand to grow well? I have purchased some bags of Tropica Aqua soil to place strategically my plan was to place it at the weir end of the tank and grow large Amazon swords and vallis that would move in the flow of the returns.

I have ordered two external CO2 reactors to diffuse CO2 into the water that will then exit the reactors next to each return pump inlet.

I have 3x250watt LEDs covering the tank and although this is one less than was used above the reef, I feel it would be adequate for the freshwater plants.

Thanks again for your advice, really grateful.
 

durb992000

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Can anyone recommend stem plants that don’t need aqua soil beneath the sand to grow?
 

durb992000

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Thanks very much, I’ll check that out.
One of the challenges of having a peninsula style tank is that I don’t really have much of a background! The weir end is the only “back” I have to any of the sides.
 

Wookii

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13 Nov 2019
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Nottingham
I appreciate the words of wisdom.
Regarding flow, I intend to use my two gyre xf350s in some capacity and I have two 12,000lph pumps returning water from the sump system. I can dial down each pump as necessary as I know that the turnover required in freshwater tanks is significantly lower than reef tanks.

With stemmed plants, would they require aqua soil beneath the sand to grow well? I have purchased some bags of Tropica Aqua soil to place strategically my plan was to place it at the weir end of the tank and grow large Amazon swords and vallis that would move in the flow of the returns.

I have ordered two external CO2 reactors to diffuse CO2 into the water that will then exit the reactors next to each return pump inlet.

I have 3x250watt LEDs covering the tank and although this is one less than was used above the reef, I feel it would be adequate for the freshwater plants.

Thanks again for your advice, really grateful.

Wow that is a massive tank - about 2,200 litres?! :eek: With good planning though it will an awesome planted tank with some great fish stocking options!

Slightly contrary to @Hanuman's advice - which is generally very good stock advice when setting up a new tank, to have fast growing plants - stem plants, particularly in a CO2 injected tank, can grow rapidly and require weekly trimming and regular replanting. Given your tank is 3 feet deep :eek: that's probably going to entail getting your head under the water every time you trim. I can only speak for myself, but that would get very old, very fast!

Adding loads of fast growing floating plants work equally well at start up to add very fast growing plant mass unaffected by CO2 distribution etc - they also shield lower plants from the light somewhat (we all end up setting our lights too high at the start), and will be much easier for you to maintain.

The other alternative would be to create pockets in amongst your rockwork that will allow you to conceal some large-ish pots. To these you can add some aquasoil and plant your stems - that way you can remove the pots as required for easier trimming and replanting. For your main planting I would go with slower growing species that require less regular maintenance like Cryptocoryne and Echinodorus species, with lots of epiphytes.

With that plant species choice it would also allow you to reconsider the CO2 injection, which will reduce your costs (you're going to chew through lots of CO2 really fast in a tank that size), reduce your plant maintenance as they'll grow a lot slower, and reduce the water change requirements to something less than 50% (1,100 litre per week for you!).

On the rocks, I'm not sure if Riverwood have shipped them to you yet, but if not consider changing them to lava rock or other inert alternative. Given you are in Wales, I'm going to guess your water is really soft out of the tap - which is ideal for a planted tank. However calcium carbonate in your Sieryu stone will react with carbonic acid resulting from CO2 injection, and 'can' significantly increase the hardness of your tank water. Obviously 60kg of Seiryu stone in a 2,200 litre tank might not have that much impact.
 

durb992000

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Wow that is a massive tank - about 2,200 litres?! :eek: With good planning though it will an awesome planted tank with some great fish stocking options!

Slightly contrary to @Hanuman's advice - which is generally very good stock advice when setting up a new tank, to have fast growing plants - stem plants, particularly in a CO2 injected tank, can grow rapidly and require weekly trimming and regular replanting. Given your tank is 3 feet deep :eek: that's probably going to entail getting your head under the water every time you trim. I can only speak for myself, but that would get very old, very fast!

Adding loads of fast growing floating plants work equally well at start up to add very fast growing plant mass unaffected by CO2 distribution etc - they also shield lower plants from the light somewhat (we all end up setting our lights too high at the start), and will be much easier for you to maintain.

The other alternative would be to create pockets in amongst your rockwork that will allow you to conceal some large-ish pots. To these you can add some aquasoil and plant your stems - that way you can remove the pots as required for easier trimming and replanting. For your main planting I would go with slower growing species that require less regular maintenance like Cryptocoryne and Echinodorus species, with lots of epiphytes.

With that plant species choice it would also allow you to reconsider the CO2 injection, which will reduce your costs (you're going to chew through lots of CO2 really fast in a tank that size), reduce your plant maintenance as they'll grow a lot slower, and reduce the water change requirements to something less than 50% (1,100 litre per week for you!).

On the rocks, I'm not sure if Riverwood have shipped them to you yet, but if not consider changing them to lava rock or other inert alternative. Given you are in Wales, I'm going to guess your water is really soft out of the tap - which is ideal for a planted tank. However calcium carbonate in your Sieryu stone will react with carbonic acid resulting from CO2 injection, and 'can' significantly increase the hardness of your tank water. Obviously 60kg of Seiryu stone in a 2,200 litre tank might not have that much impact.
Thank you very much for the comprehensive response. I agree that it will be important to choose slower growing plants as constantly trimming and replanting will get monotonous quickly for me!
I will choose a selection of Crypts and echinodorus plants to place around the tank. Can anyone provide any indication on an appropriate number/amount to start with? I understand there is a benefit to planting heavy from the outset to counter the growth of algae. I’m finding it difficult to gauge how many plants to buy, having never done so before!!

I had read about Seiryu rock raising KH and I’m hoping, like you’ve suggested, that the effect, if any, is negligible given the ratio of rock to aquarium volume. We shall see.
 

Wookii

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Thank you very much for the comprehensive response. I agree that it will be important to choose slower growing plants as constantly trimming and replanting will get monotonous quickly for me!
I will choose a selection of Crypts and echinodorus plants to place around the tank. Can anyone provide any indication on an appropriate number/amount to start with? I understand there is a benefit to planting heavy from the outset to counter the growth of algae. I’m finding it difficult to gauge how many plants to buy, having never done so before!!

I had read about Seiryu rock raising KH and I’m hoping, like you’ve suggested, that the effect, if any, is negligible given the ratio of rock to aquarium volume. We shall see.

I think given the tank size and accessibility, its going to be important that you have a clear plan - including planting - for your layout design.

If it were mine, I think I'd cut a large piece of card from a box (or several boxes, joined with tape), cut to the size of the base of the tank, and lay the hardscape out as you plan to install it. Then - with consideration for the eventual adult size of each plant, place some markers of some sort on the card (or mark in marker pen) where you'd want each plant. This will give you an accurate idea of how many plants you're going to need to order. Chances are it's going to be a lot more than you expect.

Also bear in mind that any wood you use will float, and corbo root in particular takes some time to sink. You could well be looking at a month or two for it to become waterlogged and sink. I'm not sure what timescales you are looking at before you want to get the tank set-up, so consider getting the wood in some water filled containers to start soaking, otherwise you'll need to find a way to anchor them down in the tank.

What sort of design are you considering - it looks like a triangular layout the length of the tank. You might want to take a look at @Zeus.'s previous tank which, though smaller than yours (though still quite large by most standards on this forum), was also a peninsula tank with filter intakes and outlets at the same end:

 
Last edited:

KirstyF

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25 Jul 2021
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Kidderminster
As someone with a fairly large tank I would agree with the above that flow to all areas is one of the trickier things to get right. I did a number of wet tests on the tank before planting by adding some visible floating/suspended matter and observing it’s movement as well as a few strategically placed plants in pots to see if they were suitably swaying and I’ve still had to tweak as things grew in. I have Maxspect gyres myself so getting the balance of good movement where you need it without blasting the ‘closest’ plants like a jet wash is the key.

Also, if you are keen on epiphytes and slower growers, I would seriously consider not going down the Co2 route and going for a slightly lower light tank. (There are still any number of stems that will work in this environment to give you some faster growing plants) This will give you some breathing space and you can always add Co2 later if you decide that there are some trickier plants that you just have to have.

I’m still tinkering with my planting 9mths in to my set-up and I’m guessing, with a tank this size you won’t be looking at a new scape every year!😏

If you do go Co2, be prepared to use a lot! I’m getting through a 5kg cylinder in 5-6 weeks on an 84” 700ltr tank.

Also, DIY ferts is likely the way for you to go, it will be sooo much cheaper, and the IFC calculator on here is a gem!

Looking forward to seeing this one come to life. 👍
 

dw1305

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nr Bath
Hi all,
However at the start you may need to plant it with more that just epiphytes and you may need some surface plants.
Personally I just wouldn't fill it up all the way to the top. That would allow you to <"have some emergent plants"> and do away with the need for CO2 etc.

Because it is a big tank you could always have some of the <"larger floating plants">, like <"Ludwigia helminthorriza">.

<"An emergent Cyperus">, like C. (alternifolius) involucratus would do? We have a few Riparium threads, have a look at @Iain Sutherland 's <"Splash tetra paludarium">.

cheers Darrel
 

Yugang

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13 Mar 2021
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Hong Kong
However calcium carbonate in your Sieryu stone will react with carbonic acid resulting from CO2 injection, and 'can' significantly increase the hardness of your tank water. Obviously 60kg of Seiryu stone in a 2,200 litre tank might not have that much impact.
I was going to say that for such huge tank a pH/Co2 controller would make CO2 much easier, as the gyres will take care of distribution. But with the Seiryu stones, what it could do with KH, this seems not a good advice anymore. For me that would be reason enough not to go with this particular stone, but that's just my personal opinion.

Wow, what a dream tank and dream project.
 
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