Tank depth, water changes and open tops

Discussion in 'General Planted Tank Discussions' started by Ray, 31 Oct 2007.

  1. Ray

    Ray Member

    Messages:
    474
    Location:
    Switzerland
    Hello, I'm back into fishkeeping after 20 years and its all got so much more exciting since I was a kid... I've been running a little 25L pilot planted guppy tank for the last two months dosing Easy-Life ferts weekly and liquid carbon daily. Everything is growing nicely, my wife approves of my rediscovered hobby and so its time time upgrade! In the old days I could only grow Java moss and duckweed so this is a pleasant suprise.

    A 90cm tank would fit the gap we have but here my dilemma starts. I could get a 90 x 30 x45H and have a nice 120L or at the other extreme get 90 x 45 x60H for 240L. I'll post a piccy of my inspiration, I think a 240L like this could be really impressive if not too much work:

    [​IMG]

    I have 5 minutes/day plus an hour or so/week for maintenance. So I have these 3 questions:

    - for a 60cm deep tank will normal flourescents do or do I need hugely more intensity and maybe even metal halide to get through?
    - how do you change 60 or even 120 Litres of water without it being a real chore? What do people do these days - wheel a small barrel up to the tank and dechloinate and heat to correct temp overnight?
    - Open tops look lovely but are they really practical with fish jumping and evaporation. How does everyone stop this? If I cut a sheet of Acrylic to cover my Aquarium will I keep the open top look but stop things escaping?

    Thanks all for your advice.

    Ray
     
  2. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,937
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    Hi Ray,
    Welcome back to the obsession. It's always good to have the Managing Director on-board. I think you'll be able to do better than duckweed. :)

    Those ADA tanks are always inspirational, but I've got to say that: 5 minutes a day and 1 hour/week is not much time at all for a maintenance of high tech tank. There are a lot of mundane things that are time consuming, like netting and removing fallen leaves, clipping aerial roots, monitoring growth of individual plants, spotting trouble and making adjustments, cleaning the glass, feeding the fish.

    If you have time constraints then it might be better to opt for the smaller tank, as energy expenditure increases proportionally with tank volume. Likewise, I would opt for a low light tank, avoid CO2 injection completely and reduce the water changes to nil. The plants will grow a LOT slower avoiding the need for constant maintenance.

    Regarding open top tanks, yes, there is the issue of evaporation but that just requires a top up every few days or so. In keeping with my suggestion to go low tech, a 30 gallon tank should have not more than around 60 watts, which will allow you to grow quite a few plants by supplementing Excel (a carbon supplement) daily and fertilizing weekly.

    There is a strong relationship between the level of lighting, CO2/dosing requirement and maintenance so again, if time is in short supply you'll want to minimize this. If you use high powered lighting and fail to dose/trim/maintain you'll get algae pretty quickly, and algae will require a lot more time to subdue.

    An acrylic cover is a good idea to stop fish jumping, or you could just limit the fish collection to bottom/midgroung feeders and other non-jumpers.

    Large water changes in needed can be accomplished with hoses. There is a gadget called a Python which is a really long hose and which connects to your tap water flow to create suction which drains the tank and, of course, the tap is used to fill via the Python as well.

    Hope this helps,

    Cheers
     
  3. Ray

    Ray Member

    Messages:
    474
    Location:
    Switzerland
    Thank you for that reply ceg4048. Just googled python and now I understand. How can you be sure to get the temperature right? I presume you add dechlorinator to the tank before you refill, enough for the whole tank?

    Actully the mundane pruning and cleaning tasks you describe I find quite relaxing after a week in the office, but with 3 kids and a fairly demanding job I don't want to take on more than I can chew. For example I'd love to keep Discus but I'm wary of the commitment. The older kids handle a lot of the simpler daily tasks with gusto but I don't know if they will stay interested long term.
     
  4. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,937
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    Hi Ray,
    Yes I agree that they are relaxing, especially if your work is stressful. The only problem is that they ought to be done frequntly. If you have got little helpers then these tasks are perefect for them!
    8) You're right though, if they lose interest that might spell trouble. A high light tank , poorly maintained can deteriorate rather quickly.

    Yes, Dechlor for the entire tank volume can be added after siphoning is finished.

    If you have a mixer tap then you can adjust your temperature at the spout. Just stick a thermometer under the flow to get it right and then reconnect the hose. If you have separate hot and cold taps then it's going to be difficult. Don't use the hot water from you tap if you use a salt based resin hosehold water softener, otherwise you will be dumping massive amounts of sodium into the tank. If your softener uses a Potassium salt instead of Sodium Chloride then it's OK to use. If none of these options are available I'm afraid the only thing to do will be to have a dedicated water reservoir located somewhere convenient. You can still use a powerhead and tubes to transfer the water though so you never need a bucket! :D I've found that the temperature drop during a 50% water change is really not big deal if the water is added slowly, but I have powerful thermofilters that can erase an 8 degree temperature drop within 2 hours. Of course if you have sensitive species like Discus that might not be so good but my Ottos and Apistogrammas handle it fine.

    Cheers,
     
  5. Ray

    Ray Member

    Messages:
    474
    Location:
    Switzerland
    Thank you again ceg4048, you really are very helpful. I live in an apartment - no idea if the hot water is softened - you had me reaching for the test kit. But no, it comes out of either tap GH 9, KH 8, PH 7.8, so water changes with a python are doable.

    Especially since as per your advice I will do either low light CO2 tank or low light liquid carbon so I won't need to run EI style 50% changes or anything.

    I wish I'd known about this a 18 months ago when this place was being built - I could have had them plumb water and drain up to the stand and rigged up something to automate water changes...

    Still humming and hawing between 120L and 240 - bigger isn't really double the work and you can stock a lot more. Hmmmm...
     
  6. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,937
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    Hi Ray,
    If you're going non-CO2, and if you have the Santa's helpers then the there should be no problem doing the 240L. If you can get nice even lighting across the tank dimensions that would be good. I would suggest that you start with a target of 100 watts or so for that size. Try to find as versatile a hood as you can that has more than a single bulb and individual controls for each bulb. This give you much better control. If you decide on open top with MH lighting be careful about the wattage.

    It just dawned on me that you live in Switzerland. I don't know what's available there. :wideyed:

    Plumbing is one of my pet peeves. Boy, you sure missed your chance there. I have dreams about automated water changes at least once a week. :arghh:

    Cheers,
     
  7. Ray

    Ray Member

    Messages:
    474
    Location:
    Switzerland
    As helpful as ever ceg4048. Availability in Switzerland is not a problem, especially the German brands, of course. My LFS is very big on JBL for example. I'm now discussing with my wife - she wants a laquered high gloss black or white finish stand (apparently quite trendy these days) to match our sideboard (no handle, push door to open, door covers entire front of unit). LFS knows a carpenter who makes stands, need to find out if he can do that at a fair price.

    Probably cheaper just to buy an MDF sideboard, but could it take the weight and not sag? I presume the reason Jewel & co. use smaller stand bodies than the tank is to cut down on sagging?
     

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