High Tech Planted 20 gallon long

NotoriousENG

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Hey Everyone,

I joined this forum for help with the sump aspect of my current build, a high-tech planted 20 gallon long with a 10-gallon sump. Reading through posts here and responses from members have been super helpful so I wanted to create a build thread in case anyone is interested. Warning in advance, this will be a longer post detailing my progress to date. So without further ado, the specs of this build are:

Fresh Water High Tech Planted Aquarium
Tank: 20 gallon long drilled for Eshopps Eclipse S overflow and return
Sump: Standard 10 gallon aquarium, baffle-less configuration with poret foam
Return pump: Jebao DCP-2500
Stand: Imagitarium Brooklyn as a base, DIY solid top, and shelf added
Lighting: Finnex Ray2 DS 7000K 36"
CO2: Pressurized, injected via DIY cerges reactor using dual stage regulator
Substrate: TBD but likely potting soil with black diamond blasting sand cap
Fertilization: KNO3, K2SO4, KH2PO4, CSM+B, Flourish Trace, dosing regime TBD but likely estimative index based

I recently graduated college and was looking forward to setting up my first tank since high school. The plan was to use equipment I had on hand to get a tank up and running quickly and slowly upgrade. The only thing I was missing was a stand, hoping to save money I started looking on craigslist and Facebook and things quickly got out of hand. Orginal plan abandoned and budget obliterated.

I ended up purchasing this 20 gal, home-built stand, and 10 gallon for a very good price.
tank pics.jpg

The stand ended up not being as sturdy as I was looking for so I decided to go a different route. I got the idea of a sumped tank stuck in my head so set out to get it up and running. This tank was drilled with a single 3/4" bulkhead, after researching and posting questions here I decided I wasn't comfortable with a single drain. I decided to with the Eshopps Eclipse S overflow as it seemed to be the most straightforward and low-profile option.

This was my first time drilling a tank but luckily it went well. Since this tank is rimmed I couldn't use the included jig as intended or the water level would have been too low. I found that if I placed the jig on the inside of the tank, the overflow height was perfect so I traced the hole position with a sharpie and taped the jig to the bag of the tank to prevent drill walk.
jig.jpg

hole.jpg

piece.jpg

I had a little bit of chipping, but I was able to clean it up easily with sandpaper.

As for the stand, I purchase a cheap metal frame stand on sale from petco. Reading reviews beforehand revealed that these tanks often have issues with the tank rim not sitting flat on the stand. Due to this, I decided to put a free-floating top on the stand with a layer of foam between the wood and the stand to aid in leveling. The top started as a laminated spruce project board from home depot. I then stained it dark and sealed it with spray spar urethane to protect it from water. The end result turned out pretty decent
wood.jpg


Since this tank would have a sump I also needed a stand for it. I decided to use some scrap 2x4 that I had on hand which I end glued and screwed together.

Since 2x4s differ greatly in dimensions I had a lot of work to do to create a flat level surface for the sump. Since I don't have any power tools that meant hand sanding. Lots of hand sanding, over 8 hours of it.

shelf.jpg


Next, I painted the back of the tank and the shelf with Rustoleum protective black enamel paint. Also featured in the below picture is my only mildly sketchy light hanging system built from pvc conduit and paracord. I had to hang this light since it is longer than the tank and way to powerful for such a short tank. Eventually, I will replace it but I had it on hand from my last tank and the budget was hurting at this point. I love the rocks in this picture but I don't think I will be using them as they raise kH and pH and my tap water is already on the high side (gH 8, kH 10, pH 7.8). I do have an RO system in storage but I'd rather avoid setting it up in my apartment.
Tank.jpg


Next was plumbing and the sump. For the sump, I was initially planning on using a more traditional saltwater layout form. However, talking to people on my home forum (plantedtank.net) lead me to a simpler baffle-free design that minimizes water disturbance to prevent off-gassing CO2 as much as possible. Since no protein skimmers are used in freshwater this design should work well since a constant water level isn't needed in the sump. In this configuration, water enters the left side of the sump and flows through three 2 inch sheets of poret foam which will act as both mechanical and biological filtration. I will likely also be running purigen to keep dissolved organics low but I'll just toss the bag near the pump or stick it in the CO2 reactor.
Plumbing 2.jpg

The foam does fit perfectly flush but it got pushed out of place when I was working on the plumbing. Plumbing for the sump is pretty standard for a herbie style drain. I avoided 90-degree elbows on the primary drain but ended up using 90-degree elbows on the emergency drain as it made alignment simpler. I don't suspect this will be a problem as I will running far less flow then is used in reef tanks.
Plumbing 1.jpg

I don't have the return plumbed yet as I am waiting for the 10-inch filter housing that I will be using for the cerges CO2 reactor to arrive. The reactor will T off the main return line and then T back in. I went with the cerges reactor as they are simple and extremely effective for dissolving CO2 which will be useful in combating off-gassing in a sumped tank. For the return outlet, I purchased the parts to build a split loc line return. I also haven't decided exactly how much off the return will be hard or soft plumbing yet so any advice is welcome.

Once the filter housing and 5 lb co2 tank arrive I should have all of the equipment for this build. For those curious, CO2 injection will be handled with a dual-stage regulator I plumbed to a solenoid and needle valve 5 years ago for my last tank.
Reg.jpg


So the next major step is to determine hardscape and stocking. For plants, I will likely be trying to avoid stem plants to keep maintenance to a minimum. I am planning on using lots of crypts, buce, anubias and moss. I am also planning on a dwarf hair grass carpet. These aren't really the plants you would typically see in a high-tech planted tank like this will be, usually, the higher-tech tanks focus on stem plants. However, this tank is already a bit outside the norm so why not.

For hardscape, I collected some driftwood from the banks of a local stream. There is still some question of if it will be okay to use or if it will sink so I have it soaking as of now. I am crossing my fingers as it is a gorgeous piece of wood.
Wood in tank.jpg


This is as far as I've gotten so far. I will keep posting updates so hopefully, someone enjoys reading this! Any comments, suggestions, questions, etc are always welcome!
 
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NotoriousENG

NotoriousENG

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Progress on the build has slowed down a bit but is still moving along. The major progress since my last post was getting the cerges reactor for CO2 injection plumbed.
cerges 2.jpg

cerges 1.jpg

Unfortunately, I might have to replumb it as I forgot to consider front to back length of the stand. As a result, the reactors is almost hanging out of the stand. I tried to get fancy and avoid elbows in the main return line, but to have any chance of getting the current plumbing to work I'll have to use elbows or the hose barbs will stick way out once glued on.
cerges 3.jpg

I might be able to get it to work if I let it hang out the back since the overflow and drains already keep the tank off the wall. I'll probably try to finish plumbing it to the pump and see how horrible it looks.

I have to say purple primer is the bane of my existence. No matter what I tried it got all over my plumbing so I'll pretty much have to paint over it or try to wipe it off with acetone or MEK. My hat is off to everyone who can do the super neat clean looking plumbing, I certainly am not one of them.

In other news, my CO2 tank, return tubing, and co2 tubing I bought from a marine depots liquidation sale should be here this weekend. Once that gets in I should finally have all the equipment and can start leak testing. I also started soaking some potting soil that I plan to use as part of the substrate. I forgot to sift it before I started soaking and tried to sift it wet which failed completely. The only thing I accomplished was drawing strange looks from my neighbors while I played in buckets of mud. The new plan is to let it dry out then try sifting again.
 
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NotoriousENG

NotoriousENG

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Big news, the tank is fully plumbed and all equipment is in house aside from a check valve for the co2 inlet.
plumbed 1.jpg


Plumbing 1.jpg

Plumbed 3.jpg


I totally forgot that I had ordered black vinyl tubing for the return online and ended up buying some braided vinyl from a local hardware store. I have decided if I want to change it out or not. On one hand the black looks nicer and is more flexible which would take some pressure off the bulkheads. On the other hand, the braided tubing is more kink resistant. I just wish I had remembered I ordered the tubing since the braided stuff was super expensive from the local hardware store.

I still have to screw the pipe strap/brackets I have to the stand to take pressure off the bulkheads. I would like to wait till after I leaked test the plumbing. However, I don't want to stress the tank during leak testing, what are yall thoughts?
 
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NotoriousENG

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Well, disaster struck...

The tank was leaking through the threads of the street elbow to the return bulkhead connection and when I went to disassemble to retape it for the third time the union jammed. Guess I twisted just a little too hard and cracked the back panel in multiple places. Especially frustrating since it was my own fault but live and learn I suppose.

Luckily, I have a backup 20 long that I will substitute in for the cracked tank. Since I'll need to drill and paint this tank it definitely sets the timeline back. Since I had so much trouble with the threaded bulkhead leaking I think for version two I will not be drilling the return and will run it over the top instead. I suspect that means more elbows than the original design but hopefully my pump has enough juice to compensate. If anyone has a favorite over-the-top return design I would love to hear it!
 
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NotoriousENG

NotoriousENG

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The replacement tank is drilled, painted, plumbed, and has been leaking testing for 24 hours and so far so good! I ended up using the loc line Y harness for the return as it was simpler and lets me have flow at both the top and bottom of the tank. I am also getting a decent amount of surface ripple from the siphon break hole (3/16") as I had to drill it very close to the surface due to the design of loc line Y fitting.
New tank 1 (2).jpg

Return 1.jpg

Return 2.jpg

The double elbow definitely cuts the flow down a bit. However, it still seems to be pretty significant as I can flood the overflow box if I turn the pump up all the way and close off the main drain. I find this interesting since the main drain can handle the flow fine with no trickle through the emergency drain, even with the valve closed a significant amount. My guess is a combination of the 90-degree elbows in the emergency drain (vs 45s in the main drain) and the emergency drain not going full siphon as it sucks air from the surface down in a whirlpool type thing. Shouldn't be a problem though as I doubt I'll be running the pump anywhere near full capacity.

Once I'm comfortable the plumbing is leak-free I will be painting the return, drains, and reactor plumbing black as I am planning on running the stand open. I will also be using pipe straps to hold the return in place and tank load off of the overflow bulkhead. I will be screwing these into a wooden rail that's mounted to the back of the stand but is tricky to see as I painted it black.
return 3.jpg

Also pictured in the above picture are some nice cuts from where I managed to attack my thumb with a hand saw during the build. Very embarrassing I have to say as I should know better than to get distracted. Luckily no damage beyond some shallow cuts.

In other news, I got some plant cutting from a local club and am growing them out emmersed in the cracked tank while I finish up this build.
emersed 1.jpg


New tank 1.jpg
 
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jandlms

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Intently following. I love the concept and can’t wait to see the application.
One bit of advice. I would use plastic conduit straps rather than metal to hold your plumbing down. Home Depot amongst others has them readily available and they won’t rust and cause probs in the future.
 
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NotoriousENG

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Intently following. I love the concept and can’t wait to see the application.
One bit of advice. I would use plastic conduit straps rather than metal to hold your plumbing down. Home Depot amongst others has them readily available and they won’t rust and cause probs in the future.
Thanks for the tip! Is rust the only reason to steer away from the metal straps? Since the glass on 20s are pretty thin I wanted to use the metal straps to make as much load as possible was off the back glass.

Following along! interesting build so far and I absolute love my old 20 gallon so I’m excited to see how yours turns out!
What are your planned stocking? Both flora and fauna
Also why did you decide sump for filtration and will that affect the CO2?
For flora I am planning to focus on rooted plants and epiphytes, mainly crypts, buce, moss, anubias, small swords, and a dwarf hair grass carpet if I can manage it. I also planning to have a few or little stem plants in the long run which I a bit unusual for a high-tech tank.

Fauna has been giving me a hard time. My water is a bit hard and alkaline here and I really want to avoid breaking my RO system out since I'm in an apartment. Since it's been so long since I kept fish I also don't want to push things. Been tossing around a lot of ideas but currently thinking white clouds and neo shrimp, possibly with a few peacock gudgeons once the shrimp colony is built up.

As for the sump, I didn't plan on it. I was originally supposed to use the equipment I had on hand to set up the tank cheaply and quickly and then switch things out slowly to build towards my goal of no visible equipment in the tank. When the build started I guess I just saw red and things got out of hand. I've totally blown my budget and there are still things visible in the tank! It's all good though, I like overcomplicated things and don't mind the look of the overflow. Sumps are also super easy to clean which is nice since I like to rinse out my filter media frequently to keep things clean (but not too clean! have to protect those good filter bacteria). Sumps do off-gas more CO2 than a canister. To combat this I've gone with a baffle-less design based on advice from my home forum to limit splashing. In the end, it shouldn't be too bad since it's a small tank, will likely just have to get the cylinder filled a bit more frequently. My last tank was a 46 gallon with a 10 lb cylinder which used to last 6 months or so. I'm hoping that even with a 5 lb on this tank I can still get a few months in between fills, but time will tell.
 

InvertGang

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Thanks for the tip! Is rust the only reason to steer away from the metal straps? Since the glass on 20s are pretty thin I wanted to use the metal straps to make as much load as possible was off the back glass.


For flora I am planning to focus on rooted plants and epiphytes, mainly crypts, buce, moss, anubias, small swords, and a dwarf hair grass carpet if I can manage it. I also planning to have a few or little stem plants in the long run which I a bit unusual for a high-tech tank.

Fauna has been giving me a hard time. My water is a bit hard and alkaline here and I really want to avoid breaking my RO system out since I'm in an apartment. Since it's been so long since I kept fish I also don't want to push things. Been tossing around a lot of ideas but currently thinking white clouds and neo shrimp, possibly with a few peacock gudgeons once the shrimp colony is built up.

As for the sump, I didn't plan on it. I was originally supposed to use the equipment I had on hand to set up the tank cheaply and quickly and then switch things out slowly to build towards my goal of no visible equipment in the tank. When the build started I guess I just saw red and things got out of hand. I've totally blown my budget and there are still things visible in the tank! It's all good though, I like overcomplicated things and don't mind the look of the overflow. Sumps are also super easy to clean which is nice since I like to rinse out my filter media frequently to keep things clean (but not too clean! have to protect those good filter bacteria). Sumps do off-gas more CO2 than a canister. To combat this I've gone with a baffle-less design based on advice from my home forum to limit splashing. In the end, it shouldn't be too bad since it's a small tank, will likely just have to get the cylinder filled a bit more frequently. My last tank was a 46 gallon with a 10 lb cylinder which used to last 6 months or so. I'm hoping that even with a 5 lb on this tank I can still get a few months in between fills, but time will tell.
White clouds are a good option. With them and Neos you could run an unheated setup. White clouds love high laminar flow so you could up the flow rate on your return pump to create a laminar stream.

You could then put dwarf stiphodon gobies in which also like cool water and high flow. They're biofilm/algae grazers too, a great clean up crew option. Lots of different ones to choose from.

Another potential fast flow lover would be a hillstream loach. A great little oddball fish with a lot of personality. Just gotta make sure you've got a species that won't get too big for a 20L. A reticulated would likely do alright in a 20L. They aren't shoaling and do fine solo.

If you want a smaller version of a white cloud and can find them, you could run Vietnamese Cardinal Minnows which are smaller but have otherwise similar care requirements. Means you could have a larger shoal in a 20L.
 
Zoanthids

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Thanks for the tip! Is rust the only reason to steer away from the metal straps? Since the glass on 20s are pretty thin I wanted to use the metal straps to make as much load as possible was off the back glass.


For flora I am planning to focus on rooted plants and epiphytes, mainly crypts, buce, moss, anubias, small swords, and a dwarf hair grass carpet if I can manage it. I also planning to have a few or little stem plants in the long run which I a bit unusual for a high-tech tank.

Fauna has been giving me a hard time. My water is a bit hard and alkaline here and I really want to avoid breaking my RO system out since I'm in an apartment. Since it's been so long since I kept fish I also don't want to push things. Been tossing around a lot of ideas but currently thinking white clouds and neo shrimp, possibly with a few peacock gudgeons once the shrimp colony is built up.

As for the sump, I didn't plan on it. I was originally supposed to use the equipment I had on hand to set up the tank cheaply and quickly and then switch things out slowly to build towards my goal of no visible equipment in the tank. When the build started I guess I just saw red and things got out of hand. I've totally blown my budget and there are still things visible in the tank! It's all good though, I like overcomplicated things and don't mind the look of the overflow. Sumps are also super easy to clean which is nice since I like to rinse out my filter media frequently to keep things clean (but not too clean! have to protect those good filter bacteria). Sumps do off-gas more CO2 than a canister. To combat this I've gone with a baffle-less design based on advice from my home forum to limit splashing. In the end, it shouldn't be too bad since it's a small tank, will likely just have to get the cylinder filled a bit more frequently. My last tank was a 46 gallon with a 10 lb cylinder which used to last 6 months or so. I'm hoping that even with a 5 lb on this tank I can still get a few months in between fills, but time will tell.
Very nice, it seems like you’ve had it all planned out :) A nice shoal of white clouds and neocardinia would look lovely. I’ve never kept peacock gudgeons but they definitely caught my eye in the shop before haha. Also maybe once your colony of shrimp are up and running would you consider other inverts too like a Mexican dwarf crayfish? They are such funny characters.
The flora are great choices as well, hopefully the CO2 will really help that dwarf hair grass carpet. What are you planning to use for substrate?
 
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NotoriousENG

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White clouds are a good option. With them and Neos you could run an unheated setup. White clouds love high laminar flow so you could up the flow rate on your return pump to create a laminar stream.

You could then put dwarf stiphodon gobies in which also like cool water and high flow. They're biofilm/algae grazers too, a great clean up crew option. Lots of different ones to choose from.

Another potential fast flow lover would be a hillstream loach. A great little oddball fish with a lot of personality. Just gotta make sure you've got a species that won't get too big for a 20L. A reticulated would likely do alright in a 20L. They aren't shoaling and do fine solo.

If you want a smaller version of a white cloud and can find them, you could run Vietnamese Cardinal Minnows which are smaller but have otherwise similar care requirements. Means you could have a larger shoal in a 20L.
I looked up the Vietnamese Cardinal Minnows and I really like them so I will see if I can find some. Looks like they are a bit more pH-sensitive with 7.5 listed as the high end on the site I read. My tap water is clocking in about 7.6~7.8 so not to bad I suppose. I've always loved the look of stiphodon gobies and hillstream loaches so something I have considered actually. My biggest worry with them is that they may be more sensitive to the CO2 level in the water. I'll have to do some more research.

Very nice, it seems like you’ve had it all planned out :) A nice shoal of white clouds and neocardinia would look lovely. I’ve never kept peacock gudgeons but they definitely caught my eye in the shop before haha. Also maybe once your colony of shrimp are up and running would you consider other inverts too like a Mexican dwarf crayfish? They are such funny characters.
The flora are great choices as well, hopefully the CO2 will really help that dwarf hair grass carpet. What are you planning to use for substrate?
Planning the flora and fauna is one of the only things I have planned. The build was mostly just start cutting and gluing and see what happens, both a blessing and a curse. Considering this tank is a bit of an oddity from the amount of equipment I'm cramming in, to the choice of easy fish and plants that don't really need high tech (aside from the hair grass carpet) I've named this tank "Enigma" in my head.

I have considered other inverts and I am open to pretty much any as long as they don't eat my plants! I already plan on having a couple of varieties of snails, likely nerites, and a horde of malaysian trumpet snails (MTS). Don't love the aesthetics of the MTS but they are very useful for keeping the substrate stirred.

Speaking of the substrate, as of now I am planning on potting soil and black diamond blasting sand for a cap. I've started the potting soil on its second wet/dry cycle to mineralize the organics. However, I'm not sure if I will have enough patience to fully mineralize it.

Also wondering how long people usually leak test for. I hit the 48-hour mark today and still looking good. Also noticed a few spots in the black background paint I need to touch up. In other news, I learned that one should be very sure to not accidentally drop the overflow cover into the weir box. Happened to me today and I had a few tense minutes as I tried to keep cover from blocking the bulkhead while I tried to reach the pump controller to prevent a flood. Once the pump was off I had a heck of time getting it out of the weir box since my hands are too fat and all my pliers to wide and short to reach down far enough into the weir box.
 

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Congrats on the new tank!
 
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This weeks update,

After a week without any leaks, I've decided the tank and plumbing have passed leak testing. The only thing of note from leak testing is an issue with a cyclic filling and draining in the overflow box that I working to correct with advice from this forum and a few others.

Since leak testing passed I painted all the plumbing this weekend with Krylon fusion matte black spray paint. Despite my complete lack of spray painting skills it seems to have turned out decent. Once everything is dry I'll see just how bad the drips and overspray are.

I also took a hike out into the wood to collect some rocks to use in the hardscape. I found some I liked and packed them out which isn't something I'm eager to do again anytime soon. I've done my fair share of backpacking, but a pack back full of rocks is just not comfortable! After some scrubbing with a steel brush, they have great color but are a little softer than I thought. They seem to be sedimentary in nature and did not fizz when vinegar was poured on them. Hopefully, they won't pose any issues.

With rocks in hand, I started playing around with some possible layouts. Not sure how I feel about them yet. As a whole, they all are rather bulky and don't leave much room for rooted plants or a carpet. Any advice is appreciated!
Layout 1.jpg

Layout 2.jpg

Layout 3.jpg

Layout 4.jpg

Layout 5.jpg

Layout 6.jpg
 

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a helpful tip from when I was into planted aquariums. If you're struggling to find an aquascape you like, try using smaller pieces of wood and rock. This really helps with the scale of the aquascape and make things more natural looking. Try a smaller piece of driftwood in your case. I think you'll find that you like it more.
 
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a helpful tip from when I was into planted aquariums. If you're struggling to find an aquascape you like, try using smaller pieces of wood and rock. This really helps with the scale of the aquascape and make things more natural looking. Try a smaller piece of driftwood in your case. I think you'll find that you like it more.
+1
If you’re using the driftwood as the main centerpiece then also you could try keeping that the same size and then finding smaller rocks
 
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NotoriousENG

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First things first, the tank is planted! Today, 7/31/2021 is day one.

I tweaked the hardscape a bit and used fewer rocks and I think it looks better now. I'm also biased sooo...

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Don't mind the HOB filter, I'm just using it to help clear the water faster. Luckily I had only minor clouding and seems to be clearing quickly.

The current plant list is:
Anubias Frazeri
Anubias sp. unknown
Crypt. undulata
Crypt. sp. unknown
Ludwigia repens
Hydrocotyle tripata
Eleocharis parvula
Narrow-leaf Java fern

Hopefully, this is enough plant mass to get things rolling. The Ludwigia probably won't stay long term but I needed a fast grower to help suck nutrients up.

I'm a bit worried I planted the hair grass too deep, tricky stuff to plant since it was tissue cultured and didn't have much for roots.

Working on getting my hands on some buce, moss, hygro. pinna. as well as more crypts and anubias. Will probably add a lily at some point as well.

CO2 is currently running at a pretty good clip so will need to get that dialed soon.

I did have run into some issues this week. First, off the dirt, I was mineralizing on my patio caught some pesticide overspray from the landscapers so had to be abandoned. I honestly didn't have the patience to wait another few weeks for the dirt to be ready (especially since I needed to get things planted and cleaned up before my flatmate moves in) so I went in another direction. The substrate I am now using consists of a very thin layer of boiled and baked worm castings mixed 50/50 with black diamond blasting sand and a little red clay. Everything is then capped off with more black diamond sand. I also placed a very light sprinkle of dolomite, KCL, and osmocote plus on the glass before adding the substrate. I will say that its very hard to tell how deep the cap is since the enriched and plain sand are the same color. As a result, I think the substrate in the front is a little thin, maybe an inch, inch and half total. The enriched layer is very thin so its mostly sand.



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It also appears that my return pump is surging causing the fill-drain issue I've been having with my overflow. I'm outside the return period on this pump but I will try to see if I can get swapped out anyways. If I am able to return it I will have to run the tank off a HOB filter and a needle wheel powerhead (for co2) until the new pump comes. Not ideal but should work since I don't have any fauna to worry about. I'll be putting media for the HOB in my sump to hopefully get the ball rolling on seeding.


Any thoughts, comments, suggestions are greatly appreciated!
 
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Seems way too early to me, but started popping nitrites today, pretty low but definitely a purplish tinge to the test. Ammonia also crept up a bit to between 0.5 and 1.0 so looks like a little leaching is going on. Three hours into the photoperiod I'm at around a 1 point pH drop (I think...). Really need to get a pH meter. The question is weather I get the new membrane/probe thing for my old Hannah pH pen or just get something new?

Started dosing at around half-strength EI so nitrates are in the 15 - 20 ppm range now. Since I'm currently doing daily water changes I plan to dose macros every day right after and micros every day in the morning before lights on.



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Still having a bit of a hard time deciding on how much flow to run overall and how much to run through the cerges reactor. Currently running the pump around 50% power which has most of the plants waving in the current a bit. I'm sending a good portion of it through the cerges. Getting some gurgling from the reactor so still not quite dialed in.

Plants seem to be fine, not really doing anything yet. Also no signs of algae so far so I'll take that as a win.

In other news, the cloudiness is the same if not worse. I gave up on running the HOB after I had to clean the sand out of the impeller for the fourth time. Hoping its just a bacterial bloom and not my rocks... Currently trying to brainstorm a way to stuff a bunch of polyfill in my sump.

The haze is bad enough you can actually see it in the picture. If you look closely at the top of the picture you can see faint smokey clouds of whatever it is being blown around.



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Also worried about whether I have my light (36" Ray2 DS) at the right height or not. It's so old that I am having a hard time finding a PAR chart for it. Ended up guessing and putting the light about 5.5 inches from the water surface which gives about 16" from the lowest point of the substrate to the light. Currently running an 8-hour photoperiod.
 
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NotoriousENG

NotoriousENG

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Been a bit since the last update so first things first - pictures!




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I apologize for the poor full tank shot, the glare from the hanging light makes it tricky to photograph




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Close up on the wood featuring some new plants I glued to the wood yesterday.




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View from the side of the tank, I find this view very artsy.

New plants:
Anubias Barteri round leaf (yesterday)
Bucephlandra Sp. Green (yesterday)
Another Crypt. Sp. Unknown (last week)
Ludwigia sp. Unknown (salvaged from the failed emersed bin) has longer and thinner leaves than the L. Repens
Rotala sp. Unknown (salvaged from the failed emersed bin)

Now that the pictures are posted on to the boring details. Since my last update, a number of things have changed or been tweaked. The largest of which was uprooting all of the plants three days after planting to add more blasting sand I realized that after settling my substrate was under an inch deep in places. During that, I also took out some of the rocks from the wood mound and shifted a few to the right rock ring I'm now referring to as the "Stem Den." Still not sure if the scape is right but I'm pretty happy for my first real attempt at a real scape.

Plants have been growing well but perhaps a bit slowly. The hair grass is starting to put out some runners and will probably need a trim soon. All of the crypts are putting out new leaves and the large anubias is looking like it's maybe thinking about putting up a leaf soon. The java ferns have started rooting into the wood and one of them is just starting to form what looks like daughter plants. The hydrocolotye seems very happy and is putting up lots of much larger leaves. The ludwigia's seem perked up quickly but started showing yellowed new growth. I suspected it was an iron problem that motivated me to get my dosing to a consistent plan vs. random chaos. However, I am now wondering if it wasn't actually a deficiency since the same leaves are starting to develop a slight but nice-looking orange tinge. Really looking forward to being able to top the stems to get rid of the old damaged emersed form leaves. Luckily I have seen no algae (knock on wood) except for a little bit of brown slime-like stuff on the old leaves of only a single crypt. Once it gets a few more leaves I will snip its old leaves off.

Current dosing:



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I also moved the lights a few inches closer to the tank, bumped CO2 up to two bbs (nearly double), and spent a few hours dialing in return nozzle positioning. Took some more pH readings today.



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The left two viles are the tank right before CO2 turns on (two viles since it's at the cross of the high and low test kit). The middle vile is two hours later at lights on and the rightmost vile is around the midpoint of the phot period. If I am reading the colors right I am getting a drop from 7.8 to 6.8. Drop checker is turning green (not sure if it's the right green since I've never had a drop checker before) around the 1.5-hour mark from lights on. Still planning to get a pH pen but I need to do more research on brands, calibration, and proper storage before I spend the money. The plants seem to be very responding very well to the new ferts, light, and CO2 so things seem to be on the right track!

The next steps going forward is to finish populating the rocks and branches of the wood with buce, anbuias, and moss. Still going back and forth on what to put where.

As always any comments, suggestions, or thoughts are appreciated!
 

PICK the Most Tested & Least Tested Parameters of your Tank (Pick 2)

  • Calcium (most)

    Votes: 45 6.3%
  • Alkalinity (most)

    Votes: 499 70.0%
  • Magnesium (most)

    Votes: 5 0.7%
  • Phosphate (most)

    Votes: 68 9.5%
  • PH (most)

    Votes: 67 9.4%
  • Nitrate (most)

    Votes: 69 9.7%
  • Nitrite (most)

    Votes: 4 0.6%
  • Ammonia (most)

    Votes: 18 2.5%
  • (least) Calcium

    Votes: 10 1.4%
  • (least) Alkalinity

    Votes: 4 0.6%
  • (least) Magnesium

    Votes: 67 9.4%
  • (least) Phosphate

    Votes: 14 2.0%
  • (least) PH

    Votes: 37 5.2%
  • (least) Nitrate

    Votes: 12 1.7%
  • (least) Nitrite

    Votes: 206 28.9%
  • (least) Ammonia

    Votes: 270 37.9%
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