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RE:Moon's big tank

>I going to set up a tank this summer that will present some unique 
>challenges. I am going to cut a hole in my garage wall that is connected to 
>my greenhouse. I plan to install an aquarium 96" L by 48" W by 33" T. The 
>aquarium will be in the greenhouse and light will be provided by the sun. I 
>plan to grow Barclay longafloia, red lotus, cape fear spadderdock (a type 
>native to my area) banana plants and other plants not yet decided on. I would 
>like some input on the substrate, I plan to use 1" of mushroom compost mixed 
>with earthworm castings and 5" of course silica sand. I want to avoid 
>leaching too much nutrient into the water from the substrate and will be 
>fertilizing individual plants with plant food sticks.

I would go deeper for your tank. 6-10 inches depending on sloping with a
2-3mm sand.
Iron wouldn't hurt either. Iron filings would work or if you wish to buy
some laterite.... Karl's is good. Clay balls etc.....
Mushroom compost would do well I would think.
The plants listed will use up the nutrients fast. Also by not adding any
artificial light, you'll be better off. I assume it's diffused by the
Greenhouse? That would be best. Natural light tanks are cool.

Then there's the potted approach. Add everything to pots. Have no sand or
anything on the bottom of the tank except pots. Adding some Java moss etc
around the pots will make it look very nice and many folks won't even know
that you don't have any substrate at all ! You can add whatever you want and
remove it later and you can move all your plants around easily.
This will give the flexibility to add any sort of mixture to your plant pots
and also customize the content for certain species. Anything goes a wry,
removal is easy. Neil Frank loves this and so do I.

 plan to use no 
>filtration just aeration,

Try some small pond pump/prefilter pumps instead of air. You won't need much
It won't cost much either. A small spray bar to move the water around evenly
would be enough.
Adding air will do bad things to the lilies at the surface. All the
turbulence it would create on the floating leave will not help. A small pump
would be better IMO down low with a spray bar.

 lots of plants and small fish population (for this 
>tank). Any advice will be welcome, at this stage I can change anything but 
>the depth of the substrate since I already have the glass and fiberglass 
>                                                                         Moon 

We'll be interested to see how it turns out. I know you'll be having fun
with it. At 33" deep I hope you got long arms:) Hey what about some natives
in there? We saw some neat Florida sunfish (I don't know the latin name yet)
at the Big Killi meeting out here in CA that looked very neat, more like
Killi's than what I think of as Sunfish. I think I'll get some soon maybe.
Tom Barr