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Re: Substrate Heating, R/O questions, et al

> have a 180 gallon tank I'm currently setting up as part of a larger >project 
>- finishing my basement.  I'm building the tank into the wall whereby the 
>tank will be viewable from both sides.  I'm going for as maintenance-free 
>tank as I can imagine/afford (I'm lazy).  I've posted a rough schematic of 
>my setup at http://www.geocities.com/stinky_aces/tank_setup.html and will 
Make sure to include a trap in the drain line. You don't want sewer gasses
finding their way back up to your tank's stand.

>have enough GH and KH.  If you agree what would you recommend as a >solution? 
> I hate water changes, so, not considering this type of setup is moot.  I 
>guess I can add something like Discus Essential, or the like, on a regular 
>basis but fear this could prove pricey after a while.  Alternatively I 
>suppose I could inject a slow rate of regular tap water in conjunction with 
>the R/O water to add minerals.  Any thoughts? 

You could run the RO water into a barrel (55 gallon plastic drums are only
about $70 to buy). Then you can add whatever additives you want to the
barrel and use a beefy powerhead to pump the barrel's contents into your
tank. My in-progress system works like this, although all of it is under
microcontroller control.

>I'm just going with regular fluorescent lighting, approx. 2.2 watts per 
>gallon (this is where I cheaped-out the most, I just can't bring myself to 
>spend the big bucks on VHO, Metal Halide, etc.).  CO2 will be injected 

If your tank is like most of the 180s out there it is 24" deep. You might
have difficulty getting enough light with regular flourescents to penetrate
the water AND cover the whole area of the tank well. Remember that as you
add bulbs, each one adds a lower % to the overall light output than the
previous bulb due to restrike. VHO and MH let you pack lots more light into
a much smaller space than NO flourescent, and they can use more efficient
reflector designs too. You might actually find DIY MH to be about the same
cost as a large NO setup since you'll need a lot less parts -- three 175
watt fixtures will do a good job lighting your tank. 

For my setup, the ballasts were about $30 or so, $5 for sockets (I use the
kind with the high-temp wire pigtails to make connections easier), maybe
$100 for reflectors, and about $60 for a 250' reel of wire to wire it up (I
used maybe 60' of it). About $20 for a nice ventilated aluminum enclosure
for the ballasts and I have a nice system for about $300. You could make it
even cheaper if you built your own reflectors. Plus you get all the
advantages of MH. I'm a big fan of MH so this is a big plus for me.

>form my substrate and plan to heavily plant the tank.

Make a nice, deep substrate of 4+". Works great in a deep tank and the
plants will be happy.

>I'm planning on heating the base cabinet of the setup (and insulating it) 
>with a small electric heater and possibly a secondary fan to ensure even 
>distribution in the hope that this will provide the same effect as would 
>heating cables (yet another area I would like to cheap-out on).  Any 
>thoughts?  Anyone else done this before?  Any difference?

Be *sure* to use one of the industrial-type greenhouse heaters for this if
you do it. The little house 1500 watt space heaters are *NOT* made to run
as regular heaters and they all have warnings about not using them for
anything beyond temporary or supplemental use. The greenhouse units can run
as a full-time heater, and they tend to be rated for use in moist areas
too. I don't know if using a heater in the stand would accomplish much
though since I'd think most of the heat would find a way to leak out of the
stand. You'd also be cooking all your equipment, food, and medicines
(assuming you store stuff in the stand) that way which is something you
don't want to do.

I think the consensus in the past has been that heating the bottom of the
tank won't work as well as a wire in the substrate since the wire can
better create convetion currents in the substrate. DIY heating cables are
easy and cheap to build, and probably safer than putting a heater in your


Waveform Technology
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