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Re: Sub heat, RO

Okay had a look at your proposal.
Is this a planted tank also or just a Discus tank? Both? I'll assume a
planted tank.
First, forget about using an algae scrubber unless you want algae instead of
plants. Do you see the problem with this idea yet?

> tank with mostly Discus and Cardinal Tetras - once the tank is ready and
> cycled.  You'll notice in the setup that I am using reverse osmosis, through a
> float valve, which will be regulated by me to allow for approx. 5 gallons of
> fresh water to be added to the system daily, and a setup of overflows to drain
> water out of the system and into my house's main drain pipe.  I'm guessing the
> water may end up being *too* clean and won't have enough GH and KH.  If you
> agree what would you recommend as a solution?

50% weekly change.
Plain and simple, a GH of 3ppm and a KH of 3ppm will not work. You will have
no buffering capacity at all, nor enough Mg/Ca for plant growth.
You will have great difficulty maintaining that precise levels(let us just
it's almost impossible under this set up).

Did you mean a GH/KH of 3(not ppm)?
Even at 3ppm you will not have enough CO2(or buffering to maintain ANY
stability), your pH controller will attempt to make up for things but if you
have no KH(which is what your suggesting @3ppm) that will not matter.
The tables are not going to work since your no longer using a buffered
system. You'll kill your fish sometime or have a nice algae forest. You'll
get at least one of these problems if you go this route.

If you meant 3dKH well that's way over the 35ppm max level of CO2.

Some good advice:
Don't worry about pH except as it relates to CO2. Those fish don't give a
hoot about a pH difference of 6.0 and 6.4.

> I hate water changes, so, not
> considering this type of setup is moot.

Folks that say this _worry_ me. You have a house drain right there correct?
You can add a hose for filling the tank instead of some RO/floatvalve set
up. Should take you about 1/2 hour max a week for this.

>  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?

Yes, adding chemicals for replacement water change can cost you.
It will also make your system _very_ troublesome.
If you set up your tank right, water changes are a snap and easy. They can
be accomplished in 20 minutes on your sized tank(see Alan Kaufman's post
recently on water changes for his 92 gallon tank). No lifting buckets etc.
Quick, painless and involves setting a hose to drain it and a hose to fill
it and some knobs to turn on/off. Add dechlor, baking soda, plant nutrients
etc. Whole thing should not take less than 1/2 hour.

 All the automation in the world is not going to save you from work.

Imagine this: a CO2 system where the KH is always being depleted. What would
happen to the CO2 during this time? Do you enjoy algae?
Do you enjoy adding and measuring GH/KH often? How do intend to add GH/KH
automatically? It can be done, but your saying you wanna be cheap. Your
going the wrong way for that approach.
> 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.).

You can use PC's and they are quite reasonable over the life of the
system(bulbs last a long time, great reflectors, high efficiency light
ratio-more of your electric, which ain't cheap, is converted into usable
light for plants). 4 x 96 watts would be enough, or 6 x 55w.

T-8 bulbs w/electronic ballast are the next best thing. Get a good reflector
for these though.
You'll need more, around 12 to 14 bulbs all crammed on top of the hood.
Now imagine 12-14 bulbs laying on top of a hood. Imagine wiring this
together. 4x96 watts? Easy as pie all ready to go, bulb life longer, better
reflectors, very light weight.
I'd pass on those fancy bulbs for your set up also. Get the bulbs at Home
Depot, 5000-6500K range. Same for the PC's.

 CO2 will be injected through two
> reactors and with the use of a pH controller to maintain a pH of about 6.0.

Use one reactor, why would you need two? I just made a CO2 reactor for a
1500 gallon tank for the TN aquarium. It only needs one(it's good sized!).
Get one good one rather than two little units.

Another question and it is a big one: how on earth do you plan to maintain a
measurable KH, a good CO2 and pH using this RO dosing system?
Your eventually going to bottom out your KH one day(they plants will not
have enough CO2 one day and go after the tiny amount of KH you have and then
it'll be gone a down goes the pH). Mark those words.
It will get you some day and kill all those fish if you try to play with
real low KH's. Maybe you'll lucky for awhile. Murphy's law will catch you
though. I've seen this happen to a number of folks trying to play this game.
Not a good road to go down.
The pH controller will keep the pH within a range but the CO2 levels will be
all over or if you add too much KH, too high, too little KH too low and if
you bottom out your KH, very likely dead fish.
Discus do grow and do breed in water of KH of 4 and pH's of 6.6 full of
What good is a controller of pH when your CO2 and KH levels will be moving
all around? It's like closing your front door to keep it warm while open the
backdoor to let the heat out.

Why don't you spend the money on the lights and flourite instead? What is
your tap's KH/GH? Many folks don't need an RO for Discus b/c their tap is
fine(KH of 4-5 is fine). You can use the RO to get them to breed( just do a
temporary softening for a few day to induce breeding, good feeding will
induce breeding better IMO) although they will breed at KH's of 4-5. Happens
all the time. Can you get higher yields and larger fish if you change the
water everyday and feed them as much as they will eat? Yes. If that's your
goal, do that. If you want plants? Well, take care of the plants, have
relative moderate soft water. The fish will be extremely happy, grow fine
and breed.

> I've mixed laterite, 1-2 mm gavel and a bit of earthy clay to form my
> substrate and plan to heavily plant the tank.

Your substrate is too small. 2-3mm is better.
After I removed the small gravel from these folk's tanks I replaced it
flourite and they have been extremely happy 4 years later. He does very
little to it and is very pleased and had the nice Dupla cable, 1-2mm sand
laterite and clay mix.
The water has a more difficult time moving through such fine pores.

> 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?

Sure, don't.
> Anyone else done this before?  Any difference?

Yes and No. I would not, I would place a light ballast, pumps etc down
there. That will warm the bottom. A light bulb will do the same thing also.
You could place a series of 3 100 watt bulbs under there.
See the Crypt's pages for a simple text on this idea.
The other idea is a simple reptile heating mat w/control dial.

If I were you:

I'd have a KH/GH of 4(degrees). pH of 6.6. 4 x 96 watt PC lighting or MH, A
nice sump. A wet/dry tower. One CO2 reactor plugged in to my lighting timer,
and the UV plugged in a weekly timer(on one to 2 days a week after water
change). The UV would have ALL the water pass through it on it's way back up
to the return.

 Lights on 2 separated banks, one comes on 9am to 6pm (9 hours) another 10am
to 10pm. 4 inches of flourite(with lots of mulm from another tank, and about
10 handfuls of ground peat to the bottom 2 inches). A nice permanent quick
flip valve for water changes and refills via the sump. 12 fish, 100 card's,
20 otto's, 17 Cory adolfii.

Lots of plants from the start. A pH monitor(not a controller). Temp 82F.
Well fed _varied_ diet, twice a day, more if trying to breed.
A Lifeguard of similar pump for return w spray bar that directs the water
along the the bottom center(since it's being seen from both sides) out
towards both "fronts" of the tank. This bar would be hidden with driftwood
covered in Bolbitis, and perhaps some other darker colored plants(Anubias in
the lower reaches). Card's and Discus look much better against a darker
colored background. These are also easy plants to deal with. Various crypts
would be along the bottom w some smooth stones for cory and Discus spawn
Some Crypt balansae over in one corner near over flow and a nice sword of
your choosing somewhere on opposite side of the tank.
Xmas moss on driftwood would also be very nice especially if small branches
are used.
The spray bar itself can be wrapped in moss and tried w/ cotton string so
that it attaches and hides the bar.

I would add K2SO4 weekly after water change. I would also traces, KH2PO4.
Hopefully, the N could be entirely supplied by the fish food since many of
these plants are slower growing and it's not too high of lighting. KP and
traces should take care of the rest and push the NH4(wet dry will get much
of that along with thriving plants) and NO3(the plants and water changes
will tend this nicely) down. Add a bunch of plants from day one, try to keep
the NO3 at 5ppm or so from the start, later stop adding the KNO3 as the fish
load is added. I would use tap water and dilute with RO if I felt some
twisted need like I HAD to have a KH of 3-4. If my tap came out that way
from 2-8KH) I'd likely just leave it and adjust the pH for the plants
and not fret.

Tom Barr

> Micah