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Re: New setup opinions

Jonathan asks:

>So, I'd like to get some opinions

"IMHO" implied throughout.

> on what I have planned (and purchased
>some of already).  I'm interested in anything that I'm forgetting that
>would make my life (and my plants lives) a lot easier, or anything that
>I'm doing that should probably be done differently.

>110 gallon tall tank (glass)

Things would be easier with a shorter tank with more front-to-back space. A
110 is, what, 30" tall?  Reaching the bottom for pruning, planting, etc,
will be tough unless you have really long arms. Try it out in the fish store
and see how it "fits". Think about doing that for 30 minutes.

>JBJ 1200 light (4 bulb compact fluorescent - 2 daylight, 2 actinic) and
>standoffs to raise light a few inches above the tank

Actinic light does little good in a plant tank except make things look
garish. Daylight bulbs often look too yellow. I would go with four 6500K
color temperature bulbs.  These are 55W bulbs, right?  220 watts over 100g
is plenty of light. Contrary to popular opinion, more is not better.

>Seachem Fluorite substrate (may mix 50/50 with sand)

When you say "sand", do you mean like beach sand or more like 2-3mm gravel?
Keep in mind that over time different sized particles will drift up or down.
Any mixing you do will soon be defeated. I wouldn't bother combining
different substrate materials unless you have a real good reason.

>Canister filter (undecided on brand and/or size), mostly filled with
>sponge filtering

Good. You can't go wrong with Eheim. You get what you pay for with canister
filters. You can buy a cheaper Magnum or Fluval if you don't mind losing
that money when you finally see the error in your ways and buy the Eheim.
You might want to have some biological filtering media in the canister, for
when that random fish dies or when the vacation tank-sitter overfeeds. A
little backup bio-filtering is good.

Water movement is good - size the filter to turn over the tank water 5-6
times per hour (500 to 600 gallons per hour, 1900 to 2200 litres per hour)

> Aquanetics 25W UV sterilizer

If you run it correctly, the UV will oxidize iron supplements, requiring you
to use more fertilizer than you really need. A UV sterilizer isn't really
needed except if you have a problem that UV would help (disease or algae
bloom). I'm guessing, but 25W sounds a little low to be effective if you did
need it. You also need to consider "dwell time" in the UV filter. UV only
works if the water is in contact with the UV for a certain amount of time
(basd on wattage and gallons per hour). Check the UV sterilizer directions
to determine if you are sized correctly.

> Overflow (trickle?) box to skim surface


>The overflow box will feed into a 10 gallon under the main tank, where
>the canister will pump it through the UV and back into the main tank.

Canister filters are designed to work with a siphon action - they use the
"head" of the inlet water to help the tiny powerhead-style pump move water
back to the tank. I don't think a canister can directly pump water from
under the tank back up to the top of the tank, which is what you are asking
it to do. You need a real pump in this situation, like a Quiet One.

Also, the UV sterilizer may present enough resistance to the water flow to
greatly reduce the "rated capacity" of a canister filter (which is usually
optimistic to start with).

> Similar to a wet/dry setup, but without all the aeration.

Generally not a concern.

> I may
> introduce the CO2 in the 10 gallon, I haven't really figured that part
> out yet.  The CO2 seems to be my biggest problem...  I'm off to a
> welding shop sometime this week to see what they have and I'll probably
> ask on the list later how to get it all to fit together. :)

Umm, CO2 is the major key to making a plant tank work. You might want to
figure this out first. You definitely want to have CO2 injected right from
the get-go. The plants you get commercially will be half dead to start with
and they need all the help they can get as soon as you plant them. Ditto for
adding fertilizers right away.

I would suggest maybe thinking about a wet/dry filter only and forget the
canister. Or do both - use the wet/dry for supplemental biological filtering
and a nice place to put a CO2 reactor and use the canister for supplemental
mechanical filtering and additional water flow (lots of water movement is
good).  Or simply inject CO2 into the canister directly (Eheims are better
for this).

George Booth in Ft. Collins, CO (gbooth at frii dot com)
 The website for Aquatic Gardeners by Aquatic Gardeners
   http://aquaticconcepts.thekrib.com/  (mirror)