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Re: [APD] setting up 160 gal plant tank

Almost anything will work for a planted tank. However, here
are some suggestions:

IT will cheaper to repalce the bulbs than to replacign the
lighting guts. IF you are interested in changeing the
lights, Switch to compact fluorescents and then maybe som
metal halides if you really like the look and don't mind
the cost of hte bulbs. 

You can get very nice pwoer compactd fluorescent conversion
kits from AHSuply.com

A trickle filter will more than liekly ause you to use
about twice aas much CO2 as otherwise, unless your set up
is very inefficient to begin with, in which case a trickle
won't make much diff. Any decent canister filter,
appropriately sized for the tank woul dbe a good
alternative if you want to conserve CO2. However, CO2 is
relatively cheap in most places so you moght wnat to use
the filter yo uhave and theink about changing the filter
later, to spread out the expenses over time.

Substrate? Almost anything will work. Clay materials/very
porous materials seem to work very well right off the bat,
but gravels, sand, etc work fine too once some detritus has
built up in the substrate. Adding some organic matter liek
peat moss under the substrate seems to help at atart up.
The laterite is not essential but a good idea if you are
using a plain inert clean substrate, which is sounds like
you are. I'd aim for about 4"-6" of substrate. If you ned
to add to the substarte you have on hand, you might
consider Flourite or Eco-complete. Both are very nice for
plants and obviate any need for laterite.

You don't need a pH controller. It will save a little bit
on CO2 use but probably not enough to offset the cost of
the controller an solenoid. YOu can run the CO2 24/7 and
the pH swings won't be any wider than they would with a
Milwaukee controller -- roughly 0.2 units peak-to-peak.

Get the largest CO2 tank you can easily fit into its
intended location. Refill charges are mainly by tan and not
by pound, so refilling a ten or 20 pound tank will cost
about the same as refilling a 5 pound tank.

The required quality of the metering valve goes down if you
use a solenoid, especially with a pH controller, since with
a controler, it's not really regulating the CO2 level by
controlling the gas flow, it's just a flow limiter. So any
of hte cheaper valves you can find wil work out.

If you want really high end, then get a Swagelock/Nupro
B-SS4 (about $50) and you wil be able to fine tune the CO2
flow with tremendous ease. But the $10 valves, while harder
to fine tune (a very slight turn of the knob makes a big
diff in flow) , will work too.

The same goes for regulators -- the really cheap ones work,
they're just harder to fine tune. A single stage regulator
is all that's called for. If yo wanted to go absolutely
nuts you could get a $400 Scott's High Purity 2-stage
regulator, that will adjust like silk on baby's cheek. But
a regulator costing a tenth as much will provide you a
servicable system.

When you set up the tank, don't think that you should have
a few plants and then build up over time. Load the sucker
with plants right off the bat, including some fastgrowing
nutrient sponges like water sprite. You can remove this
floating plant later but in the beginning it's great for
ensuring against any ammonia in the water and lets you
avoid tank cycling altogether.

When you plant the tank the first time, do it without
filling the tank with water. Just an inch or so over
thsubstrate will make planting much easier -- then after
aquascaping, fill the tank slowly.

Tip: For water changes, get good sized power head (say, 500
gph) and a 3/4 garden hose that reaches to your back yard
(other other water-use location) and some pvc fittings to
join the hose and powerhead. Use this set up for draining
water from your tank. Should let you take down about 80
gallons in about 5 minutes. Then use a python or whatever
to refill. A good PVC connection for this can be seen here
and can be made cheaply with a viist to HOme Depot:


I don't know anyone that's used one of these that hasn't
said, "Gee, I shoulda got/made one of these years ago!"

Have plants, have fun, 
Scott H.

--- Ron Schulz <beemster at verizon_net> wrote:
> Hi all,
>   I was able to purchace a second hand 160 gal tank (sat
> MT for over 10 
> years) on the very cheap. I'd like to set it up for
> growing plants but 
> with fish also (characins, dwarf cichlids, corys,
> rasbora.). It is 84 
> x18 x 24 deep. It came with a predrilled corner overflow
> which skimmed 
> water off the surface and led to a large trickle filter
> in the wooden 
> cabinet below. The lighting system was (3) 160W 6foot VHO
> tubes (2 
> Sylvania day lights  and 1 Sylvania natural light). They
> still work but 
> must have been extensively used since there are dark burn
> marks near the 
> ends. It appears though that all three bulbs must be used
> for the 
> ballast to work. So, it's 480 W or I need a different
> system. It looks 
> like it will cost me around $100 to replace the bulbs.
> So.....one 
> question is .......should I stay with this VHO system and
> if so what 
> bulbs should I get?  I plan on using CO2 since I have a
> 20lb tank and 
> regulator.  I'd  like not to go the pH controller route
> (at least at 
> first). So I will need a good needle valve and some kind
> of reactor. 
> Again.......recommendations with reasons are welcome. 
> I'd like to stick 
> with #3 quartz gravel which I can get very cheaply thru a
> US Quartz 
> distributer locally. I was thinking perhaps 350 lbs.or
> so. Also, I was 
> considering a thin pure laterite underlayer (3 55oz
> boxes). Is this 
> worth the approx $40 expense? My understanding is that a
> trickle filter 
> may not be appropriate with CO2. Also, the return pump on
> the filter  is 
> very large and power hungry. So, I'd like to use a large
> canister filter 
> anyway for economic reasons.  Finally, what are the
> chances I can avoid  
> huge initial algae blooms with all that light?  What is
> the best way to 
> go about it? .I've been really psyched since my first
> real success with 
> a beautiful red rubin sword in a 20 gal long tank with a
> 55W compact 
> fluorescent.  Previosly, I had always stayed in th
> 1-1.5W/gal regime  
> with crypts, anubias, java ferns and moss. So, this is a
> whole new 
> ballgame for me and I'd like to avoid any expensive
> mistakes I can. All 
> comments and recomendations welcome.
> Schulz   .
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