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Tearing Down and Setting Up A 100 Gallon Tank.....

A couple of years ago I started (again) keeping fish and also trying to grow 
plants. Good luck with the fish but absolutely no luck with the plants. After 
reading *ALL* archived APD postings I was now ready to tear down my 100 gal. 
tank for the following reasons:

o Pull out the "boulders" and put in a proper substrate.
o Add "real" lights.
o Fix up the CO2 system.
o Move the Cichlids and a walking (digging) catfish (so I've been told) back 
  to a 35 gal. hexagonal tank.

The following are observations and questions:

1) How come nobody has ever mentioned what a miserable job it is to tear down a 
   large tank :-) It took longer than expected but I found a checklist very 
   handy (as I do in most things).

2) I bought Metal Halide ballasts, moguls, bulbs, etc. and suspended
   two 175 watt bulbs in galvanized pails (painted black) for the ceiling. 
   They really look good and the total price for everything was $320 (Cdn) 
   including taxes. 

3) An additional cost was a timer for the lights. The lights go off for a 
   couple of hours in the afternoon so I can have them on at night for my 
   viewing pleasure. I thought that 14 hours may be a bit too long.

4) I looked at the Mercury Vapour Wonderlight but found they had
   quite a "spot light" effect (thanks for the info Michael E). I will,
   however, use one on the 35 gal. hex. tank.

5) I couldn't find any tips on landscaping in the APD except slope the
   substrate forward, tall plants to the back and small plants to
   the front. I realized aqua-scaping is a personal preference but
   are there any other do's or don'ts (for next time)?

6) The vermiculite and african violet potting soil was easy to work with and 
   has not yet created any problems. I did however, over-estimate the amount I 
   would need so I am slowly re-potting all my houseplants as well.

7) The yeast CO2 mixture seems to be working much better than 
   previous batches due to the baking soda, I believe. A pop bottle is hang 
   from the back of the tank using a harness fashioned from a coat hanger. It
   looks OK.

8) For a CO2 reactor I took a tube and power head from an old UGF and inserted
   some gravel, in a nylon stocking, into the tube. I then stuck the airstone 
   from the CO2 bottle into the bottom of the tube. The gravel slows down the 
   bubbles and the powerhead chops up what is left. There is quite a bit of the 
   white fluff growing on the airstone.

9) It is really nice being able to work without a cover or hood on the tank. 
   The evaporation rate is certainly higher than before but I am running an 
   AquaClear 500.

10)I managed to get some SAEs (thanks Robert L.) and Doug Underwood is correct
   in his recent posting, the pictures are the only way to really know
   what you are buying (and in educating the staff).

11)I am dosing with PMDD (without KNO3) and now really will have to buy a 
   couple of test kits (FE and Nitrate).

To wrap up - it has been one month since the re-construction and all 
plants are growing. A third of the plants start pearling shortly after the 
lights come on and a Crinium (Onion plant), two types of Swords and a 
Aponogeton have bloomed or sent out plantlets. 

I only hope this growth will persist with little or no algae.

I hope I haven't exceeded my word allotment.