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Filtration for planted tanks?

Hi All,

It has been a long time since I was forced to drop my subscription, and
have just recently signed back up.  My brother-in-law and I just set up a
heavily planted 90 gallon tank, measuring 24x36x24.  I figured that getting
back on the list was a nice side benefit to having a nice new tank up.

The filter is a Fluval 403, with the spraybar for return.  CO2 is yeast and
sugar, with good flow of micro fine bubbles through an adjustable pennplax
airstone. Substrate is a mix of inert sand and Laterite. Lighting, as of
tonight, is a A 400W MH pendant.  Fish load is 20 Cardinal tetras, 10
Rasboras, 1 pair of Ender live bearers with 3 fishlets born tonight, and 3
flying foxes.

The main question for tonight is, how much filtration and turbulence is
appropriate for a well planted tank?

Our current set up favors the least amount of flow in the tank possible.
The spray bar is next to the filter intake tube and positioned vertically,
with the streams directed against a piece of driftwood an inch or so away.
Throughout the tank, it is clear there is almost no current, as particulate
matter will hang in place without traveling.  Tonight, after installing the
MH light, we delighted in watching streams of extremely small O2 bubbles
rising from some of the plants.  The streams rarely drifted more than 1" in
any direction on the way to the surface.

The thought arises that perhaps we are going overboard with the no current
idea.  We could easily position the spray bar to direct the flow along one
side of the tank, hence swirling the water more.  The SB could also be
changed to a horizontal mode with the water returning across the surface,
(outgassing too much CO2?) or directed on a 45 deg down line to mix up the
lower water levels instead.

We are liking the lack of turbulence, but wonder if we should be mixing it
up a bit more.  Honestly, in most of the tank, it looks as if there is no
filtration at all.  Surface flow is well under 1cm/sec.  Other than due to
fish induced wavelets, there is no hint of flickering light.

Any and all suggestions greatfully appreciated,


Thayer Syme
San Francisco
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