My running tank is a 75 gallon tank that I picked up on consignment from a local fish shop (lfs) in July 2006. It was a great deal, and I couldn't be happier. Well, I could be happier, but the frustration and the pursuit of a perfectly running aquarium gives me peace of mind. I'm not entirely sure if I like the stand, but for now, it will have to do! :)
Here is the tank set up in the dining area
Here is a stupid sequence of filling the tank for a test on it's water holding capabilities.
One of the most important pieces of equipment that an aquarist should not be without, a Python.
The substrate that I choose is a very inexpensive soil amendment called Turface. I choose this substrate specifically for value in a planted tank. It is very lightweight, and has a very high CEC value, which means that it absorbs and releases nutrients from the water column to the roots of plants. The depth shown is only fifty pounds of the stuff, but as you can see, there is a good depth from front to back.
This is the first picture that I have of the full tank once it was up and running. It is very lightly stocked, despite being fully cycled. The equipment running at this time is an Eheim 2126 with a sponge pre-filter. I don't think the clear back glass is very flattering, so I decided that I wanted to put some color there. I was originally going to paint it because I don't like the plastic backgrounds that are sold at pet stores. Besides, those plastic backgrounds are expensive! I was hesitant on paint because I figured that a time may come when I would want to change the color. My solution was to take a large piece of cloth that I bought at Wal-Mart and secured it to the tank using self adhesive pieces of Velcro. Now the background is black, but it can quickly be changed to any color that I want.
It was about this time that I started working on my CO2 diffuser. I choose an in-line model made of two inch PVC. Inside the diffuser are about 10 once inch bio-balls to help breakup the CO2 bubbles. When I first installed it, I would get a lot of CO2 micro bubbles from the spraybar. After several weeks, there are no more micro bubbles, and I continue to have great CO2 diffusion.
When I first decided to go planted, I did so knowing that I had an older single-gauge CO2 regulator that I would be able to use until I was able to get the regulator that I am currently running. I also had the regulator connected to and working with a 20 ounce paintball CO2 bottle. The problem was getting the right nozzle to connect to the tubing I was connecting to the diffusor. Home Depot ended up havign the part I needed, so it was a quick fix. This was all just a stop gap measure to delay the amount of money being spent on the tank to a more reasonable length. In the end, I now have a 5 lb CO2 bottle and a regulator from Rex Grigg.
The next thing I needed was light. I purchased a compact fluorescent 4x65 watt DIY kit with 2 6500K bulbs and 2 10,000K bulbs. As a temp enclosure, I built a box from 1"x4" pine. The cost of the box was under $7.
This is about the time in the story where everything started to go awry. Black Beard Algae (BBA) reared it's ugly head, and took a firm grip on the tank. OK, how to attack it. The agreed upon cause is low or inconsistent levels of CO2. OK, makes sense, but my CO2 levels were always above 30 ppm, measured by using the carbonate hardness (KH) and Ph of the aquarium water. So what else could have been causing the problem? Well, I did not have the appropriate amount of water movement throughout the water column. Easy enough to remedy, purchased a pair of Max-jet 900's and installed on opposite ends of the aquarium, one pointing towards the front of the tank, one pointed at the back. The current flows in a counter-clockwise direction and from top to bottom. With the aid of a pair of bristle nosed pl*cos and an american flagfish, my BBA disappeared within a matter of two weeks. And here is the after results:
Here is an interesting Time Lapse movie that I did over the course of a couple of days. It shows some interesting plant growth inside my tank. I am working on others. You can see the camera taking the time lapse photos in the above photo.