Well, I finally did some real actual work on this thing. We've got a club auction coming up on March 7th, so I'm trying desperately to have it cycled by then.

When I was growing up, I was the youngest of 3 boys, and we ALL played with Legos. By the time I came along, we had multiple big popcorn tins filled with Legos. Basically, any part you could even want for anything you could ever want to build.

I tried to apply that approach to this.

At Chevron, a lot of my work was building micro units, so plumbing is kind of second nature to me. With each unit I built, I tried to hone my skills to create not only a functional workspace, but also something pleasing to the eye....I'm still working on that last part.

The blank slate:


I suppose I left one part out. You can see the drain line and refill lines coming out of the wall. I installed those a couple of weeks ago and forgot to say anything about it. 1/4" refill line, that's running through a Granulated Activated Charcoal filter to remove Chlorine. At 10% water changes per day, that should eliminate all my risks of not using Prime.

Finished product:

If you reference my plumbing diagram in the post below, everything should be pretty clear. The Eheims aren't in yet(obviously) but they'll go on the left.You can see the barbs they'll attach to in the next picture. The green irrigation valve is my refill solenoid. The Danner 7 is there in the very center. Hopefully that helps you orient.

Left Side:

I made a mistake here. I had purchased two 1" FPT ball valves to connect to the bulkheads so that I could unscrew them if I ever needed to remove the bulkheads(for whatever reason). I ordered them months ago, and I forgot why I ordered them, so I forgot to use them. The two ball valves there are slip and glued in. Means I'll have to cut them out of I ever have to take off the bulkheads.


Right Side:

Obviously I could have built the thing with a few less 90 elbows, but I was building for form and function. I was trying to maximize my left over space in the stand.

And, for the record, I still had to make 1 more trip to Home Depot, and 2 more trips to Ace for more parts.

Now I wait for it to dry.

Mario Brothers, Here I Come

I suppose it's about time to do some real work. I've been thinking about the design of the plumbing pretty much since I decided to set up a big tank like this. As I've stated before, I want pretty much all equipment to be inline. That includes inline pH probe, co2 injection, heaters, and co2 injection.

Originally I had planned on three filters: 2 Eheim Pro II 2128 Thermofilters and a Magnum 350 for water polishing. However, I decided to drop the "Thermofilter" part and go with 2 Eheim Pro II 2028's. I've had several Thermofilters and I've basically come down to the conclusion that they should be avoided. A standard filter plus a Hydor inline is a better alternative. The reason is that the cost of the standard Pro II and Hydor combined is a little less than the cost of the Thermofilter, and if he heater portion of your filtration fails, it's a lot cheaper to replace the Hydor than the internals of the Thermofilter. I also decided to drop out the Magnum 350. Instead I'm putting in a Mag Drive 7 pump powering a co2 reactor. If I need water polishing I have a  diatom filter or I can put the Magnum 350 back in some day.

After a lot of discussion between different members of different forums, discussion with my wife(the engineer), and some deep thought on my part, this is what I've landed on:

Those Parotocincluses...

While I did take some time off from the 120g, I can't say the same for the ADA 60-P.  If you remember, back in October I acquired some Parotocinclus eppelyi, or at least that's what they were labeled. Well, as it turned out, they were actually Parotocinclus sp 'Peru' sometimes known as P. leticia. I've had them in a 15g in my basement since October.

Well, I decided to move them up to the 60-P:


In preparation for their transition, I tested all water parameters. I transferred an Otocinclus affiinis into the tank to make sure it was safe. He made the transition easily.  I then drip acclimated them for 12 hours.

Sadly, they did not survive past 48 hours in the tank. Unexplained. The Oto, plus 3 others, are still fine.
I suppose I should have mentioned something, but I had to take most of January off from the tank build. I was taking some distance learning classes and had to finish those up so all of my free time went there.

That devil of a question: will it be enough

I've been planning on using two Eheim 2128's for filtration rated at about 260 gph each, and then also using a Mag 350 with the micron sleeve for water polishing. Now I'm concerned on whether or not that'll be enough flow after I get everything all piped in.

I recognize that according to manufacturer's information, that's 870 gph of total flow. However, once I fill it all up with media, an inline Hydor, and inline UV, and all the bends and turns, I'm hoping it'll still be in the 500 gph range. I could be happy with that.

Just in case, I think I might build the plumbing in such a way that I could add a back-up pump inline later on down the road if I need to.

Too much to think about...

2 plugs for you!

I acquired my Tek 6x54w T5HO fixture about 6 months ago, used. I got it along with 75g setup from an SFBAAPS member that was moving and didn't have the space for such a large tank. And I got it for an AMAZING deal.

The Tek fixture was either an older Tek or he purchased as a hydroponic light...either way it only had one cord to power both ballast. This just wouldn't do. I want to be able to time my lights independently, so I wired in a separate cord.

I'd love to say the brown cord served a purpose, but no, it was just cheaper. 

Water Treatment

As I mentioned before, I'll be incorporating an automatic water change system into my setup. This means I will have to figure out a way to remove any potential chlorine/chloramine from my water automatically.

One possibility is to assemble a separate water treatment area. For my purpose, this has a many downsides. It would require me to dedicate space in my house to a separate water treatment reservoir, something like a 55g trashcan. It would also require a separate pump to pump the water from the reservoir to the tank at water change time. The pump would be pricey and it would require the use of one of my control channels. I only have 6 control channels, so every one of them is precious. Finally, it would require a peristaltic pump to dose Prime automatically into the reservoir and another control channel. It would likely require at least one, but maybe two float switches. To make it fully automated, like I desire, this option would simply require too much equipment. I must say, however, that to completely remove chlorine and chloramine, this is the best option.

Another possibility is to take said peristaltic pump from above and hook it up to the tank, so that I'm dosing Prime straight into the tank as the water is being refilled. This would require a peristaltic pump and a control channel. The major downside of this is that I can't just treat the new water, I have to treat the entire tank...every water change. Since I'm considering doing 10% daily WC, this would mean I would have to treat 120g of water every day. Prime is cheap, Pond Prime is cheaper, but treating 120g of water daily would really add up. Additionally, it would still require a control channel.

The solution I've decided to go with is inline carbon canisters. A decent amount of thought went into this decision. Carbon cannisters can completely remove chlorine from water, but they aren't as effective at chloramine removal.  I read through the Atlanta Watershed Maintenance 2008 Annual Water Quality Report to see if Atlanta used chloramine or just chlorine to treat the water. The report was inconclusive, listing ppm of chlorine in the water as required by the EPA. The EPA has guidelines for what must be included in an annual water report, and chloramine levels and usage is not among them. I then turned to the local club. It appears that Atlanta, like many cities, may primarily use chlorine but at least adds chloramine every once in a while at random. This presented me with a problem. Carbon canisters remove chlorine, not chloramine, or so I thought...

I stumbled upon the article "Chlorine and Chloramine" by Chuck Gadd. It turned out to be most insightful. Chucks sources mostly involve discussion on the Aquatic Plant Central forums, so while not completely scientific, they were good enough for me. Chuck pointed out that when used at the correct residence time, carbon canisters can remove chloramine, not all of it, but significant levels.  He also stated than in many people's experience, small water changes, 10% or less, where the refill water contains chloramine, seem to not cause any problems with livestock. I believe that between my carbon canisters and 10% water changes, I will effectively eliminate and risks associated from chloramine. The best part about this is the low cost. The carbon canisters I will be using cost $5 each, and treat up to 1500 gallons of water. It comes out to be about 4 cents per water change. The other big advantage is that it won't require any pumps or control channels.

It's important to point out that Prime is cheaper per gallon of water treated, but in my specific case, it is not cheaper per water change because Prime would require that I treat 120g of water EVERY water change, whereas the carbon canisters will only treat the 12g for the top off.