10 gallon high tech idea...am I on the right track?

Joshaeus

Hi everyone! I am considering of turning my 10 gallon low tech tank into a 'high tech' planted tank, but I wanted your thoughts on my ideas before I tried to go ahead with it. Here is what I am thinking;
-CO2; I was going to use a gelatin-yeast reactor (the kind where the sugar is held in gelatin and only slowly released for the yeast to consume). I was going to experiment with this for a while before adding any plants to ensure I can keep CO2 levels stable. I'm nervous about trying a pressurized CO2 system because I am worried it will become a rocket if I do something stupid...I would love to be wrong, though.
-Lights; Tentatively a Nicrew SkyLED, for 8 hours a day.
-Substrate; The tank currently has several inches of pool filter sand on the bottom. Should I take the time to replace some of that with soil of some kind?
-Filter; I have no clue...will I need a canister filter?
-Fertilizer; Probably NiloCg Thrive, exact amount TBD. If I opt to include soil may rely heavily on root fertilization.
-Plants; TBD. I want red plants!!! :D

The tank is currently not in great shape, as I've been struggling to keep up with maintenance due to a lack of interest in the hobby. Before most of the above happens, I will need to perform a blackout to remove algae from the tank and then continue to keep it dark while I get the CO2 correct (and potentially while it re-cycles, assuming I add some kind of soil). Thank you for your thoughts and concerns :)
 

Rye3434

CO2, I would do pressurized, I never did DIY and skipped straight to it mostly because of the ability to control it with a solenoid. More consistency with the Co2 levels will lead to better results and I personally have not had issues with anything blowing up lol. I've used a paintball system and upgraded it to a 5lb cylinder for a 20gal which I find preferable. It's expensive when you get a good regulator (I have a CO2 art pro se) but it makes it easy. I just have it come on 2 hours before the lights and turn off 2 hour before the lights. I would not be nervous about it

Lighting, I know nothing about that light so I'm not going to say anything lol

Substrate, you could do PFS w/ root tabs but IMO aquasoil makes high tech tanks easier (aside from the startup water changes), I use UNS controsoil in my high tech tank which doesn't release as much ammonia as amazonia

Filter, you do not need a canister, I only use it for aesthetics with the stainless steel lily pipes. Anything will be fine IMO

Ferts, Thrive is a good choice, will have to experiment with how much you need

Plants, if you want red you may want to consider getting a stronger light, rgb ones will bring out more color

Good luck and have fun! High tech opens up a lot of options
 

ruud

Red plants....they are not a species; some are pretty demanding in terms of light spectrum. Most require somewhere between 100-300 PAR, so you need to find a light unit accordingly. Some can have somewhat lower, like certain crypts.

The distance of plants to the light unit plays a role. And in relation to this, the height of the tank.

I think these are the two most important things to consider.

Other things to consider: Not sure if the fear of a pressurized system is valid. All sorts of controls and controllers exist to help you regulate the injection.

If you have a shallow tank / plants close to the water surface / good water flow, then most plant species do not require CO2. Just something to think about. CO2 injection makes it easiers to control things and work in height of course (further removed from water surface).

Substrate....aquasoils are the obvious but the release of nutrients depletes over time. Sand substrate (preferably not silt) with root tabs work as well. And note that plants take their nutrients from both roots and leaves; and they can adapt. Just because a (stem)plant has a a large root system, does not necessarily mean they die once aquasoil no longer releases macros. Besides, whatever you add to the water column will reach the substrate as well.

Filter; for heavy planted tanks I am a huge advocate of good water movement and like to see all leaves moving a bit. Hence I favor the use of spraybars. It doesn't matter what is attached to this; canister, internal, sump.

Fertilization:
- Go overdrive with EI
- Go more controlled (let's say the ADA approach)

And be aware that macro and micronutrients also occur naturally with e.g. fish and water changes.

For red to come out, you need to have good plant health first and foremost. If this is the case, then the right PAR will bring out the red. To enhance the red color further, some plants species benefit from nitrate limitation.

Enough for now...
 

Joshaeus

Hi everyone! I have slightly revised my ideas for this high tech setup...how does this all sound?

-CO2; Still yeast reactors...mom is very wary of pressurized CO2, and I am going to respect that. I will be using two gelatin-yeast reactors that meet at a T valve before going through a fluval bubble counter to the tank. I will change each reactor a week apart to minimize CO2 fluctuations (they should last over a month each, but I will likely change them every 4 weeks).
-Lights; Probably a Hygger 24/7 aquarium light, set for 8 hours a day. As this light produces 140 PAR at 11 inches deep, I am leaning towards using 50% shade cloth under it at first while the plants adjust to the tank.
-Substrate; A mix of fluval stratum and pool filter sand (the latter to counter the lightweight nature of the stratum) about 2 inches deep.
-Filter; Still not a clue, but may simply do some kind of roughly 100-150 GPH internal filter purely for mechanical filtration.
-Fertilizer; Leaning towards Thrive C and osmocote fertilizer balls for the substrate. I want a lean water column regime to make algae growth less vigorous if I mess up and trigger it, so I will rely chiefly on rooted plants and will primarily feed them through the substrate.
-Maintenance; Weekly 40% water changes (more often early in the tank's existence). Every 4 months I am thinking of moving all the plants and fish to a QT tank, vigorously disturbing the substrate to dislodge waste buried deep in it, and then doing a 100% WC before readding the plants and fish. Every 8 months I am thinking of changing out half the substrate while doing this. In either case, the next few weeks would feature extra water changes each week.
-Setup; The tank will be set up for a month in the dark (with the CO2 on, so that I can calibrate that to where I want it) before I add fish and then kept without a light for another month (to further mature it) before I add plants. When plants are added I will increase the WC's to twice or perhaps even three times a week.
 

ruud

Wow, this gives me a headache.

First and foremost; what is your definition of a planted tank:
- how much of surface area do you ultimately intend to cover with plants
- what plants are you thinking of? red ones, carpets, shady?

First thoughts on your plans:

Lights
"I am leaning towards using 50% shade cloth under it at first while the plants adjust to the tank."
-> use a dimmer! preferably one that allows you to program the intensity per 30min; costs around 25 bucks, and to me, is one of the key factors for controlling your planted tank. Ideally, you have a light unit that is a bit overkill for your tank so that the dimmer gives you room to play.

Substrate
"the latter to counter the lightweight nature of the stratum"
-> Stratum look like any other active soil; I've used several brands throughout the years, but never crossed my mind to apply sand to counter the weight....it seems completely unnecessary.
-> giving it a second look; it look more like lava split...perhaps it is lave split; in which case it is heavier than active soil...

Fertlizer
Most planted tank owners apply both active soil (releases nutrients slowly over time for 1-1,5 years) and a liquid fertilizer. Again it depends on your plans for plant species. Many plants fair fine with just liquid fertilizer.

Fear of algae should not be reason to favour one over the other. For instance, when I start a new planted tank, I make sure at least 50% of surface area is already covered with plants for sake of giving algae not a chance.

"I want a lean water column regime to make algae growth less vigorous"
-> Some actually apply an overdoses approach (Estimative Index) to ensure their plants are getting all they need; because if this is the case, they will outcompete algae.

Maintenance
Water changes. Every tank requires water changes; some (a lot) more than others. I run heavily planted tanks with ferns, mosses, crypts and buces under non-CO2, low light conditions. And greatly understocked with fish. About 5 water changes a year suffices. So my point is, it all depends.... But in case of doubt, more changes than what is needed won't hurt.

"Every 4 months I am thinking of moving all the plants and fish to a QT tank, vigorously disturbing the substrate to dislodge waste buried deep in it."
-> In the 20+ years of my hobby, I have never heard of this approach. Substrates are loaded with microorganisms and bacteria, which in combination with plants, take to a huge extent care of the waste.

Setup
So....dark....then fish added, then dark again...then plants...? I am not sure if I understand the pleasure (or need) in all of this. The pleasure of the hobby is to observe... you need lights to do so.

I would start with plants from day 1. As a matter of fact, I would start with lots of plants, and also with temporary ones to prevent algae. When I start a new tank, I fill half of it temporarily with java fern to prevent troubles from happening. I don't attach it to anything; I just release it inside the tank. In parallel, I start adding plants that will stay in this tank. Once the tank establishes and the plants that will stay in the tank start growing (and I could choose to take out some java ferns), that's when I add a few fish.
 

Joshaeus

Wow, this gives me a headache.

First and foremost; what is your definition of a planted tank:
- how much of surface area do you ultimately intend to cover with plants
- what plants are you thinking of? red ones, carpets, shady?

First thoughts on your plans:

Lights
"I am leaning towards using 50% shade cloth under it at first while the plants adjust to the tank."
-> use a dimmer! preferably one that allows you to program the intensity per 30min; costs around 25 bucks, and to me, is one of the key factors for controlling your planted tank. Ideally, you have a light unit that is a bit overkill for your tank so that the dimmer gives you room to play.

Substrate
"the latter to counter the lightweight nature of the stratum"
-> Stratum look like any other active soil; I've used several brands throughout the years, but never crossed my mind to apply sand to counter the weight....it seems completely unnecessary.
-> giving it a second look; it look more like lava split...perhaps it is lave split; in which case it is heavier than active soil...

Fertlizer
Most planted tanks apply both active soil (releases nutrients slowly over time for 1-1,5 years) and a liquid fertilizer. Again it depends on your plans for plant species. Many plants fair fine with just liquid fertilizer.

Fear of algae should not be reason to favour one over the other. For instance, when I start a new planted tank, I make sure at least 50% of surface area is already covered with plants for sake of giving algae not a chance.

"I want a lean water column regime to make algae growth less vigorous"
-> Some actually apply an overdoses approach (Estimative Index) to ensure their plants are getting all they need; because if this is the case, they will outcompete algae.

Maintenance
Water changes. Every tank requires water changes; some (a lot) more than others. I run heavily planted tanks with ferns, mosses, crypts and buces under non-CO2, low light conditions. And greatly understocked with fish. About 5 water changes a year suffices. So my point is, it all depends.... But in case of doubt, more changes than what is needed won't hurt.

"Every 4 months I am thinking of moving all the plants and fish to a QT tank, vigorously disturbing the substrate to dislodge waste buried deep in it."
-> In the 20+ years of my hobby, I have never heard of this approach. Substrates are loaded with microorganisms and bacteria, which in combination with plants, take to a huge extent care of the waste.

Setup
So....dark....then fish added, then dark again...then plants...? I am not sure if I understand the pleasure (or need) in all of this. The pleasure of the hobby is to observe... you need lights to do so.

I would start with plants from day 1. As a matter of fact, I would start with lots of plants, and also with temporary ones to prevent algae. When I start a new tank, I fill half of it temporarily with java fern to prevent troubles from happening. I don't attach it to anything; I just release it inside the tank. In parallel, I start adding plants that will stay in this tank. Once the tank established and the latter group of plants are growing (and I could choose to take out some java ferns) I add a few fish.
I intend to cover virtually all of the tank with plants. I would definitely appreciate red plants; not sure I want to deal with carpets.

The hygger light comes with a built in dimmer option...but it doesn't save your settings if it loses power (which it will on a daily basis due to the electrical timer I will be using), so I was wondering if the shade cloth would be more reliable. I do not know if the hygger light is compatible with other dimmers.

I've used stratum before and had issues with it being too light to hold the plants down...that is the sole reason I want to add the sand (a substrate I am very comfortable planting in).

I was going to plant heavily the moment I turn the light on in the tank. My thought is that since ammonia and other organic wastes are among the leading triggers of algae, letting the tank cycle thoroughly - first simply to process ammonia, then (via the fish) to effectively process organics - without much light would increase my odds of success when the plants were finally added. The tank would be illuminated by room light after the fish was added, so not completely dark.

I know a lot of people have good luck with EI...I'm just nervous that if I ever mess up and trigger algae, all those extra nutrients in the water column will make the algae grow faster. I was thinking that dosing in the substrate would allow me to add more nutrients to the plants while having less of an impact on the nutrient levels in the water column (plus you shouldn't dose ammonia in the water column...you can dose it in the substrate without incident so long as it has decent CEC). I wasn't going to completely avoid water column dosing, just keep it relatively low.

I just want to occasionally remove all the dead roots/their decay products/other detritus from the deeper regions of the substrate...perhaps less often than every four months, but I can't think of any easier way to do it. The tank will have malaysian trumpet snails to help break down organics, but even they will not cause it to magically disappear from tanks.
 

CMT

There are a lot of perplexing ideas above. In addition to what was already posted in reply, I'll just add that running CO2 for 2 months prior to adding plants is both a waste of CO2 and dangerous to your fish.

Plants need CO2 when they are undergoing photosynthesis, which is only when they have sufficient light. Without light, they don't need CO2.

Further, you should turn off your CO2 every night when the lights are off or you risk harming your fish.

There are reasons not to go with pressurized CO2, mostly upfront cost, but the risk of explosion shouldn't really be on the list.
 

Joshaeus

There are a lot of perplexing ideas above. In addition to what was already posted in reply, I'll just add that running CO2 for 2 months prior to adding plants is both a waste of CO2 and dangerous to your fish.

Plants need CO2 when they are undergoing photosynthesis, which is only when they have sufficient light. Without light, they don't need CO2.

Further, you should turn off your CO2 every night when the lights are off or you risk harming your fish.

There are reasons not to go with pressurized CO2, mostly upfront cost, but the risk of explosion shouldn't really be on the list.
I was going to use the CO2 while the tank is cycling to make sure I can keep it stable with the yeast reactors and was not going to add fish until I confirmed I could keep it stable or not...if I cannot, I will simply go low tech (at which point some of my plans would need to be tweaked). It's a touch difficult to turn CO2 from a yeast reactor off, but I could easily have an air stone turn on during the off hours. I did have a tank with a yeast reactor before where the CO2 was on 24/7 and the persian killifishes in the tank did not seem to be bothered...but persian killies (Aphanius mento) are practically bulletproof, so they may not be a great gauge of CO2 levels.
 

ruud

Thnx joshaeus for clarifying a few things.

Just like to stress that fear of waste in substrate is unnecessary; at least in my book. I sometimes see images of tanks that have a thick layer of pebbles which people then vacuum clean in order to prevent waste build-up. You know...those type of tanks that actually suffer from algae explosions every now and then.

With finer substrates, like sand (not silt) or active soil, I let everything decompose. Plants, dry leaves, dead shrimp, dead fish....everything. It is a perfect source of food for plants and microorganisms. Waste build-up is just something that is not in my book, as long as you let nature run its course as much as possible.

Same thing with algae. I really, really have a hard time getting them visible in my tanks. I would especially like to have them in my shrimp-only tanks, but these tanks look ridiculously clean (here's one: 8.5 gallon shallow shrimp scape | Freshwater Aquarium Builds Forum | 513803). Even in tanks that have a few hours a day of direct sunlight don't suffer from visible algae; well....perhaps in august, green algae start showing up on the glass, but they are gone once autumn kicks in.

It is all about the plants; if you have plenty of plantmass in your tank, that are also compatible to one another (for instance, bright lights, lots of floaters and shady plants below), and control of lights, it is practically mission impossible for algae. Hence my tip; to add lots of java fern free floating from the start, even if it is just temporary. Once you don't need the ferns, because your other plants are catching up, just put them in a spare tank and let them enjoy whatever light you have in the room. Just do a water change every once in a while with a minimal amount of fertlizer. It's like keeping a plant in a vase.
 

Joshaeus

Hi everyone! I finally came up with the filtration for this tank...two 80GPH internal filters with spray bars. The idea is to ensure that there are absolutely no dead spots in this tank; I will also use them as my diffusers, feeding the output from my yeast reactors into their media chambers. I am not sure what I will use for filter media...
 

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