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  1. #1
    Serial Lurker CRfishlover's Avatar
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    Plantbrain - advice

    Plantbrain, or anyone else that can help, I posted a thread before the upgrade that I was in the planning stage for a 75 gallon planted tank. You posted a lengthy response with advice for a CO2 setup the day before the upgrade.

    Could you reply again with your recommendations? Know that I am a novice for CO2 setup. So, please explain all the components (regulator, bubble counter, needle valve, tank, reactor) and whether to buy them separate, together, and from where.

    Also, some advice on how to start a planted tank (which plants first, add more plants gradually just like stocking fish, etc.) and fertilizers (which ones, frequency, etc.) is welcome.

    Here's some (hypothetical) parameters:
    - 75 Gallon
    - 4x55w CF from AH Supply
    - Fluval 404 or Eheim 2026 (not sure yet - is this sufficient or do I need to add a HOB as well?)
    - flourite with possibly some sand for looks (what about a layer of peat first? I have read both ways)
    - pH of 7.6

    Lots of questions, I know, but all advice is welcome. Thanks!





  2. #2
    Senior Member Richer's Avatar
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    I'm not Tom Barr, but I think I have some of the answers you are looking for.

    For your CO2 system:

    All of my parts I bought locally through welding supply shops and specialty valve shops. However, if I remember correctly, you can get a decent double guage CO2 regulator from www.kegworks.com. As for the needle valve, you can try www.floridadriftwood.com. The reactor I believe Tom Barr does sell himself, you can also get it at floridadriftwood. As for the bubble counter, you can get a decent one from www.bigalsonline.com. However, bubble counters are not really nessessary. You don't need a bubble counter to see how much CO2 is in your tank. All you need is a pH tester, a kh tester and this this table .

    When you start off a plant tank from scratch you need to start it off right, or you'll be battling algae outbreaks from the beginning. Start with a thin layer of peat at the very bottom of your tank. One top of this, add mulm. Mulm is the crude you suck out of a fish tank during a gravel vac. Make sure the tank you take the mulm out from is healthy. One top of this peat/mulm layer, add your substrate (ie. fluorite, onyx sand, laterite/gravel mix, etc.). A thickness of 3-4 inches will do.
    After your substrate is complete, fill part way with water, then start planting. Stuff your tank with as many fast growing, cheap plants as you can. Stuff your tank until you cannot stuff anymore. Fill your tank to the top with water, plug in your heaters, lights and filters and give it a day or two to settle down.
    After a day or two, add your algae eaters (ie. otos, SAEs, shrimp). Don't overstock your tank with algae eaters, just put a few in. If done correctly, you should not be able to detect any kind of ammonia spike as the plants will take in the ammonia as its being produced.. on top of that, herbivores do not produce as much waste as a typical omnivore, or carnivore does. Give your tank a month or two to settle in, then slowly start to remove/add different plants and begin your aquascape. While removing or adding plants, remember not to remove too many at once, and don't remove them too quickly, you need to give your bacteria a chance to grow to replace the missing plants. During this time, you can also begin to add your fish. Do not add too many at once. Two or three fish (more if the fish are very small) a week will do. You need to take your time when adding fish, to avoid any chance of a small ammonia spike. Any spike in ammonia may cause an algae outbreak.

    As for fertillization, you want to keep your nitrate levels at around 5-10ppm at all times. Add trace elements every 2-3 days, pottassium after a weekly 40-50% water change, a small bit of phosphate after each water change (optional if your tap water contains a small amount of phosphate), a bit of iron after each water change, and root tabs accordingly (dependant on whether or not your plants are heavy root feeders). Personally, I cannot suggest how much fertillizer to use. Thats knowledge that is currently out of my range. Just for reference, I do the following on my 70 gallon tank. 4 capfuls of Seachem's Fluorish Potassium after my water changes. 3-4 capfuls of Seachem's Fluorish Trace every 2-3 days. No pottassium yet, as my tap water has a small amount of it in there.

    HTH
    -Richer



  3. #3
    Serial Lurker CRfishlover's Avatar
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    Thanks!

    for the reply gcvt, even though you are not Tom Barr, but as I said in my original post "or anyone else that can hel". It is just that Tom responded to my earlier post.

    I checked out the links and have one question: On floridadriftwoods' site they list a check valve, needle valve, and solenoid valve. What's the difference? They also sell a set which has both a needle and solenoid valve. Do you need both or can you build a system with just a needle valve?

    Thanks again!



  4. #4
    Senior Member Richer's Avatar
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    gcvt? =P

    A solenoid is basically an electrical control valve for your CO2 system. If you plug it into the same timer as your lights, when the lights turn off, the solenoid turns off, and thus closes the CO2 supply. Its a good way to ensure that your fish will not suffocate during the night due to an overdose of CO2. If you can afford it, I'd personally get the needle valve + solenoid valve combo. The check valve isn't really needed, as I believe a needle valve can also act as a check valve. However, if you do want to get one, its better safe than sorry.

    In a nut shell:
    needle valve - fine tunes the CO2 output from your regulator. Set the regulator to 15-20 psi, then use the needle valve to tune the output down to 1-2 bubbles a second.
    Solenoid valve - when plugged into the same timer as your lights, it will shut off the CO2 supply when your lights turn off.
    check valve - prevents water backflow into your tank. I don't believe its needed if you have a needle valve.

    HTH
    -Richer



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    Thanks Richer
    Dave Gomberg sells the valves and regulators, Aquabotanica also.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr



  6. #6
    Serial Lurker CRfishlover's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Richer
    gcvt? =P

    So you are not Tom Barr, you are not gcvt, who are you anyway? All kidding aside, I also had another thread started on CF lighting to which gcvt replied. Hence the mixup.

    Tom,

    Do you believe that Dave Gomberg and Aquabotanica have the best bang for the buck? I looked at Dave Gomberg's site, and prices seem reasonable. Am I assuming correctly that diffusor and reactor are the same?

    Thanks again to both of you for your help.



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    I would not use a glass sintered "diffuser". "Reactors", (neither term is reall precise) are generally active tubes etc that pump water and gas mix through them. These work better IMO but for small tanks , small glass diffusers can work well.
    You NEED a needle valve no matter what.
    Regards,
    Tom Barr



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