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new project 650 L with inbuilt filter

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So I've been setting up a 650 L system for about six weeks. Slowly adding a few guppies and a few other small things, plants, with a few above the water line. Not really any plan in mind, some sort of community tank. Plans of small waterfalls and a spraybar at the top flowing down a wall of sphagnum. Anyway, after looking at lots of discus stuff online I've decided to do a discus community setup. I'm gunna ditch the canisters for an inbuilt sump type setup, swap the gravel for sand and paint the background black. The filter will run about 5000 L/h through sponges and about 25 litres of bioballs. I see where I'm at now as the starting point with the next step being to pull it down, build in the filter and paint the back wall. Will probably take a couple of weeks to get materials and plan my approach but I will update my progress and we'll see how it goes. 

I'd love any suggestions or comments.




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Hi Donny. The sphagnum was going to be for growing media but I think for the coming rendition I'll use live moss between two plastic grids (moss wall). I've seen a couple of youtube vids about how to make them and I think it'll be less maintenance than the sphagnum in the long run. I'm aiming for as low maintenance setup as possible. I have a few ideas but rather than write a long spiel about every thought that comes into my head I'll talk about each step as I get to it. That way the project will reveal itself... like a flower unfolding... in the morning sun.   

I'll draw up some plans for the filter and start pulling the setup down today.

Suggestions for filter design and accessories welcome.

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Stared pulling it down. Disassembled the top part and took all decor out, as you can see. Lost a couple of guppies in the process, think they got some gravel dropped on them, poor buggers! Cleaned up the acrylic and it came up ok so I'll reuse it but I do have get a couple of pieces for the filter. I've also added a pic of my filter design. I've always just used canisters so this style of filter is new for me but I think I like it already




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My collection of stuff is getting bigger. I've started getting filter media, pumps and fittings


and I now have the Acrylic and have started on the filter. Might be a bit hard to see whats going on there but I'm just fiddling with it at the moment really and will show some better pics when it's more developed.


I had one very large piece of driftwood which I have now cut into several smaller pieces which I think will be much better. They won't all be going back in so the tank will be less full of driftwood will look better and be cleaner.


While I was cleaning up the tank, getting the silicone off that was holding the top part I noticed the silicone in the corners of the tank was starting to show signs of age. WP_20161006_08_57_18_Pro.jpg

I've actually had tanks in the past that were quite a bit worse than this and never had a problem. One of them was a five footer made with 6mm glass. It had a weird brace in the middle but still bowed terribly. I think back  now and wonder how something bad didn't happen. I bought it second hand from a local fish shop that had been using it for ages with a big dovii in it.

But, I want this setup to be the best I've had, so I've agonised over this silicon thing a bit actually. I've gone through thinking it'll be ok, I've had worse, to well, I'll just clean up that inside silicone and redo it myself. My main concern is that I won't be able to do it fast enough to get back to the beginning before it skins over. My thinking now is that I'll pay someone to do it so that's my next step but in the mean time I can still keep sorting the filter out.

Handy tool for cutting silicone between glass. A stitch-cutter. I've got a friend who's a nurse that got me some but you should be able to get them from the chemist. And a tip for cleaning silicone off glass. Wax and grease remover, get it from automotive paint suppliers. There are different types, some are more aimed at tar and silicone while some dry quicker and are used for final cleanup before the final coat of paint, so the surface must be scrupulously clean. You wet the surface you are cleaning with it and the contaminants dissolve up into the fluid and then you wipe it off before it dries. 100% hydrocarbons so completely evaporates away. 





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So the tanks all resealed now. I ended up doing it myself and it came up pretty good! Although I did make a lot of mess and waste. I gave it a good final clean with metho and it looks so pretty now. I almost don't want to move it. Its modern art. I call it glass box on a dog bed,

The dog's not happy...WP_20161017_16_57_21_Pro.jpg

Ahh, bugger him! he gets to sleep on a human bed anyway!

And he's ignorant!


But, I do want to put fish in it so I've started on the filter. Just put a few "tacks" of silicone on and holding it together with blutac until it goes off. Once I get the pieces in their final place I'll run beads around it all.



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The filter's taking shape now. Just need to get media and a few other bits and pieces.

I wanna put a few different types of biological media in there. I've got some bioballs and I've been thinking lava rock, has any tried it? Is it any good?

Any suggestions for other types of biological media?

The silicone on the outside of the filter came up pretty good but I couldn't get the caulking gun in the filter so I had to put little bits of silicone on my finger and put it on bit at a time.

So it's a bit messy but no one will see it and I know you guys will keep my secret!


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I'll be painting the back of the tank tomorrow then it'll go back on the stand so I wont be able to take any photos of the filter.

So, I've put the filter together as much as I could and made a video tour of it so you can get an idea of how the completed system will work.

I've finished the return system but I want to do some flow testing before I finally silicone the brackets into place. Anyone know of a dye I can use that won't stain my shiny new silicone? Maybe food colouring?

The intake for the filter is a work in progress but I think you can see where it's heading. 




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Awesome little project there @craig!

I had two large lava rock mountains in my eight foot (cost a small fortune) and i seemed to never have any troubles with water parameters ever, (even after long power-cuts) and canister media going off. so i think their bio harbouring levels must be pretty high. Only issue i did have is they would over time leach red colour into the water.. (combined with sera cichlid pellets) Adding purigen to my filter system fixed this though.

Also have a huge collection of old coral polyps they are quite porous and hold bacteria 

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Thanks stefan.jsp,

yeah, I think I'll put lava rock in the first chamber. The guys at Age of Aquariums showed me some neat bio-media, you could easily spend hundreds! I'll probably look at some of these a bit later but for now, if I have two hundred dollars in my pocket, well let's see... one of those double banger heaters? (can't remember the name), some more acrylic? (got some more fabrication in mind), lights? I do wanna put discus in here, so maybe some small ones to start growing out? On that, there seems to a whole thing about growing out discus before adding to a planted tank. I've never had discus before so I don't know but I'm pretty sceptical about most stuff I read and I think I'd like to buy some small ones, say half a dozen, and grow half out in a bare tank and half in the main tank and just see how much difference there is. Problem is I guess, I don't have the tank space to deal with fish I don't want if they end up monged. I might be able to do experiments like this when my  setup is complete but for now, I think I'll set up a bare grow out tank and get some small ones and see how I go.


Painted the tank today. Needs another coat, then back on the stand! If it looked pretty before, it's downright sexy now!!WP_20161030_22_17_07_Pro.jpgWP_20161030_22_18_16_Pro.jpgWP_20161030_22_18_55_Pro.jpg

excuse me:-P




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I put the tank back on the stand and filled it yesterday. No leaks, that's a good start!


If you're wondering why it looks cloudy, it's because I've been doing some testing of the water flow throughout the tank and there's glitter in there! 

Check out the video.  WP_20161102_21_26_19_Pro.mp4

I've focused on the return system here and I think it's come together pretty well. Looking from the front, the water flows down the sides of the tank, then in from each side where it rises as a large column, practically the whole width of the tank and concentrating in the middle. Looking from the side, the whole body of water basically does a slow barrel roll, coming up at the front. 

So, I need to develop the intake now. I tried blocking the intake opening to see when the filter would start draining and I had to block practically the whole thing before the filter started to empty. That's a good thing, I guess. It has 2-2000 lph pumps and I'm not dealing with head heights or hoses here so I'm expecting the pumps to be working at about 75% so I reckon about 3000 lph is going through the filter. Flow into the intake was very slow during testing and I might end up only using one filter sock just to increase water velocity through the pre-filter.  This might help with the surface skimmer that didn't seem to be getting much action either. 

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Been working on the intake. I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out (video here- WP_20161108_20_53_35_Pro.mp4) although the corner could have been tidier but it works well and that's the main thing! The main intake anyway. I still wasn't happy with the surface skimmer so I took It off. I'll use a longer one I think, that goes deeper into the chamber.  

I've still got a few things to do before I can add fish so I thought I'd set up a tank for some small discus and start growing them out. So, it's all tankmates in one tank. WP_20161107_17_00_14_Pro.jpgCrowded!?

It's only for a few days. Two sponge filters and a 1000lph canister should keep their wee wee under control.

And the grow out tank?WP_20161106_20_48_15_Pro.jpgWP_20161106_20_48_47_Pro.jpg

It's pretty banged up. You can see the cracks in the top photo and smashed corner in the bottom 8O


It's double layer glass on all sides and the cracks are only in one piece and the corner... I dunno but I've been using it for years and it doesn't leak. I originally picked it up off the roadside, ran silicone around the inside and I've had fish in it since. I'll paint all sides but the front blue, put one of the sponges and a heater in and bingo bango! I'll have a grow out tank.  

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The grow out tank is now set upWP_20161112_20_37_58_Pro.jpg

but the other tank is still crowded. WP_20161112_20_33_08_Pro.jpg            There's a few torn fins and the neons are showing signs of stress. I've upped the water changes to daily and hopefully taking the rosy barbs out will lessen any chasy games. It shouldn't be for too long, the big tank is nearly ready to fill WP_20161112_20_33_21_Pro.jpg

I was nearly gunna put the rosy barbs in my neighbour's little outdoor pond thingy last week but I'm glad I didn't. This is the third filter that they've matured for me and I haven't lost one. They may have a role to play yet! Everyone wrote off the hobbits but who destroyed the ring?! They can stay in there for a while and help the sponge get used to its new warm home.

I've fiddled with the surface skimmer and I think it should work well now. I opened it up a bit and put a duct on it so water gets drawn from lower in the chamber (hopefully more suction, but if that's the case then then I might have to add aeration to the filter chambers to avoid dead spots at the top.

I'm gunna redo the intake lid as well. The one on there now will be ok to get the tank going but I think I can make a better one. 

WP_20161112_11_00_55_Pro.jpg WP_20161112_10_59_20_Pro.jpgWP_20161112_10_57_55_Pro.jpg

I scored well the other day. I picked up a couple of big canister filters from the kerbside pickup. The cords were cut off and they were a bit scungy looking but one of them was chockers full of bio media so I had a pile of ceramic noodles and a good pile of aqua one cerami sub (It was an aqua one filter and I had a look online at the media that comes with them so I think that's what it is, it looks like it). Gave them a good soak in bleach then sun dried them for a couple of days. Still need more bio media!



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