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James Cho


  1. "Optimum" 10g plant tank [F]
    by jsc-at-apo.NSD.3Com.COM (James Cho) (14 Jan 94)

"Optimum" 10g plant tank [F]

by jsc-at-apo.NSD.3Com.COM (James Cho)
Date: 14 Jan 94


I'm in the process of setting up a 10g freshwater plant tank.  I can't go
above 10g for space conciderations.  I am planning to go out of my way to
make this a really nice tank.  I will be placing this tank in my office.


10g 20"L x 10.5"W x12"H glass with black plastic molding on top and bottom.
There is a plate of glass at the top of the tank.  I am concerned about the
possibility water damage if the tank leaks.  I would prefer to go with a
plexiglass tank but decided against it because of the difficulty of removing
algae without scratching the surface.  I have allowed for an upgrade path:
There are 15g and 20g tanks with the same base geometry so all the equipment
would still work.

      |                                                 |
      |                Hood (Mahagony)                  |
      |                                                 |
       |                                               |
       |                                               |
       |                                               |
       |                                               |
  Left |               10 g Glass Tank                 | Right
       |                                               |
       |                                               |
       |                                               |
       |                                               |
      |                Stand (Mahagony)                 |
      |                                                 |


I have constructed a hood out of 3/4" mahagony.  It was stained and
a several coatings of polyurathane was applied to "all" surfaces (even
the inside, to prevent water damage).  It is about 5" tall:

      ||    5000K  4200K  BLUE    BLUE  4200K  5000K   ||
      ||      _      _      _      _      _      _     ||
      ||     / \    / \    / \    / \    / \    / \    ||
      ||     |||    |||    |||    |||    |||    |||    ||
      ||     |||    |||    |||    |||    |||    |||    ||
      ||     |||    |||    |||    |||    |||    |||    ||
      ||     |||    |||    |||    |||    |||    ||| <--||--- Fluorescent
      ||     |||    |||    |||    |||    |||    |||    ||    Lights 9W U-shape
      ||     |||    |||    |||    |||    |||    |||    ||
      ||     |||    |||    |||    |||    |||    |||    ||
      ||    +---+  +---+  +---+  +---+  +---+  +---+   ||
      ||    | S |  | S |  | S |  | S |  | S |  | S |<--||--- Sockets
      ||    | B |  | B |  | B |  | B |  | B |  | B |<--||--- Ballast
      ||    +---+  +---+  +---+  +---+  +---+  +---+   ||

I am using 6 9W Osram U-shaped bulbs (PL-9).  They are mounted as shown
above.  I have 2 4200K, 2 5000K, 2 BLUE blubs.  I can easily change the
configuration.  I'm not sure this is the configuration that I want.  I
heard that blue will make the plants grow short and fat, which is what
I would want in the center front.  I want the plants on the side to grow
normally.  There is an sheet of aluminum behind the lights and on 3 sides
of the hood which will serve as a reflector.

Substrate Heating:

I have built a short stand ~3" tall which will support the tank as well
as provide a location to place a heating pad.  I have padded all sides
except the side facing the bottom of the tank with ~1/2" styrofoam.  I
placed a 45W heating pad (~$8) in this hole and placed the tank on it.
Below is a crossectional diagram describing this stand:

          |                                           |
          |                10 g tank                  |
          |                                           |<-- Glass
          |                                           |
       +-+|              glass bottom                 |+-+
       | |XX-----------------------------------------XX| |
       | +-+#               air gap                 #+-+ |
  Left |   |#/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/#|   | Right
       |   |#########################################|   |
       |   +-----------------------------------------+   |<-- Wood stand

       XX ==> Plastic Bottom of tank
       ## ==> 1/2" styrofoam
       /\ ==> Heating pad

It is difficult to draw the back of the stand which has a hinged door
so that if the heating pad fails, it can be removed without having
to remove the tank above it.  (Although it would be better to remove
the tank because it is impossible to form the tight styrofoam seal with
access only to the door.)  Hopefully most of the heat generated will not
be lost but rather go into the substrate of the tank.  This will provide
a slight heat gradient which will generate a slight water current in the
substrate.  I have not yet tried out this system although I will test
it in a few days.  I am concerned that it will get too hot but I don't
think that it should be a problem since the bottom of the tank should
behave like a heat sink.  I will place a thermometer on the side of the
heating pad (not actually touching) so that I can get an determine the
actual temperature in the air gap.  The heating pad also has a high,
medium, and low setting for a rough control of the temperature.

Standard Heating:

Supplimental heating will be provided by a 50W EboJaber heater.  This
tank will be placed in a office which will have a temperature of about
70F.  The water temperature will be kept at 77F.  I will be using a
UltraLife heater controller to monitor and stabilize the temperature.
I am not sure whether to connect it to the heating pad or the EboJaber
or both.


I am using a Aquaclear mini for filtration.  I wanted something which
will not agitate the water very much to prevent CO2 loss.  The Aquaclear
also has the ablility to reduce the flow.  The EboJaber heater as well
as the pH probe will be placed in the filter so that they will be out
of sight as well as allowing the heater to uniformly heat the water.


I will be using the Dupla lateralite (Duplarit K).  The 1/3 of my gravel
will be mixed with the the lateralite and the remaining 2/3 will be placed
above this layer.  The gravel which I am using is ~3mm "river gravel".
I am planning to have no more than 2".  I would like to have more but the
tank is so short that i can't afford to do this.  I have also a couple
of driftwood and some rocks (petrified wood).  One piece of driftwood
should be able to completely obstruct the front view of the intake tube of
the power filter.

Carbon Dioxide:

I have been putting together a system to inject CO2 into the system.  I first
went to a couple welding shops and picked up a 5lb CO2 tank and regulator.
I attached a solenoid controlled valve to the regulator and am running a 
CO2/O3 resistant tubing to the tank. The CO2 will be bubbled very slowly
into the intake of the power filter.  A pH controller will be set to 
maintain a pH of ~6.8.  I would like to have the KH be about 10.  I'm not
sure which chemical I will have to add to do this.

Water Additives:

I am planning to use the Wimex products:  Ferrovit and Mirovit for iron and
trace mineral suppliment.  (I will probably also need some stuff for buffering
the water.)


I will probably use ~2 Black Mollys to cycle this tank as well as deal with
the initial algae growth.  Eventually I would like to place a couple small
cory cats, a couple otochinclus (sp?), and ~10 cardinal tetras or a pair of
neon gouromis or a pair of wild rams or a few rainbows.


I haven't decided yet.  I am planning on getting them from Delaware Aquatics
if nothing better is found.  I would like to completely fill with tank from
the beginning.  I am planning to spend about $100 on plants.  ~6 species of
plants probably be the most that I could put in this tank without having it
look like a jungle.  I would like to get input on the choice of plants which
would be appropriate for this system.

                Cost    Power
Hood            $ 50    
Stand           $ 30    
Lights          $ 70    54W
Filter          $ 15    10W
pH Controller   $240
Temp Controller $100
CO2 tank        $100
CO2 regulator   $ 70
Solinoid valve  $ 50    10W
Misc CO2        $ 20
Heater          $ 13    50W (not always on)
Heating pad     $  8    45W (not always on)
Fertilizers     $ 50
Gravel          $  5
Fish            $ 30
Plants          $100
Books           $ 60
Misc            $100


I will probably have this system up and running in a month or so and I plan
on giving a update from time to time on the progress of this tank.  I would
like to receive as much input as possible.  Any comments, questions, advice
and warning would be much appreciated.


James S. H. Cho  h: (415) 852-9963            o _   _ _  _   _  _   /   _
3com Corporation o: (408) 764-5141           / /_\ /\/\ /_\ /_ /   / \ / \
Hardware Design       \__/ /  //   / \_  _/ \_//  / \_/

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