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-   -   Weeds (http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2678002)

Michael Hoaster 06/08/2018 11:34 PM

Weeds
 
Hi. This is a thread about a marine planted aquarium. I'll be modeling an inshore seagrass and macro algae lagoon. If all goes well, it should be an evolution of my previous tank, and hopefully, will improve on it.

"Caribbean Biotope Seagrass Tank": http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2391470

The tank is an acrylic 180 gallon tall, so its 5 and a half feet wide, 24 inches front to back, and 30 inches tall. There is an un-plumbed, coast to coast overflow that I will use as an in-tank refugium, simulating the shallows. It is hidden behind a fake wall.

Fake wall thread: http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2403722

There is no sump, but there are two chambers, on the left end of the tank. I've heard them referred to as side sumps. One handles the inflow, the other the outflow, to/from the main pump/closed loop. This end of the tank is going to get a fake wall covering as well, as part of the evolution.

For lighting, I have a single, 400 watt, 6500K, metal halide light, with a spider-light reflector. I also have an LED moonlight.

For additional water movement, I have a Tunze Classic powerhead, hidden inside a fake mangrove root I built.

Fake mangrove root thread: http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2393807

Also, I'm adding a Tunze wave box, which will hide behind the new fake wall. So there will be no visible plumbing in the aquarium.

Additional equipment includes a Fluval 306 canister filter that I will modify to accept CO2 injection. This will provide carbon and calcium for the plants. And, with three media trays, I can mix and match media to suit tank needs. Flexible.

There is no controller, no protein skimmer or filtration of any kind. Pretty low tech. My intent is to minimize the man-made stuff, and allow nature to do its thing.

Subsea 06/09/2018 12:02 AM

Michael, I will be following you. I never realized that your light over 160G tank was only 400W of MH. While that is adequate for most macro, it would be lacking for most true marine plants.

Rispa 06/09/2018 01:07 AM

How exciting! Do you know what species you are going to use?

WYA123 06/09/2018 06:03 AM

Excited to see the tank progress!

Michael Hoaster 06/09/2018 06:05 AM

Thanks Patrick. The light has proven to be more than adequate for grasses and macros. It is too bright for many macros. I have to plant reds at the edge of the spread or they bleach out.

Michael Hoaster 06/09/2018 06:35 AM

Thanks Rispa. My pivotal species will be Manatee Grass. It is a pretty challenging plant, but also very rewarding and beautiful, in my opinion. It can grow quite tall and will fill the tank's 30 inch height nicely. I will also keep Shoal Grass, which is much easier, but only grows a foot or so tall.

I also plan to keep several macros, though I haven't decided on all of them yet. For fish, my list is still evolving. Right now, I'm interested in Royal Grammas, Yellow Striped Cardinalfish, Barnacle Blennies and Zebra Barred Dartfish. All will be kept in groups.

I will populate a deep sand bed with a cast of thousands of detrivores, including worms and pods. These will form the foundation of the food web, turning detritus into plant food.

Many more to come.

Michael Hoaster 06/09/2018 06:39 AM

Thanks WYA123. I look forward to making progress. Right now, the tank is empty. I need to make a few changes to the overall system first. Once I get those made, it will be time for the fun stuff.

lapin 06/09/2018 06:47 AM

:)) ya didnt even let me finish the last thread. Keep us posted with pictures.

Rispa 06/09/2018 08:07 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Michael Hoaster (Post 25452427)
Thanks Rispa. My pivotal species will be Manatee Grass. It is a pretty challenging plant, but also very rewarding and beautiful, in my opinion. It can grow quite tall and will fill the tank's 30 inch height nicely. I will also keep Shoal Grass, which is much easier, but only grows a foot or so tall.

I also plan to keep several macros, though I haven't decided on all of them yet. For fish, my list is still evolving. Right now, I'm interested in Royal Grammas, Yellow Striped Cardinalfish, Barnacle Blennies and Zebra Barred Dartfish. All will be kept in groups.

I will populate a deep sand bed with a cast of thousands of detrivores, including worms and pods. These will form the foundation of the food web, turning detritus into plant food.

Many more to come.

Sounds like a good plan so far

Michael Hoaster 06/09/2018 11:24 AM

lapin, I'm glad to hear you're reading my old thread. Hopefully, this new thread will have as much useful info in it.

http://reefcentral.com/forums/pictur...ictureid=79711

Here's a pic of how the tank sits now. It has been drained and disinfected with bleach. On the back wall is the fake wall, with built in caves for the grammas. Near the top you can see the black horizontal line, where I plant to cut down the overflow-turned-refugium. This is where the new water line will be, which will just about match it up with the hood. Before, the water line was around 3 inches above the lower edge of it. This sometimes obscured fish from view when swimming near the top, and is one of the things that's been bugging me for a long time. Now, I have the chance to fix it. Lowering the water line will also give space for the wave box to make waves.

At the left end, the flow-through wall is visible. Once I get the wave box positioned, this wall will get the fake wall treatment too. That should make the whole aquarium look more natural.

On the bottom you can see the Deep Sand Bed Planter, made from dead coral skeletons. It confined the DSB to that area only, and reduced the ant farm look. This time around I plan to bury it and allow the DSB to expand beyond its walls, giving me more real estate to plant more seagrasses.

Missing is the fake mangrove root, which is out for repairs, a modification, and a new paint job. As before, it will be positioned to the right of the DSB.

vlangel 06/09/2018 07:12 PM

I am excited to see the new thread started! I will be following along.

Michael Hoaster 06/09/2018 09:43 PM

Thanks Dawn! I'm excited too. I've also enjoyed the break, though I have a quarantine tank and a holding tank running.

vlangel 06/10/2018 06:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Michael Hoaster (Post 25452786)
Thanks Dawn! I'm excited too. I've also enjoyed the break, though I have a quarantine tank and a holding tank running.

I especially appreciate that you posted a pic of your tank emptied. Someday when I take a break from seahorses I think I will do a similar thing with containing the deep sandbed, only of course on a much smaller scale. Following your previous thread and now this one helps me know what works and what does not work. I doubt I will ever try seagrasses but then who knows?

Michael Hoaster 06/10/2018 08:06 AM

Thanks Dawn. I wanted to show my aquarium stripped down to the bones, and in its most lifeless state. Kind of a 'before' look. I think the DSB Planter works well and should scale very well for pretty much any tank. If you do ever decide to try a seagrass, shoal grass seems to be the easiest of them. Turtle grass did well for me too, but they need a very deep sand bed.

Chasmodes 06/12/2018 07:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Michael Hoaster (Post 25452353)
Also, I'm adding a Tunze wave box, which will hide behind the new fake wall. So there will be no visible plumbing in the aquarium.

This sounds like a fantastic addition...looking forward to your progress! I also like the before/after idea. I can't think of a better way for you to record your tank history, especially if you read through all of your threads. Your tank was fantastic before, and I can't wait to see what your future version. Sorry that I am late for the party.

Michael Hoaster 06/12/2018 07:49 AM

Thanks for the kind words, Kevin! I'm pretty excited about the wave box. I bought the smaller one, so it should be easier to conceal in a fake wall.

When I was snorkeling in Mexico, the back and forth water movement made quite an impression. I've seen the wave box with corals and it looked great. Having it in a tank with plants should be pretty cool!

sam.basye 06/12/2018 10:27 AM

Glad to see you got the new thread going!
I think you should ditch the fish and make it a snake tank. Haha looks like a nice sandy terrarium these days sitting there empty.

Looking forward to getting it wet!

Michael Hoaster 06/12/2018 10:44 AM

Thanks Sam. While it's empty, I'll get to address a few issues that need fixing. Once done, it's back to ecosystem building, with all the nerdy plant goodness!

Michael Hoaster 06/12/2018 11:45 PM

I rather like to think of myself as a naturalist. Naturalist: a person who studies nature and especially plants and animals as they live in nature. I want to study plants and animals, and how they work together in ecosystems. I want to learn about Nature by letting it teach me, using my aquarium. This naturalist approach is my prime directive.

I want to find out if it is possible to bring in a diverse array of players, and assist Mother Nature in building a functioning ecosystem, in a big plastic box, with a minimum of gadgets. And rather than trying to keep the most challenging creatures in the sea, I'll be keeping plants, which will be doing the filtering. In fact, every living thing will be selected for it's contribution to the ecosystem.

This is not a reef tank. It will not be a showcase of technological marvels. It will be a display of Nature, maintained by Nature. An ecosystem-in-a-box. Ecosystems are pretty freakin' amazing. All these disparate natural processes somehow combine to form a working system! I supply the raw materials, Nature makes them work together.

Where to begin? At the bottom! In the dirt!

McPuff 06/13/2018 06:21 AM

Found it!

Looking forward to the new direction. I think you'll really like the wave box, especially with the grasses. It will look terrific flowing back and forth. That is one problem with SPS is that you don't get that back and forth flowing... not to a great degree anyway.

Chasmodes 06/13/2018 09:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Michael Hoaster (Post 25454404)
I rather like to think of myself as a naturalist. Naturalist: a person who studies nature and especially plants and animals as they live in nature. I want to study plants and animals, and how they work together in ecosystems. I want to learn about Nature by letting it teach me, using my aquarium. This naturalist approach is my prime directive.

I want to find out if it is possible to bring in a diverse array of players, and assist Mother Nature in building a functioning ecosystem, in a big plastic box, with a minimum of gadgets. And rather than trying to keep the most challenging creatures in the sea, I'll be keeping plants, which will be doing the filtering. In fact, every living thing will be selected for it's contribution to the ecosystem.

This is not a reef tank. It will not be a showcase of technological marvels. It will be a display of Nature, maintained by Nature. An ecosystem-in-a-box. Ecosystems are pretty freakin' amazing. All these disparate natural processes somehow combine to form a working system! I supply the raw materials, Nature makes them work together.

I am approaching my build the same way. At first, my goal was to keep a big tank of striped blennies in a fish only oyster reef imitation. Since then, it's become a biotope and is evolving into an ecosystem as the tank ages and I add new critters and plants. The blennies are what fascinate me most, and my goal has always been to give them the most ultimate comfortable environment that they can live and breed in. Since then, that part of it hasn't changed, but my interest in all of the other (not harmful) life forms has greatly expanded. When I began this project, I never envisioned spending hours looking at stuff in the tank with a magnifying glass along with the hours watching my fish. Also, my interest in other harmonious fish species adds to the biotope, and my continued fascination with the biotope. I learn something just about every day, hopefully, for their benefit as much as mine given that they are housed in my tanks. Anyway, good stuff Michael, and as always, I look forward to following your progress!

Chasmodes 06/13/2018 09:22 AM

BTW, following your build(s) and DIY projects kind of pointed me in the direction that I'm heading, so I consider you and your tanks an inspiration to me. Thanks for that!

Michael Hoaster 06/13/2018 11:12 AM

Thanks McPuff! The wave box thing has me very excited! I was never completely satisfied with the water movement I had before. I had a circular, gyre flow, which was good, but could have been better, especially at showing off the plants.

Michael Hoaster 06/13/2018 11:18 AM

Kevin, our tanks have much in common for sure! What you're doing has inspired me as well. I'm looking forward to seeing what we do next!

Michael Hoaster 06/13/2018 11:11 PM

Back in the dirtů

Starting up my new ecosystem requires a foundation for life. A suitable substrate for the sand bed creatures and the seagrasses is required. To support biodiversity, I will provide a variety of sand grain sizes, dirt, mud, shells and rubble - just as I've seen in Nature. It will not be a sterile, dead sand bed. It will be messy and wriggling with life.

How will this new substrate differ from the previous one? It will have more dirt and mud in it. In my experience, the grasses and the creatures enjoy it.

I managed to save a number of spaghetti worms from the old setup. I'll be adding live sand and live rock. I'm really hoping to get the bottom of the food chain established early. I believe this will help with stability, in an unstable phase of the tank's life.

Other members of the crew include two species of reproducing snails (Cerith & Mini Strombus), a fighting conch and a sea cucumber. Right now they're in my holding tank. I'll add some serpent stars and pods as well.

This an important step. Laying the foundation for life. Yay!


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