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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm in the process of setting up my 90 g corner tank for tanganyikans. I'm going to light the tank very dimly. I am also building some shelves above the tank to house 2 emergent plant filters (partly as a feature, partly to grow some herbs, and partly to reduce nitrate in the tank, which won't have any plants at all.

The 2 shelves will be 18" and 36" above the tank respectively. I am planning on placing a perspex trough on each. The dimensions of the troughs will be approximately 38" x 9" and will be about 6" deep - though I may make the sides higher to prevent an overflow. I am then going to mount lights above each trough - and use relective materials to maximise intensity on the surface of the troughs. The water will be pumped from the tank to the top trough. It will flow through the media and then out through a pipe into the bottom trough. It will then flow through this trough and out through a pipe back into the tank. I will also be using a conventional canister filter in the tank.

Main questions:

What substrate should I use in the troughs? - I need something through which the water will flow freely. An overflow would be bad. At the same time I want the surface to be fairly dense so that evaporation is kept to a minimum.

What plants would people recommend growing (keep in mind that they can't be too tall, must soak up plenty of nitrate)? I would also be interested in anything that will cascade down from the troughs.

The head height will be at least 3.5'. What kind of powerhead would people recommend? Obviously I will want the inlet to be near the surface of the main tank so that in the event of blockage in one of the down pipes or either of the beds, the pump won't empty the tank.

Likewise with the drainage, I wouldn't want a pump failure to result in too much water draining into the main tank. I was thinking about setting the drains in each trough to be a couple of inches from the bottom. In the event of a pump failure a couple of inches of water would remain in each trough and the main tank would not flood. I have calculated the rough capacity of the troughs - conservatively and without factoring the displacement by media.

I am planning to incoporate a light sponge where the water first enters the top trough in order to prevent organic matter entering the bed. This could then be cleaned every so often.

Am I making any classic mistakes? My girlfriend thinks I have completely lost the plot.
 

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The best substrate for this is probably a standard aquarium gravel or even river rocks. You can't use sand or fine substrate because it will get washed around and end up down in your tank typically.
For plants anything leafy would be good, as well as some floating plants (like duckweed) to fill the rest of the surface of your planters. Once the surface is completely covered with floating plants, evaporation will slow down drastically.
Can't really recommend a specific powerhead, but obviously make sure it's rated for the appropriate head, you're going to want a fairly slow flow rate through the planters but not enough that the water can get stagnant or form pockets.
I've seen a couple setups similar to yours using only one shelf, but not too familiar with the two tier idea, although I don't see why it wouldn't work.
Hopefully some others can add to what I've said..

--Tommy
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
My project has hit a small problem. I've built the shelves, but when I asked for a quote from my local perspex fabricator it came to a total of £300 for 2 troughs.

I could get a decent sized tank for that!

Now I'm thinking of building them myself out of of glass. Anybody got any tips, advice, suggestions etc?

Thanks
 

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Why not just use Window Sill Planters.. water in from the top on one side and out from somewhere on the other.. serves the exact same purpose and costs about 5 bucks
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Rivermud

I would definitely be happy with that kind of solution, however the lady who is in charge of the house will likely severely reduce my privileges if my madcap schemes don't meet certain aesthetic standards.
 

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I built my planter directly into my hood for my 350g. I'll be running some tubing from each of my return line to feed it. They will also act as my siphon break when the pumps are turned off.

I used Sweetwater 2 part epoxy to water proof the trough and the rest of it is painted with a non toxic roofing paint.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Ok, some progress. Have all my plumbing bits and pieces and the tanks are being made and drilled. Shelves are up so I feel it is coming together. Anyone got any recommendations on flourescent fittings? I'm thinking 2 feet twins.
 

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damondeionno said:
What plants would people recommend growing (keep in mind that they can't be too tall, must soak up plenty of nitrate)? I would also be interested in anything that will cascade down from the troughs.
Most plants like slightly acidic water, not the very alkaline water of african lakes. Is this for a CA tank or a African tank?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
It's for a Tanganyika setup. My tap water is very hard. I hadn't actually thought about the ph preferences of emergent plants, but obviously they do have them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for the tip Rivermud. I am actually building the filters to use non aquatic plants. That way I will need less water in the tanks and can take advantage of a pretty much infinite supply of CO2. This idea is more inspired by aquaponics and hydroponic setups than a densely planted aquarium (I have done heavy planted tanks before). Plants I was thinking of trying were water mint (have grown that on the edge of ponds before and it seems happy with London water). Perhaps some basil (to eat) and I am tempted to try coriander and parsley as well. If I can grow herbs for the kitchen, all the better. The main problem I foresee is getting enough light but I'm hoping that by incorporating reflective materials and suspending the lights just above the plants, I can get good growth.
 

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I don't forsee any issues with ph affecting the growth of the emergents. I just wanted to point to the article because it mentioned some emergents that worked. And sometimes we go overboard in worry around here.
 

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Not sure on the various types of herbs, but I do know common house plants (philodenderon, etc.) grow very well.
I used to have a length of simple PVC guttering with caps on the ends and holes drilled in the bottom for drains along the back length of my 125. Filled with normal aquarium gravel and fed from a power head. Lighting was from the aquarium excess, and the things took over. I even eventually put some with the roots directly in the tank.
It got to a point that the tank tops were covered and made an interesting "dappled"/ "subdued" look to the water.
A cheap, small house plant became a huge bundle of 6 foot long tendrils going everywhere across the top and down the back.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
WOOHOO, it's finally happening. I have water flowing through both tanks and back into the main aquarium. The spraybar I made is working also. Lights are mounted, now I just need to work on reflective material and baffles, and of course finish the shelving so that my living room doesn't look like a Hammer Horror mad scientist's laboratory.

This DIY thing is great fun!!!!

Because I built it in situ, I must admit to being very nervous when I first switched on the pump. So far, so good, and only about 20 design changes along the way.

I am going to order a 1000 or so bio balls to fill the bottom of the troughs to a couple of inches and then cover them with a layer of netting. On top of that will go white marble chips, and then I can put some plants in and bring the whole thing to life.

Pics of what it looks like so far, this evening.

Mwuhahahaha....
 

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:thumb: Looking forward to the pics.
 

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VERY Nice!
 
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