custom 90 gallon, self-sustaining tank - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 17 Old 01-25-2014, 04:11 PM Thread Starter
custom 90 gallon, self-sustaining tank

for now i'm just pooling notes and research till i get this started.

i've come across a lot of information so far, and read a lot of peoples experiences (bad experiences mostly).

on a search to see what to do to keep things going, what helps, what to avoid.

for a goal of keeping a self-sustaining tank (not sealed, so i would be topping up water lost due to evaporation.)
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post #2 of 17 Old 01-26-2014, 10:22 AM
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Best of luck on your quest for the Holy (tank) Grail. . . :P
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post #3 of 17 Old 01-26-2014, 10:58 AM Thread Starter
hard part is squishing an ecosystem into a tank

in my mind everything has to be compressed
higher densities of everything at every level


substrate, till i hear better, i'm following what i heard from beaslbob

peat moss with a cap, ... i'm going to add some cheap cat litter to the mix for CEC (help retain nutrients in the substrate (Montmorillonite clay - cheapest of the cheap cat litter, ingredient (single) natural clay for the clumping cat litter - no odor control or anything added

i'm unsure about what to use for a cap, possibly arcillite (baked Montmorillonite clay) or do i go cheap and get play sand, or expensive and ceramic beads (for foundry casting - cerabeads), or exotic - sand blasting glass beads, ... probably not the glass beads, i want to keep the cap ontop not have it sink under the peat moss due to density (what i am considering the cerabeads for

blackworms in the substrate (to keep it airy and help with mulm/detritus breakdown
assassin snails to help as well (possibly adding Malaysian Trumpet snails for extra)

greenwater to help absorb nutrients from the water column (beneficial side effect) but also as food for the live food

Rotifers (mixed - sessile & planktonic)
moina prefered (likely daphnia only because i can't find moina.
possibly copepods (when i looked into it again recently they're smaller than the common daphnia manga (which is huge :(

i'm debating about freshwater sponge and/or clams at this point, ... mostly for the exotic "i can do it" feature that isn't possible in most peoples 'way-to-clean tanks'

but i think only if the greenwater is still out of control with the zooplankton in the tank (not enough eating the greenwater - but again i'm not sure about this from another perspective, ... if the greenwater isn't dense enough, the zooplankton won't get dense enough as well.

these smaller critters at this point are little more than live food (with worms and snails additionally helping keep the substrate fresh... that much turning over the substrate is pushing me to get the cerabeads to ensure it stays ontop

i want lots of algae (various kinds of algae) for fresh food for the fish (flagfish), and plants that the flagfish can munch on as well (a large varied diet) ... it's really hard to find people talking about what plants flagfish will eat, most talk of "don't get these plants because the fish eat them" them (that's about what i have to go on for my search)

for algae searches, i initially went with "what phytoplankton will reproduce quickly?" a recent research report i had pointed out to me mentioned that daphnia do best with a particular type due to protiens and such it produces, ... well that threw my critter list (including phytoplankton) into chaos :(

kinda like where initially i stayed away from rotifers, no inherent nutritional value, ... so find something else, ... but there's not much else that is sessile that could provide additional nutrients for the flagfish eating aglae & have extra critters in their food.


having greenwater & zooplankton helps keep nutrients in the water column from becoming hypoeutrophic. nutrients are quickly found by the phytoplankton, then eaten by zooplankton, then eaten by fish, to be pooped out and land on the bottom of the aquarium again, to (hopefully) move down into the substrate and have bacteria release the nutrients slowly back into the water column again, and the process repeats.

that was the easy part.


oddly the hard part is plants

stem plants tend to grow without limit and flagfish have small mouths so are limited in the plants they can munch on

i think i'm stuck on more stem plants than i want, but that's a bit of trial and error to see if the plants can survive the flagfish or if they'll be eaten into extinction as well

flagfish i've heard have a tendency to eat what they want in priority, first one salad, then another when the first is no longer available, ... in my tank algae disappears first and so i can't tell if they eat the rotala (that i've heard they will eat) because they like algae first, ... did have two small sprigs of Limnophila that disappeared really fast - likely eaten

a search for plants that aren't stem plants has left me with cryps and swords, ... i think swords are softer and likely to be eaten more, ... but find smaller leafed swords, ... most are growing well over 12" tall.

i still search for swords despite the low tank as i want it to block line of site so the hungry flagfish won't eat the zooplankton into extinction (they're little piggy fish :( but to find plants that will grow without crowding the surface as the leaves reach the top & continue growing into a mat & block out light, ... not good

shorter leaves would be great, but not so easy to find :(
java fern would be perfect, ... but nothing eats it unless they're desperate, ... then the flagfish aren't trimming the leaves keeping them thinned out.

still so much up in the air, ... i settled on flagfish for their diet, ... carnivore with strong herbivore tendencies, ... what i would like to think would help reach a balance for a self-sustaining tank, ...

but the plants are really difficult, ... fast growing non-stem plants to significantly block line of site in the tank that are more of a salad for the flagfish, ... hundreds of plants to go through, well once things are sorta organized there's a start, but looking for experience is hard.
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post #4 of 17 Old 01-26-2014, 01:28 PM
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capped peat moss will give a lower ph,not good for clams.ant capped soils etc will also not work with clams.they will just dig it up.

bettas-goldfish-shrimp-snails-planted tanks
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post #5 of 17 Old 01-26-2014, 02:18 PM Thread Starter
i could use sponges if i'm concerned about excess greenwater then.
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post #6 of 17 Old 01-27-2014, 09:15 AM Thread Starter
what options have people come across for high intensity lighting ?

in the aquarium supplies stories prices are insane
in general gardening & hydroponics prices are half or less (comparing some of the bigger name brands for aquarium products)

sunlight supply produces a T5HO 8 lamp fixture for similar price to some duel lamp fixtures for aquarium products.

any alternatives people have come to for affordable lighting ?
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post #7 of 17 Old 01-27-2014, 09:50 AM
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Sunlight, or a series of mirrors to reflect it in if you want it more self sustaining. If you use electricity it really isn't self sustaining.
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post #8 of 17 Old 01-27-2014, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Tolak View Post
Sunlight, or a series of mirrors to reflect it in...

Reminds me of that scene in the pyramid from The Mummy

125 - BGK, chanchito cichlid, pictus cats, silver dollars, palmas bichir
125 - cichlids (severums, bolivian rams, chocolate), rainbows ( turquoise, red), loaches (angelicus, zebra, kuhli and horseface), plecos (BN, RL and clown), denison barbs, tiretrack eel, pearl gouramis, betta
90 - Congo tetras, african knife, upside down cats, spotted ctenopoma, kribensis, delhezzi bichir
2.5 - betta
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post #9 of 17 Old 01-27-2014, 10:08 AM Thread Starter
i'm not quite ready to consider the sealed no-tech self-sustaining aquarium

i am fine with low-tech, lights, heater, air pump.
a filter i am not so sure of though, on the fence.
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post #10 of 17 Old 01-28-2014, 11:35 AM Thread Starter
tank stand construction ...

i'm thinking something like this (only slight differences)
changes to what lengths of wood line up with things same shape, just a difference of what 2x4 is full length and what is overlapping what board.

if someone has ideas for something stronger, i'd like to hear it.

yes, this is taken from what someone else built (built for a 40 gallon)
found with:
-diy tank stand (36"L18"D 30") for 40 gallon breeder tank
in a google image search
a 90 gallon would be expected 1000lb

i can't weld, nor do i have the equipment if i could
this stand is built with 2x4
i like the minimal boards, i like the boards braced against other boards to distribute the weight (and i think increase overall strength)

i'm no construction worker or even close, so i dono if this would be expected to be sufficiently strong or not

can't seem to add the image i found :(
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