First, I built some acrylic tanks. The pair holds 13 gallons total.
They fit in the front window and are for plants in order to remove nitrate from the water.
I have recently added some water hyacinth.
Water is being pumped at a drip rate out of these tanks and into the 350 gallon system and it overflows back to these tanks. I have measured the speed at which nitrate is consumed by the water hyacinth and it is about 29 ppm per gallon per day. That is by 15 mostly small plants. A year of data on the nitrate levels for my 350 gallon system then allows me to compute that I need about 180 such plants to use the nitrate at the same rate that it is produced. I doubt that I can find space and light for that many plants, but it got me to thinking about how I can get more light. The cost of lights and the cost of electricity lead me to the second project.
Cutting a hole in the ceiling.
Three 18 inch diameter skylights.
On the inside I also put some T5s and panels suspended from the ceiling to both direct the light down into the aquarium and to cover up the T5s on the ceiling.
Here is the whole setup.
Notice that I now have screen lids. Much more light passes through them than passed through the acrylic lids that I had. One disadvantage is that 8/10 of a gallon of water evaporates out of 350 gallons per day. The green screens on the back of the tank are for suspending plants. The screen is very loose and stretchy so I will make small holes in the screen and put the roots of water hyacinth and other plants through the hole and it will float on the water, but be held in place. Time will tell how this will work.
I'm quite happy with the sky lights and the T5s with the hood overhead. The tank is lit quite nicely. On a sunny day it is bright and gets a lot of light. The sky lights are rated at 750 to a maximum of about 1000 watts of light each. Even on a cloudy day they do a pretty good job of lighting the tank, but I can switch on the T5 anytime and they are quite bright too. They are two bulbs each with one 4 foot long and one 3 foot long. It is also nice to get real moon light when there is a full moon. It is not particularly bright, but it does show. Here is a picture taken at night with just the T5s lighting the tank.
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Katy- I bought the 4.5 inch O.D. clear acrylic pipe at http://www.aquaticeco.com/subcategories ... r%20pipe/0 This is the only place that I know of that has a reasonable price (Gary Stanton of this forum pointed it out when I was looking for a source).
Not that I worry about you ever getting bored, but once the light is there it could be utilized with a shelf on the wall above/behind the tank. That shelf could carry another acrylic tank with shrimps and more plants (sump design) or perhaps even a slim paludarium.
I love this amazing thread, thanks.
change 42.4% weekly which uses 6.06% of the tank water per day, or
change 26.7% twice per week which uses 7.63% of the tank water per day, or
change 17.2% every other day which uses 8.58% of the tank water per day, or
change 9.36% every day which uses 9.36% of the tank water per day, or
use a drip system which uses 10.3% of the tank water per day.
As you can see, fewer larger water changes require the use of less water in order to get the same effect on your nitrate levels. I am sure that you already know this, but this is why I have resisted going to a drip system. I currently do the daily water change option and it would use an extra 3.29 gallons per day if I changed to a drip system. I was thinking of going the other direction and changing water twice per week which would save 6 gallons per day.
But, on the other hand, if I succeed in getting plants to remove a large percentage of the nitrate and only have to do small water changes, then the water wasted by using a drip system is quite small. A drip system also solves my evaporation problem since it always keeps the tank topped up. Evaporation is really only an issue for me when I leave on vacation, but it would be nice to have an easy solution. I'll have to see how well the plants work in the long run and then decide.
Keith, you are an extremely handy genius. The water bridge is very fascinating, something to keep in mind for the future maybe
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