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Old 03-28-2011, 11:09 AM   #51
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It's a thermal grease called Stars heat sink compound. I got one hundred 1g packets of the stuff from eBay for $10 not knowing how much I'd need. I only used about 1g, so I'm pretty much set for life on heat sink compound. I used 8-32 machine screws to secure the LEDs to the tubing. They're complete overkill and I had to use nylon washers to prevent shorts. Good luck with your build. I'll have to keep Cutter in mind. My brother wants an LED fixture now.

Another tank update:

I've got a whopping $35 invested and my ghetto-fabulous CO2 system is up and running. One of the tanks has about 50-60 psi and that's enough to get me going. I found a local fire extinguisher company that has hydrotest equipment. I'll call them today and find out what it's going to cost me for a test and refill.

My regulator is a total beater, but it was free. My friend's cousin bought a pet shop on impulse and doesn't mess with live plants. I found the regulator in the basement of the shop in a pile of old equipment. I tried to buy it, but he told me that if I didn't take it, he was going to throw it out. The chrome is peeling off and the outside brass is a bit green, but the guts are still clean. I may change out the gauges, but the needle valve and bubble counter work well. I've got the CO2 at one bubble per second for the moment.

I found an old Penguin 660R powerhead in my bucket of old equipment. Unfortunately the clip that holds the powerhead against the side of the tank disappeared a long time ago. I tried just hanging the powerhead in the tank by its cord, but I found a big hole in my sand Saturday morning because the powerhead angled itself a bit. I found a couple suction cups that seem to do the job. I've got the CO2 line pumping into the aeration port of the powerhead and I'm using the RUGF attachment to shoot the CO2 straight down.

Now I need to make a drop checker. Anyone have any good DIY designs?

I went to a local fish swap yesterday and scored some nice plants. I got a bunch of Alternanthera Reineckii (Telanthera Rosefolia) and a bunch of Nesaea Pedicellata. The vendor told me "You picked two of the most difficult plants I've got here. I usually don't even bother bringing the Nesaea because no one has a tank that will support it." I figured I'd save him an explanation and proceeded to tell him about the lights and the CO2 system. His response: "Enjoy your plants then. You're the first person I've had today that should be able to grow these."

Both plants were grown emersed, so I'm expecting a little die-off, but I'm excited to see how these do. I trimmed the guppy grass to prevent it from covering the glosso, but I'm thinking I'm going to pull the whole mess of it out and just have medium to high-light plants in the tank with the exception of the Crypt Lutea. I cut up my Crypt Parva into a bunch of plantlets. The giant wad was just too crowded. New growth was shading old growth. I've read recommendations to cut up Parva when you pull it from the pot. I was afraid to do it, but once I got one plantlet out, the rest just seemed to want to be separated. It came apart really easily with a good razor blade.

My goals this week are to get a CO2 tank refilled and get a phosphate test kit and a new nitrate test kit. Pictures tonight if I get a chance.
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Old 03-28-2011, 08:20 PM   #52
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I was thinking about attaching my LEDs with screws like you, but changed my mind and opted for thermal epoxy. I ordered some last night so hopefully it will be here soon. Anyways, by doing this, the amount of holes I'd have to drill were greatly reduced and the durability of the system is improved (less components to erode or break).

Speaking of shorts, I am also concerned about that. Contrary to your design, I'm going to install mine in the current, single T-8 aquarium hood thats installed on my tank. I like this for two reasons: 1. It hides the LED support and electrical system and 2. the glass partition keeps the water away from the LEDs to reduce the chance of shorts. I'm still debating whether or not I want to coat the exposed solder joints with rubber to completely seal the system. But since I have the glass partition, I probably wont.

Packing all the LEDs in a small area leads to problems of inadequate lighting coverage. I'm going to make it so the LEDs can be tilted to spread the light around, but it worries me a bit. Any suggestions?
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Old 03-28-2011, 10:52 PM   #53
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Pictures as promised:


Alternanthera Reineckii


Nesaea Pedicellata


Powerhead with UGF adapter


CO2 tank with regulator


Full tank shot

Hatty,
Look at the viewing angles on the LEDs. My Crees have a 90 degree angle. Some LEDs have a wider angle. Optics can help put the light where you want it. I left my solder joints alone because I have a glass canopy on the tank. My biggest concern with putting a bunch of high-power LEDs in a stock hood is heat buildup. I built my fixture frame out of aluminum for heat sinking purposes and it still gets pretty warm. Wrapping the LEDs in a plastic hood will make things worse.
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Old 03-29-2011, 09:11 AM   #54
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Quote:
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Now I need to make a drop checker. Anyone have any good DIY designs?
Quite possibly the cheapest drop checker in the world:

Simple DiY Drop checker for under $2.00
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Old 03-29-2011, 11:15 AM   #55
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Thanks meegosh! I think I've got the general idea down, so I'll dig through my junk box and see what I come up with.

I saw that people in that thread talking about changing out the drop checker solution. Is it necessary? If so, how often?

Also, how toxic is bromothymol blue? I've seen a lot of "not very, but I'm not sure" responses. I don't have much luck with suction cups and I'd hate to nuke my tank if/when the drop checker pops loose.
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Old 03-29-2011, 11:58 AM   #56
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The solution will fade over time. I change mine out about every 6 weeks.

Not sure on toxicity of bromothymol blue. You might find an msds on it if you do a google search. I am guessing it isn't too toxic since it is pretty neutral in pH, you are only using a few drops, and even those few drops are highly diluted.
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Old 03-29-2011, 12:11 PM   #57
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http://www.sciencelab.com/msds.php?msdsId=9927468

It looks as if it is somewhat toxic at acute levels... But it is a level 2 HAZCOM for health... And there is no LD50 which tells me that it is probably not going to cause a huge problem if 3-4 drops of it in an already diluted form are released into several gallons of solution.

Looks like there is a lot of anecdotal evidence out there too of folks who accidentally got some in their tanks and I didn't see any that reported negative effects.
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Old 03-29-2011, 01:01 PM   #58
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Thanks fort. That's pretty much what I found too. The "toxic to lungs, mucous membranes" statement in the MSDS scared me a bit. I guess if the tank gets contaminated, I have a bunch of activated carbon handy.
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Old 03-30-2011, 09:47 AM   #59
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My cheap CO2 system must be doing the job. I haven't caught the plants pearling, but I've seen a lot of bubbles rising, especially from the glosso. The algae buildup on the front glass has slowed and the thicker algae on the side glass appears to be receding. There's some new growth on the rotala and the moneywort and the telanthera and nesaea have both perked up. It's definitely encouraging me to get my act together and find the test kits I need to tune my fert regimen.
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Old 03-31-2011, 07:34 PM   #60
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I am definitely going to petition the mods to change this title. I didn't realize it was a build thread for your tank! I'm kind of upset I haven't been following.

I do have to ask a question... and make a statement. Why don't you have a background? Aren't you right there recommending backgrounds every time somebody asks for a critique?

Once that glosso fills in, you're going to have a very nice looking scape. I kinda like that little cave thing you've got there... not usually a fan of resin decor, but I like that. Whats the plant over in the back left corner?
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