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Old 09-29-2015, 04:09 PM   #1
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Clevers South American Biotope - 220g

Figured I would start a build thread.

In this thread I am going to share with everyone my full journey of what has brought me to this point. I got into the hobby years ago and started a 75g planted tank at first I was just going to do a few plants but then got intrerested in it and did high tech planted tank. I loved that tank however as my knowledge in it grew I natrually found myself intrested in saltwater. I got into the salt water hobby and really loved it. I had plenty of free time on my hands because I was going to school full time and working part time. I enjoyed the break from things by testing my water doing water changes and growing frags. I then graduated college, got married and bought my first home. when moving in my wife and I talked about upgrading my 75g into a larger reef tank. I wanted to do a 36x36x24 cube hover with the cost of the custom tank I decided to do a 220g tank.

The tank was great and I loved it. I had tons of corals great fish and it was what I always pictured in my mind of what I wanted a reef tank to be. The struggles I ran into however caused the once dream into a nightmare. After about 6-8 months doser killed almost all my coral when they got stock on and dumped a full container of calcium and magnesium into the tank. I lost almost everything. thousands of dollars worth of coral gone all because one thing failed. So I picked myself up and implemented a bunch of redundant safety measures such as PH monitors and back up heaters and a controller to monitors the water temp. This worked however I wasnt ever confident enough to start poring my money into coral again. so I decided I would grow out my own frags that way it was cheaper and I didnt mind waiting for the results this time around.

I then set up a 30g rimless cube that was plumbed into the 220g so that I had the water volume and I could grow the frags out in a safe environment without large fish knocking them over. I did this for a few months and then the brace on my year and a half old tank broke and I had to file a warrenty. Dealing with the manufacture was a nightmare. The tank was drained and I had to wait for 2 months to get my new tank because of fighting with them for 3 weeks about replacing it then them "forgetting" to ship it every week for the next 5 weeks. I finally get it and by this time I had lost almost all my coral again and many fish.

I set it back up and started at it again but I just found that with a full time job, being married, traveling, and going out to have fun with our friends just didnt leave me enough time to really focus on keeping up with the maitence a saltwater tank needs. I could have a decent tank and just keep some easy corals and not have to worry much about it but thats just not the way I am. I want it to be amazing or I dont even care for it.

The other week my wife said to me when I was venting about my frustration with my tank why not go back to freshwater. I thought well maybe I could do this. and she told me how much she loved my planted tank so I thought maybe I could do that. Then I realized theres no way I can do a 220g as a planted tank because I cant even reach the bottom of it in the front and no place near the back of it. And keeping up with the trimming of a 220g tank isnt something I have time for probably.

I started thinking what could I do then it hit me. What if I did a South American Biotope with some cool big fish and then do my 30g cube as a planted tank with a pair of german blue rams and a group of cardinal tetras. I loved the idea and so that is what I will do.

Here are some pictures of the tanks along the way.

Here is my original planted tank 75g



This is my reef tank in what I think was its best point.



30g Cube I set up that is connected to the 220g, It will stay that way.



220g when I was rebuilding it after replacing the broken one



Now lets go to the plans for the new tank.

220g SA Biotope

Tank will be have drift wood and sand with a few larger plants to give it some color such as Amazon swords but everything in the tank other then the wood will be native to SA

Fish List So Far:
1x Silver Arowana
6x Geophagus Altifrons
5x Silver Dollars (maybe still researching)
4x Electric Blue Acara
1x Royal Pleco

30g Rimeless Cube

For this tank I am going to do the whole super clean planted tank with a solid hardscape with elephant skin rock and spider web driftwood.

Stock list:

2x German Blue Ram Pair
8x Cardinal Tetras
1x Pleco unsure on what kind something small but with color/design

This should be a fun road and I think it will get me by for the next few years until I get sick of it and go back to saltwater.
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Old 10-01-2015, 09:26 AM   #2
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I was going to start out with larger fish however I'm having a almost impossible time finding them of any size so I think I'll get them small and grow them out myself. Should be rewarding at least.
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Old 10-01-2015, 11:25 AM   #3
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I was going to start out with larger fish however I'm having a almost impossible time finding them of any size so I think I'll get them small and grow them out myself. Should be rewarding at least.

Have fun growing out geophagus lol slower than molasses


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Old 10-01-2015, 12:13 PM   #4
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Have fun growing out geophagus lol slower than molasses


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I don't have much choice...they are hard to find even little. Last time I did fresh water I looked for the for 8 months and never found any. I figure I will just power feed them should work.
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Old 10-02-2015, 11:54 AM   #5
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Well I think I am going to start the break down of the tank on Sunday. I will be draining the water and taking the fish out and going to the LFS to trade them in. I am thinking I will then clean out the tank/sump really well and get everything ready for freshwater.

Then Ill work on my driftwood next week and get it in place then fill the tank with some pool filter sand. Then work on filling it up I will be using mostly r/o water so it will take a few days to fill it up. I need to figure out what kind of ratio rodi - Tap water i should use to keep the minarals up. I used to do this with my planted tank and I think i did a 3:1 gallon ration but Im not sure anymore it was so long ago. I will set up the CO2 at a later date as its not my focus right now. I am going to work on the large tank to get it cycling and probably at least hardscape my cube but I wont be adding any plants or fish in it for a bit.
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Old 10-02-2015, 12:28 PM   #6
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I'll be following along.

With the 30 gallon stocking will just be 1 German Blue Ram pair or 2 pairs with a total of 4 rams?

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Old 10-02-2015, 12:51 PM   #7
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I'll be following along.

With the 30 gallon stocking will just be 1 German Blue Ram pair or 2 pairs with a total of 4 rams?

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just 1 pair. I dont want them fighting for space and I would like to get them spawning.
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Old 10-02-2015, 02:21 PM   #8
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Old 10-04-2015, 07:36 PM   #9
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I'd ditch the EB's personally and add in Laetacara dorsigera or something along those lines.

Your 75g was amazing looking!
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Old 10-05-2015, 12:41 PM   #10
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I'd ditch the EB's personally and add in Laetacara dorsigera or something along those lines.

Your 75g was amazing looking!
those fish only reach 1.75-2" I dont think that is going to work with my other fish.
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Old 10-05-2015, 01:56 PM   #11
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those fish only reach 1.75-2" I dont think that is going to work with my other fish.
No they to nearly twice that size. I've had males that were nearly 4 inches.

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Old 10-05-2015, 03:24 PM   #12
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No they to nearly twice that size. I've had males that were nearly 4 inches.

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why do you think I should get them instead?
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Old 10-12-2015, 10:39 AM   #13
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Last night I cleaned the entire tank and did my aquascape. I am some what happy with it. I have a lot more driftwood but after I put it all in I thought less is more. And with a arowana going in the tank I dont want to take up to much swimming room. I am going to plant 2-3 mother amazon swords that will be really large. One in the far left and I think another in the middle right. I may add other easy plants in the tank because I am not planning on running CO2 on it however I will add ferts.

Please let me know what you think. I did a deeper left side to give the hint of a river bank.

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Old 10-12-2015, 03:14 PM   #14
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wanted to make a quick note of how I did my drift wood. I went to walmart and got some HDPE cutting Boards for 7$ each and screwed them to the bottom of the drift wood. This way when I fill it with water they wont float. This is driftwood from a lake in canada I go to every year. Wanted to go with other types but to get the size I wanted just cost to much and this was free.
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Old 10-13-2015, 05:45 PM   #15
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Imagine getting this to sink lol it sucked!Click image for larger version

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Old 10-13-2015, 08:01 PM   #16
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Imagine getting this to sink lol it sucked!Attachment 279147


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Old 10-13-2015, 08:24 PM   #17
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well I put about 30+ lbs of rock ontop of the cutting board and sand over top and it still floated. The tip of the piece is about 1" from the top of the tank so I put a piece of HDPE I have and stacked some rocks on top of that to keep it under water and in place. Now time will tell how long it takes to waterlog...I hear it can tank months however thats normally for really hard wood and this wood is much softer then that. Its not soft wood but it could still take some time I think but thats ok. I hope that by the time the tank is cycled and its stocked full of fish it will be about time that it sinks on its own.
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Old 10-14-2015, 09:28 AM   #18
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Alright the tank is full and running. 4x Raw shrimp went in a filter sock in the sump last night so we should have the cycle starting! Lets see how long it takes to get this puppy cycled. I dont remember the last tank I cycled I think it was my 75g reef 4 years ago. After that all my tanks where seeded from the tank and went through a 2-3 day mini cycle. I am just going to keep that ammonia up and it should cycle just fine.

The LFS is getting my Arrowana for me in the next order. They wanted to get it in early so that they could make sure it was healthy and eating well before it goes into my tank.

I think my next step is to change the bulbs in my fixture right now all my t5hos are actinic so I am going to change them to 2x 5500k and 2x 7500k I think this will give me a good look. Ill put 1 of each in each channel so I can just run 2x if I want to.
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Old 10-15-2015, 10:11 AM   #19
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Well I am using shrimp to cycle the tank and tested my ammonia last night and it was at 1ppm this morning it was between 1ppm and 2ppm. Going raise it to 3ppm then take the shrimp out. I hate a fishless cycle...I wanted to get some pure ammonia but I cant find it anyplace.

I feel like my aquascape is missing something without rocks in the tank but in all the pictures I see of the amazon river there are no rocks in it.
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Old 10-15-2015, 11:56 AM   #20
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Try online for the ammonia.

Why do you hate Fishless?


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