180g (attempted low/easy maintenance) peninsula dirt bottom planted tank build

jjohnwm

Piranha
MFK Member
Mar 29, 2019
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384
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Manitoba, Canada
Cool thread, '06 (I'm guessing you're a shooter?). I followed the link you put in my planted-tank-sock thread to here. A couple of quick questions/comments:

First: you mentioned at some point using your favourite DE filter for bio filtration? How is this going to work? Assuming that DE is diatomaceous earth, this is about the last filter that would be suitable for biofiltration. Each time it clogs...which will happen quickly and often...it requires replacement of the DE powder which will mean throwing away all your bacterial colonies. Is there some modification going on here, or have DE filters changed dramatically since my day with them?

Second: you are lucky beyond belief to have those plumbing fittings right there, as you know. Take full advantage of the hot and cold, certainly...but have you considered the wisdom of using that drain for water changes? Since you are on a well, I assume that you also have some sort of septic field or other self-owned sewage system, rather than being on sanitary sewers. Any system with which I am familiar has a finite lifetime, or at least requires regular maintenance. I know in my own case that I never dump tank water down the drain for this reason, despite being on an ejector system which is about as trouble-free a system as can be had. For awhile I simply drained into my floor sump and allowed the sump pump to remove the water for me; recently I added a completely independent drain line running into a nearby field. Just something to think about.

Third: if you do use the drain, why not trace it down to the basement and ascertain if it already has its own P-trap down there? If so, you don't need to mess around with another one under your tank. Even if you don't have a trap in the basement, it might be easier to add one there rather than in the cramped confines under the tank/stand.

Fourth: I know I had four points, but already forgot the last one. :) When if it comes back to me, I'll post it up. Meanwhile, thanks for the great thread, I am watching it with interest and preparing to steal as many ideas for my "ghetto" version as possible. Cheers!
 

Oughtsix

Dovii
Original poster
MFK Member
Apr 9, 2011
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Redmond, OR
Hey John(?)!

The DE filter I am referencing is in my sig. I have used it in the past and the maintenance of the filter was a whole lot less than I had ever expected. The Hayward EC40 has a handle on the top of it (I think there is a previous pic showing the filter in the start of the stand). When the DE clogs you just shut off the pump then pump the handle up and down a few times which knocks the DE off the filter screen tubes. When you turn the pump back on the screens are recoated with a fresh layer of DE exposed. I have gone years without flushing out the diatomatious earth and putting a new charge in the filter (I actually had to take the 110g tank down due to a leak before I had to change the DE). I believe that the DE filter itself will provide all the bio filtration I will ever need... but I am going to be using bio balls in the trickle tower as my main bio filtration as I really like the way it oxygenates the water and off gases organic compounds. Of course the microbes are going to go where they want to go and colonize where they are happiest so I don't really have any say on where my bio filtration will actually be.

I am currently using a 20" BigBlue cartridge filter charged with DE on our current 35g tank. We have several years on the initial charge of DE. My first DE filter was a Diatom XL (I am guessing this is what you have used previously?)... The Hayward EC40 is a pool filter... same incredible results but massively different scale!

There used to be a wall there which I ripped out 16 or so years ago and replaced with the railing. There was a small wet bar right there, just a small sink and cupboards. I didn't mention this previously but I know there isn't a P trap because I ripped it out when I ripped out the sink and the wall. :) I marked the spot with the duct tape when I put the tile down as I knew some day there would be an aquarium there! :) I have 12" between the floor and ceiling below so I am good for space for the P trap. The tough part will be welding the final drain pipe into the P trap from under the tank. I think I have this covered?!?!??

I did own a place with septic problems at one time but my current house has a pretty stout septic system. I live in Central Oregon and we have VERY porous volcanic soil. It has swallowed up the water from a 20' x 40' x 5' above ground pool darn near instantly (as fast as I could drain the pool) so I am not too worried about the septic field. BUT I don't like to just waste water even though it costs me pretty near nothing to pump it out of the ground. 9 months out of the year I will direct the filter change water into the garden. The drain will only be used during the winter months when I will likely have freezing issues with a discharge line into the garden.

But, now that you made me think through this again I have just decided to do away with the 1" electric valve... instead I am going to use an old sump pump to drain the water out of the sump... that will be a lot easier. (Thanks for brain storming with me!) I had better add the drain line to the garden before I forget.

The extra sump/drain pump will have 3 possible outlets:
1) Down the drain.
2) Into the garden.
3) Into a hose to be used to water my daughters 50+ house plants. --that many plants with a watering can is ridiculous! LOL!

I really appreciate the feed back! Having someone to talk through my plans with is incredibly helpful! Just re-questioning what I am doing and why I am doing it helps so much!

Cheers!
Michael.

P.S. I am more of a target shooter than a hunter. :)
 

jjohnwm

Piranha
MFK Member
Mar 29, 2019
280
384
77
Manitoba, Canada
Hey Michael, yes, it's pretty nice...and lucky...to come across a thread where someone is doing a project very similar to your own; I'm going to be following this closely and comparing our two plans. I have it a lot easier as my tank is just in my basement fishroom/workshop, not on display in my house the way yours is, but functionally they are like peas in a pod.

My DE filter experience, as you guessed, is with the old Vortex DE filters that worked like a charm but required frequent and inconvenient cleaning. In comparison to those, that pool filter looks irresistible. A question: when you do the manually-pumped cleaning thing, does the filter blast a cloud of fine silt/powder into the tank for a few moments as the DE powder re-deposits itself when turned back on?
 

Oughtsix

Dovii
Original poster
MFK Member
Apr 9, 2011
1,389
380
107
Redmond, OR
Hey Michael, yes, it's pretty nice...and lucky...to come across a thread where someone is doing a project very similar to your own; I'm going to be following this closely and comparing our two plans. I have it a lot easier as my tank is just in my basement fishroom/workshop, not on display in my house the way yours is, but functionally they are like peas in a pod.

My DE filter experience, as you guessed, is with the old Vortex DE filters that worked like a charm but required frequent and inconvenient cleaning. In comparison to those, that pool filter looks irresistible. A question: when you do the manually-pumped cleaning thing, does the filter blast a cloud of fine silt/powder into the tank for a few moments as the DE powder re-deposits itself when turned back on?
Yes, when I pump the handle to strip and re-coat the screens that hold the DE in the EC40 it most definitely does cause a small cloud the tank water for 5 minutes or so with DE dust. The whole filter charge DE does not cycle through the tank, just a very small percent of DE that makes it through the screens initially. The water never becomes anywhere near opaque with DE. I have planted tank with a potting soil substrate capped with gravel so any DE that settles in the tank before being caught by a cycle of the DE filter just becomes part of my substrate. I have never noticed the tank inhabitants to be bothered by the DE cloud after many years of running a DE filter full time.

When I initially setup the EC40 I was considering plumping in an extra tank bypass valve so I could charge and recharge the DE without clouding the tank. Basically I would just add a Y valve to the return to tank line from the EC40 to redirect the return to the tank directly into the sump. For me, in my experience, the extra valve and plumping for bypassing the tank doesn't seem necessary. (Hmmmm... but not very difficult in my new tank configuration.... Hmmmm....)

Many years ago a friend gave me a Vortex DE filter. I got addicted to the perfectly clear water and decided there had to be a way to run one full time without the constant DE maintenance and continually running that inefficient Vortex motor. I can't fathom running a tank without a full time DE any more. LOL!!!!

--- Cheers, Michael.
 
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jjohnwm

Piranha
MFK Member
Mar 29, 2019
280
384
77
Manitoba, Canada
I ran mine for a few hours a week on each tank I had; and, yes, the "invisible" water is addictive...never mind the benefits related to disease/parasite reduction.

I am close to giddy at the idea of running one 24/7! :)

I suspect that if I go with this filter, it will probably have its own pump, rather than being in-line with the rest of my filtration.
 

Oughtsix

Dovii
Original poster
MFK Member
Apr 9, 2011
1,389
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107
Redmond, OR
I ran mine for a few hours a week on each tank I had; and, yes, the "invisible" water is addictive...never mind the benefits related to disease/parasite reduction.

I am close to giddy at the idea of running one 24/7! :)

I suspect that if I go with this filter, it will probably have its own pump, rather than being in-line with the rest of my filtration.
When I first installed the EC40 the back pressure from the EC40 was nothing near what I had expected / feared it to be. My first attempt was to run the EC40 inline with my sump using the QuietOne (model? uhhh... pretty darned small) currently in the sump before ordering a bigger pump more suitable for the filter. I was shocked at how well it worked with that tiny pump. I ended up using that pump for many years never finding a need to replace it. When I ordered the EC40 I had substantial fears I was going to have to buy a 2hp pool pump to force the water through the filter... I was extremely pleasantly surprised!

You might find running an EC40 inline with your current filtration an easy and suitable alternative to setting up a separate pump dedicated to the EC40. There is a huge mass of filter area in the EC40 so it doesn't put much drag on the water flow.

For a completely worthless non-scientific testimonial: I have not had any kind of infection, fungi, bacterial or other in the 10 years I have been running a full time DE filter... and some times my tanks have not always received the best maintenance or had their water changes as often as they should have.

I think it was about a 25lb sack of pool filter DE that I ordered off of Amazon when I initially setup the EC40. I will probably have to order another sack of DE in another 50 years or so from now.
 
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