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NA Island Journal

danmullan

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Joined
18 Feb 2012
Messages
148
Location
Hampshire
Hi all,

Welcome to my journal for my new high-tech planted tank. I've recently replaced my entire set-up with a tank, cabinet and lighting arm from Natural Aquario, who are based in Portugal. I actually ordered the tank way back in June but due to what feels like an endless list of issues I've been delayed in starting the tank until the weekend just gone.

I chose to order from NA because I liked their cabinets so much, and the lighting arm. It didn't actually take that long for my bits to be made and delivered. About 3-4 weeks if that? I chose a charcoal grey colour, it actually turned out a bit lighter than I thought but I'm really pleased.

8239571522_ff965b6402_c.jpg
Tank + Cabinet by Dan.Mullan, on Flickr

The tank is a 60w X 45d X 40h (cm) opti-white. The stand is 85cm tall, the lighting arm is attached to the sides of the cabinet and is over 200cm tall from the ground.

I'd decided to use 2x TMC Aquaray GroBeam 1000nd tiles for lighting, the biggest selling point for me was the total control over the light. I had my heart set on a light that could ramp up and down to simulate sunrise, midday and sunset. They seem to be hugely flexible and easy to use, I'll do a separate post and go into more depth when I have time.

Here's the Aquaray stuff before I suspended the lights.

8239589452_e0b9291655_c.jpg
Equipment by Dan.Mullan, on Flickr

By this point I had already decided on my hardscape, I wanted to use bogwood as I've not used it in a planted aquarium yet, and also I'd seen it used in James Findlay's "Nature's Chaos" scape. This scape by TGM is one of my favourite planted aquariums, it has also inspired me to try an island layout. Here's some of the hardscape I've used.

8238518821_8e326b4873_c.jpg
Hardscape - Bogwood by Dan.Mullan, on Flickr

I'd begun to plan hardscape and planting layouts, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted the tank to look like and what plants I wanted to grow. I'll show you some of my scapes from when I was in the 'sandbox' stage when I update this tomorrow.

I'll be bringing this journal up to speed over the next week or so as I go along, I then hope to update as regularly as possible to show progress and growth, and no doubt a few problems I have along the way. I'll do certain posts about parts of the set-up that require a bit more going into as well such as the lighting I'm using. I hope you all find it interesting.

Thanks for looking.

Dan
 

nayr88

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Joined
4 Feb 2010
Messages
2,127
Ahhhh that cabinet light arm and tank look the part, NA are gonna have great success I think, really too quality stuff. How much did they NA bits set you back if I be so ruddy bold!! Haha

Will defo be watching this one closely :)
 

Ady34

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UKAPS Team
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27 Jul 2011
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Co. Durham
Hi Dan, really looking forward to this journal. I love the na products and also love natures chaos at TGM, it's an awesome scape and a great source of inspiration. Love your choice of hardscape material and I'm impressed with your patience already, it must have seemed an eternity since June!
Cheerio,
Ady.
 

gmartins

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31 Jan 2011
Messages
308
Location
Azores
Hi,

This is not justify the delay but to let you know that there has been an endless strike in Portugal from the people working on the transport system (don't know the proper word). So this may have had some impact on the delay...

Anyways, if looks like you have everything sorted and I can't wait to see it planted.

cheers

GM
 

Joecoral

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24 Nov 2007
Messages
680
Location
Carmarthenshire
Very nice, big fan of the NA stuff myself so will be keeping a close eye on this thread, hopefully going to order one for myself sometime in the new year :D

What filter you going with?
 

pepedopolous

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22 May 2011
Messages
678
Location
Prague, Czech Republic
Nice setup! Seems to be a lot of us planning on buying NA aquariums and cabinets soon. Hope they can cope with the demand! Really looking forward to reading more from this journal.

PS. Did you specify those dimensions as on the NA website they're 65w X 40d X 45h. If so does this affect the cost much?
 

danmullan

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Thread starter
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18 Feb 2012
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148
Location
Hampshire
nayr88 said:
How much did they NA bits set you back if I be so ruddy bold!! Haha

Can't find the invoice now it was so long ago, was in the region of £400 inc shipping, really good value in my opinion.

Ady34 said:
Love your choice of hardscape material and I'm impressed with your patience already, it must have seemed an eternity since June

Cheers Ady, worst thing is I've had the tank in place but had to wait on other issues. Pretty much everything gone wrong so far. It's really bizarre to see the tank full of water and plants.

gmartins said:
This is not justify the delay but to let you know that there has been an endless strike in Portugal from the people working on the transport system (don't know the proper word). So this may have had some impact on the delay...

Unfortunately all the delays have been caused by problems with products I've bought. The tank and cabinet was delivered quite quickly but I had to have the cabinet replaced which delayed the whole process, and everything after seemed to go wrong too.

pepedopolous said:
Did you specify those dimensions as on the NA website they're 65w X 40d X 45h. If so does this affect the cost much?

I just sent them an e-mail with what I wanted, originally I was inquiring about a 90cm wide tank, they called me to discuss final sizes and prices but I ended up ordering a 60x45x40. When I decided I wanted a 60 wide I wanted a 60x45x45, but this needed 8mm glass. They said they could do a 60x45x40 in 6mm glass which made the tank a bit cheaper.
They seem very confident in the quality of their products, they even compared themselves to ADA. In fact at one point the guy said their stuff was better than ADA but I've never had one so I can't compare.
 

danmullan

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Thread starter
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18 Feb 2012
Messages
148
Location
Hampshire
Here's a full list of kit for this tank:

Tank - 60w X 45d X 40h (cm)

Stand - 85cm tall (over 200cm with lighting arm)

Lighting - 2 x TMC GroBeam 1000ND tiles run through power controllers, suspended with cables so the distance from the water surface is easily adjustable.

Filter - Eheim pro 3 350 (spray bar along back wall)

CO2 - JBL co2 kit, 500g refillable bottles with JBL reg and solenoid. Using a UP inline Atomizer (16-22mm)

Substrate - ADA Aquasoil Amazonia (I've ended up using about 2 and a half 9ltr bags)

Hardscape - Bogwood from TGM

I'll post my plants list soon.

Cheers
Dan
 
A

Antipofish

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Hi,
Out of interest, why did you go for 2 x power controllers instead of 1 x 8way ?
 

danmullan

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Antipofish said:
Out of interest, why did you go for 2 x power controllers instead of 1 x 8way ?

2x power controllers was a slightly cheaper option.

Also I thought if ever I had 2 smaller tanks, I could use them separately, which is far more likely than me getting such a large tank that I'd need more than 2 tiles.
 

danmullan

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18 Feb 2012
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Time for a little update.

Once the tank was in place, I was ready to buy the lighting. I had already decided on TMC's freshwater Aquaray LED lighting, despite the price which initially put me off. I'd decided that it was smarter to invest a little more money than I originally wanted to, and not have to buy again. Also the savings on leccy bills and tube replacements will more than make up for the price difference over the 5 year minimum life expectancy.

I knew I wanted to hang the units from the lighting arm, and thought this would be fairly straightforward with the suspension kit. However the TMC Aquaray 'MMS' (modular mounting system) kit was meant for ceilings, so it wasn't quite as straightforward as I'd thought. I knew that I would need to make some holes in my lighting arm to make it compatible with the cable kit, so I set to work. But drilling through stainless steel without a pillar-drill, was not as easy as I'd thought either. Eventually, a couple of days, a sore wrist and a few broken drill bits later:

8239597694_959ea2be67_c.jpg
Hanging rail by Dan.Mullan, on Flickr

This shows the 'lug' that holds the cable that would normally be screwed to the ceiling. It also shows how the top section of the light arm connects to the sides.

And here's the lights suspended for the first time.

8238536213_c3e5cf36d5_c.jpg
Suspended by Dan.Mullan, on Flickr

The two tiles are connected together with a 490mm 'MMS' rail.

This suspension kit is really good so would recommend it to anyone with Aquarays and an open top tank. It's really easy to raise/lower the lights for maintenance or more light. I'll be doing a more in depth post about the lights with more pics soon.

I'll be bringing this journal up to date over this weekend so expect scape pics, plants lists and a box of water.

Cheers
Dan
 

Ady34

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You tease.....
Looks great so far!
 

pepedopolous

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22 May 2011
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Prague, Czech Republic
Great work on the lights. I was wondering too about how to secure the cables to the light arm. In the photos by NA they seem to use a granny knot! Perhaps another way is to slide a steel ring over the arm and attach the cable to that?
 

danmullan

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18 Feb 2012
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Ady34 said:
You tease.....
Looks great so far!

:lol: All will be revealed soon.

pepedopolous said:
Great work on the lights. I was wondering too about how to secure the cables to the light arm. In the photos by NA they seem to use a granny knot! Perhaps another way is to slide a steel ring over the arm and attach the cable to that?

I was looking for one of these to use:

This is the solution for rails, the loop would hold the lights to the rail... but I decided I would rather have them fixed than just resting on the cable.

alzak said:
Where did You get the frame for those lights ??

The frame is part of the cabinet, all ordered from 'Natural Aquario' in Portugal.

Cheers, :thumbup:
Dan
 

danmullan

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Update time :thumbup:

After the lights were mounted, I ordered some Aquasoil and a few more bits of bogwood from TGM. I had been planning layouts with the hardscape I already had and decided it wasn't enough to create the shape I wanted, trying to imagine how it would look a couple of months down the line when all the plants had grown in.

1st bag of aquasoil goes in, the first ADA product I've used.

8238540157_a953234fd9_c.jpg
Aquasoil by Dan.Mullan, on Flickr

8239611000_c0949c2af0_c.jpg
Substrate by Dan.Mullan, on Flickr

I had 2x 9l bags, when I saw the size of the mound I wasn't sure I'd need both. But once the 2nd bag went in and I'd spread it around a bit it was fine. The bogwood goes in and I started to play around with different positions for my island.

8238549373_b64de341a7_c.jpg
Scape 1 by Dan.Mullan, on Flickr

8239624340_3504c47d37_c.jpg
Scape 3 by Dan.Mullan, on Flickr

I tried two islands but didn't like it.

8239619742_ee672278e4_c.jpg
Scape 2 by Dan.Mullan, on Flickr

After an hour or so, I'd decided on my final layout:

8239626504_21ef2e7f0d_c.jpg
Final Hardcape Layout by Dan.Mullan, on Flickr

I'd pretty much decided on the plants I wanted to use, most of which happened to be part of the Tropica 1-2 Grow range. I'd read that although the plants are young and small, there is a greater quantity of plantlets which could lead to nice even growth and coverage? Thought I'd give them a bash.

I wanted Lilaeopsis Brasiliensis for the main carpet/foreground. Alternanthera Reineckii 'mini' and Pogostemon Erectus in the mid-ground between pieces of bog wood. Microsorum Pteropus (java fern) tied to the main piece of wood, maybe with some moss or HC growing on the top of the wood. Also with some Rotala sp. Green in the back ground.

Since the initial plant list I'd decided to have HC in the middle of the hill, coming down towards the front glass, and some Ammania Bonsai infront of the P.Erectus. I also scrapped the A.Reineckii as I'd read the TMC LED's tend to wash the reds out.

More tomorrow :D
 

Ian Holdich

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18 Feb 2010
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Location
lincoln uk
Very nice Dan, I liked scape 2 personally, that had a lot of potential. However they re ll good.

Just be aware of the movement you're gonna get from the wood when you fill it, do you have any stone to keep it in position?
 
A

Antipofish

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Funny how we all like different scapes. I liked #3 ;) Its gonna be cracking either way :thumbup:
 
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