In a prior thread of mine, Dr Novak's name came up. I only recently started watching his videos on the plenum and this got me thinking.
Now because "life happens", my desire for any additional tanks is on hold for the foreseeable future. But I want to ask now, because when the time comes, who knows if I'll have access to great resources like y'all.
I've tabled my 55 gallon for even further down the line. I'm just going to go with a 20 long for now.
I can't pretend to understand the science. But the basic benefits of the plenum are fascinating to me - namely, no nitrates, no need for frequent water changes, without crazy plants. In the earlier thread, I pretty much gave up on the idea of using an UGF because I wanted sand (BDBS more specifically), and I felt the weed fabric would clog up at some point. But with a plenum, the water is moving so slow that debris will likely not be pushed downward to the fabric and clog things up.
The plan I'm thinking of would be starting with a UGF at the bottom. On top of that, put the baked clay (kitty litter or oil dri), then some kind of iron source - I think I saw plektec mention some kind of red clay powder. Then on top of that would be the fabric. On top of that would be 2-3 inches of BDBS.
The uptake tube will be just a little bit higher than the sand. I'll have an airstone powered by the aquarium co-op USB powered one. I hate using airpumps (the noise of a HOB is more pleasant than an airpump for some reason). But I've read that this particular pump, meant for nano tanks, is pretty quiet. Since the demand is very little movement, it'll give just enough power for what I need.
As this is just a biological filtration, I will utilize a HOB - I was thinking of the Tidal, for mechanical and additional bio.
I hope to use minimal care plants (low tech), so I was thinking of moneywort in the back corners. I still don't know about lights. I may just use the cheapest LED and make it work like an aquarium light. But when viewing a tank, I like the incandescent. (my 10g is an old aqueon starter kit with incandescent lights - the tank looks much nicer with it on).
My stock for now I'm considering rummy nose tetras, and a couple of dwarf gouramis (at least one honey). If the tank is stable, and I have the room, I'd like to add otos or corys. I prefer the former, but the latter may be easier to care for. I haven't researched how these can coexist, or if they even can fit in a 20 gallon, so someone please squash my dreams now before it's too late 🙂
The plenum intrigues me because I'm all about low maintenance. If it works as advertised, it'll reduce the need for frequent water changes. While water changes do provide a bit of de-stressing for me, with three little ones in the house, weekly water changes aren't practical. My current 10 gallon is just once a month and I like it that way (nitrates never go above 10ppm, but I just want to gravel vac which ends up being a 50% water change).
Has anyone had a successfully working plenum? Anyone had one that never worked or worked but then stopped working?
My thinking is if this doesn't work, or at some point stops working, I dn't have to tear anything down. I just turn off the airstone and take care of it like a tank without a plenum. Maybe then consider rehoming some fish to lessen the bioload.