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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

First time starting a tank journal. I've recently closed down by 35 22"x22"x22" planted cube aquarium. I wasn't going to start this project until after April as my
wife is expecting with our first child then, but I found some free time during this Christmas break and I decided to set up this aquarium with the go ahead from my wife:)

I would like to share my journey of this aquarium with everyone on this forum.

Took a few photos on my latest adventure.

The specs of this aquarium setup are:

120 ish gallon aquarium 48x24x24" bought off my friend who's also on this forum.
TEK T5HO 8x54watt light fixtures, with 4 giesman aquaflora and 4 mid day tubes
Eheim 2080 Filter
Eheim 2075 Filter
10lbs CO2 tank with a 3 way manifold on 24/7 with 2 diffusers in this tank
6 bags of ADA Amazonia substrate

Some background:

I've fairly experienced with planted aquariums and have been successful with growing plants except my aquascaping sucks.
I've had planted aquariums since 1996 and the usual method I use is high light, high co2, high water flow + heavy substrate fertilization.
My cube aquarium is almost algae free except for the occasional BBA on the filter intake tubes, which I usually remove manually pretty easily.

Here's the start.

Here's the last images of my cube aquarium before tearing it down, most of the plants are out grown and needed a trim.

Here is a front tank shot


Here is the tank with the ada like cabinet my friend build for me



As you noticed the lights are a funky mixture since I've sold off most of my lights for this aquarium and I'm left with 46watt CFL's (which work great!)

Here is an image of my cube aquarium emptied
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Ok that should be enough photos of my old aquarium, onto the new one.

This one's been sitting in my garage for about 4 months besides my motorcycle (so after removing the aquarium and shifting things around I can park my car inside my
garage again!, enough of scraping the frost off my windows in the morning, the extra 5 mins of sleep helps!)


Finally got the tank in the location I wanted with my buddy Ed's help


Boxes of ADA Amazonia from Pat from Canadian Aquatics


DOH! only needed 6 bags of ADA, now I have 2 bags left over and some photos of the petrified wood I'll be using from King Ed Pets


Here's Ed extremely happy finally filling in the aquarium


One of the two monster filters I'm going to be using, an Eheim 2080 from JL Aquatics boxing day sale :)


Tank filled with water, super cloudy


The TEK T5HO Fixture from Tom Barr that I'm using for this tank


The two filters side by side Eheim 2075 and a Eheim 2080, unfortunately they are too big and won't fit in the custom cabinet for low viewing :( so had to put it on the side


Here's a tank only shot, I know the sponges on the filter intakes look ugly, but when the plants fill out it'll cover them



Here's a front tank shot with the cabinet


thanks for looking,

hope to update in another month when the plants fill out.

Ray
 

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Very nice Ray!! hey your aquascaping is at least 10 times better than mine lol It will be apisto heaven! :)

BTW I'm so jealous on this tank!!!! it's awesome!
 

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Very very nice, thanks for sharing.
Congrats on the up coming baby by the way.
Did you use any of the additive from ADA in your soil?
Your Co2 is only a light green in your square tank, how do you keep that from going yellow with 24/7 Co2?
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
thanks for the kind comments and thanks for looking,

I didn't use any additive for my ada soil, from my previous experience with ADA Amazonia, my plants grew fine without them or the powersand.

I've done a bit of research on this and some people swear by it some don't use it at all. So I'm cheap so I decided not to go with it this time.

My first planted tank was a 65ish gallon tank and I used normal gravel with a thin layer of peat and I used clay balls and the plants were growing nuts except when you pull the plants out the clay would make the water cloudy.
Oh the co2 in my drop checker is usually dark green, it's light green in this photo because I haven't changed the indicator fluids. I have pretty high surface agitation so the oxygen levels should be pretty high in the tank also

I have collectoris, there's too many species in this tank and I'll have to remove a few species shortly. But I recently found some rotala sp. green finally after searching for a while for this plant, so I had to buy it and add it to this tank. That stuff grows easily so I might transfer it to my office planted tank instead.
 

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Awesome. I'm sure you'll find that even with those 2 monsters that there is barely enough filtration for a fully planted CO2 injected, high light tank. A few questions just out of curiosity:

1. You bought the Tek from Tom? I know he's gone all ATI dimmable. Just wondering why you didn't go that route or LED? Cost considerations?
2. Why 2 big canisters and not a sump? I know if I had to do a tank > 75 gallons from scratch again I'd sump it in a minute. Once again, Tom's gone all sumps in all his tanks and after close to 10 years of injecting CO2 and high light tanks, I'm tired of cleaning clogged up canisters and will likely never plan a new tank that is not sumped anymore.
3. No solenoid? Why do you want to inject CO2 24/7? pH stability? Especially on a 120 gallon, you might find that you go through the CO2 very fast at 24/7. I am running a 20 lb tank in my 125 and it's low/med light and I only have to fill once a year. When I was going with more light and more complex plants I was going through the 20 lb 2x a year.

As for the ADA, I am with you totally. I love it, and I never used any additives. I think the rest of it is hocus pocus. I think the substrate is great by itself. If only it were cheaper. That 4x2 footprint allows so many options for scaping. The only thing that would scare me is the pruning. I am extremely happy with growing only slow plants in my ADA 12" cube because I only prune once a month. :D

Anyway, it's rare that someone on BCA would go high tech on a big tank like this and I love it and applaud you for doing it!
 

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Well done, looks awesome and will get better when plants start growing :) Ed looks so excited hahahahah
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hi 2wheelsx2 and all,

Here's my responses to your questions, so my disclaimer is: it might not be the 'right' way of doing it but it's been successful for me for quite a few years so it's tried and true for the way I keep my planted aquariums.

The only algae problem I have is sometimes I get BBA on the filter intake tubes :( but I usually manually remove them.

1) it was partly cost reasons and partly not, the deal he had for them was too good to pass on them so I said what they heck why not. I was considering ATI dimmable lights but I've read too many issues with them on the forums and it's a pain in the butt to ship them back to the states for warentee purposes. Imagine a few weeks without lights on your planted tank, that would be a disaster! (I think, not too sure how the people in TO are coping with a week long power outage) TEK lights are tried and tested for many aquarists and it works for them.

I didn't go with LED because I was using similar LED's you are using the AQUA RAY products on my cube tank and with all conditions being the same, I found my plants didn't grow as well in LED lights vs. T5HO's. I can easily afford LED lights and I've used them, but I've sold off most of my LED lights already. maybe it was too much light, as I don't have a PAR meter, but I plan on getting one soon. If I recall correctly plants like my styrogene repens didn't respond well to the LED lights.

2) I'm a canister guy, maybe I'm too scared of sumps, getting the flow proper and flooding my living room. If someone can show me their sump setup and the way of the light I'd be interested one day for my next project.
I've used Eheims since 1996 and until recently that filter was still running strong (Eheim 2217) so I've been successful with them, so why change it. Eheims, if I'm lazy, I clean them every 4-6 months and they're still fine. RENA XP filters, I had them without any issues but my friend has them and they leaked on him flooding his basement.

3) I do have a solenoid but it's plugged on 24/7. I used to time it similar to my lights, or before the lights go on the co2 turns on, but in the end I found mainly because of pH stability and pH swings.
I currently have 2x10lb co2 tanks ,they lasted me 6 months on my cube tank, I bumped the bubble count slightly on my 120, but i'll use a drop checker to see (I do have a pH meter, too lazy to plug it in)
I'm thinking of getting a 20lbs one since I have space to put it now. 10lbs costs $20 cash to fill at AW fireguard 10 mins from my house. So having 2 tanks is pretty nice to have.

Actually considering getting a high end regulator later either a green leaf one or a Swaglok one, right now I have a cheapie Milwaukee one.

Like I mentioned, these are techniques that have worked for me for quite a few years they might not be the 'right' or 'standard' way but it's been working :) fish are happy, plants are happy

But yeah trimming is a pain, I've limited myself to less stem plants, I've taken quite a bit of them out when transferring from my cube tank.

thanks for the kind comments!

my biggest problems are 1) collectoris and 2) scaping

I really want to scape this tank well but it's so much fun collecting rare and hard to find plants.

I have a few questions, I see stuart (crs fan) using one, but are the filter in line co2 diffusers more efficient, I bought one from HK and it was leaking so that was pissing me off, well and my wife :)
I have a bunch of new glass diffusers left over but I find these fluval ones the easiest to use and to change the ceramic discs.

thx for looking!

Ray

Awesome. I'm sure you'll find that even with those 2 monsters that there is barely enough filtration for a fully planted CO2 injected, high light tank. A few questions just out of curiosity:

1. You bought the Tek from Tom? I know he's gone all ATI dimmable. Just wondering why you didn't go that route or LED? Cost considerations?
2. Why 2 big canisters and not a sump? I know if I had to do a tank > 75 gallons from scratch again I'd sump it in a minute. Once again, Tom's gone all sumps in all his tanks and after close to 10 years of injecting CO2 and high light tanks, I'm tired of cleaning clogged up canisters and will likely never plan a new tank that is not sumped anymore.
3. No solenoid? Why do you want to inject CO2 24/7? pH stability? Especially on a 120 gallon, you might find that you go through the CO2 very fast at 24/7. I am running a 20 lb tank in my 125 and it's low/med light and I only have to fill once a year. When I was going with more light and more complex plants I was going through the 20 lb 2x a year.

As for the ADA, I am with you totally. I love it, and I never used any additives. I think the rest of it is hocus pocus. I think the substrate is great by itself. If only it were cheaper. That 4x2 footprint allows so many options for scaping. The only thing that would scare me is the pruning. I am extremely happy with growing only slow plants in my ADA 12" cube because I only prune once a month. :D

Anyway, it's rare that someone on BCA would go high tech on a big tank like this and I love it and applaud you for doing it!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Oh also about the ADA, I've used it in previous tanks before with success, but I've tried the Fluval Stranum in my cube tank and plants were growing nuts and healthy, but when I bought 8 bags of ADA, I think my price per bag of ADA was cheaper than the bag of Fluval Stranum even with a 15% discount that king ed said they would give me if I buy 8 bags.

Yeah the ADA bactor stuff, I don't know anyone that uses those additives except Ed uses them bactor to feed his crs when he was breeding them
 

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Hi 2wheelsx2 and all,

Here's my responses to your questions, so my disclaimer is: it might not be the 'right' way of doing it but it's been successful for me for quite a few years so it's tried and true for the way I keep my planted aquariums.

The only algae problem I have is sometimes I get BBA on the filter intake tubes :( but I usually manually remove them.

1) it was partly cost reasons and partly not, the deal he had for them was too good to pass on them so I said what they heck why not. I was considering ATI dimmable lights but I've read too many issues with them on the forums and it's a pain in the butt to ship them back to the states for warentee purposes. Imagine a few weeks without lights on your planted tank, that would be a disaster! (I think, not too sure how the people in TO are coping with a week long power outage) TEK lights are tried and tested for many aquarists and it works for them.
Good reasoning. I just hated swapping out the tubes myself and how they get so dim after 6 months. But I've run my Giesemann bulbs now for 18 months and the plants grow fine in my 100 gallon discus tanks. As you say, you can go wrong with Tek.

I didn't go with LED because I was using similar LED's you are using the AQUA RAY products on my cube tank and with all conditions being the same, I found my plants didn't grow as well in LED lights vs. T5HO's. I can easily afford LED lights and I've used them, but I've sold off most of my LED lights already. maybe it was too much light, as I don't have a PAR meter, but I plan on getting one soon. If I recall correctly plants like my styrogene repens didn't respond well to the LED lights.
I think you were using the big Grobeam tiles? I have 2 of the Grobeam strips in my 125 and they are more yellow, but the newer LED's like Vertex and in particular, the Kessil Amazon Suns give off amazing spectrum. I am hoping to do a 4 foot tank some time with 2 or 3 Kessils just because they look so good.

As for S. repens, I am growing tons of repens now in my ADA cube, but it could be that I am using a mini tile (12w) on 12" cube so the light is very intense. I do have one of those DIY PAR meters which tells me that it measures up to T5HO in the same setup. But my main reason of course is I couldn't light the cube effective with T5HO.

2) I'm a canister guy, maybe I'm too scared of sumps, getting the flow proper and flooding my living room. If someone can show me their sump setup and the way of the light I'd be interested one day for my next project.
I've used Eheims since 1996 and until recently that filter was still running strong (Eheim 2217) so I've been successful with them, so why change it. Eheims, if I'm lazy, I clean them every 4-6 months and they're still fine. RENA XP filters, I had them without any issues but my friend has them and they leaked on him flooding his basement.
I totally agree on the classics. I've also run a 2028 since 2003. It was my first canister filter. It's still in service and I have a in line atomizer and a Coralife UV connected it. I agree the classics are workhorses. But I'm afraid to tell you that the Pro II and Pro 3's are not nearly as reliable. My Pro II has sprung a leak 2x already. Once with the main gasket and once with the double tap. And my 2078 double tap eject button totally failed last year. Lucky my discus tank is drilled and plumbed so I could turn the inline valves off and just cut the hoses off. You have to keep an eye on that 2080. When you open it up, you will see that the eject button is a cheap piece of plastic connected to cheap plastic gears. Charles has seen several of those fail already and all the owners went to sumps. Anyway, I don't want to scare you, but that's been my experience and knowledge of the newer Eheims. I have a 2213 which has never failed except a worn impeller. I have in addition, 2078, 2075, 2028, Rena XP3 and a Fluval FX5 all in operation. The 2213 replaced a Fluval 204 which totally failed on me. As you can I prefer Eheim canisters too, but over time, it just seems more logical (to me personally) to sump and use true unions so circuits and parts can be replaced. But as you say, a proper sump is a daunting task, so I'm going to watch Tony1928 finish his and get him to help me with mine when I start my sump project. :D

3) I do have a solenoid but it's plugged on 24/7. I used to time it similar to my lights, or before the lights go on the co2 turns on, but in the end I found mainly because of pH stability and pH swings.
I currently have 2x10lb co2 tanks ,they lasted me 6 months on my cube tank, I bumped the bubble count slightly on my 120, but i'll use a drop checker to see (I do have a pH meter, too lazy to plug it in)
I'm thinking of getting a 20lbs one since I have space to put it now. 10lbs costs $20 cash to fill at AW fireguard 10 mins from my house. So having 2 tanks is pretty nice to have.
Once again, perfect reasoning. I am running a 20 lb in my 125 and a 10 on my ADA cube and it costs me about the same (but with taxes as I pay with a CC) to fill at Royal City. It is nice to have a backup tank but in the future I might go to a tank swap scenario.

Actually considering getting a high end regulator later either a green leaf one or a Swaglok one, right now I have a cheapie Milwaukee one.
I got a Praxair dual stage used from a member here. I was going to get a custom stainless one made eventually by one of the guys on Barr Report. The Milwaukee is a fine unit but I like the security of a dual stage as I already had one tank kill due to EOTD on my 20 gallon when I started and I don't want to experience that again.

my biggest problems are 1) collectoris and 2) scaping

I really want to scape this tank well but it's so much fun collecting rare and hard to find plants.

I have a few questions, I see stuart (crs fan) using one, but are the filter in line co2 diffusers more efficient, I bought one from HK and it was leaking so that was pissing me off, well and my wife :)
I have a bunch of new glass diffusers left over but I find these fluval ones the easiest to use and to change the ceramic discs.
I think your problems are everyone's planted tank problems. That's why lots of guys have multiple planted tanks. I had 4 for a while but it just got too crazy and eventually my pleco addiction forced me to stop some of the planted tanks so now I'm down to 2 high tech planted out of 6 tanks (3 others are low tank planted and the last is a barebottomed growout)

I run one of the inline diffusors as mentioned above, but I don't like them as I'd have to dismantle the plumbing to clean it. I run 2 bazooka diffusers and when I sump my next tank I'm going to run a needle wheel instead, just like many of Tom Barr's tanks. Once again, seems a lot less lower maintenance, and more and more, low maintenance seems to be key to keeping my interest up and not letting the tank go wild.

Thanks for the detailed responses. It's discussions like these which make coming to BCA worthwhile to come back to once in a while, now that I don't spend much time on here. I'll keep an eye on your tank and maybe I can buy some of your trimmings as they grow out or we can trade a few things although I'm unlikely able to provide the volume you need since yours is 120 and mine is 8 gallons. :D
 

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Oh also about the ADA, I've used it in previous tanks before with success, but I've tried the Fluval Stranum in my cube tank and plants were growing nuts and healthy, but when I bought 8 bags of ADA, I think my price per bag of ADA was cheaper than the bag of Fluval Stranum even with a 15% discount that king ed said they would give me if I buy 8 bags.

Yeah the ADA bactor stuff, I don't know anyone that uses those additives except Ed uses them bactor to feed his crs when he was breeding them
Haha..true, when you get the big bags, the pricing is not so bad.

Wow, I just took a look at your link and realized you're a pro photographer. There's some impressive work in your portfolio. No wonder your shots are always clear and properly lit. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I think I know how to do the multi quote, but I might be wrong so it'll be safer to reply this way.

1) swapping tubes is annoying and expensive, I was using the big grobeam tiles on my cube but I stil have 2 grobeam strips on my 10 gallon planted shrimp tank,
glosso and flame moss are doing well but those grow well in any light:)

I think LED will be the way of the future, I mean all the research that's posted so far in forums, the PAR levels are much higher per watt than T5HO's. Is it there yet,
I'm not too sure, I tried the growbeam tiles and strips and were not too impressed, but the Kessil pendants do look very nice. A lot of people on the plantedtank.net forums
use the Finnex LED or buildmyled modules, but I belive their penetration power isn't as powerful as say a 10 or 30 watt led for an aquarium this size. But I can be wrong.
The LED's in my fixtures were 1 watt, I believe.

2) great warning about the pro2's and pro3's, that's everyone's worst nightmare, come home from work and the place is flooded. If my 120 flooded my wife would kill me.
I've had the 2075 for about 3 years now without any issues (knock on wood) I gotta check the rubber o ring next time I maintenance the eheim. but you're right, now that I think about it
it's the classic that I've had for the longest time. I'm definently not a Rena XP series fan. But that's just me :)

How's the noise of a sump? I guess under a cabinet it's ok? Eheim's are pretty slient. My cabinet was a custom low viewing cabinet so there's 3 partations underneath.
I don't think I can even fit a sump in there properly without getting another cabinet.

3) I've had a EOTD before on m 40 gallon breeder and all my fish were dead floating on top, that was an ugly sight, I almost cried. But those stainless steel
dual stage regulators just look that much sexier.

4) I've been slowly throwing out plants that I don't feel that fit my aquascape or go crazy over anymore, slowly eliminating them one by one till i have a few
remaining species left. Although it's a lot of fun to collect the plants.

Unfortuantely, I do have the space for a few more large aquariums but my wife doesn't want that many so I have this 120 gallon and 2x 10 gallons in the
cabinets under it. I'm limited to one location at my house for my aquarium.
Or else I'd make a fish room :)
One 10 has, well, they were painted fire red cherry shrimp but without culling they've reverted back to cherry or brighter cherries :)
The other 10 gallon tank is in the middle of setting up. it'll be non co2 low light with moss, mainly for breeding some apisto borelli's

I love the process of setting up a aquarium. It's so much fun.

5) Hmm, I've heard of needle wheels before, let me google or look into it or if you have any links fire them over, as I'm not too familar with them.

thanks for your input.

I'll try to do a monthly update on this tank. I'm predicting the stem plants in the back should be adapting shortly and start to grow pretty quickly.
One of my favourite plants is the LOBELIA CARDINALIS but it grows so slow, I'd say about 1" per 4-5 months. I'm trying to locate the small form of this plant but not having
any success. I believe it's a bog plant, not a true aquatic plant, that's why it doesn't grow so fast.

Sounds great for a trade later on :)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Oh Bien! thanks for the kind comments! You've got to post more photos of your awesome aquariums! Time for a bigger house :)

Thanks for the kind comments about the photos! Just a hobby :)

I love discus and one day I'll get back to them, here's the female with babies of one of my breeding pair about 2 years ago.

 

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I may be going to a buildmyled with the discus cube this year, so you can get a firsthand review then. :D

To do the multi-quite, I just cut and paste the word quote and the /quote and put the square brackets around them. Some trial and error got it working a while back for me.

You'll be ok with the 2075 as it is a small one. The 2080 and my 2078 have to push big plastic gears and if a grain of sand gets in there, it's game over.

The stainless regulators are indeed so sexy.....

I do that with my planted tanks too. I go crazy and then weed and weed until I get it the way I want. I need to get some red plants in my ADA cube currently so I might go back to some Ammania gracilis. Tried some Ammania sp. bonsai from Pat's latest shipment but they all melted.

I've been given an ultimatum too, so I'm limited out when it comes to tanks. I'm eventually going to replace my 125 with a custom in-wall tank in my home office but that's a ways off. To do that, I'll have to get rid of a couple of tanks as I plan to go 200+ gallons.

You're right, the best part of this hobby is the setup, once you get a few years in. Once it's running, all the challenge is out of it.

Needle wheels are used all the time by reef guys to generate bubbles for skimmers. All it is is an impeller full of holes or small fins. Many pumps have needle wheel options. Here's one. Store Water Pumps Protein Skimmers Protein Skimmer Pumps

If you look at the detail, the fins are just cut up into "combs".

I googled Lobelia cardinalis and it looks like that indeed is a bog plants native to southern US.
 

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How's the noise of a sump? I guess under a cabinet it's ok? Eheim's are pretty slient. My cabinet was a custom low viewing cabinet so there's 3 partations underneath.
I don't think I can even fit a sump in there properly without getting another cabinet.
Forgot to answer this one. That's my dilemma too. To go with a sump you gotta get the big sump in before closing off the stand usually, unfortunately, so I have the same problem as you.

As for noise, there are 2 sources: 1) air in the downpipes, which can be taken care of by a Herbie or a Beananimal style overflow (makes use of a full pipe and a "skin" only pipe to limit gurgling) which are dialed in by gate valves, and 2) noisy pump, which can be sorted by choosing the smallest quietest pump which can do that job instead of a massive pump, and also insulating the stand with soundproofing. I don't like noise in my living room either and even the Eheim 2078 is too noisy for me so I put in some acoustic foam in the stand, which are well worth it.
 

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That tank looks pretty awesome buddy. You're going to have a great time keeping it. How about using a reactor for CO2 injection?

I've got a small plantling of small form Lob Cardinalis I've been hoarding, but don't have really have a place in my scape for it. If you're in my area you can come pick it up from me. I'd rather someone else keep, propagate, and make this plant more available within the community. It's a really nice species.
 

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Great picture of the discus female and her fry! Glad to see things are looking great with the new tank! Also Happy New Year to you and your family :)
 

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To do the multi-quite, I just cut and paste the word quote and the /quote and put the square brackets around them. Some trial and error got it working a while back for me.
Another way to do the multi-quote is to click on the little "+ on the bottom far right of every post that you want to reply to. A check mark will appear to show the post has been selected. Then click on the + Reply to Thread (in the red rectangle) after the last post. All of the selected posts will show up in the reply box. You can delete any of the extra text that you don't want, being careful not to delete the square brackets (and the text within them) at the start and end of each quote.

That's one big beautiful set-up that you have, I'm looking forward to following it's progression :)
 
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