John's 45g Noob Tank! - The Planted Tank Forum

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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-16-2016, 04:18 PM Thread Starter
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John's 45g Noob Tank!

That's right. My very first freshwater tank of any kind. I do have some years of saltwater tank experience but I am already finding that it is a completely different animal. Aside from some similarities in water parameters, there isn't a whole lot of crossover.

I'm excited though. We have a 5 year old adopted son and when he asked if he could have a fish, all of that aquarium burn out went right out the window. Who can resist a school of neon tetra right?
I was browsing our local online version of craigslist, when I came across a guy who was selling this set up. It was a 45g (13 x36 X 24) tank with the stand, filter, fake plants, etc.So, bought the tank, brought it home and stated doing some research. This of course was where everything changed. Originally it was going to be fish only with a quick setup and keep it all under budget so the boss (my wife of 21 years) stays happy. This was all before I started googling images of beautiful planted tanks and I was captivated.

So now of course the HOB filter....trash, fake plants....trash, 30W light......trash. And that is really okay. I just want it to look nice and run well when it's done. Here is the tank I found that I just fell in love with:




So can I make something like this? It's my dream anyway. So here is where I'm at. I primered and painted the stand white per the boss's request.

I've ordered the following for the new tank:

Finnex Ray2
Fluval 406
Eco-Complete 4 bags
API Freshwater Master Test Kit
Black background

The dimensions of this tank are going to be a challenge for sure. From glass top to substrate will be 21". I wrote to Finnex and he told I would be looking at approx PAR 50. If that is in fact correct, I can live with that. I just remember having a deep tank in the past and although it looks nice for display, in every other way, it is difficult. From flow to cleaning, deep tanks are just a pain. Nonetheless, that is what I have to work with and so we'll make it work.

One of my first questions has to do with flow. I am not sure what the Fluval 406 will actually put out in gph but my understanding is that 10x flow is ideal for planted tanks? I'm wondering if I should consider supplementing that filter with powerheads. In the photo I displayed above, there are at least 4 known plants in the tank. They include: Bacopa, Jungle Val, Dwarf Lily and Ludwigia Repens. Not sure if there are any others. In a video he created, he mentions that these are easier plants for the novice. I'm hoping so.

Well, I think I've written a short book to start with. I'm a bit all over the place at the moment. Please challenge me with any questions, comments or advice. I really need all the help I can get!
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-16-2016, 06:49 PM
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A friend of mine uses Eco Complete and has had success with it to a degree. I'm assuming that you will be going low-tech (no injected co2) since your lighting is the high side of low lighting. If you have the patience for it, I would recommend going with a soil substrate. There are a lot of benefits of going this route (no co2 required) and with the amount of light you have, you will have a lot of growth once your tank matures. It can take months for your tank to really take off but it is worth the wait. I have recently set up two, a 75g and a 29g and they are in their infancy right now but it has been a lot of fun so far. You do not need to spend a lot of money to build a soil substrate (keep the boss happy) and it could be a project that you and your son could do together. Since you already ordered the Eco, you could use it as a capping substrate (the layer that goes on top of the soil to hold it down and cover it up). Food for thought. Either way I think it's great that your getting into the hobby. For me it started as me buying a Cryptocoryne to accent a fish only aquarium and I became hooked and it has become a passion for me.

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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-16-2016, 08:25 PM
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It looks like that tank has a powerhead on the left side top. Grasses (Val) look so nice swaying in the current, and it will help keep them clean. You may want to get a powerhead after you try the flow on the cannister filter. It will push one side of the tank water, but that just sends everything swaying one direction. Putting a powerhead opposite the filter outlet may help you get a good swirl in the middle of the tank. Some tall grass tanks I've seen keep a center swirl of water. You can put a leaf on the surface in the middle, and it goes around like in a vortex. Probably a powerhead with low/medium/high settings would be a good idea, since you don't want to blast the plants. I've been looking at this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNlvO5ZR974
With the Controller: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmpZt65gjW8

Expensive little bugger! But looks way cool and would give that random flow to the grasses, instead of pushing them all one direction. I don't know of anyone using this, but it may be worth looking into since you want that taller grass to gently sway.

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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 11:58 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Monrankim View Post
A friend of mine uses Eco Complete and has had success with it to a degree. I'm assuming that you will be going low-tech (no injected co2) since your lighting is the high side of low lighting. If you have the patience for it, I would recommend going with a soil substrate. There are a lot of benefits of going this route (no co2 required) and with the amount of light you have, you will have a lot of growth once your tank matures. It can take months for your tank to really take off but it is worth the wait. I have recently set up two, a 75g and a 29g and they are in their infancy right now but it has been a lot of fun so far. You do not need to spend a lot of money to build a soil substrate (keep the boss happy) and it could be a project that you and your son could do together. Since you already ordered the Eco, you could use it as a capping substrate (the layer that goes on top of the soil to hold it down and cover it up). Food for thought. Either way I think it's great that your getting into the hobby. For me it started as me buying a Cryptocoryne to accent a fish only aquarium and I became hooked and it has become a passion for me.

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Thank you for the response. Much appreciated. I have some questions and need some clarification on a few things you stated. First, about the eco-complete. Is there any reason why eco-complete can't be used as the entire substrate? Just curious because I haven't heard of using it just as a cap. Most of what I have seen so far is people using it to a depth of 1.5-2.5". Please elaborate if you would.

Regarding the light. I know this is a much debated issue and so I am going to tread lightly here. So when the wife agreed to setting the tank up in the family room, one of the stipulations was that the light not be blinding, ie hanging from the ceiling etc. While there are a couple of companies out there that sell LED fixtures in the 3-5W per bulb, they are exceedingly expensive. I set out to find a balance between the best light I can afford and also keeping the glare to a minimum. I wrote to Finnex beforehand and asked them what they suggested for my application. Clearly I have a challenge here with a 21" depth from top of glass to substrate. Anyway, a gentleman replied with information on the Ray2. This was his response:

"Thanks for your interest in our lighting.
I've included the par values for the 36" DS. It shows at a 21'' depth, the par values will be right around 50. So it should be fine your your application."

Is a par of 50 really on the low end? I ask because I was reading this article and I got the impression that a par of 50 would be considered medium to high? Anyway, the Finnex guy included this diagram to illustrate:



Let me know your thoughts. I guess I'm a bit concerned as I did eventually want to try some more challenging plants. Co2 is on the list of items to purchase. I don't have the patience to make my own so I will probably look at a unit from Green Leaf.
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 12:18 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AWolf View Post
It looks like that tank has a powerhead on the left side top. Grasses (Val) look so nice swaying in the current, and it will help keep them clean. You may want to get a powerhead after you try the flow on the cannister filter. It will push one side of the tank water, but that just sends everything swaying one direction. Putting a powerhead opposite the filter outlet may help you get a good swirl in the middle of the tank. Some tall grass tanks I've seen keep a center swirl of water. You can put a leaf on the surface in the middle, and it goes around like in a vortex. Probably a powerhead with low/medium/high settings would be a good idea, since you don't want to blast the plants. I've been looking at this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNlvO5ZR974
With the Controller: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmpZt65gjW8

Expensive little bugger! But looks way cool and would give that random flow to the grasses, instead of pushing them all one direction. I don't know of anyone using this, but it may be worth looking into since you want that taller grass to gently sway.
Great info. Thank you! I guess I will need to take another look at this. You bring up some great points with the taller grasses and plants in the tank. There are some unknowns right now. My filter is one of them. I chose a Fluval 406 but with the media in the unit, I don't know exactly what the flow will be. Frankly, I pictured a very strong return so I had planned on using a spray bar but that isn't going to produce a swirl or vortex is it? This is going to sound a bit far fetched but try and picture my idea. So we have the outlet on the 406 headed to a spray bar at the top of the tank. I don't expect the 406 to be anywhere near 10x flow but what if I tied in another pump for additional flow? I picture a separate pump (of which I have many from years past) that would be set up under the tank. This pump would draw water from the tank, flow through the pump and then I would tie in the outlet of the pump to the outflow pipe of the 406 to increase flow to the spray bar. Is that crazy? I figure even if the power went out or something, the spray bar would break the siphon. Thoughts?

I am going to try and keep as much pipe and other distractions out of the tank as possible. I almost considered a sump but I knew that was my OCD getting the better of me, lol. Seriously though, I'm taking a close look at perhaps using clear pvc for the returns and spray bar. I saw that they even make glass! But something tells me that glass could go very wrong.
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 01:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnsTank View Post
I pictured a very strong return so I had planned on using a spray bar but that isn't going to produce a swirl or vortex is it? This is going to sound a bit far fetched but try and picture my idea. So we have the outlet on the 406 headed to a spray bar at the top of the tank. I don't expect the 406 to be anywhere near 10x flow but what if I tied in another pump for additional flow? I picture a separate pump (of which I have many from years past) that would be set up under the tank. This pump would draw water from the tank, flow through the pump and then I would tie in the outlet of the pump to the outflow pipe of the 406 to increase flow to the spray bar. Is that crazy? I figure even if the power went out or something, the spray bar would break the siphon. Thoughts?
Hummm...interesting. Sounds like a fun experiment at least. A spray bar is usually used to lessen the discharge velocity, and if above water, oxygenate. So for those purposes it makes sense.

Changing the distance to impediment may mess up your siphon unless you are including Reynolds numbers and want to get down and dirty with flow calculations so that your diameters and lengths will be sufficient to keep the siphon, and keep your floors dry! I love to play with stuff like this, but only outside!

So if it were me, I'd keep it simple. If you want more filtration, add two filters, (which many people do) on either side of the tank. That will give you some flow! But you won't have as much control over flow velocity, like you would with a controlled powerhead.

I've seen 55 gallon tanks with 3-4 cannister filters. I can see many reasons to do this; you want to over stock your tank, you like to over-filter, you like the ease of detaching one cannister but need others to keep going at the same time while you clean, you just like the sound of motors running, etc.

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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 04:40 PM Thread Starter
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Adding Hydor power heads to a 45g. Need help.

Okay, so I am vacating the idea of combining a separate pump to the fluval 406 return. It sounds like an accident waiting to happen. Instead, I'm going to consider adding a Hydor system instead. I could use some help though sizing it for my tank. This is a 45g and I will already have the Fluval 406. I don't know for sure what the actual gph of the Fluval is with media in it but let's just put not consider the Fluval for a moment. At 10x turnover, a 45g would need 450g per hour. The smallest Hydor system is the nano which includes two pumps at 240gph each. That right there is already 480 gph. I'm guessing that by using a controller, these powerheads will not be moving at full strength all of the time but now we add in the Fluval and wouldn't that more than suffice? Another question that comes to mind is regarding the Fluval return. Is there a correct way to place the filter return? Single or a spray bar? Thoughts?
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 04:55 PM
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. Is there a correct way to place the filter return? Single or a spray bar? Thoughts?
I think it is just a matter of preference. But maybe someone will chime in with pros and cons for placement. The most obvious choices would be out of sight, or away from plants that will get blown down. There are Lily Pipes: https://www.amazon.com/Aquarium-Glas.../dp/B011AV0KBG
They look nice and help give you more flow options.

I'm also going to mention UV lights. They have many benefits.

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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 05:21 PM
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I think the 10 times water filtration is a bit much. Sounds like a reef filter at that rate to me. I would at least try to stay around 4-5 times volume per hour and just try to focus on even flow distribution. All plants should have a gentle sway. Regarding substrate; ecocomplete on its own will do great. I would add some root tabs to it as well and replenish those every three months or so. The thing about ecocomplete is that because of its grain size which will find its way to the top eventually it can make it more difficult for smaller carpeting plants to spread out in it. But other than that it's an awesome substrate. Holds a lot of gunk in it which will make it great for the long term for plants. Oh and yes to glass Lilly pipes. They are awesome looking.
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 08:05 PM
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I personally would not use root tabs until the plants are well established. Your substrate should get things going for you. Root tabs can ruin a tank almost overnight, if they are not used up and the ferts get in the water column.

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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 09:11 PM
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I personally would not use root tabs until the plants are well established. Your substrate should get things going for you. Root tabs can ruin a tank almost overnight, if they are not used up and the ferts get in the water column.
Ecocompletes nutrients are gone very quickly. I would recommend osmocote+ in gel tabs, they are slow release and shouldn't cause issues as long as it is planted well from the get go
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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-18-2016, 12:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnsTank View Post
Thank you for the response. Much appreciated. I have some questions and need some clarification on a few things you stated. First, about the eco-complete. Is there any reason why eco-complete can't be used as the entire substrate? Just curious because I haven't heard of using it just as a cap. Most of what I have seen so far is people using it to a depth of 1.5-2.5". Please elaborate if you would.

Regarding the light. I know this is a much debated issue and so I am going to tread lightly here. So when the wife agreed to setting the tank up in the family room, one of the stipulations was that the light not be blinding, ie hanging from the ceiling etc. While there are a couple of companies out there that sell LED fixtures in the 3-5W per bulb, they are exceedingly expensive. I set out to find a balance between the best light I can afford and also keeping the glare to a minimum. I wrote to Finnex beforehand and asked them what they suggested for my application. Clearly I have a challenge here with a 21" depth from top of glass to substrate. Anyway, a gentleman replied with information on the Ray2. This was his response:

"Thanks for your interest in our lighting.
I've included the par values for the 36" DS. It shows at a 21'' depth, the par values will be right around 50. So it should be fine your your application."

Is a par of 50 really on the low end? I ask because I was reading this article and I got the impression that a par of 50 would be considered medium to high? Anyway, the Finnex guy included this diagram to illustrate:



Let me know your thoughts. I guess I'm a bit concerned as I did eventually want to try some more challenging plants. Co2 is on the list of items to purchase. I don't have the patience to make my own so I will probably look at a unit from Green Leaf.
As willcooper stated, the Eco Complete will be exhausted eventually and you will need to feed your plants. Osmocote plus is excellent. That is why I suggested using the Eco as a cap, because you already had it and it is coarse to allow gas exchange between soil and the water column. Normally Black Diamond blast sand or pool filter sand would work. Soil substrates have a lot of advantages, especially in the long term but they have certain drawbacks compared to Eco Complete and others like it. For starters, you can re-scape with out destroying your tank. Soil is ideal if you design your tank with a sense of permanence in mind. If you ever decide to try one I can tell you it will be an interesting project that will add a unique aspect to your tank. If you are going to inject Co2, you will be in the realm of high-tech rather than a natural planted tank. It's just a matter of which cons you will accept for which pros.

Your light may be indeed medium. I myself (a neophyte) researched LEDs heavily when acquiring equipment for may tanks and I became overwhelmed by the conflicting reviews on PAR values and product quality. I went with a T8 shop light until I learn how to build an LED that way I can modify or fix something if necessary.
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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-18-2016, 10:04 AM Thread Starter
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Eco-Complete: Does it contain fertilizers or not?

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Originally Posted by AWolf View Post
I personally would not use root tabs until the plants are well established. Your substrate should get things going for you. Root tabs can ruin a tank almost overnight, if they are not used up and the ferts get in the water column.
Thank you for that information. I would have totally blown it there. Thanks to the rest of you also. I will check out Osmocote. I have a long way to go on educating myself on nutrients. In my reef tank, I used a Deltec skimmer to try and remove as much of the nutrients as possible but there was a balance to strike there. Living organisms use nutrients. Now with a planted tank, it appears there is also a balancing act as well. Light, feeding, all of these things play a part. In my reef tank, I actually fed my plants (actually they are not plants, but corals) meat products. I need to learn with all about real plants and their needs.
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Last edited by JohnsTank; 07-18-2016 at 10:15 AM. Reason: updated
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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-18-2016, 11:00 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Monrankim
Your light may be indeed medium. I myself (a neophyte) researched LEDs heavily when acquiring equipment for may tanks and I became overwhelmed by the conflicting reviews on PAR values and product quality. I went with a T8 shop light until I learn how to build an LED that way I can modify or fix something if necessary.
I couldn't agree more with being overwhelmed with research. It is incredibly challenging to sift through all of the information available and of course I know I'm only scratching the surface. Hey, I would have loved to spend $700 on an LED fixture that put out 5w each but that just doesn't make sense. I need to keep it reined in and just enjoy it for what it is. After all, this is supposed to be a fun father/son project. I just need to keep reminding myself lol.
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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-18-2016, 11:22 AM Thread Starter
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Spray bar vs single flow

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Originally Posted by Willcooper View Post
I think the 10 times water filtration is a bit much. Sounds like a reef filter at that rate to me. I would at least try to stay around 4-5 times volume per hour and just try to focus on even flow distribution. All plants should have a gentle sway.
Thank you for setting me straight on the 10x turnover. Honestly, I have read this 10x flow several times now and I'm not sure where that is coming from. My opinion is that each tank is different. Dimensions, structure, plants and fish make up the dynamic of every tank and so I'm not sure how a blanket statement of 10x flow can be made anyway.

What I would like is an opinion from someone with a Fluval 406 or similar that can tell me if it produces enough flow to use a spray bar effectively. I really would prefer a spray bar as a single means of tank flow. If not a spray bar then I am pushing the flow out one of one pipe and expecting it to circulate the entire tank. I'm not guessing that is realistic. Thoughts?
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