Cochepaille's 110g "dream office" tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 95 (permalink) Old 05-08-2012, 08:04 PM Thread Starter
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Join Date: May 2012
Location: Ansonia, CT
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Cochepaille's 110g "dream office" tank

Most Recent Tank Pic (07/02/15):

Last most recent tank pic (04/03/15):

As you can see, I added a huge melon sword (best $7 I ever spent at a LFS!), the dwarf sag are going nuts and the crypt are getting very tall.

Current Fish:
Angelfish (3) - koi, black lace and a marble (planning to add 3 or 4 more)
Pearl Gouramis (6)
Cherry Barbs (20)
Opaline Gourami (1)
Iridescent Shark (1)
Japanese Algae Eater (1)
Cory Cats (2)

Current Setup:
Lighting: 8x 9w CFLs (low/med PAR) in workshop light housings run 9.5 hr /day
Current Plants: Melon sword, Anubias, dwarf sag, Japanese dress, jungle val and crypt.
Current Substrate/Filters/Other: MGOCPS and Safe-T-Sorb, 2x canister filters (about 500 GPH turnover), 300w heater, 400 GPH powerhead, 2x 15" bubble wands and blue LED ambiance lights at night).

Original Post: (note that my plans changed quite a bit)
Hello all,

One month from now, my fiancee and I will close on our first home in Ansonia, CT. Fortunately, we found a house that grants me the luxury of having a 12x12 office. Given that I thoroughly enjoy carpentry, I also have the luxury of creating my office exactly the way I want it. I planned on building my desk, a bookshelf, and various other pieces that will all be stained the color I want with finishing touches that I want, but the room needed something.

I've always had medium size aquariums (25-40 gallons), so I thought of just putting the aquarium that I have now (viewable in my profile) into my new office... but it's not the right finish, and it would look puny in such a large space. That got me thinking... why not do a huge aquarium! I toyed around with some layouts, and came up w/ the following:

So then the issue became what to put in the aquarium. I started my very first aquarium with very bright fake plants, kitschy centerpieces, and very random fish that never went well together... I was 12, alright! lol Then I saw my neighbor's tank... probably an 80 gallon, lots of earthy colors, and nothing but real plants. Remembering that tank got me thinking... what if I did real plants?! How hard can it be! lol

Well thanks to a bunch of members on this forum and a number of other websites, I got the confidence to start planning a planted tank!

First things first, I got the tank itself:

I bought it off of Craigslist along with an Eheim Professional IIfilter for $250. It's 60"L x 18"W x 24"H, and holds 110 gallons. A great size to create the focal piece on one wall.

I could have bought the stand with it, but my plan from the start has been to build my own base and hood. The base is an easy chore... the hood, however, is a different story.

The next issue that came up was lighting.

After reading numerous threads, I discovered that, surprise surprise, plants can't live without adequate lighting! lol I want to save some $ and avoid flourescent tube lighting, so T12's, 8's, and 5's are out. I thought of LED's, but realized that buying a pre-fab unit would be too expensive, and doing a home made unit would be too time consuming. Then I saw the tread on CFL's. I learned that if you install CFL's with the right reflectors and placed them correctly, you can achieve medium lighting (around 50-100 PAR), which would be more than enough for the plants I'm thinking about (see below). Accordingly, I came up w/ a setup that I believe will work quite well, and I'll be able to build a hood around it so that it will look like I bought it that way:

Edit: I won't be doing the LED lights any more b/c I found a bubble wall/LED combo that eliminates the extra wiring and adds a cool effect! I also overestimated the PAR produced by 23w CFLs... 8x 9w CFLs produce 35-55 PAR). See later posts.

And that brings up the next question... what to do for fish.

I've always seen cichlids in pet stores and loved them... but they're always on what most pet store workers call the "aggressive and difficult wall". Well I'm sick of gouramis, barbs, and tetras, so I decided to go for whatever I want in this tank damn it! lol Unfortunately, a number of websites I visited indicated that most cichlids like to unearth plants and move substrate around... I thought my hopes of having those "aggressive/difficult" fish were gone.

Then I learned about discus fish! I've only seen them on occasion in the big-box pet stores, and I really enjoy the look of them... and as it turns out, they really like planted tanks! Therefore, I decided that my "focal-piece fish," if you will, are going to be discus fish... probably about 4 or 5 of them to be introduced to each other as time goes on.

Edit: I won't be doing discus fish. After a lot of research, I've realized that it would be expensive to maintain 80*+ temps in my basement and my plant selection would be limited due to the low/medium PAR and high temps.

But I can't just have discus fish... they need some tank buddies! As I browsed the local mom-and-pop pet store the other day, I came across what looked like huge tiger barbs. I've always loved tiger barbs, and these looked even cooler! I learned that they are called clown loaches, and that they would be perfect with discus fish... finally we're starting to get somewhere! So for now, I've decided to get 2 or 3 clown locus.

Well that takes care of the bigger fish, but I need some schooling fish... something that will stay small and look nice with bright colors. Neon tetras first come to mind... those blue and red fish that we all loved as kids. But I've had 5 cherry barbs in my current tank, and I'm blown away with how colorful they are and how nicely they set off the green vegetation around them. So when it comes time, I'll probably put about 30 tetras OR cherry barbs in the tank... that should be enough (for now)!

Alright, now for the substrate.

Given that I'm only going to be an associate attorney and not a partner, I can't break the bank with this tank. In addition, I won't remember to fertilize the crap out of it, and I don't want anything that would make a chemist run away. So a number of you pointed me in the direction of Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting Soil... a substrate that will easily host a variety of vegetation with little to no work on my end. All that I have to do is cover it up with some pool filter media as a cap and call it good!

Speaking of filters, I should probably mention what I think I'm doing for filtration.

I purchased my tank with an Eheim Professional II external canister filter, which is capable of effectively filtering a tank of up to 92 gallons... just shy of my 110 gallon tank.

The seller ensured me that it would be adequate on its own, but a number of you have indicated that I might want to consider supplemental filtration in the form of another canister filter. For now, I'm operating under the assumption that I will be adding in another filter, probably one that is capable of handling a tank of up to 100 gallons on its own, but I'm not 100% sure on this. I'll keep you posted.

Now for the most important part... the plants!

This, to me, is the most difficult part. I want something beautiful, yet easy to care for. I want something that doesn't need CO2, yet will grow well in medium light. Basically, I thought I wanted the impossible. However, after scouring the web for hours (again), I came up w/ a list of plants that will work well in higher temperatures (b/c of the discus), medium lighting (b/c of my DIY lighting), and without much care (again, no CO2 and probably no fertilization... I'm lazy). Accordingly, here's what I came up with:

For the foreground, I'd like to do a Christmas Moss carpet (1st image) with bushels of Cardamine Lyrata (2nd image). I'll form the carpet by cutting cutting craft matting to whatever shape I want, sandwiching the Christmas Moss in between two sheets of the matting and placing it directly over the substrate.

For the mid-range, filler plants, I'm probably going to do Dwarf Sag, mainly b/c it's a nice looking grass-type plant that gets to be a medium to tall height.

For the background plants, I'll place Echinodorus Cordifolius (1st image) and Echinodorus Uruguayensis (2nd image) around whatever I choose as center pieces, limiting myself to 4 to 6 of these plants total since it is a fairly narrow tank.

I think that all of these plants will work well together, and all of them should be fine with the fish I'm going to introduce into the tank.

Well, that's it for now! My next contribution to this thread won't be for quite a while as I will be taking the bar in July and studying from now until then, lol. After that, my fiancee and I will be moving in on August 1, and I'll have to tackle the other little projects around the house before I can begin building my dream office. I expect that those projects will take me until early November, at which point I'll begin to plan the base and hood for the tank. Once the tank is set up, I'll wait a few months after all the plants have been established and all the parameters are correct. I'm going to do all this right the 1st time!

Feel free to post any comments, questions, or concerns you may have... any advice is appreciated!


Last edited by Cochepaille; 07-03-2015 at 03:07 AM. Reason: change of plans!
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post #2 of 95 (permalink) Old 05-08-2012, 10:28 PM
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Going for both Discus and a planted tank for the first time is a bit ballsy, good luck with it. Christmas moss and pretty much any other moss besides fissidens will not survive the high temperatures required for Discus. Dirt substrates can be problematic with Discus, they can leach small amounts of contaminants which most fish are tolerant of but the very sensitive Discus may not like and they don't lend themselves to vacuuming which if you are feeding your Discus properly as juveniles you need to do often.
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post #3 of 95 (permalink) Old 05-08-2012, 10:35 PM
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Cardamine does not like higher temps either. And those are clown LOACHES, which do want to be in groups of at least three.

Keep shooting those ideas out here. I like the way you think.

There is a discus forum out there where they have an entire section for planted discus tanks.
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post #4 of 95 (permalink) Old 05-08-2012, 11:34 PM Thread Starter
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Ahhhh! You know what, I'm starting to 2nd guess my selection of fish! lol That discus forum is actually a sticky topic, and it confirms what you guys say (discus + planted tank = extremely difficult). Now that I know how impossible it would be to keep plants at those temperatures, I think I'm going to steer clear of discus for now.

At least it's easier to get different fish than it is to rearrange all the plants... any thoughts on big, colorful centerpiece fish?
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post #5 of 95 (permalink) Old 05-09-2012, 12:13 AM
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Some nice Angels would be a good option.
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post #6 of 95 (permalink) Old 05-09-2012, 12:21 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by PamAndJim View Post
Some nice Angels would be a good option.
I can see the appeal w/ Angels, but I've never liked them myself. Too delicate looking for my taste. Thanks for the suggestion, though!
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post #7 of 95 (permalink) Old 05-09-2012, 12:23 AM
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Nice to see another with a 110g but I have the tall instead of long ways. I'll keep my eye on this thread.
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post #8 of 95 (permalink) Old 05-09-2012, 12:23 AM Thread Starter
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Can anyone recommend a large, colorful cichlid species that would be alright w/ the plant species I want (i.e. one that will tolerate lower temperatures)?
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post #9 of 95 (permalink) Old 05-10-2012, 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Cochepaille View Post
Can anyone recommend a large, colorful cichlid species that would be alright w/ the plant species I want (i.e. one that will tolerate lower temperatures)?

Aussie Rainbows.

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post #10 of 95 (permalink) Old 05-10-2012, 09:28 PM
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No large, colorful cichlids other than discus or angels will leave the substrate and plants alone. How about one of the gourami types? 6 or 8 pearl gouramis would look awesome. Also, cardinal tetras like warm water (80˚F minimum). Clown loaches get about a foot long when fully grown (big enough to EAT cardinals), and are fast and strong (so much so that they greatly disturb the substrate and can batter the plants and knock over decor). A good fish for an unplanted 'big-fish' tank.

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post #11 of 95 (permalink) Old 05-11-2012, 10:07 AM
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Boesemani rainbows! Big, brightly coloured and have an amazing irridescent quality. I drool over them every time I go to the fish shop.
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post #12 of 95 (permalink) Old 05-11-2012, 12:37 PM
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What about severums?
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post #13 of 95 (permalink) Old 05-11-2012, 02:49 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by LetThereBeFish View Post
What about severums?
As I understand, they eat plants like there's no tomorrow, lol. Thanks for the suggestion, though!
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post #14 of 95 (permalink) Old 05-11-2012, 02:57 PM Thread Starter
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Alright, once again I'm flip-flopping on my fish choice, lol. I can't find ANYTHING as nice as discus fish, and other cichlids, as I have been told, will just tear up my tank and eat any small schooling fish I want. So now I'm back on the discus train! lol

That, however, means that I have to re-think my plant selection b/c none of the plants I wanted would survive at 80+ degrees. Accordingly, I've come up w/ a list of other plants that I think might work.

What are your thoughts on these plants?

Java moss (carpet)
Java Ferns (med)
Jungle Vals (thick/tall grass)
Ruffle Swords (tall)
Rangeri Swords (tall, thin stock, broad leaf)
Red Melon Swords (same as above, red/green color)
Rotala Indica (tall, scraggly bushes)
Anubias (short, broad deaves)
African Bolbitus (tall, fern-like)

I'm definitely going to use the java moss carpet (although I wish I could do the Christmas moss b/c it's a lot nicer looking), probably the java fern as a medium-height plant, and then 3 or 4 of the taller plants.
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post #15 of 95 (permalink) Old 05-11-2012, 03:24 PM
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I wouldn't recommend Java moss for a carpet. It grows way too messy.
What about dwarf sags ? they spread fast, and will survive at 80.
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