new-to-me 38gal - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 130 (permalink) Old 06-05-2015, 07:13 PM Thread Starter
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new-to-me 38gal

current tank shot 1/31/17

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

the beginning 6/5/15

I just got this tank used (great price) a 40 gallon tall and stand.
[edit 7/24- I just learned that my tank is not a 40, it's a standard 38.]

I'm so stoked to prepare this one for my end goal: angelfish. But for the time being it's going to house my cherry barbs while I wait for the plants to grow (they're probably going to need some recovery time). So far all I've done is scrub things (vinegar and hot water mostly) and filled it up to check the filter ran ok, leveled the stand w/cedar shims, made sure it doesn't leak. I'm soaking a bucket of safe-t-sorb with ferts and baking soda to buffer against pH swings, it's really been stripping the water in the bucket severely- it was below 6 when I first tested, now it's around 7.2. When I've got it to 7.4 or 7.6 and it doesn't drop upon adding new water as I rinse the substrate I'll feel safe to put it in the tank with the fish (if I err in any of this, please let me know! I've never done substrate beyond gravel before)

I don't usually like fake decorations in my tanks anymore, but someone suggested if I move the java ferns under the water flow, they might do better for me, so I think I will tie some of my javas onto the fake root piece this came with and see how they do.
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Last edited by JJ09; 03-11-2017 at 01:48 PM. Reason: updated tank picture
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post #2 of 130 (permalink) Old 06-05-2015, 08:11 PM
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Baking soda is used for raising KH which in turn stabalizes PH...true, but commonly
people add 1/4 tsp to the tank(for a smaller size tank) till the KH is where they want it.
But on that PH thing...each type of fish likes it a bit different from other types.
So just not putting in one that has "far left" requirements from the other fish is usually
all that's required. AND ...most pet shops just use de-chlorinated tap from the aria so
any fish you get from there is likely adjusted to that PH. If you live near there it may
be the same water source. I'd check this out because if it's the same water and you
change your tank PH any noticeable amount you may be doing more harm than good.
For most type fish that just giving them a hard time, not a disaster category issue.
Rams and a couple of others are an exception. South American is usually lower PH.
That tall of a tank will need a bit higher amount of light to get to the bottom
effectively...any specific plans on that ? Curiosity mostly because that looks like a
fixture for a T8 bulb. Only very low light plants will be able to grow/w that.
At the top of the "Low Tech" section is a list of plants that will grow in low light.
That is not "very low light" and only some on there will live/w only one T8 bulb.
http://www.fishlore.com/NitrogenCycle.htm
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post #3 of 130 (permalink) Old 06-05-2015, 09:07 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks. Yes, it is a T8 fixture, same as I have on my 20gal (but of course will be much farther from the substrate now). My plants are anubias, java fern, aponogeton, rotala indica, vallisneria, crypt wendtii tropica and watersprite. I'm hoping most of those will do okay with low light? or I will lift some plants up by affixing to that fake root piece, or I will put in a bulb with higher output (it has a 17 watt right now).

I had read that the safe-t-sorb will absorb carbonates from the water and thus lower pH initially in the tank, that's why I added some baking soda to alleviate it at first? But I don't want to overdo it. (I have also put a few handfuls of safe-t-sorb in my 10 gallon- this was without presoaking it in anything, and I only added 1/4 tsp there when I saw the pH drop right away. I haven't had to add any more baking soda in that tank- it seems stable now). My tapwater is pretty hard, I just didn't want the safe-t-sorb to be lowering it drastically every time I made a water change... so have I done it the wrong way?

Bump: Oh, and I think I might replace that cover with a glass lid and put a different light source on it altogether.
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post #4 of 130 (permalink) Old 06-06-2015, 03:59 AM Thread Starter
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I definitely want to get a glass cover- I like them so much better on my current 20L and 10. Have been reading this thread My inexpensive CFL light solution and am seriously thinking of getting some dome lights with 13w or 19 watt daylight cfls for this new tank. Especially considering that my 10gal with a cfl desk lamp has been doing nicely with no algae issues at all, much less troublesome than my 20gal (still lit with flourescents).
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post #5 of 130 (permalink) Old 06-06-2015, 04:15 AM
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Sounds like you did good on the PH.
The 13W CFL works best on a 10g, but I'd think the 23W(with 3 fixtures) would work well on the 40T tank. IF it's 36" as it looks like it is.
I get a glass store to cut a piece of glass in 1/8" for my tanks. On one(10g) it's 17"x9 and
7/16". Leaves about 1" open on each end for heater cord/feeding etc. And on the other
I got 2 pieces cut to add up to 17" so I'd still have the opening on each end. 10g also.

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post #6 of 130 (permalink) Old 06-06-2015, 12:48 PM Thread Starter
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Yes, I was thinking of using 3 fixtures. I hope to keep the light level about the same for plants as it was in the 20L- medium/low. Do you think 3 23w will do that?

I'm trying to picture it with one solid pane of glass on top- so you have a gap at each short end, instead of a gap in the back? I don't know if that would work with my HOB filter...
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post #7 of 130 (permalink) Old 06-06-2015, 01:34 PM
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I use Saf-t-sorb in all my tanks, I have never taken the time to presoak it. Other than dumping it right from the bag into the tank, all I ever do is stir it up and drain a couple times to wash out the fine dust. The stripping of Kh and PH will stop once the Saf-t-sorb has saturated itself. As for fish and plants, I have never seen any ill affects while using Saf-t-sorb this way. Fish adapt to lower readings of water parameters much better than going the other way.
As for lighting, 3- 23w cfl's is going to be a lot of light. I use 3 of them in brooder fixtures over my 125g and it works out great. If it was me, I would use 2- 13w to start, hung pendant style above the tank. This way you can easily adjust the height of the lights and take advantage of the lights best position for output. Cfl's put out more light when used vertically, like when used in brooder lamps. Home depot and Lowes sells 6500k cfl,s and the clamp on style work lamps fairly cheap. Pack of bulbs and 2 lamps should be about $20.
Good luck and great find on the tank.

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post #8 of 130 (permalink) Old 06-06-2015, 02:10 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, thanks. I think I will get the clamp types, start with 13watts. Easy enough to switch the bulbs later if need to. I was going to just sit them on the glass top- I'm not very handy with building stuff so not sure how to support suspending them. Maybe my fiancee can help me figure that out (I have to run it by him, if he won't mind the rather industrial look of brooder type lamps sitting over the tank in front room!)

I am switching over from using EI method to this- hoping that I can cease dosing ferts eventually- but wasn't sure how long it takes for the safe-t-sorb to absorb enough nutrients to supply them to the plants- so that's why I soaked some in first.... I also thought to put root tabs down before the substrate, do you think that would be good or will it cause algae problems from having too much nutrients? My aponos and rotala seemed to do better with root tabs given once a month, so I thought to put some in initially to give them a good start re-establishing in the new tank?
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post #9 of 130 (permalink) Old 06-06-2015, 07:44 PM Thread Starter
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Well nix that idea. my fiancée does not at all like the looks of the clamp shop/brooder type lights. I think for now I will just replace the bulb with higher wattage or get the glass lid and put led strip over it though I'm not sure which kind yet.
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post #10 of 130 (permalink) Old 06-07-2015, 03:13 AM
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if you just fill the tank with RO water (filled my 40G with 4 trips to the grocery store to fill 10-1 gal jugs the ph is 6.8 kh 0 gh 0 and it allows me to adjust up how I want. if you use controsoil with RO you will be in the low 6's and can adjust up from there
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post #11 of 130 (permalink) Old 06-07-2015, 09:37 PM Thread Starter
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Do these light levels correspond...?

I want to keep light level similar as possible between my old tank and new, so that when I move things over the plants and how I manage them doesn't have to adjust as much. (This is low-tech, low light)

So, if I currently have an 17 watt T8 light 10" above the substrate, will a 30 watt T8 that is 18" above substrate provide the same amount of light to the plants (both daylight spectrum 6500k)? I used simple algebra here: 17/10 = x/18, the variable x being the new wattage I want.
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post #12 of 130 (permalink) Old 06-07-2015, 09:52 PM
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When I used HOB filters it worked much better on the end rather than on the back.
Plants need ferts on a regular basis. A few low tech tanks can get by without them at all but with a limited amount of plants.

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post #13 of 130 (permalink) Old 06-07-2015, 09:56 PM Thread Starter
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I never thought to put the HOB on the short end. I could easy get a glass cover that had a gap there... will look into it, thanks.
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post #14 of 130 (permalink) Old 06-12-2015, 01:09 PM Thread Starter
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Well I am still working on getting this set up.

I rinsed the STS after 10 days soaking in ferts, put it in the tank and filled up, ran the filter and heater for a few days now. It was only cloudy for a few hours, there was also some foamy scum on the water surface but that has cleared also. I checked the pH is staying at 7.8, so the STS is not causing it to drop now. But it only covers the bottom of the tank 1.5" that doesn't look deep enough so I'm getting another bag today and will also cap it with the gravel from my 20gal when I move the inhabitants over in a few weeks.

Last week I emptied the tank and spent an hour adjusting with shims to get it level (it was off 1/8" front-to-back). Noticed last night that if I nudge the tank or stand, it sways a little side-to-side and that makes me nervous. So I am going to get a sheet of 1/4" plywood or something to fasten across the back (right now it's open in the center behind the door). My fiancee suggested just putting a cross-brace but I want something more solid. That means emptying the tank again to move it, of course.

Had trouble deciding on lighting. Don't want to use the T8 hood and read too many scary reviews about T5ho fixtures overheating and catching on fire. I've ordered an LED fixture, the 36" Aquatic Life one. It has 21 6000K White, 21 9000K White, 24 10000K White, 7 Blue, 11 Red and 3 Blue Lunar LED's runs at max 36watts. (I never really wanted a "moonlight" setting but my fiancee and the kids think this will be really cool.) It has decent reviews, I hope will be sufficient for my low/med light plants.
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post #15 of 130 (permalink) Old 06-12-2015, 01:21 PM
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I can't see your photos, so I am sorry about that I won't be able to give much feedback. But I use dome shop lights and I love them personally. You can find better 'looking' lights than the dome lights at the hardware store. But I think you have settled on a LED light.

As for the filter and a glass lid, making glass lids is easy and if you have a local Lowes, they will cut it for you.

Sliding Glass Top how-to

Follow that. The track is about $2 for a 8' section in the flooring area of your local hardware store. I did that on my tank and I love it. You'll just have to cut it in half-ish for your tank and you can slide the lids the 'long way' on the top. Then you can have the HOB filter on the short side of the tank.
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