All Advice Welcome: Tell me anything and everything.
Hi. I'm new to planted tanks, and so I could use a little advice about anything and everything. I've done some research and kept a betta before, but other than that I have no experience so I'd like to draw on your expertise. For my first tank, this is what I'm thinking of getting hardware wise (its still up in the air):
• 55 Gallon Black Rim Aqueon Tank
• Penguin350B Biowheel Hang-on Filter
• Lighting Hood (No ideas- please help)
• Eco Complete Planted Black Aquarium Substrate 40 lbs.
• Stick on thermometer
• Heater (No ideas- please help)
• Fish Food (No ideas- please help)
• Petco Manhattan Metal Stand 55 gal size
I have no idea about which heater or lighting to get. I also would like suggestions on fish and plants (can you keep Discus in a 55 gal?) and anything that comes to mind. :D
First, do not try to keep Discus. You need a lot of fish keeping experience to be successful. In a 55g, there are a ton of options out there, just find a few you like and go from there. Pick one centerpiece fish or pair, and get suitable tank mates. For example, a school of boesemani rainbows is a good place to start.
I'd highly suggest a canister filter instead of the hang on filter. Something like the AquaTop CF-500UV is perfect for a 55g.
For lighting, a single bulb catalina fixture will do you good: http://www.catalinaaquarium.com/stor...oducts_id=1834
Heater, basically only if you need it. Here in FL I dont use them. Depending on what fish you want to keep, they will have an ideal temperature range. Find out what that is and set the heater accordingly. Dial-in heaters are best, the ones that let you set a temp.
Food depends on what fish you will keep, but take a look at both the New Life Spectrum and Repashy food lines.
Finally, plants depend on how high or low tech you want to be. If you are going to inject co2 and dose ferts, then your plant choices are basically unlimited.
Start low light.
Plant heavily from day 1.
Get good substrate.
Look at journals and research before doing.
Get a API master test kit.
Focus on the plants, few fish. That said better no fish, tons of shrimp.
Buy from seller in this forum is cheaper than Local fish stores.
Do not (ever) look for advice at the fish store. That is what this website is for.
Look at the tanks (work) of people that give you advice to decide to follow up on it.
Use the SEARCH engine to look for related topics before asking questions, is good to have a bit of backround.
Have fun, keep it simple, respect life.
Welcome to TPT!!! Keep us posted!
Thanks for the help all. I just want to clarify some stuff, and ask a few questions.
Why canister filter? I don't no anything about the different filter types, but I do know that hang- on's are less expensive. How much maintenance do canister filters need?
Also, I want this tank to not need the most attention, since this is the first time in the hobby. Is there anyway I can avoid trimming and Co2 injections?
And finally, the tank I'm thinking of is 48" long, not 24". Will the light you suggested still work for this tank?
You can use the hang on back filter, I still use one, but I also use a good canister filter if you are worried about complexity and not about money get a fluval G3 or G6, I have a G3 on my 55g.
The light look on ebay there are a lot of lights to chose from you do not need the most expensive light to do a low tech tank.
The less light, less maintenance. Low light to avoid rapid plant growth and the need for ferts and co2.
The more filtration you have, your water quality and visibility will be better. Therefore less fretting with the water. In my opinion canisters can be hidden but HoBs can't, unless you plant them. Also less noise.
Bigger tanks are more stable than smaller tanks. Therefore less maintenance.
The Petco Manhattan stand is great. I have one for my 29 gallon.
I just like canisters. HOB are not as efficient, make a ton of noise and are an eye sore.. To me at least. If you want a low maintenance, easy growin tank you will want to stick with low light, like a corallife t5 dual bulb and then easy low light plants. The growth will be slow, but they will grow.
how about using dirt as substrate? miracle grow organic potting mix capped with eco complete would be very easy. Trust me, you do not want to do just eco complete with no fertilization and CO2. You will see great growth, just not crazy fast growth.
I use eco complete mixed with plain old black gravel, with no ferts and no co2 - I have low light and low light plants and they've grown slowly but nicely. I have alot of java fern, anubias, a big sword plant, and dwarf sag. Remember that some plants, such as mosses, java ferns and anubias can be tied or glued to rocks, driftwood, and store bought decor so that you can have plants at any level of the tank you desire. This can add alot of visual interest to a tank and can help hide equipment. If you go with a canister filter you could also use an inline heater - this is a heater that plumbs right into the hoses of the filter and heats the water as it runs into the tank. They are nice because they are outside of the tank instead of inside and are not visible.
Canister filters are great, but a pain to set up if you're a newbie. Having said that, it's what I use and what I first started with, and I think I made the right choice. If you don't overstock the tank maintenance on it should be low. If you go with a canister be prepared to pay more than for other filters - they aren't cheap. Then read the instructions carefully and maybe watch a vid or two on youtube on setup.
Familiarize yourself with the nitrogen cycle - it's very important to a healthy tank. And be sure to get a master drop test kit. I would also suggest doing a fishless cycle.
Research fish now - decide what you like, see if they are available locally or if you can find a good online source for them, and then research them to see what kind of conditions they need as far as temp, tank mates, aggression, their size at maturity, what size tank they need, if they need to be kept in a school, etc.
I have some older Penguin stuff. Not a big fan of their cartridges or biowheel systems but a great pump for DIY filter media. The advantages are/were:
-the input is/was on the opposite side as other brands (different brand each corner),
-they work reliably for a really long time but may get noisy if a snail or grain of sand get near the magnet or if the impeller rod gets bent,
-the absolute most surprising thing about them for me is, if the tank is properly filled and the power goes out briefly they almost always prime themselves and restart on their own, likely due to the slightly smaller diameter intake.
Maybe skip the stick on thermometer? They are not that accurate. A good floating or suction cup thermometer is not a great expense.
Unless you live someplace consistently warm I generally advocate for the Heater being the one item you do not chince on. That brand on the next shelf for only a few dollars more is often far superior. Dealing with a faulty heater is not as thrifty as it seems.
Food: I think knowing what you are buying here has the most observable difference over the long term in your aquarium. You are feeding the fish, the plants and the cleaners. Feed them like you feed your family, look at the labels and understand them. Don't rely on one food. Great foods are not always easy to find so get a few good ones and seek the great ones at a good price. Eventually you will have a buffet of great foods to feed. Variety helps in so many ways.
I would strongly encourage you to gain as much knowledge and experience as you can before venturing into Discus. That's a little delicate, complicated and expensive for most people just starting out.
Lighting, Substrate, Fertilizer or CO2 are all wide areas of debate affected by each other. Clarifying your intentions before selecting any one piece would help get the most suitable combination for your purpose. Generally starting out I would suggest a simple low light, nutritious substrate, air bubbles instead of CO2 and minimal fertilizer combination. A simple light timer is a few dollars well spent. This is the area where the most recurring costs of your tank will likely be, plan for your long term budget. I'm sure there are a variety of opinions in this area.
Maybe read posts 3 and 6 a couple more times too.
55 gallon: Too narrow front to back. If you can handle the 4' long, then look for the widest (front to back) tank you can fit in that space. The wider the tank the better the layout.
Filter: If you want a Hang On Back style, go with the Aquaclear product line. These have the best arrangement of media. I have run the Aquaclear 110 on a 50 gallon tank (4' x 16" x 16") and that is just right for the way I run my tanks. For your 55 I think that would be a good filter.
Food: I get food from Almost Natural Tropical Fish Food, top quality ingredients, very reasonable pricing, top quality service.
This is really helping me, so thank you. Just to address a few things:
1. I like the look of discus (they're my favorite fish), but after researching a bit about them, I have to agree with you guys that they're too much work for me.
2. I'm really struggling about canister vs. Hang-on. My stand would be better with hang-on's because its empty under-neath, so if I got the canister, I would also have to buy a different stand which would cost much more $. The flip side is that, as you've pointed out, canister's are better in pretty much every regard.
3. Thank you Diana for the width idea- what does everyone else think? Does it make for better scapes?
4. In the end, I still don't know about lights or substrate. A few more opinions and I think I'll be ready to choose some out.
5. I'll get a suction cup thermometer, I just already had a stick on from my bettas tank
6. Thank you all again. With the things I learned from you guys, I think I could write a book. :icon_wink
I use a Marineland Penguin 200 and it works great. Tanks are crystal clear.
I'm with Diana on the tank. If you want 55 gallons, get a 54 breeder. I think they are 36"x18"x16" tall. Perfect planted tank dimensions. I have a 45 (just shorter than a 55) and it's a pain. Way to narrow to have get depth in the scape, especially for a beginner.
I'd wait a few years for discus, just to figure out if you are a natural, or someone who fumbles a bit more. A fumble with Discus usually doesn't end well so it's a good idea to keep fish for a bit and see how it goes.
A canister is superior to the HOB. If you do it clean and tidy, you can have the cannister out in the open. I'd go with the cannister.
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