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kellysmith 01-31-2013 01:43 AM

Advice - Starting a New Aquascape
Hello! I've spent quite some time on these forums, and am finally ready to get more involved in discussion. I just finished up a 6-month internship and finally have some money to take a real crack at a high-quality planted aquarium.

I have been keeping fish for the last 2 or 3 years while in college, but I've never had the money to really make a go at a planted aquarium. All my past attempts at low-cost (~$100) setups have been less than satisfying.

Anyway, I was hoping to get some advice on my current plans before I make any disastrous decisions.

I currently have two empty tanks - 29gal 30x18x12 (I think) and a 30gal long. I am leaning towards the 29 because it is taller and gives a better overall shape for aquascaping. Does anyone have any experience/advice in in this area?

Secondly, lighting. I just purchased (in route now) a 36" TrueLumen Pro LED light strip 8k Sun White. I'm going to construct an aquarium stand out of 2x4 lumber and mount the light above the tank.

I also ordered 60lbs of Eco Complete black which is in route as well. I think this is probably more than I need, but I have another tank that I might put it into if I end up with extra.

How does my plan sound so far?

The next step, and the part where I am most inexperienced is the selection (and purchase) of plants. If you were to do an entire tank setup in one go, what would be the best place to get plants? A friend of mine has suggested several online retailers, but I also have a fairly decent LFS nearby. Also, does anyone have any advice on where to inexpensively acquire good aquarium wood and rock hardscape?

Currently I want to get a pair of german blue rams (really want clown loaches, but I'm worried my tank is too small), and then flesh out the rest of the tank with smaller schooling fish and some corydoras.

Any advice/comments would be greatly appreciated!



Icegoalie32 01-31-2013 07:24 PM

Welcome to the Forum!

I like the 29g, I have 2 of them myself. Not sure about the 30g, I've never had one. There are advantages to both, just depends on the flora/fauna stocking plan you have in mind. I keep Angels and Swords, so I like the height. If I kept Tetras and Crypts, I'd prefer the shallower tank.

I use T5 lighting on both of my set ups. I haven't used the LED's, so not much I can say about your fixture.

I like the Eco complete choice. I use the CaribSea Flora Max, which works well for me. Same brand, different product, but very similar substrate.

As for a source for plants, the For Sale/Trade and ROAK sections of this forum would be a great place to start. I haven't taken advantage of them yet, but I am putting together 2 more tanks and I will get as many plants as I can from sellers on the forum going forward. You know that your plants are coming from people who care about the hobby and their plants. The LFS is also a good place to go as long as you can trust the staff and their stock.

I source my driftwood and rock from my LFS to save on the shipping charges. You can also source it from nature as long as you are doing it responsibly.

Rams are a good choice for the 29g since they can live their entire lives in that size tank. I have angels and I know they're going to have to go into a larger tank at some point in the future. Clown Loaches are not suitable for the 29g. They really need to be kept in a group of at least 4 and they'll get to be huge (12 inches at full maturity). Coryadoras and Tetras would be good dither fish for the Rams.



tomfromstlouis 02-01-2013 05:17 AM

It sounds to me like everything is going just fine.

Choosing plants can be a bit of a gamble since even some "easy" plants can fail. At least that has been my experience.:icon_roll Nevertheless, here is how I have gone about it: I make a list of plants that I like the look of for the tank. You can look at the plant profiles on this site or look at the drawings on the Tropica site

Narrow the list down by eliminating those that get too big, are considered "difficult", or require CO2 (if you are not adding it), etc. Remember that a good scape will have some foreground, midground and background plantings. Now here is the hard part: try not to have too many different species. I would try only five or six at most for a 29g tank. Catch the planted tank bug and you will see what I mean about limiting yourself being the hard part. Anyway, take your short list and go shopping. By all means support your LFS, use this site's RAOK or trade offers, or visit

Have fun!

kellysmith 02-02-2013 05:13 AM

Awesome, it sounds like I'm on the right track then. Thanks for the advice :)

I've been doing some scouting in the woods around my house for some possible wood to use in my aquarium. I've read some guides that detail how to prepare and sterilize wood, and thought I might give it ago if I can't find some cheap alternatives nearby. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

I definitely think I will be going for the Rams then - they are awesome from what I've seen. My main concern - and perhaps this would be a better question for the Fish section - is getting a breeding pair. I've heard that buying 4 can be a good solution, but then I'm not sure what to do with the extras. Can a 29 hold four of them without civil war erupting?


Thanks for all the help.


im2smart4u 02-02-2013 06:34 AM

A common practice when wanting a pair of fish is to buy several, wait for a pair to form, and then either sell the others or take them back to the lfs. That being said, out of the 6 rams I have had (2 at a time) only once did they not pair off and spawn. If you aren't looking to raise fry, though, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. My one pair that didn't spawn shared the tank peacefully, and I wasn't wanting to breed them, so I didn't really care if they paired off or not.

As for 2 pairs in a 29, that might be pushing it. I think I remember reading that you want around 20 gallons a pair, to keep them from fighting each other. Different people have different results, though. If you put them in a very heavily planted tank that breaks up line of sight, or if you get lucky and get laid back fish, then it could work.

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