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Old 02-19-2013, 05:46 PM   #1
DefStatic
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New, budget minded user...


So, here I am. I have always been fascinated by planted aquariums. I have three cats who get into everything, so I cannot have any actual plants around my apartment.

A year ago my parents were going to get rid of their 30gal tank they had not used in over 10 years. I snagged it up, with the stand and hood. They had a bunch of accessories but I tossed those.

Just looking for some guidance on starting this up. I am looking to do both plants and fish. I would like to have some cichlids.

Some quick questions:

Should I be afraid to use this tank? I have tested for leaks, and cleaned the heck out of it using some cleaner I got from the pet store.

The hood, the hood is next to unusable. It works, and fits, but I feel like the lighting element is too old (and I mean even with replacing the bulb with something newer). Does anyone have any suggestions? Is it better to use multiple style bulbs? Should I get an actual hood or perhaps one of those hinged covers and then some lights that site slightly aobe the tank by the edges?

Is there a good place to get all the stuff online I need to start?

Please and thanks in advance!
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Old 02-19-2013, 06:32 PM   #2
rileynapalm
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I feel your pain when it comes to cats. Just this morning, one of my cats would not leave the tank on my bedside table alone! I was trying to sleep and he was trying to figure out how to get the fish out.

I think you'd be okay to use the tank. As long as the seals still look good an there's no deterioration, it should probably hold water well.

Next, the hood and lights. What kind of plants are you wanting to grow? Swords do best under medium to high lights, so you'll be needing to provide good light for them to grow well. I've heard people say that their sword plants do just fine under whatever light they have. Do a little reading to see if one species will work better for you. Also, chichlids are known for making a meal out of plants. Plants with smaller leaves tend to not fare very well with cichlids.

I'm a fan of having a glass top with a fixture sitting above it. I just think it looks sharp! However, I don't have deep pockets either and I have a shop light with a Compact Florescent Bulb clamped to the rim of my 15 gallon. The top has been left open. That set up right there cost about $19 dollars.

I almost bought a light from a company called Odyssea because they were rather affordable fixtures. I'm linking you to the site so you can check it out. You'll definitely be in the mid to high light category with these though and need to factor in the potential need of fertilizers.

http://www.aquatraders.com/36-inch-2...re-p/52122.htm

You can search amazon and probably get a cheap all-glass style hood for your tank. But something I'd recommend doing is getting a roll of packing tape and making a big loop of it (sticky side out) and put it on the top of your hoods. Cats HATE getting tape on their paws and it will teach them really quickly not to be on your aquariums. I've done this and had quite a bit of success.

Hopefully this will point you in the right direction!
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Old 02-19-2013, 08:19 PM   #3
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I am not afraid to spend a little money, I am not sure what people here consider budget. I was hoping to get everything started with about $300.

I know from reading, I will need around 60w-80w for lighting.

For plants, I am looking at this list of beginner/easy plants:

http://www.extraplant.us/aquariumplants.html?cat=92

Specifically -
http://www.extraplant.us/aquariumpla...australis.html
http://www.extraplant.us/aquariumpla...-monnieri.html
http://www.extraplant.us/aquariumpla...ria-najas.html

Or anything that site recommends.

I wasn't sure if I could use something like this for a hood (obviously at the correct dimensions):
http://www.petco.com/product/107312/...ium-Cover.aspx

And then have a light like you posted, or any other like it on top. I wasn't sure if the glass would blocked needed energy from the lights, or lessen the effects.
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Old 02-19-2013, 09:34 PM   #4
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As far as the tank is concerned, if it doesn't leak all is well. Silicone lasts for a very long time. The plants you listed will require medium to high light. To better understand lighting check out this sticky. I think a dual T5 HO would be okay for most plants such as the one riley posted. However, I would not use the bulbs that comes with it. I would replace the bulbs with 6500k. I would read quite a bit here before I made any purchases. There are many avenues to research.
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Old 02-19-2013, 09:53 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zorfox View Post
As far as the tank is concerned, if it doesn't leak all is well. Silicone lasts for a very long time. The plants you listed will require medium to high light. To better understand lighting check out this sticky. I think a dual T5 HO would be okay for most plants such as the one riley posted. However, I would not use the bulbs that comes with it. I would replace the bulbs with 6500k. I would read quite a bit here before I made any purchases. There are many avenues to research.
Yeah, I was looking at this:

http://www.aquatraders.com/36-inch-4...re-p/52324.htm

But would that be too much? And yes, also getting rid of 10k lights and using 6.5k.

I have been trying to read everything I can. Never done this before, I have a small book on cuchlids and I believe one on planted aquariums somewhere.
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Old 02-19-2013, 10:19 PM   #6
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Yes it would be too much without a CO2 system. I'm not familiar with that light. Some systems come with lower quality ballasts and do not provide the expected output. However, unless you intend on using CO2 I would go with a dual fixture. Adding CO2 to the fixture you posted would be considered high light IMO. The plants would grow very fast (providing adequate nutrients). If that's what your looking for it would be a nice match. A pressurized CO2 system would eat up your budget however.
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Old 02-20-2013, 01:13 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zorfox View Post
Yes it would be too much without a CO2 system. I'm not familiar with that light. Some systems come with lower quality ballasts and do not provide the expected output. However, unless you intend on using CO2 I would go with a dual fixture. Adding CO2 to the fixture you posted would be considered high light IMO. The plants would grow very fast (providing adequate nutrients). If that's what your looking for it would be a nice match. A pressurized CO2 system would eat up your budget however.

Is CO2 a must? I thought I could get by with just good lighting and nutrients.

The only reason I was looking at that light was the timer and other features. Could I just remove two of the lights and still be good? Or is there a better option around that price?

Really do not want to spend much more than $100 on a light, since I will also spend around $20 on a cover.

Also, saw this, I really like it.

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...ad.php?t=80752

But wow those bulbs seem expensive!

Last edited by DefStatic; 02-20-2013 at 02:21 PM.. Reason: Added info
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Old 02-20-2013, 01:54 PM   #8
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I highly recommend the Finnex Ray 2 led lights. I don't know how much it is for your size tank but I bought the Finnex Fugeray (less powerful than the Ray2) for my 10 gallon tank and I was blown away.
Also I have some CO2 regulators that I'm willing to part. See my post in the NY section of the forum.



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Old 02-20-2013, 03:21 PM   #9
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Actually, these look pretty nice... I guess it is down to these three...

Current USA
http://www.current-usa.com/lighting/nova-extreme-2x

ZooMed
http://www.petco.com/product/111939/...cent-Hood.aspx

AquaLight
http://www.thatpetplace.com/aqualigh...light-fixtures

The advantage of the Current USA one is it looks like it is better and seems to have better reviews, and also comes with decent bulbs stock.
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Old 02-20-2013, 04:05 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DefStatic View Post
Is CO2 a must? I thought I could get by with just good lighting and nutrients.
CO2 is not a must by any means. The only must is BALANCE! Anything in excess will cause problems. Without CO2 and high nutrient levels those lights would most likely cause the algae to overtake your plants.

The high tech methods such as CO2, high lighting, high nutrients etc. cause the plants to grow at an accelerated rate. Low tech aquariums can be striking. It just takes longer to get there without the extras. Both high tech and low tech have one thing in common...BALANCE!

Quote:
Originally Posted by DefStatic View Post
Really do not want to spend much more than $100 on a light, since I will also spend around $20 on a cover.
A cover is not a requirement for the plants. In fact IMO many decrease the PAR. It depends on what inhabitants you will have. It also reduces evaporation. I don't use a cover. My fish have never jumped out and I don't mind topping off the water.
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Old 02-20-2013, 04:10 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zorfox View Post
CO2 is not a must by any means. The only must is BALANCE! Anything in excess will cause problems. Without CO2 and high nutrient levels those lights would most likely cause the algae to overtake your plants.

The high tech methods such as CO2, high lighting, high nutrients etc. cause the plants to grow at an accelerated rate. Low tech aquariums can be striking. It just takes longer to get there without the extras. Both high tech and low tech have one thing in common...BALANCE!



A cover is not a requirement for the plants. In fact IMO many decrease the PAR. It depends on what inhabitants you will have. It also reduces evaporation. I don't use a cover. My fish have never jumped out and I don't mind topping off the water.

That is what I was worried about, is if it reduces the effectiveness of the light. My concern is my cats. Honestly, they have stayed completely off the aquarium as it sits on its stand now, but it is empty.

Also, been reading good stuff about these...

http://www.catalinaaquarium.com/stor...c042309de36307
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Old 02-20-2013, 10:18 PM   #12
CharleeFoxtrot
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Word of advice from my own (nasty) experience. If the tank has been dry that long I would water test it before you get it all set in place. It doesn't take much effort and can save you a lot of hassle.
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Old 02-21-2013, 01:09 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharleeFoxtrot View Post
Word of advice from my own (nasty) experience. If the tank has been dry that long I would water test it before you get it all set in place. It doesn't take much effort and can save you a lot of hassle.
I actually did already. Well, my friend who I originally was going to give it to did. Then it sat for another 6 months dry. Should I test again? I wonder if there is some place I could go to have it redone if there is a problem.
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Old 02-21-2013, 07:44 PM   #14
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I suppose my fisrt steps should be to get a new light, filter, and substrate, and all the normal stuff one would need to start a tank LOL
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Old 02-22-2013, 05:05 PM   #15
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Yes, your first step is definitely to get a new light, filter, and substrate. But as others have said, there are approximately as many ways to set up a planted tank as there are people out there who have planted tanks.

As someone said previously, the most important thing for controlling algae growth is having your light and CO2 in balance. Do you want to do no CO2? Then you need low light. You could do DIY CO2 (yeast mixture in a pop bottle) but your tank is about the biggest size that that can be effective. And you still would probably want to stay with low light with that option, maybe medium light. Or you could go fancy with pressurized CO2 and a regulator and high light. With each option I listed, you can have lush, beautiful plant growth. It is just that with low light, it is SLOW growth and you must be very patient.

Although someone out there has had success with just about every type of plant in low light environments, it is definitely true that certain types of plants (generally, those that grow slowly to begin with) are better suited to a low light tank.

And then, say you want to do a low light tank. Do you want to do a Walstad style, "El Natural" tank with little light and no filters or fertilizers? Or a variant on this method, with mineralized topsoil substrate but you might have filters and fertilizers ("dirt tank")? Or get some kind of substrate designed to be beneficial for plants (there are many) and add extra fertilizers? Or you could say, forget all that, I'm going to provide all of the fertilizers myself, and go with an ultra-cheap inert substrate (pool filter sand, Black Diamond, there are many others). And I'm pretty new at all of this, so those are just the options I know something about.

Or perhaps the level of techiness of the tank does not matter to you. Maybe what you think is really great is the FISH. Or shrimp?? And there is a specific species of livestock that you want to make your tank ideally suited for. Or perhaps you want a tank with all of the plant and fish species from a certain region of the world (biotope).

Sorry. Did not mean to scare you. It is just that there are tons of options. And they all can work. So i would recommend doing a little research (this forum is a GREAT place for that!) and deciding a few things about style of tank that appeal to you. The forum is a great source of information. After you have a bit better idea of where you are trying to go with the tank, then you will have more specific questions that are easier for us to answer. And, once you get a few things set up, it is also a great place to purchase plants. Most people in the Sell/Trade section sell plants for much cheaper than other online stores. However, if you are looking for something very specific, its a bit harder to get it that way.
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