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Old 03-18-2013, 04:13 AM   #1
dkreef
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Starting Large Planted Aquarium...Need advice!


So having kept every kind of aquarium for 2 decades including, cichlids, saltwater fish, reef, etc...i am now going full on plant tank.

i am going to use my 265gal (84"L x 30" W x 24"T) previous custom reef thank and turn it into a plant aquarium. its currently empty.
Under this tank i have 120gal custom sump w/ 3 sections and mid section of ~60gal is all bioballs. inside sump is 18W UV sterilizer.
tank has 3600gph Dart return pump and 4x54W T5 lights in 12" tall canopy.(used to have 3 x 250W MHs but got rid of it)

so i need to think about what things i need to purchase before setting this up.
i rather go low tech without CO2 if possible and just use good substrates and regular dosing of fertilizer such as Flourite.

I am thinking of getting 400lbs of Safe-T-Sorb substrates to get 3" layer.
also if needed, would like to add another 4x54W T5 as well.
my plan is hundreds of cardinal tetras, 50 rummynose, some roseline, some other ones like rainbow fish, rams, angels and discus maybe.

My questions are do i really need Co2 in a tank this size?
is my sump filtration with 60gal of bioballs and UV sterilizer sufficient for filtration system?
how much more lighting do i need?
do i need to cycle this tank if i get 50% of my plants first day?
what kind of plants will do well and good for this tank?

Any other suggestions would be appreciated.

i also need help on aquascape advice...thanks!
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Old 03-18-2013, 04:41 AM   #2
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Wow - that's a tall order of questions.
But it`s a super-sized tank and I admire your guts for giving it a go, especially in a planted, low-tech (No CO2) environment, with DISCUS, if you go that route (and I would encourage that) !
- Your sump and UV sterilizer will be welcome and effective additives.
- And your T5 lighting as stated (assuming it`s H0) should be A-OK.
- Don`t add any more lighting, if you`re not planning on CO2 usage.
- Make sure (by testing) that your tank is cycled first, before adding any livestock, no matter how well the tank is planted.
- Plants: A good array that should do well in low-tech, even higher temp tank, include any Echinodorus (Swords), Hygros, Rotalas, Bacopas, Ludwigias, Crypts, Anubias, Java Ferns, Nymphaeas, Vals, Sags, & others.
- Substrate: Best imo, for that-sized, low-tech tank, and if keeping discus, I would suggest pool filter sand, using root tab ferts.
Tankmates for a discus community tank: be careful of rainbows & roselines - not particularly good discus mates.
PM me if you feel I can be of any further help.
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Old 03-18-2013, 05:02 AM   #3
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i was planning on fishless cycle but since reading cycling plant tanks in this forum, many say there is not need to do cycling in planted tank.
im confused...
so do i cycle then add plants and fish?

btw, discus wont be my main fish im after. i may keep few but i want this tank to be low maintenance as possible.
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Old 03-18-2013, 05:08 AM   #4
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You don't need CO2 in that size tank if you're going low tech. CO2 is always helpful for plants though.

I'm assuming that your fixture is 4 feet long. Being that your tank is 7 feet wide, I would worry about the coverage. That intensity should be good (possibly too much) for the parts that it hits though.

Always need to cycle, the plants just help. For that tank, swords, vals, crypts, and low light stem plants would be a good start.

I like the call on the Safe-t-sorb, both for the looks and the price. Not to mention it being high in CEC.

Good luck with the tank! Its got some cool dimensions.
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Old 03-18-2013, 05:30 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dkreef View Post
i was planning on fishless cycle but since reading cycling plant tanks in this forum, many say there is not need to do cycling in planted tank.
im confused...
so do i cycle then add plants and fish?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dkreef View Post
btw, discus wont be my main fish im after. i may keep few but i want this tank to be low maintenance as possible.
There MAY NOT be a need to cycle if you first set up a fully planted tank .... BUT, that depends on the size of tank, how heavily or lightly planted it is, how low the initial fauna bio-load is - and other factors. It`s iffy, and a risk, and you`d need to monitor the params, by daily testing, to make sure you`re ok, if you want to add fish right off the start, without doing a fishless cycle first.
And, if you want the tank to be as low maintenance as possible, (even though that can be done with discus) and especially if discus would not be your main focus and concern, but only a secondary `add-in item`, then I respectfully suggest you shouldn`t even consider keeping discus.
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Old 03-18-2013, 05:34 AM   #6
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what are low light stem plants? names?
any red plants that will do well in low light or my tank?
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Old 03-18-2013, 01:04 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dkreef View Post
what are low light stem plants? names?
any red plants that will do well in low light or my tank?
This is were you would be better off starting(plants you like) vs, worrying about equipment. I suggest you look at the ADA contest pics for the large tank division.

http://showcase.aquatic-gardeners.org/2012/index0f.html

Get and idea of the plants you like, then reach their requirements. Once you get a basic idea of what you like, then ask more specific questions. You'll get more out of the hobby if your are not "spoon feed".

Consider fauna & flora from the same part of the world as they will have the same requirements.

Last edited by DogFish; 03-19-2013 at 04:15 AM.. Reason: content
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Old 03-18-2013, 04:36 PM   #8
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Think about how you want the tank to look and get your hardscape settled before anything. A large tank with just low light plants could be kind of flat looking, put the same tolerant plants amongst and on wood and rocks and you have something special.

Crypts come in various colors, you may not pull actual red out of them but brown red is nice. Look into Green Gecko crypt and the various wendtii varieties.

When you look through the AGA contest tanks look at the smaller tank sections too, some of them look like much larger tanks!

There are a couple of stems that are fine in lower light. Check the lush low tech tank thread in the low tech forum for ideas.
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Old 03-18-2013, 05:50 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dkreef View Post
...1 - My questions are do i really need Co2 in a tank this size?
2 - is my sump filtration with 60gal of bioballs and UV sterilizer sufficient for filtration system?
3 - how much more lighting do i need?
4 - do i need to cycle this tank if i get 50% of my plants first day?
5 - what kind of plants will do well and good for this tank?

Any other suggestions would be appreciated.

i also need help on aquascape advice...thanks!
1 - No. The thread that Kathyy referred to proves this. http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...ad.php?t=99729

2 - I think 60 gallons of filter would be plenty.

3 - Dunno.

4 - Yes. Fishless cycling is the best way to go. It is possible to s l o w l y add a fish per day with a fully planted tank, but I don't think you get to the final population any faster that way and there iwll still be ammonia risks.

5 - Experiment to learn the answer. My low tech large tank does not include much from the original plan of easier plants. That is just how the tank has worked out, that is how my terrrestrial garden worked out, and it may be that way for you too.
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Old 03-18-2013, 06:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
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so do i cycle then add plants and fish?
First you'd set up the substrate and hardscape (wood and rocks), and then plant the tank. I find it's very helpful to have a good amount of plants on hand before you start planting a new tank. Put in just enough water to make the substrate damp, and then plant all the plants before filling it up. There's no need to cycle before adding plants, and planting a filled tank is very difficult, especially in a tank of that size.

As for stem plants, Rotala rotundifolia and Hygrophila sp. "Sunset" both do well in low tech conditions and will turn a nice orange once they get close enough to the light.
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Old 03-18-2013, 10:22 PM   #11
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For a red plant I have heard ludwigia red sp. does ok in low light. I am going to get some to try when the weather gets nice here. In my low light tank I have hygrophila difformis and what I think is some kind of ludwigia as the stem plants. I also have java fern, boblitis, and annubias attached to driftwood and some swords.
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Old 03-18-2013, 11:26 PM   #12
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so after i add plants then fill up tank, do i need to cycle the tank?
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Old 03-19-2013, 01:24 AM   #13
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Yes. There is no shortcut method for cycling an aquarium.
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Old 03-19-2013, 04:40 AM   #14
dkreef
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also how do i go about filling a tank this size with plants initially?
people say its best to buy from people in this forum due to cheap cost and rare plants but for initial loading of tank with majority of plants i want, where do i go about?
Im looking to add easy ones like ones u guys mentioned above. swords, java ferns, carpet grass, cryps, anubias, etc...
online? LFS? suggestions...?
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Old 03-19-2013, 05:25 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by dkreef View Post
also how do i go about filling a tank this size with plants initially?
people say its best to buy from people in this forum due to cheap cost and rare plants but for initial loading of tank with majority of plants i want, where do i go about?
Im looking to add easy ones like ones u guys mentioned above. swords, java ferns, carpet grass, cryps, anubias, etc...
online? LFS? suggestions...?



I'd suggest you slow down and do some research. I'd tell you to find 3 sp. of plants with same requirements for water and lighting that you like. Set up tank up for their needs. THEN, start networking here. There are not a lot of online vendors with unblemished records in dealing with this community. Fancy websites and claims of 'family business' don't guarantee ethical practices.

I hope you stay with us and you build a great planted tank. Try to keep in mind this hobby is about growing plants not shopping for plants.
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