A Tank Reborn: Back 3 Years Later for Much Needed Help!
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Old 11-18-2013, 04:05 AM   #1
Saraja87
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A Tank Reborn: Back 3 Years Later for Much Needed Help!


Ladies and gents, it has been a long, long time. I'm not sure if the same people who used to frequent this forum are still here, but if you are, hello!

Through an unfortunate series of events, my poor aquarium has fallen into quite the state of disrepair. Filters broke, bulbs died, chillers ceased to function, things happened and my broke college self couldn't keep up. Now, three years later, the tank sits, half full and shameful, with a handful of my remaining fish, some persistent java fern and a large ball of algae. It's been neglected for so long that I can't really call it an aquarium anymore.

Given the present state of things, I have finally decided to start over. I have visions of lovely, lowish maintenance planted tanks with beautiful fish, maybe even discus. However, I've run into a problem. It seems that over the past few years, a number of things have changed. Chiefly, my planted tank knowledge appears to have leaked out my ears. Secondly, there are now a million an one more products on the market! I'm not familiar with any of them and feel a bit lost. I could really use some help and advice.

The beginning:

My old aquarium was a 110 tall. I absolutely loved it, it's a gorgeous show piece but when it comes down to it, it's somewhat impractical as a planted tank. It's too tall to light well, I could never get a decent carpet growing and it's a bit narrow for the type of scape I wanted. It's also a glass tank, and since I live in earthquake land, I would like an acrylic tank to be on the safe side. I think I'm ready to let this beauty go to a new home and am planning on replacing it with a tank of similar size but slightly different dimensions.

I was thinking of a 120, with a footprint of 48x24x24. I like the length, it gives me a bit more depth and it's not as tall. I would be having it custom made so that I could avoid those teensy tiny top openings that make it impossible to get your arms in. I would also be having the stand and canopy custom made since I can barely get my filter through the door on my current stand. It hasn't been cleaned in ages. Shame on me.

I am also hoping to make my life a bit easier with this tank. I used to run through my CO2 like crazy, and dose EI every day by hand. I'd like this tank to be a bit more laid back, or a bit more automated. Ideally I wont have to prune it every other day but I'll still be able to achieve a lush full look. Or at least I can dream.

At this moment, I don't even remember half of the things that are on my aquarium. Apparently people don't use PCs anymore so new lighting is clearly in order. My chiller is fairly new so that's good, my my FX5 is solid, and I think that's about where it ends.

The next step:

Here is where I need to beg some help. The husband is buying the new tank (or agreeing to me buying it for myself) for the holidays. I have somewhat of a one shot at this and I don't want to get it wrong. Due to some medical problems on both our ends, we are going to be spending a great deal of money in the future on medical procedures. Those procedures will hopefully result in distractions that will make a super hands on high maintenance tank impractical, but either way I won't have another opportunity like this for at least 10 years. I need to design a fairly hands off tank with equipment that should be built to last. 3-5 years ago this would have been no problem, but today I don't even recognize half the brands on the market.

Here's what I've got so far:
- Plans for a new 120, acrylic, 48x24x24. I'd like to have a fan built into the stand so that my chiller can sit inside it. Plumbing undecided though I'm leaning towards having it plumbed at this moment because my current hoses keep my aquarium from being flush against the wall. I'd like the canopy front to flip up so I can get my arms in.
- 1/3HP JBJ chiller
- FX5
- 5lb CO2 bottle, I think my regulator is trashed
- Four 65watt PCs and two 48" T5s. I think I'd like to go LED but am not sure which to get
- Left over ferts, excel, etc.

I think I need...
- A new reactor
- A new UV sterilizer
- A new heater
- LEDs
- A Regulator
- New substrate
- Some plumbing advice
- An auto top off system? maybe?
- An automatic doser? maybe?

Please my friends, I beg your help. I'm on a bit of a time crunch since this is a "holiday" gift and don't feel like I have enough time to sufficiently research everything. It wasn't until this afternoon that I even remembered I had a UV sterilizer on my tank, at which point I went oh crap, I am no where near qualified to do this without help.

As far as budget goes, the lower the number, the happier the husband. I'm not sure what is reasonable for a lot of this new equipment, but we'd like to keep things as inexpensive as possible without sacrificing quality.

A favorite shot of my old tank. Also, proof I'm not a complete idiot even though I know I sound like one.



Here's my old tank, back in her glory days: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...ad.php?t=49888
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Old 11-18-2013, 12:46 PM   #2
carpalstunna
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I agree lighting a 24 inch tank can be a challenge but LED have come a long way. I am lighting a 24" deep tank with 2 finnex LED fixtures and I am getting almost too much light in certain areas. So you can do it and quite affordably actually. (finnex is your best budget option IMHO)

Im not sure about your leftover ferts and excel. I do think they go bad eventually.

Skip the autodoser and auto top off right now unless you want to really make it rain.

I use a cheap singlestage regulator and dont have a problem but there are obviously much better options here on the site.

I like ecocomplete for substrate, it works well, looks nice and is affordable and readily available (can be found on sale quite frequently)

Reactor I just changed from an inline atomizer to a istamix reactor and I am very happy. Also its cheap.

Heater I like jagers good price pretty reliable, I would go with 2 smaller heaters for a tank that size.



Stick with lower lights, lower CO2 and lower ferts. If things are balanced it will still look good and not promote CO2 but will be lower maintenance. Also will save you money
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Old 11-18-2013, 09:56 PM   #3
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Thank you for the suggestions! I loved my high maintenance tank but it will be nice to do something that requires a little less work and money

I am so looking forward to a 24" tank instead of my 36" one. I think I really needed halides for the 110 but I never pulled the trigger on them. For this tank I am leaning towards LEDs, and maybe my two T5s? since power compacts are no more. I'd love to not have to replace bulbs over and over again so I will look into Finnex. I see people using a lot of different color combinations on the site which is really interesting, I always used 6700, 10000 and some german pink bulbs. Now I see all sorts of blues and purples which I wouldn't expect on a planted tank.

I just poked around with my regulator last night and one of the dials appears to be broken. The needle is stuck somewhere in the middle, which I think I could get around if the bubble counters worked. Unfortunately, I had it split so I could feed into two sides of the tank at once and both my bubble counters are literally broken in half lol. I'm not sure if it would be worth it to try and fix it up a little or just get a whole new one. There are definitely a million and one more options now, I only remember Milwaukee or building your own.

Substrates seem to be another area where things have changed a bit! I am familiar with ecocomplete, although I haven't used it in a big tank, and a lot of the others I would have considered like soil master select is gone. Someone also recommended Aquadirt http://www.aquariumplants.com/Produc...de=SS&CartID=1 which I've never heard of. They all seem to be around the same price point. This one is always a tough sell, it can be difficult to explain why I need $200 worth of dirt!

For large tanks, your options for reactors were a. this cheap little tube thing that didn't work, b. build your own or c. ask Rex to build one for you. On my old tank I modified two little filters, one on either side of the tank, and fed a CO2 line into the impellers. For this tank I assumed I'd be going with a Rex style inline reactor but it seems there are tons more on the market. I'm looking into your istamix now.

I used to have a Jager heater at one point, it's good to hear they're still reliable. I had eventually switched to stealth heaters, which got recalled, and then ended up with a couple pieces of junk.

Quote:
Originally Posted by carpalstunna View Post
I agree lighting a 24 inch tank can be a challenge but LED have come a long way. I am lighting a 24" deep tank with 2 finnex LED fixtures and I am getting almost too much light in certain areas. So you can do it and quite affordably actually. (finnex is your best budget option IMHO)

Im not sure about your leftover ferts and excel. I do think they go bad eventually.

Skip the autodoser and auto top off right now unless you want to really make it rain.

I use a cheap singlestage regulator and dont have a problem but there are obviously much better options here on the site.

I like ecocomplete for substrate, it works well, looks nice and is affordable and readily available (can be found on sale quite frequently)

Reactor I just changed from an inline atomizer to a istamix reactor and I am very happy. Also its cheap.

Heater I like jagers good price pretty reliable, I would go with 2 smaller heaters for a tank that size.



Stick with lower lights, lower CO2 and lower ferts. If things are balanced it will still look good and not promote CO2 but will be lower maintenance. Also will save you money
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Old 11-22-2013, 06:02 AM   #4
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Does anyone else have any suggestions on LEDs? Has any used Finnex LEDs in a canopy? I am also looking at Black Diamond substrate, has anyone used it?
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Old 11-22-2013, 08:04 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saraja87 View Post
Does anyone else have any suggestions on LEDs? Has any used Finnex LEDs in a canopy? I am also looking at Black Diamond substrate, has anyone used it?
For LEDs it came down to finnex or Buildmyled.com for me. I ended up with Buildmyled with finnex I'd of had to go with 2 lights to achieve high light costing 320 bucks, with buildmyled it was 1 light and with a dimmer so I can lower the par if I want, tank mounts, and shipping it came to 313.

I use black blast sandblasting media in all my tanks and love it. Have some MGOCPM (miracle grow organic choice potting mix not sure if you know of it) under it and it works great.

Another option for lighting, if you're going with a canopy you could buy some cheap dome lights and run some CFL bulbs in there. That's what I did until I saved up enough to get LED. Figured I'd toss out the dome light/black blast media as alternatives.

As far as reactors go look up cerge's reactors, cheap, easy to build, and work very well if you have a canister filter or pump. That gauge is a pretty simple item to replace also. I'd let my nephew do it, and I don't even let him walk around with a butter knife O.o
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Old 11-22-2013, 04:48 PM   #6
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For my tank I'm using LED Flood lights. I'm trying out them myself for a new tank i'm starting. A 30w goes for around 35 bucks on amazon or ebay
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