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Old 02-10-2008, 04:07 AM   #1
Myka
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Please help me setup my 40


Please help me setup my 40 breeder.

It will be my first planted tank, although I am neck deep in reef tanks, and have lots of experience with freshwater as well.

I have been reading lots on here, but can't seem to really find basic info...? Like whether I should run a sump or not. I'd like a sump, but have reads bit n pieces about a sump not being good on a low-tech tank...? Anyone care to elaborate on that please?

I plan to stock the tank to the brim with either just Cardinal Tetras, or I may add a couple larger Tetras to compliment. I hope to find some Amano shrimp, and Blood shrimp I think they're called. Now sure how many I should get...? I think I might use only moss plants, but may decide to add some others.

Those little brown snails that come with plants often...are they good or bad? If they are bad, how do you get rid of them?

For filtration, how many gph should I have? I was thinking I may go for a Rena canister, but would rather use the AquaClear 50 that I already have...would that work? Would it suck? HAHA! Other than floss, what medias should I use? Do I even need a filter? Or do I just need powerheads?

For lighting I was going to go with 2x 39w Tek T5 lights...enough light? Too much light?

What about substrate? Is the RedSea Flora Base any good? It's the only one I've seen in the stores here. Otherwise I'll have to order online.

My understanding with low-tech tanks is no waterchanges and no fertilizer. Is that correct? What about supply water? I have an RO/DI unit for my reef tanks, should I use that? I have Kent RO Right, should I use that? What about pH buffer? Or just plain RO/DI? Or should I use tap water treated with Start Right? My tap water is 92 ppm tds.

What's a good low-tech basic startup website?? Might help this abundance of questions...hahaha!
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Old 02-10-2008, 07:12 AM   #2
skabooya
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Hello fellow British Columbian
To answer your questions:

No you do not need a sump with any sort of fw setup. It wont add anything extra to what you already have.

Because your planning on small tetras (cardinals) you could do 40 of them in that tank. Or because your wanting some shrimpies you can lower the number of cardinals to 20 or 30 to make matenance easier.

Most people dont want snails in their tank because they breed so easily. If there isint enough algae in the tank for them they can and will start feasting on your plants. A loach can sometimes help by eating the snails or you can manually remove them, or both. But a loach might eat your shrimp.

I have an AC50 on my 32gal tank and I really like it. Easy to clean too
Having a filter is always a good thing on a tank. It helps out with all that good bacteria. In my AC50 i have a sponge and some bioballs. Thats it. During start up when the water was cloudy i had only floss in there to take out the fine particles. Carbon will only be put in there to take out any meds i may put in the tank.

Your lighting sounds fine to me. It may be pushing it on light intensity. You might need to dose. I say that because you have a breeder tank which is longer than a typical 40gal tank. Thus your lights will be closer to the substrate then normal.

Ive read flora base is pretty good. Do a search on it here. If its all you can find though then thats that. But still; look around here for yourself.

Ive been doing low tech for over 13 years and ive always dosed, just not as much. I typically dose when i remember. Maybe once every two weeks or once a month. In low tech tanks with lower light levels plants uptake of nutrients is much slower. I do have one tank in which i dont dose at all but it just has java ferns and java moss and is very mature. I dose NPK (its all in one bottle from the lfs), iron (to help bring out a pink or red colour of plants), and maybe some flourish excel... maybe. Again im not religious about it and Ive gone months without dosing before.
Waterchanges are always important but you just dont need to do it weekly. My 20gal gets 20-25% once a month or once every other month (im pretty lazy about it). My 32 is going to get the same treatment but im going to be more religious about it because im going to have some sensitive fish in there that like clean water. And on my 4 gal ive changed the water twice in 6 months *shock*.
I use tap water straight out of the tap... mind you my water is amazing and I mean discus quality water and even more saltwater quality water. Everyone I know that does saltwater uses tap water from here and has little to no algae problem. But seariously, most people you talk to here use tap water. No worries it will be fine. Just add some aqua clear.
Most places in BC have awsome water anyway so i wouldnt be worried.

Hope I helped a little.
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Old 02-11-2008, 02:37 AM   #3
Myka
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Wow! Thanks for all your !!!

The tap water here isn't good enough for discus or reef tanks...has some phosphates in it. I have struggled with HTH and LLE with my Oscar, and I have tried everything for him. I finally switched to RO water treated with buffer and RO Right (pain in the butt to mix it up!), and it seems to have made a difference. I could always try tap water in the beginning and see how it works.

I saw some Butterfly Rams at the pet store that were very pretty. I'll have to look them up to see if they'll be good in the tank. I know I want to have a good school of Cardinals though. Some Killifish would be really nice to have.

The only reason I am wanting a sump is to hide the filter input/outputs, and the heater. Heaters are so ugly in the tank I think! I bet they are easier to hide in a planted tank though...I could put it way down near the substrate.

I think I might order from Big Als' Online to get some substrate. They have Flourite (red, dark, or black) 15lbs for $30, and Eco-Complete 20lbs for $35. Seems expensive though...? Looks like I should get about 2" substrate if I add 2 bags Eco-Complete and 1 bag Flourite. Sound good?

For snails, does that Aquarium Pharmaceuticals "Had-A-Snail" work? I could dip the plants before putting them in the tank maybe?
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Old 02-11-2008, 05:08 AM   #4
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The great thing about tap water is it has "stuff" in it that plants love. So yea i would try it out. RO water has nothing in it which plants arent a fan of. You will need to do some major dosing with that. If you are really worried i would mix your RO with tap using more tap than RO.

I have butterfly rams aka german blue rams in my tank. 2 in my 32. In your tank i would recommend no more than 3 maybe 4 if your lucky. In my size tank i am allowed 2 maybe 3 (apistogramma.com)
They are great with tetras.

If you want the sump to hide all that stuff then sure go for it. It really wont make any difference thats why people dont typically use them. And yes your right the plants do eventually hide all unsightly equiptment.

Ive heard good things from big als. Personally i ordered from aquariumplants.com it was cheaper but then again I didnt compare the shipping costs. And no that price isint expensive. Its average. My lfs wanted $74 per bag of flourite.
Yes 3 bags sounds good I bought 4 for my 32 and it is A LOT of substrate; but i wanted a large slope.

Ive never seen or tried "Had-A-Snail" maybe someone else on here has.
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Old 02-11-2008, 05:52 AM   #5
dekstr
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Hello fellow Canadian,

So much text here makes me sleepier while studying for exams.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Myka View Post
I have been reading lots on here, but can't seem to really find basic info...?
Go to Rex Grigg's website, www.rexgrigg.com for all your planted tank care information.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Myka View Post
Like whether I should run a sump or not. I'd like a sump, but have reads bit n pieces about a sump not being good on a low-tech tank...? Anyone care to elaborate on that please?
Sump would be nice but not neccessary for a successful planted tank. I don't know why it would be bad for a low-tech tank, doesn't seem to be a problem. A sump is just extra water in the system from what I know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Myka View Post
I hope to find some Amano shrimp, and Blood shrimp I think they're called. Now sure how many I should get...? I think I might use only moss plants, but may decide to add some others.
I haven't heard of blood shrimp. Amano shrimp yes. Maybe you meant cherry shrimp? They are great algae/detritus eaters, makes for great clean-up crew. Also, look into keeping a bunch of oto cats (otocinclus sp.) as they are almost in every planted tank because of their great algae-eating ability on certain types of algae.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Myka View Post
Those little brown snails that come with plants often...are they good or bad? If they are bad, how do you get rid of them?
This is a debated topic. People do not like them because snails are prolific breeders and when left alone, can easily take over a tank within 1-2 months, making an unsightly scene. However, they are very effective detritus/algae eaters. My own opinion is that snails are good for planted tanks when their population are kept in check. It would not be a good idea to use chemicals to kill the snails. Most snail-killing chemicals will probably adversely hurt other inverts (like shrimp) as well. They are impossible to remove physically, but you can net them out or introduce a loach to eat them. You can also try a puffer, but I have read that they are very destructive little fish. Excess snail population is also a good indication of overfeeding.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Myka View Post
For filtration, how many gph should I have? I was thinking I may go for a Rena canister, but would rather use the AquaClear 50 that I already have...would that work? Would it suck? HAHA! Other than floss, what medias should I use? Do I even need a filter? Or do I just need powerheads?
A filter is needed for water movement and removing debris. Also, even though plants are natural biological filters, biological filtration in your filter media is needed. In terms of filter media type, you can use a lot of things. Carbon is not used permanently because it adsorbs organic materials, which plants might need. But it is useful for removing tannins, heavy metals, clearing medication, etc. One thing many people overlook is water flow/movement in the tank. Plants can slow water movement a lot, and you want good water flow to keep nutrients moving for all the plants. If you have CO2 injected, you do not want to agitate the water surface too much as CO2 gas may gas out, but still have enough for good oxygen exchange. Powerheads are great for added water movement for the "dead" zones.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Myka View Post
For lighting I was going to go with 2x 39w Tek T5 lights...enough light? Too much light?
Lighting amount depends on your goals. You don't need very high light to have a successful tank. High light means you will need CO2 injection, and things can go downhill faster in high-light tanks. A general rule of thumb is the watts per gallon rule (# of watts lighting / # of gallons of water). 3+ wpg is considered high light, less than 1 or 1.5wpg is considered lower light.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Myka View Post
What about substrate? Is the RedSea Flora Base any good? It's the only one I've seen in the stores here. Otherwise I'll have to order online.
A good investment here will go a long way. But people have had success in a variety of different substrates. Other popular choices include SeaChem Flourite, Schultz Aquatic Soil, ADA aquasoil, Caribsea EcoComplete. Common silica sand, pool-filter sand, smaller-sized aquarium gravel can work too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Myka View Post
My understanding with low-tech tanks is no waterchanges and no fertilizer. Is that correct? What about supply water? I have an RO/DI unit for my reef tanks, should I use that? I have Kent RO Right, should I use that? What about pH buffer? Or just plain RO/DI? Or should I use tap water treated with Start Right? My tap water is 92 ppm tds.
Plants are highly adaptable to a variety of water parameters. Don't worry too much about pH, GH. You will need at least some buffering capacity (around 4+ degrees KH) to keep pH stable. Most important thing is stability. Pure RO is not needed as it doesn't contain any nutrients the plant might need. Regular tapwater is fine. However, RO can be reconstituted w/ salts, electrolytes, etcetera, or mixed w/ tapwater. Don't worry about tapwater, plants will adjust, but they need time to adjust, so keeping parameters stable is more important than an "ideal" level.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Myka View Post
What's a good low-tech basic startup website?? Might help this abundance of questions...hahaha!
http://www.barrreport.com/articles/4...2-methods.html
Probably as much as you need to know about low-tech setups.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Myka View Post
The only reason I am wanting a sump is to hide the filter input/outputs, and the heater. Heaters are so ugly in the tank I think! I bet they are easier to hide in a planted tank though...I could put it way down near the substrate.

I think I might order from Big Als' Online to get some substrate. They have Flourite (red, dark, or black) 15lbs for $30, and Eco-Complete 20lbs for $35. Seems expensive though...? Looks like I should get about 2" substrate if I add 2 bags Eco-Complete and 1 bag Flourite. Sound good?

For snails, does that Aquarium Pharmaceuticals "Had-A-Snail" work? I could dip the plants before putting them in the tank maybe?
Sump is fine if you really want it. It's not required but it doesn't hurt either.
However, if you do choose no sump, then there are a lot of DIY ideas on this forum for in-line solutions. For example, a great one recently discussed: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/di...eater-56k.html

There's a good substrate amount calculator here: http://www.plantedtank.net/substratecalculator.html

The "had-a-snail" dip could work if you don't want snails.

GOOD LUCK W/ your tank!
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Old 02-11-2008, 06:14 AM   #6
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Thanks so much skabooya and dekstr!!! It seems like I have had to spend many hours researching just to find little tidbits of information here and there, so your input really helps!

So, what gph should I be looking for my filtration, and what gph for powerheads? I have MaxiJets 400 (100 gph) & 1200 (300 gph) & mods (1600gph & 2000gph) for either, as well as a Koralia 2 (850 gph) that I could put in there. One of those must be suitable since that covers everything from 100gph to 2000 gph, both impeller and propeller designs. Haha!

I've decided to go with no sump, and I just painted the back of the tank black. One more coat to go tomorrow. I've also decided to just use treated tap water (I'll use Start Right) unless I find a reason not to once I try it out. I'll test the dKH of my tap water again...I can't remember what it is. I know pH is around 7.8, and 0.1 phosphates. Do phosphates in the source water matter in planted tanks? I know that is very troublesome with reefs!

I want a really low maintenance tank. My reef tank is a lot of maintenance, and it's a pain in the butt. So I don't want plants that will take over and require lots of trimming. On the other hand, I don't want to be struggling with algae problems due to slow growing plants. So I guess I'm trying for a happy medium there. I'm going to put taller plants off to the left half, and then low plants in the right half with a nice piece of low lying driftwood, but I don't want too many varieties of plants for worry I'll have to trim too much due to some being fast growers and taking over the slow growers. Hopefully that will look good. Right now I feel pretty lost when it comes to plant selection, but I am researching all the different ones. I guess I should just go to my LFSs and figure out what's available first...!

Regarding plants...do they add to the bioload like fish do in that you need to add them slow? Or should I jam my tank full right away to prevent algaes? I'm worried about spending $200 on plants and having them all melt in the first week! Also, what first - fish or plants?

I think I should jam the tank full, and wait a bit for the tank to settle (a few weeks?), then slowly start to stock with fish?
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Old 02-11-2008, 06:42 AM   #7
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I'd recommend a canister filter over a sump- you can customize your media more to suit your water chemistry needs. Phosphates could encourage algae; Seachem makes a product you could add to your filter to combat it, if needed. You can also use an inline heater with a canister, to reduce equipment in your tank.

As far as plants go- plant from the very start, cram as many as you can in- especially fast-growing stem plants that will out-compete algae. This also helps you see which plants end up best suited for YOUR tank and YOUR aquascaping taste; every plant does a little differently in a different tank. You need to expect your plants to melt; 1) alot of the plants you buy will have been grown emersed and the old growth will die off to be replaced with new submerged growth, 2) plants typically go through a die-off and new growth every time they are moved 3) there's always trial and error involved every time you try out a new plant in your system. Plants first before fish to help you cycle, and I'd recommend fishless cycling with the plants in place.

Price out substrate at your LFS's- online shipping charges can be a killer! If your LFS doesn't carry FW substrate (mine often don't) they still might order some for you with their next SeaChem (makes Flourite) or CaribSea (makes EcoComplete) shipment- just about every LFS carries some of their products. Substrate shouldn't run you more than $1-2/lb, IMO. If you want to go cheaper, Schultz Aquatic Soil or Turface are good options; there's a whole forum in here just on substrates!

You don't need anything gph-wise in a FW like you do in a saltwater. 3x-5x/hour is a gracious plenty unless you're setting up a fastwater tank for specific fastwater fish species. Personally I don't care for powerheads at all- they push my taller plants around and I find them annoying. You can do without them alltogether in a tank your size, if you like. (Just the spray bar from a canister return is enough water movement for me; but that's just me.)

If you want a low maintenance tank, then you need to shoot for 2wpg or lower with your lighting.

Personally I like snails in my tanks- but I like controlling what species. I'm planning on using a potassium permanganate dip from now on with all the new plants I add to my tanks. It's cheap, pretty safe (messy! lol) and will kill algae, snails, and other unwanteds.

Keep the questions coming! lol
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Old 02-11-2008, 08:48 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Myka View Post
Thanks so much skabooya and dekstr!!! It seems like I have had to spend many hours researching just to find little tidbits of information here and there, so your input really helps!

So, what gph should I be looking for my filtration, and what gph for powerheads? I have MaxiJets 400 (100 gph) & 1200 (300 gph) & mods (1600gph & 2000gph) for either, as well as a Koralia 2 (850 gph) that I could put in there. One of those must be suitable since that covers everything from 100gph to 2000 gph, both impeller and propeller designs. Haha!

... Do phosphates in the source water matter in planted tanks? I know that is very troublesome with reefs!

Regarding plants...do they add to the bioload like fish do in that you need to add them slow? Or should I jam my tank full right away to prevent algaes? I'm worried about spending $200 on plants and having them all melt in the first week! Also, what first - fish or plants?

I think I should jam the tank full, and wait a bit for the tank to settle (a few weeks?), then slowly start to stock with fish?
I am not sure about the gallon per hour. But generally it is much less than reef setups. I think 7-10x flow per hour is good (but it can be lower). It is a really good idea to have more filtering capacity than you actually need. This way, as the filter gets less efficient w/ mulm buildup, you still get good filtration. I am not sure if phosphates have an effect on plants. However, I remember reading one of Tom Barr's post where he tried to induce algae w/ phosphate in controlled experiment--and nothing happened, so he debunked the myth that high phosphate leads to algae.

For my own tank, I use a canister filter (Eheim 2215), I think it's 165ghp or something. Also an aquaclear powerhead. I have actually been thinking of getting a Maxijet powerhead recently! Some people don't like a lot of flow because it messes up their tall plants. But personally, something makes me like adding strong water current. Not so much the tank becomes a mini-tornado, but just steady, good flow like waves on a beach.

Think of plants as little filters, you can add as many as you want right from the start. In fact, it is highly recommended you plant as many plants as you can right from the start. This way, plants will have a head start on algae, outcompeting them for nutrients. Many people forget to plant heavily right from the start.

If you want slow-growing plants w/ few trimmings, anubias, crypts, java fern and mosses would be great. They are very undemanding and slow growers. Generally, all stem plants are very fast growers. They absorb most of their nutrients through the water column, and the roots serve more as an anchor than anything. Why I recommend stuffing a tank full of fast-growing stem plants to start is to get a head start on algae. Your slow growing plants will then have time to catch up on growth before algae has opportunity to take over.

If you're worried about the plants melting away all at once, it's a good idea to just start off with cheap, fast growing stem plants. They propogate easily and you can replant the trimmed plants. That'll only cost a couple of bucks. Afterwards slowly add the more delicate or expensive plants, just in case.
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