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Old 03-29-2003, 01:24 AM   #1
Moebius
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After hours and hours and hours of researching this and other great websites, I am trying to decide the layout of my next planted tank setup. I have had aquariums off and on for over 30 years, but not until recently have I explored a more natural setup in regards to plants.

I feel if I am going to do it, then do it right.

Let me tell you what I am after: I am looking at aquariums in the range of 40 - 75 gallons, where the end result I want a more of an Amano style aquarium. I love finely leaved plants/moss/driftwood with total ground cover. Alex Fan's 160l at http://www.aquahobby.net/tanks/tank0212.html is the look I would love to achieve. I would also like an irregular landscape with the substrate in the back corners of the tank elevated via driftwood "walls". I don't know if I will go all out financially (no fluorite, compact fluorescents, or heating coils), but I am sure I will spend over $1000. Now a few questions as to best achieve that result.

1) Tank: Started wanting a standard 55 gallon, but then looked at 75 gallon and a 40 gallon "Breeder" (16" tall). For those of you who have a 55 gallon, do you wish you had the greater depth of the 75 gallon? Also, I saw the 40 gallon had a shorter water column, which would mean more light to my proposed ground cover?

2) Will probably get commercial T-8's about 2.5 watts/gallon. Do I need more with my proposed ground cover? If I go with the 40 gallon, will my needs be significantly less?
Anyone know of a good online source for T-8 strip lighting that will meet my purpose. I am willing to spend some here, but don't know if I need compacts

3) Filter - sold on the Filstar XP series through comments on this site

4) CO2: will purchase CO2 injection kit and powered reactor (probably customaquatics setup). Have seen some good suggestions for this on this site. Initially was going to go DIY, but if I am going to do it, do it right.

5) Substrate: sand/laterite granules in lower third, sand/gravel above that. Any better suggestions besides the more expensive option fluorite?

6) Fish: Secondary concern, but will be mostly SAE's, many small tetras, and shrimp

I would like to have a photo diary of this setup from start to finish on this site if possible. I know I am starting big, but have much fish experience and a degree in Biology/Chemistry, so that element does not scare me. I know with your suggestions and experience I will do just fine.

Ken Nelson
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Old 03-31-2003, 03:13 PM   #2
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Ken, you are gonna be so hooked on this hobby, hahahaha.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moebius
Alex Fan's 160l at http://www.aquahobby.net/tanks/tank0212.html is the look I would love to achieve.
Me too! Seriously. My tank has evolved a great deal over the past year and a large open space with a low foreground with lush Dutch-style stem growth along the back is what I'm now heading towards.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moebius
1) Tank: Started wanting a standard 55 gallon, but then looked at 75 gallon and a 40 gallon "Breeder" (16" tall). For those of you who have a 55 gallon, do you wish you had the greater depth of the 75 gallon? Also, I saw the 40 gallon had a shorter water column, which would mean more light to my proposed ground cover?
Glad you're giving this a lot of thought. I've got a 55g that I've had for many years, but if I could do it over again, I'd definitely do the 75g. The 40 breeder also is an excellent option. It's just very difficult (not impossible, just somewhat frustrating) to achieve good depth from front to back on a 55. A 40 will be no less difficult, but being shorter in overall height will make it easier to light foreground plants and achieve a nice slope.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moebius
2) Will probably get commercial T-8's about 2.5 watts/gallon. Do I need more with my proposed ground cover? If I go with the 40 gallon, will my needs be significantly less?
Anyone know of a good online source for T-8 strip lighting that will meet my purpose. I am willing to spend some here, but don't know if I need compacts
A set of four 4' T8's will grow just about any foreground plant in a 40g breeder (3.2 wpg), some foregrounds in a 55g (2.3 wpg, much taller) and very few in a 75g (1.7wpg, also tall). So if you want to simply stick with the economical commercial lighting option, then go with the 40g.
If you want the added floor space of a 75g, I would build a canopy with four 55w power compacts with this kit:
Item # 30554: $124.99
With these bulbs:
Item # 15564: $18.99 x 2
All in all, that lighting setup will cost less than $200, even with the materials to build a wood canopy (excellent instructions on that site).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moebius
4) CO2: will purchase CO2 injection kit and powered reactor (probably customaquatics setup). Have seen some good suggestions for this on this site. Initially was going to go DIY, but if I am going to do it, do it right.
Excellent. A reliable CO2 source will make this hobby a lot less frustrating and a heck of a lot more enjoyable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moebius
5) Substrate: sand/laterite granules in lower third, sand/gravel above that. Any better suggestions besides the more expensive option fluorite?
Sand/laterite lower and sand/gravel above that will work great.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moebius
I would like to have a photo diary of this setup from start to finish on this site if possible. I know I am starting big, but have much fish experience and a degree in Biology/Chemistry, so that element does not scare me. I know with your suggestions and experience I will do just fine.
Definitely follow up on this! We need more new tank diaries, showing the progression from start to finish. It is a great encouragement for newcomers, intimidated by the established tanks with lush growth.

And last of all, welcome!
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Old 03-31-2003, 05:25 PM   #3
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I will start out by telling you that it's not uncommon to spend $15-$20 a gallon setting up a complete high tech planted tank.

I have a 55 gallon and wish I had a 75 gallon. I would suggest that you use Flourite as a substrate and be done with it. The cost of the Flourite when compared to the total cost of the tank is not much. I would also suggest that you head on over to www.ahsupply.com and get CF kits. You will be glad you did. Their reflectors make a world of difference in how much usable light actually gets into the tank. You can have all the light in the world above the tank but if it doesn't get into the tank it's not doing you any good.

On the tank sizes you are looking at DIY CO2 is almost impossible to make work. If you look around you can get a CO2 setup for around $100-$125 complete. You actually need a tank, regulator, needle valve, bubble counter and reactor. You can build your own bubble counter and reactor for around $10.
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Old 03-31-2003, 06:03 PM   #4
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I also have a 55 gallon that is finally coming together but I wish I had a 75 gallon. I also reccomend the AHSupply lights, in fact, I am going to convert my 4xODNO strip into a 2x55 PC strip since the plants in the back don't get enought light and grow sllooooowwww. Good luck!

-Tim
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Old 03-31-2003, 10:09 PM   #5
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I am in same situation as Moebius. However, I do not have choice of size and must go with 55 gallon. (Moving up from 20G tall though...guess I will just have to deal with it...)

Looking at the 4x55CF fixture from AH Supply - what would the recommended mix of bulbs to go with it? 2x5300K and 2x6700K?

Darren
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Old 04-01-2003, 04:10 AM   #6
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I run all 5300k (4 x 55) and love the color of the tank.
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Old 04-01-2003, 02:19 PM   #7
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I appreciate the responses. I am out of town on business w/o a internet connection except at the company site, so cannot do all the research into the links you gave me ....I certainly will this weekend when I get back. One question on the lighting, however. I do not have any type of hood or canopy to retrofit, and with the cost you gave me of ~$200, should I not just spend the ~$250 or so and get a CF system from JBL lighting or similar? I am not the most handy person in the world..... True, cost a little more, but looks nice. With some searching, may be able to find one cheaper on ebay or other site, or am I missing some hidden costs?

Will ask/respond more when get back.

I appreciate the help and cannot wait to get started.

Ken Nelson
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Old 04-01-2003, 02:37 PM   #8
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I'll tell you right now, it is easy to see tanks like the one you want your tank to look like and say "it's not that hard". Even if you say "It's hard, I'll have to work for it...", it is a lot more difficult than one thinks and you can get a much simpler, natural, and luxruious look by picking a few plants and planting them in groups.

A tank like that one looks great, but it is completely unnatural and looks like a piece of highly decorative expensive furniture (well, in part it is) instead of the diverse system it is. It is good to have some contrast so you get diversity, but in my opinion, that tank has too many varieties of plants. It is all in opinion, some I am sure have a tank like that as a goal, but in the "other websites" section (I think), there is a post of "Amazing aquascapes", and you will see what I mean when I talk about only several varieties of plants planted in groups. It is truly amazing....

-Tim
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Old 04-01-2003, 02:46 PM   #9
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The JBJ lighting fixtures are beautiful pieces, but for four 55w PC's, it'll cost a little bit more than $250. If you're willing to make that investment, though, I definitely feel it is a worthwhile one.
Pet Supply Liquidators has their 47" wide solar series hood with 4 55w PC's for $220. Very nice fixture. No fan, but they can be added for another $40. Their bulb selection is excellent, too, as they offer a specific Plant Growth bulb just for your application.
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Old 04-01-2003, 06:47 PM   #10
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Over at AquaBotanic you can get a JBJ lighting system with the plant bulbs for $270. That's four bulbs for a total of 220 watts. It's an awesome light. And you can also order your plants and other items while you are there. I would suggest getting about three algae buster packs from Robert to get the tank started. You are going to have a high amount of light and the fast growing stem plants will help control the algae.
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Old 04-01-2003, 09:24 PM   #11
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I appreciate the reply and will check into the setup when I get back. Yes it would be nice to consolidate my order to save on shipping charges. I also know I will need some 'starter' plants to keep the algae down initially until I can maintain some sort of balance, so will check into those as well.

I am not naive enough to think that the tank setup at the above link will be within my grasp for a long while...I may want to paint like Rembrandt, but I have a feeling my initial 'canvas' will be an opaque green....but with age comes wisdom and patience (or so I tell myself).

I appreciate the help and will have follow-up questions when I have a chance to explore the links you have offered.

Ken Nelson
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Old 04-01-2003, 09:33 PM   #12
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If you want to start slow, and work your way towards an ultimate goal, I would consider getting a set of ordinary dual strip shop lights and putting four 40 watt Gro Lux tubes over a 55g or preferably, a 40g. Total cost would be around $20 for the two shop lights and $20 for the four Sylvania Gro Lux bulbs. It may not be the most attractive option, but the beauty is inside the tank, not on top! hehe
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Old 04-02-2003, 11:34 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rex Grigg
I would suggest getting about three algae buster packs from Robert to get the tank started. You are going to have a high amount of light and the fast growing stem plants will help control the algae.
Are you referring to the 10 bunch or the 20 bunch?


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Old 04-03-2003, 05:42 AM   #14
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Well I would say it depends on the size of the tank. I like to run at a minimum of one bunch per 3-5 gallons of water. If you go with a 75 gallon tank I would get one of each. That will give you 30 bundles of plants. And the best part of it is you should be able to get tons of trimmings to either give away or take to the LFS for trade.
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Old 04-03-2003, 08:47 PM   #15
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Buy a wood canopy for your tank and install the AH Supply kit into it. www.leisure-time.com has really good prices on All-Glass wood canopies. My 37 gallon black pine canopy was only about $50 from there. The AH Supply lights went into it without a hitch (just spray paint the tops of the reflectors black).
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