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Old 12-27-2012, 05:53 PM   #1
lullafishi
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Plans for first planted tank (input appreciated)


Hi guys!

Complete n00b here. I'm starting my first planted tank in the coming months and have been lurking and reading and researching so that I can (hopefully) avoid costly mistakes. I would ultimately like something low-maintenance.

I'm heading to Petco tonight to take advantage of the $1/gallon sale and will be picking up either a 20 long (30x12x12") or 29 gallon (30x12x18"). Leaning toward the 29g right now, though I love the horizontal emphasis of the 20 long.

Here's what I've planned so far:

Tank: now leaning toward 40b
Stand: Waiting on a custom-build from a friend-of-family carpenter

Substrate: still undecided... :c I want something dark/black and cory-friendly. Possibly MTS with black sand cap? Or all black sand (CaribSea Tahitian Moon Sand) with root tabs?

Light: Finnex Fugeray 30" (would be raised if I go with the 20l for a PAR of 30)
Filter: Fluval 306
Heater: in-line Hydor ETH 200W
C02: none with no plans to add
Ferts: probably Excel, wouldn't mind occasional dosing of trace (Equilbrium?)

Water Specs:
still need to find out the starting parameters of my tap water

Planned Flora:
Low-lighting. Thinking about collecting a bunch of RAOK and bundles to see what I like and works well. Haven't gotten too far on plant research yet, lol.

Planned Fauna
- neon tetras
- a few guppies, male only (my LFS has beautifully colored cobras that I love) and/or endlers
- a few corys
- a few otos (maybe once tank is good and cycled)
- would love some shrimp

Nothing has been purchased quuuuuite yet, so I'd appreciate any input and suggestions/warnings! I'm about ready to pull the trigger on the Fluval 306 because I can get it for about $108 shipped, but only thru the 31st. I'm trying to take advantage of all the after-Christmas sales.

Last edited by lullafishi; 12-31-2012 at 02:51 PM.. Reason: updated info
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Old 12-27-2012, 06:17 PM   #2
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All seems pretty good. I have a low tech 29 myself, and everything runs pretty nicely. As far as plants, a lot are hit and miss I have found. You really need to figure out what your water is like first. For instance, watersprite and wisteria are "easy, low tech plants", but I can't grow them in my tank at all. I do have plenty of other plants that do really well though.

Maybe others can chime in on this one, but you might want to wait on the neons for awhile. I have heard that they don't do well in newly set up tanks. What type of shrimp are you thinking about? Guppies may or may not go after them.....I've heard different views on that one also. Are you going with male/female guppies? They freaking breed like crazy! I have two females, and it seems like they drop fry every couple of days.....hahaha. Fishless cycle (I hope)?

And always remember.....bigger is ALWAYS better....if not for water parameter stability, then just for the fact that you can have more fish (you WILL become addicted!).
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Old 12-27-2012, 06:38 PM   #3
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Thanks for the response, shloken38!

Yes, I figure I need to figure out the water parameters before I can really commit to any type of plant or fish. Do I need to look just for the pH, GH, and KH of my tap water, or should I be testing for other elements as well?

I'm planning on doing a fishless cycle and am willing to be patient waiting for stability with any type of inhabitants if necessary. That's good to know that neons might be too sensitive for a new tank!

I'll be very interested to hear about people's experiences with guppies and shrimp. I've got three (all male) guppies right now that get along well in an unplanted 2 gallon, and I'd love to give them a better environment. But I also think I would be fascinated with watching shrimp, so I wouldn't want to risk a bad match. As for type of shrimp, I'd probably have easiest access to cherry shrimp. Color makes me happy, but I'm open to whatever type is best suited for beginners.

If I keep guppies in the tank, I'd probably stick with however many males I can have without them beating each other up. I'm excited by the prospect of fry, just not guppy fry, haha.
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Old 12-27-2012, 07:11 PM   #4
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To be honest, I only check for the basics (ph, ammonia, nitrites and nitrates), so I wouldn't be able to help you with the other stuff. That's why plants are probably trial and error for me.

As far as shrimp go, red cherries are your best bet as a beginner. I started with 10 in my 10 gallon tank, and I have close to 100 in there now. There are fascinating to watch, that's for sure. And they are fearless! Every time I stick my hand in there for something, they all rush over and start crawling up my arm.
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Old 12-28-2012, 01:59 PM   #5
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Indecision, indecision!

I went to Petco last night and left empty-handed because I couldn't decide between the 20l, 29g, and 40b in the ten minutes before the store closed. I like the proportions of the 20l and 40b, but I feel I'd want something bigger than 20l. And the 40b would add a bit of cost due to needing the next size up in lighting fixture, more substrate, and possibly a supplementary HOB filter. Plus, we're in a rental, and I'd hate to have to lug a larger tank around until we finally settle.

I'm finding I like tanks that look like they are a "miniature scale" scene, but it doesn't seem like I'd have enough luck to do a carpet without C02 to pull of an iwagumi style. If I find tall pieces of driftwood and attach moss/plants to the branches, is it possible to make good use of the vertical space of a 29g and still create a "miniature" world?

I am also now torn between the Fluval 306 and Eheim Classic 2217. Both seem very comparable. I was initially going for the Fluval because it was $20 cheaper, seemed more beginner/user-friendly, and the media baskets sound easier to maintain. But since Hydor's in-line heaters come in 1/2" or 5/8", I'd have to buy new hosing, clamps, and rubber adapters to fit it in-line with the 306's 3/4" hosing measurements. Those additional parts would make the set-up between the 306 and 2217 about the same price.

How do you people ever decide on anything?!
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Old 12-28-2012, 02:45 PM   #6
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Just impulse buy.....then keep adding tanks! hahaha.....

Can't help you with your decision. Bigger is always better, but I understand moving that bigger tank is more of an issue. Tough call....
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Old 12-28-2012, 03:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lullafishi View Post
Indecision, indecision!

I went to Petco last night and left empty-handed because I couldn't decide between the 20l, 29g, and 40b in the ten minutes before the store closed. I like the proportions of the 20l and 40b, but I feel I'd want something bigger than 20l. And the 40b would add a bit of cost due to needing the next size up in lighting fixture, more substrate, and possibly a supplementary HOB filter. Plus, we're in a rental, and I'd hate to have to lug a larger tank around until we finally settle.

I'm finding I like tanks that look like they are a "miniature scale" scene, but it doesn't seem like I'd have enough luck to do a carpet without C02 to pull of an iwagumi style. If I find tall pieces of driftwood and attach moss/plants to the branches, is it possible to make good use of the vertical space of a 29g and still create a "miniature" world?

I am also now torn between the Fluval 306 and Eheim Classic 2217. Both seem very comparable. I was initially going for the Fluval because it was $20 cheaper, seemed more beginner/user-friendly, and the media baskets sound easier to maintain. But since Hydor's in-line heaters come in 1/2" or 5/8", I'd have to buy new hosing, clamps, and rubber adapters to fit it in-line with the 306's 3/4" hosing measurements. Those additional parts would make the set-up between the 306 and 2217 about the same price.

How do you people ever decide on anything?!
I have the Fluval 306 on a 40-gal and it's considered by some to be overkill. I love this filter b/c it's very easy to use. I bought a 206 for a 20-gal I'm going to set up. So in answer to your question re: an extra HOB, I really don't think you need it.

I can guarantee you that no matter what size you get -- 20 gal, 200 gal, 500 gallon.... you will always want something bigger. ALWAYS. So that being said, I would say just get what you can comfortably afford. Also, something that a lot of people tend to neglect is the number of electrical receptacles they have. Every time you add a heater, add a set of lights, add a pump/airstone, etc... that's another plug. Make sure you have space for your setup, and have enough plugs in close proximity. And using multiple power strips can be dangerous, so try not to plan to use more than one in an outlet. I'm sure even that has got its problems.

Oh, and not sure about the heater -- do you really need 200w on a 29-gal?

Guppies -- if you really really really like guppies and want to figure out what to do with 20 babies every few weeks -- then go for it. I put 4 guppies in my tank (1 male, 3 females) and a week later had nearly 20 babies swimming around. I bought 2 pearl gouramis and they have gotten the baby population down to about 5 or 6. I'm not interested in doubling my guppy population every month and having to figure out what to do with them so hopefully the gouramis will keep eating them!
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Old 12-28-2012, 04:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shloken38 View Post
Just impulse buy.....then keep adding tanks! hahaha.....

Can't help you with your decision. Bigger is always better, but I understand moving that bigger tank is more of an issue. Tough call....
Haha, I've found I rarely impulse buy (unless it's junk food). Instead, I research and stress over the details and waver in uncertainty and then FINALLY commit after I've annoyed all my friends (and not to mention myself). It works out well in the end because I've made thought-out/educated decisions, but man the process is annoying!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bikinibottom View Post
I have the Fluval 306 on a 40-gal and it's considered by some to be overkill. I love this filter b/c it's very easy to use. I bought a 206 for a 20-gal I'm going to set up. So in answer to your question re: an extra HOB, I really don't think you need it.
That's good to hear, thanks! I keep reading that over-filtering is the best way to go and it can always be adjusted with quick-stops or a spray bar. I guess I figured the 306 was over-kill for a 20g, but maybe only just sufficient for a 40b.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bikinibottom View Post
I can guarantee you that no matter what size you get -- 20 gal, 200 gal, 500 gallon.... you will always want something bigger. ALWAYS. So that being said, I would say just get what you can comfortably afford.
I keep hearing this, too, which really starts pushing me to getting the 40b. It would really only about $70 more in equipment (+$38 for next size up in lighting, +$10 for larger tank, +$22 for another bag of sand assuming I go with potting soil over all sand to save some $). But I guess it would also take more $ to stock with plants. How important is it to start heavily planted, or can I gradually add more as funds allow?

Thanks for the head's up about electrical outlets, I hadn't considered that either!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bikinibottom View Post
Oh, and not sure about the heater -- do you really need 200w on a 29-gal?
I liked the idea of an in-line to keep the tank more open and so I don't have to worry as much about accuracy (as long as I tape the dial so it doesn't accidentally get bumped). I'm big on aesthetics. Would 200w still be too much on a 40b? I could probably have better luck hiding a submersible to my liking on the 40b.

Re: guppies... if I can safely keep them (and shrimp) in one tank, I'll stick with all male guppies. Pretty much I am very attached to my current three males, who get along swimmingly (lawl).
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Old 12-28-2012, 04:31 PM   #9
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According to Lowe's PAR charts for the Finnex Fugeray, if I go with a 36" fixture to fit a 40b... I'll have a PAR around 50-60, which I'm assuming is too high light for not having c02. Is that right? It looks like even suspending it will be too much light?

And if I'd have to suspend the 36" anyway for a 40b, is it possible to suspend the 30" instead over a 36" long tank and stay within low light without having dark corners?
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Old 12-28-2012, 04:41 PM   #10
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For the lightening u can try this, i do that myself. This is my firs Aq 30l

You need just tube for savage (just cut in on half horizontally), and one part to close it (then you cut that on half , and u have half part for both end, fix that with super glue)
Then u need one lath,on that u put neon light ... That lath u fasten with 4 srew (u dont have to fasten directlz in lath, enought is just to tighter on screw)


I put masking tape on top... And aluminium foil inside, to reflect light


Sorry because my english
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Old 12-29-2012, 05:14 AM   #11
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I have a setup very similar to what you're planning. I went with MTS capped with STS from Tractor Supply. The best combo of price and functionality; no dosing, looks great, cheap.

I have the 36" Fugeray 2 over a 75g, which is 20" tall. I planted heavy, never had an algae outbreak, I've only scraped the glass once in the two or so months I've had the tank. No water changes, and about fifty fish.

I grow crypts, anubias, all types of swords, various hygros, and some other junk. If you are worried about too much light, get some DWL or Frogbit to provide shade. Just FYI I picked up two Fluval 306s at Petsmart and Petco for $80 each; good sales are always around the corner.

Get e 40 breeder
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Old 12-29-2012, 05:20 AM   #12
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Fwiw, I moved a 210g reef setup across town; it's not as bad as you think, not a reason to dodge going from a 20 to a 40. And honestly, I think the best thing you can do is use RO/DI water from the get go. It will save you a lot of testing, algae, and guessing down the road. A little bit of a hassle to start, but works well in the long run.
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Old 12-29-2012, 10:42 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lullafishi View Post
According to Lowe's PAR charts for the Finnex Fugeray, if I go with a 36" fixture to fit a 40b... I'll have a PAR around 50-60, which I'm assuming is too high light for not having c02. Is that right? It looks like even suspending it will be too much light?

And if I'd have to suspend the 36" anyway for a 40b, is it possible to suspend the 30" instead over a 36" long tank and stay within low light without having dark corners?
Is that PAR at the top of the tank or at the bottom?

i like tylt33's suggestion to use floating plants to shade your tank if you're worried about the light level. I put 3 small water sprites in my tank about 2-3 weeks ago, and now I already have at least 6 of them, and the original 3 have more than doubled in size. The roots hang down, it looks very cool, and the fish love it. And it's one of those things that is easy to weed out if you get too many of them -- just pluck them off the top.

Something else you can do is put window screen at the top of your tank, or right at your light. I read on here that it reduces PAR by ~40% (60% if you put 2 layers of screen). It's cheap and you can buy it at Lowe's or HD. I have it on my low-tech tank (40-gal long, 16 inches deep), which has 108w Tek T5, and I have no problems with algae and after a month everything is still lush and green.

But with your PAR level, I'm guessing you will only need one or the other -- plants or screen.
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Old 12-29-2012, 10:48 AM   #14
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Lullafishi, I'm a newbie here too. In fact, this is my first post. I've had fish for nearly 40 years (since I was a kid) but always very low tech and almost always goldfish. I have a 60 gallon to fill and in no hurry to do it yet...would eventually like to have a lushly planted aquascape...maybe an Amazon habitat of some kind with angelfish, cory cats and black neons. But for the time being I am learning on my 20 gallon with Java fern, anubias and some Java moss... I am currently studying more about water and lighting conditions. I have 6 aeneus cory cats and 6 black neons in the 20 gallon; they are all very active.

I have 2 other aquariums. The 30 gallon has three large fantail goldfish. The 40 gallon has 5 large comet goldfish.

Very thankful for this forum!!! I'll be going back to lurking, reading and studying
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:03 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3OHA CYMPAKA View Post
For the lightening u can try this, i do that myself. This is my firs Aq 30l
Thanks for the suggestion! I prefer not to go the DIY route with lighting because... I don't know anything about electrical wiring and I don't really have the right tools. So I wouldn't be comfortable trying something like that, though it looks like it works great for you!

Tylt33: I'd totally go the STS route, but I've really fallen for the black substrate look. I considered using Black Diamond blasting grit, but those fine needles aren't all that appealing to me. I'm going to start looking in to MTS or at least MGOPS. Do you have the Ray2 or a Fugeray, and are you using c02? And is a RO/DI system DIYable? Good to know about the frequent Fluval sales, too! I think they were that price for Black Friday. I only started researching equipment prices just after Thanksgiving, so I'm not familiar with what's a good holiday deal or what's average yet.

bikinibottom: You know, I'm not really sure! I was using Lowe's PAR chart for the fugerays, and I'm assuming it would be at substrate-level since the 40b is 16" tall. I'm estimating substrate to be around 3", but the fixture's legs have the light about 3" above the top. So that's still a depth of 16".

Great suggestion about the window screen or floating plants to reduce light! I didn't realize that could be done, but it makes sense. I wouldn't be opposed to using floaters, and even like the idea of plants growing emerged. Is the window screen something that can be attached to a fugeray instead of covering the tank?

Saxtonhill: Welcome! I've been learning a lot at this forum; it's a wealth of information and ideas!
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