I Need Help Planning My First Large Planted Tank! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 04-16-2019, 12:34 AM Thread Starter
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Question I Need Help Planning My First Large Planted Tank!

Hello Everybody!

I recently got into the aquarium hobby and have fallen in love! I am currently in the process of planning out my 120-gallon aquarium. It will be a low-tech tank with low lighting. Since you all seem brilliant and experienced, I wanted to share my plan with you guys and get some feedback as well as ask a couple questions. Also, I apologize that this will be a long post.

Tech stuff:

I currently own a Current Current USA Orbit IC LED (72"). The tank came with an Aqueon Quietflow Canister Filter, 200 gph. I am trying to decide if I want to use it at all. I also like HOB filters and plan on having at least one (easy access for medication and whatnot) and was planning on getting the Aqua Clear Filter - 110v. As far as heating goes, I have two Aqueon Pro 200 Heaters and I believe that that should be sufficient.

Is that sufficient lighting for low light? What would you recommend as far as filter(s)? Stick with the one I have and just get the Aquaclear? Or should I not use that one? What are the best filters? Do I need a powerhead? Any other feedback?


As far as my hardscape, I have a few Manzanita branches and one really nice Manzanita trunk (my center piece). I am using Black Diamond Blasting Sand as my substrate.

Should I add any rocks or stick with the wood? If so, what kinds? Should I put down any fertilizer in the substrate before planting?

As mentioned earlier, I have a for lighting. Based on that, these are some of the low light plants I am looking at: Ludwigia Repens (Background)(3x), Amazon Sword (Background)(3x), Bacopa Caroliniana (Background)(3x), Ludwigia Arcuata (Background)(3x), Anacharis (Midground/Background)(3x), Anubias Nana (Midground)(10x), Micro Sword (Midground) (3x), Red Nymphaea Rubra (Midground)(6x), Staurogyne Repens (Carpetish). I am not very set on this, and I have put things on this list and taken some off.

Would you recommend against any of these? Are there any other good low light plants I should consider (especially given my stocking)? Will I need root tabs or just liquid fertilizer?

After doing an extensive amount of research, I decided on the following stocking plan for this tank: Angelfish (5x), Juli Cory Catfish (6x), Bandit Cory Catfish (6x), Emerald Cory Catfish (6x), German Rams (4x), Dwarf Gourami (4x), Guppies (10x), Lemon Blue Eye Bushynose Pleco (3x), Apple Snails (3x), a handful of Malaysian Trumpet Snails, and a handful of Ramshorn Snails.
Is this overstocked? Do you have any concerns?
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 04-16-2019, 02:17 AM
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Welcome to TPT.

- Current Orbit is iffy for a planted tank as it was designed for saltwater, too much blue, not enough red. Check other people's journals of 120g tanks to get ideas of what works. The basic choice is between t5s (cheaper) or LED (gets pricey).

- The heating depends on the difference between the room temperature and the desired water temperature. A good rule of thumb is 5w per gallon.

- You are likely to end up with more then one filter. A good range to shoot for is ~ 4 - 8 tmes of tank volume per hour. On a 120g, that puts you at around 600 gph. Besides mechanical and biological filtration, you want to think through the flow / circulation pattern.

- Think through your water changes and general maintenance routine. Pick a 2 - 3 hour time period a week and stick to it.

- Plant wise, plant on at least two stages: pick your main large plants like swords, lillies, and appogenons first and a whole bunch of cheap stems and floaters first. Once the tank is stable, replace the plants you don't want with mosses, rotalas, Ludwidgia, ferns. For your first planted tank I would leave planting a carpet for last - cleaning algae off small plants is a pain and gets really discouraging.

- S. Repens and Rotala arcuata are not good plants to start with, especially for a low / med light no co2 tank.

- Hardscape to personal taste. Manzanita is indeed great. Check your local landscape yards for rocks you like, $0.30 per pound is not $4.00 per pound, it does add up quickly.

Some websites to check out:

Aquarium Fertilizer | NilocG Aquatics
AqAdvisor - Intelligent Freshwater Tropical Fish Aquarium Stocking Calculator and Aquarium Tank/Filter Advisor

Have fun, enjoy, and dont sweat the small stuff.
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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 04-16-2019, 03:55 PM
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Should I add any rocks or stick with the wood? If so, what kinds? Should I put down any fertilizer in the substrate before planting?

Stone: I think wood and rocks go together like PB&J. Get larger rocks with contrast in color (light rock, dark substrate), and as mentioned do some research on rock. A landscape supply store will have them for less money (just check to see if they are limestone, etc).
Wood: Manzanita is my preference. Strong, durable, and beautiful twists. Ebay you can buy it buy the piece.
Ferts: depends on how you will cycle your tank- planted? unplanted?
I always cycle mine unplanted, rocks and substrate in place with straight ammonia and old filter media until my reading come close... (once my ammonia/nitrites start to go low and I have a good amount of Nitrates) I plant it... I dont put ferts in the soil because its hard to control. Then finish off the cycle before fish and especially the algae eaters which will have a blast!

I would check out ADA tanks.... some a design you appreciate, and go from there to make it your own.

Would you recommend against any of these? Are there any other good low light plants I should consider (especially given my stocking)?

Im low light obsessed!!! I think you are missing some of the mosses (mini christmas, taiwan), and the Fissidens (fissidens nobalis, fontana). They can be great when doing foreground, or tying to rocks/wood.

With guppies or endler you will have fry quickly if a female is involved. Consider getting Riccia to help them hide. Tie it down tight to a rock and watch them play in it.... unless you want to see the food chain in action

Last edited by livebearerlove; 04-16-2019 at 04:13 PM. Reason: more content
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