Hey folks, first off let me say thank you to everyone here that was a big help the first time I went through all this.
For a bit of a backstory I started with a 29g unplanted tank probably over 10 years ago and eventually got a 75g and attempted a high tech planted tank. I did have good growth and some general success, and thought at its best the tank was really quite nice, though certainly not on the level of some of the works of art seen here. After a few years algae became a rather regular issue and constant problems with the CO2 system became quite an annoyance. So when it came time for a rather unusual move (even though we were going from an "apartment" to our first home we were moving to a MUCH smaller space) I made the decision to sell off everything related to the fish and tanks.
We've been at the new home for over two years now and the itch to start something up again has crept in. My original thought was to simplify and have a tank for Cichlids, which of course would have never worked with the plants or smaller tank previously. But over time it felt as if that was giving up in a way on what I knew could be pretty awesome. So using the lessons learned from the first time around I'm now looking into starting up a new planted tank.
This will be a slow follow for all involved, but I really hope to take any feedback into consideration as this comes together. So far all I've done is put out some offers for a tank and stand on Facebook marketplace and began researching again some other decisions. Here is were some ideas or suggestions would be helpful. This will be a slow journal to follow for awhile, but I hope it makes for a great tank.
1. Substrate - When investigating Cichlids pool filter sand seemed to be really preferred and it seems plants can grow with root tabs but results seemed to be mixed. Last time I used SafeTSorb which was great except it was a massive pain to clean initially and would always cause a lot of fogginess whenever maintenance was done. Which would you use? Something else completely?
2. Lighting - Last time I started with a pair of the Home Depot diamond plated fixtures, and eventually got a BuildMyLED light which was raised above the tank. This time the front runner is this guy: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...TFSIU1LH&psc=1
- Lots of success stories with that here and highly rated despite the low cost. I like that it is nice I can just likely sit it on the tank without any issues. And if it's not quite enough I am hopeful in looking through the lighting section here that I can get another or some other complimentary light if tougher plants don't grow. I would like baby tears or some sort of bottom crawler in the new tank.
3. Filter - Had a Fluval 406 I believe, and ran some HOB units as well. I would really like to simplify things and run a single filtration system this time. I also remember the Fluval hoses being non-standard and a bit of a PITA when I built a PVC diffuser. So ideally I'm looking for something that is powerful enough to handle a 75 gallon planted on its own (even if a powerhead or two is required for extra circulation) and that can hook into a PVC diffuser. If Fluval is the best I'm not opposed to returning as I did like that unit and cleaning was reasonably easy.
4. CO2 - This will probably be the biggest change. Last time I went on ebay or amazon, bought everything separately and built everything myself. Aside form the inline diffuser this time I think I'll get something like this https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...2FXZW6GT&psc=1
- and hell, if something goes wrong, just get a new one.
5. Ferts - After some trial and error I ended up getting dry ferts from a user here and mixing them in bottles for easy liquid solution distribution. That was definitely the best at a reasonable price (as opposed to constant Seachem refills) and is certainly the route I'd go again unless there has been some massive development on this front you guys want to tell me about.
6. Specific fish/plants - This is the fun part, no idea, we'll get to that later.
So here is my timeline and vision for things. I'd like to acquire the tank and stand soon as I really can't do anything else without those, but both items are usually cheap and easy 2nd hand and I don't foresee that taking long. Through the remainder of December and January the goal is to get the planted aspects of things running. Add the substrate, lighting, filter, and begin some walks for rocks and wood for a hardscape. No plans on anything specific, so can be creative and think of designs while this is happening. Build my diffuser during this time as well, get a CO2 tank 2nd hand again and buy the other stuff needed as well, bring it all together and start buying plants from folks here. I have vacation Feb. 4-9, so if the plants are setup and doing well at that point I will come back and begin the fishless cycle. That take some time, meaning this is when the fish planning will begin. At this point folks here should have an idea of what the tank will look like as hardscape will be done and plants will be at least partially grown, so hopefully that can inspire some fish choices. I plan to buy my fish from WetSpotTropicalFish again and have them shipped in as they were fantastic last time.
As for my personal preferences I loved having a Koi Angelfish as a centerpiece last time, so that's certainly one thing to consider. A bristlenose pleco almost seems like a must, and while I had many barbs between the two tanks I never did get any Odessa barbs so they'll certainly be a front runner as well. The only fish that I'll probably have no matter what is a school of Dwarf Chain Loaches. They are so small they don't make much of a hit against the tank capacity and are very cool and unusual fish to have. So unless I get my heart set on tank mates that would harm them they are all but locked in. But all that is far off, for now help with the early stages is appreciated, and hopefully soon there will be pictures of a tank that marks the true beginnings of everything.