Thinking of changing from Reef to Planted - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-03-2011, 03:02 PM Thread Starter
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Thinking of changing from Reef to Planted

I've kept a reef for about 10 years, but I'm beginning (?) to lose enthusiasm for it. The truth is that while I've had periods of great success, the failures have finally gotten to me... that and buying a $50 fish only to have a 30% chance of keeping it alive for 2 months.

I've kept cichlids in the past and enjoyed that, but I like the idea of a planted tank. The first question is, How much work is it to keep a great planted tank? Any x-reefers out there? Is it easier or harder? How do the costs in $ and time compare? How bad are the tough times compared to losing all your SPS or fighting zoa eating Nudis? I don't mind water changes but I really would rather not have to vacuum the substrate. Is that possible in a planted tank?

The tank I would convert is a 100 gal corner tank. It's 24 inches tall and 3 feet along the back two walls. Thoughts on this?


I'm sure I will think of more questions, but this is a start.

Thanks,

puntific
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-03-2011, 03:16 PM
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I would'n call myself and ex-reefer (I have a 40B with 20L sump I'm itching to setup and rejoin that money-pit) . But to compare the two....

When i had both, I deff spent alot more time in upkeep on the reef.

No, you do not have to gravel-vac a planted tank (usually, once established).

Yes, Plants are much cheaper than corals, grow alot quicker, and are much less finicky.

The equipment is much cheaper, you can get a good co2 system for under 200 bucks, I would recommend a good canister filter, and lights will cost about the same if you go high tech on them. (note: read the lighting forum, lighting requirements/goals are much different for a planted tank) But in comparrison to sumps filled with protien skimmers and calc reactors, and all the other junk you need for saltwater (salt is a big one) it is much cheaper.

The fish are much cheaper, and have better chances for survival.

One key difference in terms of theory: In a reef you constantly battle to keep nitrates and phosphates down. With planted tanks we are constantly adding them as fertilizers.

Good luck, I enjoy my planted setups, but the color and vibrance of a reef is hard to match.


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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-03-2011, 03:38 PM
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I agree with everything the previous poster stated. Another consideration is the type of planted tank. If you want to keep if simple and go low-light there is very little maintenance involved other than regular water changes.

If you decide to go high-light (ie: CO2) then there is definitely more work involved. Depending on the dosing method (I use EI dosing) you do a 50% or more water change per week. But even at that I don't find it to be a ton of work. A python is a must and I change out about 60% of my water every week and it takes about 1.5hrs tops. You will also have a lot of plant trimming to do but that doesn't take much time.

Hope that helps.


Jeff

90 gallon high-tech planted tank: running pressurized CO2, T5HO lighting, heavily planted, with electric blue rams, rummynose tetras, harlequin rasboras, farlowella and plecos.

Fluval Edge: low light planted with Scarlet Badis, Celestial Pearl Danios, Pygmy Cories, Cherry Shrimp and Red Crystal Shrimp.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-03-2011, 03:40 PM
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Not an ex reefer (my one foray into salt water ended when my second fish died) but I will say that I keep planted tanks and I NEVER vacuum the substrate, and furthermore I think it is unadvisable to ever do so. Don't disturb the substrate any more than you have to, it is a living thing. I don't have mulm build-up in my tanks.

I use canister filters and I filter way more than recommended. Two Fx5's on my 210, three Eheim ProII+III's on my 125, two Ehiem ProII+III's and an Eheim Classic 2213 on my 90.

I don't really like reef tanks much. I think watching the plants grow and develop is much more interesting.


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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-03-2011, 04:33 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the comments. Any thoughts on my tank and it's suitability?

puntific
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-03-2011, 04:45 PM
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Your tank sounds great to me. I think most reef tanks would make good plant tanks because the space requirements for a good reef and a good aquascape are about the same.


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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-03-2011, 05:16 PM
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I have two 96gal custom reef tanks plummed together and I'm thinking about converting to planted. I set-up a med-tech planted 60 as a learning experience a few months ago and I enjoy it more than struggling with my reefs. I like looking at other folks aquascaping and while searching for nice reef setups I kept noticing that well-done planted tank were more pleasing.

IMHO
1) cheaper, in the short run and much cheaper in the long run.
2) you might spend almost as much time but it's trimming and re-scaping rather than struggling with keeping it alive and in balance.
3) Do a search on this forum for "Mineralized Top Soil" or "MTS Substrate". Many folks on this board have had great success and it's cheaper and less maintenance.
4) If you had SPS, you will probably be cutting you lights in half. You still need good circulation but not like waves hitting the reef.
I could go on-&-on.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-03-2011, 05:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by puntific View Post
Thanks for the comments. Any thoughts on my tank and it's suitability?

puntific
Corner tanks are not easy to light evenly.

Based on the fact that you used to keep SPS I'm guessing that it was lit with Metal Halides???

If that is the case, your bulb probably has a colortemp rating of 10000k-20000k. You could probably swap that out for a 6500k bulb and raise it up a little to suit your purposes.

Other than that it should be fine, 100 gallons is plenty of room for a nice scape, and once ppl figure out their lighting situation, corner tanks turn out pretty sweet IMO.


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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-03-2011, 07:54 PM Thread Starter
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I've got 2x250 wt MH 14k and 1x175 wt MH over my tank now... Will I need new ballasts? These are galaxy ballasts...
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-03-2011, 08:18 PM
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Wow, thats sounds like alot of light!!!

Don't trust in the Watt Per Gallon rule you will probably read elsewhere online, it is worthless.

I honestly have no clue what kind of PAR MHs produce. Search the lighting forum a little, I'm sure someone on there can answer your ballast question too.


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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-03-2011, 09:26 PM
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I'm an Ex-reefer of 10 years myself, having a 150g tank that whole time. I switched just because of the expense. I have two daughters now, that takes a lot of my money!

Your ballasts will be fine, But you will only need the 175 or a single 250 (that's what I use). Finding a 6500k bulb can be a challenge though. You can start with the 250w and if you see that you are developing a lot of algae downgrade to the 175. If you are running a calcium reactor you can use the CO2 tank from that to add CO2 to the tank, you just need a CO2 reactor.
After having a reef you will notice how easy having a planted tank is.

eg: Water change for a reef.
Collect RO/DI water in a bin, add salt, heater, powerhead, wait 24h for things to mix up, remove water from tank add new water. (Not to mention the expense of salt)

For a planted tank.
Remove water from tank, add water to tank. Done.
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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-03-2011, 09:37 PM
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Lighting is THE critical decision when it comes to planted tanks, as it will in many ways dictate much of the rest of your tank setup.

You need to first decide if you want to go for a high light/high tech setup (more $$, more maintenance, more equipment, weekly fertilizer dosing, etc- BUT you can try just about any aquatic plant you want. Or go with a low tech setup (less $$, less equipment, less ferts, less maintenance- BUT somewhat more restricted on plant options).

Right now you have much, much more light than what you'll need even for a high light/high tech setup. If you decide to go for a low tech planted tank, you'll probably only need one of those MH fixtures and still need to suspend it up off the tank. For a high light setup, you can probably work with 2 of the MHs, but may still need to suspend them for better light control.





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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-04-2011, 04:49 AM
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I keept a reef tank for 10 years. I loved it, but lost everything after a week long city blackout. I was never able to get things back running to my satisfaction.

I moved to planted tanks just 4-5 years ago. Difficulty and cost are extremely relative to what type of setups you are comparing. I feel as if planted tanks are slightly easier with their own unique challenges. You can easily spend as much if not more on High-Tech setups as you do on a reef tank (excluding livestock).

As an ex-reefer, I have not been able to adjust to the florescent lighting most people use. I forced myself to us a florescent setup for 2 years and could not stand it. I just moved back to halides and couldn't be happier (this is purely aesthetics as the plants don't seem to prefer one over the other).

I also have a tendency to prefer stronger water movement. I still don't like the idea of dead areas and they can develop quickly as the plants grow up and out.
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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-04-2011, 05:24 AM
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I am not a reefer but know a few and have help on tanks, etc. It seems that planted is much less work. However, my luck with my high light tank with co2 has been pretty challenging compared to my lower light tanks. Low light does not mean you can't grow a bunch of types of plants, I have yet to find much that doesn't grow well personally. My high light tank has been a continuous struggle, but in a fun way. That route may be harder than a reef, I don't really know myself, but comparing the work to frineds tanks, it seems the same.

-Matt

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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-04-2011, 01:27 PM
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I'm an ex reefer myself. I love the look of reef tanks but it was SO expensive! Even for a nano the prices were extreme. Planted tanks are wonderful because they still offer a challenge without overwhelming your time and bank account.

"Aquarists are a brave lot. We mix water and electricity every day."
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