I'm a newb (sort of) in the hobby as I'm setting up my first BIG tank (75G may not seem big but to me it is ginormous!) So I bought a tank and stand on Craigslist and I have it setup and been running for about 1.5 months. I'm just going to describe what I have done (later I will post some pics) and list my questions and areas of concern.
Tank is a standard 75GAL 48x21x18 or something like that.... nothing weird shaped
Using Clay kitty liter for under Pool Filter Sand to add iron and such to the sand. I used about 30lbs of the kitty litter under 150lbs of sand. I have to power filters running: an Emperor 400 and a Aquaclear 30-60. I have 2 200 watt heaters that came with the tank (both are super cheapies but keep the temp steady at about 76F or whatever i can set) I have a nice piece of drift wood (almost 3ft long) and 3 nice sized rocks (brick sized stone) and some river stones for decorations.
Fish: a juvenile angel, 5 cherry barbs, 4 tiger barbs, 5 head and tail light tetra, 2 withe clouds and a Siamese white cloud minnow (as best as I can tell anyways). There is also an amano shrimp in there somewhere :-)
I've had 3 deaths so far: 1 juvenile angel, 1 white cloud, and 1 cherry barb
Plants: (MOST OF MY NAMES FOR THESE ARE WRONG WHEN I POST PICS IT WILL BECOME CLEAR)
2 Red Rotalla bunches (maybe 7 stems each) - doing relatively well, new leaves and such
6 jungle val - looked terrible when i got them but I got a deal and I was assure they are fairly hardy. They still look like they were ripped up and I don't see any new growth but they aren't falling apart either.
some mystery crypt(maybe) that is slowly dying as the leaves are shriveling and show signs of hair algae(dark green rough long strands).
one tall plant with a massive root system and fairly triangle shaped leaves(not a sword for sure) that is a giant of some kind or another - doing fairly well
One decent size sword (mostlikely) - algae is ripping it into shreds but it seems to be putting out new leaves in the center.
Light: started out with 3 over driven 40w daylight bulbs (philips form Home depot) I have since cut the photo period from 10hrs to 6hrs and unplugged one of the bulbs. They sit in a hood about 3 inches of the glass covers so total maybe 21 inches above the substrate (150lbs of sand is pretty deep :-)) I use a flat self made reflector covered by Mylar to help with reflecting... I know there is room for improvement here...
Co2: still piecing it together, have an ebay regulator and solenoid coming in next week (2 guage single stage used for hydroponics). Found someone somewhat local selling a 10lb tank with some co2 still in it ($50 good deal?) and still looking for a needle valve, drop checker, difuser/reactor or something, need to find local source for reference solution and needle valve, but have the ph test solution. maybe after Co2 is in place I can go back to normal light period and light amount? thinking of feeding the co2 into my Aquaclear intake for a poor mans difuser/reactor? Would like a drop checker off e-bay but may make do witha home made cheapie (read free) for the mean time. Considering a plastic bottle for bubble counter (again budget what it is).
Water is fairly hard (city water not well water) and ph is 8.6 (that is as high as my test goes anyways). I seeded the cycle with gravel from my 10 gal established tank to get it started.
I do 10 gal a week water changes.
So that is the best summary I can come up with and I'll add pictures tonight.
Here is what is going on now... I had an algae bloom real bad last weekend so i cut the photo period and amount of light and did a couple of quick 15% water changes just in case that weekend, it is better but not great it still builds up but does not over take in a day.
The algae I got was a patchy brown stuff (reflectively easy to wipe off) both on glass near bottom mostly and on the sand and the rocks, green specs of fur maybe the size of a finish nail head or smaller (hard to scrape off)on the glass only, and some green patches ,not furry like the stuff on the glass, on the rocks along with the brown stuff.
Now the stupid head and tail light tetra came from the store with ich (sigh) so I'm thinking of bumping the temp up to maybe 84 or so and let it got through the process, does this seem reasonable or should i treat with chemicals? (used to use MelaFix for everything and it helped but I'm afraid of what it may do to plants plus treating a 75 gal will be expensive fast)
I started dosing with Excel to add CO2 daily per bottle instructions started just yesterday and today so far, and I had some flourish in the fridge from my 10 gal tank and dosed a cap and a half of that yesterday. I'm hoping this will help the plants (especially the sword and val to get better), any suggestions on this is appreciated.
This much I've learned from spending hours on this forum is that I will switch to dry ferts once the bottles are done and stop using Excel once co2 is in.
My list of stuff to ask people who are more experienced:
Is the filtration sufficient that I have currently? (I have always over filtrated and always shoot for that)
What is a nice looking schooling fish that I can add that will actually school thigh and look like they are schooling.
Also am looking for Dwarf/Pygmy Cory cats (i think they are called salt and pepper Cory 1.5 inch max) if anyone know where I could get them locally or even a good place to buy fish on-line but I strongly prefer looking at fish when I buy them....
I'm considering 5+ Ottos for some additional algae control, sound ok?
What manner of ground cover plant can I add that is easy maintenance, considering my setup once co2 is in?
Anything else that you can correct/admonish/improve in my methods/equipment and thinking (humbly holding hat in hand knowing that I know very little).
This board is the best and I'm learning allot but still feeling like I'm missing allot.
I live in the west suburbs of Chicago (Darien) and work in north suburbs(Des Plaines) so if you have shops/suppliers I should check out, those areas i'm in everyday but I'm fairly mobile person :-).
Sorry for the BIG post but I'm VERY BIG NEWB