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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-14-2011, 07:59 PM Thread Starter
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total noob -- needs lots of advice

Hey everyone I am really hoping that you guys can help me out a lot here and put up with all my questions.

I had a 35g hexagonal tank that I attempted to plant a few months back. The tank totally failed. I think it had a lot to with the odd shape and getting enough light into a tank that was 24" high and only 18" wide, short of hanging metal halides above the tank I think it was doomed to start. My wife would really like to have a planted tank and I would really like to be successful this time.

The plan: I have a 55g tank that I'm in the process of shutting down. It was a cichlid tank but my showcase EBJD passed and now I would like to move the tank into the livingroom to fill the spot of the 35g hex, which I sold, and plant it.

Stuff I have: Eheim 2232 and 2236 canister filters that I would like to fit with diy spray bars, Eheim-Jager 250w heater, Hagen Natural Plant yeast based co2 system, and 32 lbs of Caribsea Eco Complete planted aquarium substrate.

Things I need help with:
1) Lighting. I'm stuck between two options. A 48" HOT5 dual bulb fixture which would be 108w, yeilding roughly 2.7wpg since I know the 55g hold exactly 40g of water after gravel and decor. My other option is to get a Marineland double bright led system it adds $150 to my start up budget but should save a lot of power, however, I don't know how many watts it actually produces and its for SW tanks (leds are 10k and actinic).

2) CO2. I would like to have a carpet of HC planted in the foreground and I am told its a co2 and will need to upgrade my co2 system. It was recommended that I could use a champagne yeast based diy system but If this wont be enough I'd like to know now and get a pressurized system although I'd like to save as much money as possible I also want this tank to be a success this time around.

3) Sediment. I have 32 lbs in the tank right now. How many pounds should I aim for to yeild a proper sand bed for planting. On the 35g I had roughly a 4 inch bed which seemed over kill.

4) Filtration. With the two canister filters I'm looking at a total of 312gph. Is this going to be too much flow for a planted tank? I am planning on having a decent sized bioload in the tank. Thinking neon tetras and Denison barbs right now.

5) Tips and advice. I would really like any and all advice or tips of how to make this tank a real success. Planted tanks are really the only thing I haven't done in this hobby. Please let me know what pitfalls you have faced and what tricks and techniques you've used in the past to create amazing pieces of living art.

I'm sorry for all the questions and the obnoxiously long post but like I said i'm a total noob at this and I'd like to save some money and headaches and do this the right way this time.

Eheim Pimp #484
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Ludwigia glandulosa, Hemianthus callitrichoides, Hygrophila lacustris, Echinodorus tenellus, Echinodorus bleheri, aponogeton undulata

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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-14-2011, 08:35 PM
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1For lighting, to be honest i would look into this. I have heard nothing but good expeiriances and I can say for myself that it has worked, and saved me tons of money.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/li...-solution.html

2To be honest with a 35g tank your pushing the limits of DIY Co2. It is possible with multiple 2L bottles though. Personally I would invest in a pressurized system, you'll never look back

3 Not sure on the pounds, but you should aim for no more than 3 inches of sand unless you plan on keeping some MTS to keep it aerated. (look into sand blasting sand, its cheap and looks great!)

4. I would keep that flow rate, Its always better to have more than less. You can even out flow through long spray bars.

5. I would just google around to see what is working for people. However remember the basics. Plants need nutrients, so fertilize using a method of your choice (Co2 is also a nutrient so be sure youll have enough. You will need adequate lighting, which you seem to understand. and the last thing, is you'll need plenty of time and effort, but the outcome will be well worth it!

Hope this helps steer you in the right direction,
Matt


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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-15-2011, 12:35 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmrmotorhead View Post
1For lighting, to be honest i would look into this. I have heard nothing but good expeiriances and I can say for myself that it has worked, and saved me tons of money.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/li...-solution.html

2To be honest with a 35g tank your pushing the limits of DIY Co2. It is possible with multiple 2L bottles though. Personally I would invest in a pressurized system, you'll never look back
Thanks for the great lighting advice I think I will for sure try out the clamp-light method.

As for Co2, what is a good brand for a pressurized Co2 system? I was looking at http://www.adana-usa.com/index.php?m...roducts_id=678
Also, how long does a bottle of Co2 usually last? I know a lot lot of websites say you can get them refilled locally but where in the world do you get a Co2 refill? For the system above you can get 6 bottles for $30 which would be a good deal if they last 2 months or so but if they only last 2 weeks or so like yeast based systems its seems like it would cheaper just to run multiple diy yeast systems then pay over $100 for a pressurized system and all those monthly Co2 refills.

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55g High-tech
Ludwigia glandulosa, Hemianthus callitrichoides, Hygrophila lacustris, Echinodorus tenellus, Echinodorus bleheri, aponogeton undulata

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-15-2011, 03:15 AM
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Matt, your tank's looking great!

The clamp lamp/CFL route is particularly interesting because it's so CHEAP to swap bulbs and adjust color temps and wattages. Matt and I went the Lowes/Home Depot route, but eventually I ended up using Zoo Med "Deep Dome Lamp" fixtures because I wanted to hang them pendulum style and the standard clamp lamp shades are shallow, allowing the bottom of the bulb to protrude below the rim and blasting light into the room. I also liked them because they're black and my tank trim/stand is black.

Here are a few pix of my tank right after I changed to it from a 30 gallon, so the plants are a bit...um...wild ;-)

This is a 40 gallon breeder, which is 17" high



If you go high light you will definitely want pressurized CO2. You will struggle with algae without it on a 55 gallon tank. I got a used regulator, drop checker, needle valve, solenoid,. and 10 lb CO2 tank that was 80% full off a guy on Craigslist for next to nothing ($50 for all that AND another regulator with a blown low pressure gauge). I bought an additional backup cylinder for $25 from a used restaurant equipment joint. You don't need aluminum - that's all bling and additional money for essentially nothing. Airgas Inc, and Haun Welding Supply will SWAP any cylinder one-for-one, and for your $18 you get a freshly painted bottle all cleaned up with 10lbs of gas. My 80% full 10 pounder has been on my aquarium for 4 months now at 3 bubbles per sec and has about 600 lbs of pressure left. At 500 lbs I'll switch out that tank for the backup.. So...6-8 months out of 10 lbs @ 3 BPS...

Be careful with your light - it will drive your need for every other parameter. Ferts, CO2, general maintenance all revolve around how much light you jam into the tank.

Good luck - there's some good advice floating around here!
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-15-2011, 03:30 AM
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I'm right now this second (probably getting paint on my keys) spray painting the new spray bar that I made to replace the one that's in there, so I can hook the FX5 to it. That pipe on the right with the dual exhaust is gone as soon as this paint dries. I'm taking a CFS 500 out and the FX5 will replace it - good canister - I have no complaints... I just wanted more water movement.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-15-2011, 04:53 AM
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These guys are all over it in my opinion.

Lighting...don't get too crazy. Iv'e seen some amazing tanks running off $6 spiral CFLs and $5 aluminum clamp lamps. I've also seen some amazing tanks running off 4 foot $19 shop lights that run 2x 32w. I'm running shop lights on my 90.

Co2...yea, if you want to carpet pressurized is probably the way to go. You can carpet with certain plants without it, but it will take a long time from what I have seen. DIY Co2 is fun to play with, but you'd need so much of it for your tank, after a year you will probably save money going the proper route. I'm making the jump, just ordered the Co2 "kit" from Aquatek of California. I think I'm in it for $130 off Amazon (got the paintball tank adapter too just in case I'm too lazy to go to Airgas). Hope it works well, lol.

Substrate...I like Miracle Grow Organic capped with rocks or sand, but it has it's drawbacks. Read up. I will tell you this, if your into black substrate, Black Diamond Blasting Sand cannot be beat. It looks absolutely amazing and it cost $7.50 for 50lbs. Looks like the stuff in Moose's tank pictured above. I just did my 90 gallon for $15. This stuff can be found at Tractor Suppy, Orshlens...places like that. (Get the 20/40 grit).

Filtration is always subjective. I've seen great planted tanks filtered by a single sponge on a powerhead. I've also seen others running dual canisters pumping 400 plus gph and swearing by it. My personal opinion, filtration doesn't need to be crazy in a well planted tank. I ordered an Aquatop CF-500UV for $119. It's supposed to move 525 gph, but I'm betting it only moves about half of that. I'm not stressing, in a planted tank I think filtration woes are overstated. I think your current pumps will be more than enough.

Tips: Like I said, whatever you think you want in wattage as far as lights go, get about half of that, lol. Look around in the low tech forum on what some people do with 1 or 1.5 watts per gallon (by the way that w/p/g equation is useless these days, but simply for reference sake).

Plant heavy right from the get go, makes life easier in my opinion.

Have a plan...in a planted tank you can't just be moving things around like you can with plastic plants.

African Cichlids (south Americans seem fine) and Goldfish are sometimes a pain in a planted tank, read up.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-15-2011, 05:42 AM
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In my mind the choice between having a high light, canned CO2, HC carpeted, manicured show tank (high tech) and having a moderately lit, no CO2 tank is a big choice which will start you out at one of two ends of a spectrum. I gave a lot of thought to it before I chose.


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same tank now


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Goldfish are among the worst fish for beginners.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-15-2011, 08:22 AM
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1. Lighting: Great info to be found here:

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/li...t5-t12-pc.html

2. Pressurized CO2 is pretty great. It sounds like that's where you will end up--especially if you go for strong lights.

3. EcoComplete is a very good inert-type substrate, although there are many other good options out there. 2" is enough depth in my experience. Just guessing-- 4 or 5 bags should do it. It's nice to slope up towards the back for a more attractive look, so plan for a bit extra. One con to ecocomplete in it can be a bear to get HC to stay rooted in because of the large particle size. Many people grow HC successfully in EcoComplete, but I gave up and decided it just wasn't worth the frustration. If HC is your dream, consider something finer grained.

4. Flow is a good thing in a planted tank, plug both those suckers in and be happy.

5. Have fun!
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-15-2011, 08:43 AM
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Oops

Last edited by ghotifish; 11-15-2011 at 02:39 PM. Reason: Double posted.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-17-2011, 08:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m00se View Post
Matt, your tank's looking great!

The clamp lamp/CFL route is particularly interesting because it's so CHEAP to swap bulbs and adjust color temps and wattages. Matt and I went the Lowes/Home Depot route, but eventually I ended up using Zoo Med "Deep Dome Lamp" fixtures because I wanted to hang them pendulum style and the standard clamp lamp shades are shallow, allowing the bottom of the bulb to protrude below the rim and blasting light into the room. I also liked them because they're black and my tank trim/stand is black.

Here are a few pix of my tank right after I changed to it from a 30 gallon, so the plants are a bit...um...wild ;-)

This is a 40 gallon breeder, which is 17" high



If you go high light you will definitely want pressurized CO2. You will struggle with algae without it on a 55 gallon tank. I got a used regulator, drop checker, needle valve, solenoid,. and 10 lb CO2 tank that was 80% full off a guy on Craigslist for next to nothing ($50 for all that AND another regulator with a blown low pressure gauge). I bought an additional backup cylinder for $25 from a used restaurant equipment joint. You don't need aluminum - that's all bling and additional money for essentially nothing. Airgas Inc, and Haun Welding Supply will SWAP any cylinder one-for-one, and for your $18 you get a freshly painted bottle all cleaned up with 10lbs of gas. My 80% full 10 pounder has been on my aquarium for 4 months now at 3 bubbles per sec and has about 600 lbs of pressure left. At 500 lbs I'll switch out that tank for the backup.. So...6-8 months out of 10 lbs @ 3 BPS...

Be careful with your light - it will drive your need for every other parameter. Ferts, CO2, general maintenance all revolve around how much light you jam into the tank.

Good luck - there's some good advice floating around here!
This is potentially a dumb question, but where do you get the bulbs for that and make sure that they're right for the plants? I'm guessing they're not aquarium specific....

I'm really digging the look of those lamps.
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-17-2011, 09:01 PM
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Anywhere - That's the beauty. I got the bulbs at Lowes because I just happened to be there, but you can find white color temperature CFLs at most well stocked stores. You're trying to get the whiter bulb - 5000k or higher, but I don't even think that matters all that much. Try to find bulbs that are NOT "soft white". I use 15w bulbs, but that's based on the depth of my tank. 40 gallon breeders are about 17" tall. I bought the "4 for $7" specials.
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-17-2011, 09:26 PM
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Anywhere - That's the beauty. I got the bulbs at Lowes because I just happened to be there, but you can find white color temperature CFLs at most well stocked stores. You're trying to get the whiter bulb - 5000k or higher, but I don't even think that matters all that much. Try to find bulbs that are NOT "soft white". I use 15w bulbs, but that's based on the depth of my tank. 40 gallon breeders are about 17" tall. I bought the "4 for $7" specials.
Just to add further...if your at Wal-Mart, GE makes some "daylight" 6500k CFLs, that's where I found mine. They say 6500k somewhere on the box.
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-18-2011, 02:04 PM Thread Starter
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Just to add further...if your at Wal-Mart, GE makes some "daylight" 6500k CFLs, that's where I found mine. They say 6500k somewhere on the box.
I went to Ace yesterday and picked up two 26w GE 6500k Daylight bulbs and some ZooMed 5" deep dome light fixtures, glass hoods, another 16lb bag of Activ-Flora substate, and a new 8 outlet timer (to replace the one my protein skimmer leaked all over and set on fire) at Petco.

Great advice on the lighting. It looks great and cost me only $50 as opposed to $180 the HOt5's would have cost and these lights are twice as strong as the t5's would have been.

Now I just need to adopt out the last of my fish, drain the tank, and dry start the HC and pygmy chain swords.

Eheim Pimp #484
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Ludwigia glandulosa, Hemianthus callitrichoides, Hygrophila lacustris, Echinodorus tenellus, Echinodorus bleheri, aponogeton undulata

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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-18-2011, 03:19 PM
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-24-2011, 04:56 PM Thread Starter
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I got the HC and the chain swords and started them in the tank.

using 64lbs of Eco-complete substrate, 5 cups of peat, and 20lbs of generic (petco brand) black sand and two GE Daylight 26w 6500k CFLs in ZooMed deep domes.
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Eheim Pimp #484
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Ludwigia glandulosa, Hemianthus callitrichoides, Hygrophila lacustris, Echinodorus tenellus, Echinodorus bleheri, aponogeton undulata

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