Help a newbie set up a tank. - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-18-2012, 08:11 PM Thread Starter
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Help a newbie set up a tank.

My stepfather has a 72g bowfront thats fell out of use (lost interest in maintenance after 10 years I guess) so the last of our angels finally died over the years. I'm interested in "taking over", and by that I mean spending lots of money I don't even have! Hah.

Anyways, I'm very very clueless about the technical aspects of things (like equipment) and could use some help. Dont know the first thing about sumps, filters, pipes, whatever.
Thing definitely needs to be CLEANED. The glass is nasty, I think its all moldy on the top. Theres no taking it outside to be hosed down, and I don't want to use bleach, could I just wipe down with water (maybe vinegar?) and things need fixing up. I would really prefer not buying NEW things due to money constraints but I realize some things need replacements. I want it to be planted of course, and do low-medium plants (no high lighting, no CO2).

So PT...how should I start...


Tank shot, the angels never got a wc, only topped off occasionally, ammonia levels couldnt even be measured using tests

Eheim 2217






Rubber lining is falling off of this.. how do I get a replacement or fix it?





Is that hood usable for lighting? Its got only one tube in there, which I can replace but I get the feeling that it won't be enough. Definitely replacing the gravel, not sure what I need. Thought a layer of eco-complete on the bottom topped with either sand or finer gravel. How many lbs would I need?
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-18-2012, 08:16 PM Thread Starter
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My tentative stocking list:

1 betta as a centerpiece fish, I have a hard time finding bigger fish that appeals to me
15+ zebra danios, normal, leopards, longfins
10+ glowlight tetras
10 cories, julii/false bandit/not sure still seeing what LFS has
6 otos
5 threadfins
5-6 guppies and endlers, not sure how this will work depending on the betta
MTS
Shrimp, types dependent on how delicious the betta thinks they are- might just stick with amanos

Maybes: kuhli loaches, BN pleco, skirt tetras?
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-18-2012, 08:27 PM
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Wow you have a lot to learn--you need to explore all parts of this forum to get a good feel for the hobby--First off get rid of the gravel and you must blech the tank and all compotants except the sump--vinegar is good to get rid of water stains--
Lighting should be at least T5 ho 6500k for the plants --take baby steps-- read alot before you start so you understand the whole water dynamics
Good luck Bruce
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-19-2012, 12:02 AM Thread Starter
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Yea, im aware! Ive been readung up on fish for months and i have 2 small tanks myself now. Im just lost whenit comes to the big big tech stuff and dont want to spend more money than necessary.
Is the t5 a must? That means a whole new thing for them right?
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-19-2012, 01:14 AM
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I find the best thing to do is testthe water that you will be using for tank water changes and pick species of fish and plants that can handle it. The hardest thing to do is constantly adjust water parameters. Im no expert but i have well water with ph of 6.5 so i based my tank around south american fish. Do not overthink it and put tons of fertilizers and chemicals. And take your time.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-23-2012, 03:08 PM
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If you want to grow plants its your cheapest option
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-23-2012, 03:37 PM
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6500k cfl's (compact fluorescent lights) are really cheap and would let you grow plants really well. You can get shop light fixtures and get 23 watt 6500k cfl bulbs because these are strong and put off a good color for your plants. A few of these would work and give you enough light. 6500k light temperature is important because this is probably the best common bulb temperature to grow plants at. I agree with ditching the gravel. I would replace it with some sand, it's cheap and my favorite. Playsand works great. You'll need root tabs for fertilizer though (which are still pretty cheap.)

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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-03-2012, 05:26 AM Thread Starter
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How do those uh, shop lights work/stay on? Any photo examples? I need to keep the lighting down to one outlet/plug if it matters. My first idea is to get the aquasun and use one t5ho, one no-not sure if that is too much which would put that is about $150.

If the cfls are a cheaper/easier route, then Ill do that but Im not sure what I need exactly.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-03-2012, 06:06 AM
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Literally go to home depot or lowes, buy a four pack of spiral 23 watt bulbs marked at 6500k, buy like 3 or four 4 shop lights (steel or aluminum reflectors with a socket and cord) and set them on top of the glass on your tank. Your filtration looks great if you can get it all clean and running!


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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-06-2012, 02:08 AM Thread Starter
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I'll go take a look around a hardware store but Im not sure about the shop light route. I dont want big reflectors like https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/at...1&d=1330729534 because they don't look very good personally.

Anything here workable? http://www.drsfostersmith.com/fish-s...578/3733/13822 Nothing in the CFL section fits the budget..I'm aiming for ~$150, not sure if this is reasonable to grow most plants, no high lighting/Co2.

Gave the tank a scrub today, wasnt sure how to work the sipon I can do it on my small tanks but it just wasn't going here. So, old fashioned route:






I'm not gunna bother with the sump because there was a leak in the tank relating to it and..its been in disuse after that. That pvc inlet is gross looking and I assume if I raise the water level to it, the water will just go into the pipe. Anything I can do about it...?

Took that pvc pipe off, both heaters still in. None of the tubing has been replaced- do I need to?




Didn't replace any filter media. Unsure if I need to, everything insides been rinsed, looks like a layer of hollow ceramic rings on the bottom, a meshy thing, some white gravely layer- dont know if ammonia related or just...plain rocks. And then I cut out a circle of filter floss on top because the layer inside was falling apart. I have no idea what I am doing! No substrate yet, but Ive tossed in fish flakes.
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-06-2012, 02:39 AM
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Looks like your doing fine. Dont be affraid to make mistakes, they can be costly but they can also be a huge help in the learning curve.

Here are a few tips for you. Since you already have glass tops you can simply add another light in the front section of the bow. Measure first and then get one that fits, for width measure your existing light.

For a cheap substrate you can use laterite and then cap it with pool filter sand. (just research this topic first due to possible algea blooms)

you can use the cheap fertilizers from the plant stores. Reasearch the EI fertilization method and that will lead you into everything you never wanted to know about fertilizers.

Dont worry about plants just yet. Let the tank cycle for a couple of weeks and get a test kit. When your ammonia and nitrites hit 0 and your nitrates are under 40ppm you are ready for fish. This may take some time. After having fish wait till algea happens then get an algea crew. After you ahve an agea crew your ready for plants. If you go and stick plants in a substrate with no fertilizer, I.E. Poop, then without good fertilization they wont ahve any food.

There are several product on the market to help speed up the cycling process or you can uSe an existing cycled sponge filter or substrate to speed up the process.

Expect to learn about DIY CO2 or spend a considerable amount of money on the big dog top of line pressurized systems.

Well thats enough for now. Hope you enjoy it. Look at like a bunch of ten gallons only difference is if one crashes well you know...

Alex R.
(Pay it forward)

P.S. For the old sump intake pipe you can use it as the new intake to the eheim canister filter your using just reduce the size to a barb that fits the eheim tube. Then you can get ride of the green eheim intake and only have two tubes again.


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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-06-2012, 05:03 AM Thread Starter
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I was planning on adding substrate first, then plants, then fish..but the lack of plant food is a concern. I already have ferts for my little tank (flourish, excel, root tabs, proplant..). Hah, can I throw in my dirty poop water from wc into there?!
Already have the API test kit, thought about grabbing safestart too and throwing it in there...I have extra sponge material too. Super impatient about fully cycling, but I'm going away for a week so that helps.


Never thought about using the pvc pipes for the filter ah! Not sure how to do it but I'll look into it. Not a fan of the green tubes.
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-06-2012, 06:32 AM
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You could probably plug that pvc pipe somehow with a pvc fitting. The least you could do is turn it up so that you could raise the water level a few more inches. I started my tank with water, than substrate, than plants, than fish, than LOTS more plants than lots more fish and I haven't had a single death or algae or anything! So it certainly can be done. I would urge you to take it slowwwww. Although my sig says my first planted tank, this is definitely not my first tank. If there's one thing I've learned it's to make any changes slowly and you will be rewarded with healthy fish! If you take it slow than any problems will arise slowly and you will have more time to figure out what's wrong.

You're doing a good job cleaning that tank up!


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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-06-2012, 03:04 PM
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I personally prefer gravel over sand. Sand looks nice until it's covered with fish poop - then it looks awful. And it can be tricky to clean without sucking the sand up as well. Not saying don't use it if that's what you like - just making you aware of some of the drawbacks.

Invest in a Python type of water changer. It will become your best friend. I use the Lees brand (Python knockoff) that can be purchased at Petco. It hooks up to your sink and uses the faucet to start the suction. The water drains into your sink. Then you "flip a switch" and the clean water flows from the faucet to the tank and fills the tank back up for you. Best thing I ever bought.

As far as ferts go, I have an Eco Complete substrate and low light, and I never add any ferts. I just let the fish poop do the fertilizing. This works just fine for low light plants that don't have alot of demands. So if you want low maintenance and cheap then perhaps consider going low light. You can still have a nice planted tank with low light/low maintenance plants if that's what you want.
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 05:54 AM Thread Starter
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I grabbed the aquasun, with only 1 t5 bulb.

And this is going to sound really really dumb but...it doesn't fit. Am I doing something wrong? Its the 48" fixture, and I got the 46" lights, but it..just doesnt go in, its like...the bulb is a few millimeters longer than the area to stick it in....I dont..know if Im supposed to be pushing or anything and I am afraid of breaking the thing.

e: Oh...I got it...I had to actually push a side outwards to shove the tube in.... is that normal? Never had to do that for my normal t8 hoods...
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