Starting ~100 gal tank & thinking about going planted - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-03-2012, 03:45 AM Thread Starter
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Starting ~100 gal tank & thinking about going planted

Hello all! My name is Tyler, and I'm a new member. I've had freshwater aquariums all of my life, but I've never had one over ~40 gallons. Currently, I have a 35 gallon tank (which I have created a profile for if anyone is interested in seeing it), which only uses plastic plants and a pebble base, so I have no experience using real plants in an aquarium.

My fiancee and I just purchased our first home, and I will be lining one wall of my downstairs office with a 90-150 gallon fresh water tank (probably at least 6' long, so it will be a more shallow tank). The tank will be in a darker part of my downstairs area (about 20 ft away from a large set of windows). Given that I enjoy the natural wood look in my current tank, I have started to look into making my new one a planted tank, but there is an overwhelming amount of information out there and I'm not sure where to start.

**As a side note, I have already considered the costs/benefits of such a large tank, and I am very prepared to take on the work that is involved... or so I think, lol.**

I have a number of questions that I'm sure you all may be able to help me with for planning this tank, but I'm sure you want to know a bit about what I'd like to accomplish before diving into the questions, so here goes:

First and foremost, I should discuss my budget. Not including the tank or base, I would like to keep the cost of filling it with plants, substrate/gravel, stone/wood centerpieces , and fish under $500 if possible. I think this is a healthy budget, but I could be proven wrong!

I like a more simple look... I don't want a jungle growing in the tank, but a moderate amount of plant life would be nice. I've seen the phrase "el natural" used before to describe the look that I'm going for, but I don't really want a tank from the 1970's, lol. Something in between the "el natural" and a serene aquascape would be nice. Here's a couple of picture that I found which display the approximate look I'm going for (but obviously in a much larger tank):






I like the look of grass-like plants, such as dwarf hairgrass, and others that I've seen described as "carpeting" plants, but I would also like to have a few tall plants as well. A nice three-layer approach with lots of low-level grass-type plants, a few medium height plants scattered around, and a couple of tall plants strategically placed would be nice.

I plan on incorporating either driftwood or large natural stones in the tank. I don't plan on filling every square inch on the bottom with plants/stone/wood, but I would like to see about 50% of the tank bottom covered by plants or centerpieces.

I wouldn't mind using a substrate at the bottom of the tank, but I would prefer to keep it inexpensive and low maintenance.

I am probably going to fill the tank with cichlids and other fairly aggressive fish. I don't know the exact number of fish that I'll be able to put in, but I would assume around 5-7 larger fish, and maybe one oscar, would be acceptable? Again, this is where you guys can help me out. If it's any help, I like medium-size, more colorful fish.

Well that's all I can think of for now to help you help me, lol.

And now for my questions:

1. Is it even a good idea to try and make a ~100 gallon tank an planted tank?

2. What kind of substrate / gravel should I use at the bottom?

3. What kind of a filtration system should I be using?

4. What kind of plants should I buy, and where can I get them (I live in central CT and wouldn't mind traveling a bit).

5. Are the fish I want to live in the tank (more aggressive species such as cichlids) going to do well with natural plants?

6. How much work is this REALLY going to be? lol

Thanks in advance for your help!

Last edited by Cochepaille; 05-03-2012 at 03:49 AM. Reason: Notifications
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post #2 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-03-2012, 04:08 AM
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This is a great link for setting up the tank: http://www.thekrib.com/Plants/People/opsomer.html

For the plants, try: http://www.aquariumplants.com/Aquarium_Plants_s/1.htm

For the fish, try: http://www.aquabid.com/

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post #3 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-03-2012, 04:29 AM
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Quote:
1. Is it even a good idea to try and make a ~100 gallon tank an planted tank?

2. What kind of substrate / gravel should I use at the bottom?

3. What kind of a filtration system should I be using?

4. What kind of plants should I buy, and where can I get them (I live in central CT and wouldn't mind traveling a bit).

5. Are the fish I want to live in the tank (more aggressive species such as cichlids) going to do well with natural plants?

6. How much work is this REALLY going to be? lol
1. Absolutely!
2. Depends on the fish. The Cichlid family is quite large, so here are some generalizations. Do your research!
Most Cichlids dig. Plant in containers or hide the plants' roots under large enough rocks the fish cannot dig them up. Have places that are OK for the fish to dig, for example a sand area along the front of the tank.
3. I would look into canisters, perhaps 2 for a tank of around 100 + gallons. (125 gallons, 6' long x 18" front to back x 24" high is a nice size). I have a Fluval 404 and a sump on mine. I do not recommend the Fluvals.
4. Join a local aquarium club. They may have auctions or plant swaps. Species will depend on a few things, like light, and are you going to do pressurized CO2. Many Cichlids eat plants, which will severely limit your choices. Not all, though. Do your research.
5. Most of the Rift Lake species are algae eaters, and are entirely willing to eat plants, too. Many of the South American Cichlids are not plant eaters, but some are. Cannot generalize, really. Start looking into the different species and their requirements.
6. As much work as you want to make it! Do the research ahead of time, and if a particular fish or plant has too many requirements you cannot meet, then do not get that one.
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post #4 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-03-2012, 04:09 PM Thread Starter
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Alright, well now that I know it's at least okay to do a planted 100+ gallon tank, maybe it's best to start with specific questions.

How about filtration...

I've heard that canister filters are probably the way to go, especially considering their versatility w/ respect to filter media & the fact that they can handle lots of waste in large tanks. A number of people on this forum have indicated that Fluval is a bad brand, but what about Rena Filstar canister filters? The XP3 model looks acceptable given that it can be used for tanks up to 175 gallons, so I'm wondering if anyone has experience w/ this filter and whether it can be used for my application?
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post #5 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-03-2012, 04:23 PM
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I'm pretty new to fully planted tanks as well so maybe a little bit of my findings will help you out.

I've found it easier to to run both hang on back filters as well as a Canister. I have a fluval fx5 with 2 Marineland 400's. I use the canister for bio only and put my other things in the hob's activated carbon, ammocarb that kind of stuff.

LED is you best choice for lighting if you going to go anything that needs med+ lighting. The cost of t5ho bulbs needing to be replaced every 10-12 months then power consumption makes it a no brainier.

Substrate fertz and plants if you search will keep you busy for at least a month lol...
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post #6 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-03-2012, 04:24 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Kyrol... lighting was actually my next question.

I know the lighting I need will depend on what kinds of plants I want in the tank. For some reason, I really like the look of dwarf hairgrass and other medium to high light plants, so I know that I'll need about 2.75W per gallon.

If LEDs are the way to go, what total wattage should I get for a tank of ~100 gallons (that is, is the conversion the same from your standard T5 HO bulbs)?
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post #7 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-03-2012, 04:30 PM
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1. Is it even a good idea to try and make a ~100 gallon tank an planted tank?
There are many larger tanks that are planted. No problem here


2. What kind of substrate / gravel should I use at the bottom?
With this size tank and to save cost I would go Dirted. Eco and other planted substrates run 20+ a bag

3. What kind of a filtration system should I be using?
Save cost Again. Look into the White canister filters on Ebay, heard wonderful things about them.


4. What kind of plants should I buy, and where can I get them (I live in central CT and wouldn't mind traveling a bit).
This is based on what YOU want. HiTech / LowTech

5. Are the fish I want to live in the tank (more aggressive species such as cichlids) going to do well with natural plants?
LOL no, you're saying you want to make a Cichlid Tank?


6. How much work is this REALLY going to be? lol
Not really that hard.



Determine if you want milder work i.e Dosing Ferts, monorting, fighting algae issues. If this doesn't appeal to you, then look into LOWER lighting, sticking with lower lighting plants. There are a lot of plants that thrive in lower light setting. And I know you dont want to get into the whole CO2 cycle. You can run co2 without the need for high ligh, all plants need it so if cost isnt that big of a deal, I would run it but I would stick with medium lighting.

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post #8 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-03-2012, 04:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cochepaille View Post
Thanks Kyrol... lighting was actually my next question.

I know the lighting I need will depend on what kinds of plants I want in the tank. For some reason, I really like the look of dwarf hairgrass and other medium to high light plants, so I know that I'll need about 2.75W per gallon.

If LEDs are the way to go, what total wattage should I get for a tank of ~100 gallons (that is, is the conversion the same from your standard T5 HO bulbs)?
WPG and LED don't mix and it's an antiquated system that only works on a handful of tanks. I pretty sure Hoppy is the lighting Guru on the forum after you read a little someone will be able to fine tune anything else you have as far as questions. I'm going to take the money bags route and buy some Aqua-Illumination SOL's.

Co2 will pretty much be a must if your thinking med/high a few forum members build co2 regulators there are diy's for building reactors to get it properly dispersed.

It all sounds daunting but so much information is on here it makes it pretty easy planning and research are half the fun.

btw Welcome to the forum.
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post #9 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-03-2012, 05:23 PM
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WPG and LED don't mix and it's an antiquated system that only works on a handful of tanks.

WPG only applied to T12 lighting

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post #10 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-03-2012, 06:14 PM
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1. Is it even a good idea to try and make a ~100 gallon tank an planted tank?
Absolutely, bigger is always better lol

2. What kind of substrate / gravel should I use at the bottom?
Depends on what you want to grow, since you are thinking cichlids you could use good substrate in key areas that you want to plant and cheap stuff to fill in the other areas. Could also use cheap stuff throughout the tank and just use root tabs where you have plants growing in the substrate.

3. What kind of a filtration system should I be using?
Lots of options and opinions really will come down to what you can get the best deal on

4. What kind of plants should I buy, and where can I get them (I live in central CT and wouldn't mind traveling a bit).
In a cichlid tank I would say swords, crypts and anubias are good choices. Trying a carpet with cichlids may drive you nuts they like to dig a lot as they get older. i buy my plants online, but you can check loacal shops, online or this forum has a swap and shop forum for buying and selling. lots of deals in there.

5. Are the fish I want to live in the tank (more aggressive species such as cichlids) going to do well with natural plants?
Yes, cichlids like caves so you will probably have a lot of rockwork just use it to help protect your plants.

6. How much work is this REALLY going to be? lol
With cichlids and the plants I listed you could go lower light and shouldn’t be too hard to deal with.

These are just my opinions; I recommend reading through this site. There are lots of very smart and helpful people here. goodluck
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post #11 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-03-2012, 06:49 PM Thread Starter
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3. What kind of a filtration system should I be using?
Save cost Again. Look into the White canister filters on Ebay, heard wonderful things about them.
When you say "White canister filters", are you referring to the filter pads that go in a classic canister, or is there an actual brand called "White"?
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post #12 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-03-2012, 06:54 PM
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there is an actual brand and its is White. I can't link it cause it isnt allowed.

BRB with the details

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post #13 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-03-2012, 06:55 PM
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type in "3 STAGE EXTERNAL CANISTER AQUARIUM" into [Ebay Link Removed] You should find it then.

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post #14 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-03-2012, 08:51 PM Thread Starter
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Looks exactly like an Aquatop canister filter... but a lot cheaper! Thanks!

Do you think the 264 gph flow rate will be good enough if I get > 100 gallon tank... it says the max size is 75-100 gallons (depending on which one you click on), so I'm assuming the answer is "no"?

If not, there's an Aquatop CF-500UV for sale on eBay right now for ~$110 brand new... Looks like those normally go for about $130. Should I snag it?
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post #15 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-03-2012, 09:02 PM
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I would personally not put most rift lake cichlids in a planted tank, because they clash with most plants directly. The uproot them, eat them, dig near them, and plants dislike the conditions that rift lake fish like. However, South American cichlids are just as good and there are some great varieties that like the same conditions, do not uproot, etc.

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