Considering a planted tank, had a few quick Q's. - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-09-2012, 07:05 AM Thread Starter
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Question Considering a planted tank, had a few quick Q's.

Hey everyone, new to the forum and have been reading the FAQ's and related resources for the past few days. I've been toying with starting a large planted tank for some time now, and now that some of my fish are outgrowing their current 60g environment, I figured now was as good a time as any to get a bigger tank (90 or 110g) and begin my foray into the planted world.

The first thing I'm trying to figure out is what is the best filter system to use. I have a less than ideal situation in that my tank sits on a large countertop / breakfast bar type thing in my kitchen, roughly 55" wide by 45" deep. There is nowhere to put a canister filter, so my only options are a HOB or underwater filter. I've been recommended the Fluval U4 for this task, as HOBs will create too much water movement for the plants to thrive. Considering my limitations, is the U4 the best I can do for the tank? If not, I'd love to learn about better alternatives.

The second issue is stocking the tank. I would love to keep some of the fish I currently have which include German Blue Rams, Albino Corys, Killis, a Rainbow Shark, a common Pleco, and a Pink Tailed Chalceus. However every planted tank I've seen seems to feature tiny fish and algae eaters so I'm wondering how something like a Pink Tailed Chalceus (which can get up to 10in) would fare in a planted tank. Probably not too well, the thing is crazy skittish. Anyways, I guess my question is, should I give up on the idea of keeping my current community or is there a way to make it work?

I'm going to continue reading the forums and educating myself on the basics of preparing and caring for a planted tank, but these two questions are pretty subjective and was hoping to get some feedback before making any purchasing decisions. Thanks all!
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-09-2012, 09:22 AM
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-09-2012, 11:36 AM
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For a tank the size you are considering you really need to have a canister filter to do the job right. You can get away with just occasionally using a Magnum HOT canister but that is an imperfect solution. I just spent several years proving that to myself. Is there any place else you can locate your new tank?

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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-09-2012, 03:58 PM Thread Starter
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I mean sure I could rearrange my living room and purchase a full stand and tank setup, but the problem with that is we have a really small living room as it is, and the current tank location is perfect because it's out of the way and compliments this very weird "block" that comes out of the wall - forming a natural breakfast bar + aquarium display. At this point, my wife and I agree we'd rather have the best aquarium we can to compliment the space we have rather than totally redesign the living space to accommodate a new tank setup.

Let me ask you this - what if I kept my current 4' 60g tank instead of upgrading, and used the Fluval U4 in this? I know it's still not optimal compared to a canister setup, but it seems to me there would still be decent water flow and filtration.
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-09-2012, 04:24 PM
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Can you post a picture of where you where the current tank is? I am havinng a tough time visualizing it I guess.

If you have enough room behind the tank for a large HOB, I would think you could 2 smaller canisters in the space as well.

What about a refugium style filter? They are more common on reefs but could be modified to support higher flow. On a 90 gallon, you could hide quite a large refugium on the back side - probably 15 gallons or more, which would be plenty of room to house any media you decided to use.


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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-09-2012, 04:34 PM
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If you could get something like a nice looking printer cart or a designer-type laundry basket (I did a Google, and this is what I got: http://www.homedecorators.com/detail...FccBRQodAC41Zg, maybe something less expensive though), you can set it besides the counter and put a canister filter in it to hide it.

For that size aquarium, you really do need a canister filter, sump, or other powerful filter type. HOB filters are great, but they are only really suitable for 50 gallons and under (although there are HOB filters rated for 100 gallons). I am assuming since your tank sits on the counter that you can view the aquarium from both the front and back, in which case a HOB filter would be a bit of an eyesore.

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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-09-2012, 04:44 PM
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If you can't go down, why not go up?

Do you have enough headroom (aka no cabinets) for emergent growth and hanging lights? If so, you could get a large tank and go full-walstad (powerheads only, plants effectively become your bio-filter).

But, you're not going to be able to increase your fauna stocking much over your current tank.
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-09-2012, 05:44 PM Thread Starter
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dubvstudent: I'll have a photo online tonight. I should have uploaded one when I started this thread.

Gnomecatcher: The tank is pushed back against the wall (technically 4" away to accommodate the HOB), so it's only visible from the front and sides. I have considered putting some kind of enclosure on the ground near the countertop, but it might be a bit messy looking, since I won't have a way to hide the tubes. However, I'm not totally opposed to the idea. I'll take another look at the space tonight and try to envision it. I know going the canister route is the most dependable way to go, so I owe it to myself to consider it seriously before deciding anything.

s_s: I have tons of headroom above this tank (probably about 4'). I haven't considered a powerhead-only setup... I'm really new to this world, so if you have any recommendations on products for a 90g let me know! (Lights too)
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-10-2012, 03:33 PM Thread Starter
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Here's a couple photos. In the second you'll see a bamboo shade which covers a small storage area in this "block". I know everyone is going to say to stash the canister filter in there, but the problem is, directly under this block is a staircase going to the basement and if you drill through the inner wall, you'll see the holes (and subsequent tubing) when you're on the stairs. It would be an eyesore down there, so I'm not considering it for this tank.
http://i.imgur.com/qVapo.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/zTxQN.jpg
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-10-2012, 03:57 PM
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Are you a handy carpenter? You could pull the tank out some 4-6" more from the wall and build a box (or even a canopy that extends in the back to enclose the area between the tank and the wall) that could hide all your equipment. You would lose some space on the counter, but it would do the trick.

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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-10-2012, 04:02 PM
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I also hope you realize that standard 90g and 110g tanks are about 12 inches longer than the tank you have now. It looks like to have some more room on that counter, but be sure to double check and measure it.

Standard tank sizes:
http://www.badmanstropicalfish.com/f...?topic=15978.0

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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-10-2012, 04:07 PM Thread Starter
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I'm not, but I do have a couple talented friends I could spare another 4" I suppose. Especially if its entirely enclose so I don't have to see behind the tank. Now this is the part where I am sorely uninformed. If I'm upgrading to a 90g tank, what kind of equipment - considering this limited space - would work best for me?
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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-10-2012, 04:08 PM Thread Starter
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BTW it's a 90g high tank, so dimensions are 48" x 18" x 24".
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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-10-2012, 04:21 PM
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That's where other people come in. I don't really have any experience with the different canister filter brands out there. All I know is that Eheim tends to make really reliable products that are easy to maintain.

What I can say is that you're probably going to want to "over filter" your tank. That is, some filters are rated up to so many gallons, like 30, 50, 90, etc. For your tank, you're probably going to want the total rating to be around 150 (this is not a hard and fast rule). The main idea behind this is that it will help prevent the buildup of waste toxins like ammonia since most canisters have some sort of biological filtration, and also it will provide you with a lot of flow (gallons per hour) for better water circulation. It also depends on what kind of fish you have, as some fish create more waste than others.

Another thing is that you can have multiple filters. Instead of getting one giant canister filter rated for 150 gallons, get 2 smaller canisters rated at 60-70 gallons apiece. That way if one fails, you have the other, and you can also spread out the intakes and return spouts around the tank for better circulation. This is only a suggestion though, it is really based on your needs.

There is no right answer, but these are just some things to keep in mind when deciding from a plethora of filtration options.

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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-10-2012, 04:28 PM
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I was just perusing Foster and Smith Aquatics website for canister filters, and there is a Marineland canister filter that hangs on to the tank, called the Hang On Tank Magnum Canister Filter. It looks like it has gotten good reviews, is not too expensive, and it would be a real space saver. It is only rated up to 55 gallons, so I would use 2 of them on a 90g.

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