First Planted tank build - 40g Breeder - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 64 (permalink) Old 07-05-2012, 02:14 AM Thread Starter
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First Planted tank build - 40g Breeder

Hello, and welcome to my build thread. First of all let me say that I am excited to try my hand at planted tanks. I have been keeping aquariums for more than 15 years, but have not yet attempted a planted tank. I currently have three systems up and running, a 34 gallon freshwater community tank, a 90 gallon mixed reef tank, and a custom 3 gallon mixed reef tank. While I can't say that I have mastered the art of reef keeping, I have been quite successful.

This journey has now brought me to the world of planted tanks. Here I plan to share with all of you my plan for this upcoming project and hopefully benefit from the vast amount of knowledge that exists on this forum. Let's get on with it then.

The Plan:

I purchased a 40 gallon breeder tank about 2 weeks ago, at the $1 a gallon sale, to be used for this endeavor. Since that time I have been lurking on this and other sites gathering as much knowledge as possible, and have purchased what I believe to be everything I need to get started, though I plan on making more purchases in the future. Here is a list of the current things that I have now, or are on thier way to me.

- 40g breeder tank
- AquaTop CF400UV canister filter
- Pressurized Co2 system w/Milwaukee regulator and PH controler, 5# Co2 tank, and DIY inline downflow Co2 reactor.
- Glass drop checker w/4dkH solution
- Odyssea 36" quad T5 light fixture w/6500k bulbs
- 300W inline heater
- UP Aqua Soil
- Pruning scissors
- forceps
- Flourish, Flourish Excel, Flourish Iron, Flourish Potassium, Flourish Nitrogen, Flourish Phosphorus, and Flourish root tabs.

The only thing that I know is missing is a stand. I hope to have one built by the end of the week. Other future plans include an Auto top-off/water change system, and automatic dosing pump system.

I did A LOT of research on different soils for the tank. For a long time I was planning on using the ADA Substrate System, but simply cannot afford it. In my research I came across Green Leaf Aquariums and the UP Aqua Soil and decided to order it. I know that the ADA soil is better, but I think that I can still have fantastic results with the UP soil.

Hopefully, I will be ready to actually set this tank up in the next 2 weeks. At that point I was planning on getting some help with the design and layout of the tank. I found a company called Aquariumplants.com that will design my system and send me all of the plants. Being that I don't know much about the various plants, I thought this might be the way to go. Any thoughts on this or if you have used this service, please let me know.

Thanks for checking out my build thread. There will be more to come in the future, including LOTS of pics. Please feel free to post comments and/or suggestions!!

Last edited by lpsouth1978; 07-05-2012 at 02:15 AM. Reason: added to post
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post #2 of 64 (permalink) Old 07-05-2012, 03:00 AM
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Hello and congrats on getting started on your first planted tank You seem to have everything you need, but here are a few things you can consider (my random thoughts):

The Odyssea lights aren't that very high quality, and while they will probably work, id look more into this thread:
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=105774
Measure the distance from your substrate (calculate how many cubic inches it will take up, since its not in yet) to the bottom of your fixture. Decide what quality your reflectors are using the guide in the above thread. Then, based on this information ensure you have enough light for the plants you want to grow. Of course since you have pressurized co2 you should be ok, even with low light. This is more of a heads up than anything.

Flourish line. Waste of money! They are OK as starter products, but I'd highly recommend looking into dry ferts. Green Leaf Aquariums, which you are already familiar with has all the dry ferts you will need. It will cost you a fraction of the cost per year to buy dry ferts and dose your method of choice (Estimate Index or PPS Pro)

As for plants and hardscape, I'd say do it yourself! The best way to learn about different plants, how to scape, etc is to get your hands dirty. Your first tank might not look like an Amano but you will certainly learn from it and your next tanks will be better and better. If you want inspiration, just check out Takashi Amano's work

Last edited by Trickerie; 07-05-2012 at 03:01 AM. Reason: .
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post #3 of 64 (permalink) Old 07-05-2012, 03:38 AM
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You'll hear a lot of different opinions on the Odyssea - I love mine! I love it so much I added another for my 13 gallon tank. The one I have now is strong enough to grow corals in my mini reef. No, the reflectors aren't the best, but I'm happy with them for the $$ I paid.

I would add another filter - I can't say it enough, but the more the merrier. Aquaclears are nice, cheap and reliable. There's great prices on Amazon.

You could post on the Swap n Shop forum what your specs are and someone would create a package for you - there's a lot of high volume sellers here who would be happy to help you out with plant packages, manzanita/stone packages and you could get scaping tips from the tank journal forum.

That may be cheaper than using the Aquariumplants service. I've seen threads where the poster says they have xxx dollars to spend and they would like to get plants/hard scape for that amount.

Also, the more plants, the better! Growing "weeds" is a very satisfying thing and the fish love them

Good luck...40 breeders are a nice, versatile size, not too big and not too small.

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75 gallon semi-aggressive community tank with pressurized CO2, 8.6 gallon cherry shrimp tank
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Last edited by if_fishes_were_wishes; 07-05-2012 at 03:42 AM. Reason: added stuff
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post #4 of 64 (permalink) Old 07-06-2012, 10:01 PM Thread Starter
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I think that I have decided to all of the planting and scaping on my own. I already have a few ideas that I would like to impliment. Hopefully they are as effective in reality as they are in my imagination.

I have been pretty happy with the Odyssea fixtures that I have used in the past. I actually have an Odyssea fixture over my 90g Reef tank and could not be happier. I have had a number of people tell me that I would only need 2 T5 bulbs for this tank, but I decided to go with 4 because I can always use only 2 if needed and it was only $100 shipped, and has the timers built in.

As far as filtration, the CF400 is rated at 350gph (if I remember correctly) so I figure about 275 in reality. It is my understanding that a health planted tank does not really need filtration as it is already a big biological filter in itself. I plan on using the canister to power my Co2 reactor, create some flow in the tank, and add space for additional biological filtration. I don't plan on using any chemical filtration, just a filter pad or two and bio media.

Please feel free to correct me if any of the things I just said are not correct. Everything that I know about this, I have learned from reading threads just like this one.
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post #5 of 64 (permalink) Old 07-06-2012, 10:26 PM
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I have 600 gph from 3 filters in my 55. Water flow is always a good thing, as is extra filtration. Never hurts When I had a 40 breeder set up, I had 2 Eheims on it, one at each end.

With a reef, I have read that filtration can simply be thru the sand or live rock, but with a freshwater planted tank, you need it in some form.

The filters house the beneficial bacteria on the media and the gravel does too. The more beneficial bacteria there is to break things down, the better.

Also, having 2 filters means you never have an issue with accidentally wiping out your beneficial bacteria when you clean your one filter. I clean one filter at a time and rest easy knowing the colonies are intact on the other 2.

You'll be fine with what you have, but if you ever want more flow, that'll be a big plus!

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Last edited by if_fishes_were_wishes; 07-06-2012 at 10:29 PM. Reason: added stuff
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post #6 of 64 (permalink) Old 07-06-2012, 10:37 PM Thread Starter
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I guess that i will wait and see what the flow is like in the tank once I have it set up. The filter is only $100 shipped, so I can always add another if it is needed.
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post #7 of 64 (permalink) Old 07-07-2012, 01:10 PM
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You can't go wrong with a $40 dollar purchase for a 40g tank. I just picked up 4 myself. For a 40g, it really won't take much ADA soil. 2 bags tops if that. Depends on your intended depth. I have heard that the UP soil will break down in a year or so. Some have had success. If not ADA aquasoil you could have used MTS (Mineralized top Soil) its a sticky. You can make mass amounts pretty cheap. Plus you won't have to dose much fertilizer at all.

Aquariumplants.com is awesome. Currently that is the only place I purchase plants from. Good quality. Their "worlds best co2 regulator" is top notch. Pricey but I don't regret spending the amount for it.

I agree with creating your own setup. Paying someone else to do it is a waste IMO. Plus it takes the fun away from you and you will feel like the tank isn't yours, your just maintaining it. Chances are you will change up the aquacape anyways at some point from what they come up with. Put that money to some other use with your build.

I second the dry fertz. Although I haven't gotten into it yet for I still have some of the seachem products left over from my purchase last year. It gets expensive and your paying for something your already paying for:water. Their line is mostly water and your paying for shipping for lesser amounts of nutrients in comparison to dry fertz. Had I known about dry fertz a year ago, I would have switched then.

All in all I think you will find going planted can be visually just a pleasing a reefs setups. There is a thread on "why we have planted and not reefs" from a few months ago. It was pretty entertaining I thought to read thru and comment. Depending on your intents, going planted can have a higher return for your investment. Welcome to the planted side.
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post #8 of 64 (permalink) Old 07-07-2012, 03:53 PM Thread Starter
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Good to hear about aquariumplants.com. I already have a couple of things on my list that I plan to order from them. The first will be a mat of HC. I think that I am going to do a dry start with the HC and then add other plants when I flood the tank.

As for the soil, According to ADG I would need 2 9L bags of Aquasoil which is not bad, but I was looking at using the entire substrate system if I went with the ADA soil. This meant that with the soil, Power Sand, and all of the other things that you add below and on the soil it would have cost about $200-250 for the system. Knowing that tanks can be successful with less expensive soils, I could not justify spending that on the soil alone.

I also think that I will be ordering another CF400uv filter for the tank. I was expecting the spray bar to reach further across the tank. It only reaches less than half way. I figure that if I order another of the same filter I can ensure the same flow throughout the tank, plus I will have intakes in both back corners. With the spray bars the flow should be pretty gentle as well, I hope.

I am planning on getting the basic skeleton of the stand built this afternoon, as long as the weather holds out long enough for me to get the lumber today. I will post pics as soon as I am able to get working on it.
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post #9 of 64 (permalink) Old 07-08-2012, 05:13 AM
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There are several threads on this site alone about ada aquasoil and others as comparisons. One big debate was the use of the power sand. Is it needed or not. Basically no. Aquasoil alone is a great substrate. Most of their products can be left on their shelf. If you purchased just the soil that is already several steps above other substrates.

I use to keep trying to convince myself to use cheaper substrates for my 180g build but everything keeps pointing me back to ada aquasoil the more I go thru these threads. For my inhabitants, the type of tank material and the aquascaping layout, aquasoil has its name all over my build. Yes it can be expensive the larger the tank. One must do what ever is necessary to have a successful tank is what I like to say now a days. I am calculating about $300-$400 just in substrate so I am saving up now.

If you don't plan on having deep substrate or hills/slopes, I strongly advice you to take a look into MTS. Alot of people are using this with the dry start method with good results.
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post #10 of 64 (permalink) Old 07-08-2012, 09:20 PM Thread Starter
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Just a couple of updates. I have received my canister filter, though as I said in my earlier post, I think I will be ordering another. I also spent some time working on my stand today. I had to stop because I ran out of bolts and unfortunately will not be able to get more for a few days. Hopefully I will be able to complete it next weekend. I also completed my DIY Co2 Reactor today. Here of some pics of the stand and the reactor.

The top and bottom:


2 of the support legs before bracing:


The almost complete "skeleton" of the stand. You can see that the front corner is not secured. This is where I ran out of bolts.


And my reactor, It is like 20" long:
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post #11 of 64 (permalink) Old 07-08-2012, 09:33 PM Thread Starter
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Here are some pics of my other tanks. Not planted but I think they are beautiful anyway.

My 90 gallon Reef tank, about 6 months old:


My 34 gallon reef tank, this was running for about 2 years, but I broke it down about 2 months ago.


My 3 gallon reef tank, about 1.5 years old.

Last edited by lpsouth1978; 07-08-2012 at 09:36 PM. Reason: new photo
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post #12 of 64 (permalink) Old 07-08-2012, 10:11 PM
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Your reef tanks are absolutely beautiful! I've been keeping low tech planted freshwater tanks for years now but haven't dared try out a marine one yet.

Anyway you'll enjoy your planted one, it's nice to work with all that green! Sounds like you're all set and I can't wait to see how your tank ends up
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post #13 of 64 (permalink) Old 07-11-2012, 12:05 AM Thread Starter
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Another quick update. Got most of the stuff for the tank in today. The only thing I am still waiting for, should be here tomorrow, is the inline heater. This is the list of everything that I have:

Aqueon 40 gallon breeder tank
Odyssea 36" 4x54W 6500k T5HO fixture w/built in timer
Aquatop CF-400UV canister filter
5# Co2 tank
Milwaukee Co2 Regulator w/solenoid and bubble counter
Co2 check valve
Milwaukee SMS-122 pH controller
Bubble counter fluid
2x9L bags of UP Aqua Soil
DIY inline downdraft Co2 reactor
Entire Flourish Line of ferts incl. root tabs
Glass Drop checker w/4dKh solution
API gH/kH test kit
Pruning Scissors
10" tweezers w/curved tips

Here are a couple of pics of everything. Let me know if you see anything that is missing, though I think I remembered everything.


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post #14 of 64 (permalink) Old 07-11-2012, 12:07 AM Thread Starter
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I am also planning on getting another Aquatop CF-400UV canister filter. The only question I have concerning my current setup is whether 2 9L bags of Aqua Soil is going to be enough. I am concerned that I may need another bag. What do you all think?
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post #15 of 64 (permalink) Old 07-11-2012, 12:48 AM
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Hey! My 40B brother! lol I'm looking forward to seeing what you do and just so you know Odyssea lights are great but I hope you're hanging your light way above your tank because 4x39W is a LOT of light.

I'm using one bulb in my Odyssea and still have about high light.

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