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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-18-2012, 06:46 AM Thread Starter
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Starting my first serious tank. Need help and suggestions

Alrighty! So a LFS is dropping 99% of its fish supplies to make room for an expanded dog area. Their cuts are my savings though. So I picked up a lot of stuff (new) for under $100.

My equipment:
40 gallon breeder tank
2x Fluval U3 underwater filter (155 GPH each)
Tetra Air Pump (40 gallon rating)
24" 17 watt full spectrum florescent tube
10 gallon tank

I have been considering making a sump out of the 10 gallon tank - I have experience cutting glass (its really easy stuff) so I could make it myself, and can do the plumbing easily. I like the idea of not having any equipment visible in the tank; but would my filters work inside a sump? lol seems kinda dumb, but I really don't know. If I make the sump, it'll probably have a trickle tray dumping onto a bunch of bioballs, go through a bubble trap, and then the main area would house my 2 filters and a heater, etc. Then another bubble trap and the return. Also it has the advantage of being a surface skimmer, yummy. Is that a viable setup? If not, any tips and tricks for hiding equipment inside your tank?

Also, is my hood and light powerful enough to have a heavily planted tank? The tube is 24" and a very skinny thing, and my tank is 36". It gives off a very pretty, almost purple, glow with the tank empty.

Aaannd my last (hopefully) equipment oriented thing is, what am I missing? lol.



Ok. As for substrate. Right now I have (I forget the brand) some kind of nutrient rich/mineral rich rocks, 40 lbs. I love the mixed brown color, and for the price, its pretty much all I can use. I'm thinking its Caribsea Ecco-complete. How much of this stuff will I need for my tank? 36" X 18". Also, because I'm poor, can I mix it with the cheap, dry, normal rocks you buy at a pet store?

Almost done! I can't decide what area of the world to emulate in my fish tank. I'm torn between a "river bottom" which would make use of the color rocks I'm using, or something with a richly planted field of green. I need help!

The last thing I'm obviously concerned about is.... the actual fish. I know that I like cory catfish for the bottom of my tank, but I also like shrimp. I also want a massive school of something, and a few "center piece" fish. Probably a non-aggressive community. I don't have any set preferences on colors either, but I like to avoid albinos. Any suggestions?


Tanks that I think look amazing:

I like the tall vibrant green plants with red accents from the wood. It'd also be nice with a red plant perhaps. I also like how its a riverbed kind of look...


This one is kind of small so its harder to see, but I like it because the back of the tank is completely obscured by the tall plants, and theres red accents again. But instead of a river look, it feels like a jungle, or field, because of the short grass in the front.



So anyways. I'm still at stage zero here I guess

Last edited by Exie; 08-18-2012 at 07:15 AM. Reason: added content
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-18-2012, 06:48 AM Thread Starter
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Oops. I guess this should be in the "Tank Journal" section. If a mod moved it I wouldn't be upset...
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-18-2012, 12:26 PM
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Lets see If we can get you going with ONLY what you have (basically)

1st you can work glass that helps. You sound like DIYer that helps more.

Drill out your 40 for plumbing.

Cut a few pc of glass for dumb divider panels, there are dozens of sump thirds for design ideas, use that search button.

I'd use those Fluval U3 underwater filters in the 40 hidden behind plants/drify wood in the corners to increase flow.

"The tube is 24" and a very skinny thing," Sounds like a single T5. Most LFS or PetSmartCos carry those in 6500K that isn't purple. that will work and grow low light plants. But, in a tank that has a 36x18 foot print the light won't give full cove range.

You could add another single 36 T5 put the 36 toward the back, 24 in front.

Aquascaping, Plants & Fish.

I start in this order

A- What kind of water I have, easier on you to not play water scientist.

B- What size tank do I have.

C- How much light do I have.

D- CO2 or NOT some plants like carpet plants require it.

So maybe you have neutral water, eliminate acidic loving plants.

You have a tank with maybe 16" of growing hgt. that might rule out only larger swords.

Now your light is low, that won't work for most low carpet plants.

NO - CO2 system, see carpet plants above.

There are 100s of fish options & combinations. kinda like me telling you what Ice Cream you like.

Better you narrow it down yourself, then ask about compatibility.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-18-2012, 02:24 PM
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I have a fixture from Aquatraders (yes, you will hear both good things and bad about them) that is 36" with 2 high output flourescent bulbs (T5HO). I have corals and a clam thriving under it in my 12 long reef tank. It's only $50 with free shipping. I've never had a problem with it!

Here's one suitable for freshwater:
http://www.aquatraders.com/36-inch-2...e-p/52122p.htm

Once again, people like to bash these and recommend a fixture that's $200-$300. I'm on a budget and you're on a budget and this light works just fine It'll provide the coverage you need all the way across the tank.

I personally don't like purply bulbs - I had a pink one in my Coralife and I hated it. You may want more of a crisper, white looking color to your tank. The "kelvin" or color temp of the bulb will tell you what color the light will be - 6500k is yellow-y, which some don't like (me included) and when you get towards 8k to 10k, the light gets more white. 15k on up will give a more blue look, but they are more suited for reef tanks.

Regarding fish, some easy centerpiece ones that get a nice size are gouramis - there's so many different kinds. You could get a pair of pearls maybe (I'm partial to them but it's your choice! I wouldn't get blues - I always have had a pair fight, but alone they're ok. But, they are considered semi-agressive. And, they're not shrimp-friendly.

If you want shrimp, that will reallllly narrow your choice of fish down. Many here have shrimp-only tanks. I have had neon tetras with shrimp and no issues, while others would'nt even add them!

As schooling fish, cardinals would complement gouramis - any tetra would, or you could go with barbs, but they can be more aggressive (I have an Odessa barb that needs to go because she's chasing my Congo tetras! - even in a school, they always picked on each other).

German blue rams or kribensis would make for a nice pair in your tank - but they are also-semi-aggressive. I have a semi-aggressive community tank with an angel, gourami, some cardinals, congo tetras and they're fine. You'd think their being semi-aggressive would cause issues, but as long as I don't get another blue gourami and add angels the size of the one I currently have, there will be no issues - don't be afraid of semi-aggressive fish Angels like taller tanks and taller plants, so they may not be a good choice since the 40b isn't very tall, then again, my angel is always out and never in his plants, so who knows?

More peaceful fish would be guppies, platies and mollies, but they are livebearers - something to consider. Cory catfish get along with just about anything, so no worries there, and they like to be in groups.

Best of luck to you - choosing fish is the fun part - if you have any questions about compatibility, feel free to ask us

I've never had a sump for my 55, but I know plenty of others have them, so they can chime in here. Also, I've never used fancy gravel - just the plain stuff from Petsmart for many many years, and have no problem growing plants. Eco-complete is nice stuff, you could try mixing it with plain black pet store gravel to make it go farther. One 10-15lb bag should do it since you already have 40lbs.

CO2 is a choice you may make - but I've never used it - it can be pricy to set up initially. Yes, you will be able to grow a carpet in the front and sustain other hard-to-grow plants, but some of us like to keep things simple (and cheap!). There's many plants you can grow without it, it's up to you if you think it's worth it!

40breeders are an awesome size, not too tall, with a nice depth. Aquascaping that will be fun. Good luck

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Last edited by if_fishes_were_wishes; 08-18-2012 at 02:39 PM. Reason: added stuff
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-18-2012, 05:44 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DogFish View Post
Drill out your 40 for plumbing.
Nope. Tempered glass, and I dont have the tools to do it or the money to pay someone else I'm going to use a DIY oveflowl "box" with pvc piping.
Quote:
I'd use those Fluval U3 underwater filters in the 40 hidden behind plants/drify wood in the corners to increase flow.
They have three settings - blast water out the top, bottom, or along the middle as a vertical spraybar. I was thinking of popping one each in the back corners with the spray bar angled towards the front center.
Quote:

"The tube is 24" and a very skinny thing," Sounds like a single T5. Most LFS or PetSmartCos carry those in 6500K that isn't purple. that will work and grow low light plants. But, in a tank that has a 36x18 foot print the light won't give full cove range.

You could add another single 36 T5 put the 36 toward the back, 24 in front.
Well the hood doesn't cover the whole tank (as its not designed for a fat tank) so I have 6 inches of uncovered tank. I might be able to squeeze money into my budget for a second lamp. But to be sure - my current light isn't high powered enough to do heavy planting - and that's because of the bulb, or the fixture?
Quote:
Aquascaping, Plants & Fish.

I start in this order

A- What kind of water I have, easier on you to not play water scientist.
B- What size tank do I have.
C- How much light do I have.
D- CO2 or NOT some plants like carpet plants require it.
So maybe you have neutral water, eliminate acidic loving plants.
You have a tank with maybe 16" of growing hgt. that might rule out only larger swords.
Now your light is low, that won't work for most low carpet plants.
NO - CO2 system, see carpet plants above.
I have somewhat hard water, not much light but planning to get more (So medium - high). DIY CO2 systems seem amazingly simple and cheap so CO2 might be viable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by if_fishes_were_wishes View Post
More peaceful fish would be guppies, platies and mollies, but they are livebearers - something to consider. Cory catfish get along with just about anything, so no worries there, and they like to be in groups.
Is there a drawback to live bearers?
Quote:
I've never had a sump for my 55, but I know plenty of others have them, so they can chime in here. Also, I've never used fancy gravel - just the plain stuff from Petsmart for many many years, and have no problem growing plants. Eco-complete is nice stuff, you could try mixing it with plain black pet store gravel to make it go farther. One 10-15lb bag should do it since you already have 40lbs.
I'm thinking of doing 2 parts eco-complete gravel to 1 part regular stuff. Saves a lot of money.... the tank has a pretty big footprint, and getting enough eco-gravel will cost more than the tank and filters!
Quote:

CO2 is a choice you may make - but I've never used it - it can be pricy to set up initially. Yes, you will be able to grow a carpet in the front and sustain other hard-to-grow plants, but some of us like to keep things simple (and cheap!). There's many plants you can grow without it, it's up to you if you think it's worth it!
Well a CO2 system is easy to make. I need to buy some tubing once, a $10 filter, and some yeast and sugar each month. I can spring for it.
Quote:

40breeders are an awesome size, not too tall, with a nice depth. Aquascaping that will be fun. Good luck
That's why I got it instead of the 45 and 55 that were also on sale. I also picked up a 20 long, its sitting in my closet, because it was only 9 bucks.


---

So I've made some choices about the tank. And what I'm going to REALLY need help with here are plants; I literally know nothing about them (Except that moss is hard to clean and grows everywhere).

I like the rivery look of exposed gravel towards the front of the tank.




These two pictures are amazing, I could look at them for a long time. I'm going to try to emulate these pictures with my tank. Knowing that, I need suggestions for plants. If they require a CO2 setup, I'll make one, and i'm pretty much sold on getting a second (better) light.

So instead of starting with fish, I'm going to start with the plants I want, but I know nothing of plants My question becomes, if you were going to assemble this picture underwater, what plants would you use?
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-18-2012, 06:01 PM
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Livebearers will just have little babies all over your tank, then you have to figure out what to do with all those babies

For plants, I'd get stem plants like cabomba and bacopa...the stems resemble trunks and they have fine leaves like trees. Rotala is a nice stem plant that comes in reds and golds, it'll look nice mixed with green stems. Blyxa is a bushy plant that makes for great shrubbery! I'd also get some fine manzanita branches sticking out here and there...maybe clumps of plants with branches in each corner with river rocks in a clearing in the middle. Or a forest of stem plants in one corner and river rocks in the clearing...Check out Dutch- style tanks for great ideas with mixing stem plants. Most stems don't require co2, but the more colorful ones ( reds, golds) do to retain the color.

Mosses aren't too bad...wrap thread around the moss on the branch and it'll stick to the branch. To clean, just shake the branch free of debris. Moss on branches is a nice look and not messy at all really. It also grows very easily and will need trimming if it gets too bushy, but some people like the bushy look.

And yeah, do it yourself co2 is cheap, but messy....many have gone that route only to upgrade to pressurized co2 in the long run!

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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-18-2012, 06:42 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the names, they're very useful. Can you identify any of the plants in this tank? It took me awhile, but this looks very similar to what I want - except instead of the bed of short plants, I would have exposed river stones.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjR6j...eature=related
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-18-2012, 06:55 PM
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Lots of java fern ( needle leaf and maybe windelov) and different types of cryptocornes. The tall ones in the back are possibly Iso. Lacustris - I have some in my 55. It's a nice chain plant! River rocks would look great instead of the glosso carpet.

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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-19-2012, 03:04 AM
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You don't need to buy a dedicated aquatic substrate, there are cheaper ways to go. Pool filter sand is often used. Turface, SafTSorb, OilDri are high CEC materials much like Flourite and Eco Complete. Just be sure to google any of these to be sure you are interested in that particular color substrate.

Have fun playing with the sump, you have filtration covered so don't need to worry about getting yours online right away. You will need a pump for it. I just use Rios. The pump head is very important. If a pump can move 300 gallons per hour it might move 250 gph 1 feet high or only 100 gph if the outlet is 4 feet higher than the pump.


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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-19-2012, 06:00 AM Thread Starter
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I've decided I want to go with an east-asian river system. I figure with my two U3s using their power jet option instead of a spray bar can create a powerful flow, if positioned on the same side of the tank. The only problem here is that their intake is far too huge (the majority of both sides) to attach it to a return valve. I wanted something like this, but instead of power heads, just use my filters.


If I can find a way to go about creating a current without investing in a separate set of equipment to create said current, then I'll move ahead with this idea. I'm loving the fish (shark, barb, danio, loach) and the indigenous plants can also work into my 'scape that I'm envisioning. Once I have my stand finished, I might just run the system a little bit to start a bacteria cycle and figure out how to make this work.

One idea I'm forming is to have the filters on the left wall, pushing towards the right. I'll have my DIY overflow system on the right side, and will use larger PVC and position it slightly farther below the water surface. This should give me a decent flow; and I can have the sump's return on the same side as the filters.

For livestock, if this works, I'm going to start with 5x peppered or spotted cory, and my beta (I'll have to make some eddies with lots of plant life for him to hide in since he doesn't like a strong current). I might break the regional species and also have black neon tetras in there, but they'll come later.

Last edited by Exie; 08-19-2012 at 06:02 AM. Reason: I can't form real sentences :(
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-19-2012, 06:30 AM
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In case your LFS is selling any T5HO fixtures at a hugely reduced price, get them. The bulbs are the cheap part in any type of fixture. Other than that, make a list of the largest filters they have, along with prices, and compare to Amazon and Evilbay. You can ask us here, but replies will vary. Once in a blue moon, a local fish shop will have a 90% off sale on filters, but, generally speaking, Amazin or Evilbay will have the lowest prices (or close to them) on an item 80% of the time.

NO LFS will offer you a CO2 system that is both high quality and inexpensive. Ever. Seriously, ***EVER***. So, if you decide to go CO2, just post a WTB here and you'll get something higher quality and lower price than anything an LFS would ever provide. Again, don't EVER buy a CO2 rig from anybody who isn't a fellow hobbyist. Who doesn't own a store.
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-19-2012, 06:53 AM Thread Starter
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The store that is having its inventory clearance isn't a fish specialty store, but its also not a massive retail chain, its kinda in the middle. But alas, no T5HOs. So I'll have to get one of those somewhere else. For filters I already have my 2x Fluva U3s; and for CO2 I'm'a start a DIY.... later on i'll look into the WTB/WTS forum.
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-20-2012, 07:44 PM Thread Starter
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So I dont have the cash to set up a decent powerhead system to emulate a river, so I was thinking perhaps I could set a piece of glass in the middle of the tank to force the water into two channels; a skinnier one in the front with a high current and mostly river rocks. Behind the glass would be more drift wood, taller plants, etc. Since the back channel is wider, it would have less flow. Would soomething like this work? Would the glass in the middle of the tank stank out a whole lot?

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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-22-2012, 02:14 AM Thread Starter
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Hmm, no input on my sectioning idea?
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-22-2012, 04:04 AM
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The sectioning idea sounds good in theory but it would need to be kept ALGAE FREE all the time. Also, and i'm sure you know this because of your experience with glass, the thicker the glass, the more distortion and the more green color with show through. This glass, if it is thin to aid aesthetic, will be fragile so make sure not to bump while setting up. While you may not have the ability to set up the expensive powerhead now, you can always set up a different style now and then rescape in a year or two. I am thinking that also the glass divider would be hard to remove? I have never even thought of doing that (Must say it is creative and ambitious). It may be semi permanent, unless you decide to tear down which is a pain to do with live plants and livestock.

Maybe it would look wierd if your plants are blowing one way in the front and another in the back too... idk just throwing out ideas.

Applause for the creativity. The idea doesn't sound bad but i'm a little skeptical on the looks. Good luck with your tank. Hope it looks good and keep us posted.
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