First planted tank in a challenging context - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-14-2005, 10:01 PM Thread Starter
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First planted tank in a challenging context

Context I am setting up my first planted tank. The tank is used as a divider between two rooms and has all its sides fully exposed. There is an abundance of ambient light, although no direct sun light hits the tank. The tank sits close to a high traffic area, is just 6 feet from a back yard door and faces television and home theater systems. This is the only place where tank's noise can be tolerated.

The plan is to create a heavily planted environment where fish could find shelter. My budget is low, therefore major equipment is bought used or is DIY.

Tank TruVu 75Gal long tank with dimensions (L x W x H) 60" x 18" x 16". I hope that low height will lend it well to growing plants.

Lighting 2 48" F32T8 fluorescent light bulbs overdriven 4x to 80W - Total 160W. SRI: 86, Temp: 6500K. Is this good enough for a 75 gal planted tank?

CO2 No plans so far. Do I need it at my light level? Looks like DIY for CO2 generation just won't cut it and right way to start is a Milwaukee All-in-one unit. Need feedback on this.

Filtration Internet sources recommend 225...525 g/h for this tank. I plan to stick with a single FluVal 304 bought along with the tank despite its rate of 260 g/h. I will not be using activated carbon to preserve plant nutrients. Water return will be underwater to minimize surface agitation to preserve dissolved CO2. Do I need peat moss in the filter?

Substrate at least 2" of Flourite, which means 75lb of it - not sure I can swallow this pill?

Plants Nothing exotic. Stick to hardy low/medium light plants: Amazon Swords, Java Moss, Water Sprite, Java fern attached to wood or porous rock, Cryptocoryne wendtii, Hornwort, Wisteria, Hygrophila polysperma, Water fern, Dwarf Hygro, Dwarf Rotala, Corkscrew Val, Water Sprite, South American Frogbit.

Now, where do I get all this? AquaBotanic store? Or buy an assortment from Looks like the tank should be extensively planted from the very beginning.

Fish Certainly Otos for algae control. Also Siamese Algae Eater, Dwarf Pleco. I am thinking of keeping a school of tetras and start with 6 angelfish.

Plan of Atack I intend to follow this plan. I want to do it right, so will try to answer all questions (e.g. Do I need CO2? Is the light I have enough?) before starting.

More details on the setup.

What do you think?
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-15-2005, 12:23 AM
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A planted tank is really not a noise producer.

160 watts is plenty of light over a 75 gallon tank. But to make it work you have to get the light into the tank. Also your lights are 48" long and the tank is 60" long. That's going to mean some dim ends. Ambient light doesn't count for squat. Normal light levels found in the home are nothing compared to planted tank lighting.

CO2 at your light levels is pretty much needed. You can buy the all-in-one unit or build a manual system for about the same price and NOT have to plug it in and listen to the solenoid buzz.

Your filter choice might provide enough filtration but no way will it provide enough water movement. If you plumb it with a CO2 reactor you will be hurtin' for certain. I really believe that on tanks over 48" long that the use of dual filters is a good thing.

Flourite is not cheap. But IMHO either that or Eco-Complete are nice to have. It's a one time expense and either one works quite well. You will actually need closer to 3". And you can cut the Flourite with a fine gravel or coarse sand with similar grain size with excellent results. Use 50% or more Flourite based on depth.

Where you buy your plants is up to you. But I recommend at this time of year paying the extra for overnight delivery (and make sure you will be home). Remember that Express Mail from the Post Office is delivered 7 days a week, 365 days a year. So if you have Saturday off and can find a vendor that will ship Express mail on Friday you will have Saturday to work on the tank.

I recommend that you plant heavily at the start with fast growing stem plants to do a "silent cycle", see my Guide for more information.

I noticed that you forgot to include fertilizers.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-15-2005, 06:34 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you, Rex, for the response and for the guide!

So, the good news are the light is sufficient, as long a it makes it to the tank which I think it does. The bad news are I need another filter, a full set of CO2 toys, lots of Flourite and a ton of plants to start with.

I will work on this...

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-15-2005, 11:35 AM
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If you are patient you could find a used Eheim 2213 on Ebay to pair with your Fluval for less than half the new cost . . . And with two filters if one eventually dies you're not panicked about replacing it immediately.

I second Rex's suggestion on mixing the substrates. You might make the dollar go further using the Schultz Aquatic Soil (search function - there is also a bulk equivalent for ball fields) instead of some of the fluorite.

CO2 - minimum is a tank, regulator, valve (doesn't have to be a needle valve, but it helps), DIY bubble counter, adaptors and tubing. Plumb it into one of the filters.

FISH: I'd suggest several schools of various tetras - go for a South American fish theme. Lots of ottos and maybe a clown pleco for cleanup. Small schooling fish in big groups might be less apt to startle than a few bigger fish.



72g bowfront planted, CO2, 4x - T5HO, Eheim 2213 and 2217, 2 angels, pristella tetras, blue tetras, betta, albino bristlenose pleco, albino cories. Sword, vals, hygros, ludwigias, java moss and fern, anubias

2g Mac-quarium. Clown gravel, fluorescent plastic plants, and 2 guppies.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-15-2005, 01:20 PM
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I'm impressed at your homework and plans.

I certainly defer to the more experineced folk here, but wanted to add a couple of comments.

As Rex says, there shouldn't be too much noise. Folks have them in their bedrooms, living rooms, offices, etc. What noise are your anticipating?

Looks like you are planning a substantial project. While some extra expense may seem large up front, remember that many are 1-time only expenditures, and might mean the difference between a so-so and an awesome tank. Don't save a few bucks early - maybe only a total of a couple hundred, if it will detract from your enjoyment of the tank for years to come.

My current lighting is shorter than my tank, and I would prefer not having to work around the dark ends. Could you possibly stagger your lights?

A fluorite/gravel mix will save a bunch of substrate costs. But don't go below 50/50, or you are losing the benefit of fluorite.

Although 2 filters are definitely a good thing on long tanks, you could get away with one, thereby saving $, if you added powerhead(s) for water movement.

I initially set up my 30g w/o CO2, and currently do DIY. I think you will be dissappointed with the results if you do not use CO2, and on a 75g, you'll want to go pressurized. You could run the CO2 throu a powerhead, or use another means of diffusing to get around filter limits.

Keep the questions coming, and keep us posted on your progress.

(Scary avatar, man!)
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-15-2005, 01:56 PM
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I also am impressed, i thought that I had a decent plan, but when compared to yours... WOW

I to am seting up a wall tank. I have a ~120g (72"x18'x24") that i will be using to split a room in two...

Please keep us informed as to your progress....
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-15-2005, 08:02 PM
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A source for inexpensive plats is other people's cuttings. You should join San Francisco Bay Area Aquatic Plant Society ( There are monthly, more or less, meetings that move around the Bay. There is usually a plant swap although I must admit I haven't made a meeting, and this is a good source of starter plants. My tank is way over stocked in antocipation of a larger tank. This is still under negotiations but I am getting there In the interim I can give you some. Send me a PM.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-15-2005, 08:02 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for the encouragement!

KevinC, great point re: several schools of tetras. Here is an example, and a gallery.

eds, sorry for scaring you with my avatar ;-) I agree. Gone.

Plan is to get a second Fluval 304 (can be had cheap from craigslist) with an inline CO2 reactor. Also a CO2 tank, regulator, valve. Want to finish the stand over the weekend and will post first pictures then!
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