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post #1 of 35 (permalink) Old 09-08-2005, 02:58 PM Thread Starter
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Question new member

Hey everyone, just wanted to say hello and that I just signed up for this forum. I am looking forward to talking with everyone and learning more about this wonderful hobby.
I am new to all this and was recently put in charge at my work of stocking our empty 300 gallon. After much research, I have decided on an a planted Amazon biotope. I want a variety of Amazon plants and a large school of discus, a school of angels, a large school of cardinal tetras, and the necessary amount of cleanup crew fish and snails. I have about $3500 to work with. I've already ordered the filter, pump, and the gravel so I can start to get it cycled hopefully today, if it comes in.
I'm new so any help would be greatly appreciated.
I've done lots of research but am confused as to when to plant the plants. With water in or half way or what? and when in comparison to the cycling?
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post #2 of 35 (permalink) Old 09-08-2005, 03:11 PM
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Welcome to the Planted Tank!

If you have a succificent amount of plants to begin with (think fast growing stem plants) then cycling your tank isn't necessary since the plants will do an excellent job of absorbing ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates while your bio filter develops. Now that doesn't mean go stocking your tank to the max immediately on day one, but nevertheless the same laborious cycling that saltwater tanks undergo isn't necessarally a requirement for Planted Tanks.

Before you go any further, I STRONGLY suggest you read Rex's Guide in it's entirety, twice. Lotsa good info on there.

And just out of curiosity, what filtration, substrate, etc did you order? What are the dimensions of your tank? If you are smart, you should lots of research each and every individual peice of equipment before you buy it. You will save a lot of money and frustration in the long run. Trust me.


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Last edited by Cheeseybacon; 09-08-2005 at 05:26 PM.
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post #3 of 35 (permalink) Old 09-08-2005, 03:30 PM Thread Starter
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I don't remember the exact name of the substrate I ordered. But it contains 2 or 3 levels of different material that are good for growing plants.
The filter is a Marineland Tidepool II and the pump is a 1500g/hour Pondmaster mag 15

So your saying I don't have to worry about cycling? I need to get the plants I want and plant them first?...
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post #4 of 35 (permalink) Old 09-08-2005, 03:32 PM Thread Starter
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dimensions of tank

Here are the dimensions:
Height - 34"
Width - 24"
Length - 83"

Comes to about 292 gallons.
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post #5 of 35 (permalink) Old 09-08-2005, 04:30 PM
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What a great work assignment!

I'm new too, so I'm not a information resource. But dang, getting a budget and a huge tank to play with... your boss must ROCK!

TAM
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post #6 of 35 (permalink) Old 09-08-2005, 04:47 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah I'm excited about this project. I just have no hands on experience whatsoever with aquariums. Everything I know I've read on the internet or in books. I'm getting my filter, pump, and substrate in today. I want to do a planted Amazon biotope tank. I don't have any plants right now so I'm going to have to get them from somewhere. I'm hearing all different types of places being recommended and condemned. I want strictly Amazon plants but have read that to cycle the tank with other types of plants first then add what I want. I wonder if you can cycle the tank without any plants then use those long forceps to plant the tank with the desired plants.
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post #7 of 35 (permalink) Old 09-08-2005, 05:11 PM
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Again, I've no hands on experience... but have read you can cycle a tank without plants... tons of them out there... I think the time frame I've read is about 6 weeks. Slowly adding fish to increase the "bioload" and letting the good bacteria grow in.

I've also read you can cycle a tank "fish-less" by adding "over-the-counter" ammonia (no dyes or perfumes) from the store. My understanding is that you add enough ammonia each day to encourage the good bacteria to grow. Testing the water each day to track nitrites and eventually nitrates.

Good Luck!
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post #8 of 35 (permalink) Old 09-08-2005, 05:28 PM
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For quick cycling you could go with Bio-Spira. I used it myself when replacing my substrate (and cleansing the tank and filters) just to be safe when putting all my fish back in on the same day and had no troubles. I got mine from AquariumPlant.com.

In some post here or somewhere else, using the amonia tankless cycle is less desireable in a planted aquarium. In fact, taking the conclusions from Tom Barr's research amonia spikes can lead to algae outbreaks.
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post #9 of 35 (permalink) Old 09-08-2005, 05:38 PM
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You sound like you're really excited and anxious to get your tank up and running as soon as possible. While enthusiasm is always a good thing, impatience is not. A truly successful planted tank does not happen overnight and is not something that can just be "setup" in a few days. I strongly caution you to slow down a bit, and do some searches on this board and see everyone's take on filtration, lighting, C02, fertilizers, etc. And I'll say it once again... read Rex's guide.

Oh and forget all of that ammonia crap, that's more of a saltwater trick than anything else. Since saltwater tanks don't usually have plants, they are more dependant on an established biofilter, and the ammonia trick is one of the ways to jumpstart a cycling process than can otherwise take weeks or months to complete. Always keep in mind that most advice and equipment regaurding saltwater tanks usually does not apply to a freshwater planted tank in most cases. Likewise, what is good for a fish-only freshwater tank is not always good for a freshwater planted tank. Also, manufactures like to overrate their equipment, and claim it is the ideal solution for all types of aquariums, whether they be salt or fresh, when in fact they are not, so tread carefully.


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post #10 of 35 (permalink) Old 09-08-2005, 06:10 PM
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You're going to need some serious equipment for a tank that size (and I hope $3500 is enough for all the plants, substrate, equipment, test kits)....Just make sure you READ READ READ. I can't stress that enough. I've been keeping planted tanks for about 7-8 years now, but I still consider myself somewhat of a novice. What I did when I first got into the hobby was read just about everything on www.thekrib.com. I even printed several sections (a couple hundred pages of paper) and put it into a binder for quick reference when I wasn't around the computer....and so I could sit outside or on the couch and read it at my leisure. For a filter, I'm sure most people would recommend an Eheim Pro Cannister filter, but I'm not certain for a tank that size, so I would check on it. Lighting will probably be your most expensive purchase and I would recommend PC(power compact) or CF(compact fluorescent) lighting unless you go the metal halide route. As for how much, I wouldn't even have a guess. I know that the watt/gallon rule phases out with larger tanks, but there's something else for you to check into. You also want to stock the tank with as many plants as possible from the start ....do this or you'll regret it later, trust me! Good luck and post more questions when they come up and post pics!
-Ryan

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Last edited by ringram; 09-08-2005 at 06:27 PM. Reason: Read & Research
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post #11 of 35 (permalink) Old 09-08-2005, 06:31 PM
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I'll echo cheesey's recommendation that you slow down a bit and make a plan. In the last month I just set up a 55 gal. I've kept a 30 gal planted for several years and moving up to a 55 was a big deal (for me). There were lots of choices to make, and I'm glad I planned things out ahead of time. But maybe that's just me. I didn't want to be in the middle of things and realize I needed a power strip or another extension cord.

Off the top of my head, you have to make decisions concerning your 1.lights, 2.filtration, 3.heater, 4.fish, 5.plants, 6.substrate, 7.ferts, 8.CO2, 9.miscellaneous supplies. And you have to consider logistics such as what is your water like out of the tap? And even how are you getting the water in and out of the tank?

There are so many decisions to make, when you acknowledge that you have no experience and you don't even know what kind of substrate you ordered, it is hard for us to know where to start.

To respond to your specific question, I planted heavily right away, added several tetras and cories right away, and angels and pictus cats within a week. Had it fully stocked by the end of 2 weeks. No problems yet. But I also used some established gravel and filter media from my existing tank.

Planting with the tank 1/2 full worked well for me.

I second the recommendation that you read rex's guide.

And I'm sure I'm not the only one here who would enjoy seeing some pix of this project.
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post #12 of 35 (permalink) Old 09-08-2005, 09:18 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the advice. I read through Rex's guide and it was very helpful. It is very true what he was saying about the misinformation out there as I have heard different things from different sources. I was reading about the substrate heating on some web site and how it was glorified. I thought to myself how I badly I would need one for this project. Now I'm leaning on the notion that it would be a waste of time and money. So the guide was helpful.
From what I've learned about plants so far is that they need 4 things.

light - I've concluded(from reading and fish forums) that metal halides are the way to go with a tank this large. So that's what I'm going to get.

nitrogen and phosphorous compounds - this will be provided by the fish poop.

carbon - this will be provided by CO2 injection

trace elements - will be provided with fertilizers.

So I know what it's going to take to make this work I just don't have any experience in making it work.

I am also going to use some existing filter media from an established tank to get it cycled.

I will definitely keep you all posted on the progress of this tank and I really appreciate you guys' present and future concerns.
I am very anxious to get this thing off the ground and have done hours and hours of research. Now I just have to try and apply what I've learned and hopefully through trial and error I can make this happen.
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post #13 of 35 (permalink) Old 09-08-2005, 09:21 PM
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Hope this helps you get started a little bit more:

Filtration
I agree with ringham, definately look into the Eheim Professional II & III series canister filters and return the Marineland Tidepool II that you bought. The Marineland is a wet/dry filter, which is more geared towards saltwater. Although there are a small handful of people have successfully used a wet/dry filter in a planted tank, I think you'll find the general consensus is that canister filters are the way to go with planted tanks. I can't emphasize how important it is to research equipment before you buy it, otherwise you may end up (as you already have with the filter) buying things that you don't need and returning them and/or replacing them down the road only after you discover that they aren't what you need.

Lighting
Normally I'd recommend compact flourescent lighting, but for a tank of this size I feel that metal halide is really the way to go. It might be more expensive than using flourescents, but on a tank of this size a few metal halide pendants will give good light spread, and at the same time move out of the way easier during maintenance.

C02
Also, for a tank of that size you will definately need some pressurized C02, don't even bother looking at the DIY C02 recipes. You will need a bottle of C02, a regulator, needle valve, checkvalve, selenoid, bubble counter, and a reactor or diffuser. Although you can peice your own C02 system together cheaper by individually purchasing all of the previously mentioned parts I think you'll save a lot of aggravation and time by going with an all-in-one regulator such as the Milwaulkee MA957, JBJ or Topgun. Also, to get the C02 dissolved into the water you're going to need a reactor as well, which can plumb right into the outflow of whatever filtration method you end up with. You can buy a comerical C02 reactor for anywhere between $60-$80 or you can build your own for around $15-20 which works every bit as good, maybe even better.

Substrate
I would recommend you return your gravel, or at least mix it 50/50 with flourite. Plain old gravel by itself doesn't provide a whole lot in the way of nutrients for the plants. Most people either use flourite, a mix of flourite and gravel, or eco-complete. Eco-complete is also a very very good choice, but is kinda pricy. If you can afford it though, it's black coloration is very nice looking. Plus you don't hafta wash it, which is good if you're a lazy bum like me.

Just some things to think about, there's a lot more to it though...
When you have a moment, go to the picture section of this forum and look at some of the larger tank setups that people have, hopefully that should help get the gears turning.


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post #14 of 35 (permalink) Old 09-08-2005, 09:30 PM
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Welcome to the forum rook !

You came to the right place for help. This sounds like a great project but it is a project that needs to be planned out. This aint no 10 gallon...LOL

My two cents ...
First get your lighting settled ... plants need light first, it is the most abused aspect by a beginner. This will also be the highest cost of your project... http://www.ahsupply.com has all you need.

One more thing that will save you a few bucks, forget the discus until this tank is up and running and you have a good handle on caring for one. There are many fish that are just as beautiful that will provide hours of enjoyment with minimal care. Discus are not all that hard but they are not all that easy either. They have been an expensive lesson for many beginners.

Enjoy the project and enjoy the forum. Dont forget to take pictures for future reference and lasting memories of what it looked like in the beginning, not to mention we love watching new tanks grow !
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post #15 of 35 (permalink) Old 09-09-2005, 12:26 AM
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Since my name was mentioned I thought I would chime in.

Get rid of the Tidepool. Go with either Eheim canister filters or my choice for a tank that large would be dual Ocean Clear filters with the appropriate pumps.

MH lights are a good choice for a tank that size. You will need at least three 150 watt or 175 watt fixtures. But if this tank is going to have a canopy (wooden top) on it think very hard about the style of MH light fixtures you go with. Also you must provide good ventilation in the hood or you will find that the heat generated my MH bulbs and the wood in the canopy are not a good mix.

Also if you are going with in tank heaters check into a heater controller. The controller will make sure all the heaters are turning off and on and one heater is not trying to heat the whole tank.

Your fish load will never be heavy enough to supply the nitrate and phosphate needs in this tank. You will also need potassium and traces. Just plan on a order from Greg Watson to feed the plants.

Plan this tank as a three stage process. Get it setup. Then add a LOT of fast growing stem plants. In fact you are going to need so many you might want to give the vendor of your choice a couple of weeks notice so you don't clean them out.

Once the tank has been running for a couple of weeks and you have added your clean up crew and things are going well you will need to start trimming the fast growing plants. You can remove some of them at this time and start adding in the plants you want to end up with.

Also I too would forget about Discus. If this tank is in a public area I would stick with Angel fish. Or if you want color and size stock it with 40 or so male Rainbow fish of various species.
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