Advice on turning a 90 gallon fish-only tank into a planted tank - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-17-2006, 07:48 PM Thread Starter
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Advice on turning a 90 gallon fish-only tank into a planted tank

Hello folks! A little background on me: I've had a 90 gallon non-planted freshwater tank for a year, housing an Oscar fish. Unfortunately my O died a few days ago, and I'm looking into doing something different with my tank, whether that means going reef, planted, or otherwise. I've surfed around your site a good bit here (great info), and while I think I've got a decent idea of what it takes to run a planted tank, I'd like a little more info.

First off, my current filtration consists of two Eheim 2028s. I assume those can stay if I decide to switch to a planted tank. My heating is taken care of with a 400W Hydor Theo. I assume I'll need lighting, new substrate, and some kind of CO2 unit.

Lighting: What kind of lighting do I need, and how many watts? What brands do you recommend?

Substrate: What kind? How much for a 90 gallon? Any brand in particular I should buy?

CO2 unit: Again, what brand do you recommend?

Also, if you could give me an idea of how much each new piece of equipment would cost, and how much the recurring costs will be (CO2 refills, possible extra electricity bill expense), I would really appreciate it.

Thanks in advance for taking the time to help out a planted tank newbie!
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-17-2006, 09:20 PM
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Start off here: Rex's Guide to Planted Tanks

Read it about 11 times (that's how many it took me ) and you'll learn quite a bit.

Lights: AHSupply will have retro kits for your current hood

Substrate: ADG AquaSoil if you care to ship it. If not, there are alternatives at some fish stores

CO2: Rex will tell you all you need to know

My guess on a total retrofit: $700-800

RIP the Oscar. I have one myself

Sol
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-17-2006, 09:42 PM Thread Starter
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Heh, I'd already found Rex's guide in between my last post and this one. Currently halfway through reading #1.

Thanks for the ideas on what brands to go with; I'll look into those companies now.

I figured the conversion to planted would cost about what you say -- $700-800. Let's see...$800 for a planted tank, or god knows how much for a reef ($3,000+?). Needless to say, planted is winning this battle.

I would still like to know about recurring costs for a planted tank, however. For instance, given a standard kw/h rate, how much do you think my electric bill would increase with a 90 gallon planted running lights for 11-12 hours a day? And what other recurring fees are involved?
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-17-2006, 09:53 PM
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I wouldn't expect your electric bill to be much more than it was before. If you wind up with 250 watts or so over your tank, I would expect that to cost you maybe $10/month. Not much...

Other recurring costs:
Fertilizer (crazy cheap from Greg Watson)
Umm...test kits? They last a long time.

The main cost for me is geeking out on all the cool stuff I can buy that's not really necessary.

I like planted tanks more than reef tanks anyway. They're more subtle.

Sol
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-17-2006, 11:14 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the input, Solstice. The recurring costs seem reasonable.

Of course, I still have more questions.

So I read Rex's guide, and all of it makes perfect sense except for weekly maintenance. I'm pretty lazy, and prefer to do as little maintenance as possible while still keeping a healthy, thriving tank. Frankly, his maintenance routine is a little scary:

Day one: 50% water change. Adjust water chemistry. Normally I have to increase my water hardness because my tap water is extremely soft. Dose tank to 5-7.5 ppm of nitrates, dose tank to 10 ppm of potassium, check and dose phosphates as required. Dose tank to 0.2 ppm iron, dose traces.
Day three: Test nitrates and phosphates and dose as needed. At this time my tank is chewing through nitrates like there is no tomorrow but phosphates are hardly being used at all. So I'm adding .25-.50 teaspoons of KNO3 every other day to keep the nitrate levels up. Dose 3-4 ppm of potassium, dose 0.1 ppm of iron, dose traces.
Day five: Same as day three.
Day seven: Same as day three.

Is this necessary? How often do you do water changes, and how much do you change out? What's your weekly nutrient dosing regimen like? Could I possibly ask any more questions?
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-18-2006, 01:46 AM
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It all depends on how much light you put over the tank. But the sad thing is many people start out with low light tanks and sooner or later switch to a higher light tank to grow different plants.

It actually only takes about 1 minute a day to dose the tank. One water change a week of 50%. If you have the right tools that water change takes about half an hour on a 90 gallon tank.

For lighting I still prefer AH Supply kits. A lot of people though have switched over to T5 lighting as the bulbs are much cheaper. And you still get a lot of light. For a high light tank on your 90 gallon you would need 220 watts or a bit more depending on your lighting choices.

CO2 systems I'm really biased on. I build what I consider to be the best CO2 regulators you can get. Cost for CO2 really depends on where you live. I live in Portland which seems to have some of the highest CO2 costs in the US. CO2 costs here would be in the range of $2.50 a month or so.

Fertilizer costs would be pennies per day.

Substrate is going to break down three ways. If you want a dark colored substrate then either Eco-Complete or ADA Aqua Soil (Soilmaster Select Charcoal could be an option also).

For a reddish colored substrate Flourite or a mix of coarse sand an Flourite.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-18-2006, 02:13 AM
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I can see how you think Rex's maintenance routine could be a little daunting but it really is quite quick. Rex is also one hell of an aquatic gardner and probably spends a lot more time with his tanks thank a lot of people do simply because he enjoys it.

A lot of people does EI, myself included which makes it much simpler but definitely requires a 50% water change weekly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Berndogger
Could I possibly ask any more questions?
Yes, my friend, you will always, ALWAYS have questions...

Sol
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-18-2006, 04:50 PM Thread Starter
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Dosing takes one minute, eh? Even I can handle that.

Thanks for the input, guys. I've definitely decided to go planted. The only thing left for me to do now is shop around for specific products to buy, and then, of course, work up the gumption to click the "submit order" button. Might be a little while, what with Christmas coming up.

And you can be sure I'll be back here again soon.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-21-2006, 01:34 PM
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A quick, but late, comment here....

If you are worried about startup costs and maintenance time, I would strongly encourage you to go lower tech. You don't need co2. You BARELY need fertilizers. With 90 gallons, I agree with you that following the Estimative Index would be time consuming (mostly just the water change).

Instead, I suggest putting 130-180 watts of light over the tank. If you STUFF it full of plants (crypt, sword, anubias, moss, ferns, etc) and use a good substrate, your tank will grow very nicely. Not as much trimming. No 50% weekly water changes. Not nearly as much dosing!!! Less costs.

The only negative is that you can't grow the tougher plants

I currently have a high tech 29g tank, and I am planning on switching to a 75g lower light tank, for the above reasons. Sure, growing the nice red plants is cool but there comes a time when it's just not worth it!

Just my $0.02!!
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-21-2006, 03:58 PM
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I am echoing Esarkipato!! Low tech is great! Look at the 90 in my signature. I consider it mid tech, and I am pleased with the results! Plus if I don't dose for a few days, or have no c02 hooked up for a few months it doesn't climb into a hand basket and take off!


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'mid tech'
46 bow front low tech
10 gallon No tech
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