First Planted tank - 180G - help requested, please - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-01-2013, 05:23 PM Thread Starter
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First Planted tank - 180G - help requested, please

Im a cichlid keeper. Always wanted a planted tank. Have always kept mbuna. The two dont jive. Recently Ive been wanting to do a hap tank. Haps should be much easier on plants..... So they say.

I made a killer score off Craigslist last weekend. I landed a 180, with stand, 2 Eheim filters, numerous lights, a Co2 bottle system that looks complete (Im not sure) and COUNTLESS boxes of accessories and implements. After selling a conductivity monitor I dont need, Im in it for roughly $200. I know, shoot me right? Right place, right time.

That being said, I want to make the 180 into my first planted tank with the haps. The eheim canisters are too small for my needs (2206 pro II) and will be used eslewhere. I am building a sump with overflow and wet/dry and 1800 GPH pump. The sump and overflow will be closed as much as possible to prevent gassing off (Ive read some on sumps and co2) The light that came with it is a 72" 4x 96w generic PC. I plan to use this and perhaps supplement it (I also got a nice PC coralife light in the deal, 3 of them actually) with 3 24" T5HO's if needed. I also got a wave maker controller in the deal. I'll get 2 new power heads for that for nice flow.

It also came with what I believe are CO2 reactors. They were fitted to the outlets of the eheims, and had inputs for Co2. They are clear cylinders filled with bio balls.

Id like some long tall plants, Jungle vals I think? Id also like some type of grassy ground cover over part of the bottom. Anubias have done will even with my mbuna, Id like some of them. Id also like some good underwater nice green moss to cover rocks and drift wood (java maybe?). Maybe a couple other nice plants too... Amazon swords? Java fern?

My question is, I plan on using pool filter sand as a substrate. Do I need flourite or dirt of some sort under the sand? If so whats the most cost effective stuff, as this is a BIG tank.

How much lighting will I really need. is the generic PC enough or should I plan on adding t5HO to supplement it?

What plants would the experts suggest for me that are lush, green, like what I want, and not too hard to keep?

ETA - also, where is the best place to buy my plants? Aquabid? I dont mind mail order if price is right.

Thanks for the help in advance!
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-01-2013, 05:43 PM
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There will be more knowledgable people answer some high tech set up questions, but if your going the co2 rout, you'll want to go with a better substrate than just pool filter sand. MTS with some safe-t-sorb (oil dry)cap would be a good cheap substrate.

As for plants and moss. I'd stay away from java moss and look around here at the different mosses people have. It all depends on what look you are going for (tall, bushy, ect). For the plants, you have TONS to pick from if you are going high light/co2. Once again look around for a week or so on the swap shop. Which leads to another question you asked. Where to get your plants at? Right here on this site. If you go to the swap shop there are lots of people that sell their plants for good prices. I've bought from many people and they have always been nice plants and usually more generous then just somewhere online.

Just wanted to also say, nice pick up there on craigslist. Makes me with I lived closer to a bigger city so my craigslist would have more deals like that.

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-01-2013, 06:57 PM Thread Starter
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I almost have to have sand. I am putting CARES program fish in this tank and they need sand for a natural habitat. (p. placidiochromis Tanzania) They likely wont breed without sand, and then the main purpose of the habitat would be for bust.

I thought I read somewhere that you should layer substrates? Something under the PFS? If I cant do sand, I may have to rethink plants in the tank.

Moss- bushy hopefully fairly fast growing and lush green. Something that will cover the rocks and driftwood, and give small fry a place to hide should I miss any holding parents. Id need to look at pictures, but Id want something hearty and not delicate too.

VB/Norfolk area, is odd. There are no really good LFS here. Theres one thats OK in Richmond. Setups come cheap on CL here if youre patient. This one was listed originally at 600. I paid 300 and sold some saltwater stuff i didnt need that came in the tons of stuff for $100. Thus Im out $200 for the setup. There was the 180 stand and glass tops, 5 light fixtures, 3 canisters, 3 AC110s and a half dozen smaller cheapie HOBs, a UV, CO2 system alone with this. Boxes of power heads filter pads, supplies, you name it. I'll admit it was an epic score that will allow me to upgrade/complete several projects and finish most of my 180. Probably the score of a lifetime on CL.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-01-2013, 08:01 PM
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You can do sand as a cap for your soil. But then, when you use a cap, you don't really want to move plants around after you have them planted. It just makes one heck of a mess. I've never been a fan of layered substrate because I move things around to much at first till I get everything right where I want it.

Are you wanting that all bright white look that the pool filter sand gives? If you want something more natural looking, quickreet play sand works really well. I've used that before with good success and it's cheap.

With all sand, just get some root tabs. I personally like the gro soil tabs that one of the plantedtank members make. Just space those out around the bottom of the tank then put the sand over them. You'll just need to add new ones about every 6 months or so. Maybe sooner with your co2 hight light.

As for moss, look into xmass and mini xmass moss, thats my personal fav. Not the fastest grower, but looks really nice.

Norfolk? You a navy guy?

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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-01-2013, 08:25 PM
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I grew vals and lotus in sand for my haps....also lots of java fern on wood.


Or anubias tied to stuff


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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-01-2013, 08:52 PM Thread Starter
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Not navy..... I work here.

Java fern on wood I had planned on, anubias too. But I want groundcover, moss, jungle vals and more.

The lotus looks neat there....
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-01-2013, 09:06 PM
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All I can say is ......MAKE A TRIP TO ANIMAL JUNGLE IN VIRGINIA BEACH!!!!! You will not be disappointed. Probably the biggest pet store on the east coast. Great people to deal with and lots of fish stuff.
Sand will work just fine for substrate , you just need to use root tabs under plants and replace them regularly.


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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-01-2013, 10:28 PM Thread Starter
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Last time I called there they seemed clueless about cichlids...

Maybe I'll give them a try
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-01-2013, 11:08 PM
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You may find that groundcover is hopeless with haps. They like to sift the sand and of course build spawning pits. Your best bet are well rooted plants in some areas with open sand available to the fishes.


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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-01-2013, 11:27 PM Thread Starter
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very good point.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-01-2013, 11:38 PM
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You could, if so inclined, put down some moss tiles in spots. The fish wouldn't be able to hurt them, though they might move them around.



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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-02-2013, 12:56 AM Thread Starter
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Moss tiles sound like a great idea actually. I'll have to look in the ad section here.
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