Newbie questions for converting a 120G reef to a planted tank. - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-23-2007, 08:01 PM Thread Starter
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Newbie questions for converting a 120G reef to a planted tank.

First off, I'd like to thank the people who recommended Rex's site to me, and to LeftC for giving me such a detailed book list. I've read Rex's site in its entirety, which has given me a good idea as what to expect in a planted tank. I've also ordered Ecology of the Planted Aquarium.

Here's my situation: I have a standard 120 gallon tank (24 x 48 x 24) that was setup as a reef system. I have a T-5 TEK 8 x 54 hanging fixture, with an 80 gallon sump. My goal is to setup a low maintenance planted tank that won't require CO2 additions (if there is such a thing). I do have a 20lb CO2 bottle with regulator here (from my old Ca reactor) if I need to use it.

Here are some concepts I've gathered. Please correct me if I'm off base on any of these:
1. CO2 additions are not necessary with lower amounts of light (2 to 2.5 WPG).
2. I'm assuming that this low lighting will greatly limit my plant choices.
3. Planted tanks can be as time consuming and almost as expensive as reef tanks.
4. It IS POSSIBLE to have a low maintenance planted tank that requires no CO2 additions.

Here are some of my questions:
1. If I decide to NOT USE CO2, will I have to eliminate my overflow and sump?
2. How much trouble is it using CO2? Do I need a controller to automatically dose the correct amount?
3. If I wanted my tank to NOT require CO2, how many of the T5 bulbs should I run, and which model bulb configuration would you recommend?
4. If I did decide to run CO2, should I run all the bulbs? And at what configuration?
5. Do I need to purchase a canister filter? If so, which would you recommend?
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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-23-2007, 08:34 PM
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The WPG rule breaks down on larger tanks. 2-2.5 WPG on a tank that size is A LOT of light.

low light and no CO2 will greatly reduce the plant selection you have to choose from.

They're not quite as expensive as reef tanks from a stocking perspective because you can get your plants here from other hobbyists and they grow much faster than your corals will. From an equipment standpoint it is expensive as a reef set up if you do it right.

The overflow and sump will be fine with or without CO2- the only thing is if you do use CO2 the trickle plate and bioballs will outgas your CO2. (its basically the equivalent of shaking a seltzer bottle- the agitation causes the co2 to come out of solution) so you will either have to reduce the turbulence (remove bioballs and trickle plate) or close the system to keep your CO2 concentrations up. They are also great for hiding equipment like heaters and such that you don't want in the tank.

No controller is necessary to dose CO2. Just work your way up slowly to desired concentrations with small adjustments a little at a time so you don't end up overdosing and suffocating your fish. A member of my local club says the "indicator" he uses is "upside down fish" If they're upside down, its too high, when they right themselves, its just right. I AM NOT RECOMMENDING THIS- its a joke, but its close...

Canisters are great, and you will probably end up with one eventually, either to drive more external equipment or to increase your flow but they are not necessary to get started.

I would go high tech CO2 off the bat. IME, you just won't be happy without it. CO2 is so important, for battling algae, increasing/improving growth, expanding your options for plants you can keep successfully, and lets not forget the pearling... so so pretty.

As for running the bulbs.. I'll leave that to the experts, I am sure they'll be along any moment...
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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-23-2007, 11:23 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by turbosaurus View Post
They're not quite as expensive as reef tanks from a stocking perspective because you can get your plants here from other hobbyists and they grow much faster than your corals will. From an equipment standpoint it is expensive as a reef set up if you do it right.
Out of curiosity, what costs so much on the planted tanks?

Besides items they have in common like expensive lighting, Reef tanks have expensive protein skimmers, calcium reactors, high powered circulation pumps, wavemakers, and powerheads.

The only items planted tanks have different are CO2 systems and canister filters which are relatively inexpensive items. Is there something I'm missing?

I'm already starting to see you are correct about adding the CO2 system right from the get go. The more I read, it seems as if this is the way to do it.
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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-23-2007, 11:44 PM
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Out of curiosity, what costs so much on the planted tanks?
if you have had a reef tank then you wont find planted tanks to be expensive
unless you buy all ada equipment (big bucks there)

if i were you i would go with pressurised c02 right from the get go...it is so much easier

as for your lighting....what kind of bulbs do you use?

30 gallon pita...102watts..pressurized co2 ...jbj regulator...eco-complete substrate...xp-2... inline c-02 reactor...turbo twist uv
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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-24-2007, 12:28 AM Thread Starter
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if you have had a reef tank then you wont find planted tanks to be expensive
unless you buy all ada equipment (big bucks there)

if i were you i would go with pressurised c02 right from the get go...it is so much easier

as for your lighting....what kind of bulbs do you use?
I've got the Geismann bulbs. 4 ea Aquablue & 4 ea Blue Plus.
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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-24-2007, 01:15 AM
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i dont use t-5 bulbs but there are a lot of people here who use the tek fixtures so you should try doing a search here.....
but i think that the bulbs that you do have will not be very good for plants...they probably dont have the correct spectrum
you will need lighting with color temp between 5000-10000k
many people mix different bulbs so that they can get a color that is appealing to the eyes...for example...6500k appears yellow and 10000k appears white....so if you mix the two they ballance each other out

i found a link for you https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/li...?highlight=t-5

30 gallon pita...102watts..pressurized co2 ...jbj regulator...eco-complete substrate...xp-2... inline c-02 reactor...turbo twist uv
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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-24-2007, 05:44 PM
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Besides the tank, the stand, the lighting, the filters, the pressurized CO2 set ups, you want to know WHAT ELSE is expensive? I guess you're right- LOL- that's all of it. You're gonna fit right in to this whole planted thank thing!
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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-24-2007, 08:37 PM
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i have the same tank and light (120g and tek 8x54w) i run 4 bulbs for 8 hours a day and the full 8 for 3 hours for a noon time burst. you will need to use the co2 setup or its algae city with that light (they are so damn bright). i use geismann's 6500k but most go with 6700/10k combos. look at ferts also. even running only 4 bulbs (216w) is going to require some ferts plus the co2. you already seem to have most of the equipment for a planted tank, all you need is substrate and rocks or wood if you plan to hardscape. good luck, the 120g is almost perfect for planted tanks, wide and deep front to back.
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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-24-2007, 09:10 PM Thread Starter
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i have the same tank and light (120g and tek 8x54w) i run 4 bulbs for 8 hours a day and the full 8 for 3 hours for a noon time burst. you will need to use the co2 setup or its algae city with that light (they are so damn bright). i use geismann's 6500k but most go with 6700/10k combos. look at ferts also. even running only 4 bulbs (216w) is going to require some ferts plus the co2. you already seem to have most of the equipment for a planted tank, all you need is substrate and rocks or wood if you plan to hardscape. good luck, the 120g is almost perfect for planted tanks, wide and deep front to back.
What brand of lights are people using for the 6700 / 10K combos?

In the reef tank world, Geisemann bulbs are hands down the best for T5. Do Geisemanns have a noticeable advantage in planted tanks?

Do you use a canister filter on your tank? If so can you recommend a good unit for mine?
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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-24-2007, 09:26 PM Thread Starter
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Besides the tank, the stand, the lighting, the filters, the pressurized CO2 set ups, you want to know WHAT ELSE is expensive? I guess you're right- LOL- that's all of it. You're gonna fit right in to this whole planted thank thing!
Yeah, I probably will fit right in.

FYI... If you price out some of the high-end equipment for reef tanks, and you will see that a high-end planted tank will cost only half as much in equipment.

For my 120G, here's the costs for good equipment on a reef setup:

a high end protein skimmer - $800
Pro-cal Calcium reactor - $750 (not including the CO2 bottle or regulator)
Tunze Wavebox - $450
A pair of Tunze 6100 Streams (powerheads) w/ controller - $900

Not to mention that a highly lit planted tank is considered a low lit reef tank. Most reef tanks use more lighting which often times requires a chiller too.

This planted tank thing looks rather inexpensive to me, especially in monthly electricity costs
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post #11 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-24-2007, 10:38 PM
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I Have converted my Reef tank too...

Hi - Need any Pictures - I have shut down my reef tank too - 4x2x2 with 4x1x1 sump.

Started my planted tank around 5/05/2007, using 2x150wt MH (6K) - Co2 Inj, PH Controller to run CO2 etc...

I have had lids cut for my sump to seal it right up (was open before)

All OK - Just about to start with my first algae Battle -

Where is Rex Site?

Aquarium and Planted tank pics here....http://picasaweb.google.com.au/adriaanvh

P.S. - Expensive Reef tanks - I added my my equipment costs over 5 years with fish and coral etc just from one shop - Ouch - around $12,500.00 AUS$'s. I should NOT have added them up.....

Cheers
post #12 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-25-2007, 01:38 AM Thread Starter
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Where is Rex Site?
http://rexgrigg.com/
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post #13 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-25-2007, 01:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Megalops View Post
What brand of lights are people using for the 6700 / 10K combos?

In the reef tank world, Geisemann bulbs are hands down the best for T5. Do Geisemanns have a noticeable advantage in planted tanks?

Do you use a canister filter on your tank? If so can you recommend a good unit for mine?
i like the geisemann, but they are on the high side price wise. any full spectrum 6700 or 10k light from hello lights etc will work fine. some like the 9325k, but its makes everything a little too pink for my taste. i prefer the crisp white of the 10k, and the 6700k keeps everything from looking washed out color wise.

i use 2 canisters actually on my tank. biological is done by an Eheim 2026, though in hindsight, i should have gone with a 2028. and i also run a Magnum HOT for partical removal/water polishing. if your going to reuse the sump, try that first and see if its enough filtration. if you run into problems with suspended particals in the water, you can always add another canister filter to take care of that. not too familiar with sump setups, but if you run co2, try and minimize water agitation as that will force the co2 out of solution and waste it.
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post #14 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-26-2007, 12:55 AM Thread Starter
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i use 2 canisters actually on my tank. biological is done by an Eheim 2026, though in hindsight, i should have gone with a 2028.
How well do you like your eheim?
How often do you have to clean it?
How easy (or hard) is it to clean?
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post #15 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-26-2007, 01:01 AM
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i love the Eheim, its quiet and just keeps going. i clean it once every 6 months or so. it no harder than any other canister filter (not the magnums) and the pro series has a built in primer to get it going (no more sucking on the end of the spray bar). built like a tank. i use Eheims exclusively on all of my tanks with canisters and gave away my fluval. they are pricey though, but for a living room, the silent operation is a must.
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