Help me get started again after 20+ years - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-31-2014, 10:03 PM Thread Starter
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Help me get started again after 20+ years

Hello all,

Just found this forum and it looks like just what I'm after.

20+ years ago I kept some FW and Reef tanks. Had great fun with it but having 4 kids slowed me down a bit. Now that the 2nd set are nearing their teens we have interest in doing a new tank. Unfortunately I'm pretty rusty and need a hand.

Here's what I know I want:

- Amazon based planted tank. Not trying to see how much I can plant but I'd like to focus on a schooling style tank with predominantly silver/reflective scaled fish. Tetras and Silver Dollars being the focus.

- At least 55 gallons. I prefer long to tall tanks (again for shoaling).

- I would prefer to skip a sump of any kind. I'd like a canister I think. But I've been out for so long just not sure.

- Prefer to avoid any noise if possible, i.e. bio-wheels, skimmers, etc.

- I want sunlight effect. 20 years ago this meant the only choice was lots of VHO (which I was never fond of) or some kind of halide (which is what I had). I am ready to be corrected.

What I don't know:

- What kind of filtration do I need? I used to get by with a nice Fluval canister most the time. But I'm sure there a lot more options than there were.

- No idea on substrate. The last FW I did was still under gravel which I think I'd like to avoid.

- Powerheads in a planted tank?

- UV? Know nothing about it.

- Tank brand? Oceanic used to be the best but I see they don't even make tanks anymore!

Sorry for all the questions but I'm already excited and ready to start.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-31-2014, 10:25 PM
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welcome to TPT!

im probably not the best person to help but im sure someone very knowledgeable will come and will answer all you need to know.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-31-2014, 10:45 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks!
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-31-2014, 11:09 PM
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You've probably done more fishkeeping than me, but I can at least tell you how I answered some of your questions for myself and maybe that'll be of use to you:

Because of how my place is set up, I'm also trying for a tank that's as near-silent as possible. Eheim canisters are pretty much silent, in my experience. Not sure what size you'd need on a 55 planted, though. I have a 2011 on a lightly-to-moderately planted 20L, which I think would be passable but slightly underpowered on its own. For my second filter on that tank, I have an AquaClear 20 powerhead connected to a Hydro III sponge filter. Since the powerhead is underwater, it's nearly silent, as well.

The nice thing about that canister/powerhead-driven-sponge combo, imo, is that you're also minimizing flow to a certain extent, without sacrificing cleanliness. Even though I think I've found the right balance between there being enough flow for the plants but not too much for the fish (small school of gold barbs, small school of zebra danios, one opaline gourami in that tank), I still need to do some vacuuming of the substrate and even use the turkey baster I keep on hand to get odd bits of litter, because neither of those filters are good for getting up debris *at all* (well, I also have a prefilter over my Eheim intake) -- though they seem to be cleaning the water column great.

There's a *slight* hum coming from my tank's vicinity (if you're maybe a couple feet away), but my laptop is often louder. The decibel level is about the same as the hum of a TV/entertainment center where you can hear that the power's on but nothing is actually turned on.

For lighting, I finally sprung for the Finnex Planted+, which seems like a solid, good-value LED. If you don't want get the light right away, 6500K CFLs in clamp lights work well, they're just more expensive to run over time, don't look that great, etc. I personally also don't like the light leakage coming from the tank area that I get using the clamp lights, which was my main reason for replacing them with the Finnex. No offense, you probably already know this, but I'm so happy that I got my lights on a timer (just the regular ones from the hardware store) right away, it's probably the best thing I did for the plants. I'm not sure if you can do sunlight settings with the Finnex lights. Would you be interested in DIY? There are lots of DIY LED lights people are building. I'm sure someone with more knowledge on that will chime in.

For substrate, personally, I did a layer of epsom salt, laterite, and potassium chloride, and then dirt (sort of mineralized it -- but I was doing that during winter and it kept snowing...so eventually I just said hell with the mineralization and threw it in the tank) capped with play sand. Honestly, I'm not sure if the dirt is worth it or not. If I had it to do over again, I'd probably just go with the play sand combined with root tabs (and maybe dosing the water column), because the dirt is messy (bits and pieces of mulch come up through the sand, that kind of mess). But I didn't really do the dirted thing "right," so I'm not sure if my experience is really that useful as a data point. And I will say that I haven't had anything go *wrong* (knock on wood) -- my plants seem happy, the tank looks natural, haven't had to dose or anything (gathering supplies for a CO2 rig but am low tech for now), no algae, etc.

How fancy do you want to go with the actual tank, and how eager are you to start? In about a month, Petco is probably going to be doing another $1/gallon sale. That's where I got my 20L referenced above and I'm waiting on this next sale to get a 10 gallon.

Personally, I don't have UV. I've kept a small population of pond snails in my tank and the fish are pretty small and omnivorous, so I don't want to zap all the zooplankton in the water, and if there's a little algae or phytoplankton for everyone to munch on, I'm OK with that, too -- I'm worried about killing all that with the UV. If I were you, I'd hold off on it, and if you have an algae or green water problem, then look into getting one. But I'm also trying to follow the KISS system (despite myself!), which might not be the way you want to go, and I'm pretty ignorant about UVs myself, so hopefully there will be more (and more knowledgeable) opinions you can pick through on that in a bit!

Good luck, happy to hear you're getting back in after so long! Are your kids or SO interested, or is this your project alone?
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-31-2014, 11:19 PM
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Welcome back! I'm back myself after about a year break. If I were you, I would do searches on this forum and read, read read.

If definitely would recommend a canister filter. They are definitely quieter and IMHO easier. But you've asked some loaded questions. Mainly because the equipment you will need in some way depend on the plants you want to keep. Things to consider: high light vs low light, c02 injection vs carbon supplement (Excel) or none, fertilizing routine or not.

One thing I wish someone had asked me when i was first getting into planted tanks was how much work daily did i want to put into it. I went all out, high light, co2, high end soil, lots of fast growing, beautiful plants, fertilizing. I was fairly successful..low algae, great growth and colors, fish were happy. All came from learning from the great folks on this forum. But it became a lot of work and eventually i slipped off... c02 cannister ran out of gas, water changes became less frequent and then the system and tank started to suffer. So ask yourself, what kind of tank do you want...and will you have the time and will to continue that level of work. I working on setting up again, and im definitely working to set up a less demanding tank and a bit easier to care for.

As far as UV goes, you dont really need it. People have used them to clear green water but its not something i typically run.

Powerheads. I like to have good circulation in my tanks to prevent dead areas. when I injected c02 I tried not to have the surface disturbed too much to prevent c02 from being lost.

Tanks. Glass rimless tanks are very "en vogue" because they're beautiful. There is a lot to choose from. I have an acrylic tank for simple weight issues.

Like I said you asked a lot of loaded questions...so my best advice at this point is to read. Good luck and welcome back to aquariums!
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-01-2014, 02:23 PM
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yea reading helps a lot that is how I got started or should I say still getting started.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-01-2014, 03:37 PM
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Welcome back to the hobby. I would skip the 55g and jump right to the 75g, better all around size(petsmart $230, tank, glass tops, basic 4ft. strip light). A canister filter will work just fine (brands- fluval, rena/api, eheim,sunsun- get the features you want). Powerheads.....wouldn't hurt to have a small one available. Lighting can be as simple as the standard light that comes with the tank or as exotic as you desire. Personally I use a 4ft. t-8 shoplight with 6500k daylight bulbs. If you want the shimmer you need LED lighting. Substrate is a loaded question......I like Miracle grow organic potting mix capped with saf-t-sorb. It grows plants well with minimal maintenance. Do yourself a favor......if you want plants.....stay away from silver dollars, they eat plants faster than rabbits breed. Good luck and have fun.
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,2x75g, 55g, 40g breeder, 29g, 2x10g, 100g stock pond..........MTS ? Nahhhhhh
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-01-2014, 07:23 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danios View Post
... I still need to do some vacuuming of the substrate and even use the turkey baster I keep on hand to get odd bits of litter, because neither of those filters are good for getting up debris *at all* (well, I also have a prefilter over my Eheim intake) -- though they seem to be cleaning the water column great.

For lighting, I finally sprung for the Finnex Planted+, which seems like a solid, good-value LED....

For substrate, personally, I did a layer of epsom salt, laterite, and potassium chloride, and then dirt ...

How fancy do you want to go with the actual tank, and how eager are you to start? In about a month, Petco is probably going to be doing another $1/gallon sale. That's where I got my 20L referenced above and I'm waiting on this next sale to get a 10 gallon.

...?

Vacuuming....this brings up a question. I've never done a serious planted tank. My last reef tank was with NO substrate so cleaning was a no brainier. That said, how do you even go about vacuuming a dirt substrate?

Those Finnex lights look nice. I like the idea of LED to keep heat down, but I really do want the sunlight effect. I've not seem LEDs in the application so I don't know what to expect.

How fancy? Well I;d say middle of the road. I was looking at the ADA design contest website. Whoa! Not quite that level but I do want a semi-shopeice here. It;s for our living room, not just a hobby. So I'm thinking 75 gal minimum probably 90, some kind of center island and lots of water space.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 180g View Post
yea reading helps a lot that is how I got started or should I say still getting started.
I'd LOVE to do a lot of reading. Unfortunately it's daunting! What do i read? 20 years ago there were only books, and the good ones were well known. Now I have to sift through books (of which none really stand out yet) and the internet. I'd love a good starting place.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sadchevy View Post
I would skip the 55g and jump right to the 75g, better all around size(petsmart $230, tank, glass tops, basic 4ft. strip light)....If you want the shimmer you need LED lighting. Substrate is a loaded question......I like Miracle grow organic potting mix capped with saf-t-sorb. It grows plants well with minimal maintenance. Do yourself a favor......if you want plants.....stay away from silver dollars, they eat plants faster than rabbits breed. Good luck and have fun.
Good advice on the tank size. I plan on going as big as I can. I'm leaning toward Marineland just because I prefer the black silicone. Again, the lighting thing is a big deal for me, so I'm going to have to do a lot of research. Thanks for mentioning the Silver Dollars, good point to consider. I'm still totally in the dark on the substrate. Having looked at ADA (which I know nothing about but looks like they are serious!) and The Green Machine website, I'm wondering what that whole system is about.

Thanks everybody for the welcome.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasa73 View Post
Welcome back! I'm back myself after about a year break. If I were you, I would do searches on this forum and read, read read.

If definitely would recommend a canister filter. They are definitely quieter and IMHO easier. But you've asked some loaded questions. Mainly because the equipment you will need in some way depend on the plants you want to keep. Things to consider: high light vs low light, c02 injection vs carbon supplement (Excel) or none, fertilizing routine or not.

One thing I wish someone had asked me when i was first getting into planted tanks was how much work daily did i want to put into it. I went all out, high light, co2, high end soil, lots of fast growing, beautiful plants, fertilizing. I was fairly successful..low algae, great growth and colors, fish were happy. All came from learning from the great folks on this forum. But it became a lot of work and eventually i slipped off... c02 cannister ran out of gas, water changes became less frequent and then the system and tank started to suffer. So ask yourself, what kind of tank do you want...and will you have the time and will to continue that level of work. I working on setting up again, and im definitely working to set up a less demanding tank and a bit easier to care for.

As far as UV goes, you dont really need it. People have used them to clear green water but its not something i typically run.

Powerheads. I like to have good circulation in my tanks to prevent dead areas. when I injected c02 I tried not to have the surface disturbed too much to prevent c02 from being lost.

Tanks. Glass rimless tanks are very "en vogue" because they're beautiful. There is a lot to choose from. I have an acrylic tank for simple weight issues.

Like I said you asked a lot of loaded questions...so my best advice at this point is to read. Good luck and welcome back to aquariums!
OK, I don't mind the work. I like it. BUT I think I;d like to go lo-tech to start. I'm not against CO2 but would prefer au natural if possible. I do need to leave town on occasion and would prefer lo-tech for that reason. Ditto on UV if it's not needed.

I can assume I'll have at least one powerhead. Amazon river basins aren't still waters.

I love the rimless look, however I did read somewhere that they are difficult to clean without sloshing. That would be an issue. Plus I assume you need to keep them perfectly topped off or there will be an unsightly water line.

Last edited by Darkblade48; 06-02-2014 at 02:51 AM. Reason: Back to back posts
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-01-2014, 08:57 PM
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lets stick to the core,
strong(fully mature) bio filter, enough light, good substrate, and enough surface water aeration.

plus fast growing, easy plants.

dwarf sag, water sprite, star grass....

55-100G tank.
eheim 2217, or sunsun 304 canister filter, good.

T5 HO planted tank light fixture, 100watts to 200 watts, good, adjust the water surface to light fixture distance so the bottom of the tank have enough PAR.

good Surface aeration means enough atmosphere co2 exchange, and both canister filter mention above, come with spray bar in the package..


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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-01-2014, 10:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abouna View Post
Good advice on the tank size. I plan on going as big as I can. I'm leaning toward Marineland just because I prefer the black silicone. Again, the lighting thing is a big deal for me, so I'm going to have to do a lot of research. Thanks for mentioning the Silver Dollars, good point to consider. I'm still totally in the dark on the substrate. Having looked at ADA (which I know nothing about but looks like they are serious!) and The Green Machine website, I'm wondering what that whole system is about.

Thanks everybody for the welcome.
I like black silicone too. That's among the reasons I chose to go for a 75 gallon from Deep Blue Professional. I looked at it side by side with the Marineland and, for me at least, there wasn't much comparison. The silicone job and the glass beveling on the Deep Blue was immaculate. Also it was cheaper than the Marineland.

Everyone has their favorites and few of us have kept large numbers of species, but I LOVE my pygmy corys. They school pretty tightly and have a lot of personality. A plus; you can fit a LOT into a 75 gallon. Honorable mentions: one-lined pencilfish, brass tetras, and green neons. All are South American natives.

Some of the newer threads on PAR38 LEDs got me to go that way for lighting. So far so good! Link in my sig.

"In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught." Baba Dioum


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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-02-2014, 03:13 AM
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Vacuuming....this brings up a question. I've never done a serious planted tank. My last reef tank was with NO substrate so cleaning was a no brainier. That said, how do you even go about vacuuming a dirt substrate?

I have a play sand cap, so you can't see any dirt, just sand. If there's a bigger piece of litter (piece of poop, dead piece of plant, etc) on the substrate or on a leaf or something, I just pick it up with the turkey baster or tongs. If the substrate as a whole looks kind of sloppy (tiny bits of leaf litter or mulch, etc), I'll get the siphoning vacuum going and then hold it maybe 1/2 in or so over the substrate and swirl it around in a little circle. The tiny bits of litter come up off the sand and then I just suck them up. I'll sort of go around an area of the tank doing that until the substrate looks reasonably clean. I don't do huge water changes at once (about 5 gal at a time, and this is a 20G), so I'll usually only vacuum a particular area at any given time and don't try to tackle the whole tank. After vacuuming, some of the sand might have gotten dusted up onto the plants in that area, and I'll usually knock the plant around a bit with the turkey baster or tongs to "dust it off." Mostly so the plants don't have photosynthesis problems from being covered in a light layer of sand, but also for looks.

I don't know if vacuuming dirted tanks is recommended or not -- I actually think that some people like to leave the substrate as is, so that as things break down the plants can use those nutrients? More than anything, I do it because I think the tank looks better that way (especially since I don't any carpeting plants), to be honest.
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-02-2014, 05:57 AM
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Welcome back to the hobby and to TPT!

Spend some time in the Low Tech forum. Tons of ideas and tanks in this one thread, and many people have posted all their equipment specs too: https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...ad.php?t=99729

I personally think Low Tech is the wisest way for all new planted tankers to start off. There's definitely a learning curve with planted tanks, and going Low Tech helps a person master some basics in a slower setting before deciding if they want to increase light, add CO2, need weekly fert dosing, etc.

Decide what tank you want, and then we can help you pick out a light fixture for it. IMO getting the right lighting is *the* single most important decision for a planted tank. Every other decision revolves around that one.

Craigslist can be a great place to snag a fantastic deal on a tank. Even if you don't always want the accompanying equipment.





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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-24-2014, 12:17 AM
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Hi, also getting started after years away from fish (saltwater). Having trouble with tanks, your reference to Deep Blue Professional caught my eye. Where did you find those? I have gone back and forth between glass and acrylic! Concerned about the openings too small on top of acrylics, but also worried about weight and soundness of glass! Did you get the 75 gallon Deep Blue and are you happy! I am going to use Finnex lighting, Fluval submersible filter for a low tech, easy maintenance hopefully!
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-24-2014, 02:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by All4Fish View Post
Hi, also getting started after years away from fish (saltwater). Having trouble with tanks, your reference to Deep Blue Professional caught my eye. Where did you find those? I have gone back and forth between glass and acrylic! Concerned about the openings too small on top of acrylics, but also worried about weight and soundness of glass! Did you get the 75 gallon Deep Blue and are you happy! I am going to use Finnex lighting, Fluval submersible filter for a low tech, easy maintenance hopefully!
I got my Deep Blue at the LFS here close to Baltimore. I've never seen one at Petsmartco, so I'm guessing they're going to be at specialty shops. My feeling is that they are primarily used by marine folks, though I'm not sure on that. It's a really sharp looking and well-built tank.

"In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught." Baba Dioum


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