Setting up a 75 Gallon Low Light - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2009, 01:39 AM Thread Starter
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Setting up a 75 Gallon Low Light

So I am going to be setting up a 60 gallon tank this month. It is going to house some sort of dwarf cichlid or cichlids and some community fish. I want to do plants but only a low light, low maintenance kind of setup. I currently have a 20 with co2, high light, ferts, ei dosing, but it is just too much right now for my busy schedule. The tank is going to come with two 24" standard fluorescent hoods, guessing it probably contains a 15 watt t-8 bulb or something similar in each. Will these stock lights be enough granted i change the bulbs to 6700k t8's? I want to have Java ferns, brazilian pennywort, crypt wendtii, sunset hygro, other various easy crypts maybe, and java moss or such. Is the light adequate? I dont want to run co2 or have to do big weekly water changes or heavy daily dosing. Just a very low tech, low light tank but I want to make sure my plants will survive at least. I've done two high light, high tech setups and i just want to go down to an easier plant tank. Also, what sword would do best in low light...amazon sword maybe? Also would dwarf sag work in a low light low tech?

Ok well that was my first thoughts on my mind, but also important is equipment. I was thinking of using sand because i love the look of it. Would sand work with otos, other bottom dwellers, and various dwarf cichlids? Never used sand before in a tank. It is hard to clean or is it messy? I currently use flourite but i am bored of it. I want to use a natural looking sand. Nothing crazy but also nothing with high silicates causing diatoms. My local water already has high silicates in it. I also dont want anything that will raise the ph. I have naturally low ph low kh water and want to keep it that way. I keep my ph at around 6.0 in my other tanks and love it.

I also need to pick a filter. I've always used HOB's on my other planted tanks. I use aquaclears and the do a good job or keeping the water nice. What kind of filter should I use for a 60 gallon. I am deciding between an aquaclear 110, marineland emperor 400, or possibly a canister like a rena filstar xp2 or xp3 or fluval canister like a 305 or similar. I like the simplicity of the HOB's and probably will add a powerhead for circulation regardless. OR should I use two power filters like 2 aquaclear 50's or 70's or something to get more circulation? Using the two AC 70 hob's would give me a 600 gph overturn and two AC 50's would give me 400 total gph. Would using a strong power filter or filters be good enough for this low tech low light setup? These are the ones I can get from my job with an employee discount so it would be nice to use that, lol. But If you have any other ideas that aren't so expensive, like under 150, let me know but preferably one of the ones i mentioned would be nice!

Well I'll stop for now and allow some responses to come in while I do more research and think of more questions. Thanks guys!


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post #2 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2009, 02:33 AM
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I'd go with a canister. It's 120 I think.

Sand works fine and your fish will like sand too. Maybe put a layer flourite under the sand for the plants. A low tech tank is pretty easy to work with. If you're running into algae, you have too much light. And once in awhile, dose some nutrients.


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post #3 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2009, 05:17 PM
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You'll need to get up to 2 wpg if you stick with T8 lighting over this tank.

Otherwise you'll be extremely limited in plants- mostly just mosses, ferns, Anubias under the current lighting.





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post #4 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2009, 08:26 PM Thread Starter
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ok i actually am probably going to get a 55 gallon now, it is a column style tank (thats what they call it.)It has a lot of depth to it. the 60 gallon is a tall and only has 10 inches depth from front to back so not much for aquascaping. Where as the 55 is probably about a foot and a half of depth front to back so it has much more surface area. Which tank do you think would be nicer? Also what are some cheap low light ideas for the tank to grow the plants i mentioned? I believe the 55 is 2 feet long and i have a coralife aqualight 24 inch 65 watt pc light. I can also raise it on the mounting legs i have and there will be a glass canopy on the tank. Will the lighting work? Will that be too strong or too weak? I'll take any ideas please....Also filter suggestions please.


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post #5 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2009, 09:14 PM
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Have you looked at 40gal "breeder" tanks? Those are a really nice size for aquascaping.

A "standard" 55gal is only 12" deep... aren't "column" tanks normally really tall? Tall tanks are harder to light properly.

A Rena XP3 or Eheim 2217 would be a nice size canister to run on any of these tanks.





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post #6 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2009, 09:27 PM Thread Starter
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ok sorry found out, i want to do a 75 gallon with the dimensions of 48 1/2"L x 18 1/2"W x 21 1/8"H. I am going to get it thursday but i am not going to set it up till after christmas. I want to keep those plants i listed and i want it to be a low light, low tech with little maintenance. it comes with two 24 inch flourescent hoods. Is this enough to keep the plants alive? If not please show me a cheap alternative that will be low light. Oh and also the filter ideas. I want to know what you guys think of using the two power filters, like two AC 70's or two marineland emperor 280's....I am trying to spend as little as possible. Sorry about my indecisiveness but this seems like this is the one.


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post #7 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-30-2009, 09:32 PM Thread Starter
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I want the big size because I just really want to keep a nice big community with some dwarf cichlids, maybe blue rams or apistos, but I know the rams and apistos love planted tanks and thrive in them. I love planted tanks too but don't want anything too crazy. I already have a high tech 20 gallon. I want this one to be very minimal. With those two hoods, assuming they are t-8's (maybe 20 watts, not sure) which of those plants would be okay? Which plants will do good? Sorry about all my talking, I am just really excited to put this tank together.


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post #8 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-01-2009, 12:24 AM
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That 75 gallon tank should be 48L x 18D x 20H. A single T5HO bulb would give low light if you kept it raised about 4 inches above the top of the tank, but the light would not be very uniform, due to the 18 inch front to back dimension. If you had two single bulb T5HO lights spaced about 8 inches apart on top of the tank, and about 4 inches above the top of the tank, that would still give you low light, but much more uniformity. If the T5HO fixtures don't have the typical great reflectors, you could probably just locate them right at the top of the tank. I'm not sure what is available in single tube T5HO fixtures though.

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post #9 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-01-2009, 12:45 AM Thread Starter
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so the 48" single bulb model of this would work?

http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...=0035607000000

Anyone know if there is a cheaper fixture than that or not?

Also what about the filter?

And is a sand bed hard to keep? And what sands won't cause excess silicates because my water already has enough to begin with lol....and ph neutral sand is a must.

Edit: Found this as well
http://www.thatpetplace.com/pet/prod...bxav4lpLA3elU_

It is 2 x 54 watt t5 ho.....is this too much for low light without co2, etc.


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post #10 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-01-2009, 02:29 AM
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If you want low light the only way to use two T5HO bulbs spaced close together is to raise the fixture about 12-15 inches above the top of the tank. The Nova Extreme fixture would probably do fine that way. An advantage of going that way is that the light intensity throughout the tank should be pretty uniform, or at least a lot more uniform than we normally see. But you might have more spillover light than you would prefer.

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post #11 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-01-2009, 03:20 AM Thread Starter
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Ok how about this, i found the specs on the 55 gallon tank. Don't know if i will just do this one instead. Trying to decide. I think I do like the 55 better.

30-1/4"L x 18-1/4"W x 57-7/16"H and here is the link
http://www.petsmart.com/product/inde...ductId=3804456

Now hoppy, you are the man when it comes to helping me figure out this lighting. But if anyone else has opinions go right ahead and let me know. The Nova T5HO light fixture that fits this is a 30" 2 x 24 watts, a total of 48 watts over the tank. Would that be enough to grow my low light plants i mentioned in my first post?

I also have a 24" Coralife Aqualight 65 watt power compact if that can serve a purpose...probably not, t5ho is probably better but let me know.

Sorry guys again for my flip flopping on my decision, this is just going to be my first larger low tech planted tank and I am VERY excited to get it going. I am used to doing small high tech tanks. Thanks again


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post #12 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-01-2009, 04:13 AM
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PRS, I think people kinda steer you in the direction they have went.

I let my 75 go for a year. I cut the lights way back. 80W of t8's then down to 40. The plants that needed a lot of care died off but the survivors are still there and doing well. It ended up full of crypts and bolbitis. Star grass lived until I cut the light down to 40. Moss survived also. For the most part, I misplaced my ferts and added water. Java fern likes low light but if you don't add N, it dies.

Cichilds and sand? They'll have it rearranged every day unless you get tiny ones like the shell breeders. Maybe that's what you had in mind. It depends on where they are from but lots of them are from high PH lakes and high PH is more stable than low, if you want low maintenance.

I like HOB filters for the most part. I've had the best luck replacing those lousy filter bags with coarse pond filter foam. With the bags and my apathy, the water just ends running around them 75% of the time.
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post #13 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-01-2009, 09:55 PM Thread Starter
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I am stuck between doing the 75 and 55. I just want to know if the 55 will be better with those 30" t5ho lights or will the 75 be better with the 48" lights. I like both but i don't know.

What is the benefits of me using a canister filter? I've never used one before but I've heard complaints from multiple people saying they are messy and sometimes when the power goes out, it can siphon out the tank water all over the house. I know you have more media and biological filter area in the canisters but the power filters seem to work great. I see that i can use a rena xp3 with 350 gph or so i believe or two power filters such the AC's with a combined 600 or more gph. These are the only differences I see but like i said I never used a canister before so I don't know how they work or benefit me.

Also let me know if you guys think i should do the 55 or the 75?? I like all opinions


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post #14 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-01-2009, 11:46 PM
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That 56 gallon, column tank is 24 inches high, not 57 inches, which includes the stand. I wanted to get one for a riparium a few months back, but PetSmart is the only seller of them and they won't sell the tank separately, only as a kit with the stand and light fixture. I still like its shape for a riparum, but I think it is a bit too high for a planted tank only 30 inches long. That is just a personal preference though. Remember, few people ever wish they had gotten a smaller tank.

Canister filters don't siphon the water out of the tank all over the floor. They are a completely sealed filter, so when the power is off, the water flow just stops. They require maintenance a lot less often than power filters in my experience.

That 56 gallon tank is 18 inches front to back, so it is hard to get reasonably uniform lighting from a single fixture that sits on top of the tank. The Nova fixture you mentioned would give too much light to do without CO2, right under it, but the edges of the substrate would have much less light. Also, the upper parts of the tank would be dark enough away from the center of the tank, that the plants would all grow towards the center, to stay in the light. If you suspended it about 8-10 inches above the top of the tank you would have low light, and the intensity would be pretty uniform throughout the tank. So, that would be a good choice, in my opinion.

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post #15 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-01-2009, 11:58 PM Thread Starter
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Okay, is there any light that would be cheaper or maybe just better for about the same price that will give me low light....like maybe t-8s, power compacts, etc. And maybe I wouldn't have to raise them as much, but if not, it is okay.

What would be the ideal watts or lighting type or arrangement for a low light tank with no co2? And what would be the cheapest way to do it?

Would a Rena XP3 be good enough for the 75 gallon? Or maybe an Eheim Ecco 2236? Something in that range...If you have a suggestion please be around $150, I don't really want to go over that.

Some people say use two canisters but I really cant afford that right now. Is it really necessary? In the case, of me needing 2 filters, should I just go with two big power filters?

Should I go with a canister or 2 power filters or 1 big power filter?

** I also do have a co2 system available for hookup, its just that i dont want to do weekly water changes and have a high maintenance tank. I would use co2 but I dont want to do EI with weekly water changes. I want to do water changes about once a month. So please I'll take any suggestions as long as it's not high maintenance. I even have dry ferts so let me know how often to fertilize with low tech, low light....like once a week or so?**

I need as much help as I can get! Thanks to all of you for the advice!


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