Getting back into hobby but going tropical - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-02-2017, 10:08 PM Thread Starter
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Question Getting back into hobby but going tropical

Hi folks,

In the past, I have run freshwater tropical tanks for 4 years and marine reef systems for 3.

After a 3 years break, I am looking to run a planted tropical tank.

However, given the absence, I am unsure what equipment to get and which brands etc to go with.

All I have at the moment is a 4ft x 2ft x 2ft aquarium, stand and a sump. I used this previously for my marine reef tank. It will be cleaned thoroughly etc.

So what will I need now? Ideally, I want to keep costs low (which is why I'm not restarting my reef system).

1. Pump? I was thinking an Eheim compact+ 3000. Happy to take other recommendations
2. Other pumps for circulation?
3. Filtration? Unsure what to get here given I used to use live rock for marine! What should I use now? will be between 400-470ltrs. I know the least about this area.
4. Lighting? No idea what to get here. Low power and cost would be good. I want to keep plants under it as well as the fish.
5. Heating + controller?
6. Anything else?

I am unsure what livestock I am getting yet but I know I went active colorful fish

Thanks for any help.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-02-2017, 10:24 PM
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I would suggest you go to the low tech forum and research low tech tanks with dirt substrates.

I am also getting back into the hobby after a few year hiatus and I decided to go the low tech dirt substrate route. I am about 3 weeks into my 35g hex setup. Have plants, waiting for the tank to cycle. I am mostly reusing existing equipment. I have a temporary light and will build an led hood eventually. I am going to try to setup a complete cycling echo system aka {fill in the scientists name here... Diana ????}... so I will have minimal filtration and the fish will feed the plants and the plants will process the fish waste.

There are many other approaches you can take to building a planted tank. I think the type of planted tank you want should be your first decision.

Last edited by Oughtsix; 08-02-2017 at 10:26 PM. Reason: update
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-03-2017, 04:13 AM
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That's a 120 correct? Since you had it salt can we assumed drilled?
Use your sump. And your old pump. Should give enough movement if it worked for salt.
I like dirt. And while I only have one tank fully dirted I found a way that I prefer and am using in my 90, 75, and 2 55s.
I use dirt in hydroponic net pots. I run a deep gravel bed and put the netpots in that gravel so you don't see it. I use pea gravel from the big box stores. Takes a bit to wash it but it's cheap.
All my tanks are running 4' shoplights from Lowes because they are painted black. $15-17 a fixture and I buy 6500 K bulbs by the case.
I had my 90 on a sump for a year and it ran fine. That tank has 2 fixtures. One runs from 2:30- 11:30 the second comes on at 5:00 for a little kick. Tanks I had sumps on I run bioballs. Filter pad on the drip tray.

As an aside. I stopped running the sumps last year when I went on vacation. Had my neighbor feed the fish but she couldn't top off the sump from evaporation. So I wound up running 2 Whisper 60s on the 90, 1 on the 75 and the 55s got a combination of 60s and 40s.

Dilution is the solution for the pollution.
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-03-2017, 08:39 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice so far guys.

Any other recommendations on lighting etc?

I no longer have my pump from the saltwater tank etc. I sold everything except the tank, sump and cabinet. And yes, it is drilled. would be good to run equipment in sump etc.

Is dirt a way of filtering? I haven't really heard of the term 'dirt' in a tank before so I seem a little out of my depth at the moment :P
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-03-2017, 01:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neonplanet40 View Post
Thanks for the advice so far guys.

Any other recommendations on lighting etc?

I no longer have my pump from the saltwater tank etc. I sold everything except the tank, sump and cabinet. And yes, it is drilled. would be good to run equipment in sump etc.

Is dirt a way of filtering? I haven't really heard of the term 'dirt' in a tank before so I seem a little out of my depth at the moment :P
Dirt is exactly what it is. Personally I get bags of top soil and I dump it into my tank. Others use mineralized soil. Or organic potting soil. I just use top soil. I dump it, plant it, fill it, wait. I let it sit for about a month before I add fish.

That's what I used to do. Now that top soil is in the net pots and they are hidden in a gravel substrate.

Soil gives the plants some nutrients for a longer spell. I like the net pots as they are not as messy when pulling plants out. They plants get the benefit of soil for a while but the roots can then grow into the gravel.

Equipment can go into the sump.
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Dilution is the solution for the pollution.
Quote me as saying I was misquoted.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-05-2017, 04:27 AM
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Welcome back!

I'll try to help where I can, answers in RED

1. Pump? I was thinking an Eheim compact+ 3000. Happy to take other recommendations - The Eheim would be fine, or a Fluval SP4 if you dial it back with a valve or a Waterblaster but controllable DC pumps are becoming more popular because you can adjust your flow on the fly or hit the pause button for feeding time.
2. Other pumps for circulation? - Koralia Nanos or some other small powerhead should be fine if you find you have dead spots.
3. Filtration? Unsure what to get here given I used to use live rock for marine! What should I use now? will be between 400-470ltrs. I know the least about this area. - Biomedia biomedia and more biomedia. Porous biomedia serves much the same purpose as live rock, it hosts your beneficial bacteria. I prefer Seachem Matrix or Fluval Biomax because both are readily available in my area and are very porous to provide more surface area for beneficial bacteria. Use a dollarstore mesh basket or mesh filter bags to keep it where you want it. I find that using a sump with a planted tank poses it's own challenges because it is hard to keep detritus in the water column, it tends to settle out fairly rapidly so you either have to keep it suspended with strategic powerhead placement, vacuum it out or let it decompose.
4. Lighting? No idea what to get here. Low power and cost would be good. I want to keep plants under it as well as the fish. - T5HO shop light fixtures work great or Daylight coloration spiral compact fluorescent bulbs in dome lamps can be cheap and effective. LEDs are always an option and freshwater/planted LEDs are still considerably cheaper than Radions or Kessils.
5. Heating + controller? - 400-500 watt titanium heater with thermostat and controller, whatever your favorite brand is. Many people swear by Eheim Jagers but I've not had the best luck with them.
6. Anything else? - Look into dry fertilizers.... dry ferts will save a ton of money compared to pre-mix. Researching fertilizer will take a LOT of time and you'll realize that (IMHO) many new planted tank keepers will be well served by either PPS-Pro or Estimative Index
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-05-2017, 11:38 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blink View Post
Welcome back!

I'll try to help where I can, answers in RED

1. Pump? I was thinking an Eheim compact+ 3000. Happy to take other recommendations - The Eheim would be fine, or a Fluval SP4 if you dial it back with a valve or a Waterblaster but controllable DC pumps are becoming more popular because you can adjust your flow on the fly or hit the pause button for feeding time.
2. Other pumps for circulation? - Koralia Nanos or some other small powerhead should be fine if you find you have dead spots.
3. Filtration? Unsure what to get here given I used to use live rock for marine! What should I use now? will be between 400-470ltrs. I know the least about this area. - Biomedia biomedia and more biomedia. Porous biomedia serves much the same purpose as live rock, it hosts your beneficial bacteria. I prefer Seachem Matrix or Fluval Biomax because both are readily available in my area and are very porous to provide more surface area for beneficial bacteria. Use a dollarstore mesh basket or mesh filter bags to keep it where you want it. I find that using a sump with a planted tank poses it's own challenges because it is hard to keep detritus in the water column, it tends to settle out fairly rapidly so you either have to keep it suspended with strategic powerhead placement, vacuum it out or let it decompose.
4. Lighting? No idea what to get here. Low power and cost would be good. I want to keep plants under it as well as the fish. - T5HO shop light fixtures work great or Daylight coloration spiral compact fluorescent bulbs in dome lamps can be cheap and effective. LEDs are always an option and freshwater/planted LEDs are still considerably cheaper than Radions or Kessils.
5. Heating + controller? - 400-500 watt titanium heater with thermostat and controller, whatever your favorite brand is. Many people swear by Eheim Jagers but I've not had the best luck with them.
6. Anything else? - Look into dry fertilizers.... dry ferts will save a ton of money compared to pre-mix. Researching fertilizer will take a LOT of time and you'll realize that (IMHO) many new planted tank keepers will be well served by either PPS-Pro or Estimative Index
Thank you for the reply.
1: That Fluval is a little expensive :P You can adjust the flow on the Eheim. I used one previously on my reef tank and it did well.
2. I've used Koralias before so happy enough with that. May have a few Tunze sitting around.
3. The biomedia - does this need to be replaced regularly? Or can it be used 'forever' if it has adequate flow? ALso, anything else needed? I would be running this stuff in sump.S o would it need sponges etc or anything else?
4. Lighting - Ideally I would like LED as it would use less power and theoretically have a longer lifespan. Are there any cheaper units people recommend for keeping a variety of plants? I looked at Kessil but it is far too expensive. Maybe in the future.
5. Thanks for the heating. I made an STC 1000 inm the past for my reef tank but sold it and cant be bothered making a new one haha.
6. THis area is confusing me lol. Any good links which give nooby beginners guide with recommendations on what to get?

Thanks again for your help!
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-05-2017, 12:06 PM
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Just a suggestion on LED lighting (and not pushing them), but Current USA has a site on Ebay that sells refurbished lights for atleast 50% of list price. Have used this option several times to save money on lighting and their products work reasonable well.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-05-2017, 12:31 PM Thread Starter
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Would the Current-USA (Refurbished) #4002-A: 36"-48" Freshwater LED Fixture be suitable?

Can be had for about £50. ANything better for near this price?

http://www.no ebay links allowedco.u...gAAOSwkX1ZcM3~

Last edited by Darkblade48; 08-05-2017 at 05:52 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-05-2017, 03:47 PM
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4 & 6 depend a lot on what you want to grow and the amount of maintenance that you want to do. Freshwater planted tanks are usually divided into 2 very broad categories; high tech and low tech. Generally high tech is defined by higher light and injected CO2. Low tech will take less work. You'll be more limited on the plants you can grow , but you can still have a beautiful lush tank. Kind of like the difference between a saltwater and reef tank.

A couple of things to consider while planning.
You can buy a strong light for high tech and dim it or raise it if you want to go low tech. If you buy a light for low tech, you'll have to replace it or add to it if you decide to convert to high tech, down the road.
Although it's not necessary, a low light low tech tank will usually benefit from CO2 injection als.o
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-05-2017, 04:18 PM Thread Starter
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I think low tech would be best overall as I don't want it to require the same amount of work as my old reef tank. I just don't have that amount of time anymore! The joys of rl lol. I like the tanks which has a moss floor that looks like short grass!
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-07-2017, 05:28 PM Thread Starter
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Just a bump guys. Still stumped on a light that will allow me to keep a good range of plants.

Also, I've seen tanks where the floor is covered in 'grass' or a moss type plant. Is it possible to do this easily going low tech?

Also, in the UK, what type of substrate should I be going for and where would I get it/ how much?

Rocks, where is best to get this? And any wood etc?

Again, all ideas welcome. I don't want to order things until all is sorted etc.
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-07-2017, 06:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neonplanet40 View Post
Just a bump guys. Still stumped on a light that will allow me to keep a good range of plants.

Also, I've seen tanks where the floor is covered in 'grass' or a moss type plant. Is it possible to do this easily going low tech?

no. this is very difficult and requires experience, high light, CO2, etc...

Also, in the UK, what type of substrate should I be going for and where would I get it/ how much?
Get some cheap sand-type substrate. pool filter sand or blasting grit (black diamond works but not sure if they have something similar in UK). I would go with dirt capped with cheap sand or just straight sand.

Rocks, where is best to get this? And any wood etc?
e.bay or users on this forum

Again, all ideas welcome. I don't want to order things until all is sorted etc.
For your original question... use your sump for filtration. it would be silly not to. go low tech. look at lights like planted + 24/7, fluval fresh and plant (or whatever it's called), satellite pro +, ETC. I recommend a decent LED light or two that you can DIM and hang it above the tank. This will give you much needed flexibility with light levels so you can adjust as needed. nothing worse than starting out with the wrong amount of light and getting a tank full of decaying plants or an algae jungle.

if you do a dirt tank plant heavily with root feeders. crypts, s repens, etc will do extremely well in dirt tanks. This will give you an easy yet successful setup that is (IMO this is important) EASY TO MAINTAIN. all those 'show-tanks' with carpets and massive perfect bushes of colorful stems take many hours every week to maintain. yes they look incredible but it's nice to just have a 'set it and forget it' setup for the most part. trim and prune every once in a while vs at least once a week.

I always recommend CO2 no matter what. It is pretty amazing at how much better things grow / how much easier it makes planted tanks. moderate light + CO2 can produce very good results. low tech is still fine and will give you results but CO2 will take it to the next level. I wouldn't bother with CO2 unless you get a legit setup and are willing to drop at least $250 on regulator, tank, etc. Always something you can add later if you want.
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-08-2017, 03:24 PM Thread Starter
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In terms of lighting I am liking the look of the Fluval Freshwater & Plant 2.0 Full Spectrum Performance LED 46W
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-08-2017, 06:32 PM
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In terms of lighting I am liking the look of the Fluval Freshwater & Plant 2.0 Full Spectrum Performance LED 46W


For your application and the width and depth of your tank I think that would be a good choice. If you have the money go for it. I have heard nothing but good things about that led. I'm not sure how well it'll spread in a 24 wide tank.


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