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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was just given a 55G planted tank by a friend who is moving and it is in very bad condition. He's not coming back so I've been given permission to essentially rip up the tank and start over (algae everywhere and the substrate is pretty shoddy). I'll attach some pics so you know what I'm dealing with.

I'm getting very inspired by this post: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/low-tech-forum/71996-55-gallon-excel-tank-new-update.html

I have a $200 budget for now, so a few question:

1) Should I keep the fish the came with the tank? There are 2 rosy barbs, 3 zebra danios, 3 head-tail neon tetras, 1 6" pleco, 3 clown loaches, and 1 Flying Fox (I think that's what it's called).

2) As you can see, this tank has a massive algae problem on everything, is there a way to "nuke" it out of existence as I transition to a new tank? I didn't know if putting the driftwood / rocks / accessories into a vat of water with algicide / bleach / whatever would help keep from transferring the problem to the new setup. Also, should I bleach the tank once i gut it?

3) Can I mount a better light fixture to the top of the tank (inside the lid), or should I toss the lid and get the ballast seen in the link above.

4) Should I get a better filter? Was thinking of replacing the canister with a Penguin Power 350, good idea or no: http://www4.shopping.com/xPO-Pengui...0_Power_Filter_for_Aquariums_Up_To_75_gallons

5) Any ideas as to a good substrate / gravel combo that mightg work and be in my prioce range? I'm looking to brighten the tank up, so was thinking the medium sized - round "creekbed rocks" to provide adequate root growth area and keep the barbs on my loaches long and beautiful (sharp substrate wears the barbs down to the nub), good or bad idea?

6) Open to any other ideas, new at this so need lots of advice!

Now for the horror (caution, may cause nausea):

1) My overall tank (not a aqua-botanist, so not even sure of the plant names!):


2) Lid and Lighting (50" x 13.5" wood slat lid, hinged in the middle; 2 48" T-4 Bulbs, 2 36" T-4 bulbs (no reflector), currently using the "aqua plant growth" bulbs from a pet store, from what I read here I should ditch those bulbs and get 6500K bulbs instead? Also, is that too much light (and possibly the cause of the algae issue?)


3) What algae is this that's taking over everything (yech!):


4) Using this canister filter, should I replace it with the Penguin filter linked above? Also, does filter location in the tank (middle of back or to a side) matter?


Please aks any questions that will help clarify things, got dropped into this by surprise and it's all a crash-course to me!

Thanks so much!!
 

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Keep the canister filter, but replace all the filter material. The fish are totally up to you. Since you are tearing down the tank, I'd clean it real well and use an algicide rather then bleach. Can not say on the lights since you didn't state the wattage. A 6700K would be fine. Wash the plants well and re-use them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the recommendations, to answer the questions (and ask more) - lights are mixed, so I'll scrap them all and reset.

2 36" and 2 48" 6700K T-4 bulbs is on-target for light (Ballast is rated for 40W bulbs)?

Also, thinking of doing a homemade CO2 using a 2-liter, could I have the CO2 outflow go into the canister to mix, or is a dedicated CO2 absorber preferable?

And algicide on the driftwood / heaters also should work?

also going to follow the idea of the thread I quoted and use 4 20 LB bags of eco complete as the substrate, does that sound ok?
 

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You should be able to use the algaecide on the heater with no problem. To fix any algae that was on the driftwood, if it is not to large, place it in a pot and bring the water to a slow boil. just remember to clean to pot out afterwards.

Eco-complete should work fine for the substrate. If you want to avoid the algae issue from repeating itself, get a lot of fast growing stem plants for the tank when you set it back up. Hoenwort and Wisteria(hygrophila diformis) work well in that arena, and are relatively cheap. You can always replace them with something else as the tank grows out.
 

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IMO that's way too much light for a non-pressurized-CO2 tank. DIY isn't going to accomplish much, your tank is too big. Running 2 setups might work, one on either side of the tank, as long as you're faithful about mixing up new batches each and every week (way too much work for my own taste).

Are you sure those are T4 bulbs, not T5 or even T5HO?

And personally, I'll never let any "algacide" ever touch any of my tanks. Particularly not one that I want live plants in (which is all of 'em...). Potassium Permanganate or Seachem's Excel are the closest I'll ever come to one. Bleach also will kill algae, if you're tearing the tank down.

You can add a Penguin filter if you want to. I'm a big proponent of 2 filters on all tanks 55gal and above, as it's an extra level of security should one break down. So I'd run both. What make and model are the canister you have now?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
IMO that's way too much light for a non-pressurized-CO2 tank. DIY isn't going to accomplish much, your tank is too big. Running 2 setups might work, one on either side of the tank, as long as you're faithful about mixing up new batches each and every week (way too much work for my own taste).

Are you sure those are T4 bulbs, not T5 or even T5HO?

And personally, I'll never let any "algacide" ever touch any of my tanks. Particularly not one that I want live plants in (which is all of 'em...). Potassium Permanganate or Seachem's Excel are the closest I'll ever come to one. Bleach also will kill algae, if you're tearing the tank down.

You can add a Penguin filter if you want to. I'm a big proponent of 2 filters on all tanks 55gal and above, as it's an extra level of security should one break down. So I'd run both. What make and model are the canister you have now?
Not quite sure what make the filter is, not any external notes I can find. Will probably get 2 bulbs then, at least until I get an injector running. Am open for more advice!
 

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Actually, it doesn't look SO bad...I've seen worse. It looks better than my tank right now. (I'm in the middle of tearing mine up and redoing it.)

I've got a 55, and I am running two Home Depot shoplight fixtures that each hold two 48 inch T12 or T8 bulbs. I buy my bulbs also at Home Depot, they've got 6500K bulbs available in a case of 10 for a decent price, and they work good for me. The fixtures are about $20 each. They aren't pretty, but I'm working on making a pretty cover for them. I run them about 10 hours a day, on a timer. I am using pressurized CO2, I had a homemade system on this tank but it just wasn't adequate. I would agree on using two filters, I've found that the HOB filter on my 55 creates 'dead' spots where there is no flow, which is fixed by having another filter or a powerhead, and positioning them so there is flow everywhere. And it's good to have a backup if one breaks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks, tanks stripped down and re-set, only put a few basic plants in there as placeholders, hoping most of the fish survive, I had expected 4 bags of eco on Friday, but only 2 showed up, the other 2 arrived today (Sat) so fishies sat overnight in a 10 gallon tub with a powerhead + aerator.



Went with 2 48" T-4 6500K bulbs for now, will get some low-light plants to start.

Since the new tank is so bare (and I really need to beef up my fish schools), some of the smaller fish are pretty scared.

Tomorrow I hope to flush out the middle with some colored rock to match the background I selected, add some plants, and line the hood with reflective tape to increase the lighting level and scenery.

Want to wait a wek or so before adding more fish, to let the plants and current fish settle and to let the substrate bacteria catch up to current levels.
 
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