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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Good Morning,

Several years ago I "graduated" to reef keeping and tore down my 55 gal planted system and replaced it with a 90 gallon reef. I still maintain a small 3 gal planted tank with guppies and amano shrimp.

I left my planted tank behind primarily due to disinterest in the fish, as I'd tried to "feature" dwarf gouramis and dwarf cichlids and was struggling to keep them alive (likely due to livestock quality issue and my own water quality mistakes).

Reefing has been fun, but it's also insanely expensive. The current economy has pretty much priced me out of any equipment upgrades, and with even the cheapest fish typically starting in the $30 range and quickly getting into the hundreds, my reef is suffering from a bit of neglect.

I'm thinking about going back to planted... but was hoping for a bit of advice and thoughts...

If I do it, I'd be converting the 90 gallon reef back to freshwater. I know some equipment won't transfer, but feel like it's a good starting point with a large sump and about 110 gallons of overall water volume.

Hoping for advice on the following:

What equipment will prove necessary to buy new to replace reefing equipment? If I shift my spectrum to white light, will reef lights still work or will I need something different?

My hope with a planted tank would be to feature a large group of smaller fish (tetras, barbs, etc) with a few "feature" animals such as gouramis or something similar. Any suggestions on some interesting and hardy livestock?

I know there's going to be a wide range of possibilities, and I'm hoping to just see some examples so I can think everything out before commiting to anything. Tha ks I advance!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Welcome to this side of the hobby.

You'll definitely need planted tank lighting - something in the 6500 Kelvin range. But the lighting you need really depends upon specific plants you want to grow. Any idea what kind of plants you want? Do you want to use CO2?
I've had past success with Amazon swords and Anubis, but am hoping for something that may not need Co2 or excessive trimming as another goal would be to step down a little from the demanding maintenance schedule of the reef tank. Other than that I'm very open to ideas/suggestions.
 

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I've had past success with Amazon swords and Anubis, but am hoping for something that may not need Co2 or excessive trimming as another goal would be to step down a little from the demanding maintenance schedule of the reef tank. Other than that I'm very open to ideas/suggestions.
So low/medium lighting.

What are the dimensions of your tank? That will help folks figure out which light fixtures to recommend. Fortunately, lighting isn't as expensive on the freshwater side of things. And I'm betting you've got some salt side equipment you could sell to cover your costs...?

What specific equipment do you have? Lots can likely be repurposed.

Highly recommend going through the Tank Journals section for several days/weeks to see what you think about various setups. That will be really helpful on a personal level and you'll likely find it entertaining. Keep notes about what you like - substrates you see, specific plants, critters, all that stuff.
 

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If you're looking to do things on a budget, with minimal maintenance and you have good, general husbandry knowledge, might I suggest this:

It requires some elbow grease in the beginning, but is pretty easy afterwards. Seriously, Father Fish brought me back to my roots. Much credit to Dr. Diana Walstad also.

And like somewhatshocked advised, take some time to think, peruse and audit your equipment. Definitely agonize over lighting. You can cheap out on everything else but that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
So low/medium lighting.

What are the dimensions of your tank? That will help folks figure out which light fixtures to recommend. Fortunately, lighting isn't as expensive on the freshwater side of things. And I'm betting you've got some salt side equipment you could sell to cover your costs...?

What specific equipment do you have? Lots can likely be repurposed.

Highly recommend going through the Tank Journals section for several days/weeks to see what you think about various setups. That will be really helpful on a personal level and you'll likely find it entertaining. Keep notes about what you like - substrates you see, specific plants, critters, all that stuff.
It's the typical 90 gallon that's 48x18x24. It's a drilled tank with a corner overflow and a 20ish gallon sump. I figure I can resuse that system as the sump provides a massive area to place media, filter pads, bioballs, etc.

System heaters are still fairly new and can be reused as well as stand, lids, etc. I'm going to look at the lights as they have an adjustable spectrum, so I'll have to see if they can shift over to the 6500 range.

I have a wave maker that's likely not particularly useful for a planted setup, as well as an old skimmer that obviously won't be of value here.

The biggest change will be anything in tank- as all rocks, substrate, livestock and things like that would need switched out. I've got some value there, but to be honest I haven't been able to afford much livestock since prices went insane early last year.

As far as freshwater livestock I'm always a fan of Cory cats on the bottom, and enjoy gouramis as well as dwarf cichlids.

My biggest question would be the "school.". I love planted tanks with a big group of small fish in it. Neons have been one of my favorites, but I know they are easy to kill, rarely well bred and very sensitive. They may also be a bit small for this setup and the overflow system.

I really like tiger barbs, but know that their personalities can limit my options in the tank as well. Danios and rainbow fish tend to be more top dwelling, and the tank sits a little low for that to be a great view.

Maybe tiger barbs? Maybe another barb or tetra? Hoping for a group of 10-15 or more that still permits me to have some other fish and not be overcrowded.
 

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Good call on the lighting. That 6500K bit isn't set it stone. If you've only got 9000K? Or 5800K? That could potentially work for you. Especially since you aren't looking to go crazy high-tech with demanding plants. 6500K is just kinda the basic starting point. Betting there's someone here on this side of the hobby who'll be familiar enough with your fixture to help you get things dialed in. And since it's a reef/marine fixture, it's probably going to be easy to adjust intensity so you can grow low/medium/high.

May not need heaters, depending upon the species you settle on.

Sump will be awesome. Buncha sponge/foam and ceramic media or pumice and you're golden. Plus you're already familiar with filter sock usage and everything like that, so you know how easy it is to have cheap and functional mechanical filtration.

Skimmers can sometimes be useful in planted aquaria. Same for wave makers - especially if you end up having flow issues. Controllers and pumps will definitely be useful. Have dosing pumps? Those are really useful even in low-tech tanks where fert dosing happens on a limited basis. Got a top-off system? Keep it for sure.

Since you have some livestock, that alone will make you a bit of cash. And live rock absolutely will if you can find the right buyer(s). I made almost $2K selling rock from my two reef tanks that I shut down in 2019. (I thought it was worth about $150 - boy, was I wrong.) People are lazy and don't want to culture it themselves. They also weirdly don't like it when you give them leftover bits of rubble, so if you end up with leftovers? Maybe start a tiny tank with just sand, rock and a little hermit or two if you still want to keep something on the salt side. Almost no maintenance, no stressing over slight parameter or salinity changes.

In a tank that size, the sky is the limit on the schooling species you could keep. From super-tiny to medium. So many options it's tough to just name a few. Can also likely keep way more than you're thinking. You've got enough room for a proper shoal of larger Corydoras - several types to pick from. Or even a massive group of something small like Corydoras habrosus along with any other fish you decide to keep.

Note that you can probably easily adjust your overflow system to accommodate smaller critters. Adding fiberglass window screen material, sponge and the like is easy - and it's easily removed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Good call on the lighting. That 6500K bit isn't set it stone. If you've only got 9000K? Or 5800K? That could potentially work for you. Especially since you aren't looking to go crazy high-tech with demanding plants. 6500K is just kinda the basic starting point. Betting there's someone here on this side of the hobby who'll be familiar enough with your fixture to help you get things dialed in. And since it's a reef/marine fixture, it's probably going to be easy to adjust intensity so you can grow low/medium/high.

May not need heaters, depending upon the species you settle on.

Sump will be awesome. Buncha sponge/foam and ceramic media or pumice and you're golden. Plus you're already familiar with filter sock usage and everything like that, so you know how easy it is to have cheap and functional mechanical filtration.

Skimmers can sometimes be useful in planted aquaria. Same for wave makers - especially if you end up having flow issues. Controllers and pumps will definitely be useful. Have dosing pumps? Those are really useful even in low-tech tanks where fert dosing happens on a limited basis. Got a top-off system? Keep it for sure.

Since you have some livestock, that alone will make you a bit of cash. And live rock absolutely will if you can find the right buyer(s). I made almost $2K selling rock from my two reef tanks that I shut down in 2019. (I thought it was worth about $150 - boy, was I wrong.) People are lazy and don't want to culture it themselves. They also weirdly don't like it when you give them leftover bits of rubble, so if you end up with leftovers? Maybe start a tiny tank with just sand, rock and a little hermit or two if you still want to keep something on the salt side. Almost no maintenance, no stressing over slight parameter or salinity changes.

In a tank that size, the sky is the limit on the schooling species you could keep. From super-tiny to medium. So many options it's tough to just name a few. Can also likely keep way more than you're thinking. You've got enough room for a proper shoal of larger Corydoras - several types to pick from. Or even a massive group of something small like Corydoras habrosus along with any other fish you decide to keep.

Note that you can probably easily adjust your overflow system to accommodate smaller critters. Adding fiberglass window screen material, sponge and the like is easy - and it's easily removed.
I truly like the idea of a shoal of corydoras, and adding various shrimp and snails could make the bottom of a planted tank really come alive.

It's the mid tank school that's got me. I'm still not sure if I want to go with something as sensitive as neons, but am looking for more color/patterns than the typical tetras. I've thinking maybe a mixed group of congo tetras, rummynose and maybe some sort of barbs?

I know I can technically fit a pretty significant bioload in here, but I'd like to keep it a little lighter stocked to help with maintenance/stability issues.
 

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As long as you stay away from aggressive barbs or the more nippy varieties, you can keep most anything.

What about a large group of Trigonostigma espei? Trigonostigma heteromorpha? Or 100 Boraras brigittae? Danio margaritatus are wildly underrated for larger tanks like that. Microdevario kubotai and Hyphessobrycon amandae are two other underrated favorites of mine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
As long as you stay away from aggressive barbs or the more nippy varieties, you can keep most anything.

What about a large group of Trigonostigma espei? Trigonostigma heteromorpha? Or 100 Boraras brigittae? Danio margaritatus are wildly underrated for larger tanks like that. Microdevario kubotai and Hyphessobrycon amandae are two other underrated favorites of mine.
All are some very interesting suggestions! I forgot about danio margaritas. I was looking for them years ago and struggled to find them. Online options for buying make it a bit easier however...

I guess in the past Ive had smaller systems where I've tried to look for color variation in the same fish or school of fish, but with such a large system I could use multiple groups to achieve that.
 
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