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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all, I've been lurking around here for about a week now doing research, and I still seem to be lost, so I guess I'll go ahead and ask some questions! :)

First, I'll start off with where I am now.

Pics first:
Full Frontal ;)

The fiddlers, possibly fiddlin'

A view of the wooded end

Right after I brought home the leopard ctenapoma




So what you see is a 55gal (48"x13"x21"), slightly brackish angelfish show tank (yes, angels and brackish in the same sentence). Six 2.5" angels, one lone platy from when I first started cycling the tank, a new leopard ctenopoma, three fiddler crabs, a clown pleco, and a common pleco, since the clown pleco doesn't eat algae. :p

Substrate is CaribSea Voodoo River mixed with red and blue gravel.

Lighting is whatever the heck I got when my friend gave it to me. I measured 22w pulled from the wall from each, and they are florescent, that's about all I can tell you about them. The bulbs are roughly four years old.

Filtration is a bit lacking ATM, a Rena XP1 with Bio-stars and activated carbon to clear the water from the tannins the driftwood releases. I just added a large piece of wood into the tank, and it was too long for me to be able to boil properly, so the carbon needs to stay for now, though I have read a lot of mixed views of carbon in a planted tank.


Ok, now that I covered what's already here, we'll move on to where I want to go with it:

Tomorrow I will be leaving for a little over a week to go stay with my wife's family up in Kentucky. While up there, I will go and see some of my family that had told me they had a 75gal aquarium I could have if I would come get it. They have the tank, filter, stand, everything, I would just need new media.

I'm not sure what kind of filter it has, but I will most likely replace it with a Rena XP3 or XP4, as I know how to use them, I can get the media easily and cheaply from my LFS, plus they are convenient and easy to service.

The gravel substrate will be replaced by a mixture of Caribsea Moonlight Sand & Tahitian Moon sand ordered from Dr Fosters & Smith. Can't beat $15 per bag, my LFS sells it for $26 per.

As for lighting, I will be going LED. I've looked at the Marineland double bright 48-60" kit, seems like it would fit the lighting bill for just the fish, but I don't know if it will be ok for a planted tank. If there is a less expensive DIY option, I'd love to hear about it (I've looked some of them up, but every one I've seen doesn't list the size of the final kit).

A buddy on another forum (an extreme computer water cooling forum, no less :D) mentioned having a dimmer put onto lights so that there's no instant light shock for the fish in the mornings and no instant off at night. I'm assuming that the Marineland system won't work with this as it has a single switch that controls both sets of lights, which means that I would possibly need to make/wire my own lighting.

As for plants, I don't want a whole lot. Four small pots of Amazon Swords, four small pots of dwarf four-leafed clovers, and three bags of Java moss to cover the driftwood with and a bunch of nano moss balls. Will the Marineland/custom LED lighting be enough for these plants?

I've also read about CO2 insertion, I’m not sure where to start with all of that. I have a bubbler, but it’s mostly for looks and can be controlled some. If anyone has any beginners’ guides, please link me and I promise I’ll do my reading. :)

I think I covered everything, but knowing me I probably left something out!

Comments/criticism/answers/million dollar donations are always welcome. ;)

-Ben
 

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I'm sleepy but had to make a post so I can find the topic tomorrow. Just and FYI fiddlers live mainly on land and breath mostly "air" from the air they moved to the water you hyfrate their shells and can stand short periods of time under water. Since their natural habitat it in mangrove swaps along the tide line. I'm not sure how long they will live totally submersed under water you may want to start to see if the store will take them back but it's totally up to you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm sleepy but had to make a post so I can find the topic tomorrow. Just and FYI fiddlers live mainly on land and breath mostly "air" from the air they moved to the water you hyfrate their shells and can stand short periods of time under water. Since their natural habitat it in mangrove swaps along the tide line. I'm not sure how long they will live totally submersed under water you may want to start to see if the store will take them back but it's totally up to you.
They spend most of their time in the water, but it is by choice, they very frequently climb the silk plant all the way on the left of the tank and get onto their floating platform. Once there, they wave their claws to their hearts' content. :p

Once I get a larger tank for my wife's black moor goldfish (I call them herberts :) ) the fiddlers will assume their current tank, and I will suit it to their normal habitat (I actually live about an hour away from their "natural" habitat). This way I do not have to constantly keep an eye on the salt level. Though as it is, the crabs are healthy and molting, and the angels show no sign of illness.
 

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IMO your 55 would look about better without the red and blue in there.

as far as the 75 goes. I don't know alot about LED lighting but it seems to me that unless you want to solder lots of bulbs and wires it will be difficult to do it cheaper or get enough light for a planted tank. I'm not sure if the marineland light you mentioned it bright enough for plants or not. I'm just not a fan of LEDs for planted tanks. I looked into using them for my 40 gallon, but it was gonna be pretty expensive so I went with CFLs instead and I have no qualms about that decision.
 

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One: When you do get the new 75..Don't use the gravel you have now and give squidward back his house.

Two: "Did you pick the gravel colors because you're a Gators fan?" "....alligators? I guess you could call me a fan." SEC College Football team, you know the one with Tim Teabow? NM

Three: Go to WalMart (something similar) get 2 black posterboards for the back of the tank.

Four: When you do the 75, just go with Pool Filter sand SINCE you said "As for plants, I don't want a whole lot." So to supplement nutrients just use root tabs.

Five: The leopard ctenapoma is a preditory fish and LOVES plants to hide in and under. Maybe consider a Tiger Lotus or some Italian Vals.

Hope this is a decent start. When you get the tank you ought to start a Journal.
 

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Pool filter sand is a pain to keep clean. Try river sand. You can probably have a stream nearby that you can get it. I get mine from landscapers for $3.

Start with easy plants like Wisteria (hygrophilis difformis), mosses, ferns, and anubias. The best place to buy them is here. Wisteria grows fast and is only $3 at my Pet Smart.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
IMO your 55 would look about better without the red and blue in there.

as far as the 75 goes. I don't know alot about LED lighting but it seems to me that unless you want to solder lots of bulbs and wires it will be difficult to do it cheaper or get enough light for a planted tank. I'm not sure if the marineland light you mentioned it bright enough for plants or not. I'm just not a fan of LEDs for planted tanks. I looked into using them for my 40 gallon, but it was gonna be pretty expensive so I went with CFLs instead and I have no qualms about that decision.
The red and blue are going away. I'm grabbing a large amount of limestone rock while I'm here in Kentucky to use for the cichlid tank (the 55gal), and I ordered Tahitian Moon Sand & White sand from Dr Fosters, they are on sale for $15 each, free shipping. I figured I'd might as well.

I also found this site for LED kits: http://www.digikits.com/

They do "moonlight" LED strips, for ~$55 each (for two 24" strips) with a dimmer, and they said that next month they will have daylight strips of LEDs for about the same price. They will then also be able to answer my question about what kind of LEDs they will use. It'll be something to look at.
One: When you do get the new 75..Don't use the gravel you have now and give squidward back his house.
The next angel tank will have no plastic decorations, and will have CaribSea sand as substrate.
Two: "Did you pick the gravel colors because you're a Gators fan?" "....alligators? I guess you could call me a fan." SEC College Football team, you know the one with Tim Teabow? NM
Didn't even think about that, shows how much I pay attention to football :p
Three: Go to WalMart (something similar) get 2 black posterboards for the back of the tank.
Thanks for the tip, I will have to do that when I get back home.
Four: When you do the 75, just go with Pool Filter sand SINCE you said "As for plants, I don't want a whole lot." So to supplement nutrients just use root tabs.
Root tabs, gotcha.
Five: The leopard ctenapoma is a preditory fish and LOVES plants to hide in and under. Maybe consider a Tiger Lotus or some Italian Vals.

Hope this is a decent start. When you get the tank you ought to start a Journal.
I will give the tiger lotus a look, thanks for all the suggestions!

Pool filter sand is a pain to keep clean. Try river sand. You can probably have a stream nearby that you can get it. I get mine from landscapers for $3.

Start with easy plants like Wisteria (hygrophilis difformis), mosses, ferns, and anubias. The best place to buy them is here. Wisteria grows fast and is only $3 at my Pet Smart.
I will give the Wisteria a look, thanks a bunch!
Better than Playsand.

For Ease of cleaning pour it into a pillow case and fill with water. Do this several times.
I was going to put the bags into a 5gal bucket and use the water hose to rinse it out, I will look up the pillow case method, thanks!




As for the cichlid tank progress, I have found this up in Kentucky:


A sweet little piece of limestone. I'm gonna collect a metric crapton of the stuff in small form like this and crush it to make the substrate for the cichlid tank, and then I will get several large pieces and attempt to crack them/drill out holes in them for the cichlids to hide in. Much cheaper option than Texas holey rock.
 

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Better than Play sand.

For Ease of cleaning pour it into a pillow case and fill with water. Do this several times.
I agree pool filter sand is easier to deal with than play sand. Also pool filter doesn't need as much cleaning as play sand does. Then there is general purpose sand that is like river sand.

Nifty means of cleaning it.

I ordered Tahitian Moon Sand & White sand from Dr Fosters, they are on sale for $15 each, free shipping. I figured I'd might as well.
Tahitian Moon Sand and white sand. How are you using the both. You can make it go further by putting Scott's top soil under it.
 

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I will tell you the only draw back to playsand and PFS.

It tends to wash the color our of your fish. Over time I noticed my fish colors fading, so when it came time to upgrade the whole system I decided to go with a dark substrate and eventually their colors came back.
 

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Digikits LEDs are not the kind you want for growing plants. And while I'm on the topic, their moonlight kits are way overpriced! This is more what you want: http://www.aquastyleonline.com/products/24-LEDs-Strip-DIY-Dimmable-Kit.html I've looked at the Marineland LED and they really used crappy LEDs for it. You would probably need two fixtures to keep anything more than the lowest light plants happy. I've built my own DIY LED fixture for my reef tank and I'm going to build one for my planted tank too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Do the vinegar test on your rocks.
Was planning on it once my wife gets back from the store with some. :)
Here is a review on the light strip at thread -
review... marineland double brite LED
Thank you for that, I don't think I'm gonna go with the Marineland simply because of the price.
I agree pool filter sand is easier to deal with than play sand. Also pool filter doesn't need as much cleaning as play sand does. Then there is general purpose sand that is like river sand.

Nifty means of cleaning it.


Tahitian Moon Sand and white sand. How are you using the both. You can make it go further by putting Scott's top soil under it.
The two will be mixed together, I did not want all white or all black. I will test out a small portion of it to see if it is exactly how I wanted it, but I've seen them mixed before and it looks great.
I will tell you the only draw back to playsand and PFS.

It tends to wash the color our of your fish. Over time I noticed my fish colors fading, so when it came time to upgrade the whole system I decided to go with a dark substrate and eventually their colors came back.
Another reason I would mix light and dark.
Digikits LEDs are not the kind you want for growing plants. And while I'm on the topic, their moonlight kits are way overpriced! This is more what you want: http://www.aquastyleonline.com/products/24-LEDs-Strip-DIY-Dimmable-Kit.html I've looked at the Marineland LED and they really used crappy LEDs for it. You would probably need two fixtures to keep anything more than the lowest light plants happy. I've built my own DIY LED fixture for my reef tank and I'm going to build one for my planted tank too.
Thank you for the link, I will look into that! I don't mind doing any soldering/wiring, but the Digikits LEDs are not only prewired but come encased in acrylic, with heatsinks already included/attached.

Also, how is $55 for two 24" strips more expensive than ~$103 for four 24" strips that I have to put together?

Can you please explain why their LEDs are not suitable for growing low-light plants? I do understand if I got the white "moonlight" LED strips, but I did mention that they will begin selling "daylight" LED strips in a few weeks.

Thanks so much everyone! I went for a short hike today in Frankfort, found another couple of nice limestone rocks, and an odd, misplaced chunk of either coal or petrified rock in the bottom of a small stream. That won't be going in the tank, but it was pretty cool. :cool:
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Fiddler crabs will not molt unless conditions are ok for them to be growing. They have all molted in the past couple of weeks.

The crabs have been removed due to an impending hurricane, possibly a severe one, so I had to move my fish to my parent's house as to not risk losing power for too long (parents have a much sturdier house and a generator). The crabs are currently with my cousin in a small plastic tub with fully brackish water and sand as to make them more comfortable. I had to purchase a 29gal tank to house my angels as it wasn't really feasible to move the 55gal. The goldfish will be moved to the 29 upon my return, and the fiddlers will assume the 10gal. I think it may be a bit too small for their liking, but the conditions will be better for them.
 

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Digikits LEDs are not the kind you want for growing plants.
I have seen blue LED light made for under $50. They don't do anything for the plants but are interesting for night viewing. Blue just isn't the right spectrum to grow plants it is more for corals, so I have read.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I have seen blue LED light made for under $50. They don't do anything for the plants but are interesting for night viewing. Blue just isn't the right spectrum to grow plants it is more for corals, so I have read.
This is true, however I was not saying that I wanted the blue ones for growing plants. :)

They got back to me yesterday and said that their "daylight" kits will use Cree LEDs. I'm not sure what those are, but I Googled for a bit and light kits that include those are pretty damn pricey.
 
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