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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
It sure didn't feel like a short break... just recently got into a new house with room to start a tank. I decided to treat myself to my biggest setup yet!

After searching around and buying a 125 gallon tank on Craigslist, I discovered that I didn't have a six foot section of wall that I could dedicate with my current floor plan. So I sold the 125 (and made $50) and continued shopping. I had almost resigned myself to buying a 75 gallon tank/stand combo from petsmartco but i thankfully snapped out of it and bought it right the first time with a new 120 gallon tank. 4x2x2 of awesome.



I picked up an eheim canister filter for the tank which was again a little much but I'm working extra for the project so I got what I wanted.

Today I picked up five bags of ADA Amazonia light for the substrate. I don't like the idea of doing a dirted tank because I moved stuff a lot when I did this last time around... I've used ecocomplete in the past but always admired the look of aquasoil... so I treated myself again and got it!

I have to decide on LED lighting for the tank, my LFS sells and recommends current satellite products. I've been kicking around the idea of a finned 24/7 light or a beamswork pent light. Still undecided there but I have a couple weeks to decide.

I'm building the stand with 2x4, 2x6 and plywood, I should be able to park on it by the end. I'll update with photos when I get that construction underway, probably next week.

I also went to the rock yard last week and picked up a bunch of gray basalt/granite rocks. $4.50. Seriously, it's a great way to get consistent rocks if you don't need the latest dragon eggshell unobtanium ada rocks. Ada sells some sweet looking rocks but I think when I clean these up they're going to be great. And if I don't like them, I'm out less than a Starbucks trip.





As far as plants for the tank, I love crypts and swords and tiger lotus. I like jungle looks with tall flowy plants. I have a running list of plants but I think crypts will play a large part. Probably hygro for stems, crypt parva for the foreground, crypt retrospiralis for the background along with swords. And I'm eager to grab some of that new buce, which I had never heard of before.

On to the fish! I will have a few sorts of rainbows, perhaps a goodied livebearer group, either green neon tetras or harlequin rasboras for the small fish and then a few oddballs yet to be determined. I've always wanted blue rams. Tossing around the idea of zebra otos instead of the usual fare but the price may change my mind.

No co2 in this tank. I've killed far too many fish that way. I may change my mind down the road but I want to make an effort to be successful without it. I'm super excited to be coming back! My three year old is thrilled to have fish also, going to get him a little chair to sit and stare!


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Nice. Welcome back. Can't wait to see this get built out
 

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Congratulations on the new 120 gallon tank. I think you will really enjoy it; I have this tank too and love the dimensions.

I picked up an eheim canister filter for the tank which was again a little much but I'm working extra for the project so I got what I wanted.
Did you get the Eheim 2217? I'd recommend getting a second one. I too once thought only one would be needed based on the manufacturer's stated capacity, but found I had terrible detritus/mulm accumulation even with barely any livestock and regular vacuuming.

Today I picked up five bags of ADA Amazonia light for the substrate. I don't like the idea of doing a dirted tank because I moved stuff a lot when I did this last time around... I've used ecocomplete in the past but always admired the look of aquasoil... so I treated myself again and got it!
That should be enough bags. It's well worth the investment. I would layer some power sand (or lava rock rubble) underneath.

On to the fish! I will have a few sorts of rainbows, perhaps a goodied livebearer group, either green neon tetras or harlequin rasboras for the small fish and then a few oddballs yet to be determined. I've always wanted blue rams. Tossing around the idea of zebra otos instead of the usual fare but the price may change my mind.
Goodeids are generally best suited for a specialist breeding tank. What is the hardness of the water you will be using?

No co2 in this tank. I've killed far too many fish that way. I may change my mind down the road but I want to make an effort to be successful without it. I'm super excited to be coming back! My three year old is thrilled to have fish also, going to get him a little chair to sit and stare!
I can strongly relate to this statement, having lost many nice fish to CO2 in the past, but strongly urge you to reconsider. I too, was once bitter at the dichotomy that presents so strongly in the American hobby: bright, lush CO2 tanks with no fish (or only the hardiest chain store survivors), or ugly bare low tech tanks with interesting livestock. But there is another way. Look into how the rest of the world (ADA and other Asians, Europeans) does it. You will see fish like Heckel discus, altum angels, and chocolate gouramis in CO2 tanks in the rest of the world. In the US? Forget about it! Let me know if you are more interested in this point.

CO2 makes a world of difference for running a healthy planted tank (good plant health, avoiding algae issues). Carbon is what plants use to incorporate into biomass; how do you expect them to do without sufficient levels? Even a lower light tank with undemanding plants will look exponentially better with just a low level of CO2 (this relates with what I alluded to above). It is possible to have CO2, lush plants, and happy livestock!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Did you get the Eheim 2217? I'd recommend getting a second one. I too once thought only one would be needed based on the manufacturer's stated capacity, but found I had terrible detritus/mulm accumulation even with barely any livestock and regular vacuuming.

Goodeids are generally best suited for a specialist breeding tank. What is the hardness of the water you will be using?

I can strongly relate to this statement, having lost many nice fish to CO2 in the past, but strongly urge you to reconsider.
I have the eheim professional 4+ 600... rated to 160 gallons at 330gph. I understand the numbers are inflated but I will see how it goes for a while, I'll probably add a surface skimmer/powerhead if I develop that protein film.

I like some of the goodieds a lot, they aren't seen as often so I was thinking of putting some in as a secondary focus species. Is there a reason they can't coexist with other species? My water is pretty hard out of the tap, I haven't measured it but I'm in Arizona which has pretty hard water.

At least for the first establishment period of this tank, no CO2. I may reconsider down the road if I'm not seeing the growth I need but I also don't think I'm using particularly demanding plants in this setup so I think I'll be okay. I'm fine dosing excel etc. to add to the carbon in the tank.
 

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I have the eheim professional 4+ 600... rated to 160 gallons at 330gph. I understand the numbers are inflated but I will see how it goes for a while, I'll probably add a surface skimmer/powerhead if I develop that protein film.
I'd still be open to adding a second filter; that's not much more than the 164 gallons at 254 gph the 2217 is rated at. With 2x 2217 on my 120 I have no protein film, and I do not need any extra skimmers or powerheads. On a good day the water surface looks like a (bubbly) mirror.


I like some of the goodieds a lot, they aren't seen as often so I was thinking of putting some in as a secondary focus species. Is there a reason they can't coexist with other species? My water is pretty hard out of the tap, I haven't measured it but I'm in Arizona which has pretty hard water.
Basically all goodeids are endangered or even extinct in the wild, so really should be bred and maintained for conservation purposes. Furthermore they have small broods and long gestation times. Most other fish would be liable to predate the fry. If you're really interested in them many can be maintained in smaller tanks, even as little as 10 gallons.

However your hard tap water will greatly limit the fish you can keep with good longevity. Forget about green neons, blue rams, or zebra otos; if your tap water is as extremely hard as some of the examples from AZ I'd seen they'd be lucky to make it a year. Melanotaeniid rainbows may be a good choice.

If you want to bypass this use remineralized RO/DI water. Most plants will also grow much better in soft water.


At least for the first establishment period of this tank, no CO2. I may reconsider down the road if I'm not seeing the growth I need but I also don't think I'm using particularly demanding plants in this setup so I think I'll be okay. I'm fine dosing excel etc. to add to the carbon in the tank.
You would be surprised, even a tank of only crypts or ferns can blow your mind when a bit of CO2 is added. I recommend you look through Nature Aquarium: Complete Works 1985-2009. You will see many tanks with hardy, undemanding plants, with low CO2 injection rates, that are breathtaking. Yes the plants can grow healthily without CO2, but you will never see the lushness and superior condition. I think it would behoove you to run it from the start, even if just one or two bubbles per second. This is nowhere near enough to affect even the most sensitive livestock, but will make a noticeable difference for your plants. If you are concerned about livestock this would be a much better alternative than Excel (no DNA scrambling needed!).
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Basically all goodeids are endangered or even extinct in the wild, so really should be bred and maintained for conservation purposes. Furthermore they have small broods and long gestation times. Most other fish would be liable to predate the fry. If you're really interested in them many can be maintained in smaller tanks, even as little as 10 gallons.



However your hard tap water will greatly limit the fish you can keep with good longevity. Forget about green neons, blue rams, or zebra otos; if your tap water is as extremely hard as some of the examples from AZ I'd seen they'd be lucky to make it a year. Melanotaeniid rainbows may be a good choice.



If you want to bypass this use remineralized RO/DI water. Most plants will also grow much better in soft water.

I was planning on a smaller biocube or similar for the bedroom down the road, I may look into the goodieds then... or I may bypass the rainbows altogether if I find the right species.

I've been thinking about an RO system for a while so that may happen down the road. A lot of the stuff I like is soft water dwelling unfortunately. Never liked the African cichlids or that would have been a great fit.




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WoW!! looks like an awesome setup, I'm doing a 95Gallon tank soon, the tank is custom made, will be ready this Saturday..
Seems like you're not a carpet plant sort of guy from the looks of your older tank. I can't resist having a carpet plant in all of my tanks haha!!
Good luck with your tank.. I want to see how it turns out. please keep us updated.
 

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I was planning on a smaller biocube or similar for the bedroom down the road, I may look into the goodieds then... or I may bypass the rainbows altogether if I find the right species.

I've been thinking about an RO system for a while so that may happen down the road. A lot of the stuff I like is soft water dwelling unfortunately. Never liked the African cichlids or that would have been a great fit.
I highly recommend using RO water; all but one of my tanks use RO/DI. I'm in the same position as you. My tap water is liquid rock, but almost all my favorite fish are soft water species. For years I tried to justify it by telling myself the popular lie they'd adapt. To some degree this is true - they can live somewhat healthily for a while. But the longevity is not there, and they often die after some months for no apparent reason. Meanwhile tetras kept in proper soft water conditions can live for many years. The physiological basis for this is the hard water really strains their kidneys and excretory system.

Hard water makes it much more difficult to grow many plants as well, for various reasons I won't get into for now.
 

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Hey follow Arizonan! So the LFS you are refering to, is that ANA (Arizona Nature Aquatics)? Also be warned, Ben has issues with selling soft water fish to those running tap water. I like his store, but just can't handle their smug attitude anymore. I've asked in the past about stocking my 125g tank and getting a bunch of fish ordered and his wife responded saying that they would not sell anyone that many fish if they didn't help setup your tank. Did they ask how I cycled my tank, or if I had a QT setup to handle the individual fish separately, nope not a once. And I can tell you that yes, now I do have a QT setup and I did Some people love them on the FB groups for our area, but besides their store and how nice it is, that's about all that I like of his store.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Yup - ANA. I like the store a lot but as with any brick and mortar, the hard goods can almost all be had for cheaper online. I'll probably buy some fish and specific plants there but most of my plants will hopefully come from this forum or the desert aquarist meetups. I bought my filter, tank and soil there, I really like having a local alternative to the big chains so I'll continue supporting him.

I need to shop around for an RO system I think. I just don't like the idea of wasting all that water, I've got to find something productive to do with it if I'm going to buy one.

That's crazy that they wouldn't order you the fish... it's profit for them, I don't get that.

Not on FB anymore, so I can't partake in any local groups there. Is there anything happening locally besides desert aquarist meetups?


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Just a little FYI on the lights - I currently have a 75g tank (4' long) and am running a Satellite Plus Pro and a Satellite Plus. For the longest time I had a lot of crypts, swords and hygro and java fern. I found that I really needed to keep the Plus Pro at about 60% and the Plus at 80% power to keep BBA at bay. Given your desire to keep similar plants I figured I would offer the input. As for my crypts, in the last year I have probably given away over 100 plants - they just grow like wild fire in my tank. Hope your setup works out as well for you.
 

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Yup - ANA. I like the store a lot but as with any brick and mortar, the hard goods can almost all be had for cheaper online. I'll probably buy some fish and specific plants there but most of my plants will hopefully come from this forum or the desert aquarist meetups. I bought my filter, tank and soil there, I really like having a local alternative to the big chains so I'll continue supporting him.

I need to shop around for an RO system I think. I just don't like the idea of wasting all that water, I've got to find something productive to do with it if I'm going to buy one.

That's crazy that they wouldn't order you the fish... it's profit for them, I don't get that.

Not on FB anymore, so I can't partake in any local groups there. Is there anything happening locally besides desert aquarist meetups?


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Yeah I like their store too and was just kind of shocked by the response I got from them. Oh well their loss. I'm actually in contact with desert pets on 22nd about ordering the fish for me. Actually just sent the list to them last night. We'll see what they say when they see my list as it's like 50-100 fish, since they are mostly tetras. LOL.

It's a bummer you aren't on FB as there are a few local fish groups on there. A while back I got tired of FB too and just unfollowed everything except my fish groups. There is another group mostly in PHX who also does monthly meetings. I picked up a few plants from there too for dirt cheap. To give you an idea. Plants are brought in little sandwich sized Ziploc bags and start auction price of $1 and went up to at most 5-6. I bought like $12 worth and had what I needed to get my tank going. https://www.azaquaticplants.com

Also depending upon what you want I have some plants I'll be able to trim to get you started too.

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Yeah I like their store too and was just kind of shocked by the response I got from them. Oh well their loss. I'm actually in contact with desert pets on 22nd about ordering the fish for me. Actually just sent the list to them last night. We'll see what they say when they see my list as it's like 50-100 fish, since they are mostly tetras. LOL.

It's a bummer you aren't on FB as there are a few local fish groups on there. A while back I got tired of FB too and just unfollowed everything except my fish groups. There is another group mostly in PHX who also does monthly meetings. I picked up a few plants from there too for dirt cheap. To give you an idea. Plants are brought in little sandwich sized Ziploc bags and start auction price of $1 and went up to at most 5-6. I bought like $12 worth and had what I needed to get my tank going. https://www.azaquaticplants.com

Also depending upon what you want I have some plants I'll be able to trim to get you started too.

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I'm actually a mod at azaquaticplants from back in the day, they never took it away from me. I'll probably hit up their meeting at some point, I used to bring a tooooon of plants there. I would make money and bring home new stuff, was always nice.

I used to have a connection at a store long ago who would order me fish at cost, too bad those days are long past, trying to budget now!


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I'm actually a mod at azaquaticplants from back in the day, they never took it away from me. I'll probably hit up their meeting at some point, I used to bring a tooooon of plants there. I would make money and bring home new stuff, was always nice.

I used to have a connection at a store long ago who would order me fish at cost, too bad those days are long past, trying to budget now!


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Too funny that you were/are a mod there. Yeah it would be nice to get some deal on some wholesale fish for sure.

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Bought most of the lumber today, I'll start cutting tomorrow. Nothing super fancy, basic 2x4 frame skinned with plywood. Going to sand it down nice and smooth and paint it some shade of white that the wife chooses. Probably get some old cabinet doors to refinish for the front. The only "fancy" touch I'm thinking about is going to be a stained hardwood mantle around the front and sides to set things on. My wife assures me it'll look good. She gets to plan the outside of the tank, I called dibs on the inside ;).

I'm waffling on the fish. Mature rainbows develop that humpback appearance which is just offputting to me... I'm not really sure if I want them anymore, the more tank videos I watch. I still really like the idea of a livebearer like a goodied or a wild type swordtail.

If I actually get unsupervised time in the garage tomorrow I might get the frame done. I spent a lot of today clearing things out to make room for the project.

I've been looking at fluval flex tanks for a small tank in the bedroom, I can't decide if it would be motivation or a distraction to interrupt this project with a small tank.


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Bought most of the lumber today, I'll start cutting tomorrow. Nothing super fancy, basic 2x4 frame skinned with plywood. Going to sand it down nice and smooth and paint it some shade of white that the wife chooses. Probably get some old cabinet doors to refinish for the front. The only "fancy" touch I'm thinking about is going to be a stained hardwood mantle around the front and sides to set things on. My wife assures me it'll look good. She gets to plan the outside of the tank, I called dibs on the inside ;).

I'm waffling on the fish. Mature rainbows develop that humpback appearance which is just offputting to me... I'm not really sure if I want them anymore, the more tank videos I watch. I still really like the idea of a livebearer like a goodied or a wild type swordtail.

If I actually get unsupervised time in the garage tomorrow I might get the frame done. I spent a lot of today clearing things out to make room for the project.

I've been looking at fluval flex tanks for a small tank in the bedroom, I can't decide if it would be motivation or a distraction to interrupt this project with a small tank.


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Good luck today! Hope you get lots done. I also agree on the rainbows, I like them small till they get that round body. Just not the fish for me. Glad I didn't get some that my wife initially wanted. LOL

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Well, Father's Day was a great success for my aquarium(s). I got a Fluval Flex 9 gallon all in one tank (new journal in my sig) and stuff to put in it. I got a late start on the cutting/building but I still got a fair bit done tonight.

I'm not a woodworker, be warned. My tools were a mitre saw, a drill, a square and a 90 degree project clamp. This is what I've done so far.



Cut all the lumber to my plan specs and labeled the pieces (I got confused last time I built a stand. It was not my finest hour).



90 degree clamp was the MVP of the evening, made starting the framing much easier without the pieces squirreling away from each other as I put in the screws.



Top all framed out



First leg all beefed out and supported.



And this is how it sits tonight. I'm curious, for a 120 gallon tank, do I need to place a center brace on the long sides? If it matters at all, the tank will be skinned with plywood on three sides as well as the top. I may do a brace just to have something for the doors to close onto, I'll need to buy another 2x4 though.


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