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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have always liked live plants in aquariums and have finally stumbled across aquascaping. This thread will be updated regularly with lots of pictures of the process. updates will be slow at first but should pick up as parts are acquired.

So after about two weeks of research I have finally made a decision and my first purchase.

Although I started looking at the larger ADA tanks (90p), then on to the Aquavas system, I decided to go with a smaller tank to start. I went with one of which I believe to be of equal quality to the previous mentioned brands, the GLA 45p.

I went with GLA partly because the shipping cost was the lowest, with me living in middle Georgia, and because I decided before I dropped several thousand dollars on what I would consider a "medium" (90p) sized tank I should try a smaller version first.

The tank is scheduled to be here next Tuesday, and based on the many reviews and recommendation I read through, I purchased the Eheim 2211 as a filter/pump. Again, reading through the many different 45p setups I see that there is a difference of opinion on whether the 2211 or the 2213 is the best choice for this size tank. The price difference is really not much between the two, and some people talk about closing the outlet valve on the pump to "throttle back" the output. I am not too sure if this is the best for the pump since I do not really know what type of pump is used in the Eheim but according to them the 2211 is good for tanks up to 40 gal.

I will be building my own stand and light holding device (if required) which moves me to my current dilemma. Which light should I buy.

I have narrowed it down to two choices. or at least two that I am interested in and put the details below.

First off I would like to mention that the plants are my main focus in this and future tanks, and not so much the fish that eventually will make their way into the tank. So I would like to get the best light for maintaining the plants in the aquarium. I want to buy a light that will not limit me on plant choices in the future. As far as I can gather from research, this means I need to get a bright light. I have been leaning towards the LED setups but have been skeptical as to whether or not they are better than the traditional MH or florescent bulbs. Some people seem to have good luck with the new LED lights and plant growth, and ADA has some LED fixtures as well, which leads me to believe that they should function just fine for healthy plant growth, even though I do not see any of their professional setups using this technology (possibly old videos).

First choice: Ecoxotic E-45 Full Spectrum LED, 18-Inch $170 on Amazon.

http://www.ecoxotic.com/e-series-led.html

Second choice: AQUASKY451 $250 on AFA website.

http://www.adana-usa.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=76_9_17&products_id=26

I really like the look of the original Aquasky much better than the Ecoxotic but the "features" of the Ecoxotic make it much more appealing to me.

But in the end features or not I would like to get the fixture that will be more beneficial to the plants in the tank. If anyone has experience with either of these lights in this size tank please let me know your thoughts. Or if there is something that I should be looking at but am currently not aware of please let me know :)

I will post pictures as equipment arrives and will most likely seek input of other more experience people as I start making more purchases. I always appreciate any kind of feedback so please let me know what you think.

Thanks,

JT
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
My filter came in today. I have zero experience with canister filter and the instructions are not really instructions. I am pretty sure I got the basic idea of how it goes together and is supposed to function.

Anyone know why there are two different shapes of "stuff" that goes inside the filter? Is that to adjust the resistance through the filter?

I am sure most everyone here is familiar with the filter but I will post a pic of the contents anyway.



Tank arrives Tuesday, still not sure what light I should order. . . . .
 

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Congrats on the new tank! You will love the ecoxotic fixture. I just bought a 120cm GLA tank and it looks great. Glass and silicone quality look the same as my ADA tanks.

On the Eheim, my advice is to leave the black and white pads out. Put the tubular media on the bottom then the blue pad and then the spherical media on top. To clean it then, i use 2-5 gallon buckets with tank water in them. Pour the top media into a bucket and as you tip hold the sponge in place. Then remove the sponge and rinse it under tap to remove the detritus. Pour the rest of the media in the second bucket. Stir the buckets and pour off the dirty water. Put media back together. Fill a bucket with tap water add prime then fill the filter back up to near the top with the water.


Look forward to seeing more of your journal.
 

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Solid advice from Mot on the filter. The only thing I would say is you might want the white pad in there after you first fill the tank to help pull out the finer debris from whatever substrate you use. Otherwise I would agree it's not necessary to keep it in there since your water should be clear most of the time. The black pad an activated carbon-infused pad, also not necessary in planted tanks under most circumstances.

I would also opt for the ecoxotic fixture. While not as slim and sleek as the aquasky, the options and adaptability of the ecoxotic place it much higher up, in my opinion.

My only other advice would be to continue what you're already doing, and that would be researching the subject! I can't tell you how much time, frustration, and money I would have saved myself if I had just taken more time to look up lights, substrate, tanks, etc before purchasing them on a whim. Perhaps I'm just too impulsive though... At any rate, you're started off well!

Welcome to the planted tank community and good luck! Looking forward to seeing your progress!
 

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As for why there are two different shapes of ceramic media, the bigger tube ones are mostly for trapping large debris to keep the sponge from clogging, and the smaller round pieces are bio media for cultivating bacteria. Very important, never scrub the bio media (only gently rinse), and only use tank water on them, as mot pointed out. i like to use the water polisher (white pad) to make my water crystal clear since I do regular maintenance which kicks up dirt and debris. The carbon (black pad) is optional, I personally don't use one anymore. If you do, put it on top, last. It makes water even more clear and chemically purifies it, but it needs to be replaced fairly often.

I have the 2213 on my 10g, great filters. Sounds like a nice setup. :)
 

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Hi Fellow Georgian! Welcome to the forum! lol... I would give you advice on your filter... but, um canister filters I don't have much knowledge of :p
 

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For my Eheim 250 I removed the black pad immediately, and filled the extra space with foam media from an old tank since it was a brand new setup. The supplied white pad broke down and got clogged very quickly for me, and I replaced it with generic filter floss which dramatically shows the waterflow but keeps things clean.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks everyone for the feedback and comments on the filter setup. I can say that I have some good info on how to setup the inside of the filter. I will post pictures of the tank when It arrives on Tuesday.

In the meantime I am still trying to plan what to buy to put in the tank.

It seems like just about everyone is using ADA aquasoil/substrates so I got that figured out. Can anyone tell me if the additives that I see people put under the soil is worth the investment?

Rocks. It seems that there are a wide variety of "name brand" rocks that are sold for use in planted tanks. I would really like to see some of these in person to help me make a decision and it seems it would be better to buy them this way since you pick the ones you want. However, I know there is nowhere around Macon that stocks these type of stones but I would be willing to drive to Atlanta. Anyone know which of the stores in Atlanta carries these or which one is the best for planted tank stuff? If not, is there a preferred online vendor that you talk with before buying them or is everything just ordered blindly and you get what you get.

If I do have to order the rocks online any recommendations for how much weight should be enough for my 45p with a few leftover in case I don't like some of them.

Plants. I looked at the plants at petsmart, the only store around me. They looked pretty rough and didn't seem to carry most of the plants I see in the tanks online. They had a bunch of larger broad leafed plants, but I don't see these working too well in my smaller tank. Is there an online plant supplier that seems to be better than most? I cant really find any specifics but when the time comes of course I would like everything to be alive on my first order.

Thanks again everyone for the information :icon_smil
 

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Yeah, you know I personally like aquasoils for nutrient content and their consistency (I like the small round pieces, they're pretty easy to plant in). I've done eco-complete and wasn't super happy with it. Haven't been disappointed with amazonia yet. I haven't tried dirted though, so maybe that's a good alternative if you're hoping to save money.

I really don't see how the soil additives are necessary. In the end, they're just activated charcoal, some sort of powdered calcium compound that's supposed to keep soils aerobic, and powdered bacterial starters. To me they all seem really gimmicky but then I've never tried any of them.

Rocks are a tough thing. Kinda pricey in most circumstances. Good luck finding some near you! I'd say probably 15 or 20 lbs to be safe, unless it's real low-density stuff like lava rock.

Honestly for plants, I'd recommend checking out the for sale section on here. If there isn't a good place locally, this might be a good bet. Lots of good sellers on the forum here with great plants, typically much better prices than online. I've had luck with big store packaged plants before, but they tend to take a while to grow in. With priority shipping, it would hopefully get there in just a couple days.
 

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Hmmm, I know I went to a place in Atl one time that had a huge section of driftwood pieces. Though I can't recall if they had rocks or not. They also had a ok selection of plants. There is a pet store in Byron that has some plants stocked in it and the fish guy says he can special order plants/fish depending on what his supplier has. Haven't tried that way yet. All of my plants have come from here and other online stores.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Update No Pictures

So I got my tank in the mail last Tuesday right before I went on a trip to Oregon/Washington. I have to say that the packaging was well beyond what I was expecting and the tank arrived in perfect condition.

Side note for anyone who has a tank from GLA, I noticed that under the tank in the packaging was a thin black piece of foam. Can this be used as the under the tank pad? Is it similar to the garden mat from ADA or is it just some kind of extra packing material.

No time for pictures yet as I am still in Oregon, but I have some good news for me on my rock hunt.

While I was up in Seattle I started looking for fish tank places that might stock some of the rocks I was looking for and as surprising as it was I found a place that stocks and sells ADA products including most of the types of stones. The place was called Aquarium Zen. It was a smallish place on the northern end of Seattle but I was excited none the less since they don't have anything like that in Georgia.

So I got to look at their rock inventory. I was hoping to find some Unzan stones which they had two but I did not like they way they looked, in fact I would say I would have been quite unhappy if I had ordered them from AFA like i was planning and got these in the mail. So Unzan stone was a NO-GO . . . . for now.

I moved on to the next stone that I was interested in the Ohko stone. They had some really nice pieces here and I managed to snag the best 5. three of the largest they had which probably are not really that big but they should look really big in my 45p.

Then since I was there and they had inventory I decided to grab some Ryuoh stone since the ones they had had some really nice looking white lines in them. I also picked up the best 5 of these as well, unfortunately they did not have very many larger stones so I got what I could.

And lastly I rummaged through their extensive selection of ADA driftwood and picked out three pieces of Hornwood that I though were pretty unique. The Branchwood seemed a little too busy for my taste at this moment.

So this gives me some flexibility in which way to run the tank for my first setup since I would say I have a pretty good selection of hardscapes to start with.

Once I return to Georgia on Wednesday I should be able to take some pictures of the stuff I got and try out a few different arrangements and get some feedback.
 

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Hey there Squeaks,

First off, welcome to the hobby! It sounds like you've already figured out that when you jump into this pond you find out it's all "off the deep end". Keep carefully researching! I'd also recommend looking up the Atlanta Area Aquarium Association. They might be a bit far for you to make regular trips to, but they're an awesome club with a lot of plant people and can be a strong resource.

Now it's time for me to go counter to everyone elses' opinions. :)

1. When first setting up the tank ESPECIALLY if using Amazonia, ABSOLUTELY ABSOLUTELY use the activated carbon and fine particulate pads in your filter. That stuff can get dusty in transit and will put off a boatload of nutrients for the first month or two. In fact, after using it for the first time and having horrible nutrient management issues I started just letting it sit in the tank without lights for a month before adding anything. This helps to minimize the initial nutrient flush and cycles your filter at the same time.

2. As someone who did my graduate research on substrates for growing aquatic plants I will say that some of the substrate additives are absolutely useful and have scientific merit. Appropriately sized Power Sand Special in particular. The Iron Bottom, Multi Bottom, Clear Super and Tourmaline BC (activated carbons) have valid scientific basis as well. I can't remember which product that's essentially alum (I think it's Penac) also has valid use, but it's something I would file under "more optional than the other non-Power Sand additives". If I had to pick a single substrate additive other than Brightwell Aquatics Florin Power Rhizome (which I developed but isn't for sale yet, yeay!) it would be Power Sand Special.

3. Lighting- Ecoxotic/Current USA has a very nice PAR38 LED cannon if you're looking for spotlights to hang over an open top tank. They have all the features of their regular fixtures but plug into a standard light socket making decorative coverings very flexible.

Cheers,
Phil
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for the feedback Phil,

Sorry for no pictures yet I am sure I will get around to it but I have been working busy each day after work on the stand. I making a close copy to the ADA wood cabinet white. I proportionally shrunk all the dimensions to fit my 45p except for the height. I chose to go with the Aquavas height of 75cm I agree with them and think it will be better to be slightly higher up. I like the dimensions and the look of it. It is a little bigger than normal ADA stands and has the light fixture hangar coming from both sides. This stand also has holes directly below the edges of the tank so the hoses and such can go straight down instead of bending around and in the side.

going to stain it to match other furniture in the living room.

Other news as far as ordering stuff goes,

I picked up some etched glass backing from home depot and installed it on the Aquarium (thanks mot)

I ordered the Ecoxotic E series from amazon to be here tomorrow

I ordered the following substrait stuff from AFA

1 x 2L Power Sand Special Small
1 x 9L Aquasoil Amazonia Normal
1 x 3L Aquasoil Amazonia Powder

And lastly I ordered a 10LB Co2 tank from GLA to be here sometime next week. I am still trying to decide on which regulator to purchase . . . . . . not 100% convinced on the two stage being worth the extra money but I am still doing research . . . .

I definitely should be able to post pics of all the stuff I have got so far, progress on the stand, and all the different combinations of "scaping" I have been doing. I do have to say that I think I got way too big of Ohko stones for my 45p but its hard to tell with no soil to test it out. I will post some pics for sure and see what everyone thinks.

JT
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Pictures Finally.

I know everyone has already seen a 45p before but they haven't seen mine :hihi:



Here is a pic with the frosted background installed.



Of course this is only where the tank is sitting while I continue work on the stand. For those of you who do not know what the ADA wood stand white is supposed to look like here is a pic.



I have proportionally shrunk all dimensions to match the 45p except tank height and probably the light stand height. I am not sure if I want to make the light stand as tall as it is in the picture since it does not need to be that tall with the ecoxotic fixture I have. To me it looks like they split the distance for the light. The same distance from the top of the tank to the light then from the top of the light to the hanging stand.

Just trying out my ecoxotic fixture holding it by hand I think it would be best around 5 inches above the water. That still appears to give good brightness to the whole tank while allowing an unobstructed top view while standing in front of the tank. But with it hanging this low it may look funny with so much wire. Still not sure yet but it is getting close to time to make the light hanging portion of the stand.

Here are some pictures of where I am currently at on the stand. You can see I made the doors with a little more "design" than the ADA ones but so far that is the only difference.







I plan on staining the entire stand including the light holding portion that I will be making out of wood a dark color similar to the other furniture in the location that It will be going, which is here.



I did take some pictures of the items I picked up in Seattle, I put a coke can in there to try and give a size reference to the stones and wood. I have already tried moving them around in the tank to come up with some different scapes and I have found several that I like but I am going to wait until the stand is complete and the light is in place before I start posting some pics with the arrangements that I like.



Its hard to see all the really nice white lines in the Ryuoh stone without it being wet but they do look pretty good to me.







At the rate things are going I should probably have the stand completed, light hung, and ready for some layout pictures by next weekend. :tongue:
 

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Very nice. What frosted backing did you buy? I'm on a search for some. I bought some off amazon but it's a little difficult to apply.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Update more pictures.

Got the stand completely finished and stained last night and snapped some shots at some points along the process. No pics of the stained cabinet yet until it is finished. but here is what I got.

picture of the top after i realized I forgot to drill the holes for the lights power cord. The ones behind the rectangles for the light stand.



I made the light stand side supports 6 inches longer than the top of the cabinet so I could raise or lower them if needed. They were not glued but I screwed it in underneath.



The next four shots are just with it in place getting a feel for the dimensions and thinking about the best looking way to attach the light.









So while I am waiting for the stain from last night to fully dry before my polycryilic applications on the cabinet I started to work on my fixture hanging hardware.

Looking at the kit from ecoxotic I figured I would be able to make something similar to fit my stand. While at home depot I was not satisfied with the steel wire connectors they had to offer they did not look very good in my opinion. So I went over to the hook and eyelet section in search of something that would work, and this is what I found.



Now I'm sure everyone is wondering what I am going to do with these tiny eyelets. Well get some chain of course! But how are you going to attach it to the light? I am just going to screw it through the back of the light. WHAT!! why would anyone screw a screw thought the back of a light fixture. Well only someone who has taken the fixture apart to see what there was to hit first. So here is some notes on how to "properly" remove the legs from your E series light and how to carefully attach mounting points without damaging anything.

So the first step was to remove the end cap, I started with the one without the electrical cord, for this you need a long small Phillips head screwdriver. remove the two screws and the cap and stand will pull away from the fixture. There is a thin piece of plastic that you could break if you pull too hard so don't break it. The metal stand is kept in place by two "bushings". These allow the stand to slide in and out without coming all the way out.





You need to rotate the bushing so the slot is facing the flat part of the stand rods. On mine both the flat part were facing outward. once the slot is lined up with the flat part you can safely slide it off without breaking anything.



So the center of the fixture is aluminum? but the end-caps are definitely plastic. so I could screw the eyelets into the plastic as long as it did not have a chance to contact anything that could cause a problem. You can see once the cap is off there is something below but there is plenty of room above it to put the eyelets in without touching. I took some pictures of the distance the eyelet is through and the clearance height above the metal piece.





One thing to note is the eyelets are very hard to screw into the plastic and I do not own a drill bit small enough to pre-drill a hole. but with enough time and patience you can get it through and it is very secure.

The other side was pretty much the same story except there is no way to completely remove the end-cap since the wires are soldered directly to the circuit board. But there is enough room to put the eyelet through and check clearance.
 
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