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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I may be crazy, but I am sick of salt, salt creep, mixing salt...and finicky corals, so I am going back to fresh water. I have never done a planted tank so here goes....

I am going to keep a lot of the reef setup, and modify to make it work for fresh... the sump stays, even if it may hinder CO2 retention, I love auto top off, hidden equipment and a clean looking display. Ok that is out of the way...

Here is the tank, it is a DIY set up from head to toe, 24x24x18 for 50 gallons.


Images of the build can be found here.... http://photos.thegiffordgang.net/v/50Cube/

Questions... I plan un running 2 HO t-5 (24" wattage?) with 10000K bulbs for oh say 10 hours a day and then a CF spiral type 6500K in the 24-35 watt range in the big reflector instead of the MH the is there for 8 hours.


I think I will run the 2 liter bottle co2 for starters, just to compensate for the sump.

Here is where it gets fun, I want it planted, so it looks cools, wife wants the gig eyed gold fish. I also want a ton of fish in there... is that a problem? I plan on running filter socks and bio balls in the sump if necessary.

Do you run Carbon in a planted tank? What else do I need to think about. I will be pushing about 350 GPH through the sump, not a lot. So I will likely run power heads in the tank. I have Tunze Nanos in there now that alternate, that would be nice to keep. Is that too much flow?

What type of clean up crew/algae eaters are there in the fresh world. I had cichlids before, no algae eater in there. Oh and I want Clown loaches too :)

Substrait, I love black, and thoughts on that, does it look good with plants?

That is all for now... thanks for helping me drop the salt!
 

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First of all I think you should keep the MH, and just replace the bulb with a more plant-friendly one. Something in the range of 6500k to 10,000k. Secondly, the sump is okay, I just don't think it'll be worth your effort to keep the DIY co2 going. I think you should just spend the money you were going to spend on a t5 fixture, and use it on a CO2 tank and regulator. Sumps can be "adapted" to cut down on the gas exchange. Search around here on the forums... many people use them on their planted tanks.

The goldfish are not a great idea, only because they will eat many of your plants, and you're going to be doing a lot of replanting! It might get old after a while... but if it's an absolute must, then do your homework first and try to use plants that are known to be avoided by them.

Carbon is beneficial in the beginnings of a planted tank, while it's still cycling... then after a while it just becomes a good medium for biological filtration. You just don't change it out, that's all. Then eventually you can just swap it out for other biological media, when it gets all clogged.

For algae eaters, what you'll want are otocinclus and shrimp. Not ghost shrimp, either. You can use plecos, but other than the bristlenose they are known to uproot plants. Best to stay away from them in planted tanks, imo.

Good luck to you!
 

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Church knows his stuff, I second everything he said. Just to answer a few more of your questions.
Black substrates look great in a planted tank. There are several options to do it with too.
For your flow question, since you already have the powerheads, you can just try it out and see. With the power heads you would probably be on the high end of the flow spectrum.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The t-5's are already there, look at the image of the reflector, and you will see the t-5's on either side of the MH reflector. The 2 t-5 will give me about 50 watts, I am hoping to add the 6500K 35 watt CF light and end up with enough light. That would reduce my power by over 125 watts an hour... then there are all the other pumps I get to pull out (skimmer, RDSB) I am hoping to reduce my power consumption on this bad boy, and still have a nice looking tank.

I will have to read up on the gold fish... any articles here?
 

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+1 on church's stuff

and don't really need bio balls.

Speaking of skimmer.. if you're going to have a pump from the bottom. You might want to look into something that breaks the surface because you will have alot of slimey goo build up.

+1 on the pressurized co2.. coke bottles will not do much for a 50g lol

The tank looks GREAT.. that reminds me of the Elos systems they have in kits. love the 50g cube
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
+1 on church's stuff

Speaking of skimmer.. if you're going to have a pump from the bottom. You might want to look into something that breaks the surface because you will have alot of slimey goo build up.
What exactly do you mean by that?


Thanks,, thee tank really turned out nice, I think. Lots of fun building it.
 

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What exactly do you mean by that?


Thanks,, thee tank really turned out nice, I think. Lots of fun building it.

Planted tanks tend to get an oily film on the surface. The most common way to deal with it is to have some kind of surface agitation. But if you are running an overflow for your sump, it will already be taken care of.

For your substrate, you can do less then 4". You can also slope your substrate from front to back so that you have 4" in the back and 2.5" or 3" in the front.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Ok, I am on a super tight budget, I am allowing myself 25% of the sales of my Reef stuff to fund the set up of th Planted tank. So that brings me to substrate, Can I use the black sand argonite that I have now and mix it with some bags of the Seachem Flourite Black (sand)? Should I go whit the flourite sand or the non sand. If I mix my sand with the Flourite most of my sand will end up on the bottom with the flourite on top, larger particles always work their way up...

I am reading about argonite and co2, but I am not seeing anything other than I think it may not be a good idea. Is there any real research on the argonite in the planted tank?
 

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WarDaddy,

Here are some general guidelines. Basically the things "written in stone" about planted tanks. There are very few of them. And there a lot of grey areas (you will get conflicting responses about those).

1. Must not use a substrate that could release Calcium.
Planted tanks are usually ran with CO2 injection. Just like in a Calcium Reactor for a reef tank the CO2 mixed with water produces a weak acid that disolves Calcium. In a planted tank you do NOT want that to happen. The gravel or the rocks you place in the tank may contain Calcium. If they do (even partly) - they do not belong in a planted tank.

2. There are 2 groups of substrates you can use for a planted tank

Group A: AquaSoil. This is the only substrate in this group. Nothing like it. Keeps the roots of the plants in an acidic environment from Day 1. Sucks and holds nutrients from the water but also makes them available to the roots. Activated carbon for example would not make them available.

Group B: Everything else that doesn't contain Calcium. You can have the acidic environment that AquaSoil provides from Day 1 with any substrate after 4-6 months. The mulm in the substrate takes care of that. So any quartz material for $10 per 50 lb. bag will work if you wait for it to establish.

3. Best thing you can do for your planted tank is stable CO2 supply. Spend $130 and get a pressurized system. It's crucial to provide a stable level of CO2.

4. When you have the substrate and the CO2 and the plants you will start asking about the light. Your light is fine, maybe like someone suggested - change the MH bulb to one that's better for a planted tank. Other than that remember - plants will not die with just 1 hour of strong light and 23 hours of complete darkness IF you have CO2. Use that knowledge when adjusting your light period.

5. Small but frequent water changes are better than one big one. For example - in the first 4-8 weeks it's best to change 5-10% of the water every 3 days. It takes care of many, many issues you could encounter in the beginning.

6. As a dechlorinator you must use a chemical that removes Chlorine AND Chloramines. Prime, Amquel or Chloramex. Nothing else. If you have active carbon filter for your tap water - even better.

That's about it.

--Nikolay
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Niko, thanks for the tips... Sand is going away, and I will start with all new. Aquatic soil, so I can go and get Pond soil and maybe mix that with fluorite? so it is not quite so mud like?

My water supply should be pretty ok, I run all my water through a water softener then activated carbon, then a Kati Ani resin system that reduces my TDS to 000. I have the system in place, and as long as it is ok to use, I plan on keeping it. It is like pure rain water, nothing but H20 (for the most part)

So far I am looking at needing the following:

2 10K t-5 bulbs - $35
1 6500K CF piral bulb - $15
4 - 6 bags of substrate - $ 60 - $120
Some Manzaneta - $25
Misc rocks
DIY CO2 for now (no budget for the compressed system)
Plants and fish :)

Now to sell off all this coral
 

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I just sold my 6 year old reef for a planted mini m office nano- I understand your move completely. And it's exciting to start over from scratch.
 

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Check your tap water before you filter it. It may be better to use than the filtered water. Alot of the stuff that makes the water "unpure" is what the plants use to live and grow on. Filtering it out and then just having to put it back in is a waste of time and resources.
 

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Save the money used for substrate and just use Mineralized soil with some inert sand over it. Nothing better for plants and cheaper. Use the extra money for pressurized CO2. I would not try the DIY on a 50 gal with alot of light. Do some reseach on the mineralized soil.
 

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Niko, thanks for the tips... Sand is going away, and I will start with all new. Aquatic soil, so I can go and get Pond soil and maybe mix that with fluorite? so it is not quite so mud like?

My water supply should be pretty ok, I run all my water through a water softener then activated carbon, then a Kati Ani resin system that reduces my TDS to 000. I have the system in place, and as long as it is ok to use, I plan on keeping it. It is like pure rain water, nothing but H20 (for the most part)...
AquaSoil:
AquaSoil is a product made by Takashi Amano's company - ADA. It's only sold in specialty stores. Do not confuse it with anyting else. Here it is. Amazonis is the black and usually used:
http://www.adgshop.com/Aqua_Soil_s/21.htm

CO2:
Yes, do skip the expensive substrate. Better buy a pressurized CO2 system and use cheap substrate. AquaSoil, as I said, is not a must. It just helps yo from Day 1. With any other substrate you need to be more patient, that's all.

"TDS 0" water:
As FishH2O said - you must not strip the water from all the "stuff" that's in it. The most practical approach is to mix maybe 2 parts of your super filtered TDS 0 water with 1 part dechlorinated tap water. Yes the tap water contains "things" that we may or may not be able to supply. Simply put - do not use TDS 0 water in your planted tank.

If you haven't realized already - in a way a reef tank is much simpler than maintain than a planted tank. In a reef tank first you strip the water from everything then you add whatever you add and make sure it stays stable. Planted tanks don't do very well if you start with completely clean water. Get used to the thought that you must keep the tank "a little dirty" as far as nutrients are concerned.

Light:
Look at the light bulb spectrum. Do not choose a bulb only because it says 10000K or 6500K. That's like comparing cars based on the color of their paint. The best planted tank T5HO bulb is made by Giesemann - Giesemann Midday 6000K.

Manzanita wood:
Keep in mind that it may need weeks to sink. Also it may look completely white and clean but it will release tannins in your water (will color the water tea-color). That reduces the amount of light that gets to the plants. With your MH you will have no issue but keep that in mind.

--Nikolay
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I am thinking of going with the MH for a few hours a day and the remainder of the day on T-5, not sure yet.

Today I picked up some ColorQuarts, 50lbs for $25 and 1 bag of eco complet to mix with it... that should give me an ok foundation, I will need to feed the plants, but that is ok.

Cool, I can sell the resin and keep on chugging. that will make it even easier :)
 

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If your wife is wanting to put goldfish in this tank, you won't be able to really put those clown loaches or other warm-water tropical fish in there, unfortunately. It's one or the other. Goldfish prefer to be cooler, about 60-ish degrees. And they are messy, plant-eating diggers and rearrangers. Maybe you should set up a separate goldfish tank for her? You can have a good variety of tropicals in a 50 gallon though. You might look into some of the rainbowfish species; they are very colorful and active, come in all different sizes, and just look great in a planted tank.
 
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