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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently purchased a 40 gallon breeder tank with glass top and light from Petsmart for $129. We are starting this tank as a family project. My 5 year old son had the idea that we should "get some fish".

I think we should setup the tank with the main goals of hardiness, and low maintenance. I would love to have a planted tank, but I'm not sure how it effects these goals. While I'm sure the answer isn't "black and white", please make the case if you think a planted tank is a bad direction for us.

I don't have a hard budget for the project, but I don't want to get too carried away until we see how everything goes. For the record, I do have a little experience from keeping a reef tank, but that was around 20 years ago.

I know it takes a while to setup a new tank, and I usually research everything by reading tons of posts. I don't have a lot of time to research the equipment this time because Santa is going to bring the tank Christmas eve, and after that the pressure is really going to be on to start setting up the tank.

I need to decide what to order for the tank.

From the reading I have done it sounds like an Eheim 2217.

As for the light / lights, can I do anything with the single 24" florescent normal output that came with the tank?

What about substrate? I have a book that suggest alphagrog. What about Seachem Flourite that I can get at Petsmart?

I know there are many other items I will need (water conditioner, heater, test kit, media for filter, bog wood, … )

Researching and picking out all this stuff is always a lot of the fun, but if you all can make some suggestions, I'll place an order today. Hopefully the equipment will arrive next week while I'm off work for the Holidays.
 

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If you want low maintenance, I would look into the el natural method. That method uses soil with a gravel cap to feed the plants. Fish and their food provide co2 and additional ferts. I would stick with low light plants like crypts, anubias, vals, etc. I don't think that the stock light would work at all even if you wanted to stay low light. I would highly suggest upgrading your lighting. I would try to shoot for about 1wpg of t5ho lighting. I don't know if your stock hood is the same length as the tank(36" I think). But if it does, there are a lot of retrofit kits you can find online.
 

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I recently purchased that same tank for a wild tank I set up in a local nursing home. I used an Ehiem 2213, driftwood, standard small gravel (natural color) and planted it with Java fern, Cabomba, Foxtail, Ambulia, a little bit of Hygro & floating watersprite. I also added larger rocks and covered a couple of them with Marimo ball material. The plants are doing great, all rooted into the gravel and growing, with the stock light, which is on for about 14 hours a day but does get a bit of supplimental light from the flourescents in the room. I stocked the tank with wild fish-sailfin mollies, killifish (except for a few Threadfins & LFABN) The set up is working very well, I'm guessing pretty low tech since no modifications have been done to any of the equipment.
 

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You'll need more light than your current fixture can provide.

If you stick with T8 fixtures, you'll need in the 1.5 to 2 watt per gallon range.
If you go with a T5 (NO) fixture, you'll want to be in the 1-1.5 wpg range.
If you go with T5HO, then 1 wpg... those are just generalizations and do somewhat depend on the design of the fixture you pick, but gives you someplace to start.

If you put more light over the tank, you'll end up needing to add a pressurized CO2 setup ($200-300). It sounds to me like low tech (lower light, no CO2 needed) fits more in with your current goals for the tank.

A Rena XP3 is another option for the tank, and I think you'd be hard pressed to find a better deal than this- http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=3602&prodid=6139&catid=113 Eheims are great filters, but so are Renas, and I'd personally go with this one unless you can find a better price on a new Eheim.

Seachem Flourite would work just fine. The Flourite black is actually my favorite substrate ATM, I have it in most of my tanks.

Don't forget you'll need to cycle the tank before adding fish. Fishless cycling is what I'd recommend- throw a few cocktail shrimp in the tank and just let it go! Or you can plant the tank out extremely heavily on day one and add just a very few fish to try and achieve a "silent cycle," where the plants help keep the ammonia in check as you stock very slowly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Lights

The light that came with the tank is still unopened in the box. It's a 36" Aqueon single. I need to look up the part number when I get home. Maybe I can sell it on Ebay or something.

In another thread, someone chose the
Nova Extreme T5HO 2X39 Freshwater Pack (10000K/6700K)

Wouldn't that be a good choice for this tank too?
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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The light that came with the tank is still unopened in the box. It's a 36" Aqueon single. I need to look up the part number when I get home. Maybe I can sell it on Ebay or something.

In another thread, someone chose the
Nova Extreme T5HO 2X39 Freshwater Pack (10000K/6700K)

Wouldn't that be a good choice for this tank too?
Not unless you want to put pressurized CO2 on the tank. That will be too much light without also adding a carbon source for the plants. They'll be triggered to grow so fast that they'll become nutrient-deficient, and algae will get the upper hand in the tank. T5HO is powerful lighting.
 

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There are alot of ways to achieve this. The easiest would be to get a better light (around 80 watts or so, you can go a bit less with T5 lighting). Then just grow Anubus, Java Fern, and other low light plants you can find by searching the board. It will work fine. You may want to go with a plant oriented substrate. Florite would be the costliest I would recommend but even that isn't necessary.

You can go alot further if you want but that will work with all the equipment you have. Just upgrade the fixture and get slow growing plants. It will be almost the same as a non planted tank but won't have the same appeal as a higher tech tank.
 

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A 40 breeder is a low tank, about 16 inches high, but 18 inches front to back. A single T8 fluorescent bulb would probably provide adequate light for low light plants, but only in the area directly under the bulb. If you had a second fixture just like the one you are getting, using both would probably let you do fine with low light plants. Add Excel as a carbon source, and use mineralized topsoil under the fluorite, and you should be in good shape for mosses, Java ferns, Anubias, some swordplants, vals, etc. With that setup the plants would grow slowly, so it would require minimum maintenance.

Get some Seachem Prime to ensure that you aren't adding chloramine or chlorine with the tap water you use. But, don't add any other water "conditioners" or "buffers".

Then add a pair of guppies and in 3 months you will have 5,000 guppies to enjoy - seriously, I suggest platys instead, since I find them more interesting and not quite as interested in living the X-rated lives. Platys are one of the most beautiful, very inexpensive, easy to care for fish you can buy.
 
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