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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone!

I am returning to the hobby after 4 years of having only a very low maintenance 20 gallon.

I will be on a budget, but I am hoping to set up a medium size, (around 50-70 gallon) high tech(ish) planted tank.

I have been hunting around on the local used site looking for deals, and I would love some opinions on whether what I have found is good value/quality.

I have been looking for tanks other than 55 gallons (I hear most people consider them less than ideal?) and have recently been looking at a 65 gallon. In your experience, is this a good size/shape?

As for equipment:
CO2
http://www.usedvictoria.com/classified-ad/CO2-system-for-fresh-water-planted-tank_15502900

Seems pretty standard, but just checking? (after looking up the components online, it sounds like a great deal)

Filter:
http://www.usedvictoria.com/classified-ad/Fluval-305-Canister-Filter_15592378
Is this powerful enough?

Lighting:

I would love some recommendations here! I am sure you here this all the time, but I would like to have enough light to be able to (now and in the future) keep whatever plants I want, without worry about equipment limitations. Ideas for relatively inexpensive fixtures would be great. I saw a few on Ebay, but wasn't sure if they were a good idea. Does anyone have any experiences ordering lighting off EBay?


Sorry for the long post, but any and all advice is appreciated!

Thanks,

Alex
 

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I love the 65 gallon if you are talking about the 36 inch long version, the footprint in my opinion is the best thing ever, and if you can get one drilled at the bottom they make the perfect planted tank/riparium, Not sure if you will like the fulval 5 series, save for the fx5 which rules, check out the rena filstar xp series, a good one would be the xp4 or xp3 for your size and price is about the same, however quality is much higher imo. I have an odyssea fixture i got from topdog sellers on ebay, I must say I like it, its a 4 bulb and was very cheap, just needed new reflectors and its golden, you can't argue with the price, however if you can save yourself the hastle of making or buying your own reflectors and get a aquaticlife t5ho fixture, you won't regret it and they are the step up in price and are better than glos which cost more, again just my experienced opinion, as far as co2, try not to cheap out on it, you will end up replacing it for some small reason and regret it as it will cost you more in the long run, high up oldpunk78 on the forums, he builds custom regulators and he can help you out, just give him a budget and a broad range of what you're looking for, he's a great person to work with btw.


whoever said 55 gallons aren't that great I love them, hate that sized tank unless its for african cichlids



edit: I don't see that co2 system being a problem btw, just sharing experience



another edit, if you do get a drilled bottom tank and want to overkill the filtration topdogsellers has a very cheap very good filter, $60 for a filter that is pretty near as good as the fx5, requires new o rings, there are a few other mods you can do to make it better but it isnt really needed, its great as a bottom drilled filter as the flow is awesome, 240 when used regularly but about 300gph with the shorter tubes, not to mention the tubes are already 1 inch so finding fitting is much easier from bulkhead to tube, I forgot to add the canister is HUGE
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Unfortunately (as far as purchasing for an aquarium goes) I am in Canada and seem to have a bit of trouble finding some of the lighting fixtures I see reccomended in this forum! I will try harder to find the two you've mentioned somewhere, but so far, no luck.

Thanks for the advice. :)
 

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2 bulbs work fine for the tank for low/medium light, which doesnt mean low tech, just a good way to stay away from algae.



that is a very powerful light, for the price i would jump on it, however it could use better reflectors, alot of the light from that is gonna go other directions other than you tank, alot will go out into the room it is in. if you can get an fx5 that cheap i would jump on it, its a great filter, no such thing as overkill, allows you to keep some of the more sensitive fish, like discus without huge constant water changes, though they help. and keeps your tank stable, clear.


again the light is a great deal, if you or someone you know knows how to cut and bend aluminum really well and knows how to polish it to be almost mirror like you're golden. or you can buy individual reflectors but that will raise cost alot. I would buy both the light and fx5 asap, nice prices
 

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I have a 65 gallon tank, and I think it is a great size and shape tank. It is far better than standard 55 gallon tanks for aquascaping and for having good proportions.

That CO2 system is a very good buy! I'm not a fan of either the Milwaukee regulator or any pH controller, but that combination can work very well for you. You do need to understand the weaknesses of the regulator so you can work around them, and you need to use the controller wisely.

For lighting, the 65 gallon tank is 24 inches high, 36 inches long and 18 inches in depth. A single T5HO bulb, with a good reflector, provides very good lighting for that height tank, but to cover the whole substrate you need two of them spaced 8-10 inches apart. That isn't something you can buy as one fixture, other than from Catalina Aquarium, http://www.catalinaaquarium.com/store/index.php?cPath=71_136&osCsid=6a63bf1666e024fd64f0a227fe2c7300 where they build lights to order, so they can build one with two bulbs, spaced that far apart, for very little more than a standard light. And, they do ship to Canada. You need to phone them to arrange for the special size fixture and the shipping.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Would two bulbs be enough to grow most plants (almost all)?

EDIT I really do try to understand lighting, but I'm a bit confused. I think i understand that 2 bulbs with excellent reflectors would be enough. Does that mean that the fixture I linked to, with 4 bulbs and poor reflectors, would provide a similar amount of light?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
55 gallons seem to be much more readily available here. I can get a mint condition one with a custom made cherry stand for less than a hundred dollars. How bad are they really to aquascape? Is it just a matter of preference?
 

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Would two bulbs be enough to grow most plants (almost all)?

EDIT I really do try to understand lighting, but I'm a bit confused. I think i understand that 2 bulbs with excellent reflectors would be enough. Does that mean that the fixture I linked to, with 4 bulbs and poor reflectors, would provide a similar amount of light?
The problem is that in a tank that is 18" front to back a single source of light (a single fixture with either one bulb or two bulbs right next to each other) will not spread enough light to the front and back of the tank if you have it centered on the tank. So while one good T5HO fixture/bulb is technically a large enough amount of light it isn't in a great way. A two bulb fixture increases the total amount of light to a higher level but only does a limited amount to fix the distribution (coverage area of the light) problems.

If money was no object you would probably find single bulb fixtures and purchase two of them - one to set near the front and one to set near the back. The problem is that a single bulb fixture is nearly as expensive as a double bulb fixture.

If you are lucky (and patient) you might be able to find a big 4 or 6 bulb T5HO fixture that allows you to run only the outside bulb on each side. This means that you are only using two bulbs but they have 2 or 4 bulbs mounted between them which results in them being spaced apart from each other and helps to spread the light to both the front and the back of the aquarium. If you actually used all 4 or 6 bulbs you would be in the ridiculously high light category.

One way to increase coverage of the light (make it spread out to more of the tank bottom) and to decrease intensity (take too much light and decrease the amount that actually gets to the surface of the water and to the substrate) is to raise the light fixture above the tank. This requires hanging it which is an additional complication if you don't own your home.

On tanks with a large front to back area (typically big tanks) people often times run two lesser powered fixtures (one in the front, one in the back) rather than one massive (4 or 6 bulb) fixture in the middle.

If you have a wooden canopy then you have all sorts of options to purchase cheaper (and often times really high quality) retrofit kits and mount them wherever you want to.

In the case of Catalina fixtures like Hoppy linked I think that they take the enclosure/fixture from a larger light (like a 6 bulb fixture) and only install two bulbs in it which gives you the appropriate light intensity but spreads it out in the wider fixture.

Summary: The single high quality (this means a very good reflector which makes more of the light 'useable') T5HO (high output) bulb would provide the right light level directly under the light and spread out several inches from directly below the light but by the time that you get near to the back and front glass of the tank the light levels will be falling below what you want.

This leaves you with two options:

a) You can put high light plants directly under the light and put less light intensive plants near the front and back glass
b) You can find a way to maintain high light levels throughout the entire tank (two light fixtures, one wide fixture using only the front and back bulbs, one more powerful fixture raised off of the tank to a point where the light spreads out but the area directly under the light does not get sunburned, or other options).
 

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55 gallons seem to be much more readily available here. I can get a mint condition one with a custom made cherry stand for less than a hundred dollars. How bad are they really to aquascape? Is it just a matter of preference?
It sort of depends upon what you want to do. If you want have a big driftwood or rock piece (a lot of 'hardscaping') it is difficult.

I have seen some gorgeous looking 55 scapes though.

A 55 would have the added benefit of being narrow enough front to back to avoid the light spreading/distribution issues that we have been discussing.

Plus they are much more common and much cheaper.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Okay, that sounds expensive. Is a 55 gallon easier to light since its on 12" wide? What would you recommend for that?

Would something like this work:

http://www.ebay.ca/itm/48-T5-HO-Aqu...534?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item45fca723ce

Or

http://www.ebay.ca/itm/48-108W-T5-H...039?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2a13903407

I do realize that the reflectors on these fixtures will not be the greatest, but I don't know if I could handle a retrofit kit (i would have to build a canopy) , and I really don't want to spend a lot of money!
 

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I light a 18 inch cube with 2 bulbs, no big deal with light spread, trick is to raise it a little, and strategically place plants where there light range matches best, in my tank i have it more towards the front of the tank and raised about 4 inches from the rim of the tank, I get 90 par in the foreground, however about 60 in the back of the tank, which isnt bad I like it actually, adds a nice depth and I have large medium light plants in the back, and medium/high in the middle area. its all about where you are planning to place your plants, you can make a nice scape either way, I just find it more appealing to have a large footprint to work with over a narrow scape, however I Love narrow rock scapes for just large cichlids. which the 55g is perfect for, but if you ae very patient and plan it out completely you can make a very stellar scape with a 55 gal, I have seen a couple I am happy to say are beautiful on this site alone. do whatever is best for you, but if you can find it the 75g standard sized tank is awesome, I think its 48x18x17? those are some of my favorite tanks as they have a lot of space for groundwork
 

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no need for canopy, just fit reflectors in between the bulb and the preexisting fixture that you purchase, i am not a fan of canopies or retrofits, not appealing to me and I love open tops


the first fixture you linked in your last post is pretty perfect


personally i would go with the 3 bulb for your 65g or a 75g, may be overkill for 55g
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I'm just worried that I will eventually try to grow something that needs a little more light, and suddenly realize I don't have enough!
 

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I'm just worried that I will eventually try to grow something that needs a little more light, and suddenly realize I don't have enough!
As long as you have medium light everything should grow if you don't have any other limiting factors (nutrients/ferts, CO2, etc.). It might not grow at 100% maximum speed but it will grow. There has to be someone on here (more like a lot of someones) who is running 2 48" t5HO bulbs on a 55 who can tell you exactly how they like that amount of light.

If I am reading the PAR chart correctly then a two bulb T5HO fixture mounted on the aquarium in a normal fasion (on the mounting legs) should provide you with high light. Maybe even a touch too much light but most of the cheaper fixtures won't have super high quality reflectors anyways so that will lower the useable light output some.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The 55 gallon didn't work out unfortunately. It was actually a 65 gallon, with a plexiglass divider in the middle for use as a turtle tank. Also unfortunately, I believe that a 12" width will work better for me, just because 18" would reach too far out into the room. So, that being said, are there any advantages/advantages to having more height. For example, what would be the difference between a 55 gallon and a 45 gallon (2 inches of height)? Would that actually make a difference?

Also, can anyone tell me what the difference would be between this

http://www.ebay.ca/itm/48-108W-T5-H...341?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item43a94f9aed
and
http://www.ebay.ca/itm/48-T5-HO-Aqu...455?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item45fc226707

(I know the first one says marine, but if you click on it, its not.)


Thanks for all your help so far!
 

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It appears that the first link is a fixture which is mainly designed with marine applications in mind but which, in this case, is shipping with planted tank (daylight bulbs in the 6000-7000k range) bulbs.

The second link is to the standard Odyssea 2 bulb T5HO fixture in the planted tank option.

The bulb length, type, wattage and configuration appears to be the same on both fixtures and in terms of the bulbs that you would end up with over your tank both should be just fine. One is 6500k and one is 6700 both of which are great color spectrums for planted tanks.

The fixtures have some different features in terms of design, mounting, venting, etc. The marine one actually looks like it has a few cool features but I have no idea from the link what brand the fixture is or what kind of build quality it has. The Odyssea fixture on the other hand is a well known quantity and you can find quite a few people here who have used them and can provide reviews.

Both are 48" fixtures that include two T5HO bulbs with the right color spectrum for planted tanks so in that sense either would be fine.

The 55 gallon didn't work out unfortunately. It was actually a 65 gallon, with a plexiglass divider in the middle for use as a turtle tank. Also unfortunately, I believe that a 12" width will work better for me, just because 18" would reach too far out into the room. So, that being said, are there any advantages/advantages to having more height. For example, what would be the difference between a 55 gallon and a 45 gallon (2 inches of height)? Would that actually make a difference?

Also, can anyone tell me what the difference would be between this

[Ebay Link Removed]
and
[Ebay Link Removed]

(I know the first one says marine, but if you click on it, its not.)


Thanks for all your help so far!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Anyone else have any opinions? I should definitely go for the two bulb? And any ideas between those two fixtures? I just want to make sure I order the right product!
 
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