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Lighting/Substrate for a 75 Gallon tank?

1253 Views 14 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  caall99
Just purchased a brand new 75 gallon all-glass tank to go on my solid oak stand and am about to hit "Buy" on BLACK substrate. I would also like to purchase some plants at the same time but i do not have a lighting system in place yet.

I have an ICECAP 660 ballast that ran some VHOs a while back but i prefer to step into T5HO for this setup. (Plan to sell the ICECAP ballast locally)

So, what 2x54W or 4x54W (my preference for a noon-burst setup) system would you guys recommend? I am OK spending top dollar ONLY IF the benefits are worth it. I am torn between Current USA's Sundial 4x54W and Tek Light 4x54W, but also realize there are plenty of other good options out there.

In a nut shell:
1. What lighting system for a 75 gallon 4 ft tank would work well with a pressurized CO2 setup? What brand can i trust? Best bang for the buck? High-roller options?

2. Anyone have any experience with the substrate i pointed out above?

3. Will cory's barbels survive the jagged edges of this clay substrate?

Help me out! Thanks!
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Hi caall99,

With Turface Pro League Grey and Soilmaster Select (SMS) Charcoal discontinued, substrate is a good choice. Rumor has it that it is the SMS product, but I cannot confirm that however if it is then your tank substrate will look something like this:

I would hold off on the plant purchase until your aquarium is set up and the lighting is in place. I find the quicker I can get plants settled after shipment the better they do.

1. I am looking at doing a 4X54 DIY in the canopy of my 75 gallon project tank with an Icecap 660 and either TEK2 or Icecap SLR reflectors.

2. See comments above.

3. My Corys root deep into the substrate problems whatsoever!

What are your thoughts on filters, CO2 system, CO2 reactors? Inline heater?
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Thanks for the quick reply!!

The DIY option would be a possibility with the wooden canopy that i currently sport. I know a 660 would overdrive 54W T5HO to something like 80 watts, which sounds like over kill to me. Down the road i plan to get a rimless 75 gallon and would like my lighting purchase for this tank to work for a suspended light fixture application down the road. This means i need a self contained fixture and not a DIY mess of light bulbs and reflectors. Maybe you have a more convincing reason for me to go DIY lighting...

I have a 5 or 10lb container for the CO2, Ph controller, needle valve, solenoid and all the other goodies. The filter is an eheim 2028 i think. Quite a big canister. I would like to go inline heater down the road but will use in tank heaters until i figure out my stealth setup. My reactor is a Boyu inline diffuser:

Inhabitants will be SAEs, clown loaches, Discus, cardinal tetras, pair of GBRs and some corys.
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You should check out Hoppy's post about lighting.

According to his data, 2x54W T5HO should be plenty of light for a 75 gallon tank depending on how high you plan on suspending the lights. If you're setting them right on top of the tank, 2x54W will be plenty. That's what I'm planning on.

If you're going to raise the lights, then you would need more bulbs. Personally, since my tank is going to be in the living room, raising the lights would drive me crazy unless I baffled the fixture quite a bit.

Hope that helps. :)
Hi caall99,

If you are going to be replacing the tank and going rimless, when you sell the tank the buyer will probably be expecting a light of some sort. I would run two bulbs for the main photoperiod and the other two for your "noon burst".

I believe the Eheim 2028 has about a 280 GPH flow rate (unfiltered) and 200 GPH flow rate (filtered). You will likely need additional circulation. You might look at a closed loop system with a Danner Mag 5 and you could add your in-line heater and CO2 in that loop. That way you don't slow the flow of your filter.
Clown loaches and discus often aren't a great mix- the clown loaches can push them aside for food and can keep them awake at night. They'll also get too big for your tank eventually, so what about some of the smaller loaches instead?

I really like the Solar T5HOs from, personally.

If you haven't bought your substrate already, check out the mineralized topsoil thread at the top of the Substrate forum. If you're willing to put a little time and effort into the DIY, you could really save a bundle and end up with a fantastic substrate this way.
I know someone that will buy a bare 75 gallon in a heart beat. The light i will hold on to. Also, when i go to a rimless setup the light will be suspended at which point i need more bulbs anyway. So 4x54W is set in stone. Now the question remains, which brand and model??

I actually don't know what eheim model the filter is, but w/e it is, it supported a 90 gallon planted tank in the past. I kinda pulled that model number out of my ass since i saw a picture of it and it looked somewhat like mine. I have just too much stuff going on with other aquariums that i haven't checked what model it is.

People have recommended clown loaches with discus in the past, but you do bring up very good points nonetheless. I would totally consider smaller loaches perhaps even dwarf loaches.

I did not want to go with a layered substrate. i want to avoid making a mess with constant rescaping and gravel vacuuming. An all in one consistent substrate is the goal here. I am pushing the buy button on the black substrate since i cannot find black colored Turface or soilmaster select stuff.
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You could also check out aquasoil amazonia for dark substrate. I have heard nothing but good things from Tek's lighting.
I would totally go for aquasoil stuff... if it was 15 dollars cheaper per bag, lol.

I am aware that tek lights are fantastic lights, but from what i can tell they do not come with a splash guard or any active form of cooling. not even a way to mount or suspend them. i feel the current USA sundial is a more complete setup (even comes with moon lights!)

please debate my thoughts here. i want to make an informed decision when it comes to dumping close to 300 on lighting.
Ugh... then there is the option of getting the Aquatrader's Odyssea 4x54W Professional setup that comes with LCD timer and active cooling for just shy over $100. Someone make up my mind here.
I just picked up some aquasoil II and i love the look of it its a little bit more up front but the value is definately there with how it looks and the nutrient value. That would be a good all inclusive choice for substrate in my Opinion. Also i picked up one of the odyssea lights 4 bulb fixtures and they arent bad at all i think they are nice and for the price you cant beat it.
you go with the most expensive substrate but the cheapest light? hmm interesting. let me guess your filter is somewhere right inbetween :)


all joking aside... catalina vs. tek light vs. current usa vs. odyssea vs. w/e. What is it gonna be?! I wanna hit buy tonight.
In order of quality: Odyssea < Catalina < Tek.

You can choose how much you want to spend.

Odyssea IMO is the bottom of the barrel and I personally won't own any more of their products (I owned one light fixture, it scared me enough that they lost a customer permanently.... I hear their build quality has improved but for me that's too little too late). I'm personally quite happy with my Catalinas (I've owned 3 to date) and see no reason that I would ever need to shell out the extra $$ for Tek.

I'll say that one advantage with Catalina is that they're totally willing to customize a fixture for you for very cheap... so if you decided you wanted a 3x fixture with each bank of bulbs on a separate switch, they'll do that for you no problem in like a day.
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