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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I am trying to do some research and figure out how much a 125g tank would cost. I have seen some decent deals on craigslist, and I will be buying a used tank. My dilemma is equipment side. Should I use a sump or use a canister? I will be sacrificing my 55g tank and probably go low-tech. I like the idea of a sump, it seems quiet (with the right overflow) and I can easily hide equipment in it. Also, if I design it right, I can probably use co2 and not gas off a ton of it. I am conflicted because I have no idea how to go about building a sump. I dont know what size tank to use, and what return pumps are good. Canisters are simpler, but I would probably get an fx6, so it may be a little cheaper for a sump. Also, what kind of lighting would be good? I have a 4ft ray 2, but it probably will be too bright for what I am planning. I want to do a nice scape with lots of plants that can be planted on DW, as I want to keep geophagus, probably 6 or 7 or the red head tapajos. I don't like anubias, as they are too slow-growing. What are some good plants for this type of setup? I also am on the fence about substrate, PFS or BDBS? I don't know which would be better for the geophagus, as they sift the substrate. I also want to do a group of fish that are smaller than the geophagus, but add some movement to the middle of the tank. Any advice would be appreciated.
Also, how do bulkheads work? I can't figure it out. Do you screw the PVC onto them? Or is there some way that I am missing?
 

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When confused and that does happen a lot to all of us, I find it works out better for me to go simple until I get a better handle on a lot of the other questions. That would make me recommend a canister rather than a sump. Sumps are pretty DIY stuff and they can get into lots of difficult design questions where canisters are much more standard where the design has been worked out already. Less room for BIG mistakes that flood the place?
I would recommend two smaller rather than the super expense of one FX6. Something to check for what you want, though.
Pool sand is my main sub but it is often mixed with other things like small gravel and Flourite. Geos will like any of those but maybe the sand better. They are tough guys, either way. In a large tank, I would pair them with any one of several of the smaller, less rowdy, cichlids. Rainbow cichlids are a fav of mine. Ellioti or neets are good. If you don't want to go cichlids, there are lots of smaller groups like black skirt tetra that would work in that size. Bristlenose or other types of cats will work, too. Clown loaches are one that I like for their size in nice size tanks. It takes a really long time for them to get too big for 125.

Bulkheads are just a fitting that lets you have a way through the wall that won't leak (with luck?) but how you connect to them varies by type. Some have an end sticking out and you solvent weld PVC to them while others use some type of fastener like a clamp to hold tubing. Depends on how you are plumbing things and which type to choose.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
When confused and that does happen a lot to all of us, I find it works out better for me to go simple until I get a better handle on a lot of the other questions. That would make me recommend a canister rather than a sump. Sumps are pretty DIY stuff and they can get into lots of difficult design questions where canisters are much more standard where the design has been worked out already. Less room for BIG mistakes that flood the place?
I would recommend two smaller rather than the super expense of one FX6.
I really don't mind DIY stuff, I am pretty sure I will just have a basic herbie overflow and a 29g sump. My confusion comes into play with weirs and how to distribute the return flow across the tank. I also don't know which return pumps are good. I know that there are alot of good ones out there, but they are $200 I want to spend about $130 on a pump, I looked at the Rio+ and the aqua-mag pumps, but I don't know how good they really are. Thanks for the sub recommendation. Any recommendations for plants?
 

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I've got sumps on my 90 and my 75. Only reason I have them is they were free. So were the tanks. Both were saltwater originally. The 75 is bottom drilled with no baffle. The PVC pipe sticks straight up into the tank for overflow and return. No baffles like a typical drilled tank like my 90.
I finally wound up getting rid of the sump on the 75. More of a pain than anything else. It's heavily planted and lightly stocked so a Tetra 60 now handles that tank with a powerhead for water movement. When I feed the sumped tanks I turn the pumps off for feeding. If not the food winds up in the sump pretty fast. And if I forget to turn the pump back on I wind up draining the sump and the area behind the baffle.
 

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Recommendations for plants? You have a good idea on putting some on wood, etc. With fish that dig, and geo are really the model for diggers, I find it better to not fight nature and let them dig. So next step for me is finding spaces where they are less apt to dig. First is to get plants up and let the fish dig lower. This works lots of times but can limit you quite a bit. So to get more area for planting, I try to work out ways to put more soil/sub higher. I find anything that will contain the sub can help. I've used things as weird as cutoff plastic bottles and old Tee shirts and socks. Looking around nature, I often see things growing in little pockets of soil that collects in tree trunks or rocks. Any little space may fill with dirt and a plant will find it so that fits for me. A rock with a cup shaped hole can be filled, planted, and then placed in the tank. A hollow wood can be used if you wrap the roots of a plant in material like a junk shirt to hold the dirt until the plant roots get going. I like the simple stuff like crypts, swords, etc. for this. They may need some more watching to see they get what they need in ferts for longer than if they were able to spread out on the tank floor but putting them up keeps them out of the digging? I never buy wood or rocks as I like to find my own. Kind of like an Easter egg hunt but with better prizes?
Finding stuff to plant in is one way to really open our eyes. There are hardly any spots where there isn't some type of junk wood. Even old lumber can be made to look good with some thought and effort. Beat up and deform an old 2X4 and it looks pretty normal when you cover it with plants. Just make certain it is really totally dry as much of the lumber used is softwood that hold their sap. Old oak barn wood is really good stuff.
Moving down to the floor of the tank takes a bit different thinking to keep plants safe. Fish are like us at times and they will take the easy route if given a choice so give them easy places to dig and put the plants where it is harder. One way to make it hard is to put rocks around the base of plants like swords. The plants are adapted to grow in cracks and the rocks don't bother them. Rocks with natural holes are harder to find but work great.
Java fern on top of rock piles, red tiger lotus coming through holes and crypts work for me.
 
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