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My first planted tank. (to be)

2634 Views 36 Replies 19 Participants Last post by  AlGee
I am generally a reef junkie, but after seeing some of the Amano style tanks, I just had to give it a try.

This tank is a 60"X18"X21" glass tank that up until a few days ago was a planted salt water tank. I was never really happy with it so I decided to break it down, and give freshwater planted a try.

It is drilled in the back left corner with a 1.5" drain. It drains to a 29 gallon sump with filter floss and carbon in it. I plan on adding a fluidized sand filter, UV, and a CO2 system.

Lighting consists of 4 X 96 watt power compacts (6700K).

Heating is a 300 watt heater in the sump.

Cooling is via 2 X 3" fans mounted inside the canopy.

Substrate is 100 g of Pure Laterite, 40 lbs of Eco Complete substrate, 40 lbs of gravel, and 30 lbs of pea gravel (small size).

I have two pieces of Mopani driftwood, and one resin (fake) driftwood piece.

Fish so far are 4 silver hatchets, 10 Von Rio Tetras, and a clown loach. I plan to add a few cory cats, a pleco (maybe a gold nugget), and 4 or 5 discus.

I have 40 plants coming from on online plant seller. They should be here tomorrow.

Here is what the tank looks like so far.

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The FSB is not needed.

Your light is too high.

Your gravel is too large.

You don't need the carbon.

Get CO2 on that baby ASAP and get some ferts.
384 watts over a 100 gallon tank is too much???

The carbon is running to clear the yellow in the water.
It's way too much for a planted tank. You only need about half that over a 100 gallon tank to grow 95% of the available plants.

I would highly suggest you spend the evening reading my Guide.
I would highly suggest you spend the evening reading my Guide.

I would highly suggest you work on your people skills.

Thanks for such a warm welcome. Please feel free to not respond to any more of my posts.
Rex may come off a bit harsh but he DOES know his stuff on planted tanks, you can't argue that.

I say look past his...uh...bluntness and forget about it. Just read what he posts and listen to his advice. He's saved my arse a couple times.

I do agree, 3.8wpg over a 100g is a lot of light. WPG rule doesn't work well with larger tanks. If you do go with 3.8WPG, you'll have to be on top of your CO2 (pressurized) and ferts. No slacking.
I did not mention, but my lights are run this way:

2 lights on from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM
4 lights on from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM
2 lights on from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM

That makes a more intense lighting for 4 hours per day...kind of like mid-day sun being more intense than morning and evening sun.

I do have a CO2 system ordered for this setup. It was always in the plan to have this.

As far as Rex goes - I will just ignore. Knowledge is no excuse for arrogance or rudeness.

I have been keeping fresh water aquaria for 32 years, and reef aquaria for 13 years. When I give advice to someone, I try to do it in a friendly way. This hobby is supposed to be enjoyable, relaxing, calming, and fun. Attitudes like his have no place in the hobby.
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No rudeness or arrogances.... He gives nothing but the truth, that why we like him... he suggested you only to read his guide and you suggested him to work on his people skills
Yeah Rex may come off like that but I like it. He is to the point... + he is probably one of the most respected guys on this forum you will quickly find out. Rex really just is trying to help everyone out.. He spends a good chunk of time responding to questions and loves the hobby. He even is selling ferts and has a awesome write up on nutrients and dosing dry ferts! The prices are awesome as I think he is doing it more the less to help us out! He also has a quality co2 set up that I am strongly considering...

I too at first posted a message and got a quick response from him and I was like well who is this guy but I started to read more and more and he knows whats going on. He is a no BS kind of guy and a great asset to have when it comes to our hobby!

Anyways I agree that is a lot of light. I too at first here a few weeks ago was like well what about the WPG rule that had been drilled into everyones head when I was still in the hobby a few years back... What I have learned in the past few weeks is that rule works better on smaller tanks. I have a 92 gallon corner that I am in the process of setting up and am going to be putting a 96W x 2 (192W) over to start out with with pressurized co2. A lot of people here have told me thats enough and you can always add more if need be because of the odd shape of my tank.

So you said you put laterite in there with eco complete. That was sounding good, and maybe even the pea sized gravel. But in the pic that gravel looks really big. (unless it got distorted or something) I personally would take out the bigger gravel and get something smaller. Remember you want roots to be able to flourish! I am doing a flourite mix in my aquarium. I found this other gravel and I compared it to the size of flourite and it is almost the same size so I figured it would be good to work with.
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yeah rex is an jerk...I would recommend you block him if you like...but he does have a few things taht you can listen to from time to time. The main reason I never listen to him is that he wants everyone to do planted tanks HIS way. But there are other ways to do them and to do them with high success. I have tried it his way for a year and had a terrible looking tank...but now things are better since I embarked on my own. Take what he says with a grain of salt.

The FSB will probably not do you much good...and could be removed but it could also be used to your advantage...I'm sure that nature has something similar.
The graven on the top does seem a big chunky. But that's a personal preferance...even I can see that you have the eco underneath...and that will be fine.
Carbon should be used in emergencies...but only for cleaning something up...otherwise it will absorb your nutrients.
You will need CO2 and frets...that can not be skipped on a tank this size.
The light will be fine...and I can attest that it may actually not be enough...I had to get a LOT more light on my tank and it's only 75 g. It really depends on what you intend to grow. In my tank the glosso will NOT grow unless I have almost 5 WPG in it. You may experience the same problem since bigger tanks can also mean "deeper."
Adn finally my last advice is try to UN-LEARN everything you knew about reefs. It's almost backwards trying to do a planted tank. I have both reefs and planted and I have finally found success. But they are polar opposites.

Good luck and welcome to the forum...=)
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Tom Barr has grown Glosso at 2 wpg in 75 gallon tanks. It's more about the other nutrients than the light.
Have you thought about how you are going to lay out the plants in the tank?
Rex is a great guy. H e knows the truth and speaks the truth. He doesn't answer anything he doesn't know about (though I am not sure if there is much he doesn't know about when it comes to planted tanks)
Some people like to help everyone who asks and Rex is on though I think he is like my father, doesn't want to waste time typing or saying the same things over and over again. (It is all in his guide and him previous posts). Many people don't have the hours to spend typing responses but still want to help. His suggestion to look at his guide is right on.
If you go to the library and want to learn about cars, do you expect the librarian to answer all your questions, or do you expect her to suggest you look at the books in the section on cars? Which is more helpful? Well having her answer all your questions would be easier on you, but it isn't here job. He job is to point you in the right direction.

I don't think he wants everyone to do it his way, but I know he wants everyone to do it the right way. Most people come into planted tanks hearing things from LFS and other users, then setup there tanks, only to quickly be back posting that everything is going wrong. Then they get fifty five different suggestions:
1. Add more light
2. Reduce your light
3. Add more ferts
4. Reduce your ferts
5. Start over
6. Wait it through

But if they would have followed what Rex and Tom Barr suggested from the first they would not have all these problems and would then be able to have a beautiful tank which is running well. Then they could TWEAK the tank to suit them and see what works and what doesn't work.

People don't get angry at their mechanics who suggest regular oil changes, good quality gas and not driving their Honda Civic at 200 miles an hour. But they attack Rex for suggestion proper advice to set up the tanks.

That much light is just too much. Unless you are an expert who can spend hours a day watching and working with the tank, it will be too much to handle. You are just asking for problems. His guide explains all that.

When ever I hear these posts attacking him I think back to my time working in Tech support when people would call me about problems with their new computer. There was always a terrific user's guide with it which was very clear and a "simple get started guide". When they called I would always explain the answer and suggest they look in the guide next time to save them waiting on the phone for tech support and they would attack me saying "That is your job to help me". I would agree (customer is always right) but think, if they only looked at the guide they would have saved themselves 1/2 an hour waiting on the phone.

The thing is. This isn't Rex's job. So he doesn't have to be nice, he doesn't have to sugar coat everything, and he doesn't have to answer questions and help people.

But he does. People should be thankful of that not complaining.
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I don't remember asking any questions in my original post...though comments are always welcome.

I hope that this post can get back on topic and not turn into a debate about people's perception about Rex...or anyone else. I am a long term member of a well known reef forum, and generally people that only have 1 post are welcomed to the board. I am sure that I will find my place here also, and find many people that I like to converse with.
I agree, you didn't ask any questions. You just put out your spec and your plans, and people responded to it to give you advice. You wanted comments but you didn't want the advice? Why did you post? You might have many years experience keeping water aquaria but just listen to the advice and accept it or not, don't get offended by it.

The basis of a forum is to help each other out. If someone sees you "mention" but not "ask about" something you are planning on doing, I would assume they would point out any problems, or issues they see, to save you from making a mistake which will lead to problems in the future.

A person tells me they are going to stand on a swivel chair to reach up on the top shelf in their house to get down a box of Christmas decorations, even if they don't ask me for advice, I think it would be best if I point out that it is probably a stupid decision.

Just like when someone states in a post they plan to buy 50 expensive high grade CRS and put them in their new 55 gallon tank with 2 pairs of angelfish, I think I should comment that it might not be a wise decision and there are going to be problems (CRS are expensive meals for angelfish)

Would you rather that no one comments or suggests things to you. You come to a forum where "other experienced people hang out" and share your plans. You want them just to say "wow. Cool. Good for you" when they feel there is something wrong with what you are suggesting?

I am not attacking you in any way. Or at least I don't mean it to be that way, and if I come of that way I am truly sorry. I just find in a lot of these forums people post things and one of four things happen:

1. No one response and they complain that the forum is terrible as no one ever wants to help out.

2. Someone responds and praises them. "What a fantastic tank. IT is so good"
and they feel great, but later have a lot of problems.

3. Someone responds with wrong or foolish advice. "Oh you have a 1 foot tank and you want to keep CRS. Well you need to get ADA Aqua soil 'cause you can grow plants in anything but the expensive Japanese soil, and you need to have at least 150 watts of light as you can't grow anything with less then that, and you need a chiller as you can't keep CRS without a chiller, and CO2 is a must, and make sure you do 80% water changes daily or your CRS will die"
- What happens, the poster follows some of the advice and everything dies and they come back saying how much they hate this hobby and "what am I doing wrong?"

4. The last and usually saddest is when someone responds who know what he or she is talking about and says "hey, wait a minute, what you are saying there doesn't make any sense you need to do this and this and forget all of that" and they responder get attacked. Not "I don't understand why, can you please explain that more" they get put down.

Not everyone has "computer people skills" Many people still feel computers and typing is a strange way to talk. They just tell the facts and that is it, not wasting to on the chit-chat. They are "short, and to the point" with no bull****.

If you want to take it as negative, it is negative.
But if you want to take it as advice to consider and think about, it is advice.

But later when problems arise and you are "asking for advice", look back at what Rex said and you will have your answers.


I know just reading all or Rex's post I have learned more and improved more then ever before. Sometimes he is very blunt but I accept that is his way.

(PS - "The carbon is not needed to clear the yellow in the water." just do more water changes and it will go away. Plus the yellowing of the water from the wood is thought by some to prevent algae outbreaks in newly setup tanks so it isn't a major problem. Once the tank is planted and a few water changes it will go ways.

*******I stand correct, this statement is incorrect*********
The Carbon just steals all the good things in the water from the water column for the plants to use so it is unnecessary and can be harmful.

You have a beautiful stand and hood, and I am sure with all the experience you have with both marine and freshwater tanks, it will turn out fantastic. I look forward to seeing your progress.
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Well I respect Rex, but I think his statement is ridiculous. Your tank is over 20" tall. The more depth the more light you need to penetrate to the bottom. Now maybe some people would be happy with 2watts/gallon or less, but to say 3 to 4 watts/gallon is too much for 90 % of all plants in a tank that size is not an opinion shared by a majority of people. I have (6) 55 watt tubes running over my 100 gallon tank for the last seven years, and before that I had 440 watts of VHO light. The VHO seemed little much, but even that was managleable.

No, not everything. Just his opinion on a few things. Boy Rex, your fans are getting a little finatical! As my Uncle used to say, there are lots of ways to skin a cat! (He didn't like cats!)

with no bull****.
Can you say that on this forum? What a lot of rambling about nothing! I would hav gotten a finger cramp if I typed all that. :icon_roll

The Carbon just steals all the good things in the water from the water column for the plants to use so it is unnecessary and can be harmful.
Yeah well thats mostly a myth. Carbon removes organic compounds, not minerals, not nutrients. Oxidized minerals need organic acids/compounds to be in a form that plants can use, like iron for example, so the worst carbon can do is turn Fe+2 into Fe+3, butd it is so gradual you would never know it, and for a short length of time to remove the yellow tannin using the carbon would have no affect on the iron content.
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This thread cracks me up.
Look my biggest point is that everyone keeps saying that rex was advising in his initial post. But he didn't "advise" till the next post...which was much nicer. "I would advise you to...."

But his first post:

The FSB is not needed.

Your light is too high.

Your gravel is too large.

You don't need the carbon.

Get CO2 on that baby ASAP and get some ferts.

That's just rude. Basicly he's suggesting that the original poster is a moron. "hey all your stuff is wrong..." but he never inquired as to WHY the tank was set up that way. It was explained that he carbon was for a temporary fix for the colored water. Maybe this guy wants a won't kill the tank. Maybe he wants the top most layer of substraite to be large like that. The light; we won't get into since it's a moot point, there is no RIGHT answer to that one...Some put a lot over small tanks and some get it to work with less over large tanks. Whatever works for you.

And finally to imply that this large tank will not be upgraded to CO2 and ferts is to suggest that the tanks owner has no clue as to what he's doing...but being that he's done reefs for a little while at least...I feel that this is an unfair judgement. Rex would be "advised" not to assume that everyone is stupid...and that by simply reading on a forum like will understand that CO2 and frets are a must before ever attempting to embark on a tank like this.

Again NONE of those first comments were offered in the form as a suggestion...they came off more as ORDERS. His second post was much more civil...but still Rex never tries to explain himself...both about plants...and why he's so rude.
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