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My first planted tank..

3017 Views 60 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  timwag2001
Hey everyone! I'm new here.. and new to planted tanks... but not new to aquariums, been keeping aquariums for over 6 years, both fresh and salt water.

I recently broke down a 120 gallon salt water reef set-up in search of trying something new, and hopefully a bit less time/money consuming. I've kept discus in the past, so I wanted to set up another discus tank...

Now i'm sure some of you guys are thinking "yeah, a planted discus tank, that's not time consuming or expensive at all!"... well yes, i know that it is, but it isn't really when compared to high tech salt water reef set-ups.

Basically i'm looking to use the nice 120 gallon set-up (has a 40 gallon sump) and convert it all to freshwater, housing 6 discus, a school of tetras, and maybe some bottom feeders.... and oh yeah, PLANTS!

So i've never really done plants before, but i've read up on it a bunch and get the basic gist of things.

I'm basically looking for a "low-tech" yet densely planted setup..... and right now i'm in the "let's purchase all the equipment that you're going to need" phase... I'm hoping you guys can help me out with that...

I've already got the tank, the sump, and the light... but other than that i still need everything else. So i need the filter, the co2 (if it's necessary for my set-up), the substrate, and whatever else you guys can think of for me...

I'm looking for a canister filter... was thinking one nice large canister filteshould handle it well.. maybe a fluval FX5, or should i go for the eheim line?

Also, what should I do for substrate? I used flourite in the past, but never really had enough plants for me to judge it at all... because it's a discus tank i'm looking for a white sandy bottom... but i could always just lay pool filter sand over the substrate that is best/most nutrient rich for plants...

I'm not really even sure how to ask all of these questions.. basically i'm not sure what the best equipment to complete my task is... so if you were going to densely plant a 120 gallon fish tank, and moderately stock it with discus and tetras, what would be your course of action???

Basically looking for someone to tell me what to do next... tank was just broken down today... and i've been out of the freshwater side of things for years now, so i'm out of the loop!

Any help is appreciated.. sorry for the long winded post!
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The Fluvals I have heard are very good filters but I would encourage you to also check out the Eheim 2250 and 2260 models and compare prices/quality etc...I would also recommend you buy two external canister filters and run 2 x 300 watt Hydor ETH Heaters and a CO2 reactor inline. The reason for two is for ease of care of the tank and it's good to have a back up. Also when your cleaning out one filter you can leave the other running for your sensitive discus. I know you mentioned low tech so CO2 might not be necessary, but if it is there's another list of equipment to get. Your also going to want to buy dry fertilizers and not the liquid form because on a tank of that size liquid form will cost a lot. Also, what are your lights? Your going to need timers, testing supplies, and as far as your substrate is concerned, it depends on how much your willing to spend and your plant needs. It also depends on how much your willing to work in order to save money for example you could make Mineralized Topsoil and cap it with about an inch and a half of sand. Or you could buy ADA amazonia which will soften your water and is generally considered to be among the best substrates money can buy. A 9 liter bag is $28 which is actually not bad IMO. There's some other decisions you could make about how badly you want an equipment free look. You can get glass ware to replace the stock plastic outflow and inflows of your filters. You build a light hanging setup so that your lights aren't sitting on the rim of the tank. Also, looking around for some good pieces of hardscape is important either rocks or driftwood etc...
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Welcome to TPT!!!!
Thanks for the response guys!

The light is a 6x 54 watt g4 set up... its a beast. Individual highly polished reflectors for 99% reflectivity, and three cooling fans to increase bulb life and output. So needless to say its probably even bordering on too much light, but I can however, reduce the amount of bulbs it runs... I can run anywhere from 1 to 6 bulbs... im thinking four would probably be ideal? But maybe all six would be ok too... not sure what you guys think? Its already hanging from the ceiling, not sitting on the rim of the tank. As far as substrate goes I don't mind paying a bit for it... same with the filters and fertilizers. I already have two 300 watt heaters (ego jagar) and they are on a separate aquarium controller that also times my lights. I might even use another heater or upgrade to bigger heaters however as in the winter keeping the tank at 82 degrees could be a challenge.

As far as co2 goes, I intially didn't want the extra cost/headache... but I've looked into it a bit, and ifs not that expensive it seems, and I already have a good working knowledge of how regulators work from the saltwater hobby... plus I already have a ph probe and monitor which might come in handy for that as well...but id only want to add co2 if you guys feel it's really going to be necessary and make a big difference for me...
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And as far as the equipment free look goes that's what the sump is for..m no equipment in the display tank itself... all down underneath.
Would it be a wise idea to do sponge filters in the sump as well?
so i've been looking into substrate a bit more as well... the MTS and ADA Aquasoil seem to be the most talked about/used substrates... is this the route i should go too? I'd probably go with the ADA aquasoil, and cap it with play sand? It's fairly expensive... but gets good reviews, and saves me the trouble of finding all of the materials for MTS, along with taking the time to actually make the MTS....

Also, I'm looking at the Eheim canister filters.. how accurate are the recommended water volumes? Would i be able to get away with a 2075 instead of the 2080 in a 120 gallon tank?
co2 i would definately go with co2. with the amount of water changes needed for young discus, i think bba would probably run rampant in your tank. keeping a good constant co2 level will minimize the risk of that. however, with co2 injection, your sump isnt recommended. water agitation will off gas your co2.

furthermore co2 is an essential nutrient for plants. it will definately help keep things growing and looking their best
co2 i would definately go with co2. with the amount of water changes needed for young discus, i think bba would probably run rampant in your tank. keeping a good constant co2 level will minimize the risk of that. however, with co2 injection, your sump isnt recommended. water agitation will off gas your co2.

furthermore co2 is an essential nutrient for plants. it will definately help keep things growing and looking their best

well for what it's worth it will be 6 fully grown adult discus... and water changes will likely take place as in a 50% weekly, or biweekly sort of schedule..
thats definately better. will you be aging your water before changes?

what part of MA are you from?
yes, will likely be aging water before water changes.

From Easton, next to Brockton if that helps.. a ways from you ;).
i asked about aging water because fresh water from the tap has co2 in it. if you age it first then the water changes wont cause co2 fluctuations. less likely that you'll get bba.
Ok, good to know. Im thinking I could simply run 3 or possibly 4 of the 54 watt bulbs to keep the light down and not have to worry about injecting co2? I like the idea of plants growing well... but id prefer to use the sump, so does that rule out co2?
with 3 t5ho bulbs i would def run co2. i think i read something about someone sealing the sump off somehow (or something along those lines) to help limit co2 off gassing. try to do a search for that. maybe theres a way to modify it so that you can still pull it off
i just type this into the yahoo search bar

seal sump co2

and got quite a few results
Im confused as to how 3 t5s is a lot of light for this size tank? That's only 1.35 wpg, and its raised off the rim of the tank about 6" (hanging from the ceiling). I thought high light= co2, and high light = 3 wpg or so?
dont underestimate the strength of 3 t5ho bulbs with individual polished reflectors. especially if they are spaced out enough. the whole wpg thing started with the old t12 bulbs. big difference with light output.
Welcome to TPT. I want to come along and watch the process if I may.:icon_smil What kind of plants are you interested in, and what color discus? I think discus look best when all one color, how about you?
Yea, definitely on the discus... probably going to go with all blue diamonds or turquoises.
I guess I kind of originally just thought I could run 2 or 3 bulbs... throw down some flourite or something similar, run a canister filter, and call it good... but I guess im in for something a bit more complicated than that?
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