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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys,

It will be a few months before I can afford to buy my tank and equipment, so for now I am in the planning process, and I am hoping you guys can help me figure out what sort of light, filtration, C02, and other equipment I might need.

First, here are my initial thoughts:

1) I want a tank with ample depth to aquascape, so I am aiming for 24 inches deep. To get the kind of scape I want, I think I will need to do a 48 inch length and a 24 inch height (possibly a little shallower), so I think we're looking at 100+ gallons.

2) I want enough light to grow a nice low growing carpet plant, preferably one that doesn't need to be pruned for length

3) I am planning to have a sump, to keep the hardware in the tank to a minimum and also to provide for easier water changes and so forth.

4) I am planning to use RO/DI water and an auto top-off system.

5) I don't need aggressive growth, but I would like my plants to be lush and healthy.

6) Will likely have an aquasoil substrate.

Here are my questions:

1) So for a tank with those dimensions and those plant requirements, how much light do I need? Can you recommend a particular fixture and/or a particular vendor?

2) Do I need an automated C02 system? If so, what type to you recommend and where is the best place to buy?

3) Since I will have a sump, I have all sorts of filtration options but I'm not sure what is recommended for a planted tank like this. Is there any reason to do a wet/dry filter? A refugium? A UV light?

I'll start with those three questions.

Any help is appreciated!
 

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Hi guys,

It will be a few months before I can afford to buy my tank and equipment, so for now I am in the planning process, and I am hoping you guys can help me figure out what sort of light, filtration, C02, and other equipment I might need.

First, here are my initial thoughts:

1) I want a tank with ample depth to aquascape, so I am aiming for 24 inches deep. To get the kind of scape I want, I think I will need to do a 48 inch length and a 24 inch height (possibly a little shallower), so I think we're looking at 100+ gallons.

2) I want enough light to grow a nice low growing carpet plant, preferably one that doesn't need to be pruned for length

3) I am planning to have a sump, to keep the hardware in the tank to a minimum and also to provide for easier water changes and so forth.

4) I am planning to use RO/DI water and an auto top-off system.

5) I don't need aggressive growth, but I would like my plants to be lush and healthy.

6) Will likely have an aquasoil substrate.

Here are my questions:

1) So for a tank with those dimensions and those plant requirements, how much light do I need? Can you recommend a particular fixture and/or a particular vendor?

2) Do I need an automated C02 system? If so, what type to you recommend and where is the best place to buy?

3) Since I will have a sump, I have all sorts of filtration options but I'm not sure what is recommended for a planted tank like this. Is there any reason to do a wet/dry filter? A refugium? A UV light?

I'll start with those three questions.

Any help is appreciated!
Flick the sump if your using co2. Too much wastage. Canister filter is simple and highly successful. Uv, good idea.
 

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1-2 fluval fx5's would do the trick

Lighting a tank that deep is not fun I have a 20" tank and I feel that's two deep. Fortunately we have lots of options for lighting in your case mh or t5ho, possibly led's will be needed
I would suggest 2-3 t5ho for lighting

You have lots of options as far as co2 goes, i don't know much about regulators I purchased my set up from Bettatail. Talk to him he can answer your questions.

What do you plan to do as far as fertilizing goes?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Flick the sump if your using co2. Too much wastage. Canister filter is simple and highly successful. Uv, good idea.
I have heard conflicting opinions about CO2 waste with a sump. It seems lots of people who are using them claim that wastage is limited, especially if the sump is sealed (which I could do).
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
1-2 fluval fx5's would do the trick

Lighting a tank that deep is not fun I have a 20" tank and I feel that's two deep. Fortunately we have lots of options for lighting in your case mh or t5ho, possibly led's will be needed
I would suggest 2-3 t5ho for lighting

You have lots of options as far as co2 goes, i don't know much about regulators I purchased my set up from Bettatail. Talk to him he can answer your questions.

What do you plan to do as far as fertilizing goes?
I could go with a shallower tank. In fact, in terms of actually being able to work with a tank, shallower would actually be preferred. Something like 18 or 20 inches high maybe. The problem is that I fear that a tank that is wider than it is tall is going to look strange. Any opinions on that?

If I drop down to 18 inches high, does that change my lighting needs?

How many watts do you recommend for both cases (18 and 24)?

I had more than 2 watts per gallon on my 46 bowfront before I tore it down and plants, another than anubias and crypts, did not grow very well, so was planning on going higher on the light this time.
 

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Sumps are also great, been using one continuously for over a decade on a planted CO2 enriched tank. Sure the guys at the Airgas place know me well but 10 pounds of CO2 every 2 months in a 180 gallon plus 20 gallons in the sump isn't excessive. And how many women come into the shop???? The clear water surface, ability to put all equipment in the sump and no water evaporation in the tank are pluses as well as superior oxygenation of the water.

If budget wasn't an issue then the ATI T5 systems with dimming timers are a great idea. I would get 6 bulbs for the width and count on using them at partial power most of the day. Never used T5, my 150 watt metal halides are complete overkill and have to hang more than a meter over the substrate but I am stubborn. LEDs are a possibility but cannot say what what would work or look nice yet - been studying up on that lately. Whatever you choose do consider hanging them so you can raise and lower to adjust the light intensity. Really nice to be able to look down from the top of the tank too, my tank is at my nose level so I gave up and covered it!

A shallower tank might make for a nicer picture. A 4x2 tank is 2:1. I really loved the 8x2 foot tank's 4:1 aspect and the 6x2 looks squatty in comparison! Think about the plants you are interested in growing before deciding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Sumps are also great, been using one continuously for over a decade on a planted CO2 enriched tank. Sure the guys at the Airgas place know me well but 10 pounds of CO2 every 2 months in a 180 gallon plus 20 gallons in the sump isn't excessive. And how many women come into the shop???? The clear water surface, ability to put all equipment in the sump and no water evaporation in the tank are pluses as well as superior oxygenation of the water.

If budget wasn't an issue then the ATI T5 systems with dimming timers are a great idea. I would get 6 bulbs for the width and count on using them at partial power most of the day. Never used T5, my 150 watt metal halides are complete overkill and have to hang more than a meter over the substrate but I am stubborn. LEDs are a possibility but cannot say what what would work or look nice yet - been studying up on that lately. Whatever you choose do consider hanging them so you can raise and lower to adjust the light intensity. Really nice to be able to look down from the top of the tank too, my tank is at my nose level so I gave up and covered it!

A shallower tank might make for a nicer picture. A 4x2 tank is 2:1. I really loved the 8x2 foot tank's 4:1 aspect and the 6x2 looks squatty in comparison! Think about the plants you are interested in growing before deciding.
So are you saying to get a tank that is 6 foot long by 2 foot wide by maybe 17 inches high? That's a pretty big tank! I would definitely want a sump if I went that big. Are you suggesting that the overall footprint of this tank is more attractive than the 2:1 of the 4x2 tank?

Another consideration: I want to run the tank open top, with lights that I can raise up so I can easily clean the inside of the tank so algae never has a chance to build up on the glass. A quick wipe down every 3 days or so. If the lights and canopy are out of my way, this will take like 5 minutes. If they are in my way, this is a huge hassle and likely won't get done. I learned this from my previous tank. So does that change your recommendation for lighting? I was thinking maybe some type of pendant light that I can raise up on a pulley or maybe some type of tank mounted fixture that can either be bent or otherwise pivoted out of the way.

As far as plants I would like to grow, I am not sure yet. I know I want a low maintenance but attractive and low growing carpet plant (does such a thing exist?)

I also am thinking about doing a driftwood scape with the wood poking out the top of the water, covered in moss and ferns. Stem plants in the back. Maybe a red plant somewhere near the focal point. Possibly some floating plants to keep the water nice. One reason I was thinking of going with a deeper tank is because I would like to have a steep slope in the substrate from front to back, so a lot of the depth will be eaten up by aquasoil in the back of the tank. Still, shallower is easier to work on!
 

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I loved the longer tank, didn't think it would make that much difference but it was a wonderful tank to scape. Take a look at the 12 gallon long club's thread for a number of examples on how interesting a 4:1 aspect is to scape. http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/showthread.php?t=168088&highlight=12+gallon+club

Draw a picture of the wall and floorplan of the room the tank is going in to decide what looks right to you. Since any tank 4' and longer is a big part of the room it is in it is a good idea to think about how it fits in. Sure us obsessed people only look at the tank and maybe hope to have a comfy chair to sit in to watch the tank but other people might not know how obsessed we really are if the tank fits the room nicely.

I agree about hanging the lights, just that much easier to deal with. Doesn't work with some rooms as it generally looks more modern is all. I chose to put up a couple of screws into ceiling beams with a board that attaches to the light hangers. Some people put up a shelf and hang lights from that. Others bend metal conduit pipe in various ways to make light standards that are usually attached to the sides or corners of the tank's stand. Again, draw it out. I would love to use a shelf but since it would need to be 18" deep and would look heavy over my acrylic tank that stands alone on the wall it just wouldn't look right.

Hope you have been looking through the Journals section here. Also look through the AGA's contest tanks http://showcase.aquatic-gardeners.org/index.html and the IAPLC http://en.iaplc.com/results12/top200vote/ and any other pages of tanks to get ideas on what plants fit in what tanks and what scapes you like best and all that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I loved the longer tank, didn't think it would make that much difference but it was a wonderful tank to scape. Take a look at the 12 gallon long club's thread for a number of examples on how interesting a 4:1 aspect is to scape. http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/showthread.php?t=168088&highlight=12+gallon+club

Draw a picture of the wall and floorplan of the room the tank is going in to decide what looks right to you. Since any tank 4' and longer is a big part of the room it is in it is a good idea to think about how it fits in. Sure us obsessed people only look at the tank and maybe hope to have a comfy chair to sit in to watch the tank but other people might not know how obsessed we really are if the tank fits the room nicely.

I agree about hanging the lights, just that much easier to deal with. Doesn't work with some rooms as it generally looks more modern is all. I chose to put up a couple of screws into ceiling beams with a board that attaches to the light hangers. Some people put up a shelf and hang lights from that. Others bend metal conduit pipe in various ways to make light standards that are usually attached to the sides or corners of the tank's stand. Again, draw it out. I would love to use a shelf but since it would need to be 18" deep and would look heavy over my acrylic tank that stands alone on the wall it just wouldn't look right.

Hope you have been looking through the Journals section here. Also look through the AGA's contest tanks http://showcase.aquatic-gardeners.org/index.html and the IAPLC http://en.iaplc.com/results12/top200vote/ and any other pages of tanks to get ideas on what plants fit in what tanks and what scapes you like best and all that.
Thanks for the links!

I found the aquascapes on the AGA Website inspiring, but I will never understand why all those photographs are so heavily processed. They are so smoothed that they almost look like paintings or, worse yet, cartoon images. Do you have any idea where I can see pictures of what these tanks actually look like without all the heavy photoshop stuff? What ever happened to point and click?
 

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If you search through lots of forums and blogs you might find set up threads of some of the tanks. There are tank journals for at least two top 200 IAPLC tanks here on this forum.

I don't care about the processing of the photos. Some of those tanks look good close up and might look quite nondescript in the room setting too but that isn't what these contests are about.

Look at the shape and size of the tank and the type of hard scape and plantings to try to narrow down what you are most interested in having in your tank.

For example I like a scape that fish can swim through and under. I want to have some empty space so the tank isn't a completely black rectangle when lights are off in the morning. I am still working to learn to use the elements I have to create depth in the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
If you search through lots of forums and blogs you might find set up threads of some of the tanks. There are tank journals for at least two top 200 IAPLC tanks here on this forum.

I don't care about the processing of the photos. Some of those tanks look good close up and might look quite nondescript in the room setting too but that isn't what these contests are about.

Look at the shape and size of the tank and the type of hard scape and plantings to try to narrow down what you are most interested in having in your tank.

For example I like a scape that fish can swim through and under. I want to have some empty space so the tank isn't a completely black rectangle when lights are off in the morning. I am still working to learn to use the elements I have to create depth in the tank.
Thanks for the reply. I'll go see if I can locate some of the build threads.

I guess my problem with the image processing is that I actually feel like it is interfering with my ability to SEE the scape. Everything looks fake. I can't really tell if I would like it or not if viewed without all the filtering. That might be silly on my part, but it is what it is.
 

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I don't see any reason a big tank is better off with a sump. The only advantage with a overflow to a sump is it keeps the surface water clear of bacteria slime. As far as co2 waste I don't think its any more then not having a overflow to a sump. The water that is fed into the overflow is surface water. If co2 is hitting the surface its wasted anyways.
A sump doesn't make water changes easier. Nobody with a sump only changes water from the sump its not enough water to change unless your sump holds as much as the tank. You could keep you heaters in your sump. But you can also get inline heaters to keep it out of the tank with a canister. I had a 300g plant tank some years ago. I had a sump that was built into the tank. But the tank had been previously setup as freshwater fish only and saltwater fish before I decided to do a plant tank with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I don't see any reason a big tank is better off with a sump. The only advantage with a overflow to a sump is it keeps the surface water clear of bacteria slime. As far as co2 waste I don't think its any more then not having a overflow to a sump. The water that is fed into the overflow is surface water. If co2 is hitting the surface its wasted anyways.
A sump doesn't make water changes easier. Nobody with a sump only changes water from the sump its not enough water to change unless your sump holds as much as the tank. You could keep you heaters in your sump. But you can also get inline heaters to keep it out of the tank with a canister. I had a 300g plant tank some years ago. I had a sump that was built into the tank. But the tank had been previously setup as freshwater fish only and saltwater fish before I decided to do a plant tank with it.
Remember, I'm going to use RO/DI water and will have an auto top off system. I don't want those lines running into the aquarium, hence the sump. I am going to have a very low livestock to plant ratio and I really don't plan on doing water changes all that frequently. My sump will be in a completely different room, with a bare concrete floor and a drain.
 
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