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Hello!

I've been reading through lots of these forms, very good stuff, thank you! I've had a 20 long setup for 14 years. For the past year I've been trying to do live plants and decided to move into a 75 RR tank with a sump. I'm torn on the refugium question.... I plan on moderately planting the tank (no jungle but not sparse), and wonder if I should do a refugium?

I'm not trying to get out of water changes; I just want to cut down on the nitrate buildup. Right now I'm doing weekly water changes and still can't keep up with it, and I promise I'm not overfeeding; some of my fish are just freakishly big for the 20 gallon! However, I'm unsure if a moderately planted 75 will be enough of a "display tank refugium" to handle nitrate buildup. On the other end of the spectrum, I'm concerned that if I do the refugium, I will be taking too many nutrients out of the water for the display tank plants?

Here is my current fish load:
1 large clown loach (~6 in)
2 common kribs (~4 inches)
1 roseline shark (~4 in)
1 diamond tetra (~1 in)
1 cobalt blue gourami (~1.5 in)
2 swordtails (~1.5 in)
1 pink tailed chalceus (~2 in)
I'll be picking up several rainbows once I get the 75 cycled

Current plants:
To be honest I'm at work on my lunch break and can't recall. I have 3, which aren't doing well since my lighting is really horrible for plants (1 T8 10k)




Planned tank setup:
Deep blue 75RR (already purchased)
R&J aquatics signature series walnut cabinet and flip face canopy (already purchased)
1 BML 10000 or 6300 planted light @ 90 degree angle (w/ dimmer?)
1 T5 hood (comes in the kit for the tank – going with an actinic bulb for moonlight)
wet/dry sump of some sort
obviously contemplating a refugium (separate tank and flow control)
herbie overflow @ 600gph
2x 200w ebo jager heaters
1 compact+ 3000 ehiem pump

Also I am not planning on dosing CO2, but I may sometime in the future if I get bored... haha. Right now I will go with a combination of flourish products.


Does anyone see a problem with the planned setup or have any thoughts on what would be best to do here? I don't want to kicking myself later because I didn't make a smarter choice in the planning phase. Thanks so much and you guys are awesome, any help is greatly appreciated!

Respectfully,
Mark
 

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Welcome!

If you get the plants growing well, your problem is going to be having enough nitrates rather than not enough. I think you would be better off focusing your time and energy getting the plants in the main tank growing well for now.

You mention moderately planted. That is a relative term but you do want to have a lot of plant mass. The more the better. Otherwise you will have constant algae issues. It is actually easier to get going with a heavily planted tank than it is a lightly planted one.

Per your lighting.. If you look on the Build My Led Par chart, you can see how much PAR you would have per your configuration. How much is it at the height your light will be at? Lots of light w/o co2 is going to be another algae nightmare. You'll want to be able to keep the lighting low one way or another without co2. Probably want a dimmer.
 
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