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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am new to planted tanks. I just got my 75 gallon cycled. I bought a used setup so it was fairly easy for me to get it going In regards to equipment.

Now I'm hooked and my 7 year old is hooked too. He wants a 55 gallon in his room. Who am I to say no?

This will be low tech. But I have no idea what type of filter would be necessary. Or what type of light would be necessary.

I also am open to suggestions for low maintenance plants.

Thank you all!
 

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I am new to planted tanks. I just got my 75 gallon cycled. I bought a used setup so it was fairly easy for me to get it going In regards to equipment.

Now I'm hooked and my 7 year old is hooked too. He wants a 55 gallon in his room. Who am I to say no?

This will be low tech. But I have no idea what type of filter would be necessary. Or what type of light would be necessary.

I also am open to suggestions for low maintenance plants.

Thank you all!
Soooooo I am going to make some suggestions and you should follow them only so far as they result in overall happiness on your end.

A 75 gallon tank can be expensive since equipment costs more the bigger you go. I have a 75 running and frankly the smallest filter I would consider putting on it is a Fluval FX 4. There are people running smaller filters and some have good success but generally speaking you need at least the 4 times actual turn over of the water in the tank per hour the fluval fx4 gives. A fluval fx6 could be used and the flow turned down if you had fish that required slower flow.

If you wanted to have a cheaper option you could go with at least 2 large sponge filters. I personally hate sponge filters in display tanks because they are ugly, noisy, and take up valuable realestate. BUT they are cheap and efficient and easy to care for.

For lights you can go with just about anything. A solid option is a Fluval Fresh Plant 3.0 which is expensive but has a good app support and will do fine for a low tech tank. Middle of the road is a Beamswork DA FSPEC preferably with one of the inline nicrew dimmers. And the cheapest option is to buy a 4000k, 5000k, or 6000k led shop light (the kind that is used instead of the old fluorescent bulbs.

Whatever light you get you are going to want it on for 8 hours a day. That can be split up anyway you like (2 hours in the morning 6 hours in the evening, etc).

You will also fertilizer to keep your plants happy. I suggest Nicolg ThriveC for a low tech tank which is dosed once a week after water change.

Speaking of you will also want a method of changing water as siphons and buckets is terribly slow and ponderous. I suggest getting a python water changer or similar system. You will need to do 50% minimum water change per week and more is better. This would be the determining factor for me whether your kid gets their own aquarium. They need to be able to do the water change by themselves. My kids are younger (2 and 4) and keep asking me for an aquarium (as well as other critters) but I am holding firm that they can't have one until they can do all the things required to keep it in good order.

For easy to grow plants you have a LOT of options. The bullet proof plants are hornwort, guppygrass, and pearl weed. These plants will grow in just about any condition. They are however not always the 'best' aquarium plants since they tend to be unruly unless heavily maintained.

Other good plants are java fern, anubias, and amazon sword plants. The first 2 do not get planted in substrate but instead get wedged between rocks/wood.

Hopefully this is helpful, good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Soooooo I am going to make some suggestions and you should follow them only so far as they result in overall happiness on your end.

A 75 gallon tank can be expensive since equipment costs more the bigger you go. I have a 75 running and frankly the smallest filter I would consider putting on it is a Fluval FX 4. There are people running smaller filters and some have good success but generally speaking you need at least the 4 times actual turn over of the water in the tank per hour the fluval fx4 gives. A fluval fx6 could be used and the flow turned down if you had fish that required slower flow.

If you wanted to have a cheaper option you could go with at least 2 large sponge filters. I personally hate sponge filters in display tanks because they are ugly, noisy, and take up valuable realestate. BUT they are cheap and efficient and easy to care for.

For lights you can go with just about anything. A solid option is a Fluval Fresh Plant 3.0 which is expensive but has a good app support and will do fine for a low tech tank. Middle of the road is a Beamswork DA FSPEC preferably with one of the inline nicrew dimmers. And the cheapest option is to buy a 4000k, 5000k, or 6000k led shop light (the kind that is used instead of the old fluorescent bulbs.

Whatever light you get you are going to want it on for 8 hours a day. That can be split up anyway you like (2 hours in the morning 6 hours in the evening, etc).

You will also fertilizer to keep your plants happy. I suggest Nicolg ThriveC for a low tech tank which is dosed once a week after water change.

Speaking of you will also want a method of changing water as siphons and buckets is terribly slow and ponderous. I suggest getting a python water changer or similar system. You will need to do 50% minimum water change per week and more is better. This would be the determining factor for me whether your kid gets their own aquarium. They need to be able to do the water change by themselves. My kids are younger (2 and 4) and keep asking me for an aquarium (as well as other critters) but I am holding firm that they can't have one until they can do all the things required to keep it in good order.

For easy to grow plants you have a LOT of options. The bullet proof plants are hornwort, guppygrass, and pearl weed. These plants will grow in just about any condition. They are however not always the 'best' aquarium plants since they tend to be unruly unless heavily maintained.

Other good plants are java fern, anubias, and amazon sword plants. The first 2 do not get planted in substrate but instead get wedged between rocks/wood.

Hopefully this is helpful, good luck!
Thank you for the wealth of knowledge. Wish I read it a month ago when I started my 75. The 75 gallon is up and running with a fluval 407 and a full spectrum nicrew light and CO2 injection. The python does work great. I'm waiting for my plants to really establish but I have it stocked with several different species. Some great and some not so great.

With the 55 that I'm looking to set up, I'm trying to put a list of equipment together. I'm not sure if I need a canister filter or if I can get away with a HOB filter for instance. I don't know much about low tech planted tanks so I'm just trying to figure it all out.

From what I gather, low tech tanks depend heavily on fertilizers, light, and more or less substrate.

Thank you for the plant suggestions. What do you think about dark water lettuce? I also read that it's hard to get a low tech tank to carpet... Would you say that's accurate?
 

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Personally, I always start with deciding what flora (plants) or fauna (animals) I want to keep on the tank. Then, keeping both in mind, I can make decisions on which fish/inverts/plants can thrive together. For example, if I wanted to do a planted african cichlid tank, I would need to use hard water, so any plants I wanted to keep in the tank would need to be able to survive/thrive in hard water, like java fern or anubias. I'd also need to make sure the fish wouldn't pick at the plants and uproot them. What plants/fish/inverts are you planning to keep?

Once I've decided on flora and fauna, I try to design the rest of the tank (substrate, hardscape, filtration, heaters/temp controllers, lights, etc.) around those choices.

As far as filtration goes, again it'll depend on what you're putting in the tank. I really like canister filters, mainly because they're really quiet, but a hang-on-back filter like the Aquaclear 70 or 110, or the Seachem Tidal 75 or 110 would also work just fine. If you go with a canister filter, there are a lot of good, reliable options from Fluval, Eheim, and Oase. If you plan to keep smaller fish or shrimp, it would be a good idea to get a sponge or mesh housing to go over the filter's intake. This will help to prevent fish/animals from getting sucked into the filters.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Personally, I always start with deciding what flora (plants) or fauna (animals) I want to keep on the tank. Then, keeping both in mind, I can make decisions on which fish/inverts/plants can thrive together. For example, if I wanted to do a planted african cichlid tank, I would need to use hard water, so any plants I wanted to keep in the tank would need to be able to survive/thrive in hard water, like java fern or anubias. I'd also need to make sure the fish wouldn't pick at the plants and uproot them. What plants/fish/inverts are you planning to keep?

Once I've decided on flora and fauna, I try to design the rest of the tank (substrate, hardscape, filtration, heaters/temp controllers, lights, etc.) around those choices.

As far as filtration goes, again it'll depend on what you're putting in the tank. I really like canister filters, mainly because they're really quiet, but a hang-on-back filter like the Aquaclear 70 or 110, or the Seachem Tidal 75 or 110 would also work just fine. If you go with a canister filter, there are a lot of good, reliable options from Fluval, Eheim, and Oase. If you plan to keep smaller fish or shrimp, it would be a good idea to get a sponge or mesh housing to go over the filter's intake. This will help to prevent fish/animals from getting sucked into the filters.
Thank you. That's very informative. Honestly, I have no idea what fish yet. My son's going to pick them out. Maybe I'll start with that. He did say that he wants diamond tetras at least.. this can also help him with delayed gratification I suppose. And I really don't know anything about plants as far as what they like or don't like or which ones are easy or tricky. Or high maintenance or low maintenance.

My goal is to make this a low maintenance planted low tech tank.
 

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Thank you for the wealth of knowledge. Wish I read it a month ago when I started my 75. The 75 gallon is up and running with a fluval 407 and a full spectrum nicrew light and CO2 injection. The python does work great. I'm waiting for my plants to really establish but I have it stocked with several different species. Some great and some not so great.

With the 55 that I'm looking to set up, I'm trying to put a list of equipment together. I'm not sure if I need a canister filter or if I can get away with a HOB filter for instance. I don't know much about low tech planted tanks so I'm just trying to figure it all out.

From what I gather, low tech tanks depend heavily on fertilizers, light, and more or less substrate.

Thank you for the plant suggestions. What do you think about dark water lettuce? I also read that it's hard to get a low tech tank to carpet... Would you say that's accurate?
Ah so this is for the 55 then. Low tech tanks are just like high tech tanks except plant growth is much slower. Like more then 10 times slower. For the light everything I said for the 75 gallon is the same. Frankly you would do fine with an fx4 on the 55 gallon as well. You can definitely use a hob on pretty much any tank including a 55 gallon. You just need a big hob. Two aquaclear 70s is pretty typical for these kinds of setups. If you are going to have the surface agitation of a a hob then something like water lettuce is not a great choice (or really most any floater). You can try giant duckweed if you want since it can take a good amount of surface agitation and not die and is not hard to get rid of (unlike regular duckweed). That's about all I would recommend if you go with a HOB and even that living through the experience is not a guarantee. If you go canister filter your options for floaters includes everything. Water lettuce has very long roots (it will eventually root in the substrate even though its floating on the surface). So just be aware of that if this is a concern.

You can technically get a carpet going in a low tech tank, but instead of it happening in a few months it will take a few years. A better option is to plant a tank that doesn't need a carpet. Skip the aquasoil type substrates unless you really love the look of all those black round balls. Instead go with sand and fertilize the water column with ThriveC once a week after water change.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Ah so this is for the 55 then. Low tech tanks are just like high tech tanks except plant growth is much slower. Like more then 10 times slower. For the light everything I said for the 75 gallon is the same. Frankly you would do fine with an fx4 on the 55 gallon as well. You can definitely use a hob on pretty much any tank including a 55 gallon. You just need a big hob. Two aquaclear 70s is pretty typical for these kinds of setups. If you are going to have the surface agitation of a a hob then something like water lettuce is not a great choice (or really most any floater). You can try giant duckweed if you want since it can take a good amount of surface agitation and not die and is not hard to get rid of (unlike regular duckweed). That's about all I would recommend if you go with a HOB and even that living through the experience is not a guarantee. If you go canister filter your options for floaters includes everything. Water lettuce has very long roots (it will eventually root in the substrate even though its floating on the surface). So just be aware of that if this is a concern.

You can technically get a carpet going in a low tech tank, but instead of it happening in a few months it will take a few years. A better option is to plant a tank that doesn't need a carpet. Skip the aquasoil type substrates unless you really love the look of all those black round balls. Instead go with sand and fertilize the water column with ThriveC once a week after water change.
Perfect. Thank you so much.
 

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Great low-light plants are cryptocorynes (there are short ones and very tall, skinny-leaved ones), java ferns (a few great varieties with different leaf shapes), dwarf sag, water wisteria and vallisneria (the small species, not gigantea), java moss.

I would not add any loose, spreading floaters to a low-tech 55 gallon. The 55 is kind of a tall tank, and floaters will block light to the plants in the substrate or tied to driftwood (java ferns should not be rooted in substrate). Plants with stems that can be used as a floater (like water wisteria and hornwort) would be OK because you can limit their spread and sequester them to an area.

Loose floaters like duckweed, frogbit, dwarf water lettuce, riccia, etc. tend to explode and cover the entire surface in thick mats. They're also loose so they tend to "hide" and spread and it can be difficult to rid your tank of some of these (duckweed and ricia). If you stay on top of weeding them out it should be OK, but it's very easy to get behind on this. Personal experience.

I know you didn't ask, but I love 33 gallon long aquariums. They have the same footprint as a 55 but are much shorter (12 inches tall). It still has that great 4-foot length. The shorter height means light gets to the bottom well and it's easy to grow many plants. It's a cheaper aquarium to put together and maintain because of its size and lower water volume, so you spend less on a filter, less on substrate, etc.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Great low-light plants are cryptocorynes (there are short ones and very tall, skinny-leaved ones), java ferns (a few great varieties with different leaf shapes), dwarf sag, water wisteria and vallisneria (the small species, not gigantea), java moss.

I would not add any loose, spreading floaters to a low-tech 55 gallon. The 55 is kind of a tall tank, and floaters will block light to the plants in the substrate or tied to driftwood (java ferns should not be rooted in substrate). Plants with stems that can be used as a floater (like water wisteria and hornwort) would be OK because you can limit their spread and sequester them to an area.

Loose floaters like duckweed, frogbit, dwarf water lettuce, riccia, etc. tend to explode and cover the entire surface in thick mats. They're also loose so they tend to "hide" and spread and it can be difficult to rid your tank of some of these (duckweed and ricia). If you stay on top of weeding them out it should be OK, but it's very easy to get behind on this. Personal experience.

I know you didn't ask, but I love 33 gallon long aquariums. They have the same footprint as a 55 but are much shorter (12 inches tall). It still has that great 4-foot length. The shorter height means light gets to the bottom well and it's easy to grow many plants. It's a cheaper aquarium to put together and maintain because of its size and lower water volume, so you spend less on a filter, less on substrate, etc.

Good luck.
Thank you for your input!!! Very much appreciated. I have a 55 g sitting around so it's the route we are going, but there will be more.
 
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