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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi guys!

Complete n00b here. I'm starting my first planted tank in the coming months and have been lurking and reading and researching so that I can (hopefully) avoid costly mistakes. I would ultimately like something low-maintenance.

I'm heading to Petco tonight to take advantage of the $1/gallon sale and will be picking up either a 20 long (30x12x12") or 29 gallon (30x12x18"). Leaning toward the 29g right now, though I love the horizontal emphasis of the 20 long.

Here's what I've planned so far:

Tank: now leaning toward 40b
Stand: Waiting on a custom-build from a friend-of-family carpenter

Substrate: still undecided... :c I want something dark/black and cory-friendly. Possibly MTS with black sand cap? Or all black sand (CaribSea Tahitian Moon Sand) with root tabs?

Light: Finnex Fugeray 30" (would be raised if I go with the 20l for a PAR of 30)
Filter: Fluval 306
Heater: in-line Hydor ETH 200W
C02: none with no plans to add
Ferts: probably Excel, wouldn't mind occasional dosing of trace (Equilbrium?)

Water Specs:
still need to find out the starting parameters of my tap water

Planned Flora:
Low-lighting. Thinking about collecting a bunch of RAOK and bundles to see what I like and works well. Haven't gotten too far on plant research yet, lol.

Planned Fauna
- neon tetras
- a few guppies, male only (my LFS has beautifully colored cobras that I love) and/or endlers
- a few corys
- a few otos (maybe once tank is good and cycled)
- would love some shrimp

Nothing has been purchased quuuuuite yet, so I'd appreciate any input and suggestions/warnings! I'm about ready to pull the trigger on the Fluval 306 because I can get it for about $108 shipped, but only thru the 31st. I'm trying to take advantage of all the after-Christmas sales. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the response, shloken38!

Yes, I figure I need to figure out the water parameters before I can really commit to any type of plant or fish. Do I need to look just for the pH, GH, and KH of my tap water, or should I be testing for other elements as well?

I'm planning on doing a fishless cycle and am willing to be patient waiting for stability with any type of inhabitants if necessary. That's good to know that neons might be too sensitive for a new tank!

I'll be very interested to hear about people's experiences with guppies and shrimp. I've got three (all male) guppies right now that get along well in an unplanted 2 gallon, and I'd love to give them a better environment. But I also think I would be fascinated with watching shrimp, so I wouldn't want to risk a bad match. As for type of shrimp, I'd probably have easiest access to cherry shrimp. Color makes me happy, but I'm open to whatever type is best suited for beginners. :)

If I keep guppies in the tank, I'd probably stick with however many males I can have without them beating each other up. I'm excited by the prospect of fry, just not guppy fry, haha.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Indecision, indecision!

I went to Petco last night and left empty-handed because I couldn't decide between the 20l, 29g, and 40b in the ten minutes before the store closed. I like the proportions of the 20l and 40b, but I feel I'd want something bigger than 20l. And the 40b would add a bit of cost due to needing the next size up in lighting fixture, more substrate, and possibly a supplementary HOB filter. Plus, we're in a rental, and I'd hate to have to lug a larger tank around until we finally settle.

I'm finding I like tanks that look like they are a "miniature scale" scene, but it doesn't seem like I'd have enough luck to do a carpet without C02 to pull of an iwagumi style. If I find tall pieces of driftwood and attach moss/plants to the branches, is it possible to make good use of the vertical space of a 29g and still create a "miniature" world?

I am also now torn between the Fluval 306 and Eheim Classic 2217. Both seem very comparable. I was initially going for the Fluval because it was $20 cheaper, seemed more beginner/user-friendly, and the media baskets sound easier to maintain. But since Hydor's in-line heaters come in 1/2" or 5/8", I'd have to buy new hosing, clamps, and rubber adapters to fit it in-line with the 306's 3/4" hosing measurements. Those additional parts would make the set-up between the 306 and 2217 about the same price.

How do you people ever decide on anything?!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Just impulse buy.....then keep adding tanks! hahaha.....

Can't help you with your decision. Bigger is always better, but I understand moving that bigger tank is more of an issue. Tough call....
Haha, I've found I rarely impulse buy (unless it's junk food). Instead, I research and stress over the details and waver in uncertainty and then FINALLY commit after I've annoyed all my friends (and not to mention myself). It works out well in the end because I've made thought-out/educated decisions, but man the process is annoying!

I have the Fluval 306 on a 40-gal and it's considered by some to be overkill. I love this filter b/c it's very easy to use. I bought a 206 for a 20-gal I'm going to set up. So in answer to your question re: an extra HOB, I really don't think you need it.
That's good to hear, thanks! I keep reading that over-filtering is the best way to go and it can always be adjusted with quick-stops or a spray bar. I guess I figured the 306 was over-kill for a 20g, but maybe only just sufficient for a 40b.

I can guarantee you that no matter what size you get -- 20 gal, 200 gal, 500 gallon.... you will always want something bigger. ALWAYS. So that being said, I would say just get what you can comfortably afford.
I keep hearing this, too, which really starts pushing me to getting the 40b. It would really only about $70 more in equipment (+$38 for next size up in lighting, +$10 for larger tank, +$22 for another bag of sand assuming I go with potting soil over all sand to save some $). But I guess it would also take more $ to stock with plants. How important is it to start heavily planted, or can I gradually add more as funds allow?

Thanks for the head's up about electrical outlets, I hadn't considered that either!

Oh, and not sure about the heater -- do you really need 200w on a 29-gal?
I liked the idea of an in-line to keep the tank more open and so I don't have to worry as much about accuracy (as long as I tape the dial so it doesn't accidentally get bumped). I'm big on aesthetics. :) Would 200w still be too much on a 40b? I could probably have better luck hiding a submersible to my liking on the 40b.

Re: guppies... if I can safely keep them (and shrimp) in one tank, I'll stick with all male guppies. Pretty much I am very attached to my current three males, who get along swimmingly (lawl).
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
According to Lowe's PAR charts for the Finnex Fugeray, if I go with a 36" fixture to fit a 40b... I'll have a PAR around 50-60, which I'm assuming is too high light for not having c02. Is that right? It looks like even suspending it will be too much light?

And if I'd have to suspend the 36" anyway for a 40b, is it possible to suspend the 30" instead over a 36" long tank and stay within low light without having dark corners?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
For the lightening u can try this, i do that myself. This is my firs Aq 30l
Thanks for the suggestion! I prefer not to go the DIY route with lighting because... I don't know anything about electrical wiring and I don't really have the right tools. So I wouldn't be comfortable trying something like that, though it looks like it works great for you!

Tylt33: I'd totally go the STS route, but I've really fallen for the black substrate look. I considered using Black Diamond blasting grit, but those fine needles aren't all that appealing to me. I'm going to start looking in to MTS or at least MGOPS. Do you have the Ray2 or a Fugeray, and are you using c02? And is a RO/DI system DIYable? Good to know about the frequent Fluval sales, too! I think they were that price for Black Friday. I only started researching equipment prices just after Thanksgiving, so I'm not familiar with what's a good holiday deal or what's average yet.

bikinibottom: You know, I'm not really sure! I was using Lowe's PAR chart for the fugerays, and I'm assuming it would be at substrate-level since the 40b is 16" tall. I'm estimating substrate to be around 3", but the fixture's legs have the light about 3" above the top. So that's still a depth of 16".

Great suggestion about the window screen or floating plants to reduce light! I didn't realize that could be done, but it makes sense. I wouldn't be opposed to using floaters, and even like the idea of plants growing emerged. Is the window screen something that can be attached to a fugeray instead of covering the tank?

Saxtonhill: Welcome! I've been learning a lot at this forum; it's a wealth of information and ideas!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Just purchased the Eheim 2217 (for $113) and a 200w Hydor in-line heater (for only $36) from Big Al's with their Christmas pricing and a 10% coupon! I figured the 2217 was only a few dollars more than the Petco Fluval 306 deal, but I wouldn't have to mess around with new hosing or adapters to hook up the heater to the 306.
 
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