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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys,

I just recently moved to start grad school and had to sell my 30g community, my shrimp tank, and my daphnia tank.

When I got here I didn't think I'd start a tank at all given that I'll be pretty busy with school but the itch has returned (along with some Multiple Tank Syndrome starting up :confused1:). Anyway long story short I looked around and got a great deal on a 46G Bowfront with a nice oak stand. I've fill-tested it and it stands empty now in my living room.

Current equipment plans:

Rena XP3 Filter (to buy)
110W Coralife
Ecocomplete or Amazonia soil (suggestions appreciated since I've never worked with this kind of substrate, only with sand, do I use it alone or can I put sand on top?)
150W Heater
CO2 System (thinking DIY but definitely open to pressurized since it seems like lower maintenance)

Here's what I'm thinking now:

Fish and Shrimp
-Definitely shrimp, most likely CRS (I've had RCS and I don't want to have the tank too overpopulated with them)
-Some small fish (I used to keep Rasbora Espeii and I want to go smaller even though I loved my rasboras), I'm thinking either CPDs or Microrasbora Erythrimicron
-Aspidoras, if I can find them (Aspidora pauciradiatus)
-Perhaps eventually CPOs when the tank is stable (they are supposed to be fine with shrimp)

Thoughts on additional livestock? Otos?

Plants (so far, suggestions welcome)

-HC or Glosso as carpet
-Flame Moss
-Sußwassertang
-Wisteria


Advice /Suggestions solicited on:
-Filter (should I buy the Rena or an Eheim)
-Substrate (Eco-complete? Mineralized soil? Aquasoil? Simple sand and just dose?)
-CO2 System (DIY or Pressurized - I'm a poor and busy med student...so balancing cost and time commitment)
-Plants (definitely looking for some suggestions on colorful stuff and I like thin-leafed stuff like wisteria; I'm at a loss b/c I've only done low-tech before so I was a big crypt, anubias, etc. guy)
 

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I've tried Eheim, Marineland, Fluval and have a new Filstar to set up next. Really, they all have their pros and cons but I guess overall, I preferred my Eheims and Marineland (C series) over the Fluval. Everyone seems to have a favorite but I don't have any real complaints about any of them.

As far as substrate, it depends on how much money you want to sink into it. Mineralized soil is probably going to be your best compromise between AS and inert substrates. I love AS but I'm not about to fork over the money for enough to fill anything over 20 gallons with it, especially when people are having such great results with mineralized.

I've never regretted going with pressurized on my tanks, even on a second tank when I economized a little and went with a paintball setup. I did DIY for a couple of months on my 58 gallon and that got old pretty fast so, if you can swing it, even just buying a good quality used regulator/tank (there are always some for sale either on the Swap & Shop or even Craigslist) will probably make you happier in the long run.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the advice. I think I am going to go with the Rena XP3 because I found it for the cheapest and the local Petsmart will pricematch an online price so I am getting it for like $100.

I am still deciding on the substrate. I really agree that mineralized seems like a good option but I have no idea where I can get it...there's a guy on the forum selling it but I'm wondering if I can get it locally. Where could I try?

Otherwise, My LFS has Eco-complete but they have it at $35 for 20 lb...which is ridiculous given that I can get it shipped for $25/lb. Plus I didn't like the differing granule size and given that it'll take me ~80 lb of Ecocomplete to do the tank and about 27 liter of Aquasoil it seems as though the price difference between AS and EC is about $20. Maybe I'll just go inert and get pool sand and obligate myself to dosing ferts since it doesn't make sense to me to spend >$100 on substrate when my maximal startup budget (for the filter, substrate, initial plants, and livestock) is $500 and since I'd kind of like to buy new light bulbs it's really about $425.

I really like the idea of pressurized CO2 as you mentioned because I really am busy with school but idk if I have the money for the initial investment given that a system big enough seems to go for >$100 even on SnS on this forum. So I'll have to think about that, but in the interim I might just push DIY (although it'd be nice to have pressurized at startup since I could push high CO2 and get some nice plant growth before introducing livestock).
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hm...ok after reading a bit I don't think I have the time to mineralize my own topsoil + I'm a little wary of the algae outbreaks that people experience when using this substrate with high-light.

Right now it looks like I'm considering AS, Eco-complete, Fluorite, and inert (Pool filter sand or colorquartz). Thoughts?

Also has anyone heard of this AquariumPlants.com Substrate?

http://www.aquariumplants.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=SS

Someone mentioned it in another thread and it looks like it'd save me about $50 at least on the AS and Eco-Complete stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Anyone? Thoughts and suggestions will be helpful since I'm really stuck on which way to go here. On one hand the inert substrate is cheap but dosing will get costly; conversely ADA AS is expensive to start but inexpensive to maintain since much less dosing.

So really would love some suggestions or maybe other options to consider pleeeease. Thanks!
 

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ADA Amazonia I is the best bang for hte buck for purchased Substrate, I highly recommend it. I've used others in the past but this is all I will use now.
 

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Invert1,
I never got the algae outbreak using MS. I started with a shorter photoperiod and worked my way up.
I did the same thing you did and I haven't got an "algae outbreak" either. I did however get a bit of algae on some rocks and a little on the glass but once I raised the lights and cut back on the photoperiod I haven't experienced it again.

All I had to cap the mineralized soil with was aquasoil, so thats what I used. I've been diligent with waterchanges every 2 - 3 days and I also use purigen in my canister filter so perhaps thats what has been saving me from getting algae. I also have been dosing ferts using EI to get the plants established.

invert1, if you are interested in mineralized soil those guys are the ones to get it from. They are both great individuals with even better mineralized soil. :biggrin:

Coltonorr and Torpedobarb, thanks again for taking care of me. :proud:

Dan
 

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I'd go with mineralized too but if you don't get mineralized or Aquasoil, go with whatever you like at the price you're willing to pay. Like I said, everything other than the above two are almost completely inert so, there's no use in paying the high price for Eco-Complete or Flourite unless you just prefer the way they look over everything else. Pool filter sand is dirt cheap and if you like the way it looks, I'd go with it.

If you're planning on using dry ferts, it's actually relatively inexpensive. I buy my dry ferts by the pound about once every other year for a 58 gallon. I dosed Seachem for my first year in the hobby and that was ridiculously expensive but dry ferts is a nice cheap way to go.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Huzzah for responses! I was getting kind of despondent on deciding because I can't cycle my tank or get going until I picked a substrate. Given all the positive responses for MS I am sold and so I'll go that way.

I thought about doing it myself but given how much rain we get here (we're on the Gulf so it rains more than Seattle) I think it would be ill-advised. I'll read through Torpedobarb's thread and drop him a line.

Thanks a lot all. Pictures will follow!
 

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Hm...ok after reading a bit I don't think I have the time to mineralize my own topsoil + I'm a little wary of the algae outbreaks that people experience when using this substrate with high-light.

Right now it looks like I'm considering AS, Eco-complete, Fluorite, and inert (Pool filter sand or colorquartz). Thoughts?

Also has anyone heard of this AquariumPlants.com Substrate?

http://www.aquariumplants.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=SS

Someone mentioned it in another thread and it looks like it'd save me about $50 at least on the AS and Eco-Complete stuff.
I also have an 46G bowfront and is using AquariumPlants.com Substrate. I am not able to carpet HC at all on the right side of my tank. The tiny plants don't root well and keep floating to the surface. It could be something wrong with me and the tank and has nothing to do with the substrate, but I am thinking of changing out the substrate to AS in hope of growing HC as a lawn. Today, I added some Eco on top of a few strands of HC on the right side to see if that helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hmm...thanks for the heads-up MB2. I was definitely curious about that one since it seemed too good to be true - same quality results but half the cost.

Their guarantee of growth is really sketch too - we guarantee the substrate if you buy your lights, tank, hood, and plants from us. o_O
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Yeah on the one hand I feel really excited about mineralized but on the other hand I want something lower maintenance as a substrate since I'm a student and likely won't have the time to be dealing with algae outbreaks or a whole lot of tweaking.

It seems like eco-complete is not a value add much beyond inert sand so I think my options become sand, Aquasoil, or Mineralized. Still not sure which way to go but I think I could get away with 3 9L bags of AS so it seems like the options would cost about $20, $110, and $? respectively cost-wise. I do want to do the tank right but the cost of the AS is definitely off-putting since I'm on a limited budget. Plus with AS or mineralized I will be putting off the startup of my tank about a month (since I'll have to wait on the soil to come in and then have to cycle the tank after vs. just going to the store and picking up sand).

If mineralized is not too difficult to get going with I think I'll just hold off of starting up for a month ( :( ).

But that being said perhaps this will give me the opportunity to set up a 5G with a pea puffer if I can find one around here (no one seems to sell them) in the interim. Uh oh Multiple Tank Syndrome...
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Ok so I figured I'd give an update even though there's not much to report since nothing picture-worthy has happened.

We just got done with our first block of tests and so I feel a little brutalized. I am hoping to have a tank set up and running soon b/c I find it relaxing to scape and mess with stuff when I am stressed, but it seems like many elements are dependent on each other before I can get rolling with planting and stocking.

Here's where I am:

First off big thanks to Coltonorr - my mineralized has arrived, and I am just waiting on my inert substrate in order to put it in the the tank.

Finally decided to go with 3M Colorquartz; I found a local dealer with it and he said he'd give me a deal on it - $18/bag + $9 (total) to ship it! But alas, it was not meant to be and they had to bump the price to $24/bag (which is still ok) but they'll be delivering to my house for like $5 so not too bad. Anyway, picking up 100 lbs just to be sure I have enough for future tanks etc. That should be here Fri and is the main hold up.

Also exciting news in that my LFS can order CPOs for me @ $15/each!! Not sure if I can get sexed ones but if I can get 3-4 then I'll let them settle in with the CRS and see if I get some breeding. Very excited about that since I can be more sure that they'll survive if they're local. Unfortunately they can't get me a pea puffer though so will have to figure out something else to do with the 5G I picked up.

Finally, deciding a bit more on plants - going with Rotala Indica, Flame Moss for sure (to cover some hardscape I plan to build in), HC for ground cover / carpet. More suggestions definitely appreciated though.
 
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