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Starting 120g planted aquarium soon

886 Views 6 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  kwirky
Hey, this is my first post on the forums here.

I'm converting my 120g (48x24x24) reef tank to a planted tank. I'll be using my existing 8 bulb tek light unit with daylight bulbs.

I have a few questions though.

Should I disconnect the sump, and just use a canister filter, or would it not be worth the bother? The sump doesn't have a trickle filter. It just has a few bubble traps that can be easily removed if nessesary.

I'll be using pressurized CO2, and flourite substrate. I'm planning on getting my first batch of plants from, because they seem to be the best available for canada. Would one of the 120+ assortment packs be good, or should I start with a smaller ammount? Should I use fertilizer tabs with each plant planted?

I'm experienced in reef keeping, but the planted tank is a new thing for me. I'm wanting to do it right the first time. I know that's impossible, but the closest I can get the better.

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wow it seem like you started out on the the right track. i would love to have your tek light. i assumed it's t5OH 8x54w bulbs.i usually recommend canister such as fluval fx5, but i dont see anything wrong with sump. i'm pretty sure someone here used sump as well.

also, i don't recommend the 120 assortments. that's way to much money. $180?. i'm pretty sure you can find some good deal in the swap and shop section. probably more then half of the assortments you looking at are low light plants or plants you dont like. you can grow any plants with that tek light. why waste money when you can pick the plants you like. as a matter of fact, some people here even offer plants for free. for the fertilizer, i have flourite substrate and still used fertilizer tab seachem, maybe i'm wrong, but i dont think it will hurt the plants.

hey kwirky, i'm sure if you can keep reef tank then most likely can keep plant tank. so start searching for a good reactor/diffuser and fertilizer also. i bought my from Rex and very satisfied with the products. if you need any help with other information, then here's rex website

good luck with the tank, and keep us update.
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You're in Canada, which means you have access to Tropica plants. Use that privilege.

Root tabs are unnecessary. They mostly just supply micronutrients anyway. They can be helpful for root feeding plants such as Cryptocoryne, Echinodorus, etc.

Why not use Aquasoil instead? Flourite works (I've grown lots of difficult plants in Fluorite), but Aquasoil is the future of planted aquaria.

You could use the sump, but it isn't necessary at all, and could outgas your CO2. Everything can just be plumbed inline with your canister(s) anyway.
Sump filtration is perfectly fine for planted aquaria! I am in fact planning on doing it on my planted tank. I just really like the versatility) The only thing you need to do to the sump is make sure you enclose it (by putting something on the top of it weather it be a glass cover or whatever, you then will not loose your co2. I too was struggling with that and sump filtration but I have read many posts on here proving that as long as you cover the sump you are fine. I think Tom Barr even has a post about it, and I found a site the other day while reading posts on here that had a study on it.

This is from a post by jt20194 in another thread "Reef ready is fine with a planted tank. I prefer the sump for the many things you can do with it. Take a look at my thread on page two and you’ll see how I use it in my Tenecor. I also explain why which I'll highlight here. My next tank is going to be much larger and I’ll use the same approach. In so far as CO2 loss, the biggest loss isn’t from the sump if you inject your CO2 as the final stage to your outflows, it is from the overflow. The fix in the overflow is easy… use a Durso standpipe or equivalent shown in the diagram below (5). Accordingly, the water does not cascade down the overflow causing additional loss. In truth, I would argue that by directing the outlets so the water flow circulates towards the bottom then flows up to overflow your plants will get a nice dosage of CO2 before it gets flushed by the sump. Finally, depending on the type of sump, if you can change the water level in the sump to minimize the surface agitation, this will further reduce CO2 loss. I have a two 10lb CO2 bottles to ensure I have an immediate replacement. If properly sealed, my CO2 bottles last about 5 months each before having to refill and that is with a 100gal tank. I find too often that more CO2 is lost because of poor seals than lost by water surface turbulence. Once I started using good seals my CO2 bottles lasted much longer."

Ah, and I found that post by Tom Barr who does actually post on here quite a bit and is pretty respected in the planted tank world and runs
which has some great info!

here is the clip from his post on this subject.. "CO2 is NOT lost from the wet dry section in the sump if the section is sealed. Tape the air vents etc.
The CO2 is degassed and then resorbed.

Essentially the wet dry filter becomes a giant CO2 reactor.
Some have added CO2 instead of air.
Bacteria use the O2 and respire CO2 in these filters, so the loss is minimal.

The main source of CO2 loss with wet drys are actually in the over flows.
Reducing the distance the water falls into the over flow is wise(2-3" drop is fine) and using a duro or a stockman stand pipe will solve the noise and CO2 loss issue also.

George Booth, myself and Steve Dixon all did independent test and confirmed these findings back many years ago on the APD if you are interested.

Tom Barr"

These posts have convinced me to continue on with planning on using sump type filtration! Hope all this helps! - Josh

sorry about the long reply!
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You're in Canada, which means you have access to Tropica plants. Use that privilege.

Root tabs are unnecessary. They mostly just supply micronutrients anyway. They can be helpful for root feeding plants such as Cryptocoryne, Echinodorus, etc.

Why not use Aquasoil instead? Flourite works (I've grown lots of difficult plants in Fluorite), but Aquasoil is the future of planted aquaria.

You could use the sump, but it isn't necessary at all, and could outgas your CO2. Everything can just be plumbed inline with your canister(s) anyway.
yeah, but i'm in calgary canada. there ain't much in the city here for plants. I had a look at the various stores that have tropica plants, and it's very slim pickings. And they sell them for a whopping $10 a plant! that's why I was going to do mail order through they have a canadian distribution center so I don't have to pay an extra american duty of $85 for the live order. Even with shipping it'd work out to $3 a plant, and it'd be better plants than I can get in canada.

so going with the aquariumplants order, would 120 plants be too many? I'm thinking of disconnecting the sump, because I already have an auto-top off unit for water top off, so I won't have to worry about the water level going up & down.

There's not much available in Canada here. I can order some stuff for cheaper from J&L aquatics in vancouver, but most of it's reef oriented. One good thing about living in Calgary is we have one of the best LFS stores to get fish from in canada, though, and it's only 5 minutes from my house :). People road trip 3 hours to buy stuff from this store...
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your good to go, i have the same tank and light and love it, you will want to put the 2 banks of lights on sepparate timers. i run 4 bulbs for 10 hours and add 4 more for a noon burst for 3 hours. youll find that most plants grow fine with only 216 w of light from that fixture. i would look at aquasoil as well, i just dont like how rough flourite is, not to mention the reddish color. i dont have a sump, but just run an eheim 2026 for biological and a magnum hot for water polishing. good luck, the 120g is almost perfect for planted tanks.
Ok, LOTS of questions, sorry for the long read... I'm trying to do something not many people in my city do, compared to marine aquariums, so most of my info has to come from online.

looked into it, and I can't get aquasoil in canada, so looks like I'm stuck with using flourite.

I've thought about buying my plants locally (tropica plants are usually found in the LFS's here) in a small quantity, then wait for them to grow out and fill in the tank. They're usually $10 a plant, but I'd get to pick my plants individually and I'd know exactly what I'm getting. No mail order surprises. Just be a pain to find good plants. All the plants for sale here are covered in algae in makeshift systems. You have to look real hard, because only about 10% of the plants in each store are worth buying.

I'm switching from a saltwater reef aquarium to a planted tank because of my student budget, so even though I have summer employment money right now, I'm still trying to keep the startup cost down. :)

I have a little 20g test/learning tank i've started, while waiting to sell off the last of my saltwater livestock. It's using a flourite substrate, 65W pc bulb, and pressurized CO2 with a DIY gravel vac diffuser and AC 30 HOB filter with just cermic in it. I've noticed the plant growth is FAST (compared to corals anyways lol). So I'm thinking of getting just enough plants to start the tank, then fill it in with cuttings and such. It'll be a hell of a lot faster than waiting for coral to grow, I'm assuming ;)

With the T5 bulbs and the pressurized CO2, I think I should be fine starting with like 25 plants or so. Yeah, I had a feeling I'd have to run only half my lights for most of the day. I bleach corals with my lights, I'm sure plants would feel the same way too.

Now the REAL area I'm confused over lately is fertilizing. I'm thinking of starting an EI system of fertilization initially to fill in the tank. What are other people's fertilizer experiences for large aquariums? I'm thinking I won't have to seriously worry until about a month after the tank's started.

I'm planning on a kind of "wild" look, without too much "artificial" looking aquascaping, so I think whichever method provides the best growth would be the most favored by me.

It's just been hard to source out stuff here in Canada. I thought finding reef oriented goods was hard, it's even harder to find planted tank stuff without paying through the nose compared to US prices, even though the exchange's so good.

Oh, and tap water vs. RO water. I have an RO unit already. We have fairly good water locally, but I've noticed browning leaves on some of the large-leafed plants in my little 20g I've started. Looked it up and it's possibly caused by excess phosphates. Should I worry about my local water supply then and use my RO unit, or just dump water straight from the tap in? If I were to use RO water, what's a good way to "remineralize" it. In saltwater aquariums, you just throw in your salt mix and you're done. Maybe add a little calcium and alkalinity, but nothing beyond that, usually. But in freshwater aquariums, I haven't found such "quick" mix methods yet.

Oh and how are heavily planted aquariums usually stocked for fish? What's too many, and what's a good ammount? I'm thinking of small shoaling/schooling fish in particular.
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