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Discussion Starter #1
Hello. I’m very new and trying to get equipment ordered for my 17 gallon rimless tank (ADA 60-P). My goal is to set up a low-tech tank with lots of suitable plants — would like it to look great and lush but not jungle-style, and will eventually have some tiny schooling fish like chili rasboras etc.

I’m reading a lot here and elsewhere , using the search function and trying to decide which light fixture and filter to buy, to the point that I’m slightly more confused than I started 😉.

Right now I’m leaning toward the Finnex Planted+ 24/7 HLC light fixture, and maybe an AquaClear or Dymax Slim Flo filter. I prefer to use a HOB filter but hope to find one that strikes a good balance between working very well and looking as invisible/unobtrusive as possible).

If anyone has words of advice regarding these choices, I’d be very glad to have them. Thanks.
 

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I'd take the aquaclear over the slim flo unless you're willing to "hot rod" the slimflo to be able to use your own media. The replaceable filters for the slim flo all have activated carbon which can be annoying if you need to medicate your tank for any reason and also if you plan to use indian almond leaves to darken the water.

The aquaclear is ready out of the gate for custom filter media, but are admittedly a little louder as the plastic pieces tend to rattle against each other.
 

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I have an AquaClear and have no complaints. I think the filtration part of planted tanks is probably the least critical piece of hardware. Plants do a good bit of the work themselves, so really you just need to be sure the water is getting pushed around. That said, most people don't run carbon all the time, so it's typical for people to replace the carbon cartridge it comes from with more foam. (Save the carbon in case you need it later for a specific reason later.)

The big thing with lighting a low tech tank is that it's easy to go too bight for too long. That fixture running full blast is definitely going to be too much, but you can fix that by adjusting the brightness with the remote. (FWIW, I prefer the Planted+ ALC because I prefer the 660 nm red diodes. I'm not sold that they are really that important for the plants, but I like the color tone better. YMMV)

Next up you need to figure out your substrate and fertilization plan. Figuring that out is going to be far more important than which HOB you go with.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you Roboto. I am very willing to play around with filtration media. I feel like the Dymax Slim Flo might be less obtrusive than the AquaClear, and +1 if it might be more quiet too. But I’ve not seen a lot of reviews about its functionality or durability, and also haven’t seen much info from people using it who went the DIY route with materials. It also might be a little too small inside to accommodate as much material as I might need? I know the AquaClear has a solid reputation so might go that way, but it seems like it might look too visible — but perhaps it’s no more visible than the Dymax!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
And thank you too, ElleDee. Good to hear another vote for AquaClear. And I will look at the Finnex ALC version now — there are a few versions of that light and it’s hard for me to tell what might be best for me. Thank you for pointing it out to me. I was expecting that I’d need to run the Finnex light in “less than max” mode. But especially since I plan to have floating plants, it doesn’t seem like a bad idea to have a little extra light power to play with if needed, so long as I can turn it down enough for low- and medium-light plants.

FYI on my LFS’ recommendation, I already bought a bag of ADA Amazonia Ver. 2 (comes in a bag with a packet of pellets as well as the substrate itself). Hope that was a good move.

Nothing is set up yet. The LFS man gave me a deal ($50) on the ADA 60-P because it is lightly used. I also bought some spider driftwood from him (it looks very very clean, but I think I need to soak that before trying to set it up in the tank?). I’m just trying to learn as much as I can before I buy anything else. Thanks to you and Roboto for helping me do that!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Shoot. Looks like the Finnex planted+ ALC might be just the ticket, but I don’t see a lot of sources for the 24” unit I will need.
 

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Yeah, Amazonia is great to work with. It has a few particularities you should be familiar with (leeches lots of ammonia at first, temporarily buffers kH and pH), so definitely read up about using it, but I don't think you'll regret it.

Too bad about the 24" ALC being hard to find. I knew they didn't make that many of the ALC in the initial run and it is unclear if Finnex going to make more or not, so that might be the cause. It won't make or break your tank though, lots of other options will work. I have a low tech 20 long running on an old single Stingray I and a timer.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks x2, ElleDee. I’ll read up on the Amazonia before I open the bag. And I’ll look a little harder for the ALC. If I don’t find one, I’ll just go with the CRV or something else.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Another question — if I’m trying to choose, say, an AquaClear HOB filter, what size should I choose for the 17 gal low-tech tank with low and medium light plants and 15-25 chili rasboras-sized fish I’m planning on keeping one day? I see that AquaClear offers several sizes and thought the size intended for tanks up to 20 gals would be good, but then wondered if the next size up (for 10-30 gals) might be better (or overkill).
TIA!
 

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I’d get the 30. You can never go wrong by having more surface areas media. Chili rasboras don’t like a lot of flow so running with more media and lower flow will be good for them since you can adjust. They also like a low ph and really soft water. They pair really nicely with caridina shrimp since they are both happiest an soft acidic water if you feel like adding shrimp.

Another question — if I’m trying to choose, say, an AquaClear HOB filter, what size should I choose for the 17 gal low-tech tank with low and medium light plants and 15-25 chili rasboras-sized fish I’m planning on keeping one day? I see that AquaClear offers several sizes and thought the size intended for tanks up to 20 gals would be good, but then wondered if the next size up (for 10-30 gals) might be better (or overkill).
TIA!
 

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Any particular reason you want to go with the HOB? You're free to make any decision you like, but a canister filter would be less intrusive, hold more media, and allow you to plumb things inline like heaters or CO2 (if you ever decide to go there). Plus, you can use Lily pipes for in the tank, which are just plain sexy. I would strongly recommend at least looking at a canister if your situation would allow it.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Yes jellopuddinpop — the very expensive leak I had with my canister about 20 years ago that ruined our hardwood floor was enough to put me off canisters! I’m sure canister technology is improved since then, and I’d love to use lily pipes instead of an ugly HOB, but that experience sticks with me. Plus I’m planning to set up on a sturdy table and the canister and whatever water-containment measures I’d take would be in full view, so not 100% beautiful either. But I’d be interested in anything anyone wants to suggest — I really appreciate the opportunity to learn. Thanks very much!
 

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@mickmac

I completely understand, and that would make me gun shy too. Just remember that most leaks like this are user error, so slow and careful is mostly safe. A lot (majority?) of planted tanks are run with canisters, and they're usually very safe. What caused your leak the last time?

Regardless, you do you. Best of luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Jellopuddinpop, it’s been a long time since that leak and I can’t quite remember what happened. I seem to think it involved a failure on the canister’s part, compounded by a little operator error. Unfortunately, the same operator is at the helm now !!!
 

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Hi mickmac, your build sounds like a lot of fun. Looking forward to seeing it come together.

Not an expert, but have a thought for another filter option. Have you thought of running a UNS Delta 60 filter? They're a little pricey, but might fit your requirements: functionally a canister filter but with a 2-in-1 design that allows you to run it as a HOB; three media trays; good filter capacity for the 60P; fairly aesthetically appealing; very quiet. I haven't seen a lot of messages on this board about that particular filter, but have it running here on a 20g long (canister style) and quite happy with it. A little pricey RRP. Has definitely got flow, but stacked with media and with the spray bar on you would be able to throttle it fine.

For lighting, the new Twinstar B series might be up your alley. I think the specs might be comparable to the Finnex. Does not come with a remote, but you can get controllers to run dimming programs. https://twinstareu.com/light/b-line/
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thank you, carseatdust! Interesting ...
How do you have your UNS canister set up? I looked it up — seems like it would be pretty heavy and bulky to use as a HOB? Is it small enough to easily fit on a table top between the aquarium back and the wall behind it? Looked at the Twinstar B series too — thanks god that suggestion.
 

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Hmm, it certainly would be bigger than your average HOB when filled with media and water, but it's not a huge unit. The filter parts themselves are actually quite light. Looking at the dimensions of filter vs. tank, if you were to hang it on the back it would take up about half the back of your tank which might be a bit much?
Delta 60: 7.17" L x 4.8" W x 10.24" H
Landen 60P: 23.6" L × 11.8" W × 14.2" H
But you could also hang it off the side of the tank, and that might work a treat (only concern might then be the flow rate if you use the spout, but again you might just have to get a little creative with media and the spout). Here's a video (not by me, but I did find it informative!) of the filter in action and being put through its paces that might give you a bit of a more "real world" sense than the UNS product videos:

The setup on the tank at home here is: 20gal long tank on a sturdy shelf, filter on the floor besides shelf, in and out tubing running four feet from filter taps to lily pipes on same side of tank. On the outflow, heater and CO2 are running in-line. (Filtration is good, flow is lower than HOB, so added a hydor koralia 240gph in between lily pipes, especially given tank length.)
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks. Watched the video. Looks like a high quality unit for sure. But also looks a lot more complicated and expensive to run than the humble HOB option. I think I’ll stick with that route for now as I get my feet wet (hopefully just figuratively); I can upgrade later if the HOB isn’t cutting it.
 

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@mickmac sounds good, glad the video helped with the decision! I quite enjoy how the chap behind the video refers to the filter as "little rascal" constantly.

Nothing wrong with a "humble HOB"! Many are well made and have ample options for custom media. The other tank at my place happily runs a secondhand Rena Smart Filter 20. A major appeal of that unit was the ability to add a heater to the filter intake, to limit clutter inside the tank. Should be plenty of models that do that, so something else to look out for if that is a priority.
 
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