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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey, PlantedTank Community.

This thread has taken a turn. Below is a quote from my post further down.

_ReApEr said:
Maybe this is what I should do. Perhaps I should just post everything I've got in the tank, all equipment, all that stuff and say, "If you guys had $600 to spend upgrading this tank, what would you do?" I imagine that would give me a ton of ideas and excellent input on where to go with this tank. So, here goes!

Equipment:
Tank: Standard 29g.
Filtration: 2 AC50s with charcoal replaced with another biobag; sponge filters on intake as prefilter (so the ghost shrimp don't get blended)
Lighting: Single 65w compact fluorescent, dual daylight 6700°K/10000°K in a Single Satellite fixture
Heating: 150w Visi-Therm Stealth
Thermometer: Coralife digital

Uhm, I think that's it... let me know if I forgot something obvious.

Fauna:
- 7 Cardinal Tetras
- 2 Neon Tetras
- 2 Albino Corys
- 2 Bronze Corys
- 2 Flying Foxes
- 3 Otos
- ~8 Ghost Shrimp

Flora:
Crypts
Amazon Swords
Moneywort
Java Moss
Here is a picture of the tank for an idea of how many plants are in it.

Misc.:
60lbs of Eco Complete
2 pieces of mopani driftwood (see the above picture for an idea of how big)

I think that's it. So, what would you guys do? I definitely do want CO2. I also would like to have some "higher end" plants in the future, particularly a red one. Hit me with some ideas, guys!
So, I've got a 29g tank that currently has just over two watts per gallon over it (65w), and I'm wanting to upgrade it by [STRIKE]doubling that to 130w[/STRIKE] and adding pressurized CO2. I was looking for pointers and advice, what to expect, etc.
EDIT: No longer planning on doubling watts. Maybe goig from 65w - 96w, but not doubling.

Here's some info on the tank.

Fauna:
- 7 Cardinal Tetras
- 2 Neon Tetras
- 2 Albino Corys
- 2 Bronze Corys
- 2 Flying Foxes
- 3 Otos
- ~8 Ghost Shrimp

Flora:
Here is a picture of the tank for an idea of how many plants are in it. There are Crypts (not sure of which species), Amazon Swords, Moneywort, and Java Moss.

Fertilizing regimen:
Sunday: no ferts, 50% water change
Monday: 12.5mL Flourish Excel, 2.1mL Flourish
Tuesday: 2.5mL Flourish Excel
Wednesday: 2.5mL Flourish Excel, 4.1mL Flourish Potassium
Thursday: 2.5mL Flourish Excel
Friday: 2.5mL Flourish Excel, 2.1mL Flourish, 4.1mL Flourish Potassium
Saturday: 2.5 mL Flourish Excel
EDIT: I also use Flourish Tabs

I am running 2 AC50s on it. I've read that HOBs can be problematic with injection. How much so? Will it make it pointless to even inject? Should I even bother with CO2 without replacing the HOBs with a canister?

I am looking at getting the Choice CO2 System from Green Leaf Aquariums, which I've read around here are pretty good systems. I am also looking at getting this Coralife compact fluorescent fixture. Does anyone have any input on either of these?

Is there anything else I should be looking at? What should I expect when I get things running? I assume I should start out slow with the CO2, is that correct? Will I need to run an airstone at night with a pH controller?

Thanks, everyone, in advance!
 

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So, I've got a 29g tank that currently has just over two watts per gallon over it (65w), and I'm wanting to upgrade it by doubling that to 130w and adding pressurized CO2.
This will be a lot of light you plan to have over your tank. I hope you know what you're getting into ;)

Fauna:
- 7 Cardinal Tetras
- 2 Neon Tetras
- 2 Albino Corys
- 2 Bronze Corys
- 2 Flying Foxes
- 3 Otos
- ~8 Ghost Shrimp
A few problems with your stocking (mainly increasing Cory schools, the Neon tetra school, etc).

Fertilizing regimen:
Sunday: no ferts, 50% water change
Monday: 12.5mL Flourish Excel, 2.1mL Flourish
Tuesday: 2.5mL Flourish Excel
Wednesday: 2.5mL Flourish Excel, 4.1mL Flourish Potassium
Thursday: 2.5mL Flourish Excel
Friday: 2.5mL Flourish Excel, 2.1mL Flourish, 4.1mL Flourish Potassium
Saturday: 2.5 mL Flourish Excel
Once you start injecting CO2, you can stop using Excel. However, with your planned 4+ WPG over your tank, the Seachem line of fertilizers will get expensive very quickly. In addition, with that much light, you will be driving your plants very hard, so there will be an increased demand for fertilizers. I highly recommend the EI dosing method.

I am running 2 AC50s on it. I've read that HOBs can be problematic with injection. How much so? Will it make it pointless to even inject? Should I even bother with CO2 without replacing the HOBs with a canister?
You can use HOBs while injecting CO2; it will not be pointless. You will have increased off-gassing of the CO2, however, you can crank up the CO2 to compensate of the off-gassing. To help prevent excessive CO2 loss, try to minimize the surface agitation/turbulence by filling up the tank higher (i.e. the distance from the HOB return to the surface of the water is less).

I am looking at getting the Choice CO2 System from Green Leaf Aquariums, which I've read around here are pretty good systems.
Orlando runs a great company, and has great customer support for his products.

Is there anything else I should be looking at?
You could consider building your own CO2 regulator, if you feel adventurous ;)

What should I expect when I get things running?
Explosive plant growth, or, if things don't go according to plan, an algae farm :(

I assume I should start out slow with the CO2, is that correct? Will I need to run an airstone at night with a pH controller
If you invest in a drop checker, you will be able to determine your CO2 levels at-a-glance, so you can crank your CO2 higher to start off with. With a pH controller, you will not need to run an airstone at night. Some people like to run the pH controller on a timer, as there is really no need to inject CO2 at night just to keep the pH constant. Fish are used to such pH swings (as a result of CO2 injection and/or loss).

Personally, I would skip out on the pH controller; while fancy, it isn't really needed.
 

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I think your tank would be better served if you leave the lighting as is for now, invest in a pressurized CO2 system, canister filter and get yourself some dry ferts. Currently you are not dosing any macros except K and since you are using the Seachem liquid version are adding a very diluted solution to the tank. If you double the light without providing proper macro and micro nutrients and adequate stable CO2 levels you will most likely experience stunted plants and algae instead of increased plant growth. Concentrate on optimizing your tank using the existing light, you should find that you don't need to double the amount of light to get good growth and healthy plants.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
This will be a lot of light you plan to have over your tank. I hope you know what you're getting into ;)
LOL, I don't, not really. Based on the two replies here, I've already decided not to double it. Maybe 96w with this?

Darkblade48 said:
A few problems with your stocking (mainly increasing Cory schools, the Neon tetra school, etc).
The Neons seem to think they're Cardinals, so they school and seem quite happy with them. As far as I understand, I'm pretty much fully stocked for 25g of water (85% tank volume). Is that correct?

Darkblade48 said:
Once you start injecting CO2, you can stop using Excel. However, with your planned 4+ WPG over your tank, the Seachem line of fertilizers will get expensive very quickly. In addition, with that much light, you will be driving your plants very hard, so there will be an increased demand for fertilizers. I highly recommend the EI dosing method.
How about with just 96w over it? I forgot to mention, I do use Flourish Tabs, too.

Darkblade48 said:
You can use HOBs while injecting CO2; it will not be pointless. You will have increased off-gassing of the CO2, however, you can crank up the CO2 to compensate of the off-gassing. To help prevent excessive CO2 loss, try to minimize the surface agitation/turbulence by filling up the tank higher (i.e. the distance from the HOB return to the surface of the water is less).
Yeah, that's what I was planning on doing: keeping the water level high for less agitation. It's nice to know I can compensate for the off-gassing by turning the rate up.

Darkblade48 said:
You could consider building your own CO2 regulator, if you feel adventurous ;)
How much cheaper, would you say, is it to build one yourself? I'm fine with DIYing if significantly cheaper, but if not, I'd rather leave out the chance for my error. ;p

Darkblade48 said:
Personally, I would skip out on the pH controller; while fancy, it isn't really needed.
If I just used a solenoid to stop it at night, would I then need an airstone at night? And the pH swing isn't actually that bad? Keep in mind the CO2 will gas off a little quicker with my HOBs, resulting in a quicker pH swing, right?



I think your tank would be better served if you leave the lighting as is for now, invest in a pressurized CO2 system, canister filter and get yourself some dry ferts. Currently you are not dosing any macros except K and since you are using the Seachem liquid version are adding a very diluted solution to the tank. If you double the light without providing proper macro and micro nutrients and adequate stable CO2 levels you will most likely experience stunted plants and algae instead of increased plant growth. Concentrate on optimizing your tank using the existing light, you should find that you don't need to double the amount of light to get good growth and healthy plants.
Like I amended above, I do actually use dry fertilizers: Flourish Tabs. I am also no longer considering doubling it, maybe adding ~50% (65w - 96w). I would love to replace the HOBs with a canister, but here's the thing: I'm one of the people that wants to "go big or go home" and I want an Eheim when I upgrade to a canister. Those aren't cheap, and I'm kind of on a budget here. I'm not wanting to spend more than ~$600 this upgrade. Maybe later down the line.


Thank you, both, for your input, I truly appreciate it. I'm very glad I posted here before impulse buying and turning my tank into an algae-fest.
 

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For a $600 upgrade:

Eheim 2215
Keep your current lighting get a new feresh bulb
CO2 regulator, Diffuser, couple check vlaves, bubble counter, 5lb CO2 tank, tubing
Get some dry ferts. FLOURISH TABS Don't count as dry ferts. you need to look into KNO3, K2SO4, KH2PO4, CSM+B trace mix you can get from GLA for around $20 for the kit.

Should come in under $500 and you cna get yourself some scaping materials and plants if you want to spend a bit more!
 

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The Neons seem to think they're Cardinals, so they school and seem quite happy with them. As far as I understand, I'm pretty much fully stocked for 25g of water (85% tank volume). Is that correct?
I would agree and say that you are fully stocked.

How about with just 96w over it? I forgot to mention, I do use Flourish Tabs, too.
Dry fertilizers are not the same as root tabs. Dry fertilizers are bulk chemicals that achieve the same result as the more expensive (and extremely dilute) Seachem fertilizers.

How much cheaper, would you say, is it to build one yourself? I'm fine with DIYing if significantly cheaper, but if not, I'd rather leave out the chance for my error. ;p
It can be significantly cheaper if you are patient and wait for the best deals. Left C managed to pick up a Swagelok metering valve for $0.99 while herns picked up a Concoa dual stage regulator for $9.99 (the metering valve would normally go for ~$100, while the regulator is perhaps $200-300)

If I just used a solenoid to stop it at night, would I then need an airstone at night?
No, you would not need an airstone at night. The solenoid will shut off CO2 flow to your tank.

And the pH swing isn't actually that bad? Keep in mind the CO2 will gas off a little quicker with my HOBs, resulting in a quicker pH swing, right?
Your fish will be fine.

Like I amended above, I do actually use dry fertilizers: Flourish Tabs.
And as I mentioned, root tabs are not dry fertilizers :)

I'm not wanting to spend more than ~$600 this upgrade. Maybe later down the line.
I set up a pressurized setup for ~$200, so that still leaves you $400 for a nice canister filter!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
LOL, alright, alright, so is the general consensus here that I should keep my 65w and scrap the new light fixture for a canister filter? I do want to be able to have higher light plants in the tank in the future. When calculating WPG, is it best to do it based on the water volume or the total volume of the tank? For water volume (85% total volume), I have about 2.6 WPG. For total volume, I get About 2.2 WPG. My understanding is that this range of light will only support a relatively small spectrum of the types of plants available. Am I right?

Maybe this is what I should do. Perhaps I should just post everything I've got in the tank, all equipment, all that stuff and say, "If you guys had $600 to spend upgrading this tank, what would you do?" I imagine that would give me a ton of ideas and excellent input on where to go with this tank. So, here goes!

Equipment:
Tank: Standard 29g.
Filtration: 2 AC50s with charcoal replaced with another biobag; sponge filters on intake as prefilter (so the ghost shrimp don't get blended)
Lighting: Single 65w compact fluorescent, dual daylight 6700°K/10000°K in a Single Satellite fixture
Heating: 150w Visi-Therm Stealth
Thermometer: Coralife digital

Uhm, I think that's it... let me know if I forgot something obvious.

Fauna:
- 7 Cardinal Tetras
- 2 Neon Tetras
- 2 Albino Corys
- 2 Bronze Corys
- 2 Flying Foxes
- 3 Otos
- ~8 Ghost Shrimp

Flora:
Crypts
Amazon Swords
Moneywort
Java Moss
Here is a picture of the tank for an idea of how many plants are in it.

Misc.:
60lbs of Eco Complete
2 pieces of mopani driftwood (see the above picture for an idea of how big)

I think that's it. So, what would you guys do? I definitely do want CO2. I also would like to have some "higher end" plants in the future, particularly a red one. Hit me with some ideas, guys!

Thanks again!

EDIT: Couple questions I forgot about.

Does the Eco Complete need to be replaced periodically? If so, how often?
Also, with dry fertilizers (the real ones), how do you administer them? Can you just dump them in the tank or do you need to get them into the substrate somehow? If the latter, how?
 

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60# of Eco Complete is too much. 2 bags is plenty.
You just dump dry ferts into the tank. Plants get them from the water.

I'd get a Rena XP3, a Hydor inline heater, a nice co2 regulator w/bubble counter, check valves, and solenoid, 10# tank, and make an in-line reactor. Should be well under $600.
 

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build an awesome co2 system and then save the rest of the money for upgrading the tank size etc...
one day when you go bigger you will have to buy everything all over again so save it and just go big with it later
build a sump system for around 3 bills... and get a large tank and stand on craigslist or something for around 3 bills...
 

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yeah i have the Rena XP3 working on my 120g tank and have had it for at least 5 or 6 years, have never had ANY problems at all with it, minimal cleaning (i only do like once every 3-4 weeks but its not overloaded with fish) and water parameters are still clean
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I love the idea of having a canister filter and everyone seems to be leaning in that direction. I also love, love the idea of having an inline heater and reactor. Less stuff in the tank = win. Time to research DIYing an inline reactor.

Keep the input flowing, I haven't made any decisions, just researching all possibilities.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
For filters, I'm looking at either the FilStar XP3 or the Eheim Pro II 2028. I know asking this is taboo for some people, but does anyone have any recommendations between the two? The Eheim is $100 more than the FilStar. Is that due to quality or name or what? For CO2, I'm looking at the Primo regulator and a 5lb. tank from GLA and building an inline reactor. And, for inline heating, this Hydor heater.

Opinions? With these options, I'm looking at either $500 or $600, depending on the filter. So, I guess I'm mainly wanting input between those.

And if anyone still has suggestions for me, please do feel free to let me know. I will be waiting at least a week before I buy anything, to be sure I get as much advice as I can before I break down and buy.

Thanks, guys!
 

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Double check with where you will be getting your co2 filled before you buy a tank.
I like GLA, but I'd never buy a co2 tank there. Buy one locally at a fire extinguisher store and it will come filled for free, and chances are, it will be much much cheaper (I paid $60 I believe for a 10# aluminum, filled, and $35 for 15# steel). Also, you may find that a 10# is about the same price to fill as a 5#, so it is a better value, and they are about the same diameter, the 10# is just taller.
 

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When calculating WPG, is it best to do it based on the water volume or the total volume of the tank? For water volume (85% total volume), I have about 2.6 WPG. For total volume, I get About 2.2 WPG. My understanding is that this range of light will only support a relatively small spectrum of the types of plants available. Am I right?
I have always calculated based on total volume of the tank. If the tank is (say) a 10g, I divide the number of watts by 10, and so forth. I have never heard of dividing by the water volume (85% of the total volume seems to be arbitrary as well).

Don't forget that the WPG was designed as a guideline, and does not need to be followed strictly. This is especially true in tanks smaller than 10g, and tanks larger than ~90g. I have kept a 2.5g nano tank with 26 watts of light over it (10+ WPG), and it was fine...The WPG guideline was also based on T12 bulbs, and not the newer T8, T5, T5HO, etc types of bulbs. The newer types of bulbs are more efficient, and thus provide more light.

In short, the amount of light you have is probably sufficient to grow a wide variety of plants, and you will likely only encounter difficulty with the most finicky plants.

Misc.:
60lbs of Eco Complete
60# of Eco Complete is too much. 2 bags is plenty.
+1.

So, what would you guys do? I definitely do want CO2. I also would like to have some "higher end" plants in the future, particularly a red one. Hit me with some ideas, guys!
You probably could grow some easier red plants right now.

I think with $600, I would get a CO2 setup (about $200) a new filter (maybe $150-200, if you are looking at an Eheim), and the Hydor inline heater. You probably will have a little left over.

Does the Eco Complete need to be replaced periodically? If so, how often?
Nope.

Also, with dry fertilizers (the real ones), how do you administer them? Can you just dump them in the tank or do you need to get them into the substrate somehow? If the latter, how?
No need to put them into the substrate. You mix them with a bit of water to dissolve them first (so that you're not dumping the powder straight into the tank) and then pour it in. Alternatively, some people make a big batch of liquid fertilizers and pour a small liquid dose on a daily basis.

For filters, I'm looking at either the FilStar XP3 or the Eheim Pro II 2028. I know asking this is taboo for some people, but does anyone have any recommendations between the two? The Eheim is $100 more than the FilStar. Is that due to quality or name or what?
Oh no, a filter war is going to start :D

I have never used the FilStar XP3, so I cannot comment on it, but I own the Eheim Pro II 2028. It is very quiet, and a great filter. You probably won't need something this big for your 29g, however. Maybe a 2026 would do. The self priming button is also quite handy for eliminating all the air from the filter.

For CO2, I'm looking at the Primo regulator and a 5lb. tank from GLA and building an inline reactor. And, for inline heating, this Hydor heater.
As mentioned, you are probably better off looking for a CO2 tank locally from either a beer brewing store, a welding store or a fire extinguisher company. I got my 10lb tank for about $70. I built my own regulator, and managed to get a Victor dual stage regulator for $80, a Swagelok metering valve for $28 and a Parker solenoid for $15. That comes to just under $200 :)
 

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Double check with where you will be getting your co2 filled before you buy a tank.
I like GLA, but I'd never buy a co2 tank there. Buy one locally at a fire extinguisher store and it will come filled for free, and chances are, it will be much much cheaper (I paid $60 I believe for a 10# aluminum, filled, and $35 for 15# steel). Also, you may find that a 10# is about the same price to fill as a 5#, so it is a better value, and they are about the same diameter, the 10# is just taller.
x2

I also got my 10 lb tank at a fire extinguisher shop for $60. They do refills while you wait, $11 for a 10 lb tank, five pound tank refills are $8. Difference in price between buying/filling a 5 or 10 lb tank is negligible so get the largest size you have room for. The other reason for determining where you will be getting your refills before you buy a tank is that some places will only swap tanks. In that case your shiny new aluminum tank may end up being traded for a beat up steel one. Some shops will also only fill a tank that you bought from them so do some homework before you decide where and what to buy.

Agree that the Eheim proII 2026 is a better fit for the tank you have now than the 2028. I have been using Eheim filters for 8 years, 2028, 2026 and one of the Ecco models. The rena's are decent filters too but the Eheim is quieter and their filters have a reputation for lasting a very long time. My first canister was a Fluval and I had such a terrible experience with it that I have been reluctant to buy anything but another Eheim at this point since they have been so trouble free for me. The Pro II series should come with all the media you need. You should check the hose sizes for whatever filter you decide on before buying the Hydor in-line heater, you need to get the proper model based on the hose size it will attach to. Make sure you have enough space under the tank to install the heater vertically, they are pretty tall. The in-line heaters do a great job of keeping the water temperature stable.

Forget the WPG rule it has little to no bearing on reality anymore due to all the new high efficiency bulbs and lighting systems that are now available. How high the fixture sits over the substrate and the front to back coverage you will need are more important than basing lighting on the number of gallons of water the tank holds. A tall thin tank can hold the same amount of water as a short deep one but an identical light fixture will provide more light at the substrate level of the shorter tank despite them both having the same "WPG". I still think you are going to be happy with your current light fixture once you provide nutrients and CO2 to your plants. CO2 is the hardest thing to get right and is much easier to control if the lighting isn't excessive.

Good luck!
 

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If you aren't in a hurry to buy this stuff, I'd keep an eye on ebay for new eheim filters.There are quite a few good deals that pass through. I got an Eheim ecco 2236 brand new, unopened for $70.00 a couple months ago. The 2236 would be a decent option for your tank, I have mine running on a 20 gallon with an in-line diffuser and in-line heater (+1 vote for hydor inline), with tons of flow to spare. Like all Eheims, it comes with all needed media.

Also, I would highly recommend the GLA choice regulator. Got mine from Orlando 2 weeks ago, with a custom 4 manifold system, (including 1 remote), with bubble counters on all 4 lines for $300. Not bad, considering you can run 4 aquariums off one regulator. This can be a great idea if you plan to add more tanks in the future. It can also be a problem, as you will want to add more tanks in the future. ;)
 
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