120g to be freshwater? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 21 Old 05-10-2008, 11:59 PM Thread Starter
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120g to be freshwater?

I wanted to change one of my marine tanks into a freshwater tank. It is a 120. The only thing is that it is at my business. I put it in their basically for the kids (because there are hundreds in there a week, and they love it.) Thing is, I wanted to keep the fish hardy and make sure it still looks fun and colorful.

I'm also relatively new to fresh, i've really only kept saltwater and small freshwater tanks. (No larger than a 20)

I need advice! I don't know what I want in there.
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post #2 of 21 Old 05-11-2008, 12:49 AM
You make it sound as though you are overwhelmed by the size of the 120g tank. Needn't be. A word of advice, think of the 120g as (3)20g tanks side by side just a little deeper and taller. To lend a hand on what to do, imagine (1)20g in the middle, that will be your center(what else would it be, Duh? lol) and continue your aquascape to the left and to the right. How many times have you wished you had more room in one of your tanks when you set it up? Well, now you have it.

As far as suggestions, I'd have to know your budget. You can be as stingy or as generous as you want when stocking your tank. But, being generous is gonna hurt, especially in a tank that size.

I am going to suggest a planted tank with active, shoaling fish like tetras, rasboras or danios as the focal point. I think that by using wood and plants, you could be able to not only make the tank active and colorful for the children, you would be able to add a beauty only a well planted tank can bring for the adults to enjoy too.
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post #3 of 21 Old 05-11-2008, 01:02 AM Thread Starter
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Ah, I loved your response!

I just don't want to make any painful mistakes when switching over! I know that everyone says that freshwater is easier than saltwater... but I don't like believing everything I hear =)

So, I really want to use power filters because with the saltwater tank I have had problems with the over flow, etc. with children around. Power filters are just safer. (You'd be surprised how many parents do NOT pay attention to their children, no matter how hard our staff tries...) Is there any way that this can work with a planted tank?

Also, right now I only have normal fluorescents on the tank- what will the plants need?

I really only want low maintenance plants/fish. (I know that sounds awful to say, but I do have 4 tanks at home that require lots of love!) I only say this because it is awful when a fish dies... and the kids find it. So hardy fish are better.

Also, the tank has like 150 pounds of live rock and 100 pounds of sand I am going to try and sell, so hopefully I can buy the freshwater babies with the money I make off of that.

Tell me if I'm totally off beat!
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post #4 of 21 Old 05-11-2008, 02:07 AM
I wouldn't say freshwater is easier, it just seems as though the rigors of keeping a SW tank are more labor intensive, for the most part, and SW seems to be a more precise undertaking. Probably why I have a reef tank as my only SW tank.

As far as filtration of the 120g, power filters will work, BUT.....I am anal about filtration. In larger tanks, especially since you wish to be low maintenance, I would suggest a "layered" filtration system. (I really need to write an article on this for the forum, someday) Layered can be best described as the use of multiple types of filtration. By using an undergravel filter plate(gonna stir some poo up here!! lol) with reverse flow power heads, power filters, both internal(ex. Fluval + Series) and external(ex. Emperor 400's), and canisters(ex. Magnum 350's), each type being considered as a layer, it is my opinion that such a system is absolutely the best system one can get. Not cheap, but not as expensive as one might imagine either.

The use of ugf's is controversial. I need to explain a bit here. The use of ugf's, especially with reverse flow power heads(ex. Marineland 660r's which come with all of the pieces you need to run a reverse flow system) not only will add more biological and mechanical filtration it helps to keep the substrate cleaner and healthier.By reversing the flow of water up through the substrate, you will force mulm and particulates up into the water column to be filtered by the other "layers" of filtration. This reduces, substantially the need for gravel sweeps and stirs. Thus reducing labor during maintenance, the compaction of substrate and the disturbing of the bio-bed. Not only does this sound good, it works. I have this system on many of my tanks, from 29g tanks to the new 720g tank that is being set up as we speak. I even have 10g tanks running multiple types of filtration, although the scale is much smaller.

Another advantage of running "layered filtration" is that it allows you to maintain each element of the system on a scheduled routine without compromising the biological scheme as much as with a single type of filter system. In essence, it keeps your tank healthier.

Lighting is another beast in itself. We, here on the forum, are trying to be somewhat progressive. The old Watts per Gallon" (wpg) rule is archaic and misleading. A better and, honestly, more precise way of determining how much light you will need is the use of footcandles, lumens, spectrum and Kelvins. Footcandles can best be describe as the amount of usable light(lumens) at a specific distance away from the light source. Lumens is light intensity or brightness. Kelvins is a thermo dynamic measure of the amount of energy produce by the light. Spectrum is the color bandwidth of the light. Now that you are thoroughly confused, let it be said, that plants grow best in certain colors of light(spectrum) that has intensity(lumens) at the given distance of the light source(footcandles) within a certain color bandwidth(spectrum). So, that being explained(and your brain spinning around madly), the "ideal" bulb(s) will be somewhere in the 6700K-10,000K range. Plants require light to as a source of energy for growth, requiring light in the warm white to yellow end of the spectrum. Any light sources that contain too much blue light are undesirable as they will promote algae growth. Suitable lighting can be provided using a combination of tubes such as Sun-glo, Flora-glo and Freshwater bulbs. Also the number of hours the bulbs are on is important. Most agree on the amount of time as being from 10-14 hours a day.

Fish for stocking, I will leave alone for now. There are many low maintenance fish, relatively speaking. Some examples were given in the previous post. Your decision on the set up you like will determine the fish you will be able to keep.

As for selling you live rock and sand, I would suggest selling it in outr classified section. Or you could sell it at a greatly reduced price back to your local fish store(lfs). Although, you would have to learn how to ship, you could make someone's day selling your goods on this site. You wouldn't get full retail, but I'm sure you would get more money tan selling back to the store. Shipping cost would be paid by the buyer.

Now that you are completely confused and my hands are cramping from this long post, allow me to say, good luck. Post any other questions you may have and our members are more than willing to help.
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post #5 of 21 Old 05-11-2008, 09:53 AM Thread Starter
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I have to say that was a really great post!

And, to my (and yours) surprise, I totally understand the lighting. =)

Good news, I already have a canister filter that came with my tank when I bought it... and I have 2 power filters that are 5x the gph of the gallons of the tank. (600 gallons per hour) ....so now I need an undergravel filter. (I am so glad I never sold the canister)

What kind of substrate would be best for plants? Can goldfish thrive in a slightly heavily planted tank with that type of substrate?
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post #6 of 21 Old 05-11-2008, 10:54 AM
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Hi. I just read your post and the responses so far. I have kept goldfish before and they can be a nuisance to a planted tank. They like to nibble and uproot things, so you may find yourself replanting a lot. I'm not saying don't get them. Just a word of warning about how they act. They can be quite pretty, though, so you'll have to decide.

As for a relatively hardy fish....I really like guppies myself. I have tons of them (too many really). If you get males and females, be prepared for lots and lots of babies. They breed like crazy, but have very pretty color combinations and are pretty hardy.

I have Mollies, glowlight Tetras and Platies in my community tank, as well. You may also want to consider some type of algae eater after a while. They'll help keep the algae off the glass and decorations and there are many interesting ones available. Some grow quite large, but in a 120 gallon you don't have to worry about that! My first algae eater was a large Pleco and he actually did tricks when he couldn't see you looking at him. I saw him do swimming loops (like the airplane stunts) several different times and caught him bouncing on his airstone more than once. It was quite amusing. As soon as he saw me, however, he'd stop and sit completely still. I could see his eyes following me and imagined him saying..."I wasn't doing anything. Nope, not me. You're mistaken."

Good luck....and post pictures when you get things set up! :)
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post #7 of 21 Old 05-11-2008, 10:57 AM Thread Starter
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Oh, don't worry- I will! I already have someone interested in my live rock, so the process may start sooner rather than later. I thought it would take awhile to get rid of it.

What do you think about the cycle? Anything to speed it up? I don't want an empty tank for too long =( I know all about the cycling for a saltwater... freshwater any different?
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post #8 of 21 Old 05-11-2008, 01:18 PM
There a couple of schools of thought on cycling a tank. Using fish to provide the food(fishy waste, poo and pee) to feed the bacteria bed growth and help accelerate the cycle and fishless. In a fishless cycle there are basically two techniques. One is straight forward, you use fish food and "feed" the tank, even though there are no fish. The uneaten food breaks down and forms ammonia, the food for the bacteria. The other is a little more complicated. You actually use ammonia to feed the bacterial culture. I have a chart somewhere that I would be glad to post(I may be able to find it in this mess). The chart gives you a ready made tutorial and complete directions on how to use ammonia as your catalyst. Using ammonia is probably the fastest method. But, look for the tank cycle to take anywhere from 2-6 weeks, maybe longer. But, if you use fish to cycle your tank, danios are a common choice, your tank would not be empty, but the cycle would be a tad longer. This method is also somewhat stressful on these fish, but they are pretty hardy.

If you are going to lean toward a planted tank, I have a favorite substrate. I feel that EcoComplete for Planted Tanks is one of the best on the market. But, this is my opinion and some have other favorites. I like it because of a couple of reasons. One is it works. The other reasons include its dark color, it is not as "dusty" as some others, it contains some of the micro nutrients, and it helps to buffer the water to support good plant growth. Now, one drawback is that it is not real cheap. It is more expensive than some, but cheaper than others. I am using it in most of my planted tanks and it is the substrate of choice for my 720g project. I believe it runs about $23 for a 20# bag. I would think that you would need about 150# or (8)bags. Here is a link to show you the product. http://www.petsolutions.com/Eco-Comp...00770+C41.aspx It will also help to speed up your cycle. And an added note, I am rinsing mine before adding it to the tank. But, it is much easier and cleaner than using Fluorite.

I am sure we will talk about plants later. But the plants you will be able to use will be determined by your lighting. Or you could reverse this process by selecting plants and choosing lights to fit their needs. I would suggest using compact fluorescents or T5 fluorescent bulbs. T12 bulbs will soon be obsolete and T8's are sure to follow. They are just not efficient enough. You do not get sufficient light for the power consumed.

I would also suggest a second canister filter( remember, I'm anal about filtration). Use a minimum of (4)powerheads. My suggestion here would be the Marineland 660r's or the Marineland 1140's with the reverse flow adaptor. Your power filters seem very adequate. I strive for a filtration flow as high as I can reasonably achieve. I have a tank being filtered over 25x an hour. That may be a little extreme, I admit.

A couple of things I would like to throw out for thought. It seems that we are heading for a low maintenance tank. A couple of suggestions. One would be the use of an inline UV filter placed inline on the output side of the canister filter. This device can be a real value when it comes to preventing disease and parasitic maladies in the tank. Also the use of inline heaters would greatly help the asthetics of the tank. There would be no bulky, clumsy heater exposed in the tank. I use multiple heaters in tanks larger than 100g, also. I believe that by using multiple heaters in larger tanks that the heat is more even throughout.

So far, what we have discussed is a fairly high tech tank. But, if you are looking for low maintenance, technology must replace labor. Do not feel obligated to follow my suggestions. I am trying to meet your criteria. But, in doing so, I have also increase the cost of setting up your tank. We could go low tech, but in doing so, we would also increase the amount of time and labor of maintenance. I wanted to say that so that when you started the project you wouldn't faint or get a voodoo doll with my name on it and start sticking pins in it.
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post #9 of 21 Old 05-11-2008, 01:51 PM Thread Starter
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You're funny. No voodoo doll here. Believe me, I know what hard work takes with fish tanks. The 120g right now has had more issues being a SW tank than ANY of my other 4 tanks combined. I feel like there is always a problem child...

I do not mind having to clean the tank and do water changes, I just want to make sure that nothing could go terribly wrong if I left for a week or a weekend. You know?

Like with it right now, with an overflow and sump... there will be something wrong with the pump and it only goes wrong when i am out of town. Thankfully, there is a drain in the floor under the tank.
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post #10 of 21 Old 05-11-2008, 02:30 PM Thread Starter
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How soon after cycling/putting water in the tank can you add plants?

I am guessing you can not use sand from saltwater for freshwater, right? Just the vice versa.
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