Advice on setting up my 50 gallon
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Advice on setting up my 50 gallon

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Advice on setting up my 50 gallon
Old 05-03-2009, 04:34 PM   #1
 
Advice on setting up my 50 gallon

Hello all. Perhaps some of you have read some of my posts before in this forum as I have been gathering info, and if so I apologize if some questions are repeated here. But in case you haven't, I will sum it up briefly. I have had a 10 gallon for a couple years and like having fish so thoguht I would upgrade to a 50. I just set it up and started fishless cycling it. I have an Eheim 2217, an inline heater and black flourite substrate. During the time it is cycling, I plan to add lighting and then some plants and thought maybe someone could give some tips on that.

To start with, I want to keep this very natural looking. Along with the black substrate, I am thinking maybe to put some driftwood and maybe some rocks in there along with plants, but I don't want it totally filled up with plants. I want to have room for the fish to swim around, so what is the best way to do that? Should you leave open areas in the front of the tank? Put the pile of wood in the middle, or to one side? My tank is wide (36 l x 18 w x 19 h) so there is a lot of room to work with.

As far as the plants, I don't want to deal with pressurized CO2, and am going to build a canopy so it looks nicer out in the living room. I was thinking of getting a lighting kit to mount inside of the canopy, such as this kit from AH supply http://www.ahsupply.com/96watt.htm I thought that was a good price, and have heard good things about these kits. The only thing I want to make sure is that it is not too much where it will promote algae, but I suppose if it does, I could not leave the light on so long. I have looked at some T5HO fixtures but most I have seen say not to install under a canopy, so that rules that out. And the T5 regular output lights, I have had trouble finding 36" bulbs when looking online or in stores. So these kits seemed like a good option that I can just mount in the canopy. So once I get the lighting, then I suppose I can just get any low to medium light plants that I like, unless you guys have recommendations on ones that are easy to maintain.

That is really the main thing I want help with is setting this up and getting the lighting. I can worry about the fish later on, but if you want to make suggestions now, feel free. The only thing I have now is 4 harlequin rasboras left in the 10 gal that I will transfer over. So I might add a couple more of those to make a bigger school, and I am thinking of another school or 2 of fish that would look good with that black background and substrate (maybe tetras or something like that). Then besides that, a couple of bigger centerpiece type fish (gouramis perhaps, or anything else you can recommend), and some bottom dwellers. I also like shrimp so would like to get a bunch of those. Sorry this is so long, but am excited to get this going!
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Old 05-03-2009, 05:03 PM   #2
 
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hi
sounds like you're off to a great start,
i can't help with lights,however the idea of a nice pile of wood in the middle,
with some ferns planted inbetween. ?
i would increase the harliquines,cory dora catfish would be good for the bottom,
perhaps a bristlednosed plec would be good to have.
there are so many possibilities with a nice big tank,rummy noses,pearl gouramis,
bosmani rainbows(sp)
i'm sure others will be along to help soon.
:)
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Old 05-03-2009, 06:08 PM   #3
 
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I'll second-guess willow (hope he doesn't mind) when he says "in the middle" that he's not meaning literally in the centre of the tank. Anything placed directly in the centre of an aquarium, be it wood, rock or a specimen plant, looks un-natural and connived. Best to offset the "centrepiece" to one side, or mentally divide the tank into "areas" so to speak (but not evenly, again it doesn't look natural), rather like making little micro-areas within the framework of the entire tank area. It also helps (in my view) to have more than one piece of wood or rock, and like flower arranging odd numbers seem to be more restful to the eye, so three or five bits of bogwood with 3 rock areas, and plants spaced around these, would be one way to go. You can also create a greater sense of depth or space with standing wood resembling tree trunks. Hope this all makes sense. Check out some of the photos of member's tanks and I'll think you'll see what I mean. I have my two tanks pictured under "Aquariums" but there are many others here showing a variety of themes or styles.

With black substrate (good idea) darker wood looks better than the lighter variety. And rocks would be best if darker rather than white or yellow. Also, keeping the same type of wood and same basic rock type/colour gives a tank a better feeling of being natural, which is what you say you want. It's a subtle thing that often isn't noticed until it is pointed out, but the same type of wood or rock unifies the tank, again creating a sense of more space. I think mine illustrate this.

Re the light, I took a look at the unit you linked, and would caution against it. It will be very bright (in their own words, a "retina burner") and you mentioned that you do not want CO2. In all planted aquaria, plants will be successful if the light (type, strength and duration) and nutrients are in balance (I include CO2 as nutrients along with trace elements and minerals). Plant growth will always be limited by the limiting factor, which means the essential element (light, CO2, trtace elements...) that is in least availability in the aquarium. You should aim to have light as the limiting factor; in other words, the available CO2 and nutrients must not be less than the available light needed by the plants to photosynthesize; if light is not the limiting factor, then algae will quickly take over because it is more readily able to extract carbon from carbonates. Two fluorescent tubes (full spectrum) over a 50g will give you plenty of light without CO2. I have two full spectrum tubes, each 40 watt in the 48 inch size, equating to approximately 1 watt per gallon on both of my tanks, no CO2, and no algae to speak of. The light has to be on the same each day to stimulate the plants, so a timer is best. Mine are on for 13 hours each day, but because the nutrients are in balance, algae is not a problem. Of course, I have some fish that are primarily algae grazers (Whiptail cat and ottocinclus in the 90g, Farlowella (Twig catfish) in the 70g) and I have struck a balance so that some algae grows for these fellows to eat.

Low or medium light requirement plants will thrive in this setup. Many of the rooted plants (plants with leaves attached at the crown to a root system) will work, like Amazon swords, Cryptocornyne (low plants at the bottom) with the pygmy chain sword, Anubias nana, Sagitarius, Java Fern, ...and many others. The floating fern (Ceratopteris) would be good, and you can also plant it in the substrate. Avoid most of the stem plants (the ones you buy in bunches that have no root system) as they require brighter light which means CO2 if they are to thrive. Although there are a few exceptions--the Brazilian Pennywort in the back corners of my 90g is growing like weeds, and I have to cut them back each week.

Hope this helps a bit. Byron.
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Old 05-03-2009, 06:23 PM   #4
 
Thank you Byron, that helps a lot actually. That makes sense what you said about not placing stuff in the center. I was wondering about this fixture being too bright or not, and have gotten different opinions on this. The main reason I was leaning towards this is because I would like to have it in a canopy. I considered some T5 shop lights, but to get one of them would be $30, plus I'd have to buy two bulbs, and that has no refecltor in them so a lot of light would be wasted. Do you have any recommendations? Or if I do get this fixture I mention, would leaving it on for shorter time periods help if I find it gives off too much light?
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Old 05-03-2009, 07:54 PM   #5
 
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Originally Posted by dm800 View Post
Thank you Byron, that helps a lot actually. That makes sense what you said about not placing stuff in the center. I was wondering about this fixture being too bright or not, and have gotten different opinions on this. The main reason I was leaning towards this is because I would like to have it in a canopy. I considered some T5 shop lights, but to get one of them would be $30, plus I'd have to buy two bulbs, and that has no refecltor in them so a lot of light would be wasted. Do you have any recommendations? Or if I do get this fixture I mention, would leaving it on for shorter time periods help if I find it gives off too much light?
Not being familiar with this fixture, I can only make general comments. The concern is not the duration but the brightness when its on. If it is possible to only have one of the lights on, it might be better. Or do they make a smaller one, say for a smaller tank, which if the light was enough would work on your 50g? Myself, I would want to see it (like in a store) before purchasing so I would know just what it was like. You really don't want to go beyond 1 to 1.5 watts per gallon, or whatever the equivalent for this type of light would be. Shorter duration to a point is OK, but I think elsewhere on the plant forum aquarists have mentioned that a minimum of 7-8 hours of light is probably the least one can do for plants. But I'm not a botanist, so maybe...

The other thing to consider is the brightness in the tank and for the fish. Not many fish like bright lights glaring on them, and some will actually hide themselves under plants, etc., which while it may be somewhat natural (depending upon the species) you don't want your fish hiding from you. And if they're doing it to avoid the light, it will be stressful and that leads to health issues. Also, I personally don't like sitting in front of brightly lit aquaria, it is not the sort of relaxing feel you want. At least in my view.

Let's hope some of the other planted tank folks have some experience with this and may be able to offer guidance.
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Old 05-04-2009, 12:00 AM   #6
 
Yeah I'll wait to hear from some more people to see what they say. Will I be able to grow much at around 1 wpg? I suppose I could use my T8 fixture I have and get another one, then I would have 2 30 watt T8's in there.
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Old 05-04-2009, 12:46 AM   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron View Post
I'll second-guess willow (hope he doesn't mind)
Just FYI Byron....willow is a she

DM800- Personally I would line the roof of your canopy with foil and get two 24" dual T8 fixtures from home depot. This will give you 68 watts, and you wont have to run a fan like you would with the power compacts. My planted tank has <1wpg and I can keep plenty of different types of plants in it. They don't grow quite as fast as if they had more lighting and pressurized CO2, but they don't turn brown either. Like byron said, you may find that your fish hide from that much light, and you will have to take a bulb or two out. You will just have to find a balance.
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Old 05-04-2009, 09:38 AM   #8
 
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Originally Posted by MBilyeu View Post
Just FYI Byron....willow is a she

Thanks muchly. My pardon, willow!

DM800- Personally I would line the roof of your canopy with foil and get two 24" dual T8 fixtures from home depot. This will give you 68 watts, and you wont have to run a fan like you would with the power compacts. My planted tank has <1wpg and I can keep plenty of different types of plants in it. They don't grow quite as fast as if they had more lighting and pressurized CO2, but they don't turn brown either. Like byron said, you may find that your fish hide from that much light, and you will have to take a bulb or two out. You will just have to find a balance.
dm800, another thing occurred to me this morning, and that is the "type' of light. This fixture seems like it might be intended for reef or marine tanks, and if so the light requirements are quite different from what you need over plants. Also, there is a definite difference in the colour of the light to our eyes as we view the aquarium. Having experimented with several types of tubes over the years, I've come to agree with the majority of authors that full spectrum gives the best light. Mr. Amano (well known author and proponent of the Nature Aquarium--not that I personally like all those setups (I don't), but the info on plant needs is good--has written of this in his series of articles in TFH. One has to balance the needs of the plant (blue particularly, then red as the two most important colours in the spectrum) with what looks "natural" when viewing the aquarium. Full spectrum achieves that. Having "bright" light of the wrong type is not going to aid plant growth, and it may not look "nice." I have had good luck buying tubes from my lfs where they will take them back in exchange after I've tried them, if I don't like the result; something not possible with online.

Byron.
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Old 05-04-2009, 01:07 PM   #9
 
When you say full spectrum, are you referring to a color temperature?

MBilyeu, if I get shop lights, would I need to get special bulbs too, or just the shop light bulbs found at Home Depot? I would like a nice white light, and stay away from the yellowish. Do you happen to have any pictures of your tanks? I would like to get an idea of what I can grow with 60 watts or so. Thanks!
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Old 05-04-2009, 01:22 PM   #10
 
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Do you still have the ten gal tank running with fish in it ? If so ,you could use some of the filter material from this tank (ten gal) along with some of the substrate from same ,to help jumpstart the biological process for the larger tank.
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