Converting My 55 Gal from Saltwater to Freshwater
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Converting My 55 Gal from Saltwater to Freshwater

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Converting My 55 Gal from Saltwater to Freshwater
Old 01-13-2009, 10:34 AM   #1
 
Converting My 55 Gal from Saltwater to Freshwater

I am converting my 55 gal bowfront saltwater tank to a planted freshwater tank. Here are some concerns:

1) Lighting - I currently have a 192 watt system that has 1-96w 10k bulb, 1-96w actinic. I will be replacing the actinic with another 96w bulb. Should I make this one a 6700 bulb or does it matter whether it is 6700 or 10k? Should I change the 10k bulb to a 6700?

2) Substrate - I will be using 5 bags of EcoComplete for the substrate. I believe that will give me approximately 2 inches depth in my tank. I want to ultimately have 4 or 5 inches in the back sloping to 2 inches in front. What should I put under the EcoComplete in the back to bring it up to 4-5 inches? Anything reasonably inexpensive? Laterite maybe?

3) Current- Current is really important in the saltwater world. What about Freshwater? I get the feeling, maybe erroneously, that current isn't as important in freshwater, though it is important to a degree for Oxygen exchange. I do want the plants to have a little swaying motion though so I was considering putting in a low output powerhead for circulation. Any pros/cons to this setup?

4) Plants - I am considering having low growth plants covering the substrate either entirely or virtually so. Is there any reason this is NOT a good idea? Any reason this is a good idea?

5) Water - In the saltwater world, RO/DI water is recommended. This doesn't seem to be the case in the Freshwater world. Is this true? Is tap water better than RO/DI? Perhaps because too much has been removed from tap water? Probably no matter what is used, water needs to have some conditioner put into it either to put something back into the water that was removed (RO/DI) or to take something out (chlorine, etc) that shouldn't be in the water (Tap water).

6) Cleaning saltwater residue - What is the best method of cleaning out the current aquarium to make sure the no salt residue remains?

7) Airstones - Are they necessary?

Those are some of the major questions. Here are a couple of miscellaneous question:

1) Are gloves encourage when working in a freshwater tank? They are in saltwater tanks.

2) My wife liked the though of Bamboo in the tank (roots only in the water). What are the pros/cons of this.

3) Frogs - We saw frogs in a store that apparently live underwater all the time. Are there any negatives in getting one frog in the tank?

4) Black versus blue background - Any thoughts?

That's all for now. Thanks for your patience in this rather long email! Looking forward to getting a proper start.

Last edited by Bremmon; 01-13-2009 at 10:36 AM..
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Old 01-13-2009, 04:22 PM   #2
 
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Welcome to the forum
1. aim for 6500-6700k full spectrum bulbs
2.you could put alittle gravel down first or do a mixture of sand. laterite itself is expensive i believe.
3.powerheads are not need in freshwater tanks.
4.why low growth? generally its low growing plants in the front, medium in the center and tall growing plants in the back. you want low growth to minimize trimming?
5.your exactly right, tap water works just fine when treated with a chloromine/chlorine conditioner. it contains needed nutrients and minerals for plant growth. RO water is too pure and would need a supplement to obtain what your looking for ( i believe one of the additives that work is called "RO right" but im unsure)
6.a razor blade to scrap coraline algae ONLY IF YOUR TANK IS GLASS and avoid the silicone seals around the edges. either vinegar, pure ammonia, or a mild bleach solution would work as well. just rinse well afterwards (if using bleach let the tank dry completely)
7. airstones are not required. what they do is disrupt the surface tension to allow gas exchange, if your filter has good surface aggitation you should be fine, also if your using C02 injection this would be counter productive letting the gasses escape.
1. Gloves are not required but i wouldnt see them hurting. Just make sure your not reaching in with bare hands that has soap residue or something toxic to aquatic life.
2.bamboo looks "cool" but is not a fully aquatic plant. overtime i believe it will rot effecting water quality. generally speaking if a plant can self support itself outside of the water it is not fully aquatic.
3.african dwarf frogs? or albino dwarf frogs? theres a big difference and if you do choose one i would go with the african dwarf as they are smaller and very docile compared to albinos which have claws. the problem is, the fish usually hear the diner bell before the frogs even realize they are being fed so in conclusion you can have one but just make sure the little guy gets food. you may have to spot feed him.
4.background is a personal thing. i personally am a fan of black backgrounds, black substrate, with plants, a large school of neon tetras and cherry red shrimp (thats my favorite freshwater setup)
what fish are on your mind so we can help with that.

now, why did you break down the saltwater tank, was it FOWLR or reef, what did you keep, where can i buy your stuff and this should be a piece of cake comparatively speaking.
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Old 01-13-2009, 05:09 PM   #3
 
Thank you for your replies!!! I had too many questions :)

3) I am looking for my plants to sway a bit (if that makes sense). Not 'strong wind' sway but really gentle. Does the return on a filter introduce some circulation in the water?

4) Primarily I was looking for a carpeted effect. True, I will have my tallest plants in the back, and am looking at a few medium size plants on the sides and maybe a clump or two near the middle, but would like virtually the
rest of the tank floor carpeted with something low growing.

Thanks for the heads up on the Bamboo. Any thoughts on Mangrove?

I had a reef but it got to be too expensive to maintain properly. It was my second successful saltwater tank so I thought I would try my hand at a planted freshwater tank. Being a 55 gal we had some nice area for aquascaping.

And sorry. . . my stuff is going to another family member :)
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Old 01-13-2009, 06:36 PM   #4
 
You need to avoid surface agitation as much as you can. Surface agg=O2 into tank which depletes your vital CO2 for the plants. Many people use Canister filters placed way down in the tank to avoid anything moving on the surface. THe current idea may be kind of hard.
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Old 01-13-2009, 10:25 PM   #5
 
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i was joking about the equipment, as i already have plenty.

what fish are you planning?
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Old 01-14-2009, 09:41 AM   #6
 
I did laugh at the joke when I first read it though it probably wasn't apparent in my response :)

This is going to be a peaceful tank so I am going with things that get along.

Definitely getting a small school of tetras, heard those are pretty.
Clown Loach more than likely (to keep possible pest snails at bay)
Ghost shrimp as I hear they are good scavengers.

Some sort of "sucker" fish (please recommend one)

My son wants a little frog in there, I'm on the fence on that one though.

That's as far as I got with the planning so far :)
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Old 01-14-2009, 11:11 PM   #7
 
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i can agree, tetras schooling is awesome, i would advise against that kind of loach as they grow large and truely need a school/shoal of their own for comfort. why not cherry red shrimp? they will breed in your tank and really "pop" agaisnt the complementary colors of the plants.

bristle nose pleco, small school of corydoras or when the tanks alittle more established a small school of ottocinclus
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Old 01-14-2009, 11:19 PM   #8
 
For the frog, you may want to look up African Dwarf Frogs. Very cute little guys who stay under 2", and are very peaceful. The only downfall to this, is that your tank is so tall. They need to come up for air every now and then, and 16/18" is a lot for them.
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Old 01-14-2009, 11:29 PM   #9
 
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on top of that as i have said, they seem to miss the "diner bell" and when you feed the tank the fish eat their food before they realize they've been fed.
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Old 01-23-2009, 01:27 AM   #10
 
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1) Lighting - I currently have a 192 watt system that has 1-96w 10k bulb, 1-96w actinic. I will be replacing the actinic with another 96w bulb. Should I make this one a 6700 bulb or does it matter whether it is 6700 or 10k? Should I change the 10k bulb to a 6700?

6700K is really ideal. The actinic should definitely be replaced with a 6700K bulb. The 10,000K could also be replaced, but it's not completely useless for a planted tank so it kind of depends on your budget.

2) Substrate - I will be using 5 bags of EcoComplete for the substrate. I believe that will give me approximately 2 inches depth in my tank. I want to ultimately have 4 or 5 inches in the back sloping to 2 inches in front. What should I put under the EcoComplete in the back to bring it up to 4-5 inches? Anything reasonably inexpensive? Laterite maybe?

If you don't want to spend all that money getting 4-5 inches of EcoComplete in the back, you could always mix together EcoComplete and a dark colored natural gravel. That'd be a bit cheaper.

3) Current- Current is really important in the saltwater world. What about Freshwater? I get the feeling, maybe erroneously, that current isn't as important in freshwater, though it is important to a degree for Oxygen exchange. I do want the plants to have a little swaying motion though so I was considering putting in a low output powerhead for circulation. Any pros/cons to this setup?

Circulation isn't as important in freshwater as it is in saltwater. If you've got leftover powerheads you may as well use them but they aren't essential. Also - what sort of filter will you be using? If you're using a canister filter (which is usually recommended for planted tanks as it doesn't disturb the surface) you can place the input/output so as to create a decent amount of current in the tank.

4) Plants - I am considering having low growth plants covering the substrate either entirely or virtually so. Is there any reason this is NOT a good idea? Any reason this is a good idea?

Sounds like a plan. Most of the better looking heavily planted tanks have some sort of short, grass-like plant out in front in the open swimming area, with taller plants around the sides and in back.

5) Water - In the saltwater world, RO/DI water is recommended. This doesn't seem to be the case in the Freshwater world. Is this true? Is tap water better than RO/DI? Perhaps because too much has been removed from tap water? Probably no matter what is used, water needs to have some conditioner put into it either to put something back into the water that was removed (RO/DI) or to take something out (chlorine, etc) that shouldn't be in the water (Tap water).

In a freshwater tank, you really have no way of removing nitrates from the tank other than by plant metabolism and water changes. Unless your tank is very heavily stocked with plants and has very few fish, you'll need to do regular water changes to keep the nitrates at bay (of course at least monthly water changes are recommended anyway to replace nutrients). I'd say you're putting a lot more water into your tank with freshwater than saltwater as water changes are more frequent. For this reason, it's better to keep costs low. It's much cheaper to use a water conditioner on your tap water than purchase RO/DI and use a supplement to replace lost trace elements. Most freshwater fish are adaptable to a wide variety of water chemistries, so tap water is fine in most instances.

6) Cleaning saltwater residue - What is the best method of cleaning out the current aquarium to make sure the no salt residue remains?

A good ol' razorblade is your best friend here. Vinegar can also help clean off some of the calcium buildup.

7) Airstones - Are they necessary?

Not really. As was pointed out, in a planted tank that's being CO2-injected, disrupting the surface leads to CO2 loss so airstones can be detrimental. If you dose something like Flourish Excel for your plants' carbon needs, disrupting the surface isn't as big of a deal and airstones are just fine. They're mainly aesthetic in function.

Those are some of the major questions. Here are a couple of miscellaneous question:

1) Are gloves encourage when working in a freshwater tank? They are in saltwater tanks.

Nope, not unless you've got a shellfish allergy and you're keeping shellfish in the tank, or something like that. Or if you've got a big nasty cichlid who likes nibbling on you during tank maintenance.

2) My wife liked the though of Bamboo in the tank (roots only in the water). What are the pros/cons of this.

Again...bamboo is not an aquatic plant. You'd need very tall bamboo and you'd need to not have a cover on the tank (or a lowered water level) in order for this to work. There are many fully aquatic plants that will work very well, though.

3) Frogs - We saw frogs in a store that apparently live underwater all the time. Are there any negatives in getting one frog in the tank?

55g is rather tall for frogs as they need to surface to breathe. They also will need to be spot-fed with something like a turkey baster or else they'll slowly starve as the fish steal all of their food. If you want frogs, get African dwarf frogs and not African clawed frogs. The clawed frogs will have distinct black claws on the toes of their hind legs. These guys reach baseball size and will eat any fish that fit in their large mouths. The dwarf frogs stay smaller and are fish safe.

4) Black versus blue background - Any thoughts?

Black really works best for showing off your plants and fish, in my opinion.


Hope that helped!
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