Hello! Looking for new tank setup critique, plus a couple of questions
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Hello! Looking for new tank setup critique, plus a couple of questions

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Hello! Looking for new tank setup critique, plus a couple of questions
Old 01-27-2010, 10:19 AM   #1
 
Hello! Looking for new tank setup critique, plus a couple of questions

Hi, all! I'm sort new to this and going to be setting up a new tank within the next week or so. I don't have alot of experience with aquariums, but my dad has had a tank on/off for a long time (though I think he mostly 'wings it' rather than dealing with it in any scientific manner).

Here's what I'm planning on:

44 gal corner pentagon
AquaClear 300 Powerfilter
Instant Ocean Visitherm 200w heater
Some type of aerator
Misc. decorations
Python gravel vac / water changer
Misc. equipment (nets, etc...)

I'm planning on setting up the tank w/ Tetra AquaSafe, running the filter for a couple of days, and adding some taller, leafy or bushy plants along the back sides of the tank as soon as I know the water is clean and 'stable' (Ph, hardness, & temp in range). Then, within a couple of days of that, I was planning on treating with SafeStart and adding 6-10 danios (Glofish, maybe?) as starter fish for the first couple of weeks, changing ~20% of the water each week. Eventually (over the next few months), I will want to slowly add some Mollys, a small Pleco or two, some Kuhli Loaches, a couple of Ghost Shrimp, Albino Cories, and maybe a Beta and/or a Red Tail Shark. (BTW, I'm using the calculator at AqAdvisor - Intelligent Freshwater Tropical Fish Aquarium Stocking Calculator and Aquarium Tank/Filter Advisor). The goal is a well-planted community tank with relatively small fish (yeah, I know...gotta think about that Red Tail Shark...).

So, now, onto the questions... ;)

1) Is the AquaClear 300 enough, or should I go with the Aquaclear 500? Would that cause too much 'current' in the tank? I chose the AquaClear over the Penguin BioWheel because it has an adjustable flow rate, so I figured I could turn it down if it annoys the fish too much. Going by the calculator, my 'worse case scenario' with a 109% stocking level I would still have 115% filter capacity with the 300.

2) Given that I want to plant the aquarium well, what type of substrate should I use? Also, I have no idea how much I'll need to get the required 1-2" for my tank (it would be roughly 1/2 of a 2'x2' surface area to cover). I was thinking something like a large-grained sand, though I'd prefer gravel if I can use it.

3) Is it OK to add all the plants early on? Any suggestion as to plant food / fertilizer etc? (I haven't visited the plant forum yet...)

4) I'm planning on running a 'daylight' bulb in the light for ~10 hours / day. Is that enough for the plants and fish? (BTW, the tank will be off in a corner, ~20' from relatively large E as well as a S facing window. The E facing window usually has the curtains drawn in the morning, and the sun won't hit the tank directly from the other window.)

5) I can snag a filter element and/or some tank water from my dad if that would help seed my tank. Should I?

So, what am I missing?

Thanks for any help, and great forum!
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Old 01-27-2010, 01:50 PM   #2
 
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Hi Lee, and welcome to the forum. And welcome to your first aquarium.

You've asked several questions related to a planted aquarium, so I would suggest that you read the four stickies at the top of the Aquarium Plant section of the forum; they describe the basics in setting up a low-tech natural planted tank. You will probably have specific questions from that, and I or several others can answer them.

Filtration and light depends upon the fish and plant species and will be generally touched on in the articles, but one question I would have is what your light is; presumably fluorescent, but how many tubes and what is the tube length? Also, what are your tap water parameters that you will be working with, specifically pH and hardness?

Byron.
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Old 01-27-2010, 02:37 PM   #3
 
Thanks for the response, Byron! I've already moved on to reading some of the posts in the plant forum.

I don't have actual test results from my tap (I'll be picking up my tank and supplies this weekend), but from the local water authority's reports for my area, the highest result for hardness was 216ppm and the highest pH was 7.6. I have a whole-house water filter, but no softener. I assumed there would be ways to get the water into a specific range? As per that calculator I found, for the fish I'm looking to keep, it's recommending a pH of 7-7.6ppm (so I think I'll be OK here) and a hardness of 11-15dH(?).

I believe the hood on the tank has a single 18" bulb, but can be modified for a second. I was going to use a single 'daylight' bulb and maybe add a second bulb later of the type that can bring out the colors in the fish (I forget the name at the moment, but I think it was 'blue' something and had a very high wavelength?). I'm open to any suggestions anyone may have here.
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Old 01-27-2010, 03:35 PM   #4
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LMychajluk View Post
Thanks for the response, Byron! I've already moved on to reading some of the posts in the plant forum.

I don't have actual test results from my tap (I'll be picking up my tank and supplies this weekend), but from the local water authority's reports for my area, the highest result for hardness was 216ppm and the highest pH was 7.6. I have a whole-house water filter, but no softener. I assumed there would be ways to get the water into a specific range? As per that calculator I found, for the fish I'm looking to keep, it's recommending a pH of 7-7.6ppm (so I think I'll be OK here) and a hardness of 11-15dH(?).

I believe the hood on the tank has a single 18" bulb, but can be modified for a second. I was going to use a single 'daylight' bulb and maybe add a second bulb later of the type that can bring out the colors in the fish (I forget the name at the moment, but I think it was 'blue' something and had a very high wavelength?). I'm open to any suggestions anyone may have here.
The water seems generally OK, the Corydoras may find it a bit high/hard depending upon species. As for the tubes, I would avoid the blue actinic [I'm assuming that's what the "blue" may be] and stay with daylight or enhanced daylight. I would suggest two tubes will be needed, and if it means another/new fixture perhaps consider T5 HO which is 1.5 times more intensity for the same tube length as regular T8. Partly depends upon plants, but as you appear to be thinking tall stem plants the light will have to be adequate.
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Old 01-27-2010, 04:05 PM   #5
 
I used safe start on my aquarium, didn't prevent the cycle from still happening, save yourself 15 bucks instead of wasting the time on it.
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Old 01-27-2010, 05:04 PM   #6
 
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Welcome! Apart from what was already said earlier for reading recommendations....

You said "Some type of aerator" if you plan on having a planted tank do NOT add a air stone to this set up; that is contra productive for planted tanks as it'll drive the needed CO2 produced by the fish for the plants OUT, you don't want that

You can add your plant the same day you fill the tank with water (and gravel or sand) having it planted right away will help with the cycle!
You may wanna just also read over this and safe the $ for the safe start http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/f...ium-cycle-252/

Why Pleco do you LOVE these fish and have to have one? Or believe you have to to "clean" the tank? Cause that's a myth many falls for and all it does it unnecessarily add to your bio load.
If you want to have Cory ensure that you either set the tank up with sand or very fine, not sharp edged gravel (which is also what you'd want for plants too).

Have you considered a canister filter at all? Just wondering cause they're much queiter then the hang on backs.


Like I said for the plants sand or fine gravel will do (just not the chunky pea sized stuff). You do NOT need that fancy & expensive special substrate the store will try selling you, waste of money with 9 outta 10 plants.
If you do plan on getting Amazon Sword plants in there too, for that then I'd suggest picking up root tablets / sticks as these plants feed off the root system; unlike most other plants that will thrive of liquid fertilizers (eg Sticks by API or Nutrafin; Liquid fert by Nutrafin or Seachem's).

Cross check the packing of your Daylight bulb, make sure its rated 6500 kelvin. What's the actually wattage on these bulb(s)? How many do you have there one or 2?

If you can say pleasee real nice to your dad and have him let you borrow one filter pad/ sponge from his existing tank (that you put in a zip lock bag wet till you get to your tank) and you wash it out in your set up till you have a bunch nice brown muck in your tank (and then give the pad right back to your dad) that's instandly cycled then right there and you'd have all the necessary bacteria right there; that is THE quickest & safest way to set up a new tank.

For planted inspiration, check here to the left under my name at this tap called "aquarium" you'll see all my set ups there, all planted; all without CO2 and without fert's
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Old 01-27-2010, 05:56 PM   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Angel079 View Post
You do NOT need that fancy & expensive special substrate the store will try selling you, waste of money with 9 outta 10 plants.
If you do plan on getting Amazon Sword plants in there too, for that then I'd suggest picking up root tablets / sticks as these plants feed off the root system;
I always have these discussions with Byron. The ony reason to use root tabs is because the plant is a root feeder and the substrate is not supplying the nutrients the plant needs. This is exactly when an enriched substrate would be a benefit.

I myself use plain gravel with my tank. But the root tabs are becoming more expensive in the long run than if I would have used Flourite for example from the start.
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Old 01-27-2010, 06:28 PM   #8
 
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Originally Posted by WisFish View Post
I always have these discussions with Byron. The ony reason to use root tabs is because the plant is a root feeder and the substrate is not supplying the nutrients the plant needs. This is exactly when an enriched substrate would be a benefit.

I myself use plain gravel with my tank. But the root tabs are becoming more expensive in the long run than if I would have used Flourite for example from the start.
OK, now you two can duke it out on this issue and give me a rest.

Seriously though, there are some points that should be considered by a new aquarist setting up a planted tank.

First, it depends upon the plants. Those that are substrate-root feeders will benefit from nutrients in the substrate; but if there are stem plants, floating plants and non-substrate rooted plants like Anubias and Java Fern and mosses, these will gain little or no benefit from nutrients in the substrate, so liquid fertilizer is necessary (if any fert is necessary given the water, tank, etc). Even with substrate ferts, some plants like swords will use nutrients from the liquid, as my experiments over the past year have demonstrated.

Second, enriched substrates do give out at some point. I read somewhere yesterday that it is around 3 years. If you plan on pulling the tank down and re-setting it in 3-4 years, it would be different than if you want a longer-lasting set-up; my 90g went for almost eight years before I tore it down, and that was to move it. We had some discussion on this aspect in another thread, including comments from Seachem. Any enriched substrate must give out when the nutrients are exhausted, just like garden soil; there is no way to replace nutrients in one of these substrates without replacing it. Substrate tabs and sticks can be continually replaced.

Third, cost. I can use small plain natural gravel from the local landscape supply which costs 75 cents a 2g pail; gravel for my 90g would cost me $7.50 max. Eco-complete costs $35 a bag, and it would take five bags minimum for my 90g to give me a 3-4 inch substrate which I need for my large swords. That's $175 compared to less than $10. Then I could use Nutrafin's Plant-Gro sticks at $8 for 6, and with six large swords in this tank (there are), that's one package a year because they last 12 months. So for a 5 year period, by which time I would need to pull the tank apart with a plant substrate and start over, I will spend $50 max for gravel and sticks, compared to $175 for Eco-complete, plus I have to start over in five years whereas with my recommended method I just continue on at $8 a year.

And, I do have experience; in 1996 I set up my 115g with Laterite under the gravel because I read that it was "necessary" if I wanted to grow plants. Well, the same species of plants in that tank grew no better than the same species (swords too) in the 90g with no Laterite, and both tanks needed liquid every week. I will admit that Laterite is only iron clay and not Eco-complete or similar.

If you have a tank set up in the Dutch style with high light and CO2, then an enriched substrate is probably an advantage. But trying to keep it all simple, I really see no point. Anyway, once the first-time plant enthusiast has all the facts, he/she can decide. The nice thing about this forum is that each of us can present his method and reasons, unlike reading a magazine or book where you only have the author's opinion. And during the past few months I have read twice in respected periodicals from knowledgeable authors that "you cannot grow any plants in plain gravel, you need Flourite or Eco-complete" etc. Rubbish. A beginning planted tank aquarist will have enough to contend with without spending more money.

Just my view, for what it may be worth.

Byron.
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Old 01-27-2010, 06:28 PM   #9
 
@Byron

Yes, blue actinic was what I was thinking about. I'm pretty surethe fixture in the hood I'm getting is a 'standard' flourescent, but I'll see when I pick up the tank on Saturday about what my options are with replacing it or adding a second bulb. Will look for a 'full daylight' as you suggested. Thx!

@Angel

I'll probably add the aerator, as it's part of a volcano ornament that I really really like, but I'll make sure to keep it turned down to a minimum.

I've read that link 3 times this week and am still trying to absorb all the nuances of the process, not to mention get all the similar-sounding compounds straight! ;)

Not absolutely stuck on the pleco (especially after seeing the price of the zebra pleco I was thinking would be a good size for my tank!).

The stand for the tank is a little tight on space, but when I get a look at it in person, maybe I'll consider a canister. This is the tank/stand that I'm looking at:


I gotta go past my parents on the way to pick up my tank on Saturday, so I'll swing by and see if dad can spare a filter medium. Actually, maybe I can have him throw a clean dish sponge in the filter tonight that I can then just nab from him on Saturday? Will that work?

Thanks again, all!

Edit - Oh, btw, after looking at the plants forum, I'll be looking to add some Java Moss, Foxtail, Waterweed, a little Micro-Sword, and maybe something a little more leafy as well.

Last edited by LMychajluk; 01-27-2010 at 06:44 PM..
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Old 01-27-2010, 06:44 PM   #10
 
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Thanks for the comments Byron. Couple of thoughts. I thought Flourite was replentishable. In other words, just like garden soil, if you add root tabs or liquid ferts in a tank with Flourite, I understand that Flourite could store these nutrients. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Lastly your comment..

" Anyway, once the first-time plant enthusiast has all the facts, he/she can decide. The nice thing about this forum is that each of us can present his method and reasons, unlike reading a magazine or book where you only have the author's opinion. "

is what I'm addressing. Seems like we keep telling peoiple not to use enriched substrates when it seems like there are appropriate times to use them.

Anyway, I think I'll stop promoting enriched substrates and go back to standing up for UGFs
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