Originally Posted by satwood
As you can tell I've been learning the hard way on a lot of aspects of this hobby. Still it has become an addiction and one that I am enjoying in more ways than I can count
I may be moving to a larger house soon and would like to setup an 80 or 100 gallon freshwater system with nice plants and a decent community of fish after I move. In the meantime, I can start buying equipment and getting things ready:
Glass tank, where to buy and what price range is fair?
Multiple filters, UG reverse flow, HOB, and a cannister or two
What media do you recommend?, Should I look into a wet/dry system?
What kind of substrate for right sized plants for this tank - (I would prefer not to get into CO2 injection and lots of fert maintenance) maybe the kind of plants a lazy person can raise?
How much light and where is a good source to buy
I'd like to raise a mixture of livebearing fish (not guppies) and colorful tetras -- nothing exotic, just entertaining and healthy fish. Fish I can enjoy without becoming a biologist to care for them.
My budget would be $1K or so for the full system. I hope this is a reasonable budget to invest. I know this sounds like a lot to ask but I get the sense this community loves to share their successes and ideas so please have at it and tell me everything you think I should know.
Thanks in advance
Go with multiple canister filters. I use Fluval 405s for the most part, but you can use what you want. The larger tank would be the better option. You can expect to pay between 250 and 700 for a 100 gallon tank. Shop around.
Two or three canisters would be about right.
One thousand might buy the tank and perhaps one or two filters. Your budget, unfortunately, is unrealistic. You could spend four or five thousand easily setting up a tank that size, and that's before adding live stock.
If you want to grow plants you'll need sufficient amounts of full spectrum light and a planted tank substrate to do so. Optimal color temperature of the light, expressed in Kelvins, is 6700K, which is like bright sunlight, to 10,000K, which is a whiter, bluer light. I use 6700K in my layouts, and 10,000K halides in tanks that require them. You should aim for more than 2 watts per gallon, so you'd need between 200 and 400 watts of full-spectrum lights over the tank, if you want to grow plants.
Eco-Complete is a decent planted tank substrate, and contains all the nutrients the plants need. Its also rather dark, and thus will accentuate the tetras.
As to species, tetras and livebearers don't really share water conditions. The livebearers do best in the hard and alkaline, say pH 7.8, and hardness in the teens. The tetras, on the other hand, do best in the soft and slightly acid, say pH 6.8, hardness around four or five. The vast majority of aquatic plants do best in that range.
Just depends on what you have coming out of the tap as to what you can keep. Research the fish requirements BEFORE buying them.
If you wish, I can email you four pieces I've written about keeping four 'families' of plants; sword plants, stem plants, bulb plants and Cryptocoryne plants. Contact me with your email address via PM, and I'll send them to you. They will tell you what you need to know about substrates, lighting, Co2 and thumbnails of several commonly available species and how to care for them.
I also have an expansive book list that I can send you, as it has a section of books concerning aquatic plants, among other things. If you want it, just ask.