Hello fellow aquarists. Basically, the title of this post describes exactly what I intend to do in the near future, and I would really appreciate any input as to what I should be doing to make this transition. I have had a 45 gallon community tank for the past few years, which I have kept to a pretty basic set-up, as my living situation has been a little less than stable, and I wasn't able to dedicate much time to the hobby. This is the current set up of my aquarium:
Aquatech hang-on power filter (carbon, mechanical, and biofiber)
Basic flouresecent lighting hood (24")
300 watt heater (tank kept at a consistent 77 degrees F)
medium sized pebble substrate
I've been using a cheap quick-dip test kit, and a lot of my results are ambiguous due to the lousy color comparison chart. Here are what I think my current parameters are:
Nitrate: 15 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
GH: between 75-175 ppm, this is one of the tests where the color coding is so ambiguous, it's hard to tell what the level is
KH: 80-120 ppm, again, this is another one that's hard to tell
11 Neon Tetra
7 Serpae Tetra
3 clown loaches
With that said, I was recently given a 75 gallon tank, no accessories. What I would like to do would be to transfer the fish in my current tank to the new one, but I would like keep both Discus as well as aquarium plants in the new tank. This is why I am here, as I am not sure about the best way to go about doing this. Here is what I know, or think I know, what needs to be done to accomplish this. I know right off the bat that I will need a new light. I just dont know what kind of light I need... Is anyone familiar with a specific model light fixture/bulb that works well? I plan on planting the tank as much as I can. The next issue is substrate. I plan on purchasing new substrate altogether, as I don't even really like the substrate I'm currently using. What type and how much substrate should should be used in a planted aquarium? I would like to keep away from using sand. Another area that is cloudy to me is the use of CO2 and fertilizers and nutrients. I cant seem to find a website that gives good advise on this at all. I've heard of people saying you need to establish a fertilizer regimen, but not go into detail about how to start such a regime, or what it entails. What all should I be supplementing plants with, and how often, in what quantities? Will these chemicals affect water perameters, such as hardness and PH? When does CO2 come into play, and are those DIY pop-bottle kits as irratic as some people make them out to be? Would I need a surface skimmer, and are they only available for canister filters?
My next issue involves filtration. I'm not sure if my cheap hang-on filter will provide the adequate filtration the discus need (I do have another filter of the exact same type that I could use for the larger aquarium, that is if this type of filter would be well suited for discus). I have heard that using activated carbon with discus is a no-no because of chemicals leaching from it. Is this true? Ideally, what is the best type of filtration for the discus? I would buy a canister filter if need be, especially if I end up needing a surface skimmer. Also, an aquaintance of mine who keeps discus in a planted tank uses a UV light sterilizer, which I would not mind buying if it means a healthier tank. Any input on these?
The cloudiest area for me in fishkeeping has always involved water conditions. Aside from using a dechlorinator during water changes, I have never altered my water through chemicals of any sort. I have always used plain tap water for water changes. Now, I have heard conflicting viewpoints on the kind of water conditions discus need. Some people have told me that using RO water is a must, others say it's not that important as long as your water isn't extremely hard. Given the current parameters of my tank, what must I do in order to bring my water to acceptable discus levels? Let me just mention that I have no experience with any kind of PH buffers and other such things. One thing that I know must be changed is the temperature, as I'm sure my 77 is too cold for discus. Given my other fish, what temperature should the tank be kept at when the discus and plants are added, and how should I go about acclimating my current fish to the much higher temperature, and possibly different water parameter requirements the discus will require?
Lastly, I am unsure as to how I should go about the process of physically switching from the 45 gallon to the 75. I had thought that if I had bagged up a bunch of old substrate in nylon leggings, then just transfered the filter, current water, and fish to the new tank with the new substrate, as well as the leggings containing the old substrate, I could transfer the tank in one fell swoop without triggering a cycle. Would this work? Is there a better way? Do I have to start out from scratch and wait for the tank to cycle?
I am currently doing a 10% water change and gravel vaccuum weekly, while replacing my filter pads monthly. Like I said above, I use straight up dechlorinated tap water. How would my maintenace and cleaning need to change to accomodate the discus and plants?
I think that this is everything that I had questions on. I know it is a long post, and fairly comprehensive, but I would really appreciate the help of other people, as opposed to random guides on the internet. So if you could answer any or all of my questions, provide information on something I may have missed, or just care to comment, I would greatly appreciate your input.