Newbie - 180 Gallon Planted Aquarium Ideas.....please.
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Newbie - 180 Gallon Planted Aquarium Ideas.....please.

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Newbie - 180 Gallon Planted Aquarium Ideas.....please.
Old 11-09-2013, 09:44 AM   #1
 
Newbie - 180 Gallon Planted Aquarium Ideas.....please.

Hey all,

Really enjoying the forum and great pics of the planted aquariums. Something I want to try...

What advice would you give a new guy starting out in terms of the following:
-180 Gallon size? Am I out of my mind to start so large?

-Substrate Preferences?
-Filtration?
-Lighting?

I dont want to mess with any CO2 at this stage, and prefer to stock it with community fish (tertra, angels, platy's, etc. in right combination). Medium to heavy planted tank - Would really like a forest appearance, but unsure what is practical given fish type / lighting requirements.

The tank location is relatively close to a large window and would get some sunlight unless I blocked off a portion - is that a major concern in a planted tank? I have read that having a good deal of natural light is not all that bad, given the concerns of algae, etc.

Realize this post is relatively "open ended" and I have lots of work and research to do - but really curious if you have some thoughts, advice, ideas. Would really appreciate it. Slowly getting into this and only in the design phase.
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Old 11-09-2013, 10:41 AM   #2
 
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Originally Posted by kwrsmith2000 View Post
Hey all,

Really enjoying the forum and great pics of the planted aquariums. Something I want to try...

What advice would you give a new guy starting out in terms of the following:
-180 Gallon size? Am I out of my mind to start so large?

-Substrate Preferences?
-Filtration?
-Lighting?

I dont want to mess with any CO2 at this stage, and prefer to stock it with community fish (tertra, angels, platy's, etc. in right combination). Medium to heavy planted tank - Would really like a forest appearance, but unsure what is practical given fish type / lighting requirements.

The tank location is relatively close to a large window and would get some sunlight unless I blocked off a portion - is that a major concern in a planted tank? I have read that having a good deal of natural light is not all that bad, given the concerns of algae, etc.

Realize this post is relatively "open ended" and I have lots of work and research to do - but really curious if you have some thoughts, advice, ideas. Would really appreciate it. Slowly getting into this and only in the design phase.

i think starting with a larger aquarium is a bit more easy due to the fact that smaler aquariums (to me) seem to be harder to take care of. just from my experience ive had troubles with up keep. i donno why. but! for filtration id get two canister filters. something like fluval 406 or the rena xp4 filters. both are very good. substrate is an easy one. for heavily planted id suggest using soil capped with sand. sand works well something like play sand or pool filter sand. only draw back to this in a heavily planted tank of this size is that the amount of root tabs for heavy root feeder plants is going to be a hassle. as for lighting ill leave that up to the others as im not very good at the celculation of light needed on such a large tank. some videos i would recommend with helping on the planted aquarium is the "dustinsfishtanks" youtube channel. this helped me alot not only with my dirted tank but also my sand substrate tank. good luck! have fun! and welcome to the forum!
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Old 11-09-2013, 11:07 AM   #3
 
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Hello and congrats on having such a huge tank to start up! Sunlight is good if not too much. Be careful to fully cycle before adding fish please. Amozon swords are my favorite but some fishwill eat them
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Old 11-09-2013, 11:36 AM   #4
 
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To finish my earlier post... be carful with sand substrate because it locks out oxygen in the lower levels if it is too deep... anaerobic bacteria colonixe and produce harmfull gasses and unpleasent odors. I find co2 units to be 100% unneccesary. Also do not use aquarium salt in any planted tank...plants will wilt and die. As for 180 gal. Being too large for a beginner...NO! Large tanks are more stable than small ones and easier to keep good water in. Less frequent water changes. Common mistake some begginers make is t o choose a smaller tank thinking it will be easier... reverse is true... the bigger the better! Within reason
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Old 11-10-2013, 09:14 AM   #5
 
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Hey, Smith!!! Welcome to TFK!

Congrats on your 180g!!! This is going to be a fun project, for sure! I'm hoping to be setting up my 125g soon - very, very exciting!!! ^__^

I can't say if you're out of your mind or not (giggle) but as some of the others have mentioned, in tanks - bigger is always better! With a tank this size, you have more options open to you as far as stocking is concerned, and maintaining water quality in a larger body of water is much easier!

It sounds like this might be your first tank ever???! That's awesome!

So yeah - open ended questions, lol. . .gotta start somewhere, neh?

First things first, do you know about the Nitrogen Cycle?
If not, lets start there - a basic understanding of this bacterial process is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING you'll need to know about before bringing fish home.
Here's a link to a YouTube video one of our members put together on the subject, I feel that it gives a good overview on the subject - please give it a watch and bring additional questions to us for clarification - and don't get any fish until you understand! XP
(Disclaimer: there may be a *tiny* bit of colorful language in this one, lol, fair warning if you're sensitive to such things! o.O)

Test kit!!! I strongly recommend that you get a LIQUID testing kit before you get started on anything else. It's really important to monitor the tank closely when it is first being set up, and as the animals start going in. I use the
API Master Freshwater test kit API Master Freshwater test kit
. It seems a bit pricey at first, but it should last you quite a while, and test for test is cheaper and far more accurate than the 'dip stick' tests you can find in shops. Worth it's weight in gold, in my opinion - no aquarist should be without one!

Next up. . . substrate!
There is no answer to the question of what the "BEST" substrate is, a lot of this is really based on individual preferences, as well as the requirements of the fish you keep - and there are SO MANY OPTIONS out there! You can even run a tank with no substrate at all! Each have their own sets of pros and cons, and have different requirements as far as maintenance. I personally find sand far easier to keep clean (though some will disagree!). Cleaning may not be a huge concern to you, though - some recommend not cleaning the detritus at all in a planted tank, as it act as additional nutrients for the plants (I try to keep my tanks as clean as possible, regardless)

From a planted tank perspective, you DO NOT NEED a fancy (and expensive!) enriched substrate for plants to thrive (don't believe the hype! >.<). As long as their requirements for nutrition and lighting are fulfilled, most plants will grow perfectly in sand as they will in gravel or dirt or any of those fun (and expensive!) enriched-for-plants substrates that you'll find in the fish shop. That said, the enriched substrates will give your plants quite a nice boost to get them settled in and growing, and plenty of those to choose from if you want to go that route, too. . . :)

From a fishy point of view, there are many bottom-dwelling fish that will require a soft sandbed to thrive in a tank, so if you choose to go with gravel or stone, you may be limiting your options as far as stocking is concerned.

Unless you have a clear idea of a particular aesthetic you want in your tank, I'd recommend you go with plain old boring PLAY SAND - just like the kind you'd find in a child's box at the playground! The reason being that a tank this size is going to require A LOT of whatever substrate you decide on - you'll need *somewhere* around 200 pounds of whatever substrate you choose to get *roughly* two inches of substrate (slightly less with gravel, but you get the idea - it adds up!) Play sand is the cheapest way to go about it that I know of - I can get a 50-pound bag of playsand for roughly $4, and it's perfectly safe for the animals (though will require quite a bit of rinsing before it is tank-ready!)

Filtration. . . in a tank this size I'd recommend a canister filter (or filters!). The only one I've had personal experience with is Eheim brand, though I have seen many recommendations for Fluval, as well as many others. SunSun is a less expensive off-brand that many of our members have had great experiences with, as well. For my soon-to-be 125g, I do intend to run two canister filters, but I don't think it's a requirement that you do it this way, and much of this will tie into what stock you'll be keeping. . . I'll point your thread out to a few of our members more experienced with running big tanks, I'm sure they'll be able to advise a bit better on this question.

Lighting. . . Ahh, a tricky question! You say you want plants, but don't want Co2, which makes your life much easier as a beginner green thumb, provided you pick the right plants for whatever light you end up with (we'll help!). An important consideration with regards to a planted tank is that you'll need full-spectrum lighting to enable your plantlife to properly photosynthesize.

I'm not really comfortable with advising you with this - my experience with lighting with LOW LIGHT plants on tanks 55g and smaller, but I will say that after a ton of research, I settled on these lights for my 125g. These lights should be sufficent to meet the needs of the plants I already keep, and at a price that is far more manageable to me than many of the other options available. Assuming your tank is standard size, your tank is 4" taller than mine, but I plan on suspending my lights, so these might work for you as well, without the hanging. That said - I haven't tried mine yet, and there are SO MANY other options out there to choose from, such as LED and other fun stuff that I know nothing about! Hang on for more experienced help from one of our members who runs larger planted tanks, I'm sure you'll get better input from one of our pros ;)

Windows. . . this is something to be concerned with, yes. A couple of my planted tanks get a great deal of natural ambient sunlight, and it's something I have to pay close attention to, or I will run into algae problems. Because sun light shifts according to the seasons, I have to be constantly aware of how much light is coming in, and compensate for it with the tank lights - it's really much easier to keep the lighting balanced without having to take window light into consideration. Direct sunlight is something that you'll want to avoid without a lot more research, as it can increase the temperature in the tank, as well as potentially cause you an algae problem. . . if it's possible to block the light from the window, I'd advise you do so - it'll make your life much easier - especially while you're new and still have so much to learn!

Stocking!!! THIS is gonna be the fun part, for sure!!! But more research is needed before you get your heart set on any specific animals!
One thing that many beginners don't consider is that not all water is created equal. Fish have adapted over thousands of years to enable them to thrive in their own unique environments, and as a result, have specific requirements that need to be met in order to be healthiest in our home tanks. One of the most basic - and important (!) things you can find out before considering stock is the hardness of the water you have coming out of your tap. It is always easiest to choose the right fish for the water you have in your home, than to try to adjust the water to suit the fish. I have soft tap water, so I keep soft water fish - but my softies would be miserable and not live very long if I tried to keep them in hard water. You may be able to contact your local water supplier to get this information. pH is good to know, but the GH and KH of your water is more important in determining the type of fish that will be right for your water. If your water company can't tell you,
API has a test kit API has a test kit
for GH/KH that runs about $6 (the pH test is included in the master kit recommended above).

General planted tank info: One of our members put together a four-part series detailing his method to setting up a very simple planted tank. I learned a lot from it when I was just getting started with tank plants, soI highly recommend you take the time to give it a read-through! I'll link all four parts here for you. . . A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4


*whew*

I hope you find something helpful in all of that! Please remember that I'm a beginner, too - consider this a place to START your research, and don't take anything I say as an ultimate truth - I'm still learning! It always makes me so happy to see people taking the time out to do research FIRST, and it ultimately will lead to a beautiful and healthy tank! Best of luck to you, and never be shy to keep asking questions! The more you know, the better your tank will be.

. . . happy to have you here at TFK - can't wait to watch this tank grow!
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Last edited by Chesh; 11-10-2013 at 01:48 PM..
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Old 11-10-2013, 09:35 AM   #6
 
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Stocking of fish is wide open to you in a tank that big. I jest, but any combination of fish will work provided that the tank is large enough
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Old 11-10-2013, 01:37 PM   #7
 
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Four of my main tanks all get about 4 hours or so of sunlight a day and it's never caused issues for me.
Definitely a candidate for canisters, sumps are the other good option for this size but thats not a newbie type filter IMO
For substrate I like sand but somehow(why I don't know) my big tank is a mix of sand and gravel. When you're doing plants keep in mind that you don't want too fine a grain sand otherwise it could potentially be hard on the plants…especially heavy root feeders like Amazon sword(which if you go with angels they'll enjoy that). Not saying fine grain can't have plants as my 55 has superfine sand with plants but I wouldn't risk it in a 180.
Anything that big I feel looks better with LED lights and I only deviate from that when planning a tank while in a particularly cheap mood( it happens! Sometimes ) . I like the Fluval LED lights and plants seem really healthy with their Plant & Aqualife line. But there are others that great.

And if I were you I would mess with CO2 at any stage. There are great fertilizers to use that are less a pain and less risky yet I seem to have grown a jungle mostly without fertilizers. Seachem flourish Comprehensive is one I'd recommend if you want to fertilize and they have a premier line Aquavitro which is pretty nice. I have "envy" from that line and would also stand by that one too(but I think I dosed like 3 times with it lol..I'm lazy)

It is a pretty open ended question so I'm going to stop before my ADD gets ahead of me
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Old 11-14-2013, 12:11 PM   #8
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kwrsmith2000 View Post
Hey all,

Really enjoying the forum and great pics of the planted aquariums. Something I want to try...

What advice would you give a new guy starting out in terms of the following:
-180 Gallon size? Am I out of my mind to start so large?

-Substrate Preferences?
-Filtration?
-Lighting?

I dont want to mess with any CO2 at this stage, and prefer to stock it with community fish (tertra, angels, platy's, etc. in right combination). Medium to heavy planted tank - Would really like a forest appearance, but unsure what is practical given fish type / lighting requirements.

The tank location is relatively close to a large window and would get some sunlight unless I blocked off a portion - is that a major concern in a planted tank? I have read that having a good deal of natural light is not all that bad, given the concerns of algae, etc.

Realize this post is relatively "open ended" and I have lots of work and research to do - but really curious if you have some thoughts, advice, ideas. Would really appreciate it. Slowly getting into this and only in the design phase.
I would do a beaslbob build. Or something close to it.

see link in my signature.

my .02
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Old 11-14-2013, 12:23 PM   #9
 
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I would do a beaslbob build.
What a surprise!
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