Please Help Me With Questions About Planting My New 125 Gallon Tank - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 22 Old 07-19-2011, 01:17 AM Thread Starter
Please Help Me With Questions About Planting My New 125 Gallon Tank

Hi everyone, my name is Alex and over the past year and a half I have developed an obsession for fish-keeping. I am familiar with many of the online forums and have frequented them for information, but had always found the answers I was looking for until now. So I hope someone can help . I am in a similar situation to Spot, who recently posted on this forum on nearly the same subject. I too have read Byron's articles on planted tanks (thank you!) but since I really want to do this tank right I would like to ask some specific questions. I will be very grateful for any response, and hope I can contribute my own answers and experience in the future in other parts of this forum.

Ok so now that the introduction is finished, on to my questions. Like I said I am in a similar situation to Spot as I have never had a planted tank before, and never a tank even close to this size. My tank is 72x18x24 (LxWxH). As of now my plan is to have roughly 60 pounds of gravel I had lying around my house, and an additional 60 pounds of Eco-Complete Substrate I ordered today from Petco on top of that. So question #1: is this enough substrate for a planted tank? And question #2: should the eco-complete be on top, bottom, or mixed with the other substrate (whitish and brown small gravel)?

I am planning on trying to create an Amazonian Biotope tank, and would like for it to be almost completely natural. I plan to use driftwood and plants to (hopefully) create this effect. Another spec of the tank is that it came with 2 36" lights, which say they are 38 watts each. I got these second hand. I understand this may not be enough, but then again I am also hopeful from reading Byron's posts and seeing his tanks. They are single strip lights sadly. Question #3: is this enough light to achieve my goal? I am not very adamant about having any certain kind of plants, however I do know I want plants because of both the natural aspect and the "natural" filtering system it incorporates. I think it would be neat to have nature filter my tank (although I do have several other filters, and am willing to using sufficient filtration for the tank). Will this amount of light be able to grow and/or sustain enough plants to make my tank look nice?

Question #4: should I use any liquid fertilizers?

Lastly, any recommendations on low-light plants which you believe will go well in my set-up please let me know. Desirable plants are swords and vals but I know these do not grow well in low light. As Spot said I have done my research into plants but there are so many tanks it gets kind of confusing. On top of that the plants I have found in fish stores in my area are very limited so I think I will have to order online, where there are even more choices. Since they are relatively expensive I would like to be conscious of how these plants will fare in such a tank. Any comments are appreciated.

I think that's it. Sorry for the long post if anyone is still reading, but I really do want this tank to be well-planned and in a position to run well and be a point of pride in my house. I have been waiting some time to find such a large tank at a price I could afford, and it took almost equally as long to convince my parents to clear out the space for such a large tank . So I want this to be worth it. Thanks in advance for any help. If there is any other information I have left out please just ask. I am looking forward to your input.


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post #2 of 22 Old 07-19-2011, 05:08 AM
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I noticed that Byron has amazonian tanks and he has low light in them so I would follow his advice for that. As far as the substrate is concerned I think you should have between 2 and 5 inches at the front to higher at the back but I think that is down to how you are going to have it structured. Obviuosly higher plants will have more roots and thats why it is higher at the back. Not sure what the composite shoudl be though regarding question three.

As far as Q4 goes I have never used them yet but my tank is only a month or so old so I dont know if I will have to further down the line. I hope my meager experience has been of at least a little help lol
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post #3 of 22 Old 07-19-2011, 12:12 PM
[quote=ThePhilosopherKing;741162Question #4: should I use any liquid fertilizers?[/quote]Yes. I use Flourish Comprehensive once weekly.

As to your substrate questions, I'm testing my memory, but I think that it is Romad(?) who has a link to setting up substrate. I could be wrong.
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post #4 of 22 Old 07-19-2011, 12:16 PM
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First, Alex, welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum. Glad you joined us.

Substrate: What colour is the Eco-complete (it comes in black and red I believe)? And the gravel is brown/white mix, are the grains small, say 1-2 mm? I will comment more on mixing or not when I have these answers. I understand you want an Amazonian-look, we'll aim for that. Any chance you could post a photo of the gravel?

Light. Single tube is going to be somewhat limiting but still workable if you want to try that at first. You can always upgrade later. Tubes need replacing regularly, usually once a year. Having a good tube will probably make this workable, we can get into that later. Could you also tell me about the cover/light fixture, is it a manufactured hood with the two tubes in a line, or is the light fixture on its own?

Filter: On a 6-foot tank |i would recommend a canister filter. You will be better with some water flow lengthwise, not a lot, but some. That is a long stretch of water to rely on thermal currents. You mentioned you have some filters, which ones?

What about heaters? This can tie in with filters, more when I know what you have now.

Liquid fertilizer is usually required, but may not be, depending upon your water, fish (type, number) and plants selected. More on this too when I know about the water.

For an Amazonian aquascape, plants from the Echinodorus (sword) genus are best, and they manage in moderate/low light depending upon species. We have several in our profile; fish and plant profiles are under the second tab from the left in the blue bar across the top of the page. If the common or scientific name is used in a post exactly as in the profile, the name will be shaded and you can click it to see the profile, example Echinodorus bleherae or Amazon Sword. Pygmy chain swords is good for the foreground. Brazilian Pennywort is great as a floating plant and it can easily be trimmed weekly to keep it in check; fish from Amazonia greatly appreciate floating plants.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #5 of 22 Old 07-20-2011, 01:04 PM Thread Starter
Hey again everyone, thank you very much for your responses. Sorry I could not respond yesterday but something unexpected came up during the day.

JImi -- thanks for the response. I appreciate any input. It helps me learn and you are a month more experienced than me.

Brownmane -- thank you for the response as well. I am thinking of ordering the Flourish comprehensive from, as today is the last day of my free Prime membership for being a student. And I will be looking for that post you recommended right after this post.

Byron -- thank you too, your help is much appreciated. Here are the answers to your questions:

Substrate: I ordered 60 pounds of Eco-Complete Black. It will be here tomorrow. I then have another 60-70 lbs of the other substrates. The whitish kind and the brown are actually two seperate kinds of substrate. I measured them and almost all of the pieces of each kind are about 5 mm. I have attached photos of the two different kinds of gravel.

Light: I got these lights second-hand along with the tank, so since I do not know how old the bulbs are I will get new ones. Any recommendations? The lights are seperate from the cover, which are foldable heavy duty glass covers which the lights lay on top of. Some more information from the lights:
All-Glass Aquaroum, Inc. 36" Deluxe Flourescent Aquarium Reflector 120 Volt 37 watt 60 hz.
I have included a picture of the light as well.
Although I would of course prefer to work with what I have, if you think buying more lighting would greatly improve my tank I can splurge for another light or two.

Filters: I have a lot of filters around my house, all of which are cycled and running on tanks. Since I plan on moving some of the fish I have into the 125 I can use any combination of them. They are:
Cascade 700 Canister Filter, AquaClear 50, 2 AquaClear 30's, Tetra 10 gallon, Aquaen 14 Gallon, Tetra Whisper 50 Gallon ( I think) and a Marineland Emperor 400.
I understand that none of these are rated for such a big tank, so I am thinking about maybe combining two of them. What do you think would work best? On this issue I am thinking the same as the lights; although I would prefer to work with what I have I could buy a larger canister filter if you think it would greatly help the tank.

Heaters: I have heaters all over the house. Three which are just sitting around unused are:
Supreme Heetmaster Mod II, Visitherm 150W, PennPlax ThermaFlow PC
There are also heaters in several of my other tanks around the house, of various sizes. I can check them out if these heaters won't cut it.

Liquid Fertilizer: Since today is the last day of my free shipping from Amazon, would you recommend I get the Flourish Comprehensive? Or any other kind of liquid fertilizer? If I don't end up using it it is not a big deal, I am sure I can find someone to use it, but I am looking for the one which you believe is best.

As for the plants, I actually had never looked up plants on this website. I really like the way it is laid out. I will do more research into the different kinds of swords and other plants presently. I really like the Brazilian Pennywort as well, and since it seems easy enough to grow and maintain I definetly plan on using it.

Thanks in advance for all of your help. If there is any more information you need please let me know. And thank you again to JImi and Brownmane. If anyone else has any recommendations for this tank please feel free to chime in, I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Attached Images
File Type: jpg Gravel1.JPG (37.7 KB, 50 views)
File Type: jpg Gravel2.JPG (49.4 KB, 50 views)
File Type: jpg Light.JPG (39.9 KB, 50 views)
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brownmane (07-20-2011)
post #6 of 22 Old 07-20-2011, 09:40 PM
Originally Posted by brownmane View Post
Yes. I use Flourish Comprehensive once weekly.

As to your substrate questions, I'm testing my memory, but I think that it is Romad(?) who has a link to setting up substrate. I could be wrong.
I'm wrong. It's redchigh that has a link about setting up planted substrate.
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post #7 of 22 Old 07-20-2011, 11:32 PM
I too use Flourish Comprehensive in both of my planted tanks. I use to use API Leaf Zone Pro Series, which for me also worked great, the biggest difference I see is that Flourish is more concentrated, so smaller doses make the bottle last much longer, as one cap full doses a 60g tank. Where the API one, a cap full only treated 30g, and the bottle was 50% larger than the Flourish bottle. Flourish is also cheaper than the Pro Series Leaf Zone by API, in my experience at least.

I have medium/low light and have had much success with a wide variety of plants. Even managing to keep some higher light plants, like baby tears, alive in my 15g thanks to it being only 12" high, light reaches the bottom more easily than in my 29g tank.

Amazon sword is in my opinion, a great hardy plant that is pretty easy to grow and care for. I have also had great luck with wisteria, it is one of my faves. Wisteria can be floated or planted, planted usually requires more lights, and some report the leaves at the bottom falling off, I havent experienced this and have had nothing but beautiful flourishing wisteria plants that have grown taller than my tank (15g) and that now bed over creating a great canopy. Brazillian Pennywort is a lovely plant as well, I had a couple of bunches, but a past fish chewed the stalks up, and I was only able to save two small pieces, which have been very slow to grow over the past 6 months. Moneywort seems to grow extremely fast for me in my low light, and I usually have it planted. Java fern is a great low light plant that can also handle a current nicely. My java fern has begun to reproduce and has already given me 5 new small plants off of it's awesome reproducing leaves...I also love the deep green color java fern offers when in context to the lighter greens of the amazon sword.
I have a lot more plants, but these are the ones I see as easy, beautiful, lower light, and more readily available to purchase at most aquarium stores.
Just wanted to let you know my experience with the planted tank world, as I have only been in the planted tank experience for about 6 months now, but fish keeping longer than that (mostly with cichlids and livebearers prior to now).
Good Luck, welcome to TFK, and cant wait to see pics when your latest tank is up and ready.

*They call me, Amanda*
Tank 1: (29 gal planted) empty
Tank 2: (15 gal) empty
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post #8 of 22 Old 07-21-2011, 01:24 AM
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i agree with LasColinas. Ive kept planted tanks for a few\years now and its my expirience that a fine balance of light, CO2, fertz and a fairly shallow tank will prove the most successful. Ive had the high powered T5HO lighting, the lower T8 tubes and even just a handful of spotlights and managed to grow plants. Yr biggest issue will always be algae. You just cant have plants without it and the more light you have, the more algae. Im not sure if we are allowed to recommend other sites but if we are then I suggest as these people live and breathe planted tanks and there is a section for low tech planted aquariums.
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post #9 of 22 Old 07-21-2011, 08:24 AM
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Did I hear my name?

I think you'll actually need a bit more gravel..

For an average of 3 inches (1 in the front sloped back to 5 in the back, or 2 sloped to 4) you'll need approximately 100 pounds of eco complete AND 100 pounds of other gravels if you want a mix.

The amount you have can give you an average of 2... You could possibly go with a little under an inch in the front and slope back to a little over three for the swords.... Using lots of driftwood and placing it in the tank before you add gravel could also displace some substrate and give you a bit more to work with, or you can mix a little soil into half the substrate, spread it on the bottom in the back third of the tank (where the swords will be), and add the 'pure' substrate on top.

Some more good options for plants would be crypt wendtii, java moss, java fern, and anubias if you don't mind including some asian plants.

A super cheap substrate alternative is available at wal-mart- it's called 'oil-dri' and sold in the automotive department. It requires a LOT of rinsing, but it's simply fracted clay and totally inert. I think it looks quite natural.

Originally Posted by Christople View Post
^^ genius

Soil Substrates Guide:
Part 1
--------- Part 2

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post #10 of 22 Old 07-21-2011, 10:43 AM
quick click on it before it runs away ^^

38 gallon :
Pelvicachromis Taeniatus Nigerian Red not yet breeding pair
4 Pangio Kuhli
12 Hemmigrammus Bleheri
2 Botia Lohachata
1 Botia Straita
1 Ancistrus Sp.
6 Poecilia Reticulata

The Wet Spot Portland Oregon!!!!!!

ADA: Do!aqua Iwagumi 10 gallon size!
7 Clown Killies
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