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Please Help Me With Questions About Planting My New 125 Gallon Tank

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Please Help Me With Questions About Planting My New 125 Gallon Tank
Old 07-21-2011, 10:44 AM   #11
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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.
I would absolutely not use that white gravel. The brown will mix fine with black, but not the white. And once gravels/substrates are mixed, you're sunk, they cannot be "un-mixed." The white will draw attention to itself. I even find the minimal white in "natural" gravels to be too obvious.

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.
The fixtures are fine; I bought two new All Glass Aquarium fixtures last year to replace older ones that gave out, and I like the way they are made. Tubes are easily replaced. You want full spectrum or daylight, with a kelvin around 6500K. This may or may not be sufficient intensity with just the one length of tubes, it will be close. But as the tubes will be usable in dual-tube fixtures if you decide you need that, it will not be wasted money. With fixtures sitting on the tank frame and a separate glass cover under, you can change the fixture easily and the new ones would much the same only with two 36-inch tubes instead of one. Although they are expensive I would go with Life-Glo tubes. Here's a link to info:
Fluorescent Aquarium Lighting: Life-Glo 2 Fluorescent Light Bulbs
Just to prepare you though, I'm fairly certain that dual-tube fixture will be necessary. But as I said, these tubes are still the best and worth trying with just the one length.

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.
A single canister filter rated for the tank wold obviously be preferable. But again bearing in mind the cost, using a couple of what you have may work out. Probably one at each end. The water movement is usually excessive from hang-on-back filters esp if they have just the waterfall and not a directional spigot (latter works fine) but a 6-foot tank is long and this is less of an issue than it would be in smaller tanks.

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.
As long as they work... Two heaters are mandatory, one at either end, next to the filter outflow/inflow. With a canister that would have outflow at one end and inflow at the other, two heaters keep the water even temp coming out and going into the filter. With two filters at either end, the heater will heat the water just as evenly. The highest wattage heaters are best, they do a better job, work less to do it, and thus last longer. When it comes time to replace them, look at 200w minimum.

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.
Yes. Flourish Comprehensive is the best, bar none.

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.
Other members have subsequently suggested plants, so I leave it at that. In this tank, it cries out for large swords like Echinodorus cordifolius and Echinodorus bleherae. Youo can see these in my 115g tank photos. My original E. cordifolius is now 14 years old, and I have two of its daughter plants in with it.

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Old 07-21-2011, 10:46 AM   #12
Originally Posted by brackish1 View Post
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.
algae means you have to many hours of lighting and ferts in the water
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Old 07-21-2011, 06:29 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Christople View Post
algae means you have to many hours of lighting and ferts in the water
thats true actually, although would you agree that the more powerful lights increase algae issues? I currently have a 55g tank with basic T8 tubes and fert maybe once a week (if I remember lol) yet still I find a lot of the plants near the surface fall victim to the dreaded green spot.
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Old 07-21-2011, 06:45 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by brackish1 View Post
thats true actually, although would you agree that the more powerful lights increase algae issues? I currently have a 55g tank with basic T8 tubes and fert maybe once a week (if I remember lol) yet still I find a lot of the plants near the surface fall victim to the dreaded green spot.
All planted tank authorities will tell you that a well-planted tank that is balanced will never see algae issues. This doesn't mean algae will not be present--it will, it is completely natural in any aquatic ecosystem--but it only means that it should never be out of control. And these same people will tell you that it is light that causes it to get out of control. Something that has certainly been my experience over 20 years.

The best approach to a natural planted tank is to start with the lowest light level necessary for the intended plants; then add nutrients if necessary. Algae does not stand a chance to become troublesome.

Light has to be considered from the aspects of both intensity and duration. Light that is too bright (intensity) will cause algae if the nutrients in the tank are not sufficient to allow plants to photosynthesize to the max at that level of light. [This is where the higher-intensity T5 HO lighting causes trouble, to answer your question.] At the same time, light that is on for longer than the nutrients are available will allow algae to take advantage; this applies regardless of the intensity. And a shortfall in intensity cannot be compensated for my increased duration.

This is why you, like myself, see algae on plants near the surface: light is simply too intense. Provided sufficient light gets to the lower plants, it may be helpful to reduce the duration. Or use floating plants which can assimilate CO2 from the air which is why they seldom have algae issues even though they are close to the light.

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The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Byron For This Useful Post:
brackish1 (07-21-2011), LasColinasCichlids (07-21-2011)
Old 07-21-2011, 07:11 PM   #15
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thanks byron. That makes sense. Think a lot of people will benefit from your reply :)
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Old 07-21-2011, 07:12 PM   #16
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Algae use to be an issue for me in my 29g tank, the issue stopped when I added more plants. (I now just hope there is enough algae for my otos in that tank, especially since there is usually around 100 or more pond snails in there to compete with.)
My 15g tank is visually algae clear, if there ever is any, the pond snails that I try to keep stocked in that tank take care of it.
I think the number of plants helps keep the algae down too, as plants can out-compete the algae for lights and nutrients.
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Old 07-22-2011, 02:48 PM   #17
I thought that the pond snails eat rotting/dieing plant matter and not algae?

I was/am looking at Nerite snails. I like the look of them, if they happen to eat algae I consider it a bonus.

Last edited by TwinDad; 07-22-2011 at 02:57 PM..
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Old 07-22-2011, 03:24 PM   #18
Wow, thank you everyone for your replies. You guys (and girls) are a great help. Instead of replying to each of you individually I think I will just update you all with my current ideas and ask questions from there. Again I would appreciate any help...I am learning but still have questions.

The EcoComplete I ordered from Petco came in...2 of the bags were what I ordered but for some reason the third bag was a bag of another kind of substrate which I do not want and I will be returning. I am thinking of ordering another 60 pounds of Ecocomplete black. My plan is then to put the brown gravel on bottom (approx. 25 pounds) and then the hundred pounts of EcoComplete black on top of it.
Redchigh or Byron -- do you think I could make this amount work? I would slope it from front to back as well as I could to have it be about twice the height in the back than in the front. I also have some driftwood I can put in first to displace the sand as you suggested, Redchigh.

As for the lighting, thank you for your recommendation Byron. I will be purchasing those tubes tonight or tomorrow. I have just realized that I have two lights, one 20 inches and one 16 inches, both flourescent. One is All-Glass Aquariums 19 watt flourescent, the other seems pretty old but just got a new starter and bulb in it recently. Would it be worth buying new bulbs for these lights as well, and putting them in the middle to take up the space of the tank? I guess it would cover the middle 1/4's of the tank. Or do you think I should perhaps save the money in case I will inevitably have to purchase another 2 36" flourescent fixtures?
Another question: If I need more light, can I simply purchase two more 36" fixtures and place them behind the existing ones? Or would you recommend purchasing a dual one. I only say this because if I purchased a dual fixture I would have no use for my existing light fixtures and I am sure the dual fixture is a good deal more expensive (although admittedly not sure).

Heaters: Thanks for the advice. Having one on each side definetly makes sense. I will plan on starting to use my Cascade 700 cannister and either the emperor or aquaclear 50 on each side, and look through my tanks for the best heaters I have and use those. The room the tanks are in isn't in the coldest room of the house either so that should help as well.

I have ordered Flourish Complete.

And thank you everyone who recommended plants to me. I still have a lot of research left ahead of me on this front, but plan on starting to use Swords, Java Fern, some floating plant (hopefully the Brazilian Pennywort, which I think looks very nice) and perhaps some annubias too. But who knows what I will find with more research.
To all - what is your favorite way to buy plants? Unfortunately all of the nearest pet stores to me are Petco/Petlands and one local pet store which does not carry the best in plants (I checked the other day). Should I look on forums, websites, aquabid, ebay? Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you all once again for your help and recommendations. I hope I can still get some more information out of you guys so I can be on my way to starting this tank. The wait is killing me! But I know it will be worth it. I will make sure to share with you all once it is complete. Thanks again!


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Old 07-22-2011, 05:39 PM   #19
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@Twin Dad... pond snails, like most snails, will eat on decomposing plant matter, algae, and dead animals... just about anything they can get a hold of. My pond snails (or pouch or bladder, they are very similar), ate away at any algae, have helped me out by eating the dead tips off some of the plants so I didnt have to, and they also scavenge the bottom of the tank for left over food, and when I feed frozen brine shrimp or frozen worms or bloodworms the snails will attack a piece and happily eat it. I have well over 100 of these snails, and I overfeed my tank on purpose so these snails will continue to re-populate and quickly, as they are fed to my puffers by the dozen every couple of days (that way they can hunt and eat them, and there is still enough left over to handle business in that tank for me as well). A nice link with basic info on the general snail: Snails in the Aquarium

@TPK... I find my favorite, and easiest to find plant to be wisteria. I also love the ease of the java fern and the amazon sword. The amazon sword is my favorite sword due to its minimal needs, I do however have a couple of other species of sword, including the melon sword and the ruffled sword, which are doing okay in my 29g and have been for about 4 months now. I always come back to wisteria as my favorite. I think it is not only because it is absolutely beautiful, but its a stem plant so it absorbs ammonium and nitrates faster and helps my tank out this way, but it can be floated (grows fast and furious this way, and a lot of fish appreciate the floating plants), but it also looks just too amazingly beautiful when bunched together and planted. Planted they look so beautiful I have had people argue with me over if mine is even real, and of course it is, it just looks so amazing. So, obviously, as I have bragged on this plant to no end, wisteria is by far my favorite freshwater aquatic plant.
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Old 07-22-2011, 07:15 PM   #20
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Light is the most critical factor in a planted tank. And before I get to your questions TPK, while I also like Wisteria as Amanda mentioned, I would not recommend it in this case because it requires good light, moderate to bright, or it will quickly fall apart. I had to toos all my leafless stems out. When you have dual tubes across the full length of the tank, you might (I say might) have better luck with Wisteria, and for that matter most stem plants; mine fell apart in the shallower 70g with two tubes full length though. Pennywort is one of the few stem plants that will do well in less light than most others. And we are talking less light here.

To the light. If the fixtures all work and you can get tubes for them, they might be sufficient. You would then have 2 tubes at 36 inches, 1 at 20 in and 1 at 16 in. I'm not certain tubes come in these latter sizes, they are not listed on Fosters&Smith. If they do, or if there are tubes that fit whatever size they actually are, all this would probably come to 80-90 watts which is what I have over my 5-foot tank (80w). You should check into those odd sizes though.

The advantage of a dual fixture is less space; two single-tube fixtures will take more space than a single dual-tube fixture (front to back). On the other hand, having separate fixtures will allow you to stagger the light duration, using timers. One tube would come on first, then the other maybe 15 minutes later. Same going off. This is a benefit to avoiding sudden light/darkness which startles fish. Even after years, my fish still react to the light going out at night, even though there is room light on. If the two 36-inch fixtures you now have work and seem likely to last [who can tell this?] a second single-tube fixture set will be less expensive. But a dual-tube fixture would likely be more economical than single-tube if all have to be purchased.

Substrate: Layered substrates will mix over time. This is fine if they are very similar in colour, but otherwise it may not be. Another option might be to put the EC along the back at 3-4 inches, and the gravel along the front. The EC will most benefit larger plants, and they will be in the back. Between the two some sort of "divider" would benefit, as again they will mix. I'm thinking rock slabs, even wood. You don't want a straight line down the tank, so different-sized rock or wood lengths arranged at angles would be more natural. With plants you won't see the back substrate anyway.

Flourish Comprehensive is what you meant by F Complete, presumably.
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