Alright, This post will be for the people who know their stuff.
I am thinking about getting a larger aquarium for christmas. I dont want it small, but not too big. my budget for EVERYTHING is a probable 4-5 hundred dollars. I want a nice tank, nice and good size fish, and need suggestions on filters, substrates, everything.
Please post your suggestions.
Not too small but not too big means different things to different people.
How large is the space you want to put the tank? Is it 3 ft long, 4 ft, 6 ft?
Personally, I like 55 gallons as a medium size. I have a 20 and 35 gallon "smaller" tanks, which are 2 ft and 3 ft long respectively. I also have a 6 footer.
The 55 gallons are a 4 foot long tank. They are large enough to allow good size schools of smaller fish, or a smaller number of larger fish. What you want to stock will also tell you what size tank you need. If you browse through the tropical fish profiles, Byron and others have supplied the minimum tank length for most species. 48" is a common size requirement.
If 55 isn't big enough, 75 and 90 gallon tanks are also available in a 4 foot length.
Are you buying new or used? Obviously if you buy used you will be able to get a larger tank for less cash, but be prepared to possibly have to reseal an old tank, or replace an old heater/ air pump.
For the money you want to spend you could easily get a nice 55 gallon aquarium with stand, filter, heater, substrate, air pump, plants, etc and still come under budget.
I just looked at your log and see you already have a 45. This is what I meant by size being subjective. Since you already have a 45, you probably want bigger than a 55.
I would say 75 or 90 if you have a 4 foot space, a 125 or 150 if you're looking for a 6 footer.
Watch out for sales and deals online. I was going to buy a 125 and ended up getting a 220 for less.
I personally probably wouldn't go with a 55, they are too narrow for my taste. A 75g or 90g is a better 4 foot tank in my opinion.
I have a 125g which is a nice 6 foot tank, cost $300 something new. But if 4 foot is the largest you can do there is a 120g but make sure you can take its large width (2 feet). If going new, I find Petsmart to have the best prices (at least in the US) if you wait for a sale (10-15% off usually). If you go 55 or smaller, PetCo does a dollar per gallon sale a couple times a year, so you could get the tank (but nothing else) for $55. The sale is only up to 55g, nothing larger.
Do you want fake decorations, or natural (driftwood/rocks/live plants)? If fake, I'd personally go for dim lighting, no more than a single T8 style bulb across the length (48" tube for a 4 foot tank). A lot of fish look a lot better under dim lighting, bright lights will make them pale. If you have life plants though, a dual T8 on larger tanks is good enough for a natural non-CO2 system (this is how I do my tanks). But with the extra lighting some floating plants are nice to keep it from being too bright for the fish.
If you go african cichlid though you can't do most live plants, they'll rip them all up.
For substrate, I'd honestly go with play sand probably. The same kind used in kids sand boxes. It works really well, and is cheap. Just takes a lot of effort to clean before use.
Your budget is quite high really, but I think you'll find that stands are the expensive part, quite often more expensive than the tank itself. A nice looking stand will cost you a pretty penny. For my 125g, I build my own, but materials still cost over $200 (I skinned and trimmed it in oak).
For filter, go canister on a large tank. Don't bother with HOBs. Only go with a single filter in most cases, unless you are doing a specialized river tank. Most tropical fish are forest fish, they like calm water.
For fish, that all depends on your tap water (pH, GH, KH). You say good sized... if you want large fish, be prepared to not have very many fish. Often, large fish can only be kept with other large fish ... and they need lots of room. The reason being is most fish are omnivours so they'll eat anything that fits in their mouths.
I see you already have bala sharks and a silver tipped shark, as well as an african brown knife in a 45 gallon tank. This is severely overstocked. These fish require a minimum 6 ft tank, so I would look at getting a 125 or 150 gallon tank and moving your current fish into it as soon as possible.
Those algae eaters, depending on exactly what they are, may get up to a foot long as well. Basically the only fish on this list that belong in a 45 gallon aquarium are the platies and possible the African Leaf Fish. Which is an awesome fish by the way, imo. So it's great that you are planning on getting a larger tank. I love the Balas too. Beautiful, peaceful fish.
Ok, Disreguard my 45 gallon tank. its not mine. its my brothers. sorry for misleading you. but yah
Well, if he keeps those fish in that tank, they will need to be moved to a larger one soon.
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