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shane3fan 11-15-2009 09:38 AM

help me set upa cool 30 gallon
I am considering getting a 30 gallon tank to go in my living room on a built in bookshelf. Obviously I wil be reinforcing the shelf ( plan to build a sort of hidden stand under the shelf concieled with cabinet doors to hide the canister filter and power strip. )

The space I have to work with isnt very much bigger than the tank. The lights cant be spaced above the tank--they have to be in a conventional style hood configuration or laying flat on some glass on top of the tank.

I will be using a canister filter to make maintenance easier since I wont be able to get to the back of the tank--it will help me fit it in better as well with the lower rear profile of the canister filter tubes vs. HOB filter.

Plans for this 30 gallon include lots of low light plants, gravel substrate with root tabs and water column ferts. NO CO2. Some Otos and Corys ( not sure how many is too many ) and as many Rummynose Tetras or Black Neon Tetras as I can safely fit in the tank. ( Open for other suggestions for fishies--these are just fresh on my mind. ) I had considered Scarlet Badis--but Im afraid I will kill them--Endlers Livebearers are pretty--but I dont want to deal with babies over running my tank. I would LOVE to have some Cichlids--but some are diggers and some are too darn agressive or big for this tank. How about some small rams--would they work in a tank with Tetras and Corys/Ottos--maybe a single male or a pair of small rams?

At what point light wattage level would I have to consider CO2? I dont want CO2 because of two reasons--added expense--and mainly because of lack of knowledge on my part. If someone can convince me that it would be a good idea--I may add it to all 3 of my tanks--maybe.

What light level would be too intense to be right at water level? A raised light canopy is out of the question.

This is the light I am considering

Coralife F/W T-5 Aqualight Double Strip Light-36" at Big Al's Online

This canister filter

The 30 gallon tank fits my shelf opening perfectly with a standard tank hood profile and minimal equipment on the rear of the tank.

Not sure on fish--I know I will have LOTS of plants--3 pieces of artificial driftwood with built in caves.

Ideas or suggestions welcomed!

bearwithfish 11-16-2009 10:11 AM

i will always say guppies :) i love them and if you want to avoid babies just get all males as they are the more beautiful of the sexes and they are so willing to pose for those beautiful pix....

Angel079 11-17-2009 01:01 PM

You really do not necessary need CO2 at all.
I can only repeat myself telling everybody I had all my tanks for many yrs never no underground fertilizer, no tablets, no liquid no CO2 nothing and they done wonderful to say the least.
Key IMO is proper w/c and proper lights. In your case what I'd do (prop even built in myself since all else seems to be built in) I'd get 2 florescent bulbs both no less then 7000K.
Pending on your source water I may add liquid fert.
And then plants that tank like 90% full with different swords, Vallis and tiger lotus etc (since its gonna be sorta like your showcase tank).
As for the fish: What are your water parameters ??

shane3fan 11-17-2009 06:42 PM

ph is 7.6 in my other tanks

Ive never checked anything other than pH, ammonia, nitrItes and nitrAtes.

molliefan09 11-17-2009 06:54 PM

api makes a good gh/kh test kit

Byron 11-18-2009 01:09 PM

1 Attachment(s)
I believe your linked light fixture is too intense for what you are planning. T5 tubes emit considerably stronger (more intense) light than regular T8 or T12 tubes. As you do not want CO2, and I agree with Angel this is unnecessary in the majority of well-planted aquaria, you do not want intense light.

The old "rule" of 1 watt per gallon of full spectrum really does work in most situations. This refers to regular (T8, T12) fluorescents, not T5 which as I mentioned are considerably more intense. Two T5 tubes approximately equal three regular. The fixtures are not interchangeable, just so you know.

The other consideration in this is the fish. Those you've mentioned come from dimly-lit dark waters in the forest. They will be less stressed and therefore healthier with less light; they will show better colouration under less light and with a dark substrate. Plants also look better with a dark substrate.

The photo below is of my former 33g which had one 25w Life-Glo 2 tube over it. The main plant is Anubias, and there are crypts along the front and floating Ceratopteris (water sprite). South American forest fish as you've mentioned. I don't have photos of this tank when it had Amazon swords, but they thrived. And the fish sparkled under less light.

With the dual-tube T5 you would have approximately six times more light than what is shown in these photos. That is simply way too much. The plants can't use all that, since CO2 from the fish won't balance, so algae will take over. Even with two regular or one T5 over this size of tank (36 inches, 33g) you will have double the light that I have in the photos. That's a lot of light.

My recommendation would be one regular tube fixture, with a Life-Glo tube. The photo is a Life-Glo 2 which is a tad less bright, so the Life-Glo would be a bit more, but sufficient for the plants and fish you've mentioned.


Calmwaters 11-18-2009 02:30 PM

Wow Byron I love that tank what is the plant you have floating at the top?

Kelso 11-18-2009 02:58 PM

Byron, Beautiful! Dwarf Butterfly Cichlids as well as Rams should do great in a 30 gallon. I wouldnt waste money on ferts and root tabs unless you end up needing them. All my plants grow fine and I never used that stuff.

Byron 11-18-2009 05:09 PM


Originally Posted by Calmwaters (Post 276422)
Wow Byron I love that tank what is the plant you have floating at the top?

Thanks Amanda. Plant is Ceratopteris, common names floating fern or water sprite. I bought one about 12 years ago, and it reproduces so fast (daughter plants on the leaves as it grows) that I never run out of plants. I throw the older ones out and use some of the daughters so there are always smaller new plants which grow fast and thus use nutrients fast.


Byron 11-18-2009 05:17 PM

I see I got so involved on the lighting I forgot the filter question. Fluval are reliable filters, but I think that one is too large for a 30g planted tank. You must remember that these canister filters are geared toward aquaria with cichlids and livebearers, which are the majority in the hobby, and they have evolved over the years for that type of setup. The filtration needs of such tanks are quite different from planted aquaria.

In a planted tank minimal filtration is best, for the plants. If you go with mainly forest fish (as I call them), tetras, rasbora, corys, loaches, dwarf cichlids as someone mentioned, etc., less current is preferable as it replicates their natural habitat. And you intend lots of plants, and plants are nature's filters, and they do the job better than any filter we can use. The filter in a planted tank is there to move the water through media (sponge, wool, pad) to remove particulate matter, that's it. In any tank under 50g I would use a sponge filter. That's what I had in that 33g pictured earlier, up in the left rear corner behind the plants, with the current directed along the rear wall.


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