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Geomancer 08-23-2010 11:24 AM

Want to start a large tank
 
Hello everyone, I'm new here, first post even.

Back in college I had a 29 gallon and a 10 gallon fish tanks that I had a lot of fun with. I didn't do anything fancy, just mostly non-aggressive tropical fish, freshwater, plastic plants, etc. Then I moved 2500 miles away and couldn't move the tanks so I gave them away.

Now though that I'm in a stable job and own a house I want to get back into it. This time I want to go big! Well, not overly big, but a lot bigger than before. I'm thinking I want to go with a 125 gallon. I've actually heard that larger tanks are easier to maintain than smaller ones, is that true? I'm still pretty new with this so bear with me.

Haven't decided on specific fish yet, but will go with non-agressive fish again.

Well, here are my questions:

1) Will my floor hold up? I'm not sure how much that is, I think it's 8.33 lbs per gallon correct? That would put the water alone to 1041 lbs. Then have to add in the tank itself, the stand, and other various equipment and decorations. I know this is a loaded question, I just hope I get more of an answer than "It depends".

I'm planning on putting it next to a load bearing wall perpendicular to the floor joists. (My ideal spot though would be parallel to the joists and in the middle of the span ... which I know is the absolute worst spot)

2) How much wattage will I need for heaters? In the winter I keep the house at 68 during the day and 65 at night. During the summer the temperature is around 75.

3) Using a canistor filter, is there enough airation in the water or will I have to add an air pump?

4) For substrate I plan on just using the same plastic pebbles I had used previously in the smaller tanks. Is there any compelling reason to use something else? Using sand just sounds like a nightmare to clean.

5) This time I'm thinking live plants may be a good idea, I had one once in the 10 gallon tank and the thing took over the entire tank, I constantly had to cut it down so it didn't cover the entire top. It obviously grew just fine in the plastic pebbles without adding anything to the water. Are most plants like that? Or do most require something else, or adatives in the water?

6) What kind of lighting will I need? Are the standard ones that come with the canopy sufficient?

Well that's a start, I'm sure I will have more.

Thanks for your help!

Byron 08-23-2010 11:33 AM

Welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum, and welcome back to this terrific hobby.

Most of your questions (dealing with plants, light, substrate, filter) will be covered in the 4-part series of "stickies" at the head of the Aquarium Plants section entitled "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium." I suggest you give those a read, then ask any questions you may have. If it is about planted tanks, the Aquarium Plants section would be the best to post in. I wouldn't use "pebbles" for substrate, just a caution.

One comment on heaters, as this is not directly covered in the above articles. For a 125g tank, I would use two 200w heaters, one at either end next to the filter outflow and intake respectively. With a canister these can be at opposite ends of the tank for good circulation.

As for the floor supporting the tank, I'm not an engineer and living in a rancher with a concrete pad I don't have this problem so I don't know, but others have solved it and will undoubtedly have some advice.

Byron.

JohnnyD44 08-23-2010 11:46 AM

I agree with everything Byron has said, I just wanted to say Welcome to TFK!

Geomancer 08-23-2010 12:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Byron (Post 453587)
Welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum, and welcome back to this terrific hobby.

Most of your questions (dealing with plants, light, substrate, filter) will be covered in the 4-part series of "stickies" at the head of the Aquarium Plants section entitled "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium." I suggest you give those a read, then ask any questions you may have. If it is about planted tanks, the Aquarium Plants section would be the best to post in. I wouldn't use "pebbles" for substrate, just a caution.

One comment on heaters, as this is not directly covered in the above articles. For a 125g tank, I would use two 200w heaters, one at either end next to the filter outflow and intake respectively. With a canister these can be at opposite ends of the tank for good circulation.

As for the floor supporting the tank, I'm not an engineer and living in a rancher with a concrete pad I don't have this problem so I don't know, but others have solved it and will undoubtedly have some advice.

Byron.

Now you have me scared =D

To be honest I read them and have the deer in headlights look. Not a bad guide by any means, just a lot of information and I'm slow to process it.

Would you recommend not doing live plants to start out with? Or is it really easier than it sounds at first?

I don't really have access to much for pet stores, just PetSmart and Petco so I'm kind of limited to what they have to offer. Buying online seems to be somewhat expensive due to the shipping costs of next-day shipping.

You mentioned gravel in the 1 to 2 mm range. I guess that's what I ment to say when I said pebbles, I was thinking the plastic kind that's about that size. You hadn't mentioned plastic (either for or against) just size. Is using real rock ($$$) a real benefit over plastic?

I was shocked to see nothing but mechanical filtration should be used (provided there are enough plants). That just makes me uneasy since I'd be afraid of not having the right balance. You had said most fish prefer still water but plants need circulation. What kind of gph would I be looking at then for a 125 gallon tank?

With my smaller tanks I use to vacuuming the substrate once a week, which also caused the 15% water change. Do you still do that with live plants (the vacuuming)? Or does that disturbe the roots (for those planted in the substrate)?

To make sure I read it right, you say to add a liquid fertalizer once a week, maybe twice a week?

Thanks for your help!

Byron 08-23-2010 01:31 PM

Now we're getting down to specifics, so here goes.

Quote:

Would you recommend not doing live plants to start out with? Or is it really easier than it sounds at first?
Absolutely no. Live plants will cycle a new tank immediately, or more accurately, there will be no cycling issue with live plants. Guaranteed. Just plant it well (within reason, not just a couple plants), fish go in the next day (I leave it one day just for the filter and heater to be working well, no leaks, etc., no other reason). A few fish to start. I can set up a 115g tank from scratch with 100 fish and it all goes together the same day and I have zero ammonia and nitrite from day one; I did this a year ago when I moved my 115g. But I know what I'm doing--and this is not meant to be elitist, but one does learn with experience. I recommend safely for someone new to this.

Live plants are far easier than fish to keep healthy and alive. But as with fish, there are some basics they need, and if not provided, it won't work.

Quote:

I don't really have access to much for pet stores, just PetSmart and Petco so I'm kind of limited to what they have to offer. Buying online seems to be somewhat expensive due to the shipping costs of next-day shipping.
Don't know where you live, but an hour drive to a good store is worth it, believe me. Online plants are easier and less expensive than fish. We and others can discuss this more later.

Quote:

You mentioned gravel in the 1 to 2 mm range. I guess that's what I ment to say when I said pebbles, I was thinking the plastic kind that's about that size. You hadn't mentioned plastic (either for or against) just size. Is using real rock ($$$) a real benefit over plastic?
I would never use anything other than real gravel. I had something years ago that was black, looked fine--until the "black" came off and it turned blue. Not good.

Real gravel is very inexpensive if you buy it in bulk. A good fish store will usually have bulk gravel in a natural and sometimes a dark shade, excellent. Some landscape/stone suppliers have small gravel. As long as it is inert (won't affect water chemistry), like quartz, granite. Calcareous materials (limestone, dolomite, marble, and coral) are out--unless you have livebearers or rift lake cichlids only.

Quote:

I was shocked to see nothing but mechanical filtration should be used (provided there are enough plants). That just makes me uneasy since I'd be afraid of not having the right balance. You had said most fish prefer still water but plants need circulation. What kind of gph would I be looking at then for a 125 gallon tank?
Back before we had electronic gadgets, aquarists had tanks with no filters, no heater, no lights. But they were full of live plants. And very healthy fish spawning regularly.

Plants are nature's filters, so take advantage. You do not need a filter in a planted tank except to move water a bit. Diana Walstad, noted authority and microbiologist, never uses filters, and never does water changes. The "trick" is to plant heavy and stock moderately. I have 140 fish in my 115g, check out the photos (under "Aquariums" below my name on the left) of my 115g Amazonian Riverscape, or my 90g Flooded Amazon Forest tanks. I've had these tanks running for over 15 years. I have filters because I have heavily stocked tanks.

I do recommend a canister filter in larger tanks like your 125g. It ensure good water circulation to "clean" the water of suspended particulate matter; the plants do the "cleaning" part. I have no chemical filtration as it works against the plants.

Lisa recently set up her 125g along the same lines. She can tell you how well it is working.

Water movement is more critical to fish than some realize. Sedate fish like angels, gourami, forest fish occur in slow-moving or still waters in nature, they are built for that; having to buck a current 24 hours a day is highly stressful, and that weakens the immune system. Now, if you want some fish that like currents--I have some in my 115g--you can accomodate them in a 5-foot tank bu having the filter outflow at opne end directed against the end wall. The stronger current at that end will satisfy the fish needing it, while those that don't like it will move further down the tank. I have noticed this in my 115g. The Corydoras duplicareus come from a flowing stream, and they took up residence under the end wall. C. gossei don't, and they reside about mid-tank in the back. The cardinals that also dislike any current remain in the right half of the tank except when they surface to feed. Fish have needs that have to be met to have them less stressed.

Quote:

With my smaller tanks I use to vacuuming the substrate once a week, which also caused the 15% water change. Do you still do that with live plants (the vacuuming)? Or does that disturb the roots (for those planted in the substrate)?
I do 50% water changes every week without fail, always have. As I mentioned above, I stock heavy and need to. I never vacuum the substrate in the 90g, can't get to it for all those plants. I vacuum the front areas in the other tanks because I have bottom feeders (Corydoras, loaches) and like to keep their feeding zones tidy. But I only skim the surface, down maybe 1/2 inch, no more. The waste in the substrate is broken down by aerobic and anaerobic bacteria into nutrients and assimilated by the plant roots, which in turn give off oxygen for the aerobic bacteria. It is a complex eco-system of its own, and it works because it is nature.

Quote:

To make sure I read it right, you say to add a liquid fertalizer once a week, maybe twice a week?
Yes. Plants need food, i.e., nutrients. Where is it going to come from if it is not added? True, some comes from fish food, some from fish waste, some from water (if you have harder water). But all 17 nutrients are unlikely to be in these sources. I use Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement for the Planted Aquarium, it has everything in proportion. A dose is 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) per 30 g, so it takes very little. Once a week or twice a week (max) depends upon the plants, fish load, water chemistry. I need twice a week or within one week my swords begin to yellow.

You will find that the majority of planted tank members here are low-tech natural system aquarists. There are some members with high-tech, that's another ball game. Same rules, but in much higher volumes.

Byron.

Geomancer 08-23-2010 01:55 PM

Thanks, I'll digest all this info in the comming days and try to plan out what to do and what I'll need.

Your fish tanks look amazing btw.

I haven't bought the tank yet, just in the planning stages.

I really want Angel fish (they were my favorite) but my wife really wants a female beta but I don't think those two get along do they?

amazon21 08-23-2010 02:04 PM

Wow! You asked almost every question I was planning on asking him

I have plans for a 125 gallon tank too:)

kitten_penang 08-23-2010 04:44 PM

hmm.... looking ....reading.... liking a lot...wish i had a 125 gallon tank at home.wonder whether it will fall through the floor into my neighbors condo below hmm.... do i like my neighbor.. joking =) hope you get your dream aquarium soon.

CaliforniaFishkeeper 08-23-2010 04:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kitten_penang (Post 453790)
hmm.... looking ....reading.... liking a lot...wish i had a 125 gallon tank at home.wonder whether it will fall through the floor into my neighbors condo below hmm.... do i like my neighbor.. joking =) hope you get your dream aquarium soon.

Where are your other tanks at, if not home?

kitten_penang 08-23-2010 05:36 PM

i was thinking about the 125 gallon.no luck having my 104 gallon fall through the ceiling to my neighbors unit downstairs hehehehe


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