Help a new 50 gallon owner!
I have a 50 gallon tank that I'd like to set up for tropical fish and plants. Right now all I have is the tank and the hood for it.
Right now it's filled up in my driveway, I was testing it for leaks. I stopped at Petco today and talked to someone there.
I have well water; but I also have a softener. So I can fill the tank with hard water (bypassing the softener) or use the softened water. I would think softened water would be better, but wanted to verify; I'm not sure if it typically adds anything to the water.
I am aware of the need to cycle. I understand that Tetra makes a good bacteria kick-starter, and I saw some Eco Complete plantable substrate that is already infused with the correct bacteria. Is that gravel worth it? Using that, plus maybe the Tetra bacteria, how long would I expect the cycling to take?
The Marineland filters were recommended... I was thinking of the Emporor 400. Would that be the correct size, or too much current?
Also planning on getting a pair of 125W heaters, one for each end of the tank. Is it OK to go a little bigger and turn them down further? My house is between 68-72 in the winter and 72-74 in the summer.
As far as lighting, the hood takes a 48" fluorescent. Enough for plants in a 20" tall tank?
As far as fish go, I think I'd rather have fewer fish that get a bit larger than normal. Not really that interested in the swordtails, guppies, etc. My son, who REALLY likes fish, would like a catfish (or catfish-like fish). Likely a pleco will show up, but I'm not all that sure about what else can work together.
Any suggestions or answers would be greatly appreciated!
looks like you have a good idea of what you need...inmy opinion if you ran with everything you had just mentioned things would turn out just fine...if you start out slowly with the bio load aand or utilize starter benificiary bacteria acompanied by water test wil determine the cycle time...do it to it and keep us posted...ADIOS....
oh and on the lighting i would try to get another 48" tube on top...it should be easy if you have glasss tops..you can even utilize two 24" incandecent fixture and use compact flouresents rated 6500Kelvin....Adios....
I'd recommend getting your well water tested so you know exactly where you stand and staying away from and chemical methods of changing it. If it's really hard we can start to deal with it once we know.
On a 50 gallon I'd go a bit larger on the heaters, but don't turn them down. I use two 200w in my 55g. By using two it doesn't mean that you can turn them down so much as it means the both work less and hence last longer. Also, you have a backup if one does go kaput on you.
Most "catfish" tend to get pretty large. Probably larger than your 50g can handle. It sort of depends on how specific your son is being. I'd look into the various corydoras as well as several loaches including the Dwarf Chain Loach and the Khuli Loach.
Good luck and keep asking questions.
Hello, and welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.
This is to be a planted tank, so all that follows will be geared accordingly.
The single tube fluorescent will work fine; you need a full spectrum tube, with a kelvin rating around 6500K. You can buy these in a fish store, but they will be expensive. Or you can get the same thing in a hardware store at a fraction of the cost. GE. Sylvania, Phillips all make "daylight" tubes with a K rating around 6500K.
I would not get a HOB (hang on back) filter for a planted tank. The direction of the water flow cannot be controlled. At the head of the Aquarium Plants section there is a 4-part series (what we call "stickies") headed "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium." If you could read that, you will get a better understanding of what I am saying about light, filters, etc. A canister rated to a 50g would be the best filter.
Cycling: if live plants are added from the start, you will not have cycling issues. This also is explained in the article I mention above, so plant the tank well at first and add a few fish (depending what you intend). The bacterial supplements can't hurt; Tetra's SafeStart and Seachem's Stability are the two most commonly available and are both excellent; they are 100% live bacteria. But with plants you don't need this; up to you.
Heaters: I agree with last poster, two 200w heaters, one at each end next to the filter intake and outflow (which should be at opposite ends of the tank for best water circulation--another reason for a canister and not HOB.
Re fish, I would decide on upper/mid-water fish first, then select bottom fish accordingly. Plecos are variable, some grow to more than a foot and will destroy a 50g. Know your fish before acquiring it. We have a fish profile section here, second tab from the left in the blue bar at the top. "Catfish" section has a lot of species profiles with info in each on size, tank requirements (not all fish will live in the same aquarium water), compatibility, requirements, etc.
As for the water softener, this needs exploring. Some add salts and chemicals to the water which are more harm than the hard water. I can't offer much on this, but others with experience in softeners may have advice.
This should get you started.
I read the articles in the plant section. The canister filter looks like what I need, but the issue I have with that is the location of the aquarium; it is going to sit on furniture I already have and the filter requires it to be lower than the aquarium; that could be a problem. I'll have to investigate my options.
I was hoping to go natural, and use a planted aquarium so that I could get a good balance for my fish. Is starting out with a 50 gallon, planted aquarium kind of biting off more than I can chew at this point? Should I forget about the planted aquarium and go with artificial plants? I thought that the planted aquarium would be more stable in the long run, but if it's going to be a real balancing act maybe it's not the best approach...
Planted tanks are no more difficult that tanks with fish. In fact, they are easier, since the plants help the fish so much it makes everything easier. Keep things simple. Nature does the bulk of the work for us, as opposed to gadgets and fiddling constantly. The larger the tank the easier to attain success.
I was looking at the Eheim Classic filter as it seemed to be highly recommended for many reasons, and did a search on how to install them and it recommended that it sit below the tank level since the intake is based on gravity and the impeller only forces the water back into the tank. If it will work without being below the tank, that will be wonderful.
I have Ehems, 2 of them have been running for more than 12 years with never a problem. They are not only good filters, they are very reliable. I also have a Rena XP3. Same basic filter, but Rena are less expensive, maybe half the cost of comparable Eheim, though Rena don't have the track record (too new). But as far as filtering, I would recommend either. I believe mine can be under or beside the tank, mine happen to be on the floor.
A word on the stand, be careful with furniture. Water is very heavy, and these glass tanks are not light. Plus 50 pounds of gravel (in a 50g tank). That is a lot of weight, several hundred pounds. I use the cast iron tank stands, and one of my tanks is on a sheet of 3/4 inch plywood on two concrete block columns. The stand must be rock solid not only to support the weight, but not to move when the tank is full. Any give can cause the silicone seal to break in the tank.
OK, moving right along!
I did more research and the Rena XP3 will be delivered Monday. I had the water conditioning guys out today, my unsoftened water was around 9 and the iron was 1.5, before going through the softener. I will take him a sample this weekend after we've run the water through a couple cycles.
The hood and light fixture was in storage so they were really dusty but they're cleaned up... I took the advice given in my thread in the Plant section and bought T8 bulbs since it will be planted. Unfortunately, the bulb that was in it was a T12, and the T8 just loudly flickers on and off so it seems like the lighting fixture is incompatible with my T8 bulbs (although the T12 lights right up and stays on). Can anyone recommend a 48" fixture that will definitely work with a T8?
The hood is in "OK" shape, for being from the early 1990's; there is some hard water/etching on the glass so I may replace it with new glass or Lexan, and one of the plastic tabs for one of the hinged plastic lids was broken and replaced with a (now rusty) nail or screw. If anyone has a suggestion for an all-in-one solution for a T8-ready fixture and hood, all-in-one, I'm all ears!
The tank is 48" x 12.5"... apparently it's a 55, not a 50 gallon tank.
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