Your ideal 55g long setup
I'm starting to think that a 55g long would be much better for fish and plants than the column I have. So I'm curious: if you had a totally new 55g long community tank, how would you stock it? Plants, fish, etc.
I'd keep my fluval 305 (should I get an additional filter?). My LFS has a nice dual T5HO light setup so I could have a wider range of plants than I can do now. I also would keep my 150w heater (would I need an additional one?). While I really enjoy this tank I have, getting in to fish keeping was a bit of a "spur of the moment" type of situation. So if I trade in or buy a new one, I want to do it right and do my research lol. My previous "research" was at a Pet store that at times wasn't so Smart ;p I love this forum; the knowledge, willingness to help, and passion for pet fish is awesome and inspiring!
Feel free to let your imaginations run wild! I also half-way considered an aggressive tank (like a red tailed shark or other fish that would be fed live bait), so I'd welcome thoughts on that too!
Fluval 305 should be fine assumming you don't have any fish with huge bioload.
A 55g would normally have around a 200-250w heater, so unless your air temp is gonna be quite high year round, you should probably get another heater. Another 100 or 150w would be good. The advantage of 2 heaters is they break less quickly as they don't have to work as hard and if one does break, there's always backup.
Need to think about you water parameters of pH and hardness before fish can be recommended
pH is in the 7.4-7.8 range. I looked in a previous post, and water hardness here in Phx is medium to medium-hard.
I would do Angels of different colors if you have your heart set on plants or a few different kinds of Cichlids if you don't want real plants.
A caution on the light, a dual T5 would be way too much unless you intend very high-tech. A single T5 would do well, or a dual T8. Thinking here in all cases of full length of the tank (4 feet) so 48-inch tubes. And with T5, you are pretty much confined to HO; NO are available but hard to find and in fewer options since they are basically the same as T8 when it comes to intensity over the tank so most people either stay with T8 or move up to T5 HO. T5 fixtures are also more expensive, as are the tubes.
On the filter, decide first on fish. Some need more filtration, others less. Water movement from the filter also plays into this. In general, a planted tank needs much less biological filtration so this affects the filter type and size, as well as water movement.
@Byron: I understand where you're coming from on the light--you've answered alot of my previous posts about lighting my current tank. I guess I'm a little confused. My LFS which is very trustworthy and doesn't push a sale, uses 2 T5HO lamps above their FW tanks. One of them is a pink bulb (I'm sorry, I don't have the exact name or specs, but I at least know it's not actinic if that helps). The guy said they both were designed for planted tanks. The fish and plants are always healthy (as far as I can tell). They have high tech setups in the store, but I think those have a halide(?) lighting, which I know won't be for me lol. So to combat too much output, would it work to have a plexiglass cover over the top even tho the T5s are typically left above open water? (edit: or would mounting it higher help?)
I'd like to be able to have a good mix of foreground to background plants (edit: I'd also have floating plants, which may help with the light issues if T5HO?)
Other than what's already been said, let's assume there's going to be an "optimum" light setup, no CO2, the above ph and hardness, etc: what plants and fish would everyone choose if they were starting new or starting over? Just looking for discussion :)
Sorry for all the edits: Byron, I just wanted to let you know that I've been reading up on some of the other forum posts regarding T5HO liike http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/a...-gallon-73462/ so I don't want you to feel you need to go into too much detail. I admire your tanks and fully agree that your setup, with what I've seen you repeatedly say as the "minimum required" is a good starting point. I'm still curious, though, on your opinion of the LFS using the duals. Come to think of it, they do seem to be about a good 6 inches above the tank. I wonder if that extra space helps any? I appreciate your advice.
You need to take into consideration all aspects of a setup. What will work on one tank may not on another. And, the issue isn't the plants, it's algae and fish.
Fish stores do things differently that the home aquarist. Aside from that, I don't know what type of setup they have: if they fertilize, use substrate ferts, enriched substrate, what type of plants, what type of fish and how many, how long the light is on, how often water is changed and how much, what fish foods, snails, shrimp, what filter, what temperature--all these things influence the biological system and changing just one of them can have quite an impact.
And the space between light tubes and water is important; the higher off the tank the light is, the more light is lost by reflection. This is fine if you suspend the fixture a foot above the tank top. But that makes viewing the tank next to impossible, as you have light shining directly into your eyes. With the fixture on the frame, the light enters the water and you cannot see any reflection; there is some, obviously, but you don't see it. So it is better viewing. It's fine to suspend lights above a row of tanks in a fish room, but I like to sit in front of my aquaria for hours, observing nature; I can't do that comfortably with bright light shining in my eyes. It's like watching TV with a floodlight right above the screen, aimed at you. You just can't see the screen clearly.
The fish are my first priority. Forest fish do not occur in brightly-lit habitats. They are stressed by overhead lighting. I take the view that the light should be the absolute minimum to allow the selected plants to grow, and that means deciding that some plants will not be possible. This gives the fish a healthier environment. And algae is then at a distinct disadvantage.
My worst tank for algae is the 70g which has two 48-inch tubes (T8) over it; this tank is narrower than your 55g, and with T8 has 2/3 less light intensity of the dual T5. I have less algae in the 90g and 115g, both of which have the identical tubes but have 6 inches more water depth. That makes quite a difference. And the 115g is a foot longer, but with the same two 48-inch tubes. And I have floating plants in all, heavily in the 70g as well. Yet I have fish that seldom venture out from under plant cover simply due to the light.
I had a 55g 4-foot tank years ago, lit with one 48-inch tube, and I grew swords fine. That was in the 1980's before I knew anything about light, and when the only "aquarium" light was a grolux tube which is weaker light than the full spectrum T8 tubes of today, less than half the intensity. If I were setting up a 55g, I would probably try a single T5 HO. But I would buy it from a store where I knew I could exchange it. Two years ago two of my old fixtures gave out, so for the first one I bought a dual T5 with Life-Glo 2 HO tubes. I had it over the 90g, and it was too much, so I moved it over the 115g thinking the additional foot of tank would probably compensate. It didn't. I had it on for a week, then took it back and got a dual T8. I joked that the poor fish would be asking me for sunglasses if I hadn't. I cannot imagine that bright a light over a 55g. With a high-tech setup, yes, it should work, and with a controlled light period.
There is a lot of inaccurate information out there about light and aquaria. I still read highly-knowledgeable [this is questionable:roll:] authors writing that you cannot grow any plants without at least 2-3 watts of full spectrum light per gallon. Yet all my tanks (except the 70g) have less than 1 watt, and no one can tell me I am "imagining" that the plants in the tank are alive. Some of these same authors still write that you simply cannot have live plants in a plain gravel or sand substrate. I've grown plants in gravel for more than 20 years, and every water change I chuck out excess growth. Quite miraculous really, considering my too-little light and poor substrates.;-)
As always, Byron, you never cease to amaze. After reading around on the forums (which I admit I should have done first :-( ) I tend to agree with the wisdom you impart. I'm not looking for higher-tech setups where I'll trim the "grass" or have some aquatic Nth wonder of the world lol. I just want a tank that's pleasant to look at and provides the essentials (filtration, shelter, habitat, etc) to keep the fish healthy as best I can. Rather than stress them out and cause illness which would result in loss of fish or expensive treatments.
Your many years of experience and helpful insights based on trial and error are priceless on these forums. That is why I enjoy spending time reading and learning.
One followup tho: I was in a local Home Depot looking for T8 lights for 48" if I went dual on them. Correct me if I'm wrong, but having 1 would suffice for most low-light plants, but a dual would allow a better range of plants, even those in the med-bright requirement range?
Here are some specs on the lights. I want to see if these would fit a basic hood and would meet the requirements:
Light output: 2750 lumens
Life: 30,000 hours
Color Rendering Index: 82
Color Temperature: 6500k (it is titled as a daylight bulb)
I didn't see any special coloring (like a red or whatever that would provide more of the red spectrum, as an example). So would a dual setup of those be ok?
Not trying to step on anyones toes here. Just my .02 cents. I have a 55 gallon tank with a dual 48" T8 light fixture sitting on top of it. I am running 2 GE daylight bulbs. Now this is just MY experience with them. They seem to be bright lights for that size tank. I have numerous plants that require medium light requirements. I have also had some that required that and a little more that didn't do so well. Also in my opinion you would definitely need floating plants. When I have trimmed my jungle vals back to the point they were not floating it is really bright in the tank. I also have to run my lights about 6 hours a day. If I run them anymore I get a build up of algae in that tank. Now obviously every tank is different so this might not be the case for you. After saying all that I do like the lights and would definitely not go with a dual T5HO for that tank unless you are going high tech or want to look at the tank with sunglasses. LoL
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