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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone! I have recently purchased a 30 gal breeder tank (36"x12"x15.5") and cant wait to get started! Been doing ALOT (probably put in around 12 hours of research so far) of homework on starting the tank and wanted to get some feedback on my choices to make sure i am on the right path. I have read and watched tons of videos on the cycling process and cleaning of a tank.I am pretty sure i have it down and will cycle my tank with a little bit of fish food and time.

Here is a list of all the equipment i am about to purchase.

(x2) SunSun HW-603 Multi-Stage Canister Filter, 106 gph
Fluval M 200-Watt Submersible Heater
API Freshwater Master Test Kit
(x2)Flourite Red, 7 kg / 15.4 lbs
Aqueon 06232 Siphon Vacuum Aquarium Gravel Cleaner with Bulb, 10-Inch
Fluval Biomax Bio Rings - 500 grams/17.63 ounces
All Glass Aquarium AAG21236 Fluorescent Deluxe Hood, 36-Inch, Black
Prime, 50 mL / 1.7 fl. oz
I have 50#s of pool filter sand that i have washed already.

I definitely want to have live plants as well in my tank.

So i guess my initial questions are: Is this all good? What else should i get? Should i also put a layer of small gravel in between the flourite and sand? Should i get any more chems? is it ok to cycle and THEN add plants? I dont know what fish i want yet so thats why i wanted to wait for the plant selection.

Any and all feedback/suggestions is super appreciated!!
 

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Hello and welcome to the forum :wave:

It looks like you're off to a good start. Don't forget the small items like nets and a thermometer. A light timer would be good to have since you're deciding to live plant.

I would def. plant before you add fish since you have that option. I have a 75 gallon that I planted while inhabited - eesh!

Have you decided on where you're buying your plants yet?
 

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Welcome to TFK forum.:-D

A comment on the substrate: sand and Flourite will slowly mix, the sand will drop to the bottom with the Flourite on top. I would stay with just sand on its own. I assume the Flourite is for the plants, but I tried this in one tank and found it not worth the money. Plus, substrate fish (corys, loaches) have problems with this, I had to remove these fish because of mouth and barbel issues with the sharp Flourite.

On the light fixture, I assume this is T8 (as opposed to T5)? And what is the actual tube length that fits? I have a near-identical tank with a single T8 tube 30-inches in length, and it is barely adequate for low and moderate light plants but only with a good tube like the Life-Glo. This can work fine, but other less-intense tubes such as the one that comes with the fixture will not be sufficient unless yo stay with very low-light plants. I like the All Glass fixtures very much, I bought two to replace worn out fixtures a couple years ago; well made. But the tubes they come with went straight to recycling.;-)

Once yo have the tank planted, you can add the first fish (few), you will have no "cycling" issues with live plants, esp with some fast growers like floating.

Byron.
 
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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Abbeysdad, i think i am ok with the cycling of the tank. like i said i have watched alot of videos and read up alot about it. I never jump into any purchase/investment without doing extensive homework. It is great to know though that everyone here is eager and willing to help. I cant wait to start posting pics of my tank!!

I will def take a look at that guide though!
 

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Byron, thanks for the advise. I will look into changing the substrate since i did read that a few times but i also read the great benefits of the flourite. There is nothing like it being directed at me though lol. in regards to the light hood, i was also just advised to use a freshwater LED set up... i though since i had plants i HAD to use fluorescents, is that wrong?
 

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Sorry for the bombardment of questions but i am sure you guys are used to this.... i want to have NICE and VIBRANT plants. I need pressurised CO2 for this right?
 

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On the light first. LED can work, just as any light can work. The intensity has to be adequate for the type of plants or plants cannot photosynthesize (grow). There are very good LED lighting units for planted tanks, if you know what you're getting. They are more expensive.

Jeff (member JDM) has experimented with some LED and found some good ones. I have experimented more with T8 (and T5 once) fluorescent tube lighting.

Assuming the tube will be 24-inch, one of these in T8 will not provide much more than adequate light for low to moderate light plants and floating. I have a 24-inch T8 over my 30-inch 29g and with a Life-Glo it works for low and some moderate light plants. Over a larger tank like yours it will be pushing things. A single tube T5 with a HO tube will work fine, if you can find this.

On the CO2, no this is not necessary. But here again, it depends what you want to grow. Different plants have different needs when it comes to light and nutrients. And nutrients must always balance the light, what ever it is; any excess of nutrients over the light, or any excess of light over nutrients, will cause algae issues. There is a lot of CO2 produced naturally in an aquarium by the breakdown of organics in the substrate.

I don't use CO2 in any of my tanks, and never have. But I am not into aquatic gardening, growing red-leaf plants and flowers, etc. So my moderate light with balanced nutrients works for what I want, as shown in the photos under the "Aquariums" tab below my name on the left. I have healthy thriving plants, but they are plants that require low or moderate light.

Byron.
 
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I think I can offer some decent advice on a few of these points.

Romad's advice on the smaller items is spot on. I think a light timer is absolutely essential, providing the fish/plants with a reliable light cycle really improves their health. I also highly recommend a real glass thermometer, not the sticker kind. This makes it far easier to provide the correct temp for your tank.

As for substrate, I used flourite black sand on my last tank so I can offer a little first hand insight. The plants seem to like it, their roots are healthy and growing well. However I'm not convinced that it is really much better than regular play sand. Play sand has always worked just fine for me. The flourite (sand) is also VERY fine and prone to clouding. This makes it difficult to do any work like planting or cleaning in the tank, and as a beginner I think you need a tank that encourages you to play around, learn, and experiment. As byron said, it is also harmful to some fish, and if you are still learning what species you enjoy keeping, it would be a shame to make some incompatible right off the bat. Also, I personally find that colored substrate starts too look quite garish and distracting after a few weeks, even if it looked good at first. A more neutral color (like play sand) will provide a much more natural and gentle visual. Remember that the aquarium should be something you will be looking at for quite some time and that substrate is a royal pain to change in any tank.

For lighting, I put LEDs on my more recent tank. I like them and they weren't too expensive because I was able to build them myself. I find lighting to be one of the most complicated and confusing parts of the hobby. For a first tank I think you would be better off sticking with some sort of standard fluorescent (byron's advice is good). Basically LEDs can be great but in your case they probably aren't worth the complexity.

The CO2 is kind of like the LEDs. It can work very very well if you know what you are doing, but you don't need it to grow lush, healthy plants.

It can be kind of hard to find information specifically about cycling a planted tank. This is because they don't need to be cycled. In an unplanted tank, all the fish waste must be processed bay bacteria. In a planted tank its a bit different, the plants and filter bacteria can share the load. So in a planted tank, you can start by adding plants, and then slowly add fish. As you very slowly add the fish the filter bacteria can start to develop and colonize the filter, but the plants will keep the water clean while the bacteria establish themselves. It is still very important to add your fish slowly, but you can pretty much always add plants.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
thanks for the insight! I have definitely decided to just go with the pool sand. so I am gathering that i need 2 bulbs for my tank and i do want to go with fluorescents but i do not know what fixture to get. Every 2 bulbed i see is pretty expensive. Am i just not looking correctly?

Thanks again!
 

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no i do not. Im sure i have shiny object noob syndrome so i want cool, beautiful, nemo looking, gracefull (like angel fish and bettas)... i know i have to do research and see if the fish i want are compatible and the type of water they like etc... Got any suggestions?

I plan on being very ocd with my tank maintenance...
 

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Byron, thanks for the advise. I will look into changing the substrate since i did read that a few times but i also read the great benefits of the flourite. There is nothing like it being directed at me though lol. in regards to the light hood, i was also just advised to use a freshwater LED set up... i though since i had plants i HAD to use fluorescents, is that wrong?
Going with straight sand is a good idea... so I won't harp on it again.

The issue with LED is that the stock kitted lights are not for plants, but that is the same for fluorescents as well. If you buy a fixture that is suitable for your setup there is less complexity than bulbs but more up front cost, although a good plant/bulb combo can be pricey as well. The best plan is to overshoot what you expect to need and compensate with surface plant coverage to reduce the light levels, or reduce your photoperiod or just cover some of the surface physically to create areas of shade.

Here is a shot of the top of my tank with the current LED plant specific fixture. It will provide light enough for almost all light level plants, I have TONS of floating plants to lower the light arriving at the bottom. My first fixture was also good for plants but I couldn't have as much surface coverage or it got a little too dark for medium light plants. It's all about balance. I happen to have lights on for 14 hours a day... I like the viewing time.

You can check my profile tanks and see shots with the first lower light LED setup, same manufacturer, different model. I really like the low profile and built in four stage timer in the new one... but the price tag was in the mid $200 range. Marineland is the make.

Jeff.
 

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thanks for the insight! I have definitely decided to just go with the pool sand. so I am gathering that i need 2 bulbs for my tank and i do want to go with fluorescents but i do not know what fixture to get. Every 2 bulbed i see is pretty expensive. Am i just not looking correctly?

Thanks again!
Jeff has now entered the thread with advice on the LED issue. Thanks, Jeff.

To your question here about fluorescent tube...I see you are in the USA, so check out online places for some the lower prices. Don't worry as much about the tubes themselves, because most of the fixtures will come with tubes that frankly are not worth having. I have always purchased my tubes separately. The fixture will last years, so the investment is solid. Tubes have to be regularly replaced regardless, every 12-18 months for T8, probably 18-24 for T5.

If you can find a single-tube T5 fixture, that is probably your best option. Second to this I would rate a dual-tube T8 fixture.

Comment on sand, with pool sand you have to be careful not to get white. Some places have black pool sand. I am not exactly fond of that either; I had black in one tank and got rid of it after 2 years for other reasons, but one disadvantage was that every bit of stuff stood out. I never have this with my mixed-colour substrates like the natural gravels and sands. I now use play sand, the Quikrete brand available from Home Depot, Lowe's, etc. One bag (25kg/55 lb) will do you for your 38g, and this is only a couple dollars.

Byron.
 
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Jeff has now entered the thread with advice on the LED issue. Thanks, Jeff.

To your question here about fluorescent tube...I see you are in the USA, so check out online places for some the lower prices. Don't worry as much about the tubes themselves, because most of the fixtures will come with tubes that frankly are not worth having. I have always purchased my tubes separately. The fixture will last years, so the investment is solid. Tubes have to be regularly replaced regardless, every 12-18 months for T8, probably 18-24 for T5.

If you can find a single-tube T5 fixture, that is probably your best option. Second to this I would rate a dual-tube T8 fixture.

Comment on sand, with pool sand you have to be careful not to get white. Some places have black pool sand. I am not exactly fond of that either; I had black in one tank and got rid of it after 2 years for other reasons, but one disadvantage was that every bit of stuff stood out. I never have this with my mixed-colour substrates like the natural gravels and sands. I now use play sand, the Quikrete brand available from Home Depot, Lowe's, etc. One bag (25kg/55 lb) will do you for your 38g, and this is only a couple dollars.

Byron.
I did get the regular sand color. It's washed and I just put it in the tank. I want to start cycling the tank first before I add plants so I'm going to place my first order today. I'm doing some last minute searches.
 

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If you plant enough plants you don't need to cycle it, plants use the ammonia before it enters the nitrogen cycle, most anyway. I don't have time right now to say but I have done two tanks this way now.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I did read that, I will like to have a mostly planted tank. I will take it slow and see how everything works out.
 
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