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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
hi everyone,

i have been browsing through all kinds of fishkeeping sites lately and was interested in starting up an amazon habitat. since i am going back to school shortly, i can't start it now but i wanted to make sure everything was set. that way i can probably start to set up this tank beginning in the summer. for now this is what i had planned.

tank: 40-55 gallon
filter: maybe rena xp1 or a fluval. i have looked at eheim but they seem pricey
substrate: sand

fish: i want the fish to be from the amazon and its tributaries. i have looked at a bunch and i have narrowed it down to a few although i would love suggestions.
-hatchetfish
-neons with possibly serpae or lemon tetras
-a suckermouth catfish (bushynose, gold nugget (L177 i think), butterfly, or zebra. one of them)
-a pair of german blue rams
-honeycomb catfish (oil catfish)

plants: i have a 10g tank now that has all fake plants but a LFS i visited had displays with live plants and i would like to try it. from what i looked up i wanted to use a few amazon plants.
-echinodorus tenellus. they said it was a midground plant. is this true?
-stargrass. i dont know much about it :(
-cabomba. i have heard it is more difficult to keep, especially since i am not well-versed in plants.

so i was hoping you guys could throw some suggestions my way about lighting i should use or other fish species i should look at. basically anything would be awesome :)

oh and one last thing. when i look at a lot of display tanks with amazon species (neons and angels especially), they are rarely blackwater tanks. always very bright, even though they are well planted. why is this? i have read that the species need dimmed lighting either from floating plants or tannin-stained water.

any help is greatly appreciated :)

EDIT: with lighting, i guess that would depend on the plants i used or the fish preferecnes so i am not sure of that yet.
 

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I would get lemons instead of neons because to me they are nicer, plants have a few requirements: lighting, nutrients, and Co2 injection. Lights are very important, plants use blue and red light mainly so a good starting point is 6700 kelvin rating.
 

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I have bit of an amazon biotope but i cheated a lil on the plants. I really like neons in large schools. I have 38 right now hoping to get up to 50. The red on them really pops when they are in large schools. Plus large pet store chains like petsmart and petco sell them for $1.00 ea sometimes. If you do have a petco near by I would go there if you haven't picked up a tank yet. They're having $1.00 per gallon sale on all tanks. For plant's I would recommend amazon swords. Place some root tabs next to them and they will grow pretty big under the right lighting. That's just my two cents.
 

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I am setting up a 40 gallon tank right now and I was in the same situation as you. I wanted to get an Eheim filter but they were to pricey so I was gonna settle on a fluval. Then I came across this site, futurepets.com. I bought the Eheim Pro 3 UltraG65 (2071) for $150. Sure, it is still a little more expensive than a fluval or rena, but the few extra dollars for a far superior filter is definitely worth it in my opinion. The filter arrived at my door step in less than a week, and that was with the standard ground shipping. Definitely worth checking out if you haven't bought your filter yet.
 

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Have you seen the black neon tetras? I have a school of 15 neon tetras that I ADORE :) The black ones look cool too though, just throwing that out there for ya.
 

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Welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum. I'm delighted at another Amazonian fishkeeper joining us.:-D I have 7 tanks at present, and most are geographically Amazonian. The photo attached is of my present 70g flooded Amazon forest habitat and the 115g Amazonian Riverscape; both use the natural method which means minimal light and no CO2. I'll offer a few suggestions here to get you started.

First, filter. A good canister rated to the tank size is adequate. I have Eheims on two tanks and Rena XP3 on the 115g. Eheims are more expensive, but the benefit here is that they will likely last much longer without problems. My two Eheims have been running non-stop for 12-15 years with never an issue. Rena does not yet have that sort of track record, but I am nonetheless happy with its performance after 2 years. In product reviews Fluval come third to the Eheim (first) and Rena (second). For media, I use the Fluval ceramic disks and biomax as it is cheaper but otherwise identical.

Light: sufficient for the plants intended, but no more. And always include floating plants. As you correctly said, Amazonian fish are mainly from very dimly-lit waters. And 90% of these waters are shaded by forest canopy, overhanging ground vegetation, or floating aquatic vegetation. Light does make a difference on the well-being of the fish. You can read some background on light and planted tanks in the 4-part series "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium" stickied at the head of the Aquarium Plants section. Over a standard 55g, a single or dual 48-inch T8 tube fixture would work.

Fish: From your list, I would forget Serpae Tetra. These are often nippy, and some will create havoc at worst, and restrict your selection of fish because of their nippiness. We have fish (and plant) profiles, under the second tab from the left in the blue bar across the top. Many species are included. If the scientific or common name is used in a post exactly as in the profile, it will shade, like Serpae Tetra, and you can click on the shaded name to see that profile.

Plants: Echinodorus species, several are in the profiles. The pygmy chain sword is an excellent substrate cover, you can see it in the photo of my 70g. The similar plant in the 115g is a related species, probably Hellanthium bolivianus. When I acquired it back in the 1990's it was Echinodorus quadricostatus, but the smaller chain species of swords have undergone a major botanical revision and are now Hellanthium with only two or possibly three species.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I am setting up a 40 gallon tank right now and I was in the same situation as you. I wanted to get an Eheim filter but they were to pricey so I was gonna settle on a fluval. Then I came across this site, futurepets.com. I bought the Eheim Pro 3 UltraG65 (2071) for $150. Sure, it is still a little more expensive than a fluval or rena, but the few extra dollars for a far superior filter is definitely worth it in my opinion. The filter arrived at my door step in less than a week, and that was with the standard ground shipping. Definitely worth checking out if you haven't bought your filter yet.
i will definitely look at that site. being a college student means i can barely afford food haha :) thanks for the suggestion!

Have you seen the black neon tetras? I have a school of 15 neon tetras that I ADORE :) The black ones look cool too though, just throwing that out there for ya.
i have and they are so cool. my roommate bought them at school and they seem to be a bit braver and hardier than the neons i bought. apparently they are a different species altogether? at least that is what the LFS owner told me.

Welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum. I'm delighted at another Amazonian fishkeeper joining us.:-D I have 7 tanks at present, and most are geographically Amazonian. The photo attached is of my present 70g flooded Amazon forest habitat and the 115g Amazonian Riverscape; both use the natural method which means minimal light and no CO2. I'll offer a few suggestions here to get you started.

First, filter. A good canister rated to the tank size is adequate. I have Eheims on two tanks and Rena XP3 on the 115g. Eheims are more expensive, but the benefit here is that they will likely last much longer without problems. My two Eheims have been running non-stop for 12-15 years with never an issue. Rena does not yet have that sort of track record, but I am nonetheless happy with its performance after 2 years. In product reviews Fluval come third to the Eheim (first) and Rena (second). For media, I use the Fluval ceramic disks and biomax as it is cheaper but otherwise identical.

Light: sufficient for the plants intended, but no more. And always include floating plants. As you correctly said, Amazonian fish are mainly from very dimly-lit waters. And 90% of these waters are shaded by forest canopy, overhanging ground vegetation, or floating aquatic vegetation. Light does make a difference on the well-being of the fish. You can read some background on light and planted tanks in the 4-part series "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium" stickied at the head of the Aquarium Plants section. Over a standard 55g, a single or dual 48-inch T8 tube fixture would work.

Fish: From your list, I would forget Serpae Tetra. These are often nippy, and some will create havoc at worst, and restrict your selection of fish because of their nippiness. We have fish (and plant) profiles, under the second tab from the left in the blue bar across the top. Many species are included. If the scientific or common name is used in a post exactly as in the profile, it will shade, like Serpae Tetra, and you can click on the shaded name to see that profile.

Plants: Echinodorus species, several are in the profiles. The pygmy chain sword is an excellent substrate cover, you can see it in the photo of my 70g. The similar plant in the 115g is a related species, probably Hellanthium bolivianus. When I acquired it back in the 1990's it was Echinodorus quadricostatus, but the smaller chain species of swords have undergone a major botanical revision and are now Hellanthium with only two or possibly three species.
thanks byron for the comprehensive answer. before posting my question i looked at your tanks and they look amazing! i will definitely consult the sticky and do some more research on lighting. i have some questions though.
-so far i found that there is a rule that says there should be 2 watts per gallon of water for planted aquariums. is this true? it seems really bright for fish who like dim waters.
-will floating plants interfere with light requirements for the bottom-dwelling plants?
-what floating plants do you suggest for an amazonian aquarium? i looked at amazon frogbit and 1 other i think it was hornwort. i have had success with hornwort in the past but i am unsure if i want it in this tank.
- i just came to the thought of aquarium substrate for plants. there is a store near me that models its tanks after the work of takashi amano, the aquascapist. however, its really expensive and i was wondering if there are cheaper ways of providing substrate. fluorite i think is common in most stores. is that good enough?

thanks again everyone for your help. this definitely helped me narrow my options :)
 

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-so far i found that there is a rule that says there should be 2 watts per gallon of water for planted aquariums. is this true? it seems really bright for fish who like dim waters.
Forget this "rule," it is not reliable. This did sort of work back when we all had regular T12 fluorescent tubes over our tanks, and for basic tanks around 20 to 100 gallons. But with the various lighting options within fluorescent tubes today this is completely unreliable. And, it was excessive even previously. Watts is only the measurement of energy a tube/bulb uses to produce the light. The newer T8 tubes (thinner than the T12) are more efficient at emitting equal or more light than the T12, and use less energy to do it. Then there are T5 tubes which are more efficient, though they produce too much light in many cases for freshwater. As an example, my tanks with fluorescent fixtures (all T8) have less than 1 watt per gallon, and no one is going to tell me the plants are not growing well.

-will floating plants interfere with light requirements for the bottom-dwelling plants?
To some degree. However, one factors this in to the equation. As you've seen, I have floating plants in all my tanks; I consider it mandatory for the best health of the fish.

-what floating plants do you suggest for an amazonian aquarium? i looked at Amazon Frogbit and 1 other i think it was Hornwort. i have had success with Hornwort in the past but i am unsure if i want it in this tank.
Amazon Frogbit [I have poor results with this, perhaps due to my tanks being covered; this plant seems to like air circulation more than others], Salvinia, Water Sprite, Duckweed of course though I wouldn't use this solely as it is less suitable on its own. Brazilian Pennywort a stem plant does extremely well floating. In all my tanks I use Water Sprite and Pennywort mainly, with some Duckweed, and Frogbit though it barely survives.

- i just came to the thought of aquarium substrate for plants. there is a store near me that models its tanks after the work of takashi amano, the aquascapist. however, its really expensive and i was wondering if there are cheaper ways of providing substrate. fluorite i think is common in most stores. is that good enough?
I have used every substrate type except soil [won't get into that]. Sand, fine gravel and enriched. Flourite is the substrate in my 70g. The others have sand or gravel. The same species of plants grow equally well in all of these. Which only goes to show how un-important the substrate may actually be.;-) I used Flourite in the 70g because it was to be heavily planted as a flooded Amazonian forest, and I thought the benefit of the enriched substrate seemed suited. I'm somewhat disappointed; after nearly 10 months I am not seeing much of a difference. I won't waste the money on this again. I can't say other manufacturers are better/same as I haven't tried them. But given that plant roots assimilate nutrients from the water, always, it seems pointless to spend hundreds of dollars on one of these when plain sand with liquid fertilizer or substrate tabs for large plants will do the same. Another issue is roughness; Flourite and Eco-Complete are both rough, and substrate fish do not fare as well over these. I took my corys out of the 70g about 5 months after the Flourite because I sensed trouble; and given their behaviour now over sand, I think it was right.

Mr. Amano's style of aquascaping creates beautiful works of art. They are not natural aquaria, by which I mean replicating natural aquatic habitats. I have never gone hi-tech because I do not want to subject the fish to that much light (which is essential), nor do I want the expense and increased nutrient issues of CO2.

I have previously always used fine gravel, and I still think it is the best plant substrate. Over the past couple of years i have set up tanks with playsand, and I do prefer this look for most applications. Fine gravel is very effective in riverscapes such as SE Asian for loaches (Botia sp.) and Central American livebearers and cichlids.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
ok i will look up T8 tubes for sure. i am looking at buying a tank through petco right now for their $1 per gallon sale. i think its a 36 inch length so ill have to lok for something along those measurements. luckily the lfs has a large selection of them. ill look up the lighting in your tabs and see.

ill definitley search up those plants. i have a lot more time now than before. the pennywort, is it the same species that is sold in grocery stores? i know many produce markets have a pennywort that they sell. or is this a different species?

haha wow i did not think that substrate would impact the growth so minimally! so then it is safe if i use sand or gravel? i want the bed of the tank to be sand but should i have gravel underneath that?
 

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ok i will look up T8 tubes for sure. i am looking at buying a tank through petco right now for their $1 per gallon sale. i think its a 36 inch length so ill have to lok for something along those measurements. luckily the lfs has a large selection of them. ill look up the lighting in your tabs and see.

ill definitley search up those plants. i have a lot more time now than before. the pennywort, is it the same species that is sold in grocery stores? i know many produce markets have a pennywort that they sell. or is this a different species?

haha wow i did not think that substrate would impact the growth so minimally! so then it is safe if i use sand or gravel? i want the bed of the tank to be sand but should i have gravel underneath that?
Never mix substrates, by which I mean different grain sizes. Sand will always sink to the bottom, being smaller grains, and the larger gravel will be on top. All sand to about 2 inches overall is sufficient.

No idea what the "pennywort" may be in the supermarket, but I doubt it is our beautiful aquarium plant.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
so if i use the sand substrate, will i need to supplement with tabs still? i read the guide to natural aquariums and talked to some people and they said once in a long while, it could help to stick like fertilizer sticks into the sand to help with the root growth. should i do this? or will the plants be able to grow naturally without any human intervention?
 

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so if i use the sand substrate, will i need to supplement with tabs still? i read the guide to natural aquariums and talked to some people and they said once in a long while, it could help to stick like fertilizer sticks into the sand to help with the root growth. should i do this? or will the plants be able to grow naturally without any human intervention?
On nutrient fertilization in general, it depends upon the plant species and the aquarium (fish load, feeding, tap water). Nutrients for plants occur from two main sources: tap water (the hardness is key) and organics (from fish foods and decaying plant matter). The plant species is important because some plants need more nutrients; generzally, the faster growing a plant is, the more nutrients. My tap water is near-zero in hardness so right away I need to supplement calcium and magnesium, and trace minerals too. I use Flourish Comprehensive Supplement because it contains everything in proportion. This is intended as a supplement in a natural or low-tech system. You can maintain a healthy planted aquarium with this alone.

Some plants are heavy feeders, and this usually applies to substrate-rooted plants such as swords, crypts, Vallisneria, aponogeton, Sagittaria, etc. Since these plants are rooted in the substrate, and their root systems are buried in the substrate, using substrate fertilizers like Flourish Tabs does improve growth because it targets the roots directly. But they will still grow without. I have experimented with this over several years, with the result that I now use Flourish Tabs next to the larger swords, along with Flourish Comprehensive weekly. I do this in both my gravel and sand tanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
On nutrient fertilization in general, it depends upon the plant species and the aquarium (fish load, feeding, tap water). Nutrients for plants occur from two main sources: tap water (the hardness is key) and organics (from fish foods and decaying plant matter). The plant species is important because some plants need more nutrients; generzally, the faster growing a plant is, the more nutrients. My tap water is near-zero in hardness so right away I need to supplement calcium and magnesium, and trace minerals too. I use Flourish Comprehensive Supplement because it contains everything in proportion. This is intended as a supplement in a natural or low-tech system. You can maintain a healthy planted aquarium with this alone.

Some plants are heavy feeders, and this usually applies to substrate-rooted plants such as swords, crypts, Vallisneria, aponogeton, Sagittaria, etc. Since these plants are rooted in the substrate, and their root systems are buried in the substrate, using substrate fertilizers like Flourish Tabs does improve growth because it targets the roots directly. But they will still grow without. I have experimented with this over several years, with the result that I now use Flourish Tabs next to the larger swords, along with Flourish Comprehensive weekly. I do this in both my gravel and sand tanks.
i know that my tap water is medium to high hardness. i checked it a while back when i set up my 12gallon. i know this is not ideal for amazon fish since they like soft water. will the plants just absorb this out of the water column? or should i try to make the water softer?
and i will definitely take a look at the flourish supplement. i plan to have some swords in the background and possibly midground, depending on the size so once i have that finalized i will decide on which swords to use the tabs.
on a good note though i have a clearer idea of what to do for my tank.
tank size: 40 gallon breeder (36x18x16 i think)
filter: an eheim fit for this size, i think 2271 or something like that. it was 150 online
the fish list stays the same i think. the tnak doesnt have a lid so i was gonna get an aqueon glass lid and cut out the back holes for all the media.
however i still have questions for lighting. so byron you suggested t8 lighting and i didnt need to do 2 watts per gallon. in your tanks i noticed it was about 1 watt or less per gallon and it looks amazing. so should i have a grand total of about 35-40watts over 2 bulbs? or 40 watts in 1 bulb? and the plant species i aske dyou about earlier.
 

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i know that my tap water is medium to high hardness. i checked it a while back when i set up my 12gallon. i know this is not ideal for amazon fish since they like soft water. will the plants just absorb this out of the water column? or should i try to make the water softer?
and i will definitely take a look at the flourish supplement. i plan to have some swords in the background and possibly midground, depending on the size so once i have that finalized i will decide on which swords to use the tabs.
on a good note though i have a clearer idea of what to do for my tank.
tank size: 40 gallon breeder (36x18x16 i think)
filter: an eheim fit for this size, i think 2271 or something like that. it was 150 online
the fish list stays the same i think. the tnak doesnt have a lid so i was gonna get an aqueon glass lid and cut out the back holes for all the media.
however i still have questions for lighting. so byron you suggested t8 lighting and i didnt need to do 2 watts per gallon. in your tanks i noticed it was about 1 watt or less per gallon and it looks amazing. so should i have a grand total of about 35-40watts over 2 bulbs? or 40 watts in 1 bulb? and the plant species i aske dyou about earlier.
The dimensions of your 40g are close to my 33g; same length and depth (height), your 40g is wider (front to back). I have a single T8 tube, 25w, 30 inch length, over the 33g. For your 40g I would up this, as I know I am limited in this tank with the single T8 tube. This is where a single tube T5 HO would work well, or a dual-tube T8. Single-tube T5 is not easy to come by, but Foster&Smith do have one for 36-inch tank:
Aquarium Lighting for Planted & Reef Aquariums: Hagen GLO T5 HO Linear Fluorescent Fixtures
And this is the tube:
Aquarium Lighting: T-5 Fluorescent Bulbs: Hagen Life-GLO T-5 HO 6700°K Bulb

A dual T8 would be something like this:
Fluorescent Aquarium Lighting: Perfecto Fluorescent Double-Bulb Strip Lights

Interestingly, the price on both fixtures is the same. The T5 is a "clearance" so perhaps they are discontinuing it. You'll have no trouble getting tubes, as T5 HO will be here a long time. T5 was introduced for marine tanks where more intense light with fewer tubes was the advantage, which is why one sees T5 in multi-tube fixtures more.

The tubes for the T8 would be standard T8 tubes, and there are plenty around:
Aquarium Lighting: Compatible Fluorescent Bulbs for Standard Fluorescent Fixtures
The 36 inch tubes are for the above T8 fixture, and I would suggest either the Life-Glo 2 or UltraSun as basic, plus (with two tubes) you can have a second with a different spectrum which can create good light together.

I won't suggest one over the other now, so think about this.:)

With either fixture, it is just the light so a glass cover unit would be needed; you can buy these, and they have a strip at the back that is not glass but plaqstic so you can cut out for heaters and filters.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
since the t5 is hard to come by i would probably go with the t8. i want to make it easy to replace should something bad happen haha. while looking at the tanks, i noticed all these numbers like 6700k and such. i read through your sticky in the plants section (very clear might i add). so i should try to invest in a bulb with a 6000-7000k rating. but you also mentioned using another tube, both in the sticky and in your last reply. i dont quite understand the purpose of this other tube. will it add increase the wattage of the tank in a negative way? or will it just provide a section of the spectrum that a normal bulb does not?
with the glass covers i have looked around at those and i think i found ones that will fit by perfecto and aqueon.
Aqueon Versa-Top? Hinged Glass Tops | Products
something like those. i heard perfecto is very good but this got me wondering. they sell the replacement hinges and back panels separately. if i go to home depot and have the proper size glass cut and assemble it myself, will that work just as well as buying a glass lid? or should i just not be stingy haha. my craftsmanship may not be up to par. i have also heard of plexiglass being used for the lids. will either glass or plexiglass warp under the heat of the light fixtures?
 

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since the t5 is hard to come by i would probably go with the t8. i want to make it easy to replace should something bad happen haha. while looking at the tanks, i noticed all these numbers like 6700k and such. i read through your sticky in the plants section (very clear might i add). so i should try to invest in a bulb with a 6000-7000k rating. but you also mentioned using another tube, both in the sticky and in your last reply. i dont quite understand the purpose of this other tube. will it add increase the wattage of the tank in a negative way? or will it just provide a section of the spectrum that a normal bulb does not?
with the glass covers i have looked around at those and i think i found ones that will fit by perfecto and aqueon.
Aqueon Versa-Top? Hinged Glass Tops | Products
something like those. i heard perfecto is very good but this got me wondering. they sell the replacement hinges and back panels separately. if i go to home depot and have the proper size glass cut and assemble it myself, will that work just as well as buying a glass lid? or should i just not be stingy haha. my craftsmanship may not be up to par. i have also heard of plexiglass being used for the lids. will either glass or plexiglass warp under the heat of the light fixtures?
The glass cover sets are not very expensive, and the benefit is they are easier to handle. I have one of the Aqueon ones linked, and my larger tanks have the sets that are glass panes in a plastic dual-rail strip that sits on the tank frame. Both have pro's and con's compared to each other. But on the whole I prefer the rail system. Sliding the front pane back a couple inches to feed is for me easier than lifting up the front half and opening half the tank. Just did a quick Google and can't see these; may not be around any longer.?? I would stay with glass for the cover. Easier to clean I would expect.

Light. With dual tubes you can mix spectrum. This is largely a matter of personal taste. I do not like warm white light over my tanks, but prefer cool white. I always have one full spectrum 6700K (within 5000K to 7000K will work), and when I can get them, a cooler (more blue, less red) for the second. I can no longer get these locally, so I'm using Phillips 6500K as my second tube. The plants do just as well under either, it is solely the hue in the tank, and I like a crisper cleaner white rather than the yellowish warmer white that something like a 4000K tube would emit. Blue also penetrates water better, so there may be a slight benefit with my larger tanks by having a blue-ish tube with the full spectrum.
 

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I don't believe that the plants affect the water hardness, or if so, likely not enough... but I really don't know. I have very soft water out of the tap so that part is easy for me... curious what folks will have to say about your hardness. What are your parameters?

I know some folks with harder water who want soft-water fish talk about using RO water, or adding peat or driftwood but I honestly don't know enough about it all to be of any help. ;)
 

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Got sidetracked on the light and missed the water hardness question. Sorry pandamonium.

Magpie is correct, plants have very little effect on hardness. But before we mess around with adjusting the water, what is the GH (geeneral hardness) and KH (Alkalinity) of the tap water, and the pH (tap, not tank, and let a glass of water sit overnight to test pH)? You can ascertain the hardness from the water supply folks, they mayhave a website; might also indicate average pH, that will be fine.

Byron.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Got sidetracked on the light and missed the water hardness question. Sorry pandamonium.

Magpie is correct, plants have very little effect on hardness. But before we mess around with adjusting the water, what is the GH (geeneral hardness) and KH (Alkalinity) of the tap water, and the pH (tap, not tank, and let a glass of water sit overnight to test pH)? You can ascertain the hardness from the water supply folks, they mayhave a website; might also indicate average pH, that will be fine.

Byron.
thanks magpie and byron for the insight. i just looked up the water quality reports for my city. unfortunately they only have one up from 2010 and previous so its not as recent as i want to show you guys but hopefully it helps.

the GH of the water has a range of 8-104ppm with an average of 53ppm
the KH of the water has a range of 8-96ppm with an average of 49ppm
and i can't test the pH since i am at school in new york and i live in california. but according to the report, the pH ranges from 8.2-8.7 with an average of 8.5.

in my past tanks i haven't had any problems with fish and this water, except for my first (and failed) attempt at keeping neons. since then i have not tried any fish that need acidic water except maybe for otos which were able to cope fairly well. i remember when i measured the pH of the water a year ago, it was about 7.5. up at school i used driftwood to lower the pH and stain the water.
other than that, i confess, i know little to nothing about water hardness so im hoping you can enlighten me :)
i defintely do not want to kill any more neons because it was quite sad.

and on another note, the tank i wanted to get was a 40 breeder but my father said it was too deep (front to back). the other option is a 38 gallon which has dimensions 36.5x13.5x19.8. i believe these are outside dimensions. would this affect me much at all? in terms of fish/substrate/rooms for plants to grow/etc? from the dimensions its slightly higher than a 40breeder tank but defintely thinner. any thoughts on this or am i overthinking it?
i wanted to set up a flooded forest tnak though a little different than your tanks byron. i will post an image when i can find it again. but i know i defintley have question about it.
 

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Tank Lighting

Hey Pandamonium, I am in the process of setting up a Amazon tank myself and Byron has been helping me a s well. I just purchased my lighting the other day. A lighting store in my area had a new type of T5 set up which does not have a ballast. With most florescents you will need to occasionally change the ballasts as they burn out. This new type has none and can be linked one to the other with simple plug connection. I am setting up a large tank, that will hopefully look half as good as Byron's 115g, so I am going with two of the T5's. One is around 6500k and the other is more of a cool white, around 4500k. I do not think they are HO's, but they put out more light than the T8's. Byron has his T8's sitting on top of his glass covers. My tank is going into a custom wall unit, so I can adjust the height of the T5's above the water in case they are too bright.
I went with this idea so I would not have to mess with changing out ballasts. Im not sure if this will actually save me money in the long run but should save time and effort which was what I was after. I will have them on a timer and probably start out with 8 hours a day based on my previous conversations with Byron. If you need more detail on these lights let me know and I will send it to you. I can give you the exact K ratings, etc, and you can see what Byron thinks. Hope this helps.
DavidC
 
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