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Old 11-19-2007, 11:15 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default I Need Advice For New Planted Tank


I have a 135, bottom 18x72. Fortunately, money is no object here. With that in mind, can anybody advise me how to set this up, from the bottom glass up? I want to keep some discus, angels and cardinals in a very lush setting. I already have my mech/bio filtration setup and a heater/chiller. So, starting with the empty tank and the bottom glass, and working up to the lighting, can anybody tell me what to do? Thanks.
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Old 11-19-2007, 11:35 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: I Need Advice For New Planted Tank

Well first you need about 3 inches of substrate for freshwater plants, I like Eco complete, because you don't have to rinse it, and it doesn't make you water cloudy. Plus it is black which will show off the colors of the fish and plants better, but it is your personal preferance. Discus and angel fish like lower pH, and slightly acidic water. Once you set up your aquarium, and fill it, you will have to wait for it to cycle. You wouldn't want to loose your expensive Discus because you were being impatient. Your new aquarium will not have the beneficial bacteria needed to break down the toxins that the fish produce. You can put plants in your tank right after you set it up. It would be beneficial for you to get some sort of Co2 system, witch will help your plants grow, and help keep your pH on the lower side. There are do it yourself Co2 systems, and the injected kind. This is what I have,( the injected kind) but I am still learning about it. I have been told though that if money is no problem that this is the way to go. It becomes much easier to deal with, and if you buy a big canister, it should last for a good while. I think with a tank the size of yours that the do it yourself kind of Co2 would be more of a pain than anything. As far a lighting goes if you have about 3 watts per gallon of full spectrum plant light (wich can be pricey) you could probably grow just about any plant that you like in your tank. I would find the nicest LFS (local fish store) in your area and go in and ask some questions, they will probably have what you need, or they can order it for you. There is a thread on the New to planted aquariums page that could also help you. Read, Read, Read, its probably the best thing you can do to help you understand water chemistry and what your plants will need! Good luck, I hope I helped out at least a little. I am new to this too, but my tank is coming along!
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Old 11-19-2007, 11:41 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: I Need Advice For New Planted Tank


Have you kept these three fish together successfully before? If so, then carry on. If not, you may want to consider a few things. I don't see too many people keeping angels and discus together. Most people who keep discus focus all of their energies on the particular needs of that fish. Also, cardinals aren't a great choice to keep with larger angels. It can work for certain people, but smaller fish often tend to "go missing" in those setups.

Even if the final cost is unimportant, it's still difficult to suggest any particular equipment without knowing more about your goals. Are you wanting to keep demanding plant species, or mostly swords, ferns, and crypts? Upkeep and equipment requirements will be vastly different between that and a tank full of stem plants.

That said, I'd plan on using a "premium" substrate like ADA Amazonia. Eco Complete or Black Flourite would also be good, assuming you want a dark substrate. I'd go with two Eheim Classic 2217 filters, an in-line CO2 reactor, and a 40W in-line UV sterilizer. For lighting I think a combination MH/T-5 setup is cadilac and gives you the most flexibility. I'd recommend ADA 150W 8,000K HQI MH bulbs. I'd combine this with 2 or 4 T-5 tubes. I seriously doubt you'll need a chiller since you'll probably be aiming for 84 or 86 degrees due to the discus. This does limit your plant choices to a small extent too.

Give strong consideration to a automatic WC sytem, or at the very least, direct plumbing to allow for easy drain and fill functions. You might also want a closed-loop system to ensure even nutrient/flow distribution and to provide additional circulation. I'd use a 20-lb CO2 cylinder with an apporpriate regulator, needle valve, solenoid, bubble counter, and check valves. RexGrigg.com can provide all of that. I'd use a pH controller with alarms for high & low pH. Hardscape items are up to you, but something using lots of vertical elements works best for discus and angels.

I would get the tank established and stable (2-3 months) before adding any discus.

What is your experience level? If you've kept discus and plants successfully before you'll do fine. I would seriously recommend AGAINST trying a demanding fish species in a huge tank with no prior plant experience. You'll be endlessly frustrated with algae issues if you do.
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Old 11-19-2007, 05:23 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Undergravel? Heating cables?

Hi, in setting up a new large planted tank with 3" EcoComplete, should I use an undergravel filter IN ADDITION to my bio/mech filtration? I'm thinking it's good for water circulation through the gravel.

Also, what about heating cables? Should I use them WITH or INSTEAD of the undergravel?

This tank will sit outdoors where the outside temp sometimes drops to the mid-50s, so even though I'm heating the water, the glass on the bottom of the tank will be exposed to mid-50s. I could also put a space heater under the tank, and regulate it with a very sensitive thermostat attached to the underside of the bottom glass. Thoughts?

Okay, thanks.
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Old 11-19-2007, 06:00 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: I Need Advice For New Planted Tank

I wouldn't use undergravel filtration in addition too. Personally, I've never had much luck in undergravel filters when it comes to keeping a nicely planted tank; however, that is debatable. Same for heating cables; unless you are using a lot of substrate, I would forego the use of a heating cable. The temperature of the water should be adaquet enough to keep healthy plants without having to use a heating cable. But, it doesn't neccessarily hurt the plants either, to be fair.

The type of tank that you are planning to keep would not allow for angels, discus, or cardinals to survive. A tank with discus needs at least constant water temperatures in the low 80's, and there is no safe way of keeping any size tank safely temp. controlled using space heaters.

You may want to consider doing a tank that has plants and fish that can survive temperatures in the upper 50's or low 60's. Perhaps sunfish, darters, minnows, fish like that. Hairgrass and egeria densa are plants that would tolerate such temps., too.

You could consider making a tank that replicates the environment where you are at. Provided that the area is not "protected," you may want to go to a pond or creek near to you and see what plant/animal species are available. Just an idea.

But I don't want to see you spend a ton of money on discus, angels, and plants only to watch them die shortly thereafter, unless you can bring the tank inside.
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Old 11-20-2007, 11:36 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: I Need Advice For New Planted Tank

Hi, I just cant figure out how to use this site properly, so I don't know how to answer an individual comment. I'm just going to do it here and hope you see it. I did not mean to say that the ONLY heat for the tank is a space heater under the tank. The tank has a very good heater/chiller that can keep any temperature steady, and THAT is backed up by submersible heaters should the H/C fail. The problem is that since the tank is in my "outdoors" room, the AIR temp goes down to the mid 50s in the winter. What I am worried about is the temperature of the glass UNDER the gravel getting so cold that it hurts the roots, even though the circulating water is in the 80 range. So my question really is this: I can either put a space heater under the tank to send warm air up to the glass, strictly controlled by thermostat, or I can put heating cables IN the tank for the sole purpose of heating the gravel, not the water. WHICH SHOULD I DO, OR SHOULD I NOT DO EITHER? THANKS.
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Old 11-20-2007, 03:20 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: I Need Advice For New Planted Tank

You should not use either under gravel filtration nor under gravel heating. Neither has proven to be of benefit to planted tanks. To keep the bottom glass warm in the 50 F time of the season, just use a pad of insulating material under the tank. I'm assuming that the 50 F temperature is only a night time temperature, so during the day the tank bottom will warm up a bit. 135 gallons of water and substrate is a big heat sink, so its temperature isn't going to change rapidly no matter how you do it.

I suggest that you spend an hour or so enjoying reading http://www.rexgrigg.com/ which will give you a good basic knowledge about how to keep that tank doing well.
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