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Discussion Starter #1
Ok, so I've been reading up for the past few months and am pretty well confused by now. I get the basics, but with my luck, I will end up with a tank of green soup if I don't get it right the first time. I just bought a 180 gallon Seaclear. 6x2x2. I am planning on it being a Rainbow fish species tank but with the corresponding cleaners too-problem #1. Rainbows like shrimp. No shrimp=algae. I was told about Olive Nerite Snails, but can the get to the fine leaved plants?
#2-lights, I am thinking these... http://www.aquacave.com/36-tx5-5-lamp-t5br-fixture-by-aquactinics-1588.html

It should be in the low-mid range of light, yes? 10 bulbs @ 39w.

#3-substrate, I have been tole to use Flourite, but there are like 30 different kinds and then there are ones to add as a thin layer and others to use as the substrate itself. I have no problem using the Flourite as the substrate like this... http://www.aquacave.com/flourite-black-br-aquarium-substratebr-154-lbs-by-seachem-2067.html

but my concern is longevity.

Oh yeah, then there is dosing. In a 180, I'm guessing 100 gallons would be a decent change every week, but when changing the water, do I have to build up the CO2 and macro/micro nutrients before putting it in the aquarium? I am afraid of a PH crash. Which is why I'm getting this...
http://www.aquacave.com/detail.aspx?ID=1364

I have a brand new Fluval FX5 to use for this tank-is that a good idea or will the biological media compete with the plants?

Ok, I think that is it for now. Sorry for the rant, but to see what I'm after, here is a link to an awesome article I just read and this particular page had a picture of almost exactly what I am after. imagine this image 6 feet long, seen from both sides.
http://www.aquatic-plants.org/articles/basics/pages/05_light.html
 

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You will have a high light intensity with those fixtures. T5 bulbs with individual reflectors, as those seem to have, give about 50% more intensity than PC bulbs. That will work fine, if you want that much light, and are willing to do the regular pruning, keeping CO2 levels high, heavy fertilizing, etc. needed to avoid algae. If not, look for fixtures with fewer bulbs per fixture.

FLourite black is a great substrate, and will last as long as you need it to last. It is basically an inert substrate, so there is nothing to "wear out". An alternative would be ADA Amazona aquasoil, which is also very dark colored, but is nutrient rich. You have to be willing to do the extra water changing for several weeks after starting the tank, or it will be a problem for you.

Don't worry about the pH change when you change water. As long as you just use tap water, and most of us can do that, the fish are not affected by pH changes caused by adding new water.

The amount of water you will need to change at a time depends on how you fertilize, how much excess feeding you do, and other possible problems you run into.

The pH controller is not a cost effective purchase. You can't use it alone to maintain the proper amount of CO2 in the water.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I have no problem going with a lesser amount of light. I am aiming for a low/mid to mid range. I have always read that 2-3 watts/gal. is a low/mid area to shoot for. If I am going to use T-5 fixtures, what should I shoot for in the wattage? As for dosing with ferts, I am still very in the dark about the whole thing. as with water changes, do I have to prep the new water and get all the minerals in the correct balance first or just add and start checking?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I've been doing some more reading. Then I did some reading. Then I read some forums from ingg and BryceM. Both doing a 180 and both an extreme help. And don't think I forgot you Tex Gal and the sweet thread you pointed me to for dosing. My tank and stand show up on Tuesday, I have my FX5 but am leery about the true flow rates and may install a pump and its own plumbing. I'm still on trying to figure out a way to get my CO2 into the tank. Hints???? I will set the tank up and make sure it hold water. Then I'm off to Colorado for a Rockies game and to scavenge some rocks and drift wood. Then I get to do some setting up :D I have decided on using Tek Light T-5 fixtures. Each holds 6 bulbs but I can cut it down for my needs. I have a thin canopy to work with. I'll get some pictures up as soon as it shows up.
 

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I'll put in a plug here for my favorite Florida aquarium store- www.GreenLeafAquariums.com has a great rep with CO2 equipment, Orlando's a member here and would also give you whatever help you need setting it up. :D
 

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Is the tank reef ready?

If so, it is very very easy to take one of the intakes, run it through a big CO2 reactor, to a pump, and return it. A big closed loop to aid flow, and dispurse CO2.

Those lights are going to run it as a high light tank. I'm using 8 39w bulbs in TEK fixtures, and can grow about anything I want to. I tried running all 12 bulbs - I have the same fixtures you are buying - and it was overkill, algae blossomed.

I killed Ludwigia Pantanal, but I think that has more to it being rather stubborn about being a water column feeder vs. a root feeder, and I don't dose my tank. Everything else grows very well, and colors fantastic under 8 of the 12 bulbs.

If you prepare it a certain way, you don't need those massive water changes. My tank is plumbed to my house. I do auto water changes, about 5 gallons a day. That's it.

Remember, though, I'm not dosing the water column (this was another reason I went to mineralized soil, the savings on ferts/water changes ferts require alone is massive!) at all - well, that's a lie... I dose .2 ppm potassium once every few days. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I figured I'd get the TEK lights with the plan of only running 4 or 5 bulbs per fixture. I'll probably wire in a few T-8 for veiwing while I have the TEK lights off. I picked up the tank, stand and canopy today. It's bigger now sitting in my living room than it was in the LFS show room. ME LIKIE!!!! I'm setting this up to be a room divider so it will be seen, from 3 sides. I am headed up Colorado tomorrow so I will leave it wrapped up until I get back-around the 20th of July. Then I shall be posting up a storm and bugging quite a few of you. I want this done right the first time and am grateful for what info I have so far, it's awesome. Thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hey guys, sorry for being absent for so long. Life hit and finances are being stretched. I have my tank and stand set up (no plumbing yet) and did some measuring. With the canopy on, I have 4 3/4" between the top of the tank and the bottom of the canopy. Is this going to cause heat issues being so close to the acrylic tank. I had already planned on installing fans in the canopy but what about radiant heat into the tank its self? I have never used T-5 lights so I am unfamiliar as to the heat out put. If things look grim, I will send this canopy back and build one myself that is taller. So, your thoughts....?
 

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I've not used T-5's or acrylic tanks, so I'm not truely qualified to answer this. That said, if you've got a good vent and cooling fan biult into the canopy, it should be okay...except you have to figure how close the actual bulbs will be from the tank (2 inches or so?). You would need to make sure you've got plenty air movement going throught there. And I don't think T-5's get as hot as PC's, but I'm not actaully sure.

Personally, I would just do it and rock on. But, I'd hate to give you a suggestion that could be a potential problem.

-Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Ok, so I am trying to figure out the hard scape. I have been looking over many pictures but I see a completed tank. It's rather difficult trying to figure out how it was all laid out prior to the plants. I've heard a lot about "the golden rule" or triangle or something....Yep, I don't get it. So here are a couple of quick sketches so you guys can tell me how a proper layout is supposed to look, and what I am doing wrong-if anything. They are to scale with the image size being the tank detentions, and the one with without the tree branch is using rock shapes and sizes of those I just acquired. I have yet to get any wood.
 

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Great sketches! I really believe in whatever you think looks best, is best, and yes naturally there are certain ratios we find appealing. The "Golden Ratio" is from the Fibonacci sequence, which goes 1,1,2,3,5,8,13... etc adding the previous two numbers together to make the next in the pattern. These ratios are found throughout nature, and thus the natural way is the appealing way usually. I personally just did a ten gallon (someday would love to do a 180 :) ) and redid the scape multiple times until just yesterday I think I finally settled into something I like.
So IMO I'd play around (sketches are a great way to do it) and find something you like.
Sorry for the rant, but hopefully things work out!
 

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Remember the size of what you are doing, is my advice - I look at that second pic and go, "what a shame, he'll never see 90% of his rock work".

Here are some comparitive shots for you. First, setting up my 180g. Note, those are 30-40 pound rocks for the larger ones. Funny coincidence, but we were showing our club the Golden Ratio, so the lines you see of the pink yarn are the lines the gold ratio call out, take from both ends, and top and bottom.

http://www.gwapa.org/articles/january2008/

Rockwork and wood looks huge, right?

Not really. Here is my tank now:

http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/library/53770-august-2008-tank-month-dave-williams.html

Don't envision a hardscape by what you see now. Envision it is a mature tank, and let the scape have the ability to still be seen and appreciated when the tank is full of plants.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I know that the hard scape is covered up in 95% of the tanks out there, which is why I need advice like this. In my head I envision a tank of mostly swords and very short plants on the edges. I am planning on seeing this from both 6' sides and one 2' side so I am going to plant the high stuff straight down the middle. I have no clue if this will work but it is, for some reason, what I have stuck in my head. I'm still retarded on plant names so I will make another sketch with some plants and see if I can get the advice of this forum on what makes sense where. My problem is that I don't know what a mature plant of any type actually looks like. I have never seen a planted tank in person and this is my first attempt. Like I said before, I could be setting myself up for a huge failure. We will just have to see.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
The tank of this thread? That would be my bad. Laziness I guess. Tell ya what. I will take photos tonight and post them. I'm still scraping together my funds so I only have the tank, stand/canopy and filter as of yet. The rest is slowly coming together.
 
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