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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi,

Thanks for looking. I want to work together with you to build an aquarium. Here's the story.

I'm setting up a new aquarium to be in my children's play room. Here's what I got:
  • 65 gallon Reef-Ready AGA
  • 10 gallon sump
  • 7 Bags of Eco-Complete
  • Two pieces of driftwood
  • CO2 canister and regulator
  • AquaController pH controller
  • 10 platys
Take the above as things you can't change. As you can tell, I need to get some lights and a way to get pressurized CO2 into the aquarium. I want to keep costs down so I think I need to go regular fluorescents. Also, need plants.

Sorry about the bad pic but the aquarium is attached. Here are my questions:

1) Equipment: what should I do about the lights and CO2 diffuser?

2) Plants: what should I do about plants?

3) Fertilizers: got some dry ferts but no system decided on. What should I do?

OK, who's going to step up and give me some guidance here.

Thanks!! :razz:
 

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For lighting, there are a couple of options, using Powercompact fixtures. On ebay there are the Jebo 36" (using 2 24" bulbs) got $65, but you will need to replace 1 bulb as it is actinic.

Another option, for $259 shipped, from ebay, are these. which are 3 36" 96w bulbs putting you at 4.4 WPG. This is a pretty cheap and elegant way to get those 'high' WPG in a pre-built setup. And they will let you choose the options for the bulbs, I went with 2 6,700K and 1 10,000K bulb.

For DIY or overpowering regular fluorescents, I cannot speak to.

For the CO2, if you are doing a sump, you can put an in-line DIY reactor on the flow back into the tank... something like this. Or, if you don't mind the equipment in the tank, you can do something with a powerhead like this

For fertilizers, I think the eco-complete should take care of the substrate needs. You will need ferts in the water column. I've seen people do alternating doses of Seachem Flourish and Flourish Iron. It works for me, but it depends on what is coming into the tank from your tap.

For plants, it really depends on how much lighting you plan on giving, but while you get the balance right, you will want stemmy fast-growing plants.

For fish, if you can find Siamese Algae Eaters in your are, get them. Just watch out for the Chinese Algae Eaters (google, you will find a LOT of info, esp how to tell them apart.) Otherwise, I'd add some otos to the mix as they will take care of the brown algae you will get near the end of the cycle.

All of that comes with the disclaimer that I am very new to the forum and also pretty new to raising planted aquaria. My first aquarium in 20 years was just started this past January.

-MT
 

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If you are a diy person, I would go with the ahsupply kist for lighting.

If you aren't a diy person then buy a PC fixture.

For co2 I would go pres. connected to the intake of an Ehiem.

Ferts from greg watson is good.
 

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Ahhh, Art. Look what you started! Let the fun begin:axe: Hehehe.

Well here's some random thoughts, kind of typing out load here.

Your 65 is 48x18x21 or there abouts. That gives you plenty of space to play. You have the 10 gallon sump, which I assume includes all the pumps, biomedia, return lines, etc which is why you want to keep it;) Also, we all know you know a)what your doing in this hobby and b) are a terrific DIYer. Do you have time to DIY on this project?

Co2 you would be best with an in-line reactor in the return line. PH probe lives in sump with the heater and all the baby platys that get sucked up:) Ferts you will still need to dose but you've got the drys to mix or add dry. Trace you can also go with Flourish, CSM+b, Plantex or any of a number of others. You have been voicing interest in the Brighty series. Maybe this is a good time to try. Put the squeeze on ADG;) Joking!

Lights, honestly I am not sure if NO is the way to go anymore. Definitely don't think it is any cheaper. A good NO bulb is no cheaper than a descent PC bulb A tank that size will still need at least 3x4' tubes. Any ballast that will run that will power 2x55 instead. Bright white paint or roof flashing makes a descent reflector, especially if you can afford to lose some efficiency in the lights. Cheap shop lights from Home Depot, as long as they have an electronic ballast, will power at least 1 55watt PC with no problem. Lighting does depend on the plants/scape you want. CO2 w/2wpg will grow almost anything, just slower. Personally, to get enough light without going nuts, I would try 2x55wattpc between 2x30watt NO. Build your own hood and it would be pretty cheap. Maybe 10000k for the PC and the GE9325K for the tubes(also cheap) would give a very nice visual appearance, IMO.

What are your goals with the tank. Introducing the nino/a to the wonderful hobby, teach an appreciation for nature, a lesson, this is how plant photo*syn*thesis works......Or just beauty and interest for the home. Ultimately that will guide your Scape and lights/ferts. If you have the CO2, use it. Or loan it to Carlos for the spring:)

This is so much fun!!!!!!
 

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Can't help much with the equipment part but for the lights...IF it were my tank, I would DIY a hood and overdrive 4 NO T-8 fluorescent lamps. IMO this gives you much greater control over your lighting. I love being able to have individual lights turn on and off whenever I want!

For the greatest flexibility and control of your lighting, you could use 4 individual 2x32w ballasts, with one ballast overdriving each lamp. This option is more costly but gives you the most flexibility in your lighting scheme.

You could also use two 4x32w ballasts with each ballast powering two lamps. This is a bit cheaper than the above option but gives a bit less flexibility in the on/off cycle of your lights.
 

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You need a larger sump, at least a 20 high.
 

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MatPat said:
For the greatest flexibility and control of your lighting, you could use 4 individual 2x32w ballasts, with one ballast overdriving each lamp. This option is more costly but gives you the most flexibility in your lighting scheme.

You could also use two 4x32w ballasts with each ballast powering two lamps. This is a bit cheaper than the above option but gives a bit less flexibility in the on/off cycle of your lights.
True, my only thought was that if you will spend the money for those ballasts, us PC or PC/NO as those ballasts will run either andyou can still have them on individual timers.
 

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That tank definately needs compressed CO2, whatever the lighting is. You could easily make a nice tall CO2 reactor and run it off a powerhead in the sump. That should take care of a lot of hard-line plumbing problems.

Speaking of lighting, I'd either a: put as many T-8 over that as I could or b: Get a 2x55w kit from AH supply.

Plants: Do I even need to say? C R Y P T S. :) Some nice tall crypts in the back and then a foreground of A. nana would be really spiffy in there. That combination would make for a great 'plant and forget' tank. Letting the Anubias grow along the substrate however it wanted like an Ivy would be awesome, especially with crypts growing up out of it. There are so many neat crypts available today that there should be no problems finding plants that would set off the red of the platys well.

*plink plink*
 

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Slotting in for the plant suggestions, since I know you are a busy guy, I recommend a layout a la low maintenance?

Foreground:
Eleocharis parvulus
Hydrocotyle verticellata interspersed, as an accent

Midground:
Anubias barteri var. nana
Bolbitis heudelotii
Vesicularia dubyana (java moss)
Microsorum pteropus 'Narrow' (narrow leaf java fern)
Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Tropica' (color)
Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Green'
Cryptocoryne x willisii "lucens"

Background:
Cyperus helferi /or/ Cryptocoryne balansae

Idea:
Driftwood arrangement with lots of large pieces, covered in the ferns and mosses and Anubias. Crypts planted in empty slots between and in front of the driftwood. Vertical strokes of the foreground and background will contrast nicely with the vertical lines of the midground you can create with the wood and plants.

For such a layout recipe, a school of about 25 threadfin rainbowfish or 25 cardinal tetras w/ 2 breeding pairs of blue rams would look awesome. Add a dozen pygmy cories for the amusement value or a couple pairs of Badis benegalensis for the "little red fish popping in and out of the bushes" look.

Ditch the platies. :p

Carlos
 

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Guys, it's for his kid's play room. He probably wants the platies because they are big, respond to a can of food being waved in front of the tank, and are useful in discussing the 'circle of life'. [smilie=u:
 

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1) T5 is better than T8, and actually it's better than PC. But the only problem is that bulb choice is limited here in the US, while ZooMed probably make the best T8 bulbs. If you want to try T5, you should try 4x39w or if your going with T8 then try to fit 6x25w under there. But what aquascape are you aiming for, low or high maintenance?

If it's going to be low maintenance then I recommend the Eheim diffuser. It's one of the best diffusers out there. I know Steve swears by them.

2) Carlos's suggestion is great! Especially since you're busy.

3) Maybe you can use the Eheim liquidoser to help automate your dosing schedule. Since it's low main. then you should probably dose macros 1xweek, and dose traces 3xweek.

For fish why not add Cichlids? I mean Altums and Apisto's are great, both have stunning finnage and make better parents than livebearers. And maybe you could add a school of Penguins(there slanted swimming should keep anyone fascinated) or a school of Hatchets.
 

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one of the caveats were the Platies stay, some of you many not like them but for an unknown reason they are to stay. Part of the exercise would be to pick some complimentary fish that wold mix well.

I can see adding a few Panda Cories, they are cute and kids like them. Also high on the kid meter and good for creating mid-water movement would be the addition of some danios.

I also get the impression a low budget is in place. After all this is a playroom tank and Art is a busy guy, need to keep maint low and costs low as kids will be kids and something may get broken, we certainly don't want anyone losing an eye either.

In keeping with the low light, low tech, easy maint format...

Lighting. 2x length of tank NO T8 or T12 Flo. Simple to acquire, inexpensive to run and a host of bulb choices, say one in the 6500 and one on the 10,000k ranges.

CO2, leave it out, adds complexity and cost. Use Flourish Excel for a Carbon source, it's undocumented side effect of keeping algae down may be boon where the primary caretakers will be young kids.

Sump wise, I think I would ditch that and go with a cannister, being Miami and keeping hardy fish and plants you can probably get away with no heater.

So what do we end up with? A simple setup thats low maint, easy to keep running and comes in a low cost. This way if something should happen due to kids being kids, Art is not out a ton of cash. Keeping it easy to maintain leaves it so when he travels on business the kids only need to feed the fish and plants. They can work together to figure out a routine that works best for the family when it comes to dosing, feeding and maintaining, allowing all to be involved in the process, bringing new blood into the hobby as well as bonding with the kids.
 

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I can see adding a few Panda Cories, they are cute and kids like them. Also high on the kid meter and good for creating mid-water movement would be the addition of some danios.
A school of panda cories is a good idea. They are very active and playful. Knowing the scarcity of freshwater fish in the Miami area, perhaps C. julii (the spotted cory) will be easier to find.

I still say a couple pairs of blue rams would be an exciting experience for the kids, especially if they begin to breed and show parental care.

The Pearl Gourami is another hardy fish which might interest the kids. They have bright coloration, a mellow demeaner, and can be very personably -- they'll come up right to the glass and wave those pelvic fins at the passerby.

Kids also love schooling fish.

I remember when I was 5-10 years old, and my father would always let me choose the fish for the tank. I remember getting blue rams, juvenile angels, bettas, and an orange chromide at different points. I also remember hating the fish my father would purchase -- overactive danios, chunky livebearers, "sharks" and others. I always wanted the cory or the dwarf cichlid...

I recommend against the Flourish Excel, since it is something that would have to be regularly dosed. Either get pressurized CO2, be consistent at dosing Flourish Excel, or don't dose CO2 at all.

Might I recommend two NO tubes for such a fixture... one URI Aquasun and one Coralife Trichromatic. You won't regret getting these T12 bulbs if you go that route. The colors they render in unison is unbeatable bar any other combination I have tried (10,000k/6700k, GE Aquarays 9325k, 5500k, etc).

Forget about the sump and get a canister.

Carlos
 

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The tank is 'reef ready' which kind of goes well with having a sump. The nice thing about a sump will be the longer period of constant water level the tank will exhibit. Evaporation won't ruin the look 4 days after a water change. With no CO2 injection the sump might even provide the extra surface area the tank will need to absorb more atmospheric CO2.
 

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Forgot about the reef readiness on the tank. I agree with Sean's assessment that a sump is a wise choice.
 

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gnatster said:
I agree with Sean's assessment that a sump is a wise choice.
[smilie=t:

You take all the fun out of it if you agree with me!!

[smilie=r:
 

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Suggestion on the Corys -

If you decide to go with the Pandas, get the biggest ones you can find. My wife reminded me that we've actually burned through ten Pandas before we got three to survive, and the three survivors are the biggest of the original six we bought. From our experience, the smaller Pandas are unreasonably sensitive to water parameter changes, but bigger (presumably older) ones seem to be hardier.

We've had really good success with Corydoras julii, and they stay really small (max allegedly just under two inches). They're easily confused with Leopard Corys and one other species I can't remember right now - if you get the Juliis, they're smaller than the other two. They seem to be hardy little goobers - haven't been able to kill one yet! We've had a total of five of them in two tanks (three in a 20H and two in a 5.5) for about three months, and they're doing well.

End of two cents' worth.

Glen
 

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Here's what I'd do, find the nicest show piece of driftwood you can (I mean big and beautiful, take up 2/3 of the tank.) tie a bunch of java fern or bolbitis and moss on it and you are done. Screw everything else, foreground, background, eco-complete etc. You could put down a thin layer of sand to cover the bottom. 3x40w t8s will be enough for the plants mentioned. No CO2, and only infrequent WC. With very low light, you'll only get brown algae, which can be taken care by a group of Otocinclus. This is my tried and true setup for a breeding a variety of fish and have found it can be one of the most pleasing and easily maintained planted tanks out there. The degree of sophistication is placed solely on the wood you pick, which becomes the difficult part if you don't have a source.

For fish, I would HIGHLY recommend oddballs like upside down cats (syno. nigriventris) dwarf puffers, small spiny eels, etc. these fish would and could get lost in a tank witha lot of color, but kids love stuff like this and will keep them interested in the tank as they wait for their infrequent appearances.
 
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