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Discussion Starter #1
Hey there,

My wife and I have been keeping fish for about 20 years, but have never been to serious about it. I just got rid of a school of Mono's and a Datinoid that I've probably had for about 7 years. They were in my big 135 Gallon (7') tank that I had set up for brackish water. The reason is that we had a failure in a check valve that flooded the air pump and shorted out one of the canister filters during a power outage. Plus, we have been getting tired of keeping a second tank for feeder fish, and the high cost of keeping carnivorous fish in general.

Anyway, I've always liked the thought of keeping a planted tank with a variety of small colorful fish. I even went so far as to purchase a 15lb CO2 tank about 10 years ago, but I never got around to setting anything up. So, here I am. I've got big plans, but I really have a lot of questions that I'm hoping to get some help with.

Here is my current setup:


And here's a shot with the lid closed:


As you can see, the tank needs a good cleaning and some upgrades. Everything on this tank is at least 7 or 8 years old at this point. The one thing I don't want to upgrade is the lighting. Its a dual 36" and a dual 48" T-12 module with fast start marine ballasts. I know the T-12's are getting harder to find, but the cost of upgrading everything is pretty high, and I would rather supplement what I've got rather than rip and replace. Now, I've seen a lot of recommendations on watts per gallon, and I'm thinking of shooting for something around 2.5, which leaves me about 200 watts short.

So what I need are some recommendations on hardware and I'm hoping everyone can help me out . . .

Supplemental lighting totaling around 200 watts - I was originally thinking I would need metal halide, but from what I've been reading it sounds more like I could use some additional compact fluorescents instead. What does everyone think?

CO2 Systems - I'm totally new to this, and I was hoping to be able to use my 15lb bottle here, but I don't even know if the valve will work with any of the available systems. I also have a bunch of older paintball bottles lying around, and I think those would work with any of the systems that say "paint ball adapter," but I don't know how much life I would get out of a 12 or 20oz bottle (and I don't want to be swaping it out every week)

Filtration - I was originally just going to stick with a pair of Magnum 350's that I have, but it sounds like less is more here. What would be recommended for a tank this size?

Anyway, hopefully everyone has some good advice and thanks in advance!

Jay
 

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Welcome to the forum, Jay. You're way ahead on this hobby and it's just the time to set these things up.

This is a great forum for your questions.

What is your plan for the scape?
 

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First I would like to welcome you to the forum and second I would like to encourage you to keep posting any questions you have here.

As far as the lighting situation goes, you will want to replace the bulbs at the very least. 7-8 year old T12 bulbs will not throw off much light at all.

T12 lights are not very intense. If you have a look at the lumen output of the bulbs you will see that it is significantly lower then a T5 or metal halide bulb. This means that you won't be able to grow high light plants, and will probably be limited to low light plants like moss, java fern, and anubias.

The lighting situation is really a critical aspect to upgrade. It is the single most important aspect of growing plants, then CO2, then fertilizers, temperature, etc...

You can add lights in addition to what you currently have, so you won't have to completely strip everything down, but you will need more light if you plan to grow more light demanding plants. On my 125g tank I have 4x65w power compact, and I can grow medium light demanding plants.

You can use the 15# tank, but you will need to get a regulator with a needle valve. Milwaukee, JBJ or azoo regulators are all good choices and are relatively cheap (75-90$ from online). The paintball canister would run out very quickly on your tank.

Filtration type isn't extremely important, but canister filters are nice since they don't splash the surface of the water and degas CO2. I had 2 canister filters on my 125g, but 1 works fine too. You just need to make sure the water flow is strong enough so you don't get dead spots in the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the advice. I've always know that my lighting is insufficient for plants, which is the main reason I haven't tackled this before. My last big tank was a 110 gallon deep tank that was impossible to illuminate to any depth. Fortunately for the ciclids I had at the time, it got plenty of direct sun.

I posted over in the lighting section here: 135-gallon-setup-question.html to see what people everyone thinks about just adding some compact fluorescent retrofits, which I can do for a lot less than the metal halide pendants I was originally thinking about. It sounds like a similar setup is working for others.

As for the CO2, are the regulators a pretty standard thread? That's really my only concern with using this tank I've had lying around for so long. I know they change the propane regulator threads every 5 - 10 years for some reason, and I worry about buying the wrong thing. I suppose I'll probably just have to go down to the gas filling place and see if what they say just to be sure.

Anyway, thanks for the warm welcome, and if anyone has any advice, feel free to let me know. I'll be sure to upload pictures of my progress.

Thanks again

Jay
 

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Usually CO2 fittings are pretty uniform. I don't think you will have a problem if you get a standard regulator.

Adding PC lights is probably the way to go. MH lights are pretty expensive to buy and operate.

Have a look at AHsupply.com for some really good reflectors and lights (their bulbs are a tad bit expensive, but you can get the setup from them and bulbs off ebay or somewhere else).
 
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