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Newbie 65 gal startup

2522 Views 15 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  J. Gales
Hi everyone,
I'm new to planting, having very little success in the past with it in my tanks, so I'm taking my baby-steps here and hope to get some good pointers along the way.I just purchased the 65 and almost all the equipment came with it. My goal is to have a moderately easy-to-keep tank with colorful fish. I like driftwood, so I want to use some to create a "brushpile" in part of the tank. The plants I selected are from trawling the forums here for beginner-friendly species. Here's my equipment and plans for my tank:

65 gal (36" x 21" x 18")
Substrate: play sand
Filters: Aquaclear 110, Penguin Biowheel 100
Heater: Marineland Stealth 250W
Powerhead: Marineland 660
Lighting: dual Eclipse F30T8 36"
Plant nutrients: TetraPlant Florapride

Planned Flora:
Java Ferns attached to the driftwood
Hygrohilia difformis (already using another tank to grow it and it's almost all to the top of a 55 gal w/ no CO2)
Rotala rotundafolia
Myrophyllum mattogrossense
I'll be using quite a few pieces of driftwood (pine?). I'm waiting for them to come in sometime during the next week.

Planned Fauna:
Cherry Shrimp
Kuhli Loaches
Cory cats
Platies (will they nibble the plants too much?)
I'd like to get some Killifish in there, but I've never kept any, so any info on hardy/colorful species would be appreciated

Right now, the Biowheel 100 is being used in a 5 gal tank I've had running for about 2 months. It and the inhabitants of that tank (3 ghost shrimp, 1 Kuhli Loach, 1 Serpae Tetra) will be put into the 65 in the near future. I also have another larger double Biowheel filter as a spare that sounds like it needs a new agitator(?). If neccesary, I can find the replacement part and install the larger of the 2 Biowheel filters.
In the 65, the Aquaclear filter, Powerhead, Heater, and lighting are up and running. I'm waiting on the driftwood to take any further steps.

The Powerhead is hanging from the top of the tank as I have no idea where the suction cup attachment that came w/ it is. I am planning on using 2x 2 liter soda bottles in a DIY CO2 and leading the tubing into the powerhead. Will having it at the top of the tank make a difference?

Thanks for reading, and I hope to hear what you think.
Also, hello to anyone from WMass!

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Welcome to APC :smile:

You will want to hook up your C02 so that it is in contact with the water for a period of time. So it is better to have the dispenser as low in the tank as possible. Due to the size of your tank it is better to go with 2 bottles of C02, so you alternate them. This will help keep a more steady flow of C02 in the tank.

Be careful using the HOB filters because they will give some loss of C02, due to the surface agitation. Make sure to keep the water topped off & the flow turned down. Later on you may want to invest in a canister filter.

Since you are using playsand keep a check on your water parameters. Some playsands can alter water parameters.

Platys will be fine with plants. If you see them nibbling they are most than likly going after algae.
I think you mean impeller for the broken Biowheel. Definatley be sure to rinse the play sand real good.
Welcome to the forum Shawn.
I got my driftwood in today and am soaking it in a bucket after running it through the dishwasher.
My larger biowheel filter is an Emperor 400. A thorough cleaning solved the impeller (thanks PRJCT92EH2 :hail:) noise problem, and I have both filters on their lowest flow settings. However, the Emperor makes quite a bite of noise only on this setting.
I put the inhabitants of the 5 gal. into the tank along with 2 Hygrophilia plants. have no idea where the Kuhli Loach went, so I assume he was lodged in the driftwood that made the switch.
My next problem to tackle is lighting. With 2x 30W bulbs currently, I think I'll have to up the wattage if I want my CO2 setup to be effective, correct? Once I get stronger bulbs, then I go plant hunting.
On a sidenote, for s & g's, I decided to fool around with my 5 gal. and try to grow a pack of "mystery aquatic plant bulbs" I found at Petco. Pkg. says they're "Waterlily, Onion, Barclava, & Aponogeton" bulbs. I'll see what happens with that.
Once I get my driftwood into the tank I'll do a complete water test and make sure everything's good.
If anyone has any idea why the Emperor 400 is making noise on the lowest flow setting, don't be shy.
Thanks in advance!
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I'd let those filters run wide open, the more flow the better. CO2 never hurts at any light level, but becomes more necessary as you go higher lighting.
Baby steps and easy plants is the way to go. The more successes under your belt the more knowledge you'll have to tackle things when they seem a little bit overwhelming. But then... it's the challenges met that gives such great reward. Glad to know you!
Just a few personal preferences as I've used similar hobs you are using. The aquaclears are great. When you ready to change out the carbon I found not replacing it and instead find somerthing you can use on top such as floss or one of the hagan pads that will fit the box and use that instead. This will give you better filtering and is much cheaper. Also if the tank shows signs of a surface film add a hagan skimmer and it will do a good job. Keep the tank with a high water level to keep splashing to a minimum.
The noise ended up being too grating, so I opened it up one notch. I am concerned about disturbing the surface too much, so I'll wait and see what happens from here.
Here's where I'm at as far as progress and problems:

1. Went to my LFS, picked up the following- 3 Sunset Platies, 2 Oto Cats, 3 more Algae Shrimp, 5 clumps of Java Ferns, and an A. Gardneri Killifish.
2. Got the driftwood in last week and have been working on submerging it since.
3. Have the powerhead at the bottom of the tank after rigging a new suction cup to it. Thank God for zip-ties. Also put a small submersible enclosed sponge filter on the other side ot the tank.
4. Finished connecting DIY CO2 system and will begin putting into the tank today. Thank God for the product known as GOOP.

1. Killifish jumped the tank on night 1. He had about an inch of open tank space by the filter and took it. Found him shriveled up in the hallway the next morning. Didn't even leave a note...
2. I have 31 pcs of driftwood and 1 sunk. I have boiled for 2 hrs, soaked for days, and even run thru the dishwasher. My next step is attaching slate. Anyone have any recommendations for what kind of wood screws to use? I don't know what kind to use (steel, aluminum, painted, not-painted, etc...).
3. The powerhead and submersible sponge filter both have slots to put tubing into, so I'm planning on using 2 CO2 systems. 1 on each side of the tank, 2x 2 liter bottles each. The sponge filter isn't causing too much disruption of the substrate (playsand) but the powerhead is making "waves" even when I tilted it upwards. Any solutions?
4. Anyone have any good lighting links that aren't going to put me into debt? I have 2x 30 Watt T5 bulbs right now, but want to put more.

Thanks in advance for all your help, and I'll try to post some pix soon.
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Get stainless steel screws. It probably wouldn't hurt to move the powerhead up a little so it doesn't blow the sand. For lights i have personally been eyeing the ones at They have pretty good reviews from salt people.
Are you planning on putting all of that driftwood in your aquarium?? Driftwood can lower your PH significantly depending on type, age, etc.

You could always use silicone to attach to slate, or fishing line. With fishing line, you could remove the slate later if the wood actually stops floating up.

Prjct, those lights are very interesting.
smirky: I am planning on putting all the driftwood in as most of the pieces are small. The biggest is about 13-14" long and about 1.5" thick at the widest. They're basically just driftwood sticks. I'm keeping an eye on a 55 gal for a relative and there are 3 large pcs of driftwood in it that are about equal to what I'll be putting in my 65 gal and the ph stays neutral in the 55. I should be ok.

prjct: I'll check out those lights as soon as I get the chance.

Thanks to you both and Happy New Year!
If you had higher light the co2 would be a precious commodity, at the lower levels it is very use full but not totally needed to maintain a stable environment. So disturbing the surface should not hurt to much, turn up the filter and get good water movement. The nutrient exchange will be a better with the higher flow, some thing that is always a problem in larger tanks.
Happy New Years everyone! Here's my update on my 65 gal. progress...

-A few more pieces of the driftwood finally sunk. I put those in last night.
-At the same time, I planted the Hygrophilia clippings my brother made from the 55 gal. I started for him. (I'll get into what's happening in that tank after I get through my 65 gal. info)
-Last week, I added a school of 10 small Zebra Danios for some flash.
(Fauna totals: 6 Amano shrimp, 3 Sunset Platies, 2 Oto Cats, 10 Zebra Danios)
-I had to take out the small submersible filter I was hoping to use with CO2. Even after cleaning it out well, I wasn't getting any water movement. The sand killed it, R.I.P.
-Haven't hooked up the CO2 system yet. Waiting on another light strip. $ is tight right now, and the plants and fish seem to be doing fine, I'm keeping my eyes open for a deal.
-I took a couple pix of my tank, but can't attach them due to size limits. I'll try to figure out a way around this (but am totally open to suggestions. I hope the term COMPUTARDED doesn't offend anyone:rolleyes:).

On to the 55 gal. I started for my brother...
Substrate: Brown pool filter sand
Lights: 4 20W 24" strip lights (6500K)
Filtration: 2 Biowheel filters; 1 is a double, the other a single size.
No CO2
Plant nutrients: TetraPlant Florapride

2 Siamese Algae Eaters
4 Angelfish
1 Pearl Gourami
3 Black Neon Tetras
4 Serpae Tetras
2 Bleeding Heart Tetras
2 Pictus Cats

The point of this tank was an extremely easy to maintain community tank. My brother likes his privacy and follows my instructions on siphoning, water changes and filter cartridge changes. CO2 would mean I'd be hanging out more than he'd like, so I decided to start without and see how it went. The only plants I put in were Hygrophilia. The background of the tank is painted blue, and the tank (against my wishes, but I was overridden) is against a window in the front of his apt. I put 2 SAEs in to condition the water, and waited a couple weeks. At that time I purchased my 65 with the Angels, Tetras, and Pictus cats included (I love Craigslist) and put them all into his 55. They have flourished since. The SAEs keep the glass spotless, the Angels have grown large enough to be seperated, and the Tetras won't leave each others' sides. But the nicest touch was the Hygro growth. I started with 3 6" tall plants and they grew to cover the tank top to bottom in about 3 weeks. Last night was the first time they were clipped. My brother is happy that he has plants and fish finally living (this 55 was a problem until I started doing my homework on this site) and he noted that he didn't want any other species of plants in there. This fits into my long-term plans as I would like to have several tanks in the basement growing individual plants for barter at LFSs and display in my 65. The Hygro tank is now set up, flourishing and is securely in the "If it ain't broke..." category. One unfortunate note on the Pictus cats was that one of them became so entangled in the net when he was netted out of the 65, I had no choice but to clip about half of one of his pectoral fins with pliers. His recovery was fine and "Clippy" bears his scar proudly.

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