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Newbie Startup--need your help!

1018 Views 4 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  jessezm
Hey folks, first post here!

OK, here's the deal: I actually had a planted tank once before--55 gallon with mongo root and anubias, swords, etc. I used a canister filter and CLF lighting, CO2 injection, and liked the fancy catfishes (ancistrus, etc), rainbows, tetras, etc. I think I remember dosing Iron and Flourish excel, or something like that.

Well I moved on to reefing and have had full blown SPS tanks for the past several years, and finally decided to get rid of the tank altogether. Funny thing is, my wife has grown attached to having the water feature in the house, and the aquarium really is a centerpiece in our dining room. So she convinced me to keep it, and just move back to freshwater plants/fish.

The reason I wanted to get out, though, was that I have been too busy to keep the reef thriving like I like it. Between calcium reactors, protein skimmers, chillers, lighting, computers, and all that goes into a fairly high-tech reef, I was feeling too burdened by the responsibilities to enjoy the hobby anymore.

So on first blush, it seemed like going freshwater was the answer: less maintenance, less equipment, less money, less complexity, etc. But I'm starting in on reading through some of these threads, and it seems to me like planted aquaria is just as intense a hobby as reefing. Am I totally off here, folks?

So my first question is, am I making a mistake in thinking this will be easier for a burnt out reefer?

My second questions is, if I do go forward, what do I need to keep from my reef, and what do I need to buy?

Here's the tank: It's an acrylic 200g corner-shaped pentagon, 30" deep. I have 8XT5s on single reflectors that are overdriven with Ice Cap 660 ballasts.

I was going to keep my aquacontroller and DC4 to control lights, temperature, and CO2 dosing (although I already sold my CO2 equipment, so I guess I need to think about buying some more...).

I've got a sump and Dart pumps, but I was thinking of selling those off, plugging up my overflows (it's a reef-ready tank), and purchasing a fluval FX5 (is this a good choice???)

So I need advice on substrate, light bulbs (do I need all 8 T5s? what spectrum? brand?)

I've been reading about ADA Aquasoil, but don't know if it's right for this big a tank (or whether I can afford enough to cover it...). I used to use Eco-complete, and liked it just fine, but here again, I need advice...

Will the filter provide enough flow? I was thinking of adding a CO2 reactor in line, but that might kill the flow too much. any advice there?

I sold my RO/DI unit already--do I need to buy another? I've got a JBJ auto topoff set up and a solonoid still.

And finally, I don't even have a clue about aquascaping and driftwood/rocks available these days, what plants to use, where to get them from, and what fish to buy.

I really like the idea of shoaling fish, and at 200g, there's plenty of room in the tank I would think.

Besides doing a lot more research, which I plan to do over the next few weeks, can you all offer me some good advice???

Thanks so much, and sorry for the long post!

P.S. here's a link to a thread about the reef tank I'm dismantling...and soon-to-be rebuilding...
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Having never run any sort of SW setup, I can't really speak to that, but I will tell you that I have a
92G corner bow, all the goodies, co2, lights, ferts, etc. and it is not a low maintenance tank (depending what one considers low). Between water changes, pruning, general cleaning, etc I put probably 6-7 hrs a week, usually on the weekends, into it. Some would say that's not much, I certainly don't think it's that bad (well worth it!) but some wouldn't that kind of commintment. As far as all the rest goes, it all depends on what you want to do and how much time (and $)you have to put in it. Tons of options out there, too many to mention, like you said alot of research is the key. If it was me on a tank that size I'd go b#%$s out and make it real piece of eye candy. Good luck, maybe post pics as you go, I'd like to see it come together!!
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You can go low tech and low maint. but not with high powered lights, ferts, co2 etc. I would suggest looking up low tech approaches, they may be what you are looking for.
Wow, Jesse, lots of questions! :) Let me start you off with some references to look over, if you haven't already:

With that large of a tank, you should also look through the posts on the large aquarium sub-forum in the aquascaping forum.

Having never kept salt water tanks, I can't comment on how different they are, but from what I've read, in general, folks seem to believe that planted tanks are a little easier than reefs. But I'll let others chime on that.

Welcome to the planted side!

BTW, I deleted your duplicate post in the other forum.
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That's funny--I was wondering how much crossover there was between reefs and planed tanks. So far, doesn't seem like too much!

Thanks for the advice so far (and for deleting the duplicate--I'm still feeling my way around here). I'll check out the links, especially for the larger tanks.

Oh, I fixed the link to the reef tank I'm tearing apart:
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