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Getting back into aquariums

Discussion in 'Are you new to aquatic plants? Start here' started by tab8715, Dec 15, 2009.

  1. tab8715

    tab8715 Junior Poster

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    Hi,

    I've had some past with aquariums and I've been completely out of the water for 5+ years due to moving and I'd like to get back in but I've got a few questions.

    1 ) Aquariums

    - I really love the look of rimless ADA aquariums but is there anyone whom makes them in a rimless Acrylic style? Acrylic is just so much clear than glass. I'm looking for something in the 20G-Tall range.

    2 ) Lighting

    - I never really into the technical side of things but I was looking at these for lighting the aquarium. As I said earlier the tank will most likely be a 20 Tall - >18" deep. Can I get away with a 75W or 1x65w CF or do I need the 150w/2x65w? Ideally, I'd like to be able to grow most of the common plants out there well but I absolutely want to have some kind of lawn effect with Glossostigma or something similar. I'd also like to have some kind of red background plant.

    http://www.petsolutions.com/GLO-T5-HO-Lighting+I15513900+C33.aspx
    http://www.petsolutions.com/K-2-Viper-HQI-Clamp-On-Light+I94010001+C33.aspx
    http://www.petsolutions.com/Aqualight-Deluxe-Series-Power-Compact-Fixture+I96353102+C33.aspx

    That's all I really have for now. My end goal is to create an aquarium that would have thriving plants and a school of some common fish (tetras) and maybe one or two unique fish along with maybe a pleco or whatever algae eater. Obliviously, I don't want it to be high-maintenance.

    3 ) Filters
    There some new canister filter with integrated heaters, spray bars and even a surface skimmer. I'll probably go for the one with the heater but has anyone had experience with these? Which brand is preferred if any?
     
  2. Tug

    Tug Lifetime Charter Member
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    Hi tab,
    Welcome to the Barr Report. If your planing on a planted tank, are you going to be adding CO2? With light you want to consider those that offer the better spread, so two bulbs is best. Even better would be two bulbs that can be run independently from one another. Something like this http://www.petsolutions.com/AquaticLife-T5-High-Output-Lights+I10901035+C40001722.aspx

    To give you an idea I have a 20 gallon tall that I am able to keep running with only one 24 watt 6700 K and one 24 watt actinic. At some point I need to post a question about the PAR value if I were to use two 24 watt 6700K bulbs. Still, the lights you suggest would require adding CO2 IME. I would suggest keeping the total watts for T5HO to 48 or you will be creating problems for yourself. With T5HO, 1.8wpg is more then sufficient to grow most any plant.

    As for heaters another option might be the Hydor ETH In-Line Heaters. I don't like components that combine too many gadgets; for example, the TV/VCR combos.

    Happy Holidays!
     
    #2 Tug, Dec 15, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2009
  3. tab8715

    tab8715 Junior Poster

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    Uhh... You're using an Actinic on a freshwater aquarium? And you're only using two out of 4 possible lights on a 20 Gallon? :confused:

    As for the c02 situation, personally I'd rather avoid if I can and just use a rich substrate and great lighting but if I can't I suppose I'd look into how difficult it is too create your own DIY c02 system or if I absolutely need c02 i'll probably just wait a bit and save up for a whole system.
     
  4. Tug

    Tug Lifetime Charter Member
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    Yes, It's hard to explain my logic other then the fixture I pointed out earlier was one I couldn't find at the time I was looking for a fixture. What can I say, it was a bad choice and more light then I could possibly need. Anyone out there want a used light fixture. :eek:
    The point is that you really don't need 65wats of T5HO lighting, especially if your going to go w/out CO2.
    My understanding (limited) is that you should use 75% of the listed gph as the actual flow rate of any filter and while it does not need to be all from one filter you would like to have a turnover of the total tank volume at the very least five times an hour, but something closer to 10-12 times an hour would be closer to optimal turn over. I think my tank's filter is severely under powered with a flow rate listed as 106gph, so I added two powerheads to improve flow. You might also consider an additional powerhead or two.
     
  5. Tug

    Tug Lifetime Charter Member
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    I just looked at the fixture I recommended and realized it has four T5's not two, damn.
     
    #5 Tug, Dec 15, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2009
  6. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    20 gal's/ smaller tanks are always a challenge to light. I'd opt for two of these or any two T5 normal output lights:
    http://www.google.com/products/catalog?q=coralife%20t5%2024%27%27&hl=en&cid=14595033087608854345&sa=title#p

    65w CF over a 20 gal is pretty intense. I started high tech that way though; it forced me to learn fast. I'd only recommend it if you've got time/blood pressure to spare.

    Tug's recommendation of the inline ETH is a good one. I believe Tom used an Eheim Thermo or two on the 350 gal he's got pics posted of, but I've got no experience.
     
  7. tab8715

    tab8715 Junior Poster

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  8. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    I've got a few CF coralifes around. They're good for the price, had some issues with oxodization on pins/plugs in the older models. Legs for their brand are $5 for 4 at the LFS around here. $30 for some fancy ones that flip up I believe. One store around here uses them heavily; no complaints from them when I've asked. The only big issue is that they've probably got a quick start ballast, so shorter bulb life as with CF's.
     
  9. DaBub

    DaBub Guru Class Expert

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    You Are Set

    Hi,

    Less light is better, especially if no CO2. less expensive think Lowes, Home Depot, lighting centers will work fine less $$$ :)

    lots of rimless acrylc, not as good maybe claity but easier to keep. ;)

    http://www.acrylicandglassexhibits.com/index-2.html
    http://aquariumfishs.net/Acrylic-aquariums/Acrylic-aquariums/
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=190321252677
    http://www.glasscages.com/?sAction=ViewCat&lCatID=46

    canister filter better

    diy substrate

    EI natural or low tech

    you are set

    that Tug is so warm and fuzzy!:p
     
    #9 DaBub, Dec 15, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2009
  10. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I think I fell into the same type of group of folks you are in some years back.
    I was not too much into the techie part, nor wanted to get into unfamilar ground etc.

    I think most enter the hobby with some intimidation, much like newbie Reefer's. Initially it seems overwhelming.
    Many wish they could just fast forward and get to the parts they want, a nice planted or reef tank.

    But the path is easier if you learn a few things, I promise they are not painful, not nearly as costly as you might think and rationalize, nor that complex.

    The "how" is rather easy and straight forward. The "why" is a much more tricky question.

    Based on your goals stated in the posts here, I'd say Tug gave you good advice, 2 x 24W T5's lighting in a lot of light for a planted tank. More than enough to grow any plant and any aquascape you might have in mind.

    Adding sediment ferts is a good idea, however, spending a load on light and doing work for the sediment will not pay off without CO2. For growth, health and general variety and vigor, adding CO2 gas really makes this hobby what it is today for most of the people on line.

    It is a rare day indeed if you ever see me telling someone to add MORE light to improve growth of plants.
    I will suggest adding more CO2/add CO2 gas to improve growth virtually all the time, I sound like nag:eek:

    Low/moderate light => non limiting CO2 and nutrients(sediment and the water column).
    This makes a good routine for most goals that maybe 60-70% of the newbies have when they come into the hobby.

    Light , CO2 and nutrients, plants need all 3 to do well, not just light, or light + nutrients, and CO2 is most often ignored and avoided. Why? Because folks do not add CO2 for their gardens, house plants, and many have seen plants growing without CO2 enrichment and folks on line will also say you do not "need" it, which is partially true, but that really depends on your goal.

    Light drives all growth, algae growth also.
    So more light= more plant growth and more algae growth.

    Light is really the most stable of 3 parts, CO2 is the most ephemeral, it changes minute by minute.
    Nutrients, change over days and weeks.

    Light also drives => CO2 demand, which is limiting to plants, but not algae.
    By adding CO2 gas, we enrich the system for plants and remove this strong limiting factor, this = about 10-20X, or 1000-2000% more growth, that's huge.

    With this amoiunt of growth, well, now you have add "waste" to keep up with the hungry plants.'
    Fish add a little, but you still need to top off the ferts 2-3x a week.

    This is not hard, but chemical names are not hard to deal with either.
    Add a 1/4 teaspoon of this 2-3x a week etc.
    5 mls of that 2-3x a week.

    Etc, this becomes easy as pie after a couple of weeks.
    We use base chemicals like KNO3, KH2PO4 etc, instead of name brands.

    Most name brands are water, with a tiny little amount of fertilizer in them and cost 10-20$ for a bottle that might last a month, whereas a dry powder ordered on line for 3$lb might last 2 years.

    So the little bit of chem you learn will go a long way.
    Sediment rich in N and P will also help a great deal should you forget to dose or if you leave for VACATION.
    It forms a redundant back up, always a good thing.

    Moderate to low light controls the rates of growth, so you do not have to spend as much time managing the rampant growth of aquatic weeds. This also means less CO2 demand, so you have more wiggle room dosign that which will be the bigger issue tweaking, nutrients are by and large very easy to manage.

    Acrylic tanks are nice, they scratch easily, so you must be careful when cleaning them.
    Glass tanks can be had fairly reasonable for a rimless design, 100-150$ range.
    Custom Acrylic will be more, say 100-200$.

    You'll need about 3/8" for a nice rimless design.
    Glass can be thinner.

    I was very much like yourself years ago, so do not feel intimidated by CO2 gas, learn and teach yourself the basics there, and with nutrients, stick to lower light.
    Leave the more advanced high light to folks with more time and experience etc that want to spend more time gardening/trimming and dealing with more management. They burn out over time anyway, they all do. Then go back to lower light and easier to care for systems.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  11. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    That said above, non CO2 is a method I would also encourage, but the ADA look, it's really a CO2 bias, so I chose to sway you that way. It is good/best, to learn to use both CO2 and non CO2 methods.
    I have examples of both and why I chose the aquariums etc.

    I also do have an ADA tank, stand etc, almost the entire set up, but without CO2.
    All emergent growth plants and high current and rare plecos, cherry shrimps.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  12. Retrogamer82

    Retrogamer82 Junior Poster

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    Tom,

    Thanks for this post. I've been sitting on an empty 40B setup for a few months now doing my "research" (Mostly through TPT and now here). I have learned a lot and have a pretty good idea of what I want to do thanks to many who have posted journals and like you, freely offered up their experience and advice. This last post, even though it just touched at the overall basics, kind of brought all the more scrambled, advanced pieces together in my head. You are the man.

    I just realized this post might not make much sense... but it does to me, and as you always say, thats all that matters. Thanks again.
     
  13. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    No need to explain if the thoughts are conveyed? haha I can tell what many are thinking pretty much after doing this for 14 years on line helping folks.

    Let me know which way you want to go with the CO2 thing.

    You can also do a small 5 gallon nano for a few $ and go the other way and see, sort of a pilot test.
    I did this with a 20 gal and a 55 gallon tank when I started getting into plants.
    I did the yeast thing etc, but...........I'll tell you this, I would have done so much better, faster etc, if I'd bit the bullet and gotten a gas tank system from the start.

    I did for a client and then waited a few years to get around to it myself.

    Here's a nano non CO2 no water changes etc for a year:

    [​IMG]

    Another tank that's non CO2 and no water changes:
    [​IMG]

    My start of the ADA non CO2:
    ResizedADAnoCO21.jpg

    So you can go that way and do a nice job.

    Gas is great but it's a tool to increase the rates of growth and so you can pick any species, it can also kill all your fish, give it lots of respect, more than anyone else says.
    Hard to say until you master both so you can chose which you like more.

    I like them both differently, but equally.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  14. tab8715

    tab8715 Junior Poster

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    I guess I could start with a non-c02 and move over if I wanted too.

    What's the minimum I'd be spending on a c02 system. How complicated is a DIY one?
     
  15. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    If by DIY you mean yeast methods, it's not overly complex. Usually a 2 litre bottle with water, some amount of sugar and a packet of yeast. Some add other things as well as the sugar, others use more exotic yeasts. The downside is that the output is not stable and tends to taper off within several days or a couple of weeks so you need to swap bottles out on a regular basis.

    For compressed CO2 there's a sticky on the regulators that you might want to check as it can save you significant cash.

    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/6470-Dual-Stage-Regulators

    Or you can just buy the premium stuff from SuMo or Rexx Grigg and know that it was put together properly.

    The regulator is where you would want to concentrate your money. Tanks are reasonably cheap as is the refill.

    Distribution of CO2 regardless of source is a whole other topic, but you're on the right site for that discussion too. :)

    -
    S

     
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