New PT - Aiming for efficiency


Junior Poster
Oct 31, 2009
My first Planted Aquarium, however have approx 20 years experience with reef aquarium.

To set up an attractive display that is as efficient as possible to maintain, both financially and in labour.

AR850 by Aqua-one, 165L (44gal)

- CO2 -
Milwaukee sms122 pH controller, regulator, bubble counter,.. Already have, unused.
CO2 bottle, already have.
Drop checker, on order.
Defuser, on order but will most likely swap out for a reactor or better mixing method

- Lighting -
The tank has built in tubes, 2x25W + 1x20W.
I would like to replace with LED lighting to save power and create less heat, still researching the options

- Filter -
The tank has an over head filter box as part of the hood, this will most likely be removed if I replace the lighting.

I will be looking for a filter that is reliable, quiet, easy to clean (particularly the pre-filter). Ideally, some thing that I can clean the mechanical filtration with out taking the biological filtration of line.

- Heating/cooling -
My aim is to use minimal turn over for the filter and create additional in tank circulation, with planing of pumps a lot of saving can be made in respect to power usage and heat.
We get 40C+ days for a few weeks of the year, with LEDs, efficient pumps and open top, I'm hoping to keep the water cool enough with out the need for a chiller, a fan is still going to be required on the hotter days.

- Substrate -
I am leaning toward ADA, I still need to learn which particular product/s and how much to use.

- Additives -
No idea yet, will look at an EI method to begin, from there I will test to learn depletion rates and work out dosing to suit my particular system and hopefully enable less frequent water changes.

- I have RO for water

As this will be my first attempt at a planted FW aquarium, I have been doing quite a bit off reading, I am now ready to start putting the plan together and would welcome any tips, comments or criticism!


Tom Barr

Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
If.........efficiency is really the goal, then you will want to focus more on a non CO2 method, not CO2.

If that trade off is too much to bare..........then you will want low light + CP2, but then also chose slow growing easy to care for plants. These can handle even less light than many species, so go pretty low with the light.
1 w/gal for T5 lights.

Sediment based ferts, ADA As or diy soil methods etc.
Now you have something that is easy to care for.

Still, non CO2 will require no water changes, no nothing other than feeding fish, trimming every so often.

Hard to beat that.

Here's one such tank:

No water changes, test, etc.
Dosed once a week typically with ferts to the water column in this example, plenty of others where soil is used and no water column ferts, other than fish.

Tom Barr


Junior Poster
Oct 31, 2009
Thanks Tom, I will research more on non CO2 systems, their setup and husbantry.


Junior Poster
Oct 31, 2009

The unit I am buying will be the same as this, but I will have all 3 lights the same, the color will look around 8000K
I feel this will be more tan enough light for this tank, the built in timer allow for me to set each of the 3 LED rows separately, so I can run just the one for low light or two for more intense or 3 for high light.
My old buddies over at RTAW (Reefing the Australian Way) forum have been testing these for Marine use, they have different color temps to mine, but it still give an indication of how they should go. PAR should be some where equiv. to a 150W MH lamps, I am predicting even more due to having lower K, more red in mine.
Any way, it gives me lots of options, only 70W max, and looks ok too.


Junior Poster
Oct 31, 2009
Lost half my post above :(

I have bought:
1 x Eheim Pro3e 2078 (no media yet)
1 x LED lighting as above
2 x ADA As Amazonia 9L
Seachem Flourish, KNO3, KH2PO4 (in case I need it)

Do you feel 2 x ADA As is enough for a 44g tank?
Should I bother using the power sand?
Do you recommend cycling the ADA As before using? the bag says no, many forums say yes.


Lifetime Charter Member
Lifetime Member
Mar 12, 2009
Two bags of ADA AS should be enough to get you a decent base on your tank, especially if you're using some hardscape. I used about that for my 48 gal, even though I had enough to do more.

when it comes to laying out a tank, I find it helps to calculate the volume you want to achieve the appearance you want before making the order. Get the hardscape in without the soil, look at how you want the substrate to sit, and do a bit of basic math then pad your estimate a little.



you want something easy?

Anubias, ferns and mosses. Beat that!:D