New tank for me - equipment/setup/design ideas please?


Plant Guru Team
Lifetime Member
Sep 23, 2007
South Florida
Hi all,

I find I can fit a 120 gal 48x24x24 tank in my bedroom :D

It will of course be a FW planted tank and I am fortunate to be able to do auto c02 and plan on EI from the start......

I would like some ideas on the following as I am starting off all new and will take me a bit to get all the stuff I need. All I have so far is a tank and cabinet.

I am happy to do research and have done plenty already, but would like to pick your colective brains. I just need some mfg/models/IDEAS/etc to research on.

I have many ideas from reading posts here, but sometimes the acronyms or abreviations are unknown to me and I am unsure of what is meant. I have found a TLA list and have read that as well, but that doesn't always relate to hardware (so to speak)..........

1. Substrate - types, depth, etc. I like a dark gravel myself, but am open to anything.......I currently use flourite and find it works well for my current setup.

2. Lighting - I am thinking some type of (power?) compact flourescent fixture, but again am open to all.....I figure about 250-300 watts total as it is a deep tank?????? too much, too little??? Maybe 6500 K MH due to depth???

3. Filtration - I am not going reef ready with this tank (no overflows or pre-drilled), so most likely some type of large canister filter(s). GPH rates, etc. Head height will be < 5'. I am thinking about 1200 gph at 5' should turn over the tank close to 10 times per hour. Sound good?

4. Heating cables - not sure if I will go this route, but would like to know if this is still a viable technique....Don't see to much mention of it around.

5. c02 diffusion techniques - type, sizes, dispersion techniques, etc. This appears to be wide open with many styles and techniques.......

Biggest problem is I am not that artistic and have trouble pre-planning what I would like the tank to look like as I cannot clearly picture the end product in my mind. So many beautiful examples out there, and I feel that I would never come up with ANY of those scapes....I tend to feel my way along and make changes over time as I see how the growth goes..

I would like to do a dwarf cichlid tank with various types of pencil fish as tank mates. I would like to maybe do a single cichlid species (to have babies!) but maybe several types of pencils, as they are all great fish. This size tank should generate plenty of territory for multiple cichlid pairs and some young.

I am open to any and all ideas!

Thanks again to all, and best of luck in all your endeavors!

Ross Heath

Junior Poster
Oct 25, 2011
Blythe, CA
Hi Gerry,
I'm new here and i'm No expert in any field related to aquariums, nor aquascaping. But I do have a couple of suggestions for you on filtration. Perhaps you Should check out the Rena Filstar XP4 canister filter. It has a high flow rate and while it's not an Ehiem, it's a great canister filter. I use the Filstar XP3 on my Live planted Discus/community Show tank. My tank is 48"L x 13.5"W x 24"H, so while it's not too wide, it is long and tall.

For heating you have me there, for myself I use the Ehiem jager 200 watt submergable heater. I have it lying horizonal at the back of the tank just abover my substrate, and it does a lovely job of keeping my tank right at 84 degrees.

If your thinking about lighting, and using compact florsecent lights, you might try checking out Coralifes 48" 214 watt system with lunar lights, or without the lunar lights, it comes either way. It's a bit pricey, in the $300.00 bracket, but I don't think you can get a 300 watt or 250 watt without making a custom hood. I've been told by several folks that the T-5 lighting systems are the way to go, but like I said, I'm no expert and really don't know much about them

I myself am using only a 130 watt Coralife lighting on my show tank, and all my plants seem to be doing well, except the plants that are red in color aren't as red as they could be Anyway Like I said, I'm no expert but perhaps this will giver you a couple of directions to research and perhaps pursue. Good luck and I hope when you get this going, you'll post pictures of your progress.
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