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First off want to thank all the people on here as i was reading over this site for hours the past few days and it has answered many of my questions and learned quite a few things.

So i use to have a 55gal tank, community fish when i was in highschool. well the fish died beacuse of ich, didnt know why at the time but i know thats what it was now. So i want to get back into it and have a few questions, i will be getting another 55gal tank just for refrence. As far as fish i eith am going to go with discus or community fish. On to the questions.

1. I have the penguin 330 from whe i had the tank a few years back, will this be good enough filtration or do i need something bigger?

2. As far as when i clean the filter, in the past when i was all full of green and such i would removed then entire filter, tanke it apart and clean eveything with a tooth brush under running water. Is this what i should be doing?

3. When i had the filter i would replace the cartriges every month and such but now i see some dont and modify the cartiges so they dont have to replace them so often, any links to that on how to? what are the benefits to this besides the money saved?

4. I found this link on how to modify the penguin 330 which turn it into a mini-sized, wet/dry trickle filter, any thoughts on this?

5. I plan on going with live plants in the tank, as far as lighting goes do i need T5 lighting or can i get away with something i can use the light fixtures i have now?

6. I see talk about water movement and how important it is. I had a airstone last time. is this enough or do i need an actual aur pump and nozzle in the tank?

7. I see all these things about protein skimmers and co2 injection. Am i going to need any of this? and if so could you point me in the right direction

8. When doing water changes and such do you clean the gravel at that time or do it at a seperate time to minimize stress on the fish?

Those are all the questions i can think of now. im sure i will think of some more later. thnaks for you time and input.
 

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I am pretty sure that the preferred method to clean your filter is to shake and rinse it in old tank water. This will remove excess without killing the colonies of beneficial bacteria. Cleaning it the way you mentioned, with tap water (probably containing chlorine) will probably kill this bacteria and send the tank into a mini cycle. You should not need to replace cartridges that often. When you do, save some of the material from the old one and put it in the filter housing of the new one to transfer some of the helpful bacteria.
 

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First off want to thank all the people on here as i was reading over this site for hours the past few days and it has answered many of my questions and learned quite a few things.

So i use to have a 55gal tank, community fish when i was in highschool. well the fish died because of ich, didn't know why at the time but i know that's what it was now. So i want to get back into it and have a few questions, i will be getting another 55gal tank just for reference. As far as fish i eith am going to go with discus or community fish. On to the questions.


1. I have the penguin 330 from whe i had the tank a few years back, will this be good enough filtration or do i need something bigger?

Use the filter that you have. It should be fine as long as you don't overload it with too many fish.

2. As far as when i clean the filter, in the past when i was all full of green and such i would removed then entire filter, tanke it apart and clean eveything with a tooth brush under running water. Is this what i should be doing?

Clean the filter whenever the flow becomes reduced, by rinsing the various parts in used tank water. A spotless filter that has been scrubbed is one that no longer has any useful bacteria growing on it.

3. When i had the filter i would replace the cartriges every month and such but now i see some dont and modify the cartiges so they dont have to replace them so often, any links to that on how to? what are the benefits to this besides the money saved?


I do not avoid replacing my cartridges to save money. Money is just barely a factor in my situation. The reason that I rinse my cartridges and return them to the filter is that I want to keep the bacterial colonies that have developed on them. Those bacteria are the key to my easy care, disease free tanks.

4. I found this link on how to modify the penguin 330 which turn it into a mini-sized, wet/dry trickle filter, any thoughts on this?

Although a wet/dry trickle filter is one of the best that you can have, I am never tempted to modify a filter in some way that I can't reverse if things don't work out as expected.

5. I plan on going with live plants in the tank, as far as lighting goes do i need T5 lighting or can i get away with something i can use the light fixtures i have now?

If you grow mostly "easy" plants you should be able to grow them in fairly low light. It is unusual for a beginner plant person to tackle plants that need much more than about 1 Watt per gallon of tank. That means that a 55 can work fine with a simple shop light running T-8 bulbs which makes it fairly cheap to buy and operate.

6. I see talk about water movement and how important it is. I had a airstone last time. is this enough or do i need an actual aur pump and nozzle in the tank?


In order to get the water movement that plant people talk about, a simple power head will work.
This is a power head




7. I see all these things about protein skimmers and co2 injection. Am i going to need any of this? and if so could you point me in the right direction


Protein skimmers are for saltwater tanks. Unless you go with fairly high light levels you should not really need CO2 injection.

8. When doing water changes and such do you clean the gravel at that time or do it at a separate time to minimize stress on the fish?

I do my water changes by using a gravel vac to remove the old tank water, use a bucket of waste water to clean my filter if it needs it, refill the bucket with dechlorinated tap water and use the bucket and my siphon to refill the tank like this.



Those are all the questions i can think of now. im sure i will think of some more later. thanks for you time and input.
 

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Some added info and food for thought:

Plan your occupants first. If you will be going with Disc's, keep in mind that these guys require prestine water conditions and a low PH. Depending on how your water is out of the tap, look to using Peat as a buffer. They actually prefer black water (can be obtained either by tannins from driftwood or almond leaves to name a couple). Water changes will be large and often. No less than 25%/wk. I would recomend to either get a bigger filter or just add another one of to the tank. Over filtration is a good thing. Don't let any of this deter you though....they are definately worth it.

You're wants and desires will dictate what you do with your lighting and CO2 as far as plants go. DIY CO2 will basically be out due to your tank size but small pressurized systems can be obtained. The sky is the limit when it comes to lighting. You can do shop lights, CFLs or regular more expensive "aquarium" lights. This will all be dependent on what plants you want to keep.
 
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