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Hi....... 1st post here....... I'm currently keeping a 125 reef very successfully for the last 5 years, and now I'm ready to take on a 135 freshwater planted tank.

I'm currently building the stand while waiting for the silicone to dry after resealing the tank (72 x 18 x 25)

I have the following equipment stashed away for this tank......


135g tank with glass lids/tall stand/lighting canopy (vented w/fans)
approx 450w of CF lighting (6500K)
Proquatics 2400 / Hydor Prime 30 canister filter
350 lbs coarse grain sand
3 x Maxi-jet 600's (160 gph each)
2 x 300w titanium heaters w/controller

I'm currently trying to piece together a pressurized CO2 system, so I'll have that too.

I wish to have a well designed / low maintenance / lushly planted tank with schooling fish that is easy to maintain and not too costly to operate.

Would someone be so kind to give me ideas / links to plants that are suitable both for my beginner status and tank/lighting ?

I'm not afraid to spend a few $$ , but I want to spend wisely, and I'm not really a high-tech kinda guy.

I really want to know your opinions of substrate heaters, and using prepared substrates with/under my sand.

I haven't tested my water yet (tap that is, (well), as I use RO in my reeftank. I do know that the TDS in my tap water is consistantly over 850, and I've seen it as high as 960. I'll worry about the water a little later. I do have an RO system for the reef that I could use if necessary.

Thanks, Jim
 

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Will you got a good start there, I would however look at useing a sub that is for planted tanks like Eco-complete. There are other out there that make there own brand. If your going to use a pressurized CO2 system look at getting a Ph controler that will work with the CO2 system to hold your Ph at 6.5 to 7.0. C02 will lower your Ph naturally and the plant need it to grow fully. As far as plants that you want to use your looking a around 3 to 4 watts per gal. (I didn't do the math) so it basicly you looking at plants you like, it kind of like selecting fish, I won't tell you what to put in the tank because it not my tank and what I like you may not like. You can use sites like Plantgeek.com or Aquariumplants.com Floridadriftwood.com they all are good providers of info and plant stocks. As for the fish you tetras are a good schooling fish when you reach that point, I'm going to recommend my site boxlotfish.com. we have the best prices you will find and most of the fish are wild caught, very few are farm raised. Basicly they come off the plane from there country of origin and then QT and then sold.
 

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Definitely use a pH controller, but you want to set it up to get a certain concentration of CO2 in the tank, which may mean your pH will be a lot lower than 6 or 7. This depends entirely on how your water is to start with (hard, alkaline/soft, acidic, etc.) You calculate your CO2 concentrations using pH and KH.

I would not worry at all about TDS in a FW tank. This is one luxury you can enjoy compared to a reef setup. I don't even test for it. Set a clean glass of tap water out overnight, at least 12 hours, and then test for pH. This will allow any trapped CO2 in the water system to outgas and give you an accurate idea of your tap pH. You can then get, for example, a Milwaukee regulator with a bubble counter along with a pH controller with probe (often these are available all together as a set) and then choose some sort of diffuser method (I like the submersible pump on a rigid tube method) and depending on what the average pH is of your tap water, you'll add enough CO2 (start with 1-2 bubbles per second) to reach 10-25ppm.

Here is an invaluable article with charts and calculators to help introduce you to injecting CO2 into your tank:

Measuring CO2 levels in a Planted Tank

I don't use substrate heaters but check plantgeek.com for info on that. Great site.

I use plain play sand and with root tabs I am growing rooted plants, but I was not prepared to spend the money for plant substrate in my 150, and I wanted a Corydoras-friendly substrate, which means soft, gentle sand. Eco-Complete is excellent, as is Fluorite, for example. Fabulous plant substrates.

Easy plants to start out with would be Amazon swords, or pretty much any Echinodorus variety, java fern, Cryptocorine species, anubias species, Cabomba, Hygro species, moneywort and other Rotala species, ludwigia, etc. When setting up a new planted tank, plant heavily - don't wait for the plants to "fill in." The more plants you have to start, sucking up nutrients from the water column, the better things will go and the less likely it will be for algae to get the upper hand.

Also, another word on the CO2, you may want to consider putting the CO2 regulator on a timer, since once the lights go out (no more than a 12-hour cycle) the plants begin to produce CO2 instead of consuming it, so that with the added CO2 from the pressurized system can be too much for the fish overnight. I have a small bubble wand that comes on at night when the lights and the CO2 go off, just to be sure, and the bubble wand shuts off when the lights and CO2 come on in the morning.

This can get as complicated as you want it! If you want to keep things simple, I'd cut way back on the lighting and get some low-light plants established, get your tank cycled, the fish comfortable (stocking will take a while on a tank this size), and get a routine going with your water changes, etc. before starting with CO2 injection. For an easy tank like this, you can essentially just use your tap water as is, dechlorinated, and not worry about much else. If it is safe for you to drink then likely as not your fish will be perfectly happy. Most aquarium fish available in the hobby now do NOT have pH or other requirements - do not get yourself caught up in all that. If they are swimming around happily at the fish store then they are probably going to be fine in your tank as well. Most LFS do not manipulate water parameters for FW fish, in spite of what they tell you about keeping their tanks at pH 7.0. Hah. Just acclimate them slowly from the bag to your tank water, since other water parameters will be different, and as long as they are acclimated properly they'll adapt just great.

I hope I am not confusing matters with all this! Best of luck- it is going to be an awesome tank!
 
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