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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all! I had a 29 gallon tank with only fish years ago and I am looking to begin my first planted fish tank. I want to do things right as I get back into the hobby. I am looking at getting a 55 gallon tank and want to do a combination of low-tech plants and fish. I love the look of natural tanks, as if you were looking at a cutout of nature itself. I've been doing a lot of research but I'd love to get some advice and opinions on some start-up options. Here is what I had in mind so far:
Equipment
  • 55 gallon tank w/ glass canopy
  • Fluval 407 canister filter
  • Eheim Jager 300w heater
  • Hygger Advanced Full Spectrum Light (42W 48-54")
Fish (introduced over time)
  • Tetra (neon, cardinal, green fire)
  • Dwarf Chain Loach
  • Clown Killifish
  • Rams
  • Amano Shrimp (or smaller if I don't get the Rams)
  • Dwarf Gourami
  • Stiphodon Goby
I'm using AqAdvisor to get an idea of number and it looks like I could safely have around 40 fish which is awesome (heavier on the Tetras of course).
Here is where I am looking for help:
  • Is this a reasonable setup?
  • What kind of substrate would you recommend for a natural look but also good for plants and maybe some bottom-dwellers (including the Stiphodon Goby). I'm thinking fine sand with some smooth pebbles mixed in. I'm nervous about fine sand with it getting caught up in the filter or looking to much like a reef tank with non-reef fish (but I could certainly be wrong on both fronts there, I don't have any experience).
  • For this combo of fish and plants how "full" should I make the hardscaping?
  • What kind of aquascaping stones do you like?
  • Anything else?
Here are a couple of tanks I consider to be really nice:
r/Aquariums - First planted aquarium

r/Aquariums - First planted aquarium
 

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Hello all! I had a 29 gallon tank with only fish years ago and I am looking to begin my first planted fish tank. I want to do things right as I get back into the hobby. I am looking at getting a 55 gallon tank and want to do a combination of low-tech plants and fish. I love the look of natural tanks, as if you were looking at a cutout of nature itself. I've been doing a lot of research but I'd love to get some advice and opinions on some start-up options. Here is what I had in mind so far:
Equipment
  • 55 gallon tank w/ glass canopy
  • Fluval 407 canister filter
  • Eheim Jager 300w heater
  • Hygger Advanced Full Spectrum Light (42W 48-54")
Fish (introduced over time)
  • Tetra (neon, cardinal, green fire)
  • Dwarf Chain Loach
  • Clown Killifish
  • Rams
  • Amano Shrimp (or smaller if I don't get the Rams)
  • Dwarf Gourami
  • Stiphodon Goby
I'm using AqAdvisor to get an idea of number and it looks like I could safely have around 40 fish which is awesome (heavier on the Tetras of course).
Here is where I am looking for help:
  • Is this a reasonable setup?
  • What kind of substrate would you recommend for a natural look but also good for plants and maybe some bottom-dwellers (including the Stiphodon Goby). I'm thinking fine sand with some smooth pebbles mixed in. I'm nervous about fine sand with it getting caught up in the filter or looking to much like a reef tank with non-reef fish (but I could certainly be wrong on both fronts there, I don't have any experience).
  • For this combo of fish and plants how "full" should I make the hardscaping?
  • What kind of aquascaping stones do you like?
  • Anything else?
Here are a couple of tanks I consider to be really nice:
r/Aquariums - First planted aquarium

r/Aquariums - First planted aquarium
What kind of rams are u doing?
Bolivian is Altispinosa rams would be fine but regular rams live a a higher temperature than the other fish you listed.
 

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I wanted to do German Blue but someone else said the same about the temperature so I'm looking at Bolivian now.
Ok, how many tetras are u going to do total?
I’ve always really liked either really smooth stones like river rocks or really jagged rocks with lots of cracks, but also aquascaping is up 2 u not what someone tells you to do. You could for the substrate do aqua soil with sand. how you do this is you get maxflow filter media bags, and fill them with plant substrate then put sand on top of it.
For some easy plants you could try African Anubias or Pygmy chain swordplant. Ancharis would also work but it grows crazy fast and needs trimming unless you want your fish pushed against the glass by the weight of the expanding plants
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Ok, how many tetras are u going to do total?
I’ve always really liked either really smooth stones like river rocks or really jagged rocks with lots of cracks, but also aquascaping is up 2 u not what someone tells you to do. You could for the substrate do aqua soil with sand. how you do this is you get maxflow filter media bags, and fill them with plant substrate then put sand on top of it.
Looking for this to be the end goal (introduced over a year probably):
  • 12-20 Neon and/or Cardinal Tetra
  • 8 Clown Killifish
  • 6 Dwarf Chain Loach
  • 6+ Amano Shrimp
  • 3 Bolivian Ram
  • 3 Stiphodon Goby
For subtrate, I'm looking to do play sand (thoroughly rinsed) with a mix of some smooth pebbles to give it some variation.
 

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I would suggest pool filter sand, its softer and cleaner, no rinsing if you add water slowly it will remain clear.
This! I tried play sand with my first planted tank and, wow, let me tell you, it was nothing but problems from the start. There is no amount of rinsing you could possibly do to get rid of all the crud that's in play sand, trust me. It took 6 days before I could even see in the tank again after I filled it, changing filter floss every day, and once I added them, every time a fish brushed against the surface it was a cloudy mess again. Pool filter sand or aquarium specific sand is the way to go.
 
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