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Old 07-24-2003, 03:49 PM   #1
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Another Newbie w/ start-up ques - 1st Post (be kind!)

Hello all! I've been lurking around the past few days and have been very impressed with all of the knowledge and help from the members on this forum. I am about to venture into the "Aquarium Addiction" once again (have been off it for 10 years or so). I have been reading tons of info on how to get started, however I had a few questions regarding set-up (costs, necessities, etc).

A little bit about what the tank I'd like to set up (I'll keep it brief). I definitely will be going FW to start, and would lean towards possibly going brackish (like the colorful cichlids, but if it's too difficult, I'll stick to FW).

I currently have nothing, but can get a 75g tank for free - however it's just the tank (no hood, light or stand). Does anyone know the ballpark price a stand, hood and light would cost? What type of filter, heater do you recommend (approx costs?)

Any general advice on whether I should just bail on the free tank and start with something smaller (nothing less than 29g though)?

Thanks in advance for the help and advice - I hope to be a long contributing member of this forum in no time (try and bear with me during my rookie stage!!)

Pete
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Old 07-24-2003, 04:06 PM   #2
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Welcome Pliggy

Go for the 75g! The bigger the tank, the easier it is to keep water parameters on an even keel. If you've got the room, grab it!

Filters...
I happen to like the filters which use a Bio-Wheel. Makes a great place for the nitrifying bacteria to colonize (not that they don't elsewhere, but its portable and has a LOT of surface area). I'm not thrilled with the Eclipse set, but have heard great things about the Penguin and the Emperor; some prefer the Emperor because the wheel is spray bar driven). They aren't cheap tho; you might want to stop at a Petco/Petsmart to check prices.

Heaters...
I've heard the Ebo Jager really rock. Do keep in mind you may want to also get a heater cover if yu have aggressive cichlids. They have been known to crack heaters.

If I may, I'd also like to recommend Bio-Spira (if your lfs carries it). Tis basically nitrifying bacteria in a bag; and will jump start your cycle. I've tried it and am impressed with the results. I'll be using it to cycle my new 55g.
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Old 07-24-2003, 04:11 PM   #3
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OK, we'll be nice.....for now anyways.

First off, Hello! Glad to have you here.

Now, down to buisness. The hood will be kinda pricey. I was pricing one for a fifty five gallon and it was sixty bucks! The stand, I'm not sure of. The filter is gonna be about sixty dollars as well. This is a good investment, though. Not much will live in a tank without one. The heater will be about twenty bucks.

After you buy gravel and decorations, you're looking at about two hundred bucks (Rough estimate, maybe someone can share how you could save some money on one thing or another)

But I would say that, yes, it's worth the money. The bigger tank you start off with, the more fish (or the bigger fish) you can keep.

I spent about a hundred bucks getting a ten gallon up and running. It wasn't big enough, though. So, I spent another hundred bucks getting another. THEN I realized that I could have bought and set up a fifty five gallon for that price.

So, generally I say to people that they should get the biggest tank they can afford.
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Old 07-24-2003, 04:21 PM   #4
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Thanks for the quick responses! I guess I forgot to ask about sizes - what size filter, how many watts for the heater and light?

Zic - are you saying the gravel and decorations will run me about $200 on top of the filter, hood, heater, etc? How much gravel would be good to put in a 75g tank?

Sorry for so many questions! Just want to make sure I get it right the first time!!!
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Old 07-24-2003, 04:54 PM   #5
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If you are keeping cichlids such as Africans, then you will not be needing a planted tank so you will probably be fine using a small gravel instead of soil or laterite. But you will want to buy some nice rocks to make caves and places to hide. These can sometimes be expensive, though there are other sources such as parks and garden stores. Just make sure that you thouroughly clean any rocks you get, generally by boiling in water and rinsing them.

For a tank your size many people like the canister filters. I haven't used those yet so you will have to ask around. I would suggest heavy filtration in a tank that size if you are planning on having big cichlids. You might want to have a canister and a HOB. That way you have extra filtration and if one breaks down you won't be out of luck.
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Old 07-24-2003, 07:55 PM   #6
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Welcome, Pliggy...

I'm a newbie myself so I won't try to offer any advice on setting up your tank, but if I know I'd jump at the chance for a free 75 gallon!

One recommendation I will make is to go to www.drsfostersmith.com and sign up for one of their free aquarium fish catalogs. They have a ton of stuff, and the catalog has some good advice. They have excellent prices, too.
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Old 07-25-2003, 12:11 AM   #7
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Hello and welcome.

I'm a fellow newbie. One thing I've learned is that you can get some incredible deals by shopping online. There are several web sites selling aquarium supplies at half the price you pay in LFS. I use bigalsonline.com but there are several that are just as good.

By the way, if you don't go for the 75 gallon tank you'll be wishing you had...

good luck either way
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Old 07-25-2003, 07:30 AM   #8
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Two things you will be better off buying locally, the stand, and the gravel. Shipping from an on-line dealer will be outrageous, so better to go local.
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Old 07-25-2003, 09:19 AM   #9
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Thanks for the replies and the advice once again - so I think I'm definitely going to go with the 75g tank (wouldn't want to regret it later!!)

How difficult is using a canister filter? I am only familiar with the HOB filters - would 2 HOB filters do as good of a job as a canister? Is my best option to go with a canister & an HOB? How many gph should I be aiming to filter with a 75g tank?

I don't think I'd be going with live plants - probably gravel with lots of rocks and caves. Is there a good source to find cool looking rock formations online?

I'm moving out to the burbs soon and I'm not sure if there are any LFS stores around other than the Petco/Petsmart options - anyone from Northern NJ know of any good LFS?

Thanks again - this site has been a huge help so far!
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Old 07-25-2003, 10:05 AM   #10
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I've a HOB on my 10g planted, an built in Eclipse system on my 25 and a canister for the QT. I actually prefer the Fluval canister in my QT. The thick sponges do a geat job of filtering out crud, and house the bacterial colonies as well. That being said, I do like the bio-wheels on my other 2 tanks. If, for some reason I actually need to treat a whole tank, I can pop the bio-wheel off and place it in another tank and not lose my biological filter. Doing both might be a good option (and gives me ideas for my up n coming 55 *grin*).

I believe you want to look at 6-10x total tank gallons per hour of turnover with the filters. Obviously the more the better, but do keep in mind some fish appreciate a calm tank with little current, while others prefer lots of water movement. Let the type of fish you want be a guide to specific gph.
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Old 07-26-2003, 01:08 AM   #11
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I just recently setup a 135g pricing was more than I thought it would be but not terrible

Filter: magnum 350 pro 93$ petsmart.com
Heater: Rena Cal top light excel 300 Watt 23$ petsmart.com
Air pump: tetra tec AP150 18$ petsmart.com
New Bulbs: 12$ LFS
hood/lid: custom built alm. stock 20$, lexan 18$ tractor supply
power head: 22$ LFS
100 lbs gravel: 52$ LFS
plants decor: ~30$ LFS
chemicals/testing supplys: >50$ LFS
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Old 07-31-2003, 11:43 AM   #12
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So I've done so more research and think I've come up with a few decisions - but of course that leads to more questions!!

I am leaning towards the Magnum 350 Pro Filter. My thinking is the added Bio-Wheel 60 HOT filter will help, am I correct? Besides and Eheim (a bit too expensive right now), would anyone recommend a different canister filter over this one (Fluval, Filstar?) Any reason I should not go with the Magnum 350?

How much gravel do you think I would need for a 75g tank? Is there a mininum/maximum amount?

The more and more I read, the more anxious I get to start!!

Thanks!
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Old 07-31-2003, 11:51 AM   #13
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A good way to judge gravel is to pick up 1 lb per gallon. Sometimes less sometimes more, depending on how deep you want your substrate. As far as the other filters go I couldn't tell you, but I do know that the bio wheels make all the difference in the world for biological filtration.
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Old 07-31-2003, 12:03 PM   #14
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Any reason I should not go with the Magnum 350?
For that size tank, without plants, The biowheel add on to the 350 is a MUST. I have 2 350's, and they are good for particulate filtering, but they have very low capacity for biofiltration. Add the biowheels, and they would do just fine in this size tank.

Drawbacks to Magnums, noisey, get airpockets sometimes, so you have to mess with them more than some of the other cannisters out there.

I love my Eheim, but know they are pricey.

I know other folks who swear by Fluvals or Filstars also, price more than magnum, less than eheim.
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Old 07-31-2003, 12:23 PM   #15
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How noisy is the Magnum? Which Eheim do you have and what size is your tank? I've been pricing out the Eheim 2026, should I consider the Eheim Ecco Filters?

If I were to bite the bullet and spend the extra cash on the Eheim, would a bio-wheel HOB filter still be a must?

Sorry for the questions - I just want to get it right the first time!

Also - if any NJ members can recommend a good LFS in Northern NJ that would be great!
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Old 07-31-2003, 01:02 PM   #16
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Pliggy if you haven't bought your gravel yet, then be sure to check out a home depot or lowes ... you can get river pebbels (sometimes called Pea Gravel) in 50# bags for $2.67 (here) ... they are about the size of a 'coarse' aquarium gravel, but look real nice and natural

your shops might also carry something called Chat gravel, which is usually mixed with concrete to give extra traction around pools and such ... they are much smaller pebbles, similar to the 'fine' aquarium gravel, but still very very inexpesnive.

there is of course, more options, like silica sand (tan / brown) or quartz sand (white / clear), crushed lava rock gravel, pool filter sand (more coarse than normal sand), and then special 'substrates' such as flourite, shultz profile, kitty litter ... the last three are mainly used for growing plants.
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Old 07-31-2003, 01:14 PM   #17
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Magnum, not always noisy, but gets air in it, then pretty noisy, enough to bother me, so I have to mess with it at least once a week to get the air out.

I have a 90 gallon tank, Eheim 2015, heavily planted tank, less need for biofiltration. I think it would handle the 90 even if fish only.
Quote:
should I consider the Eheim Ecco Filters?

If I were to bite the bullet and spend the extra cash on the Eheim, would a bio-wheel HOB filter still be a must?
I can't really help you there, have no experience with them.
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