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Old 06-01-2004, 01:23 PM   #1
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Setting up new aquarium – some questions….

Hi All

I am a newbie, thinking of setting up my first freshwater tank. Have been doing extensive reading up on the www, and finally made up my mind to get the following -

1. A 40 gallon glass tank, with an overhead filter and 80 W fluorescent lights
2. About 10-12 tropical fish - still making up my mind on which kinds of fish though.
3. About 5-7 tropical plants. Will be also setting up a DIY CO2 (sugar, water & yeast) with a CO2 diffuser (using a powerhead)

After researching the internet, I think I have a good idea of the basic DO’s and DON’T’s, and shouldn’t be making stupid mistakes. But I still have some questions, and I hope some of the seasoned experts on this board can point me in the right direction…..

1. Do I need to use chemical/ biological filters for my setup? Will skipping these have any adverse effect?
2. I will be using commercial aquarium sand (~1mm dia, from my LFS) as the substrate for my plants. I have read that using a bottom layer of peat/garden soil will really help. Is this really beneficial, and does it affect fishes in any way?
3. I am using the ubiquitous 2L soda bottle, 2 cup sugar, 1 pinch yeast formula for my DIY CO2. I hope to get good CO2 adsorption using a DIY reactor (powerhead + Gravel-Vac tube). Question is – do I need to worry about excessive CO2 ppm, and/ or the KH, PH of the water. Is it essential to buy test-kits for KH/PH ?
4. I live in Singapore (tropical climate), and the temperature in my house would vary from 24 C (when the aircon is running) to 30 C (afternoon, aircon not running). But I don’t expect the temperature to fluctuate more than 5C any given day. Question is – Do I need a heater, to hold my water temp at around 29 C?

Any other comments/ criticism most welcome….. appreciate your time 8O
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Old 06-01-2004, 01:35 PM   #2
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Ok, I don't know anything about growing plants so I'll answer the 2 questions I can.

1) As far as your filter, if you are doing HOB you will really want something with a biowheel. It lets all the bacteria grow on it, so you are always safe as far as your cycle goes. I personally would recommend the Penguin 330. It has 2 biowheels and does 330 gph. You want your water to turn over 6-10 times per hour (240-400 gph for your tank) so that would be perfect.

4) Yes, for the tropical fish you will really need a heater to hold that temp steady. You don't want it flucuating that much everyday.

Other than that, just make sure and do your cycle! hehe. Preferably the humane fishless way (search the forum if you haven't heard of it) but any cycle is good. Just don't go putting all 10-12 fish in at once.

Good luck!

-brent
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Old 06-01-2004, 01:40 PM   #3
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Well, first off, welcome to AA!!!

I can't tell you how excited I am that you've done your research!!!!! You're definitely on the right track, lets answer your questions.

1. You're biological filter is a must. Bacteria will establish itself in your substrate and in your filter media during your cycle. (I'm sure you've read up on that, if not take a look at this: http://www.aquariumadvice.com/showqu...q=2&fldAuto=21). As you set up your tank, put in a filter from a 'mature' tank, or even a cup or two of substrate. This will help establish all that good bacteria in your tank.

2. Peat or laterite will help your plants, but you don't HAVE to use it. You will probably need some sort of root tab. I use Jobes (the fern one), found at Home Depot or Osh, others use seachem, with are much more expensive. Look into substrates like flourite and eco complete. they're pricey, but if you can afford them, do. If you can't, your sand will still be fine.

3. Yes, you must have kh and ph. Must. On a 40 gal tank, you won't get the 100% best results, but I think you can tweak enough to get your plants to grow well. You'll need more than one soda/juice bottle. I'd get 2 or 3.

4. hhmm. I don't know.

Hope that helps!!! Check out the plants section for more help!
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Old 06-01-2004, 02:17 PM   #4
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Hi sudeep. You need to understand the relationship between hardness and PH if you're adding CO2. Therefore a KH test kit is a must. If your water is soft, the PH will crash. You need a certain amount of hardness (6dh or so), to buffer your PH.
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Old 06-01-2004, 02:52 PM   #5
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[center:9983208bc4] Welcome to AA, sudeep! [/center:9983208bc4]

I don't do plants, but I was under the impression that you don't want too much surface agitation with CO2. Check the planted tank forum to be sure. If that is the case, stay away from HOB with biowheels. For my 29 gal and higher tanks, I use canister filters (more pricey), but you can leave less space between the tank and the wall, the cats have a harder time drinking from them and you can use multiple media in the baskets.
I highly recommend getting a heater to avoid temperature fluctuations.
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Old 06-01-2004, 04:08 PM   #6
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menagerie is correct, less surface agitation is best. check out canister filters if you can. If not, just be sure to keep your water levels as high as possible.
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Old 06-02-2004, 11:28 AM   #7
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Hi Guys .. thanks for your comments and encouragement. So biological filtration and test kits are a must...will get those.

I spent the whole day today at a few LFS's. Basically got blown away by the huge amount of stuff that is out there....information overload, and now I am a little confused ! Looks like I better start simple. I do have a few more questions which I hope soemone could answer...

1. I read at several websites that I need to maximize aeration & surface agitation. Doing that, all the excess CO2 from my DIY contraption will escape - and prevent PH crashes due to excess CO2. So am I better off using a HOB or a internal filter??? ( for a 40 gallon tank, 2L coke bottle DIY co2, 10-12 fishes, 6-7 plants)

2. I plan on using transparent plastic cups (10cm dia, 5cm high), layer the bottom with peat and fertilizer pellets, top it of with 3cm layer of gravel - for planting my plants. I will have enough gravel on my tank bottom to fully cover these plastic cups so that you cant see them. Is this do-able? or a bad idea?

3. Lighting .. The LFS guys say 40W of flouroscent light is adequate for my 40 Gal tank with 6-7 plants 10 hrs/day). I read the thumb-rule is 2w per gallon, so I need atleast 80w. What should I get? & whats the life span of a fluoroscent light..is it 6 months? ****..this getting to be expensive.

4. I dont think I will be getting a heater - my LFS guy told me the room temp doesnot vary much in Singapore. Tropical fish should do fine. Any comments?
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Old 06-02-2004, 11:40 AM   #8
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You forgot something: Lighting! If you want plants, you have to have the light to support them.
The lights that come with aquariums usually give you about .5 watts per gallon. That's only enough for crypts, java ferns/moss and anubias species. If you're happy with those, great! at .5watts per gallon, you don't need to waste time/money on a DIY CO2 setup.

If not, you'll have to at least triple your like (1.5watts per gallon) to move into a new category of plants.
If you think you'd really like to try some cool plants, then go for at least 2 watts, if not 3 watts per gallon.
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Old 06-02-2004, 01:24 PM   #9
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I think he/she is aiming for 2 wpg (80 watts over 40 gallons)
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Old 06-03-2004, 11:52 PM   #10
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Being a newbie, I think I will stick to the low-light plants for now. Might upgrade later if my budget allows it.

I actually found a pretty good deal for a second-hand aquarium on Yahoo auctions. Its a 30 Gallon tank. I have two options on the filter - an Eheim Aquaball 2210 external filter (145 G/hr) OR an Eheim HOB 3040 (100 G/hr). Any suggestions on which one I should get?
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