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Old 07-27-2005, 09:48 AM   #1
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New 20G long planted setup

Guys, I have been running freshwater 55 for over 2 years and now want to create a planted tank. I am sorry if my questions sound naive, but I would like to avoid as many mistakes as I can from the beginning. Here are the questions:
1. I have an empty 20G long tank. Do you think it is better to have my new planted setup there, or convert my regular 55 to planted (55 is taller and will require much more light, etc, etc.)
2. Does anyone use sumps with freshwater planted setup? I perfectly know the benefits of the sumps; their use with freshwater setups could be beneficial for various reasons, what I don't know is its combination with planted tanks.
3. I have 2 CF bulbs with built-in ballasts (5500K, screw-in). They are 25W each. Is it OK to use those assuming the 20G setup or I would be better off getting the separate ballasts and separate long CF's?

I appreciate the answers very much!

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Old 07-27-2005, 11:43 AM   #2
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Either tank will work well for a planted tank but you may get a bit fustrated with the 55 as it's not very wider for the plants one tends to put in there. (You'll find there is no true midground area). I have both and they both work well with careful planning. Your setup as far as lights, CO2, and substrate will depend on how much you want to put into the tank. The screw in pc bulbs are very ineffective for lighting. The reflectors that come in incan hoods are awful. For the 20 long (its 30 inches right?) You could get a 55/65 (there's no difference in them) watt PC fixture from a place like Big Al's cheap. This would be enough light to grow just about anything you want. The rest will depend on what types of plants you want. Low tech plants (Crypts, anubias, anacharis, watersprite just to name a few), will not require CO2 injection or much in the way a ferts. This will be your big decision theat needs to be made BEFORE you buy anything. IF you want a low tech, low matainence tank, skip the fixture and use 2-20 watt NO florescent bulbs. For a high tech high matainence tank, you will need a good substrate (eco-complete, flourite, onyx sand, laterite with sand, ADA aquasoil and powersand). These can run a few dollars. You will also want CO2 injection. DIY will work for a tank this size but compressed CO2 will be easier to matain and more cost effective in the long run. Sumps can work but a canister filter would be much more efficient (2 for the 55 gallon is a plus).
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Old 07-27-2005, 01:52 PM   #3
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Thank you for your quick response. I think I will start the 20 first. I will most likely get pressurized CO2 system. I have heard many advices to purchase the tank and regulator from a brewery supply house, they are very inexpensive there (maybe $80-100) altogether. I would like to have heavily planted tank, hence will get into specialized substrates (eco, florite, etc). It is indeed 30" long. I am thinking sump because you can hide all the unsightly heaters and other equipment there. As far as I understand you could use sump for a filter, or you could use sump just as an extension of the main tank to keep the water level constant, hide equipment, etc. One could have canister take water out of main and return to the sump and have another pump run return but that would require very good synch between the two to avoid overfilling of the sump or main tank. Maybe you are right that canister will present less problems.
Where does one purchase plants? LFS's are hopeless and rarely have good stuff.
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Old 07-27-2005, 02:36 PM   #4
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The surfase aggitation will cause CO2 loss with a sump depending on how the water gets down to it.. (you could rig up a sub-surfase extraction of the water to the sump to counter this but its not the pre-made commersial product norm) Balancing pumps would be near impossible (if they were off by a fraction of an gph it would be a mess in no time) But as many people will tell you that CO2 is cheap and if your going to get a preasurized system then you can counter CO2 loss by just giving it more CO2. I personaly would just try to avoid the problem in the fist place.
If your going with the 65watt CF (on the 20gallon) you would benifit from special substrate. and CO2 would be a nessisity. You will be dosing ferts in no time as well.. Check the sticky about fertilizaiton; I would plan ahead and get the ferts before setting a tank like this up. It would be wise to carefully plan what plants you will get for the tank as far as how tall they normaly get because they are going to grow really fast with that much light and CO2. Good Luck
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Old 07-27-2005, 03:01 PM   #5
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if you get a regulator from a brewery/keg store/liquor store, fine, but you'll need to purcchase a needle valve, and put it on the regulator.
try a place called harbor freight, and look for the clippard brand needle valve. should fine em for under $20
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Old 07-27-2005, 04:24 PM   #6
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Plant height is a concern, that is why I will get onto the studying of various kinds.
I could get a kit from ahsupply 1X55w for $42 and build a 30" strip light. I already have the CF for it - it is 21.1" 55W 5500K bulb. The only questions I have are: the bulb is only 21" long, the tank is 30". The reflector is 22" long and the tank is 30". Is it OK to have 4" from both sides uncovered by direct light? Also, would you mount that ballast inside the strip or outside?
Malkore, I could not find needle valve at harborfreight.com
Also, do you guys think that 5500K is in a good spectrum or I have to move up?
thank you
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Old 07-27-2005, 04:51 PM   #7
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re sumps in freshwater planted:

Pros:
Planting and running sump lighting opposite the main tank keeps pH, and presumably CO2 and O2, closer to stable. Nutrient uptake rate is amazing in such a setup. Injecting CO2 into the return line after the pump gives very good diffusion. Its sweet to dry dose ferts in the sump. You're right about hiding stuff and keeping constant water level -- I love this.

Cons:
You can't use pumps to drain and return and expect success. Look into drilling or an overflow. My only media are prefilters to protect animals, and IME with dense planting and good growth with regular pruning, media (and therefore lots of media in the sump) is unnecessary. Most here do massive water changes under high light systems; this and nutrient uptake from plants makes sump's extra volume mostly irrelevant, assuming sane fish stock. IMO (I DIY'd), unless you want to build or have a sump to learn, or want to conceal a big pump to move a lot of water or some other project, forget sumps for high light planted -- my sump does less and less as I learn more about plants.

re lighting:

AHSupply reflector will give you some light on the edges, but you might get plants in the corners reaching a little for the light. Just keep this in mind and put appropriate plants in those spots.

If I did it over again I would mount my AHSupply ballasts remotely.

Much of 5500K being good depends on aesthetics. I think 6700K looks way better.
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Old 07-27-2005, 07:53 PM   #8
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ok, i'm out of town and don't have access to all my resources. just do some google searches for clippard needle valve..you'll find lots of forums posts in the results, many from thekrib, which can help you find a site that sells them.
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Old 07-27-2005, 08:32 PM   #9
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If you go to www.aquatic-store.com and run a search for "needle valve" you'll find several clippard/needle valves at decent prices.
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Old 07-27-2005, 10:14 PM   #10
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And for your where to buy plants question, www.aquariumplants.com , www.floridadriftwood.com , www.freshwateraquariumplants.com are good places to start.
Also if you have any aquarium socities local, you can get some great deals
Good luck with your tank, this site is a great resource! I think 20 longs make great planted tanks. If youre looking for lighting fixtures, I always look at www.aquatraders.com for some good cheap lights. I'm getting MH and a few more CF fixtures from them soon.
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