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Old 08-08-2006, 12:48 PM   #1
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Starting out questions...

So here I am, all content with my finished non-planted 75g, thinking, maybe its time to go planted...

I have some questions, and I have read the sticky's, so please don't be mad.

As I said, I have a 75g (48"x18"x18" appx). I, at this point, do not have a clue what I will plant in this tank yet. My lighting, at current, is completely inadequate (1 34w T12 - oh yeah). However, I am negotiating for a Coralife 48" Lunar Aqualight that comes with 2 65w 10000k PCs, and 2 65w Actinics. Obviously, the actinics provide zero useful light to me (for plant purposes), so I am basically considering "out of the box" 130w of lighting. According to Lumens/sq in calculator I found linked in an extremely lengthly, yet interesting, discussion of the WPG theory, I will have ~2.33 wpg with 130w of PCs. Before another extremely large discussion begins, I understand that that is not a perfect number. Basically, I should be in the 2-3 wpg range with 2 bulbs, and 4-5 wpg with all 4 bulbs being 10000k 65watters (230w total).

My first question is does all of this sound pretty close to accurate?

Secondly, I have read that unless you have a small tank (<30g) or are only growing low-light plants, that you need CO2. Ok, I understand that the CO2 tank size is immaterial as far as performance is concerned (the tank size only affects the duration of CO2 available, correct?), but can someone tell me a good CO2 injection system and where to get it? I have been on many of the main sites and am having issues locating pricing. I am willing to build a regulator system DIY if it is worth it (I don't want to build something that is short term or junky, but I also don't want to spend a bunch if I don't have to).

So here I am (in the future), and I have a 75g planted tank, with 130-260w of PC light, and Pressurized CO2 injection system. I need to test tank parameters. Can I get some recommendations on test kits? I currently have the AP FW Master Test Kit (Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates, PH (low and hi). So I will need to be able to test for GH/KH, Phosphates, trace elements, anything else?

Oh, I will need ferts as well right? Any recommendations on which ones and amounts needed (not for dosing, but for ordering and a place if you can)?


I guess I should tell you what I have in the cycled 75g tank already:
Filstar XP3 filter
Hydor ETH 300 inline heater (I love this thing...)
Powerhead 801
soon to have Coralife 48" Lunar Aqualight 4x65w (current 2x65 10000k, 2x65 actinic)
2 Bolivian Rams
2 Zebra Danios
2 Long-finned Leopard Danios
3 Black Skirt Tetras
3 White Skirt Tetras
1 Madagascar Rainbow
2 Celebes Rainbows
2 Clown Loachs
2 Otos
2 Cory Cats

I will also be adding more rams (GBRs) and more rainbows (probably some Boesemani and turquoise), and I have numerous Rocks (slate, quartzite, and sandstone), 2 pieces of driftwood, 2 pieces of petrified wood, and PFS for a substrate. Eventually I would like to have Eco-Complete substrate, but I just can't justify the cost at this time. I only have 50lbs of PFS at this time, which I would have to increase since I have only ~1" of substrate now, and would need more for plants.

Also, sorry, I get longwinded at times, but I know how responders require more data than is usually given...TIA
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Old 08-08-2006, 01:10 PM   #2
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You'll want test kits for phosphate and KH. The AP master kit is fine for the other parameters. I have the seachem kit for phosphate and it works well. I can't remember what kind of KH kit I have but I don't think there is much difference in these. Don't waste your money on kits for iron, potassium or CO2, they are inaccurate and you don't need them anyway.

The 260 watt fixture will allow you to stay at medium light or go to high light later if you want, which could be a nice option. I have 6500K bulbs on my tank, just got a 10000K for my FOWLR tank...it's pretty blue. Not sure how I'd like the look on the FW tank. If you can get the 6500Ks then that might look better....or maybe replace the actinics with 6500K and leave the others as 10000K? That might look good, and will give you the choice. I do know that the 10000K are easier to come by and a little cheaper. The plants will do fine with either, it's just a matter of your preference. Surface sunlight is closer to 6500K, while the 10000K replicates the light spectrum at deeper depths (10 meters or so) hence it's use in SW tanks.

You will need to add more substrate, as you know. Eco is great, but I've heard many people give positive reports on PFS too. Get some root tabs and you'll be fine.

I got my ferts from www.gregwatson.com which is where most folks on here get them from. Greg is great and will gladly answer any and all questions that you have. I would suggest getting CSM+B, K2SO4, KNO3 and KH2PO4 for trace, potassium, nitrate and phosphate respectively. Get 1 lb of each, except 2 lb of potassium, to start. That will last you a while, particularly if you run at the lower light level.

I run a DIY (yeast) CO2 system on my high-light 55 (contrary to popular belief, it can be done) so i can't help you on the pressurized stuff. Despite my success with the DIY, I think a 75 would be too big for it to be effective.
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Old 08-08-2006, 01:22 PM   #3
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I would say that 130watts PC would give you medium light, 195watts (replace the actinics with 50/50's) would give you high light, and the full 260watts would give you very high light. Based on this calculator.

If I were to buy a Pressurized CO2 setup, I would probably purchase a Milwaukee regulator from the Aquarium Supply Store or Aquarium Plant's The Best Regulator. Since I'd be plumbing several tanks with the same setup, I'd also pick up a manifold. Since you're only talking about a single tank you wouldn't need that. Then I'd pick up the tank locally. Since you've already got alot of your equipment inline with the filter, I would recommend buying or building an Inline CO2 reactor.

In addition to the test kits that you already have you'll only need the KH and PO4 kits. There isn't a hobby grade test kit for traces that is accurate enough for our use.

For ferts definately go with Greg Watson. Dry ferts are the only way to go with a tank the size of yours. I would recommend the following:
CSM+B Plantex 1lbs
KNO3 2lbs
KH2PO4 1lbs
K2SO4 1lbs
You'll go through the KNO3 the fastest which is why 2lbs is recommended for it. You may need/want a couple of the other ferts based on your water conditions, but these are the basics that you will definately need. If you've got really soft water you might want to look at the Calcium and Magnesium, or if you want to play with Iron levels the the Iron might be nice. In most cases there is plenty of Iron in the CSM+B.

You'll probably want to triple your substrate so that you've got an average of 3". This will make life a lot easier. If you decide on any heavy root feeders you'll want to either buy or makes some root tabs too. PFS is a perfectly fine substrate for plants, just needs ammending for those heavy root feeders.

Sounds like you've done your research and are well on your way to planning a beautiful tank. Good luck and don't forget the pics once it's setup with the plants.
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Old 08-08-2006, 01:52 PM   #4
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Thank you both for your assistance. I have done lots of research on this topic, so your responses were in line with what I had considered. Thanks again.
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Old 08-08-2006, 02:06 PM   #5
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From past experience (in my 55 gal) adding Eco-complete at a later date is a pain. I would almost recommend against it. If you plan on using the Eco (which I think is great), I would start out with it. I think it would give great contrast to the PFS color, or you could do a dual-layer substrate, PFS on the bottom, plant your plants, then add the Eco on top. I just use Eco and regular aquarium gravel in mine, a little over 50/50 mixture.
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Old 08-08-2006, 02:12 PM   #6
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Well we know you like Diy so get some plans and wire your own lights in that beautiful hood you and the wife built.

Then send a e-mail to Greg. He will recommend what ferts to start with. Alltho Newfound and Purrbox have been there, and done that.

I have PFS, 2WPG, without C02, so that can be done, if you chose to go that way.
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Old 08-08-2006, 02:38 PM   #7
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Nice to know that Purrbox and I simultaneously agreed on the types and amounts of ferts....that was funny, we must have been typing our responses at the same time!

I agree with her idea of putting 50/50s in there to give you a third lighting option. Any way, that canopy gives you lots of choices. Looks like you've done your homework! Keep asking questions, and when you get it going and need some high-light plant clippings, lemme know!
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Old 08-08-2006, 02:59 PM   #8
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will do...thanks everyone. As far as CO2 goes, any recommends on DIY or purchasing? I found one online for $132 (RexGrigg.com), but that seems to be high end for the regulator...I have heard of the milwaukee all-in-one (~$84+tubing), but not of "the best regulator"($130+tubing). They both seem to come with the same general items: regulator with needle valve, electronic solenoid, bubble counter, and dual gauges. Will I still need a reactor as well? If so, what kind? What about monitoring items? How much tubing would I need? so many questions...!
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Old 08-08-2006, 03:40 PM   #9
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The reactor is what diffuses the CO2 into your tank. If you want to purchase the Aquamedic CO2 Reactor 1000 is nice. or you can build your own based on Rex's Plans or GWAPA's Plans or your own varient. To determine how much tubing you'll need deterimine where you want to set everything up and measure the distances. It'd be a good idea to add at least a couple of feet in case you mismeasure or need to recut something. You can get a PH Controller if you like, but you could also just get a timer as well. It's really up to you which way you go on that one. Most regulators are going to have the same basic stuff, it's a matter of determining which one fits in your budget and has the best value for the money.
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