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Old 02-25-2005, 12:29 AM   #1
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Questions.......

I need some help with making some decisions.......

Out of these three tanks which one would you prefer for a planted tank and why:
Eclipse 37 Gallon ($259.00)
Eclipse 32 Gallon ($200.00)
Marineland 29 Gallon ($179.00)

Also I am looking at using sand as a substrate what do you think of it for a planted tank? I have 2 5 Lbs bags of of Estes Ultra Reef sand will this do or should I use Seachem Flourite?

My final question is how do you vacuum a sand substrate?

Thanks for your help

Billy
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Old 02-25-2005, 12:31 AM   #2
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I also forgot to mention that I probably will not be able to afford a new light hood for this tank
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Old 02-26-2005, 12:24 AM   #3
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I can't offer you advice on the tank because I really don't know the brands. I would go with the one that is the shallowest because you won't be able to get new lights for a while & less water means better light penetration & happier plants. You may be able to retrofit your old hood if you can afford new bulbs. I am having luck (if its an incandescent hood) with using compact flourescents (the daylight kind)because I can't afford really expensive lighting.

I think but am not sure that the reef sand will be white which probably means that it comes from a reef area. That means the sand will be almost 100% broken down coral & sea shells. Since they are mostly calcium carbonate it will rapidly make your water very hard and increase your pH. Plants are pretty flexible but don't really prefer hard water & if you haven't started yet I would go with another kind of sand to be safe. Unless someone can comment on the specific brand. Maybe the folks in saltwater would know about it.

I had a clay substrate with grit over the top of it. It was a large sized grit that I bought at a sandblasting place. I have recently replaced the grit with sand. If you go to a pool place & ask for pool filter sand they will give you a big bag of rounded sand (important for some fish which burrow) that is all silica. It won't mess with your hardness or pH. Even cheaper is Home Depot play sand which also seems to be non limestone or coral. Be sure to wash both before you put them in. Some people also but lateralite (spelling??) in their substrate which helps with iron deficiency (common micronutrient that plants need).

Some plants get a lot of their nutrients from the soil & others from the water. I know people do use sand substrates for planted tanks but at least for substrate feeders you would have to put in fertilizer tablets. I do it too because my clay doesn't provide enough of the nutrients for some plants. Hopefully someone out there with a sand substrate will be able to give you a better rundown on this.

I am still figuring out the vacuuming sand thing but as near as I can tell you hold the suction hose above the sand & just get it close enough to suck off organic matter & hopefully not too much sand. If your suction is too high with a python you can just turn the water down & it will be less. I also have found that with good circulation the mulm collects in certain little places & is not spread all over.

Don't know how much experience you have with aquaria but if its not much you will want to read about cycling your tank before you put any fish in it. You can do a fishless cycle by throwing some dead shrimp in there - I think probably any meat product would work fine really but dead shrimp has been tried & it works. Or you can cycle with some pretty tough fish. The plants will actually like the high ammonia levels so you can put them in as soon as you dechlorinate & your sand settles.
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Old 02-26-2005, 02:26 AM   #4
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Kudos to you, frog girl, for a seriously detailed response!

In a planted tank, you need two layers of substrate. One, a high nutrient substrate (flourite, vermiculite) for the plant roots to absorb from, and a soft layer on top. The roots need places to grow, so sand here is a good idea. Reef sand however, would not be a good idea, as already mentioned. It containes calcium carbonate that will buffer your pH and cause you troubles.

I would do a bag of flourite or vermiculite, covered by a layer of regular aquarium sand. don't pack thing down too much either, make sure the sand it aerated.

Good luck.
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Old 02-26-2005, 03:00 AM   #5
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Eclipse/marineland kits are not the best selection for a planted tank. The lighting is pretty inadequate. The biowheel is not the best type of filtration to have should you decide to do co2 anytime in the future. You might want to reconsider. I'm not saying that you can't make it work, but don't expect to be able to grow any high light plants. You might actually save money in the long run by going a different route and putting together something yourself. Just food for thought. Good Luck!

Edit: my opinion - buy everything but the tank and fish online. It should be cheaper than the LFS.
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Old 02-26-2005, 01:13 PM   #6
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I would recommend against the Eclipse systems, or any system where the filter is built into the hood. Really cuts down your flexibility for the future, and I suspect is more expensive than getting the parts individually.

I recently bought a 29 gal starter kit from Petsmart for $109. It included the tank, hood, filter, heater, and air pump, and a few random other things (samples of fish food, etc.) I hated the filter that came with it (TopFin) so I invested $25 or so for an AquaClear HOB filter. Still less than that MarineLand package you have above.

As for substrate, you might consider something like Eco-Complete, which is a small-diameter gravel intended for planted tanks, with nutrients built right in to the gravel (which eliminates or at least reduces the need to be constantly adding fertilizer). I have yet to ever set up a planted tank, but I am leaning in that direction for the near future, and it seems like this Eco-Complete comes highly recommended.
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Old 03-01-2005, 04:09 PM   #7
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Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. I am going to do a little more research and start up a new tank soon. I think I am going to put down some fluorite and then some sand. All I really need to know is how you vacuum the sand or is it self sustainable and really all you need to do is partial water changes. If anyone has any suggestions about this please let me know.

Thanks
Billy
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Old 03-01-2005, 04:56 PM   #8
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I am a newbie, so pardon me if I'm a bit ignorant. Where do you recommend buying supplies online?





greenfish:

Edit: my opinion - buy everything but the tank and fish online. It should be cheaper than the LFS
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Old 03-01-2005, 07:29 PM   #9
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dobiedawn, when you have a question that may come up through another post it is still best to start a new thread otherwise you won't get that many people who can answer that question. Hope that made sense. In the states alot of people use bigalsonline. Try a new thread or do a search and Im sure you'll come up with some other us favorites
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Old 03-01-2005, 10:24 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dobiedawn
I am a newbie, so pardon me if I'm a bit ignorant. Where do you recommend buying supplies online?
Here are my favorite places to order online:
http://www.bigalsonline.com/
http://www.thatpetplace.com/
http://petsolutions.com/
http://www.drsfostersmith.com/

If you add a bunch of items together, you will save on on shipping. I find that even if you order only one thing, it is still often cheaper than the LFS.
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