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Old 07-29-2011, 11:53 AM   #1
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Help! Starting a 29 gal freshwater on college student budget!

Hello AA!
Ever since I started with my 10 gallon aquarium 4 years ago I have stalked this forum for advice, tutorials... anything. I want to thank everyone who participates in these forums for teaching me pretty much everything I know about fishkeeping.

The issue: I found a 29 gallon aquarium at a yard sale. YAY!!!!!

But I am a very poor college student and I shouldn't be spending money on an aquarium at all, but one 10 gallon isn't enough!

:::::Info about me and the new tank:::::

This aquarium has a light with a "normal" not-very-interesting fluorescent light in the hood, and a filter. No heater.... I'll have to buy one.

My 10 gallon has only black gravel and plastic plants. I'm a little embarrassed by that, but oh well. Contains ghost shrimp, 1 platy, 4 Endler's Livebearers.

I have one experimental 1 gal fish bowl containing gravel, hornwort, and java fern.

The only stores in my area are Petsmart and an LFS that is more expensive than Petsmart and with more unhealthy fish.
I do use Aquabid, though.


I have NO experience with live plants other than putting hornwort and java fern in a bowl containing aquarium water and waiting to see what happens.


Do you have tips or ideas on what to do with this empty 29 gal aquarium? I want this to be as cheap as possible but as interesting as possible at the same time. For example, I would love to get a smaller substrate because I would LOVE to keep a school or cories or kuhlis. But what kind of substrate???


Thank you for reading.
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Old 07-30-2011, 09:14 AM   #2
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Hi and welcome to AA!

I don't know if I can answer all of your questions since I'm still learning too, but I'll do what I can.

For the substrate, you could try sand. It's pretty cheap if you go to a place like Home Depot or Lowe's, I think you can buy play sand. You'll just need to rinse and rinse and rinse (etc) before you put it into the tank.

How are you planning to cycle the tank? Fishless is a great option! And it will give you time to plan the tank and what you want to put in there. There's a link below in my signature ('new empty tank...'), click on that and you'll find a great fishless cycling guide.

Also if you have a bit of extra filter media or gravel or something from your 10 you could use to "seed" the 29 while it's cycling, it'll help it along.

I have zero experience with live plants myself, so I'm sure others will reply who have more knowledge than I do. Good luck!
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Old 07-30-2011, 09:31 AM   #3
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Welcome to AA! For plants you could do moss, java ferns, and other things like that. There are actually a lot of low light plants out there! I have guppy grass, anachris(if that's what it's called) and Xmas moss in my 8 gallon tank that has a very low light on it as well.
For fish you could do 2 or maybe 3 schools of tetras of about 7-9 fish and a school of cories of about 6-7. I think. Or you could cut out 1 of the schools of tetras and put in a centerpiece fish, like a gourami or dwarf cichlid. Also what type of filter do you have?
I would use sand for a substrate because IMO it looks cool, and it it really cheap!
Just make sure that you fishless cycle before you put FISH in, you can put plants in but not fish.
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Old 07-30-2011, 10:26 AM   #4
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Hello! Thanks for replying!

Yes, I will do a fishless cycle and I will do more research on how to do it properly.

So, play sand is ok to use as long as you rinse rinse rinse? Any tips on how to effectively rinse in the kitchen sink without getting sand all over the place?
Sand seems really messy, but is it?

Should I layer different substrates or is just sticking sand in fine? And I can use a gravel vac on in?

Yes, the low light/cheap plants I would get would be java moss, java fern and anacharis. I would say hornwort too but it is SO MESSY and frustrating!

Yes as for stocking it seems like a good option is a nice sized school of corydoras (I can't use dwarf because they are too pricey!), a nice sized school of tetras, and a centerpiece fish.

The filter is a Whisper 30. I also have a small airstone.

I will do more research on low tech planted aquariums (or no tech planted aquariums). I want this to be the laziest and cheapest aquarium I have yet to own!

And one more thing: is shale generally a safe rock to use in aquariums? Most of the rocks in my area contain limestone, but there are numerous gorges that are completely Devonian shale. I would love to use natural rocks in my aquarium, I'm tired of the usual fake ornaments.

Thanks again!
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Old 07-30-2011, 10:58 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gabysapha
Hello! Thanks for replying!

Yes, I will do a fishless cycle and I will do more research on how to do it properly.

So, play sand is ok to use as long as you rinse rinse rinse? Any tips on how to effectively rinse in the kitchen sink without getting sand all over the place?
Sand seems really messy, but is it?

Should I layer different substrates or is just sticking sand in fine? And I can use a gravel vac on in?

Yes, the low light/cheap plants I would get would be java moss, java fern and anacharis. I would say hornwort too but it is SO MESSY and frustrating!

Yes as for stocking it seems like a good option is a nice sized school of corydoras (I can't use dwarf because they are too pricey!), a nice sized school of tetras, and a centerpiece fish.

The filter is a Whisper 30. I also have a small airstone.

I will do more research on low tech planted aquariums (or no tech planted aquariums). I want this to be the laziest and cheapest aquarium I have yet to own!

And one more thing: is shale generally a safe rock to use in aquariums? Most of the rocks in my area contain limestone, but there are numerous gorges that are completely Devonian shale. I would love to use natural rocks in my aquarium, I'm tired of the usual fake ornaments.

Thanks again!
Play sand is good but there's another kind of sand that most people on here use called pool filter sand, it costs maybe $1 more than play sand but is thinner and better for the fish. As for cleaning techniques only do a little bit at a time, in a bucket, then when you're about to pore out the water put a pillow case or piece of cloth on the open side.

You don't have to use different levels because it will eventually all fall out.

Yes you can use a gravel vac on it, I've read that you just put the gravel vac a few inches from the top of the sand bed, also make sure to occasionally stir your sand bed to get rid of toxins.

Shale, I think, is good to use. But the full proof way to finding out is to pore vinegar over top of the rock and see if it bubbles or not. If it DOES, don't I repeat do not! use it! If it DOESN'T, you CAN! use it!
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Old 07-30-2011, 11:10 AM   #6
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to AA!

Generally people don't like mixing two substrates together (sand and gravel) but I have tried a little experiment in my tank and...it worked out well! Gravel slopes down into sand, and to stop it from sliding down I used large rocks to stop gravel. I don't know if any one else has had success with this but it's worked for me!

For lowtech, java fern, java moss, anacharis, anubias, some crypts are all good options.

Any stocking options yet? Can't wait to see this tank!
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Old 07-30-2011, 11:28 AM   #7
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Bruinsbro, I can't wait to start cycling this too! The tank is still empty in my kitchen. Its' HUGE. Well, compared to my little 10 gallon. I'm kind of afraid of it! It's going to take FOREVER to go from kitchen to living room with a bucket to fill it with water!
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Old 07-30-2011, 11:33 AM   #8
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By the way, I think my Whisper 30 is a little loud. Any recommendations on a better filter for a 29 gal?
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Old 07-30-2011, 11:35 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gabysapha View Post
Bruinsbro, I can't wait to start cycling this too! The tank is still empty in my kitchen. Its' HUGE. Well, compared to my little 10 gallon. I'm kind of afraid of it! It's going to take FOREVER to go from kitchen to living room with a bucket to fill it with water!
It's alright. I have a thrity gallon in my room and it is kind of a drag at first to change the water, but after a while you get used to the routine every week. Don't be afraid! 29 gallon tanks aren't that bad.

It's still sitting empty in your kitchen? Mine is still at my grandma's and I've been waiting for about three weeks now to get started on it. It's quite torturous that you're so close to having a tank full of fish and you can't do anything yet!
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Old 07-30-2011, 11:36 AM   #10
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By the way, I think my Whisper 30 is a little loud. Any recommendations on a better filter for a 29 gal?
Aquaclear or Marineland filters. Marineland makes lots of noise but is the best filter I've seen for a while that hangs on the back (HOB). But another good option is aquaclear, you can adjust the water flow and it doesn't make lots of noise.
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Old 07-30-2011, 11:37 AM   #11
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An easy way to clean sand is to use a house garbage can , empty and clean of course and fill with water stir it up , let it sit 20 min , then repeat . Works well for me ! Goodluck !
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Old 07-30-2011, 11:44 AM   #12
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Thanks for the replies everyone!

Do low light plants need a special bulb? The hood I have has just the fluorescent bulb it came with.
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Old 07-30-2011, 12:38 PM   #13
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As far as my limited knowledge in plants go, no I believe they do not.
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Old 07-30-2011, 12:40 PM   #14
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I'm pretty sure that they don't need any. I have just a light that came with my tank and my low light plants are thriving.
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Old 07-30-2011, 12:53 PM   #15
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oh what good news! This tank will be cheaper than I had anticipated.

Thank you everyone! I will update once I find pool filter sand and some rocks. You have all been a great help (as usual)!
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Old 07-30-2011, 04:20 PM   #16
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Is it just me or does pool filter sand look really.... white?

Just curious, would cories be alright with pea gravel? I have read all over the place that they enjoy sand but pool filter sand just looks so weird to me. And the aquarium sands sold at Petsmart are awfully expensive!!!
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Old 07-30-2011, 04:29 PM   #17
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I have my cories with just some regular gravel and they're completely happy in it, so yeah I think that they would be fine in pea gravel.
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Old 07-30-2011, 10:15 PM   #18
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Play sand is cheap , a little more rinsing involved but it's tan ..
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Old 07-31-2011, 03:16 PM   #19
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depending where you live you can collect it all from the out doors. just make sure you rinse VERY WELL. and run carbon in your filters. i know im going to take some heat for this one...
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Old 07-31-2011, 04:08 PM   #20
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More budget planning:

There is a LOT of limestone in the waterways in my area. It makes this place unique. I assume limestone isn't a good thing for my tank.

By the way, my water is hard and the pH is almost 8.0.

There are plenty of gorges though, so I'll try to get some shale from there. It seems shale is pretty inert, yes?

After lurking around google I have more questions about substrate! It will never end.

It seems play sand is the cheapest option. I am fond of the look of river pebbles but I will pay about $17 at Petsmart to get enough gravel for the tank. Are there cheaper options for gravel? There is a Lowes in my area, perhaps they would have gravel but is it SAFE GRAVEL?

I'll admit it: I'm afraid of sand! I don't want to accidentally scratch my tank! Or get sand all over my carpeted apartment!
Sand is dangerous like that.......
I must sound really silly.

I will put in an order at Foster and Smith. Before I do that I want to make sure I do not need another bulb for my tank. Or if I do.... which one...? There are so many and I have no idea how they are different!

I don't plan on growing anything other than java moss, java fern and any other resilient and low-light aquatic plant. I just have the standard bulb that came with my hood. Would I benefit from buying another bulb? Remember this is a 29 gallon tank.

And no, I do not plant on going high-tech. Ever. Or even mid-tech. Low-tech or no-tech are my options

Speaking of plants, would I benefit from putting a layer of organic potting soil under whatever substrate I choose? Or is that not necessary? I guess my teeny list of plants don't need to be rooted so... nevermind!

Would you recommend buying a bottle of Seachem Excel? It's almost $6, so I'm not excited about buying it. But if it's a good investment, I won't hesitate!

Thanks again everyone!
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