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Old 10-25-2013, 12:56 PM   #1
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Coming from reef aquarium

I'm tearing down my reef setup and going to do a planted tank. My tank has gotten to the point it takes care of itself, besides water changes obviously, but we had a power outage and my check valve stuck, plus my siphon break became clogged with something during the day and flooded the den. Can't deal with that anymore. Murphy's law got me.

Anyway, the tank is 125g with nova t5 12x36" light. I want to go the route not needing co2. And I want a medium plant amount. The same goes for fish amount, with 2-3 showcase fish. Suggestions welcome on this as well. Keep in mind, a big school of neon tetras will be in the tank.

So with that said, I've read I need to stay less than 2wpg, iirc even 4 bulbs is 144w, is that too high or am I just splitting hairs?

I was also thinking a couple ac110's with nothing in them just to turn the tank over.

Now, my real important question, I used dry aragonite sand and the rock livened it up, could I use it if I boiled it in RO water to kill everything off vs buying new sand?

Thanks in advance, the one thing I will miss the most about my reef is my tiger mantis I had in the fuge, had him trained to grab stuff out of my hand.
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Old 10-25-2013, 01:17 PM   #2
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Have you thought about doing a discus tank? That size tank would be perfect and they go well with the tetras. As far as the aragonite is concerned, you can do that, however, I would get a substrate that is a little more nutrient rich. You don't "have" but you are going to need a fair amount of ferts and root tabs to make up for the lack of nutrients in the soil.

Why is it that you don't want to go the route with co2?
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Old 10-25-2013, 01:47 PM   #3
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I wouldn't use the sand. I especially wouldn't boil it. If there's any traces of certain corals or anything, boiling it can release toxic gases which you definitely don't want to breath in. But that goes more for rock rather than sand. Still, i'd chuck it and go with some new sand. Something like pool filter sand is super cheap and looks great IMO.
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Old 10-25-2013, 01:48 PM   #4
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I just don't want to fool with it, I want as simple as possible. Plus, I'm a fan of natural looking tanks, my reef had little patches of hair algae, and cyano. Never got out of hand, looked natural to me.

I wouldn't mind maybe 1-3 discus. I'm guessing if I can keep a mandarin and sea moth alive for 4 years and are still living, I could keep these alive.

I haven't looked much into the substrate below the sand, I've seen the brands, are there certain params I am looking for?
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Old 10-25-2013, 02:16 PM   #5
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I just don't want to fool with it, I want as simple as possible. Plus, I'm a fan of natural looking tanks, my reef had little patches of hair algae, and cyano. Never got out of hand, looked natural to me. I wouldn't mind maybe 1-3 discus. I'm guessing if I can keep a mandarin and sea moth alive for 4 years and are still living, I could keep these alive. I haven't looked much into the substrate below the sand, I've seen the brands, are there certain params I am looking for?
Oh yes! If you can do a reef aquarium you can keep discus. You don't have to worry too much about parameters of nutrients, you def want to use dry ferts and metricide ( co2 replacement). You can learn all about the ferts in the stickies in this forum. Also, check out Greenleafaquariums.com, you can order all your ferts from there. I think you should go with one of 2 options, cheap and good or expensive and great. The cheap and good option is Eco-complete, the expensive and great is the ADA line of substrates.

It all depends what your finances are.
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Old 10-25-2013, 02:54 PM   #6
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Well that's good about the discus. A reef isn't all that hard, just stay away from acropora corals, too finicky. All that dosing is a money racket, there are several in my area that just do pwcs and all is fine.

I do have a triton 1300gph and quiet one 1000gph pump, instead of the ac's, could I just use one of those and hook it up externally? Both will make a whirlwind, I know.

What about the lighting? What do I do there?

And the ferts are needed when poop alone is not enough? Making sure I have that right.
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Old 10-25-2013, 03:58 PM   #7
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Well that's good about the discus. A reef isn't all that hard, just stay away from acropora corals, too finicky. All that dosing is a money racket, there are several in my area that just do pwcs and all is fine.

I do have a triton 1300gph and quiet one 1000gph pump, instead of the ac's, could I just use one of those and hook it up externally? Both will make a whirlwind, I know.

What about the lighting? What do I do there?

And the ferts are needed when poop alone is not enough? Making sure I have that right.
If you go low light/low maintenance no ferts are needed. Also if you use real dirt as an underlayer in your substrate you dont need ferts. Look up the walstad method. Very low maintenance and good for plants.
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Old 10-25-2013, 04:28 PM   #8
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Well that's good about the discus. A reef isn't all that hard, just stay away from acropora corals, too finicky. All that dosing is a money racket, there are several in my area that just do pwcs and all is fine. I do have a triton 1300gph and quiet one 1000gph pump, instead of the ac's, could I just use one of those and hook it up externally? Both will make a whirlwind, I know. What about the lighting? What do I do there? And the ferts are needed when poop alone is not enough? Making sure I have that right.
Not sure what the triton is but you don't want too much flow. Too much can uproot some sensitive plant especially young ones. I use a fluval 306 in my 55, it works great.

No, you def need ferts waste alone doesn't supply all of the micro nutrients that plants need.

I have 4 x 54w HO t5's. Light depends on what kind of plants you want. Got any ideas on that yet?
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Old 10-25-2013, 06:08 PM   #9
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mostly plants that feed from the water column, then a couple that feed from the substrate(swords and such) I'd really like a good mix of colors, green as the main color, then some red, blue, etc... to break it up.

I was asking if just using one of the pumps would be fine. Have the intake on one side then have the outlet on the other, If they would work, I'll hard pipe it all together.

There is going to be a couple pieces of driftwood in as well, so I may be able to do some funky planting(moving the plants up higher in the tank) these would have to column feeders of course.

Besides the discus fish, what would be another "showcase" fish that would work with tetras? Maybe german rams or something?
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Old 10-25-2013, 06:54 PM   #10
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My largest planted is a 220g dirted tank with an Eco Complete cap. I have high lighting which is what you are going to need if you want non-green plants. Also remember with a planted tank you aren't going to have any blue plants. Yellow, orange's, pink's, and various shades of red. If you go through my albums you can see a lot of colored plants which will require high lighting. You can use liquid carbon BUT in a high light tank with fast growing plants you'd have to work up to 1ml per 1gallon of water. I ran the 220g for over a year using only liquid carbon but do have CO2 on it now. You can use Metricide 14 Day Solution which a gallon online will cost around $27 shipped. You have to shop around as some places try to sell it for $40 a gallon. You mix the Metricide at a 1:1 ratio with RO or distilled water to get 2 gallons for under $30. It also has to be stored in opaque, completely light blocking containers. I kept some old excel bottles so I can mix a small amount up at a time so the bulk of the Glut can stay in it's original bottle.

You will also need to use dry ferts... Estimative Index | Aquarium Fertilizer | Green Leaf Aquariums. This will last over a year.

You'll need 3 dosing bottles, look at the bottom of the page.... Aquarium Plant Fertilizer | Green Leaf Aquariums.

Here's a good link to read about PPS-Pro dosing. Only read the opening post not all the comments. Also the recipe calls for using 2 bottles but I suggest using 3 so nitrates can be mixed in one bottle, potassium and phosphates in another bottle, and micro's in the 3rd bottle. This allow for better custom dosing to the needs of your plants. Also if you have a Gh of 4 or above you don't need the MgSO4, magnesium sulfate the recipe calls for either.

You'll need a nitrate and phosphate test kit and a gram scale.

I would suggest new substrate.

Here's a link to my albums so you can see the different colors of higher light plants... Aquarium Advice - Aquarium Forum Community - Rivercats's Albums.
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Old 10-26-2013, 07:39 AM   #11
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After a night of reading, I think I'll pass on the discus, running the tank that warm, plus limited tank mates, just not for me. Of course, I heard the same stuff about dragonettes as well, that worked out fine for me.

Rivercats, thanks for the links, very in depth and helpful.

I was thinking going the potting soil route with RO washed aragonite I have.

I always hypo the fish I bought, what about fw? Same principal, just meds instead? Any other routine qt items to do?

I'm still cleaning up the walls of coralline algae, but I should be ready to add water sometime this week, just gotta get my shopping list together.

Never too early to get a fish list together, 35-40 jumbo tetras, anything wrong with a small school of blue rams? Or, how bout apistos? Cory cats obviously. I really dig a diversity of fish, not just a few schools of something.

Thank you folks.
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Old 10-26-2013, 10:37 AM   #12
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If you go dirted you need to remove the substrate in there first. Then you need to get an Organic Potting Soil. Most people use Miracle Grow Organic Potting Soil/Mix. You put it in the tank dry, then moisten it well. Don't wet it down too much. After it's moist use your hand to compact it down to remove air bubbles and see how deep it is. I find a 2" layer of moist soil to be good in larger tanks. Next add 1-1/2 to 2 inches of you cap substrate. I still wouldn't use the aragonite because it is going to keep your Kh/Gh/Ph way too high especially for the fish you want to use. Eco Complete is a good cap and you won't need nearly as much if you dirt the tank first. You want about the same depth of cap as you have in the dirt. Another good thing about Eco is it doesn't need to be rinsed, just open the bag and pour it and the water in. This will be a good overall substrate for plants and the fish your interested in. The aragonite will not be good for the stock you want. Plus and salt remaining in it will be bad for both the fish and plants. I've been in the hobby, both SW reefs and FW planted for over 30 years so I have a pretty good handle on this.

It's good to use a QT tank for FW. I actually use ParaGuard while fish are in QT. Most people don't but I do. For tetra's and scaleless fish you only use it 1/2 strength.

You can add about 6 rams but just so you know they get more aggressive as they age. I started with 11 in my 220g but now only keep 2 pairs in it. Also try to keep pairs.
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Old 10-26-2013, 11:54 AM   #13
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Well duh, now that I think of it, 8-8.2 buffering is why reefers use arag in the first place.

That sounds expensive on the Eco, but with a bed of mg under it, shouldn't be so bad.

4 rams would be just fine by me, what about apistos though? Same rules, no mixing?
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Old 10-26-2013, 01:17 PM   #14
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Well duh, now that I think of it, 8-8.2 buffering is why reefers use arag in the first place. That sounds expensive on the Eco, but with a bed of mg under it, shouldn't be so bad. 4 rams would be just fine by me, what about apistos though? Same rules, no mixing?
They are good tank mates. They might chase each other a bit but you won't have any problems.
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Old 10-26-2013, 02:41 PM   #15
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A lot depends on the temperaments of the Apisto's you get. Some are pretty aggressive so do some serious research. I've only ever kept Apisto's and Ram's together in very large tanks (over 100g). In smaller tanks I tend to stock either one of the other. I have a trio of Apistogramma Agassizii Double Reds in with my Rams and 12 very large Angelfish and those Agassizii, especially the male ruled everything. He had no problems changing off the largest of the Angels even spawning Angels. I've also had Apistogramma Panduro's (my favorite) and those guys have big and often nasty temperaments, even the females. The Apistogramma Cacatuoides have always been my best tempered species of Apisto. So as long as you choose wisely and know what to expect and don't add too many it can work.
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Old 10-26-2013, 02:55 PM   #16
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A lot depends on the temperaments of the Apisto's you get. Some are pretty aggressive so do some serious research. I've only ever kept Apisto's and Ram's together in very large tanks (over 100g). In smaller tanks I tend to stock either one of the other. I have a trio of Apistogramma Agassizii Double Reds in with my Rams and 12 very large Angelfish and those Agassizii, especially the male ruled everything. He had no problems changing off the largest of the Angels even spawning Angels. I've also had Apistogramma Panduro's (my favorite) and those guys have big and often nasty temperaments, even the females. The Apistogramma Cacatuoides have always been my best tempered species of Apisto. So as long as you choose wisely and know what to expect and don't add too many it can work.
I have 2 GBR and 2 apisto cacatuoides in a 55, I never have any trouble with that breed. I dont know about other types though.
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Old 10-27-2013, 10:50 PM   #17
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On the substrate, will any organic potting soil work, no pesticide, stuff like that obviously? Or could I just get the Eco-complete and solely use that, (I made out very well from my reef) so the money is there. I read about the unholy nitrates that leach out from soil and take forever to get under control, that's why I'm asking about the Eco by itself. Or do the plants gobble up nitrates like gha and cyano do?

Speaking of pwc, will I have any use for my RO/DI unit anymore? My ph at the tap is 6.8 and has been over the past 4 years. Have no idea on the rest, are the salifert kits the ones to use or is API the king?

For filtration, I was thinking use my 600gph koralia on one side, and use a mag seven plumbed external with the mag 7 outlet and the koralia on opposite ends to turn the tank over. Or would I need a box to hold a filter sponge on the mag 7? I just let the rock do the work in my reef.

I know these are all roll your eyes rookie questions, but I've read so much one way or the other, and it's not confusing, but I'd like to do what's right the first time. Not to mention the videos, I'd forgot how much I done before water even hit the tank. There is every bit as much research into this as reef tanks.
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Old 10-28-2013, 01:49 AM   #18
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I haven't kept a reef in many years now so I'd be having to ask a ton of questions if I decided to go back into it! If you don't ask questions you won't learn.

You have to use Organic Potting Soil but any brand works. Soil leeches the bulk of it's excess nutrients the first few weeks. But if enough fast growing plants are used they just suck up all the ammonia and nitrates. But for someone doing their first big planted tank personally I'd just do a commercial planted substrate. I use Eco Complete in all my tanks. You'll fine a black substrate really makes plants and many freshwater fish pop. All my tanks are either dirted with an Eco cap or are just Eco Complete only substrates.

Plus if your tap water is 6.8 you won't really need your RO unit except to use that water for top ups. I only top off my tanks with RO. It would be helpful to get a Kh/Gh test kit. I use the API one that has both tests in one kit. In a planted tank a Kh and Gh of 4 is ideal. It's just enough calcium and magnesium for both plants and fish. You'll also want a phosphate kit as you'll want to monitor nitrates and phosphates. I use API for freshwater so I can't compare them to other brands.

Depending on your filtration and the amount of current/flow it puts through the tank you may not need any power heads. I have a 220g and only run to power heads to diffuse CO2 into my tank. You want your plants to sway slightly only. You don't want reef current.
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Old 10-28-2013, 12:38 PM   #19
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I think I'll listen and just use the Eco-complete, not the cheapest, but at least the fish for this aren't either. It's funny seeing some folks pass out over a $50 fish.

I was thinking just have the mag 7 pump pull from one end of the tank and discharge on the other side. No filter at all, just let the bacteria grow on tank surfaces. The power head was just dead spot protection.
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Old 10-28-2013, 04:02 PM   #20
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I think I'll listen and just use the Eco-complete, not the cheapest, but at least the fish for this aren't either. It's funny seeing some folks pass out over a $50 fish. I was thinking just have the mag 7 pump pull from one end of the tank and discharge on the other side. No filter at all, just let the bacteria grow on tank surfaces. The power head was just dead spot protection.
If I were you I would still run filters. Maybe a single FX6.
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