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Old 05-10-2018, 09:35 AM   #1
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Novice planning a 29 Gallon Freshwater Planted

Hey all, Bearclaw here!

This is my first thread/post, the community seems wonderful and I'm excited to start my new hobby in earnest. The catalyst for this decision was the death of my wifes' Betta which prompted a trip to the pet store. One 10 gallon tank later and I think I might be hooked.

The 10 gallon is a freshwater planted tank that I started to appease my wife but turned into my own little project instead. It's currently stocked with 4 Serpae Tetras, a Sword, and some Java Moss. Having realised I had not done ANYTHING properly with my first tank (and am now having to correct all of those issues), I wanted to start fresh and properly plan a tank. I have some ideas in regards to what I want but I would like some feedback on my choices and some recommendations from the community before I begin.

The Filter
I've read a lot of the threads here about the different types of filters (canister vs HOBs) and their pros and cons but I'm torn. Canisters seem to be the preference for their media customizability, their lack of noise, and decreased evaporation. On the other hand, HOBs are preferred for their ease of setup cleaning, and price. I think I've narrowed it down to the Fluval C3 and the Penn-Plax Cascade 700.

The Light
This one is another case of which type to use? LEDs last much longer and are easier on the electricity bill but I've read that Halogen is better for plants. I haven't looked at halogen yet because I found a Fluval Aquasky that's affordable and looks quite nice. Suggestions?

The Heater
Choosing a heater shouldn't be that difficult, I'm more concerned with brands and their associated qualities. The other aspect that I am unsure of is its placement in the tank. I've read a number of different tips about how best to place a heater but I would like your opinion.

The Substrate
Again, something that SHOULDN'T be complicated. Since I plan on making this a planted tank, are there types of substrate that are more preferred than others? I don't plan on running CO2 just yet, but I'm sure I'll get there eventually.

I'm sorry for the wall of text but I just want to make sure this new tank gets off on the right foot. I would really appreciate your input and I look forward to starting this project.
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Old 05-10-2018, 09:50 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Bearclaw View Post
Hey all, Bearclaw here!

This is my first thread/post, the community seems wonderful and I'm excited to start my new hobby in earnest. The catalyst for this decision was the death of my wifes' Betta which prompted a trip to the pet store. One 10 gallon tank later and I think I might be hooked.

The 10 gallon is a freshwater planted tank that I started to appease my wife but turned into my own little project instead. It's currently stocked with 4 Serpae Tetras, a Sword, and some Java Moss. Having realised I had not done ANYTHING properly with my first tank (and am now having to correct all of those issues), I wanted to start fresh and properly plan a tank. I have some ideas in regards to what I want but I would like some feedback on my choices and some recommendations from the community before I begin.

The Filter
I've read a lot of the threads here about the different types of filters (canister vs HOBs) and their pros and cons but I'm torn. Canisters seem to be the preference for their media customizability, their lack of noise, and decreased evaporation. On the other hand, HOBs are preferred for their ease of setup cleaning, and price. I think I've narrowed it down to the Fluval C3 and the Penn-Plax Cascade 700.

My vote is canister filters. It offers the ability to use inline heaters and CO2 reactors for when you inevitably head down the CO2 route

Sunsun's are well priced and lots of people love them.... Ehiem classics are great too. I don't know too much about the cascades.

For HOB, aquaclear is basically the only way to go



The Light
This one is another case of which type to use? LEDs last much longer and are easier on the electricity bill but I've read that Halogen is better for plants. I haven't looked at halogen yet because I found a Fluval Aquasky that's affordable and looks quite nice. Suggestions?

Fluval aquasky could work, definitely do not do halogens... Beamswork DA-FSPEC would likely be a better choice. Fluval 3.0 would be the far superior option, but it comes with a $$$ to it. You can never go wrong with fluorescent bulbs either, I've heard good things about the odyssea t5's.

The Heater
Choosing a heater shouldn't be that difficult, I'm more concerned with brands and their associated qualities. The other aspect that I am unsure of is its placement in the tank. I've read a number of different tips about how best to place a heater but I would like your opinion.

I would vote for a hydor inline heater (only with a canister filter).

The Substrate
Again, something that SHOULDN'T be complicated. Since I plan on making this a planted tank, are there types of substrate that are more preferred than others? I don't plan on running CO2 just yet, but I'm sure I'll get there eventually.

Just go with a black blasting sand or a tan/white pool filter sand. Those "planted tank substrates" are straight up overpriced snake oil (except of ADA syle aqua soil substrates). You can also use safe-t-sorb oil dry which works well.

Using the plain inert substrates is the easiest way to keep things "clean". The less organic matter you have decomposing in the tank = less "food" for algae.


I'm sorry for the wall of text but I just want to make sure this new tank gets off on the right foot. I would really appreciate your input and I look forward to starting this project.
I answered in bold, but I'll throw a few more tips in.

Start with a short / low light photoperiod for the first month or two. Algae is VERY common in new tanks, so less light will be your friend here.

Look into fertilizers. You can roll your own (very easy) or you can go with retail stuff (mostly paying for other peoples water....)

Thrive is a good "all in one" fert and easy to use... Flourish Excel is also a decent product.

Hope this helps.
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Old 05-11-2018, 04:33 PM   #3
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ZxC gave you some good advice (though I do like Eco-Complete as a substrate for planted tanks), I just want to add that Aquaclears are great HoB filters - I love mine.

Welcome to the hobby!
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Old 05-11-2018, 05:01 PM   #4
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ZxC gave you some good advice (though I do like Eco-Complete as a substrate for planted tanks), I just want to add that Aquaclears are great HoB filters - I love mine.

Welcome to the hobby!
Nothing wrong with eco comp, I've had great luck with it in the past, but I've had equal luck using plain ol gravel, so for me it is not worth the 3x cost over over gravels / sands.
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Old 05-12-2018, 04:56 AM   #5
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Novice planning a 29 Gallon Freshwater Planted

Welcome! New tanks are always fun, especially when you select plants. I like Eco-complete mainly for looks and ease of care. I think it is a good substrate, but I havenít used any other substrates other than Flourite (I have a mix of Eco-complete and Fluorite). Normal gravel, as long as it isnít too large, should suffice with proper nutrient dosing for any heavy root feeders. In terms of lighting, I recommend an LED that can be dimmed. That way, you can adjust lighting as desired. I always advocate for beginners to start out with low lighting. It generally causes less issues, and problems can be addressed more easily. There are plenty of low light plant options: Bucephalandra, Crypts, Anubias, Echinodorus, Microsorum, Bolbitis, most mosses, and various species of Hygrophilia, Rotala, and Ludwigia work well. I think itíd be beneficial to read over these threads:

Beginners beware (high light dangers): http://www.aquariumadvice.com/forums...d.php?t=353619

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/10...#/topics/56042

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/10...#/topics/99729
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Old 05-18-2018, 09:36 PM   #6
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Thank you very much for all the information. You have all been instumental in the creation of my aquarium. I've learned more about plants and fish than I thought I ever would have and I find it interesting and relaxing thinking of ways to improve the lives of my future finny friends.

I wound up getting an AC70 for the filter. I haven't done the research on custom bio media yet, but once the tank is fully operational and well seasoned, I think I will dive down that rabbit hole.

Lighting is still something that I barely understand. Low light means plants grow tall, high light means more algae and the ability to grow carpets. I am currently running a Fluval AquaSky LED which is very customizeable.

For the substrate, I decided to use a course sand with Seachem Flourite Black mixed in. I will be adding some more flourite to the mix as I feel there wasn't enough and I would like to create some hills in my hardscaping (which I have not yet started). The wood for the aquascape is soaking in treated water.

I have also added some plants to the aquarium temporarily to aid in the cycling process. I currently have 3 Anubias Nana and 5 stalks of what I THINK are hornwart, but it could be Cabomba, not sure. I also added some Flourish and Flourish Excel to help the plants along.

I will make a post either tomorrow or the next day with ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels as well as pictures of the setup. I'll also post pictures of the hardscaping materials as well as plants I would like to use and fish I would like to stock. As always, your input is appreciated and welcome. Thank you for all the warm greetings and I hope to be a success story.
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