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Aquarium Advice Newbie
Jan 1, 2013
Southern Illinois

I have had some experience with very basic tanks in the past, who know the ones all of us newbs have with a few basic fish and not much else in way of equipment. Alas those fish died quite quickly and I am here years later to try again with knowledge under my belt. I am thinking of starting up a 30 gal freshwater aquarium. Starting out I am thinking of my set up and that it will be a sand bottom, prolly a biowheel filter, fake plants, air stones and a few decorations. Fish wise I am still very uncertain and am looking into that. Eventually I want to expand myself to a live plant aquarium but we will see. Thanks everyone for providing a information filled place for all of us aquarium folks.

Why not try a low light plant tank rather then start with fake and continue? You could easily do a dirted tank with a pea gravel cap and sand covering. Would look kind of neat and provide nutrients for the plants to grow healthy and without buying expensive lights. If your interested I can tell you in depth how to set that up. And also you can do so much with a 30gal :) I have bred convicts in a 30 and I have had a beautiful community. 30gal tasks are sweet :)
Craigslist may be a great way to start, our even local(non chain) fish stores. And what I do when I dirt a tank I start with some red clay(go to the craft store its not that expensive, and its much much cheaper then laterite which you can get at a lfs) red and terra cotta work the same, both contain a lot of iron. Next you need ORGANIC soil. "Miracle Grow" makes one thay works great. when you put it all in pour in water slowly so that the soil will absorbe the water(you will see it puddle and then disappear). When you have it all wet add some pea gravel or whatever gravel you would like to cap(just make sure there are no chemicals) if you want dwarf cichlids peat gravel wouldnt be a bad choice either(peat will soften the water, and it may tinge the water yellow a bit, but thats not bad either). Next you pour in your sand at the level you want. I recomend wasing your sand out a bit. It will remove a lot of impuraties and then finer "non sinking" particles. Next add in news paper "crumpeled" and get the news paper wet.....with a spray bottle if you have one....then you can add in water. This will keep the sand and soild from completly mixing and spreading throughout your tank. Good idea is to add in decor you want like rocks or driftwood. You can always add in your plants later, but at this point you are ready to go when you get them. If you go to Lowes for all of this, the bag of dirt is about $8 (42lb don't need that much), leveling sand is $3/$4 a bag, you would need maybe 3/4 a bag of sand....maybe....and gravel will vary...stone yards may be your cheapest bet as will if you want to save money for better plants....or fish :)
You can use
blasting sand found at menards or tsc its normally black
play sand or multi purpose sand found at most hardware stores
Pool filter sand
Or the stuff at the lfs that will cost you an ARM and a leg
If you want color I heard the playsand will work fine. But for normal "natural" looking sand you can go to Lowes and get the leveling sand. Just rinse it :)
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