Help with Setting up new planted tank

Discussion in 'New members' started by MrAnderson92, May 4, 2021.

  1. MrAnderson92

    MrAnderson92

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    Hi all,

    I am looking at setting up a new tank, which will be a community planted tank and I would like some more experienced opinions.

    The tank dimensions are going to be 1.3 m x 0.5m x 0.55m (lxbxh) so approximately 350L (custom build). I will be running a 100 L sump with the tank in which I will be using sponges and filter floss for mechanical filtration, lava rock for biological filtration and will have a section for use as a breeder/ grow out tank which will have substrate in (even more surface area for bacteria). My planned flow rate is around 1800 L/hr and I'm still looking for pumps that can deliver that at a 1.2 m head height.

    In terms of heating I'm a little unsure of what I will require - I've been looking at the Eheim Jager 250 W, which is said to be rated for tanks up to 600 L, but it is really expensive and I am on somewhat of a budget. Otherwise I was thinking of 2 lower performance heaters like 2x dophin 300W, but then electricity usage becomes quite high. Any advice on that would be appreciated.

    For lights I will be using a DIY setup with 2x 1m (25W) 6500K strips along with 1x 1m (15W) grow light (red blue) strip. The lights will be on dimmers so I can adjust their intensity as required.

    As far as substrate goes I'm leaning towards PFS for the majority of the tank, with planted areas having a mix of black diamond sand and aquasoil. I'll also be using gravel rocks to create terrain, which will then be covered in sand and other hardscape. The hardscape I want to use will be a mixture of spiderwood, (maybe) mopani root and dragon rock.

    As I'm fairly new to planted tanks I'm not looking to get into the more advanced plants that require CO2, etc just yet. Further more I'm not that clued up on which plants need what sort of substrate, etc. At the moment I have the idea that I can use echinodorus and java fern in the areas that I have aquasoil as well as some rotala for a bit of a carpet. Then I can use crypts in some of the other areas (not sure if these require aquasoil or not) and attach anubias to the hardscape.

    In terms of livestock (after everything has cycled and reached equilibrium of course) I will start out with some cory sterbai and 10 cherry barbs, building up to about 8-10 cory's. I'll then add 3 SAEs, some khuli loaches and 2 angels. Once the tank has matured I'll also add 5 denison barbs (aka torpedo barb) and a pair of apistos. I think this stocking should be suitable for the tank size and filtration capacity or does this seem over/ under stocked?

    Once I have everything I need and get the tank running I intend on posting a diary of it on the forum like I have seen some people do.

    Please let me know if I am missing anything or if you have any advice on the setup, especially the plant side of things.
     
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  3. A new day

    A new day Moderator

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    Welcome @MrAnderson92 !

    Sounds as if you’ve done a loooot more research than I did on my first tank :thumbup:

    - very nice dimensions. You can add a lot more fish than that (gradually), especially considering the sump.
    - I’d strongly suggest getting a basic quarantine tank eg a standard 1 foot. With a tank that size adding sick fish could wipe it out and medicating would be very pricey...
    - am sure others will chime in wrt equipment

    - rinse the lava rock and pfs very very very well
    - you’re going to need a clear and hardscape separation between the aqua soil and pfs to stop the soil from spilling onto the foreground. Plug any gaps between the rocks with filter floss
    - personally I won’t dilute the aqua soil with blasting sand. Rather look at an aqua soil like Langa which won’t break the bank nearly as much as Amazonia

    Plants:
    - java fern is an epiphyte (like bucephelandra, bolbitis, Anubias) and shouldn’t be planted in substrate as the rhizomes will rot, but rather attached to wood or rock.
    - use Anubias in shady spots
    - Amazon swords don’t absolutely need an active soil although it will help. They’ll also grow well in pfs with a root tab. Same with crypts
    - really easy stems include ludwigia repens, pearl weed, pogostemon stellata, hygrophila species
    - for the back perhaps vallisinaria or if you can get your hands on it, corkscrew vallis. Will grow better in active substrate but some folks manage well in sand with a root tab.
    - also consider aponogeton crispus for background in active substrate.
    - tbc, lunch is served :)
     
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  4. Shabir

    Shabir

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    Welcome @MrAnderson92.

    The above advice is definitely one I followed with success this far. And I never had a truly planted aquarium until that, just some vallisneria stuck into the sand lol.
     
  5. OP
    MrAnderson92

    MrAnderson92

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    Thanks, tbh I learned a lot of it from reading through your posts on your various, beautiful planted tanks and the community responses. Also youtube :lol:. I've had smaller tanks for a while now, but they're much simpler setups

    Yeah, I was thinking it seemed a little under stocked - although to be honest I would prefer to keep it slightly understocked to reduced maintenance a little.
    Yup, I will be getting a smaller hospital / quarantine tank once I start populating with fish - I have spare filters and I'll keep it "cycled" by keeping the filter media in the main tank sump when I'm not using the Q tank.

    Yeah, I have heard both of those things need THOROUGH washing before use - luckily my girlfriend will (unwillingly) help with that haha.
    I'm planning on using large stone chips, like you would find used for garden paths, as the bulk material to form my terrain. Would those be sufficient to form a separation or would it be better to use proper rocks?

    Looking at your plant recommendations is there really much case for aquasoil in this aquarium? Could I rather then just use the blasting sand with root tabs for all the rooting plants? I'm not really familiar with root tabs so I don't know their benefits over aquasoil (other than the obvious that you can be specific on where you place them). I would think it probably works out more expensive in the end using root tabs? Or should I use aquasoil in select places for plants that will really benefit from it, fill in the rest with blasting sand for plants that don't need aquasoil to thrive and then all the foreground and non planted spaces with PFS?
     
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  6. OP
    MrAnderson92

    MrAnderson92

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    So far the extent of my planting experience is water wisteria and river grass planted into the gravel of my two smaller aquariums - zero maintenance or effort.
     
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  7. A new day

    A new day Moderator

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    Cools
    I think it will help if you could post an inspiration pic or two. Are you going for a jungle tank or a more stylised nature aquarium?

    If you want a carpet you’ll need active substrate. Not sure I’d use rotala as carpeting plant though... Also not sure if I’d attempt a carpet with corys.

    Not sure if blasting sand would be good for corys (sharp edges)? I haven’t used it myself. They’re fine with pfs.

    If you go to the beginning of my 1,5m thread you’d see I used crushed lava rock to bulk up at the back, and about 4-5L of Langa in 4 food safe plastic containers (capped with pfs) and hidden behind the stones. With polystyrene at the bottom to support all the weight. So most of the substrate is pfs.

    Re the mopane, perhaps you know this but new mopane can be a nightmare Ito tannin release and dropping our already fragile pH. So getting your hands on 2nd hand (leached) mopane would be great. And spiderwood is really cool too.
     
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  8. Cale24

    Cale24

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    Welcome, sounds like a cool project.

    - Regarding heaters, depends a bit on where the tank is placed (ambient general temperature), insulation and what livestock you are interested in, but for 350l (+ 100l sump) you'd generally want minimum 600W. Less than that and they'll just be on all the time, but again it depends on average room temperature.
    Dophins' have been okay for me so I'd consider those.

    - Lighting and substrate sounds good. For Aquasoils, Langa is quite cost effective, ADA is great (especially with their now separate root tabs in the latest Amazonia). Akadama is another option, being quite inexpensive in comparison to aquasoils.
    PFS sand works well- I use a product called 'Aqua Gruzo' sand from a brand called Flamingo, but for a large tank maybe best to just use PFS. Be mindful of maintenance as you set the tank up - it can make or break the experience over time. Fine sand and gravel can scratch the glass too, so even the cleaning media and techniques are worth considering! I sold a tank after making these mistakes myself, having become increasingly irritated by the increasing scratches.

    - Hardscape - check out Namibian Hardwood in Durbanville. Some different woods can mix and appear visually congruous, although for a large tank I'd lean toward Mopane or similar. Spiderwood gets pricey in large amounts, but is great too, as advised. Also check the classifieds, here and elsewhere.
    If you're using nutrient rich aquasoil, you'll be doing plenty of water changes during the first 2/3 weeks anyway, which will help eliminate tannins from new some wood types. There are other ways to reduce that too- using Seachem Purigen for instance.

    - Plants I leave to @A new day ! I keep 'low-tech' tanks only and tend to just experiment with things, but her suggestions sound good. MD Fish Tanks on YT is a good reference for what can work without CO2.

    - Stocking up to you, but those are nice fish. Just check for compatibility - off the top of my head they seem ok, but I've not kept barbs.


    Look forward to seeing it come together.
     
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  9. OP
    MrAnderson92

    MrAnderson92

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    Will work on this when I get a chance, but in my head I'm thinking of a jungly area to the right of the tank (to hide the overflow) with taller plants, wood and a few bushier plants to provide ample hiding space. then a towards the middle of the tank I was thinking something like a plain with lower growing plants and maybe a few taller ones at the back. The left hand side of the tank will be more rocky with lots of caves - thinking of putting most of the rhizome plants here to fill in the rocks. So I guess you could say a more stylized tank, but with jungle elements.

    Perhaps I used the term carpeting too inaccurately. I think I rather meant lower plants that are a bit more bushy to fill in the spaces around the taller plants as opposed to a continuous carpet of plants.

    I've seen people questioning this as well. Apparently the black diamond blasting sand supplied by McMerwe isn't sharp and is bottom dweller friendly - I may have to do more research on this though.

    Yes, I did see the way you bulked up your 1.5m tank. The reason I say I will be using rock chips is because I already have a big supply of them so they're free. I might just use your idea of ice-cream tubs for holding the aqua soil, though!

    Yeah, hence the "maybe" in my original post. I've got a piece of mopani in one of my other tanks that has been leaching tannins for about 5 months now. I know the tannins are really good for the water quality and I combat the PH drop with crushed coral so in that tank I'm not concerned, but in this new tank I would prefer not to have tea coloured water for the next year.
     
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  10. A new day

    A new day Moderator

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    Sounds good. When the time comes I can give you trimmings.

    Give the stones the vinegar test. If it produces bubbles it will release minerals into your water column.
     
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  11. OP
    MrAnderson92

    MrAnderson92

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    It will be up against the fixed part of my balcony sliding door so I am a little worried about the ambient temp especially as we are coming into winter and I haven't lived through a winter in my flat so I don't know how cold it gets.
    I have Dophin's in my other 2 tanks and they work fine, but those tanks are much smaller. I guess either way I go I will need quite a bit of heating for this size tank.

    Isn't Akadama the stuff they use for bonzai? What sort of influence does it have on water parameters? Thanks for the heads up on the maintenance considerations - I will be careful with glass cleaning, especially if using a magentic glass cleaner.

    I've seen them mentioned on here before and checked out their website - seems they have everything for hardscaping, even rocks. I've also been told that carbon will help pull tannins out of the water?

    I did do as much research on the fish as I could and it seems that they will be compatible - water parameters all overlap and all are peaceful to semi aggressive (just during spawing). Apparently cherries are super peaceful and so are the torpedo barbs.
     
  12. OP
    MrAnderson92

    MrAnderson92

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    That would be greatly appreciated. If I stick with community favourites like dragon rock would I still need to do the vinegar test?
    (edit) Oh you mean the bulk rock - okay yeah, I'll give that a test
     
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  13. OP
    MrAnderson92

    MrAnderson92

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    @A new day here is a beautiful piece of artwork describing my idea for the layout of the tank :lol:. Hope this makes it a little more clear what I think would work well. It will be my first time really aquascaping a tank so feel free to say if anything doesn't look right.
    tank pic.jpg
     
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  14. A new day

    A new day Moderator

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    I think it’s going to look great! Concave composition. Looks as if spiderwood might work better for what you have in mind?

    Because it’s a big tank you can get away (and probably should use) a couple of big plants in the background eg swords, aponogeton crispus, bolbitis heidelodti, crypt balansae, hygrophila, pogostemon stellata etc and then Val.
    Crypts and perhaps some of the bigger Anubias for mid ground, as well as stems.
    gotta run tbc
     
  15. OP
    MrAnderson92

    MrAnderson92

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    I hope so. Yeah I think so too, unless I can find a really nice big piece of root. Really makes me wish I was still on my parent's farm - we used to get all sorts of amazing driftwood come down the river, especially after floods.

    Had to google most of those plants, but wow they look awesome. I especially like the crypt balansae and pogostemon stellata for background coverage.
     
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  16. A new day

    A new day Moderator

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    Can give you a fair amount of pogostemon stellata trimmings. Dead easy plant that :thumbup:
     
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  17. Shabir

    Shabir

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    @A new day is a walking plant Google. Literally!!
     
  18. Zander Jacobs

    Zander Jacobs

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    1 of my planted tanks

    IMG_20210412_182449.jpg

    IMG_20210412_182447.jpg
     
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  19. A new day

    A new day Moderator

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    I think others including @Lord Vader might me more of a plant google :thumbup:
    But we all help as we can
     
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  20. A new day

    A new day Moderator

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    Stunning @Zander Jacobs :thumbup:
     
  21. Shabir

    Shabir

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    Ooohhh I am in love with this set up
     

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