Advice For A New Setup (non Standard)

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taz420nj

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Hey all.. New here! I have been thinking of setting up an aquarium and I need some advice. It's been a long time since I had one, and the amount of things that I've been reading is making my head hurt lol!

I had a little 10 gallon setup in my room when I was a kid, just some tetras and danios, and a plecko, nothing special.. I had managed to keep it going for a couple years with minimal die off, but it did not survive a fire (result of several days without power in the middle of January before we could get back in). I never rebuilt it after that, But like I said I have decided that it would be a nice thing to have in my apartment. My last experience with it was about 25 years ago and I want to make sure I do it right.

So I have this "breakfast bar" between my kitchen and living room, and I never actually use it for that, so I think it will look nice there. It'll also be right above the kitchen sink which will make cleaning and water changes easy. The countertop is 15" deep so I'm looking at 29 gallons max. I think I'd like to go with that since bigger = better and more forgiving. However this placement raises a couple issues.

First, it will not be "the normal way" against a wall so it'll be visible from both long sides, and would need to be laid out appropriately. I would like it to be well planted, with the main interest being the view from the living room, but I don't want to be looking at "the back of the tank" from the kitchen side either. I welcome all suggestions as far as design.

I've only ever used HOB filters (I think the one I had was a Whisper), but again anything that would normally run in the back will need to be on a short side. If a HOB is what you recommend (I've heard they're not real good for planted tanks, so ??) then the lid is another thing that would have to be considered (I have cats, so a lid is a must) since everything I've seen has the equipment provisions on the back long side. Thoughts?

How are acrylic tanks? They look nice but how do they hold up to cleaning and such? How durable are they? The rimless ones look slick but one thing I always hated was that scum/scale line that formed below the rim if I waited too long to top it up. What do you recommend for brands (glass or acrylic)?

I only ever had gravel in my tank and fake plants with a couple live weighted ones that I'd replace regularly as they got eaten or died. They never actually "grew" in the tank. What would be the best thing to put in the bottom to actually support living plants? I find gardening relaxing, so having an "underwater garden" is part of the appeal for me now... I'm really going for low maintenance though. Mainly because I now live in a small town with no local pet shop that stocks aquarium, so I'll have to mail order most things or drive an hour each way to the nearest one.

And on that note I'm going for a simple but well stocked/active community tank with hardy residents that aren't going to be demanding constant attention. Tetras, danios, barbs, loaches, pleckos.. I'm gravitating toward the Glofish varieties because they just look awesome (I'd never heard of them before now) and I can order them.

Not looking to go big budget here to start, prefer to stay under $300, but not set in stone.

I look forward to your help, and thanks in advance!

Matt
 
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Hello, and welcome to fishlore!

It's great to hear that you want to start over again, that's the best feeling when everything is brand new and you are excited about a new tank and fish.

It sounds like you know what you are doing, but we are definitely here to help you with any questions that you have throughout the entire time you are in this hobby.
I wouldn't say no to keeping it on the counter, as long as the counter isn't a raised bar where the countertop overhangs excessively because that could lead to possible issues when your tank is over a certain weight.

Have you looked into glass tops? They are quite sturdy and have a vinyl strip on the back that you can cut to fit exactly what you are trying to put back there.

Acrylic tanks are fine, the only downside to them is that a lot of people dislike them due to scratches, as it can be extremely easy to make scratches when cleaning it, glass won't do this easily.
I personally recommend glass, because they are generally more readily available in common sizes, and acrylic tanks are often sold separately and it can be hard to find a fitting top that fits the manufactured tank.

I have never heard that a HOB filter was bad for a planted tank, as long as you pick the correct amount of flow for the tank size, it shouldn't be a problem at all.

For low maintenance planted tanks, a lot of keepers will use BDBS (black diamond blasting sand) as it is quite cheap, or there is the option to use pool filter sand, which is also great as well.
If you have root feeders, then you can easily use root tabs in your tank by placing them underneath the substrate where the plants are rooting.

I hope some of this helped, can't wait to see how it turns out!
 
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taz420nj

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Hey thanks for the reply!

This would be on a raised bar, and it does overhang by just under half. However I figured it shouldn't be a problem if I lag some nice strong angle iron shelf brackets into the header and studs along the tank footprint.

I looked up glass tops but they don't seem to address the issue of putting the equipment on a short side. As I said, I don't want my view from the kitchen side of the tank to be of the filter, heater, cords, and tubing, so I'd have everything coming out the short side next to where the dividing wall goes to the ceiling.. I haven't found any lids that allow for this so I'm probably going to have to make something. Unless I maybe could use a 25 gallon lid, but I don't know how I'd support it on that side since it'll be too short to rest on the rim.

The scratching is exactly what I was afraid of with acrylic. As I said before my old tank would develop this nasty white crust at the water line from the hard water and I'd have to scrub it to get it off. The water here isn't much better so I think glass it is.

I had read that the surface disturbance that HOBs create negatively affects the CO2 levels for the plants. Is this not the case? I've read so much about aquariums lately that I'm in overload, that's why I figured it would be best to come here and ask!

That blasting sand is a cool idea, I like that it's black. Is there a way to layer or mix substrate though? I mean I used to use a gravel vacuum at cleaning time, and if I want to put pebbles/minerals or mix some gravel in, vacuuming would screw it all up. Or would that not be necessary?

Thanks again for the info, keep it coming! And once I get started on this (may be a little while) I will definitely show it off!
 
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