JGombs99's Help With Tank Upgrade


Hello. I'm in the beginning stages of upgrading my main tank (going from a 55 gallon to a 6' 100 gallon). I'm purchasing equipment as I'm able to, which is why I say I'm in the beginning stages (this is likely to be a slow process). So far, I have the tank, glass tops, and filtration. Since I'm doing this slowly, I want to be sure to do everything completly right, and consider all options. My stock is fairly well set, since for the most part, I plan to just increase the numbers of the fish I currently have in my 55, and I'll list my planned stocking at the bottom of my post. But for now, on to the questions/topics of discussion.

Decor: I'd like thoughts, suggestions, and hopefully even photos to spark my plan. At this time, my plan is to do a hardscape only (rocks and driftwood) with the possibility of MAYBE adding some live plans in the distant future. Currently, I have one piece of driftood, some rocks, and a bunch of assorted artificial plants. I'm not ready for live plants at this time, and I'm not sure I want them anyway. But, I'd like to try for a more natural looking tank without artificial plants, I think. I'd like to get thoughts and suggestions when it comes to driftwood and rocks, though. Things such as whether I should use different types, different sizes, etc. I know a typical rule of thumb is that decor is completely up to the individual aquarist, but I want my tank to look natural, and amazing, so advice is needed. It's important for me to mention that I'm running a Fluval Aquasky LED for lighting, with no intentions of changing lights, so I don't know if this light is great for live plants, imposible for them, etc. Depending, it may make discussing live plants a moot point, anyway. But, regardless, I'd really like to stay away from getting lots of suggestions to add them, because, honestly, it's not going to happen anytime soon.

Substrate: I've only ever used gravel before, but I am considering both gravel and sand for this tank. I know people will say I should go with sand because of my Cories, which I get, but again, I'd like suggestions and discussion around the good and both for both options. Is sand just "better", or is it closer to a "must"? Is sand better for all bottom dwellers, or is this mostly a Cory thing? What is the downside of sand?

Background: While this almost seems like a silly detail to ask about, I'm going to. Again, my goal for this tank is natural and amazing looking. My 55 currently has a black background (and black gravel), and I almost feel as though it's too dark. My 29 has a blue background, and has a fairly small portion actually showing (because of the artificial plants covering up a lot of it), and I almost feel like it doesn't look very natural. While I don't hate anything about either of my tanks, including the backgrounds, I'm just adding these details so I can get further suggestions, and discussion on how to set this tank up in the best possible way.

I do plan to make an Aquarium Build thread for this tank, but I don't think I'm quite "there" yet. I need some further suggestions and more direction first. But, for everyone interested in seeing the progress once I am a bit further along, there will be a build thread to look forward to. Thanks so much!

Stocking plan:
3 Blood Parrots (currently have 1)
10 Eastern Rainbowfish (currently have 7)
15 Congo Tetras (currenly have 7)
"?" Emerald Green Cories (currently have 5, down from 8, and still deciding if I'm going to build back up to a proper school, or if I'm going to let nature run it's course and try a different bottom dweller)
"?" Bottom Dweller (considering a few different options, mainly Hoplos either with or without Cories, or maybe one of the Syndodontis catfish. POSSIBLY even Clown Loaches, or a Pleco, but likely Cories and/or Hoplos)


What are the dimensions of that tank? 6 foot at that volume will be pretty narrow, might limit you a little.

Here's my tank, it's 4 foot, but wider footprint, it's 4'X2'X2' I'm happy with how it looks.



That looks great! My tank is 6' long, 18" wide, and I believe 18" tall, too.


I can speak to the pros and cons of sand, at least! It's a great substrate for botttomdwellers, you just need to make sure to stir the bubbles out of it with your water changes. Lots of great resources on how to do this. Gravel is acceptable as long as there are no sharp edges, so you'd just want to be selective with it. And sand doesn't allow waste to fall through half as easily, which is either a blessing or a curse depending on your own preference! (Myself, I love it.)

About the darkness of your tank--I think a black background looks wonderful, but what you want to do is pair it with a light substrate. That way your tank is bouncing enough light, and it'll probably have a positive effect on your fish's color too. If you want a dark substrate, lean towards a lighter background. I've got dark on dark in my current tank, and on my next upgrade, i'm planning on changing to a light sand.


I find that sitting down with a cup of coffee and thinking about what fishy world I would like to stroll in helpful. My favorites are beaches and castles on cliffs, some ocean. I just did my first one and while it is a bit crude, I think on future ones I can get there.

So, if you want a nature walk, use driftwood with moss over it for trees, a carpet for the pathways, boulders jutting up or out. Just remember to use the rule of 3's for placement.


Thanks for the replies so far! I'm looking forward to getting more opinions.

Any other thoughts, suggestions, etc?


So, I'm looking for suggestions on sand. I've seen threads on here suggesting different types. What do people use, and why? I'm considering doing sand with some rocks on top, in places, and only sand in other places.


I used sculpey to make barriers so my sand will stay where I want it. Made two barriers, placed them in, poured sand then the gravel surrounds. Other than what the snails and corys move, it stays in place.


Nice! I'll have to look into that. But, what about actual sand types? Aquarium sand is expensive, and I've heard of others using pool filter sand, playground sand, etc. I'm just wondering about some of the differences, and pros/cons of each.


I have a Fluval Sky, it's not fluval's top of the line plant light but it will grow plants like anubias and several other of the less demanding plants well. I have the Fluval 2.0 plant light on most of my tanks. In my plant tanks I use pool filter sand because I'm lazy and it hardly needs any rinsing. The other thing I use is Fluval Sutrate, the plants, shrimp and wimpier fish seem to do well in it, the bad part is cost and lots of washing! I like black or dark blue backgrounds, they seem to bring out the fishes colors. My décor is mostly rocks, driftwood and live plants.

Here are some examples



Thanks for the info and pics! Although your tanks are beautiful, I'm not a fan of the overgrown look. This combined with the fact that I'm not someone who likes to spend a lot of time "in" the tank makes me really question whether or not I should bother with plants.


Nice! I'll have to look into that. But, what about actual sand types? Aquarium sand is expensive, and I've heard of others using pool filter sand, playground sand, etc. I'm just wondering about some of the differences, and pros/cons of each.

Because I only use the sand for features, not the whole substrate, I usually lay out for aquarium sand. No point in having 50lbs of play sand hanging around. And I like gravel for the most of the tank because it is easier to clean for me, but then again, I haven't ever used it as substrate.

People use pool sand, I think it is white. You can get play sand in bright colors too. The blasting sand is black, so I guess it is pretty much what color you want. Although I have heard that the blasting sand is a bit sharp so if you have corys or such you might want to go with something different.


Thanks! Yes, I'd be using sand, pretty much solely with bottom dwellers in mind. Is it safe to say that other than blasting sand, all options are pretty comparable for this purpose?


As far as I know, like I said, I've never used anything else, but have seen that many do.


Realistically you will have to spend time "in the tank". Regardless of whether you have plants or not. Getting a tank that is almost the double size of your previous tank is a tough job. You want to make sure that when you put everything together you have to make sure you are happy with the results of it.

If you don't want to deal with a overcrowd of plants and foliage than go with something like just rocks and sand, that desert look. If you want some greenery w/o having to snip the leaves get some fake plants like silk plants. Perhaps later on in life you will consider getting plants.

I don't think you will want clown loaches since they do get big and are a schooling fish and will require places to hide. Which will require you to have to make some caves and other hiding spots, which will require you to be in the tank more to try to clean out whatever poop or food they didn't get to.

As for sand you want to be careful which sand you pick up. Playground sand is popular but it does make dust that will float in the tank. Pool filter sand is the common sand that people use (it's the peoples sand), it's cheaper by the pound. Black sand 20/40 grit is also popular. Regardless sand take time cleaning initially but long run it looks nice.


Thanks for the info! I've seen some planted tanks that I really like, but I'm almost certain these tanks are either brand new, or people spend a really long time pruning. Sounds like a hardscape only tank may be the way to go for me.

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