New To The Forum, Starting A 75 Gallon, Any Suggestions And Good Advice?

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Zorro A. Knievel Esq.

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Hey everybody my name is Zak I'm new to the forum and I just bought a 75 gallon tank off Craigslist for $100. I've had fish tanks growing up a bunch of heavily planted 10 gallons and one heavily planted 29 gallon. Its been a couple years though since I've kept a tank and never had one this big. I'm trying to keep it as low budget and DIY as possible so far I've bought all the lumber to build my own stand (the stand is also going to have a shelf above it for a tv due to space constraints), one 48" T8 shoplight for use in damp/wet areas, and for filtration I've bought a 2 gallon Igloo Water Cooler that I'm going to turn into a canister filter with the help of an external pump. I'm in the process of resealing the tank right now and bracing the floor joists in the basement/first floor (the tank is on the "second" floor of a split level house that's pushing 130 years old and will be running parallel of the joists).

All that being said I think I'm off to an ok start, just have a couple questions. First, is one DIY 2 gallon canister filter enough filtration for the tank? And if not, would two Igloo Coolers running off the same pump be adequate? I'm planning on running the heater in-line but am unsure of where in the plumbing I would place it yet.

My last question is about eventual stocking. I know about the nitrogen cycle and am in no rush to add fish, I want everything to be near perfect and cycled before I start to stock it. I bought some cheap-o API 5-in-1 test strips to test the water from my tap because I know its easier to work with what you already have than to try and drastically change the water. The results were (from the faucet which is well water run through a softener): 7.0 ph, 20 ppm nitrate, 0 ppm nitrite, 60 ppm gH, and 40 ppm kH. I am really partial to biotope type tanks especially South American blackwater setups with Angels, dwarf Cichlids, tetras, and catfish (my favorite fish are plecos, cories, and ottos, and would keep a tank stocked with just catfish if they didn't hide all the time haha). Would my water parameters be a good starting point for a South American biotope like this, I know with the kH being kind of low the pH can tend to fluctuate. I'm even open to other SA Cichlids but don't know much about them. Before doing research I really wanted a Lake Malawi/Tanganyika setup and still might go that route since I have a spigot hooked up before the water softener and I know the well water is extremely hard. I'm really open to any suggestions towards biotopes (accept for the high-tech planted route or discus right now).

Thanks for any input and I hope this post is in the right section I don't want to type all this again haha.

Zak
 

Ohio Mark

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Welcome aboard!
 

Smalltownfishfriend

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It sounds like you are off to a good start!! I would love to see pictures of a blackwater tank that size if you decide to do that!! It sounds pretty cool!! Oh and welcome!!
 

TexasDomer

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Zorro A. Knievel Esq. said:
Hey everybody my name is Zak I'm new to the forum and I just bought a 75 gallon tank off Craigslist for $100. I've had fish tanks growing up a bunch of heavily planted 10 gallons and one heavily planted 29 gallon. Its been a couple years though since I've kept a tank and never had one this big. I'm trying to keep it as low budget and DIY as possible so far I've bought all the lumber to build my own stand (the stand is also going to have a shelf above it for a tv due to space constraints), one 48" T8 shoplight for use in damp/wet areas, and for filtration I've bought a 2 gallon Igloo Water Cooler that I'm going to turn into a canister filter with the help of an external pump. I'm in the process of resealing the tank right now and bracing the floor joists in the basement/first floor (the tank is on the "second" floor of a split level house that's pushing 130 years old and will be running parallel of the joists).

All that being said I think I'm off to an ok start, just have a couple questions. First, is one DIY 2 gallon canister filter enough filtration for the tank? And if not, would two Igloo Coolers running off the same pump be adequate? I'm planning on running the heater in-line but am unsure of where in the plumbing I would place it yet.

More important is how much GPH you'll be running with the pump and how well the water will move through the cooler. I wouldn't do two coolers off the same pump. There are some good instructions online for how to make a DIY canister filter out of a 5 gal bucket. That might be better.

My last question is about eventual stocking. I know about the nitrogen cycle and am in no rush to add fish, I want everything to be near perfect and cycled before I start to stock it. I bought some cheap-o API 5-in-1 test strips to test the water from my tap because I know its easier to work with what you already have than to try and drastically change the water. The results were (from the faucet which is well water run through a softener): 7.0 ph, 20 ppm nitrate, 0 ppm nitrite, 60 ppm gH, and 40 ppm kH. I am really partial to biotope type tanks especially South American blackwater setups with Angels, dwarf Cichlids, tetras, and catfish (my favorite fish are plecos, cories, and ottos, and would keep a tank stocked with just catfish if they didn't hide all the time haha). Would my water parameters be a good starting point for a South American biotope like this, I know with the kH being kind of low the pH can tend to fluctuate. I'm even open to other SA Cichlids but don't know much about them. Before doing research I really wanted a Lake Malawi/Tanganyika setup and still might go that route since I have a spigot hooked up before the water softener and I know the well water is extremely hard. I'm really open to any suggestions towards biotopes (accept for the high-tech planted route or discus right now).

I would strongly advise returning the strips and picking up the API freshwater master kit. It's cheaper per test, more accurate, and you can test for ammonia (strips don't have an ammonia test), which is very important for cycling and maintaining fish in general.

Your tap water isn't terrible, though I'd look into at least increasing the KH to help your pH stay stable. A low KH can allow pH to fluctuate, and these fluctuations can be harmful to your fish. The GH should be fine for your SA plans.

For stocking, make sure you keep in my temperature compatibility. Use reliable sites like Planet Catfish (for catfish), Seriously Fish, and Fishbase.

I love catfish as well, and I have quite a few species in my 55 gal. Here's my 55 gal SA stocking to give you some ideas:
20x Ruby tetra
9x Copella nattereri
6x Porthole cats
5x Twig cats
3x Banjo cats (yes, they hide all the time)
1x Red lizard cat
1x Loricaria sp. 'Rio Atabapo'

You could do something similar for yours? Something like this:
10x Cories (one species)
2-4x Hoplo cats
1x Pleco (lots of options here, I'd go with one less than 10" long)
8-12x Otos
12x Black neon tetra (or another species)
12x Bleeding heart tetra (or another species)
1x Rainbow cichlid
2x Bolivian rams

If you want otos, I'd avoid the angel - there's not a lot of temperature compatibility, and the adult angel may even try to eat the otos (angels will often eat what they can fit in their mouths).

If you wanted the angel, something like this:
10x Cories (warm water species, like C. aeneus, C. sterbai, or C. splendens)
2-4x Hoplo cats
1x Pleco (lots of options here, I'd go with one less than 10" long and temp compatible with 76+ F)
10x Cardinal tetra
10x Lemon tetra
1x Angelfish
2x Keyhole cichlids

Thanks for any input and I hope this post is in the right section I don't want to type all this again haha.

Zak
Welcome to Fishlore!

See my responses in green in the quotes above
 
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Zorro A. Knievel Esq.

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TexasDomer said:
Welcome to Fishlore!

See my responses in green in the quotes above
Thanks everyone for the input so far. I really like the stocking suggestions TexasDomer. As to raising the the kH, what would be an easy way to achieve this? And by raising the kH how would my pH respond? I know blackwater tends to be slightly acidic and read that people sometimes use peat in their filters to lower the pH? Would you suggest this? And by "peat" do they mean some form of "peat pellet" or can actual peat moss stuffed in a mesh/filter bag work?
 
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Zorro A. Knievel Esq.

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Zorro A. Knievel Esq. said:
Thanks everyone for the input so far. I really like the stocking suggestions TexasDomer. As to raising the the kH, what would be an easy way to achieve this? And by raising the kH how would my pH respond? I know blackwater tends to be slightly acidic and read that people sometimes use peat in their filters to lower the pH? Would you suggest this? And by "peat" do they mean some form of "peat pellet" or can actual peat moss stuffed in a mesh/filter bag work?
Tank is siliconed! Its not pretty but it should work. I'll wait the 48 hours till its dry then fill it with water in the basement and let it sit for a day or two to keep an eye on it. I'm hoping to have it upstairs and on the stand and plumbed by Sunday. I'm going to buy a second Igloo Cooler to set up as a filter. If I get a large pump (1000 GPH or so) would it be enough to run both canisters or should I get two separate, smaller pumps?
 

TexasDomer

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Zorro A. Knievel Esq. said:
Thanks everyone for the input so far. I really like the stocking suggestions TexasDomer. As to raising the the kH, what would be an easy way to achieve this? And by raising the kH how would my pH respond? I know blackwater tends to be slightly acidic and read that people sometimes use peat in their filters to lower the pH? Would you suggest this? And by "peat" do they mean some form of "peat pellet" or can actual peat moss stuffed in a mesh/filter bag work?
Easy way would be something like Seachem's alkalinity buffer or crushed coral or limestone. Your pH would increase, but it won't hurt the fish. If you want to do a true blackwater, you can look into using other buffers by Seachem - they have a line that will let you achieve a low pH with a KH high enough to keep it stable. I use the peat pellets for one of my tanks - I think it's more sustainable than peat moss. You can put it in your filter or in the tank as part of the substrate.

Zorro A. Knievel Esq. said:
Tank is siliconed! Its not pretty but it should work. I'll wait the 48 hours till its dry then fill it with water in the basement and let it sit for a day or two to keep an eye on it. I'm hoping to have it upstairs and on the stand and plumbed by Sunday. I'm going to buy a second Igloo Cooler to set up as a filter. If I get a large pump (1000 GPH or so) would it be enough to run both canisters or should I get two separate, smaller pumps?
No, I wouldn't run it through two canisters - it'll reduce the flow too much, too much pressure through both canisters (it might damage your pump if there's too much resistance). I'd look into using the 1000 GPH pump with a 5 gal bucket instead of the coolers. Super cheap, also easy.
 

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I personally don't get the idea of a DIY canister (especially 2 of them) when a sump is much better solution (IMO). I have a 29 gallon sump on a 55 gallon tank. I bought an Eshopps 1100 overflow box, a DIY overflow often leads to floods. The Eshopps 1100 has dual drains so one of them can be a back up emergency line. You need to assume you will leaks and or things will fail. How is you DIY solution going to address that? ( More of an engineering question for you than a criticism ). You want a plan B when plan A fails. Not sure an igloo cooler can handle pressure of a canister filters ( maybe it can). My sump is super simple in comparison and has plenty of filtration. And lets me sleep at night
 

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TexasDomer said:
Easy way would be something like Seachem's alkalinity buffer or crushed coral or limestone. Your pH would increase, but it won't hurt the fish. If you want to do a true blackwater, you can look into using other buffers by Seachem - they have a line that will let you achieve a low pH with a KH high enough to keep it stable. I use the peat pellets for one of my tanks - I think it's more sustainable than peat moss. You can put it in your filter or in the tank as part of the substrate.
when doing water changes with peat pellets in your filter do you just use tap water or "pre-treat" tap with peat pellets somehow?
 

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Just tap water.
 
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Zorro A. Knievel Esq.

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So I returned the Igloo Cooler, I actually was browsing online and found Marineland Penguin 350's for $26. I bought two, along with an Aqueon 200w heater. Are these decent heaters? I got two fifty pound bags of Leslie's Pool Sand for substrate and traded the T8 shop light for a 4ft plug in LED.
 

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Great!

Are you planning on growing plants in this tank? What kind?

Those heaters aren't bad! I use the Aqueon adjustable ones.
 
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Zorro A. Knievel Esq.

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I was only planning on growing something that floats and maybe some emergents at the surface. I like the "no lid" look.
 
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Zorro A. Knievel Esq.

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I don't know if we're allowed to say store names on here but I learned a little trick today at my local chain pet store (the "Mart" one). Browse online first, where everything is half price, and then just show the cashier the online price at checkout on your phone. They wanted $49.99 for one Penguin in the store, I got two and the heater for $80.
 
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Zorro A. Knievel Esq.

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Really wanted to have the tank up today but am running a little behind building the stand. I work 2nd shift and had mandatory overtime yesterday that killed my whole weekend... I'm tired of building circuit breakers. I might still get the stand done tonight if my Pops calls me back, all my tools are at his house (plus he's the guy who cuts wood, I can spin a wrench but I couldn't cut a straight line if my life depended on it).
 

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You can definitely say brand names here!

I asked about plants because not LED lights are created equal when it comes to growing plants. What brand and type did you get?
 

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Greetings and welcome to Fishlore
 
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Zorro A. Knievel Esq.

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I'm thinking about keeping Grandma in the aquarium, it'll keep her out of trouble and where I can keep an eye on her lol. She stole a truck last week... Dead serious, I wish I was kidding.
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YOU ROCK GRANDMA!!:;bananahey
 
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