120 Gallon Tank Newbie to FishLore

Cjs235

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Hi All,
Happy to be here. I've had aquariums (tropical, salt, brackish) most of my life. (I'm a 50s model so we're talking a long time here:) I'm redoing my 120 gallon tank because I can't get replacement parts for the dang thing, like filter carbon pillows. Frankly, the system is difficult for me to maintain. It's a Marineland double Tide-pool bio-filtration system. Putting those filter media trays in place is a back killer and if you do it as often as recommended, which I don't, it's financially ridiculous. Anyway, I'm switching to 2 AquaClear filter units. It's suppose to move 60 GPH each. I'm hoping it's quiet because this tank is in the living room.
Now for my question. (Feel free to mention any other concerns you may have with my long winded introduction.) I pitched the black sand I had in the tank and am buying 6 new bags. Believe me, it's time. I'm not good with water changes. The store guy told me I didn't need to pre rinse the sand, just rinse the filters after it runs for awhile. This doesn't quite sit right. How about I put the sand in, fill it part way, stir it up a bit and drain it back out without sucking up too much sand. I'm thinking of adding a UV as well for algae control. I'm 5'2" and reaching the bottom of the tank is a bit of a challenge to scrap algae, even when standing on the couch.
I had black algae growing on everything including all my rocks and plants. I'm getting a bag of sea salt to clean the tank before I do anything with it after my son plugs the 4 intake-output holes in the bottom. Such fun. Anyway, changes, suggestions, questions all welcome. Appreciate any and all input.
 

FishGirl38

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Hello and Welcome! Excited you joined with Fishlore, there's a great community lurking these threads.

I personally love aquaclear - they're like mini canister units because they don't force you into using those wasteful filter pads. I don't like to use carbon in mine either (as recommended-to avoid having to mess with them so frequently), instead, I double up on my bio media with a single sponge that I replace when it breaks down (after about 8mo to a year) and that's that.

Some downsides to the aquaclears - If (when) the sponge becomes clogged, the filter basket will start to push up out of the filter, it will raise the top lid right up. I've had 1 aquaclear overflow from the back of the unit this way - make sure to position the plastic balancers on the bottom of the filter correctly ([even] or tilted towards the aquarium). When you notice the basket pushing - it's time to clean the gunk out of the sponge. (I do tend to overfeed though - this happens with my AC 70 thats on a 40B)

Additionally, in the past, I've had an AC70 become very loud per the motor - I believe the peg on the inside became tilted/warped or I ended up with sand in the impeller well that left scratches/impurities on it, causing it to rattle. They're the best HOB filters on the market though, IMO. (made by the same manufacturers as fluval). I've had a total of...6 AC filters in the past and 1 of them had this noise issue, it doesn't seem to be common.

Since you have sand in your tank, and to avoid this potential phenomenon where sand gets into the impeller well and scratches the magnet, you could use either a mesh filter media bag (for 1$ or less) and wrap that around the filter intake OR an AC filter sponge with a hole pushed into it lengthwise and down the middle (for 3-5$). To secure mine, I use the rubber bands from my fish bags. This will also help keep the filter clean if you plan on keeping live plants, although, this does add another thing you'll have to maintain with the filter, and isn't really necessary at all, just a thought.

I would hope you already have one with your experience and the size tank you have, but have you looked into a Python water changer (or a DIY modification of the sort?) So much better than lugging buckets back and forth.

I would agree with you on washing out the sand. Although it's not 100% necessary (you can get away with not), it's almost easier to get all the dusty/lighter sand particles out of the tank before the fish have a change to stir them up later. The filter will get what's dispersed in the water column, but whatever stays lower will still be in the tank - so your method would help reduce some of that. I'd say it's better than adding the sand and letting it be. :).

You mention buying a UV sterilizer for algae, that'd help with parasites too (goodbye ich), though they can be expensive, and, if I'm understanding correctly (and correct me if I'm wrong) UV sterilizers will only kill single celled algae dispersed in the water column (what causes 'green water'), not necessarily the algae growing in the tank? and if you're just trying to avoid having to scrape the tank - maybe it'd be better to target the root cause of the algae?

To my understanding, algae grows with photo periods, and feeds off of excess nutrients in the tank. So, theoretically, if you can limit the photo periods (to about 8hrs on a day) and keep the phosphate and nitrate levels on the lower side, than algae might not have a change to grow? I think too, additional flow (circulation pumps and the like) will help with keeping algae away (in the right conditions anyway, some algae like lots of flow/aeration, but they also need plenty of food and light too?).

and, I don't 100% recommend this for extended use care, but you could absolutely use phosphate and nitrate remover filter media (seapora brand has 24x12 pads that you cut to size for reasonable prices opposed to single use phos-zorb by api, for example) to help with that (instead of doing water changes to reduce the amounts). I personally always keep phosphate removers in my filters because my tanks are prone to algae, you'll just want to make sure you replace them with new cuttings every month in a half. (if you keep it towards the top of the basket on the AC units, this is as easy as lifting the bio media and slipping them in and out, i don't believe they hurt anything if you leave them in for too long either, least not to my knowledge, they just stop 'helping dilute' things.)

Though, we can't avoid them altogether. As with keeping saltwater, I'm sure you've heard of 'old tank syndrome' and you'll have to do water changes at reasonable rates so long as to keep your PH from dropping too far. Though, as I'm sure you also know with saltwater, keeping a store of crushed coral stone in your filter or tank is a good way to keep your water mineralized (in the filter, it also doubles as bio-media).

Hope I perhaps reminded you of some things or gave you some helpful ideas or insights. Have fun with your next and newest project! We're happy to have your company and learn from your experiences too. :).
 
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Cjs235

Cjs235

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Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply.
I never had green water, just algae on the sides, big time! I leave the lights on from 8 am to 1 am. I know better, but it creates a nice glow at night when I watch tv. Dumb excuse, I know.... A friend of my son is giving me a UV free. I've had Ich several times, so one would be nice for that reason alone. Maybe I can use the lights at night only.
I haven't picked up my sand and filter systems yet. I ordered it but they haven't come in. Tank isn't ready yet anyway. Meanwhile, my 6 poor fish are jammed in a 20 gal. My huge cat fish and Yoyo Botia are not happy.
As for water changes, they don't really happen anymore. Yes, I have a Python hose I use for emptying the tank for cleaning the whole system. For water additions due to evaporation every 3 days with the old system (or the bio wheels stop), I used 3 bucketfuls. I used to do regular water changes with a smaller syphon into the bucket. I guess I just got lazy, old, or both. Total hassle. Actually, I should stick to a 20 or 30 gal. tank, but that huge tank is part of my living room and it's awesome when everything comes together.
BTW, we have well water. Hardness is off the charts. Fish probably feel like they're swimming in cement, poor babies.
 

86 ssinit

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Welcome to fishlore!! Yes rinse the sand. You don’t have to buy sand from the pet store. Pool sand work just as well and much cheaper. If you’d like black sand black diamond blasting sand is real cheap and highly recommended.
Sorry but 2 aquaclear 60s are not going to do it for a 120g tank. You will need 2 100s to keep it clean. The marineland filters don’t need the wheels to clean the tank. Many say the wheels are useless.
unfortunately water changes are needed. As to the uv the bulb needs to be changed every 8 months. For lighting try 2 36” vivagrow 24/7 lights. They simulate the sun and moon so there is always some light. These 2 lights off eBay would probably be a little over $100 delivered. Best way to keep algae away is clean water. 50% weekly water changes.
 

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Welcome to fishlore.

@Sorg67 where did you get a picture of my girlfriend.
 
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Cjs235

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86 ssinit said:
Welcome to fishlore!! Yes rinse the sand. You don’t have to buy sand from the pet store. Pool sand work just as well and much cheaper. If you’d like black sand black diamond blasting sand is real cheap and highly recommended.
Sorry but 2 aquaclear 60s are not going to do it for a 120g tank. You will need 2 100s to keep it clean. The marineland filters don’t need the wheels to clean the tank. Many say the wheels are useless.
unfortunately water changes are needed. As to the uv the bulb needs to be changed every 8 months. For lighting try 2 36” vivagrow 24/7 lights. They simulate the sun and moon so there is always some light. These 2 lights off eBay would probably be a little over $100 delivered. Best way to keep algae away is clean water. 50% weekly water changes.
Sorg67 said:
50s model eh. This what you look like?

unnamed.jpg

R

Or?

download.jpg
50s model eh. This what you look like?

Or?
Yep, that's me! (Not the car, although totally cool)
As far as my ordered AquaClears, I'll see if I can get a couple of 100's instead. Great input. Thanks!

Ok, I ordered 2, 110-Aqua Clears on Amazon. Now I want to really clean the empty aquarium. I was taught to use sea salt for fresh water tanks and plain water for salt tanks. Salt gets expensive. How much do I use for 125 tank. Cleaning, not for fish. Fill the tank, hook up the unloaded, empty aqua clears, add the salt, let it run for an hour or so to mix it good, then let it set - maybe overnight. Drain, refill to get rid of the salt, drain again, and wipe it down good. Ready to go. That will also help me see if the 4 plugs hold and don't leak. I'm using pipe sealant on the threads.
Man, what a total pain in the tuckus!
 

FishGirl38

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You CAN use saltwater to disinfect the aquarium well, though, if it's been sitting dry for awhile (months or years), then I'd say you're probably fine to give it a good dusting and call it okay. Bacteria and Parasites shouldn't be a worry if the tank has been dry. (Salt will usually kill most FW parasites). If you're just wanting to dust/clean it, you could use (white-I think) vinegar too. But ultimately, that plan should work fine (I would think) so long as you've removed enough of the salt after the fact to not increase your salinity.
 
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Cjs235

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No, not an unused tank. This is my 125 gal. 72" length tank. It had heavy algae, green and the disgusting black. No parasites. I just want it cleaned up. Going to reseal everything (+10 years old, it's time) and clean up the glass. Really don't absolutely need the salt. I am looking into the 24/7 Vigagrow lighting if I can ever decide what make to get. Great idea 86 ssinit. I'm using plexiglass instead of the glass top that's heavy and breaks easily. I have to get two 36" lights. Can I use the inside end without using the foot that normally goes over the edges of the aquarium on both lights? It has to sit directly on the top.
 

86 ssinit

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The legs slide in an out. The older models the legs go in to the fixture so they would fit. Also if no t growing plants you could use just one 48”. When you say plexiglass is it one peice or a few? As to cleaning I never heard of cleaning with salt. You could just use a razor blade to remove the algae. Than just clean with hot water. If your filterS are still wet you can save the media to use when restarting the tank. Save your cycle. Just add them to the tank with the fish. Leave them running.
 

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Welcome! I also agree with rinsing the sand. Please keep us updated on your progress, and pictures!!
 
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Cjs235

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Thank you all for your input!
Plexiglass - need the Aqua Clears in place before I get the plexiglass, but it definitely will be similar to what I had with the glass. One 72 inch long piece in the back and two 36 inch pieces in the front.
Yes, it will be a planted aquarium. With such hard water I'm limited in my selection of plants that will grow as well as the fish that will survive in such a narrow spectrum.
 
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Cjs235

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I've read reviews on the AquaClear 110 that I'm just about ready to start up soon. Some are not even using the carbon filter, just the sponge and biofilter. They don't put new in the system at all, just rinse it well every few weeks. What say all of you about absolutely needing carbon? I was thinking of using carbon for a month then pitching that and using Zeo-Carb for a month, (already bought 2 boxes of zeo) then removing it all together. Maybe adding a layer of course pre-filter and regular-density filter pads from my Bio-wheel Sump system I had, next to the sponge with the AquaClear biofilter on top of everything. I have at least 10 unopened packs of that. I was thinking of changing that every month or so. Silly to just pitch it.
How about aeration? I was using 2 Aqueon 950 power heads. You're right, not very visually appealing, but it seems more effective then just bubbles. I'd rather not have to buy something else again for this tank. I am so going through the money....
Final thought for the moment, I was thinking of using a UV for algae control, but I think less light time and keeping the nitrate levels down with water changes may be more effective. I don't like the idea of killing my good bacteria. My old system plus poor maintenance practices was so bad I couldn't support more than 8 fish in that huge tank, which I couldn't even see because of all algae on the walls.
Appreciate your input. Thanks.
 

Utar

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Years ago and watching the youtube aquarium gurus, which there are several. They never used carbon unless there was a reason for it. While using certain meds to treat various parasites, etc carbon in filter is a definite no no. That is until after the said treatment is finished then use the carbon to remove the meds from the water.
I have never had a reason to use carbon, so I just use the sponge and media in my Aquaclear HOB.
 

86 ssinit

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I haven’t used carbon since the 80s. What carbon does is remove odor and makes the water a little clearer. It was used years ago because nobody changed water that much. So by using carbon and rep,acing regularly your tank didn’t stink. Knew you needed to replace carbon when it did :).
Yes those aquaclears only need the sponges to run. Rinse them weekly in water change water add replace. When you restart your tank you will have to cycle it. You can do this fishless or with fish. If your not sure how to do it just ask questions. You’ll get lots of help :).
 
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Cjs235

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Ok guys, aquarium is up and running. All fish are in and appear happy to be in clean water and out of that 20 gal tank.
Now I have a problem. My AquaClear started to throw tons of bubbles, one side way more then the other. The extension tubes keep clogging up with fine debri and I keep cleaning them but it doesn't seem to have any effect on the bubbles. Doesn't seem to be doing any harm but looks terrible.
Ideas please!! Sorry, can't get rid of the glare.
IMG_0184.JPGIMG_0191.JPG
 

Utar

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To help with the intake clogging up get a prefilter to slip over it. Like these on . But try and find some tight fitting ones because AquaClear intake tubes are skinny at least my is. As far as blowing bubbles, I don't have a clue because I have never seen this before with mine. Looks to be sucking air in from somewhere but for the life of me I don't where.
 
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Cjs235

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Thank you!!! I bought the prefilter immediately on Amazon. Driving me crazy cleaning that out all day, plus I want Neons. Afraid I'd lose them in the filter like my other setup did. I want colorful schooling fish. Great solution!!
While you're here, my tank is a 125 gal. Do I really have to wait 2 weeks to add fish. There are only 7 fish in there. It's going to take forever to start and complete a Nitrogen Cycle. Yes, I can be rather impatient. It's an age thing.......:)
 
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Can anyone identify this cat fish please?20200724_192930.jpg
 

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