Rolkin's This Is More Involved Than I Was Expecting Aquarium Journey! 75 Gallon Tank

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by Rolkin, May 30, 2018.

  1. Rolkin

    RolkinNew MemberMember

    I'm afraid this first post will be a little long. I'm been wanting to get an aquarium for almost a year now but the prices had mostly kept me away.

    ----------------Round 1, The Tank-----------------------
    Last Memorial day weekend PetSmart was running a 75g tank + stand for $299 sale and it seemed like the perfect time to jump in. Problem #1, I live in a 118 year old pier&beam house that had a period of neglect. Problem #2 my wife took the perfect spot in the living room with her bird cage. Back to Problem #1, this house has VERY uneven floors near the chimney stack as that part of the house hasn't settled as much as the rest. The only place I can put the tank and enjoy it is in my office with the available space being against the chimney stack.

    Back left corner to front right corner is a difference of 2.5" in not joking. So what else would any sane person due than to pour a concrete slab over 118 year old wood floors? I've finished the slab which is still curing and I'm on to problem #4 ... you mean things go on the back of the tank? Yeah, I didn't think of that when I poured the slab. Now I guess I have to get a canister filter, darn.
    For those that might be worried about the concrete, I'm over one of the 8"x 16" flooring joists that I'm very sure can take 1000+ pounds in weight. I used 10 mil plastic to cover the floor/wall and if or when we should move I'll be able to remove the pad.

    So a complete beginner with no experience in the hobby now has a 75g bare tank and stand sitting on a 150 pound slab that looks really weird because it's 3" high on one side and 1/2 " high on the other. But now it's within 1/4" of level and I can easily shim the tank to get it perfectly level.

    -------------------Round 2, The Research-------------------
    Ok, so I'm now realizing that I might have to spend twice what I did on the tank to fill it in. The fish aren't even the worst of it. Have you guys seen the price of aquarium gravel?! Even after I get the gravel base in I'm going to need rocks and plants. Pretty much everything else I have in a shopping cart. Heater, filter, nets, python wc kit, airstones, powerhead, chems, etc Along with a lightly researched fish list (Thank you AqAdvisor). This is where you all come in as you are part of this research. I expect filling this tank will take the rest of the year so I'm here to see if there's anything I missed before I start buying all of my non-living items. I'm going to lay out my current plan and the list of items I've researched so far, please comment on anything you have questions or input for.

    ------------------The Current Plan-----------------
    -Non-Breeding tank
    -Blue/Gold fish color scheme
    -Non-Planted ( The fish are the attraction not an aquatic lawn I also have to mow)
    -Dark Gravel base (Sand would be cheaper but how to get cheap dark sand?)
    -Black plastic-dip background
    -Grey/Dark brown rocks with plenty of hiding spots
    -Silk Plants (I heard Hobby Lobby plants are ok to use, rust being a minor issue with good filtration?)
    -Spray bar vertical against black background pointed near front corner (In-line heater so I want heat evenly distributed)
    -Powerhead on opposite side as heater filter output also pointed towards front of tank near corner
    -23" Bubble curtain across back of tank, low, partially covered by gravel
    -Possibly two small airstones in the front corners to avoid dead spots (bubbles in the front would be distracting?)
    -12W LED light came with the tank is it enough?

    -------------------The Things List--------------------
    -Penn Plax Cascade 1200 (315GPH) Canister Filter (Alt. MarineLand Magniflow 360)
    -Oxyful 12w Inline UV Sterilizer (Is it needed? Non-planted tanks have a harder time with algae?)
    -Hydor 300w In-line heater (do I need a 300W? it's only $10 more I figured best to be over than under? This office is warm with two computers in it except there is not insulation in the floor so in the winter it can get nippy 2' from the floor.)
    -Tetra Whisper 100g air pump + black and clear hose, check valves, T's, and some bleeder valves
    -Penn Plax 23" Bubble Curtain + 2x 2" air stones
    -Hydor 565gph Circ pump (should I get two smaller ones or is this the right size for this tank?)
    -Fresh Water Aquarium Test kit
    -2 x 6" Nylon Mesh nets ( Is nylon ok for smaller fish?)
    -2 x Digital thermometers
    -Mag Float
    -Python WC kit + fill attachment + 24" Gravel Siphon ($72 really? Almost as bad as the gravel, it's just a few plastic hoses if I get the Venturi pump for $5 I could build my own right?)
    -SeaChem Prime/Stability/Pristine (am I missing anything should I get a stress ones?)
    -Apparently I need a quarantine tank so supplies for that too.

    ----------------The things I can't find a good price on list------------
    Darkish smooth Gravel
    Silk Plants

    -----------------The Fish List-----------------------
    3 x Guppy (Poecilia reticulata)
    3 x Red Wag Platy (Xiphophorus maculatus)
    3 x Calico Platy (Xiphophorus maculatus)
    5 x American Flagfish (Jordanella floridae)
    5 x Eastern Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia splendida)
    5 x Zebra Danio (Danio rerio)
    5 x Peppered Cory (Corydoras paleatus)
    5 x Ghost Glass Cat (Kryptopterus bicirrhis)
    5 x Green Fire Tetra (Aphyocharax rathbuni)
    5 x Cardinal Tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi)

    AqAdvisor (AqA) shows this list is 100% stock for my tank. Please make recommendations on this list. I LOVE iridescent blue as long as it isn't over down. I don't want this whole thing electric blue. For instance I really wanted to put some German Blue Ram's in here but AqA said they liked warmer water than the rest of my fish.

    I'm thinking about thinning the list out more. Can I do like 3 of each Tetra and will they still school?I already removed the dwarf Gourami and 1 Angel as I'm not big on Angels and I thought the Gourami might be to big with the other fish. I'm trying to stay under about 3". So I'm mostly going with schooling fish. If I had to pick one to drop right now it would probably be the guppy though I want something that's different from all the schooling fish and I think they'd be a better show piece than the Angel. I also had a female Betta in here but I've reading conflicting reports on if they would be good in this type of community or not.

    So please let me know if I'm missing awesome looking blue or gold/yellow fish that could work here. Or if some of these fish would not be good together. I also dropped Mollies off the list because of the salt requirement and the Cory.

    Oh! I forgot I was wanting to put something like shrimp or a snail or something in here that would bottom feed though I feel like I have enough bottom feeders. I was partial to the Loaches but I don't think I'm going with them now. If I go with sand I'm thinking of getting some of those burrowing snails? MBS? But I'd prefer gravel so maybe some shrimp? Oh one last thing what order should I start the fish to introduce them to the tank?
  2. psalm18.2

    psalm18.2Fishlore LegendMember

    Wow. That was a lot to read. Lol. Good luck on your adventure! I highly recommend black blasting sand, very cheap at $8 for a 50lb bag. Try and find used equipment or good deals online. Watch for specials.
  3. kayla.s

    kayla.sWell Known MemberMember

    Okay wow. Are you wanting this to be such a high tech tank? There's a few things that really aren't necessary on your list that you could save money on...
    For starters you could use black Diamond blasting sand as your gravel. A lot cheaper than actual aquarium gravel but works perfectly fine, esp. For cories.
    All I have on my 75g is a filter and 2 heaters, and that's perfectly fine. Airstones, power heads and uv sterilizers aren't really necessary. I wouldn't bother with the mag float either. In my experience they don't work very well... find a course sponge works better. For a siphon all you need is a piece of pipe. Unless you want to go fancy there... I'd just use a manual one. I wouldn't bother with digital thermometers either. Just a small one you can suction to the side of the glass works fine.

    I WOULD recommend getting the water testing kit :)

    Last edited: May 30, 2018
  4. Mick Frost

    Mick FrostValued MemberMember

    For the fish... The tetras are hit or miss, and the Killies will probably nip them. Most rainbowfish require carefully selected m:f ratio, 5 might be a bad number. Pretty sure Guppies and Platys can interbreed. Glass cats may not do so well in such a busy tank without more of them. And you need more Corys (I'm not with everyone here that says they need 8+ in a school, I just think you need more).
    The compatibilities... Glass cats don't like the current, so they might hide from that circ pump. Most rainbowfish love the current, and its freakin boring watching them stare at a circ pump 24hr/day.
    The equipment... You don't "need" UV, it's more of a luxury. You need 300W of heat, I normally advise 2x 200W for a 75. Your circulation is bordering on overkill, if you keep the circ pump you shouldnt need any bubbles. Best way to get rid of dead spots is to crush some Nori in the tank and play around with your circ while you can see it. Python is a luxury, I still use a siphon and buckets (finally got a squeeze pump last year). Digital thermometers suck, get a floating Marina for $2. Ditch the mag float, they pick up crap and scratch glass. And curious as to why the 2 nets?

  5. OP

    RolkinNew MemberMember

    Thanks everyone that took the time to read that and respond!

    I was wondering about the blasting sand. I saw it on Amazon when I was looking up this "Black Diamond sand" people were talking about.

    I didn't think my tank was that high tech. I chose the in-line heater because I like the idea of not seeing a bunch of equipment in the tank and it's only $20 more than a suction cup 300w heater.

    Circ Pump I was thinking about waiting to get until I saw how the filter return did. I wasn't sure how strong the current would be from it. Several site were talking about dead zones in the tank and how an airstone could help. I wasn't even thinking of getting an airstone until they said that it helps circulate heat and move stuff around plus agitate the surface. I didn't want it all over the tank though so I was thinking a curtain wall in the background might break-up the solid black background.

    I do like the idea of adding conditioner to the water before putting it in the tank. I seems like with the python fill kit you have to pour it in while adding it. A manual siphon pump is maybe $3-5 so that seems ideal with a bucket instead of spending $70+. It was recommended so many times that I added it to the list same with the Magfloat. Seems like the ones recommending it just didn't want to get wet.

    The extra nets btw came from the beginner's guide in this forum. Aramillo? was saying he has three, one for Fry, one for QT and one for main tank. Something like that.

    Which one is the Killifish on my list? I'd be ok with dropping the Tetra's and/or the Platy then up'ing the number of the other fish.

    I think the glass cat's looks awesome I wouldn't mind catering the tank more to them to keep them. Dropping the Circ pump is easy is there anything else? Would the black blasting sand be ok for them or do they need something more round?
  6. Mom2some

    Mom2someWell Known MemberMember

    I returned to fish keeping a couple of years ago when I was able to get a reliable second hand set up. Mine is only 34 gallons, but I LOVE my Python water changer. When I previously had a tank I would skimp on water changes because of the hassle & mess of buckets. So I invested in a Python to enable me to keep the water clean.
    Another vote for BDBS - probably 2 50# bags - as a pretty & cheap substrate.

    I would encourage you to check out the stocking forum for tanks similar to your size or with fish you like - so you can improve your ideas of compatibility.
  7. Mcasella

    McasellaFishlore VIPMember

    BDBS is a good one, it looks nice and uniform and is fairly cheap, so the small amount you might suck up during water changes ca easily be replaced. Make sure to rinse it before placing it in the tank because it will have some dust to it (five gallon bucket with a water hose is best with this if doing it all by hand).

    Schooling fish need larger numbers and will generally not feel or act as naturally in an undersized school.
    I would do two to three schools, ghost cats normally stay near the top of the tank (top third of the tank in the case of mine), larger groups and some tall plant they can swim in and out of (live plants are helpful because the fish can rub against them without accidentally possibly cutting or injuring themselves - test any plastic plants you get with panty hose so you can make sure it won't snag on the fishes' sides). My school of ghosts is 5 strong (I have issues getting more because half of them are damaged from store and the others don't adjust easily to my water), do not get the ghosts first in the tank as they prefer a slightly seasoned tank.
    Pick which fish you like the best out of your list and stock around them. The ghosts are going to be a little more shy so don't get another schooler that is a bully or is very rambunctious as it may frighten them. Rainbowfish are in this range, I am trying to move mine out of the tank with the ghosts because they move so quickly. An angel will not hurt the ghosts (the worst i have had is a new angel breaking a whisker), go with a large shoal of cories as well (8-10 at least, they look so much nicer in a group).
    You can try hitting up a landscaping store for the rocks, stick with granite based rocks for easy to place in tank without testing (I have nine gray rocks like the ones from petco if you want to message me about them lol).

    Bubble curtain will be the only movement as far as air stones that you will need with the out tube of the cannister filter angled towards the front.
    @TexasDomer might be able to help with stocking.
  8. OP

    RolkinNew MemberMember

    Ahh I didn't know about the stocking forum thanks for that. I guess it might have been better to break this page of text across multiple forums to make it easier to digest. I figured I'd start out in the beginner forum...since I was a beginner.

    I didn't know the ghost cats stayed at the top I thought they were similar to Cory since there were a catfish. I don't really like the look of the plastic plants the National Geographic ones look decently real but most of the realistic plants I've seen are silk so that's what I was planning on going for. I was waiting to get a semi-finalized fish list done before deciding on how many or what types of plants and rocks to put in since different fish like different things.

    One of the guys at work mentioned that the easier the water changes are to do the more likely you are to do them which I would agree with. I don't have experience with the Python kit or using buckets so I don't know how much easier the python WC kit would be. I could always buy it later but I hate buying the same thing twice which is why I had so much Equip on my list. I'd rather get it up front then need it later and have to modify the hose setups or clear out the tank and re-do it.
  9. Mcasella

    McasellaFishlore VIPMember

    With a 75 you are going to want a python that can go to the sink closest to the tank, that much water is a pain to haul in buckets.
    They are more like hatchet fish in behavior except they will stray from the top to find suitable places to hide in.
  10. Hunter1

    Hunter1Well Known MemberMember

    I have 5 tanks in my rental, total of 116 gallons. I just did 59 gallons of water change tonight with siphon/vacuum and buckets, took me an hour. And I was hustling with buckets being filled while siphoning into others.

    I know I should be using my python still in it’s wrapping.

    I would just go with the canister filter and 2 sponge filters ran by an airpump, save money, add oxygen and increase filteration.

    For substrate, I have BDBS in 4 of my tanks. It is cheap but dirty. Washing it is a chore. But none of these tanks have JUST BDBS. I have organic potting mix under 2 of them. But what I like better is a combination of eco-complete and black flourite. My plants grow the best in this and I had less diatoms and algae.

    You should really consider live plants. They can be cheap on-line. I use but there are others out there that are good.

    Stocking: increase your schools to at least 6, 8 is better. And eliminate something. The livebearers have a higher bioload so eliminate a few of those so you can add to your schools. (JMO).

    But keep the pepper corys, you’ll love them..I do.

    The glass cats in my wife’s tank (48bf), hang on the bottom but that may be because she doesn’t have much cover and they hang neat the cover.

    Good luck and have fun with this.
  11. Mick Frost

    Mick FrostValued MemberMember

    Glass cats like dark water. Since a blackwater tank probably isn't what you're going for, just make sure there's lots of plants (if you go with live, check out Elodea or Valisnera) and some light break (duckweed, frogbit, fake alternatives). +1 on not mixing with Rainbowfish.
    American Flag Fish are in the Killifish family. I haven't kept them in a long time, but IIRC they're nippers just like any other Killi.
    With a canister filter, there's a lot of tweaking you can do to get more or less complete circulation. If it's a budget thing, set aside for the bubble wand and (one size smaller) circ pump. +1 for sponge filters, but I remember you were trying to avoid seeing any equipment.
  12. Mcasella

    McasellaFishlore VIPMember

    Even just a really tall plant that goes all the way to the surface will have them around the surface, they will zip into the tall plant or under the leaves' shadows and think they are the best hiders.
  13. OP

    RolkinNew MemberMember

    I just picked up some BDBS from TSC... I told them 30/60. This stuff is pretty fine but it's cheap so if I vacuum it up it's not expensive to replace. The 20/40 looks closer to playground sand size, not sure if I should take it back and get 20/40. Won't hurt to try the smaller size I guess I can back fill with 20/40 if I don't like the 30/60 I guess.

    Ugh the Rainbow and Flagfish were the first one's I added. I had Black Mollies but they seem to need a small amount of salt which isn't good for the Cory's so I dropped them since the Flagfish is an algae eater also. Are the Killi going to be a problem for the Cory also?

    The killi aren't as bad as Cichlids aggression wise right?

    Revised list after visiting LFS based on previous comments.

    5 x American Flagfish (Jordanella floridae)
    5 x Eastern Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia splendida)
    10 x Zebra Danio (Danio rerio)
    8 x Peppered Cory (Corydoras paleatus)
    8 x Ghost Glass Cat (Kryptopterus bicirrhis)
  14. FishGirl38

    FishGirl38Valued MemberMember

    I haven't read all the posts after the main post (I've skimmed them), but, have you considered keeping african cichlids? Like yellow labidochromis or demasoni. Some peacock cichlids are yellow and blue as well.

    There are many beautiful, vibrant, and colorful cichlids that are blue and yellow together or all blue and all yellow. These fish get about 5-6 in a piece though, so you may not be able to keep as many as you could if you kept the community types you've listed. But they're definitely lookers.

    In terms of the cannister filter, I'd recommend a fluval, it's probably more $$ but it should be worth it in the long run. Penn plax brand? I can't speak on how well it works, but I've had a fluval 406 on my 75 gal for 4 years now and it's going strong. For freshwater, you don't need a UV sterilizer. It'd most definitely help with algae and micro-organisms. BUT, so will keeping your light off and not over feeding the tank...UV sterilizers are really only necessarily in saltwater, where there are added proteins and gunk that doesn't occur in freshwater.

    The light is basically optional too if you don't plan on keeping live plants. I mean, obviously you want a light, but in terms of it's wattage, if it's bright enough for you, that's all that matters, the fish generally don't mind how bright the sun is, as long as it turns off once a day.

    Live plants vs. plastic:
    Plastic plants will build up hard to clean algae on them. (it's a little unsightly later down the road). Live plants may also get algae on them, but it's not a for sure, and if it happens, it's generally a sign that the tank is out of balance. (not bacterium balance, but nutrient balance, like too much phosphate or nitrate). Plastic plants may last forever, but so do live plants if they're cared for properly. And sometimes, you can buy 1 plant and 4 months later have 5 that've multiplied from the 1. It is more maintenance to have live plants, but it's also a little more rewarding. (with african cichlids, you don't even need plants, in fact, they usually prefer only rocks for cover)

    Yes, I've spend $100 on bulk lava rock that I could find outside before. Do I regret it? ehh, kinda sorta....Some places sell it in bulk by the pound, the cheapest types are lava and tuffa rock because they're porus. Although, tufa rock my increase your PH later down the road, and this can be a problem if you want to keep rams or softer water fish. (africans prefer harder water). Outside rocks are okay too, though, I would soak them in some kind of acidic solution (vinegar?, maybe skip this for more porus rock) for a bit and then water for a bit AFTER scrubbing the heck out of them.
    Substrate is expensive, though I've seen some helpful recommendations already and, I've spend a fortune on all my substrate so I'm not much help there.

    The pumps aren't necessary as well, BUT, I personally wish I had pumps in my tank to keep everything flowing and looking alive. They do make for a nicer look.

    The python water changer: Eh-ehm...If you're crafty (and you appear to be), you can make your own....and it might cost you 20$ if that. It won't work as well as the store bought product, but it's basically a huge hydgrovac with a sink connector. If you can find the correct diameter hosing that would fit onto your faucet (in plastic, non-corrigated hose) and a rigid plastic can make your own with some heat to melt the plastics onto one another and some tape or sealant to seal everything together. You could even go as far as to buy a female connector piece (6.99) to screw into your tap/faucet (if the sink is made this way) on the other end so that you can fill the tank up with the hose as well. Rather than paying 72$ for the pre-made thing. It's kind of a good thing that your tank is elevated, because draining water/ starting the hydrovac suction will be much easier. I have a 20L that's basically at floor level, you wouldn't believe how hard it is for me to gravel vac that tank.

    The fish:
    So, I've already mentioned african cichilds, it would require you to scrape your entire stocking list....But you should be aware that these fish exist before you set your heart on community types. Especially if you're looking for vibrant colors.
    Neon grouami's/powder blue gourami's are smaller and quite vibrant. Emperor/kerri tetra are both types with iridescent on them. The emperor are more blue while the kerri are more pinkey/purple. Congo tetra are gorgeous but usually pricey. I'll keep brain storming but I've ran out of idea's that have yet to be mentioned. Will post again if I think of others.
  15. TexasDomer

    TexasDomerFishlore LegendMember

    I haven't read the entire thread (I know, I'm bad!), but I can address this stocking since I was tagged in the thread.

    Mollies are fine without salt. They need hard water, but cories are fine in hard water too.

    I think you have too many schooling species here (with three species: rainbows, danios, glass cats). The rainbows and danios are likely stress and outcompete the much more sedate and timid glass cats, so I'd leave the glass cats out. You could add a few more rainbows, too.
  16. remy113

    remy113Valued MemberMember

    So I piping in on the whole siphon or phtyon water change. If I was you man I’d go with the python because of you water volume. I mean if you do 15% changes that’s only 11 gallons but if you have to do 30 or 50 % that’s a lot of bucket hauling. I have a 30g and I use a cheap gravel vac from Walmart and a 5 gallon pal that works for removal but I use a 2.5 gallon water jug to add back in so I don’t hurt the fish but my experience.
  17. Hunter1

    Hunter1Well Known MemberMember

    Getting off topic. I empty into 5 gallon bucks, and fill from 5 gallon bucks. But all of my stands have an elevated perch where I can fit a 5 gallon bucket next to it. I fill buckets while i’m Siphoning. I then put a bucket into the perch and siphon back in. With sand substrate, I usually cram the end of the nozzle into a sponge filter so it doesn’t disturb the sand.

    But a python would be easier/quicker.

    I could siphon out of 2 tanks at the same time, ferrying buckets back and forth.

    Then fill from the faucet.

    My real concern (call me anal) is you dump in chlorinated water. I know you can add Prime before hand. But some fish love swimming in the introduced water because of the current. I put the Prime in buckets and am sure the chlorine is neutralized before it enters the tank.

    I bought the python for a 90 I haven’t started yet.

    Maybe after I use it, I will start using it for my 60 gallon a week water changes on my smaller tanks.

    Sorry to sidetrack the conversation.
  18. Mick Frost

    Mick FrostValued MemberMember

    @FishGirl38 PennPlax was "the brand" in the 80s, they have a lot of experience making aquarium equipment. They may not be the best, they're maybe equal with Tetra, but still...
    The Danios will keep everyone starved and stressed out with that many of them.
    The Killies shouldn't be an issue as long as everything is bigger than them, or faster, or both. Caution with the Glass Cats. Haven't seen them take out any Corys/Loaches.
  19. OP

    RolkinNew MemberMember

    Thanks for the replies everyone! I really appreciate the feedback.

    @FishGirl38 I tried adding the Demasoni to my list before but they're so aggressive I couldn't put them with any of my other fish. (Per AqAdvisor)I also liked the German Blue Ram's but the water temp was to high for some of the others. However I've taken out the Betta, Guppies, Platy and Tetra, so maybe I can add in some of the more passive Cichlids.

    My fish list started out from all of the beginner fish lists out there. I'm open to Cichlids but most of them just looked simply striped and also aggressive so I was cautious to start with them. Looking up mbuna it sounds like you can only have one male and 30-40 smaller schooling fish in the tank. Tropheops chilumba looks really cool though and some of them have great colors. Would i have to give up my Killifish if I got Cichlids? Is the water to different or do Cichlids just not like other fish?

    Those tetra's you listed look awesome but where would I buy something like that? While I'm on the subject where do you all get your fish? LFS,, forum members?

    From everyone's comments it sounds like the Glass Cat's aren't going to work out unless I make the tank more passive. It'd be ok with dropping the Danio's If I could keep the Cat's but I started building this list around the Rainbows.
  20. Mick Frost

    Mick FrostValued MemberMember

    I'm in the same boat. Currently working on building a Python-ish system that filters the water through carbon (no chloramines here) and a micron screen at a very slow fill rate. Other option would be under sink filtration.

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