Total Tank Makeover! (on A Budget) Huge Project. Please Do The Poll!

What size tank should I get!? (PLEASE READ my post to help me find what best suites me)

  • 23 Gallon Long (36x12x13)

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lunaluciow

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So I have been wanting to do a COMPLETE makeover of my tank for years and have it be a pretty big project. Like a huge project. I'm basically starting from scratch so I'm going to need a lot of advice on the best ways to make it work. Like please treat me like a newbie and walk me through ALL the steps please (from buying supplies, to cycling my tank, to getting the fish/plants/inverts, to regular upkeep)!

FOR THE POLL: The location of my tank is a funky spot that is best suited for a very long (up to 55") but very narrow (14" MAX and that's tight) tank. I also can't have a tank more than 40 gallons no matter how much I want to right now.


I know it's a lot, but these are the things I would LIKE to do. It's all flexible and I'm open to any and all comments:
  • Have a theme/biotope. Like I'd like to pick a biotope and have fish, plants, inverts that normally live in that biotope and similar water conditions. I want to stick as close to this as I can as a fun challenge but not necessary. I've been looking at fish mongabay and some biotopes I find beautiful are dark-ish, little/no water flow, woody. Not a tropical rainbow. But I'm open to it if it's best for me. From what the website has, I like West or Central African River, Southeast Asian Blackwater Pool, Central American Lowlands, South American Blackwater Creek, Oxbow lakes (I love Apistogrammas!)
  • Plants! Have to make it a separate point because I'm so very new to this and would need a lot of guidance.
  • Fish (duh) Preferably that suit a biotope.
  • Make it self sustaining. RELATIVELY. Obviously I'll have to add water as it evaporates and minor maintenance but I think it would be beautiful and so rewarding to create a small scale fairly balanced ecosystem that requires as little human tampering as possible.
  • AFFORDABLE I'm a broke college student with dreams of an extravagant tank. Any suggestions people have to help save money and cut costs while still aiming for a beautiful tank are more than welcome!
I'm expecting to have some issues and I know it won't be perfect but I'm looking for a big project and a challenge. Realistically, I know I probably can't get exactly what I want (especially in my price range) but I want to work to get as close to it as possible! What are your thoughts!?
 

max h

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Craigslist can be your friend, another alternative is Facebook groups
 
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lunaluciow

lunaluciow

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max h said:
Craigslist can be your friend, another alternative is Facebook groups
Thank you! That definitely helps. I just need to find out what kind of tank I’m looking for now
 

King o´ Angelfish

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You possibly already know this, but a self sustaining tank will require a low fish stock and a very high plant stock if you are planning on only topping off water.

My vote has been casted
 

Bryangar

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You should look into the walstad method if you want self sustaining. Basically it’s a dirted tank, heavily planted, low tech, and low bioload.
 
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lunaluciow

lunaluciow

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King o´ Angelfish said:
You possibly already know this, but a self sustaining tank will require a low fish stock and a very high plant stock if you are planning on only topping off water.

My vote has been casted
Thank you very much!

That makes sense. It's not a dealbreaker if the tank isn't self sustaining but it'd be nice to have it be lower maintenance. I'm definitely flexible on all of the things I listed except for the maximum size of the tank (for now). Besides that, there are so many options that I need help narrowing them all down and coming up with a plan!
 
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lunaluciow

lunaluciow

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bryangar said:
You should look into the walstad method if you want self sustaining. Basically it’s a dirted tank, heavily planted, low tech, and low bioload.
Huh I've never heard of that before! I'll definitely look more into it and do some research. Thank you so much for letting me know
 

King o´ Angelfish

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lunaluciow said:
Thank you very much!

That makes sense. It's not a dealbreaker if the tank isn't self sustaining but it'd be nice to have it be lower maintenance. I'm definitely flexible on all of the things I listed except for the maximum size of the tank (for now). Besides that, there are so many options that I need help narrowing them all down and coming up with a plan!
I agree! Low tech would definitly be budget-friendly, and everyone enjoys low maintenance. Shoot any questions you have! We will all be more than happy to help out!
 
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lunaluciow

lunaluciow

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King o´ Angelfish said:
I agree! Low tech would definitly be budget-friendly, and everyone enjoys low maintenance. Shoot any questions you have! We will all be more than happy to help out!
I made my account today and already feel like I've learned so much! Everyone is so friendly and helpful I'm really grateful for all the input I've gotten. I should have made an account sooner considering I was already looking at the forums.

Oh man when it comes to other questions, now that I'm reading more about the Walstad method, I want to know if anyone's tried it and has had a positive experience. Also I'm curious what biotopes could be created using the Walstad method... Once I figure out all of that, I'm definitely going to need suggestions of products, supplies, brands that people use and find reliable as well as which ones to avoid.
 

King o´ Angelfish

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lunaluciow said:
I made my account today and already feel like I've learned so much! Everyone is so friendly and helpful I'm really grateful for all the input I've gotten. I should have made an account sooner considering I was already looking at the forums.

Oh man when it comes to other questions, now that I'm reading more about the Walstad method, I want to know if anyone's tried it and has had a positive experience. Also I'm curious what biotopes could be created using the Walstad method... Once I figure out all of that, I'm definitely going to need suggestions of products, supplies, brands that people use and find reliable as well as which ones to avoid.
I'm glad you have had fun!
Here is a link that should be helpful concerning biotopes:
Biotope (habitat) aquarium types
Personally, I have never tried the Walstad method, so I will be learning with you if you decide to go with that one. Soon I will be trying out the Tom Barr non co2 method, which is different from the Walstad. Tom barr´s method involves wkly water changes, liquid ferts, medium lighting, and no co2. Its a little more work, but not as expensive as going full on co2 injection with high lights and more dosing requirements.
 

Bryangar

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lunaluciow said:
I made my account today and already feel like I've learned so much! Everyone is so friendly and helpful I'm really grateful for all the input I've gotten. I should have made an account sooner considering I was already looking at the forums.

Oh man when it comes to other questions, now that I'm reading more about the Walstad method, I want to know if anyone's tried it and has had a positive experience. Also I'm curious what biotopes could be created using the Walstad method... Once I figure out all of that, I'm definitely going to need suggestions of products, supplies, brands that people use and find reliable as well as which ones to avoid.
That’s great to hear!

I have a dirted tank, not a full walstad tank. Since a full walstad requires no filter and I want a nice bunch of fish in my tank. It’s pretty easy to make.

My tank is new, so I don't have much experience with it, but I know the basics. Here’s my thread. Bryangar’s 46 Gallon Tank Build?
 
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lunaluciow

lunaluciow

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King o´ Angelfish said:
I'm glad you have had fun!
Here is a link that should be helpful concerning biotopes:

Personally, I have never tried the Walstad method, so I will be learning with you if you decide to go with that one. Soon I will be trying out the Tom Barr non co2 method, which is different from the Walstad. Tom barr´s method involves wkly water changes, liquid ferts, medium lighting, and no co2. Its a little more work, but not as expensive as going full on co2 injection with high lights and more dosing requirements.
Thanks for the link! A website I've been using that gives details on the requirements for certain biotopes is but there are so many options!

I'll definitely keep you posted on which one I end up doing. Oh wow I'm curious to hear more about your experiences with that new method you're trying! How is it going so far?
 

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35 gallon Bowfront, just because I really like how they look.
 
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lunaluciow

lunaluciow

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bryangar said:
That’s great to hear!

I have a dirted tank, not a full walstad tank. Since a full walstad requires no filter and I want a nice bunch of fish in my tank. It’s pretty easy to make.

My tank is new, so I don't have much experience with it, but I know the basics. Here’s my thread. Bryangar’s 46 Gallon Tank Build?
Thanks for sharing! I'm definitely going to keep an eye on your thread. I'm looking at it now and it looks like there's a lot of really useful information and it looks great! I hope it's going well
 

King o´ Angelfish

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lunaluciow said:
Thanks for the link! A website I've been using that gives details on the requirements for certain biotopes is but there are so many options!

I'll definitely keep you posted on which one I end up doing. Oh wow I'm curious to hear more about your experiences with that new method you're trying! How is it going so far?
Tbh, I haven't started it yet. But I have done a ton of research and questioning around the forum and internet. Basically, you have a filter, heater, substrate(neutral or nutritious), low to medium lighting, non-co2/non-high light plants, liquid fert, root tabs(optional depending on your substrate). With this method you try to stock a lot of plants, dose liquid ferts 1-2x a wk, 6-8hrs of lighting, and 50% water changes wkly.
 
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lunaluciow

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King o´ Angelfish said:
Tbh, I haven't started it yet. But I have done a ton of research and questioning around the forum and internet. Basically, you have a filter, heater, substrate(neutral or nutritious), low to medium lighting, non-co2/non-high light plants, liquid fert, root tabs(optional depending on your substrate). With this method you try to stock a lot of plants, dose liquid ferts 1-2x a wk, 6-8hrs of lighting, and 50% water changes wkly.
Have you started getting your supplies yet/where do you get them? That's going to be such a fun project. If you have a thread where you're posting your experience along the way I'd love a link!

Definitely will keep you busy doing maintenance! Have you decided what you want to put in it yet?
 

King o´ Angelfish

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lunaluciow said:
Have you started getting your supplies yet/where do you get them? That's going to be such a fun project. If you have a thread where you're posting your experience along the way I'd love a link!

Definitely will keep you busy doing maintenance! Have you decided what you want to put in it yet?
I live in Bolivia, so certain supplies are very hard to get. Every once in a while I travel to the US to visit family and that is when I come back with supplies. For liquid fert I am using THRIVE Complete All In One Fertilizer. I have heard good reviews on it. The tank itself will be 50g. I will be running 5x 10watt 6500K LEDs. For filtration I am limited to HOBs and internal power filters here in Bolivia. I chose a river type gravel that is relatively small-grained.
Here is the link to my thread:
Evolution Of My 50 gallon Planted Tank | Freshwater Aquarium Builds 362403

I am so excited about this project!
 
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lunaluciow

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King o´ Angelfish said:
I live in Bolivia, so certain supplies are very hard to get. Every once in a while I travel to the US to visit family and that is when I come back with supplies. For liquid fert I am using THRIVE Complete All In One Fertilizer. I have heard good reviews on it. The tank itself will be 50g. I will be running 5x 10watt 6500K LEDs. For filtration I am limited to HOBs and internal power filters here in Bolivia. I chose a river type gravel that is relatively small-grained.
Here is the link to my thread:
Evolution Of My 50 gallon Planted Tank | Freshwater Aquarium Builds 362403

I am so excited about this project!
Oh my gosh I'm jealous you live in Bolivia I've always wanted to travel to South America! Where does your family live in the US where you get your supplies?

I'm checking out your thread! It seems like it's going to be a lot of fun and you'll learn a lot.
 

King o´ Angelfish

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lunaluciow said:
Oh my gosh I'm jealous you live in Bolivia I've always wanted to travel to South America! Where does your family live in the US where you get your supplies?

I'm checking out your thread! It seems like it's going to be a lot of fun and you'll learn a lot.
Thanks! Its quite nice down here, a lot of the wild life is still preserved. My family live in Kentucky. I usually order online on Amazon or stop by PetSmart/PetCo if I need something small.
Thanks for stoping by my thread, its still new lol!
 
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lunaluciow

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King o´ Angelfish said:
Thanks! Its quite nice down here, a lot of the wild life is still preserved. My family live in Kentucky. I usually order online on Amazon or stop by PetSmart/PetCo if I need something small.
Thanks for stoping by my thread, its still new lol!
It must be so beautiful there!
 
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lunaluciow

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King o´ Angelfish said:
Have you made up your mind?
I’m thinking it’s between the 29 gallon breeder or the 33 gallon long! I’m going to start looking for both in my area and see if either are available.
 

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MrT said:
35 gallon Bowfront, just because I really like how they look.
I agree - I want to the 38gal Marineland bowfront next - you can get them new on sale with a Penguin Biowheel filter, hood and light for $140. I have seen them used for 60-100 - but they weren't in great condition. I got my 26-gal bow with filter, hood, and light for under $100 new - scratched and cracked the front setting it up - but since it was new I was easily able to get it exchanged (that is the good part about petsmart).

The bow adds depth and a rimless look - it's also taller for a lot of different types of plants.
 

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