Um, this is bigger than it looked in the pictures

adsm08

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So I was browsing Craigslist for a bigger tank because my pleco outgrew my 55 and I couldn't find him a new home with someone else. I was looking for something in the 100 to 150 gallon range, but most of what I found was overpriced (most people wanted $200 for a 55) or if it was a good deal it came with fish.

Then I found this one:



He wanted $400, but accepted my offer of $300, so after spending 9 hours and a good bit of frustration on what should have been a 5 hour milk-run, I now have a 185 gallon tank in my laundry room waiting to be set up. It's 6 feet long, and the assembled height is almost 5 feet.


So uh, what should I do with it? I want some cool suggestions for decorating.

This is intended to be a tropical community tank. I want to do a planted tank, but I have rarely had good luck with aquatic plants. I also want to leave a shaded area for my pleco, and I am thinking of doing a sandy bottom, something I have never played with before, but one of my fish is a kuhili loach, and I really like cory cats, and I have seen a lot of people say they both prefer sandy bottoms to gravel.


Also, I need some suggestions for filtration. The guy I bought it from sent home a HOB filter that he was using in it, but it looks smaller than my Penguin 350 filter, which is supposed to be for 75-gallon tanks.
 
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MJDuti

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well the good news is, you have a lot of options. When you say community, do you want a lot of small fish, a few big ones, some of both? If you want a plant you can't kill, get a larger species of anubias. They are beautiful, hardy, and super easy. IMO, I would go for a couple types of filtration: canister, sump, HOB, etc.
 

Ethan

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well adsm when going with plants take some advice from me.. i went from a 29 gallon to a 75 and i thought buying 75 pounds of substrate was enough. i am still sorely disappointed i can plant all my plants but it would be much easier with deeper substrate so for a tank that big it will take so much substrate which can be expensive unless you go with pool filter sand or blasting sand which is black. you will just have to keep up with your root tablets to keep everything going smoothly. or set up a co2 system
 
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adsm08

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When I say "community" I mean lots and lots of small fish. I am thinking about mostly tetra type fish. I may go for guppies, but I am, for the most part over live-bearers. I just don't have good luck with them. I rarely have a female survive more than a few days after giving birth, and I don't really know why.


For the plants, I am not attached to the idea of live plants. I would be more than willing to use, at least in part, fake ones.


I am definitely going to be starting with my two penguin filters, which total about 120-130 gallons of capacity.

Also, has anyone ever done any sort of mixed substrate, with part of the tank being gravel, and part being sand? I have no problem doing pool filter or blasting sand. I like natural colors. I like black too, it makes more colorful fish pop. I had a black background and a tan colored gravel in my 55 when it was a melanochromis tank and it looked amazing.
 

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That is looking pretty close to the dimensions of my dream tank!! I love planted tanks so I'm just going to talk about the plants, filtration and equipment. Fish choice is a bit subjective depending on what kind of tank you're going for. The rest of this post will be for a planted community tank as you stated.

Substrate:
This is actually not that big of an expense depending on what you get. There are many ways that you can go with this and as a result you can spend a lot or not so much. Since it is such a large tank, substrates such as eco-complete and stuff like that will end up being really expensive. My recommendation would be to go with good old dirt. I have it in two of my tanks and the plants love it. It's really simple to get set up. Miracle-Gro Organic is the one that is recommended the most and it's what I've always used. In order to use dirt all you have to do is mix it with a bit of water so that it has a thick mud consistency. The key is that you don't want any pools of water on top. If you do then you have added to much water and it will take a little longer to clear up the water. After adding the dirt all you have to do is add an inch to two inches of cap layer. Here you can put your pool filter sand or blasting sand (I use Black Diamond 20-40).

The other option is to go with root tabs. This route would be cheaper and easier initially. The issue with having such a large tank is that when you have to add more root tabs you will have to reach all the way down into the substrate which can be difficult with a deep tank. I would not recommend the seachem root tabs as it would be rather expensive to buy so many for such a large tank. A better choice would be to make your own and it is incredibly simple. There is a plant fertilizer called Dynamite Select and it is just a bunch of small pellet-ball looking things. Fill up some gel caps and you're good to go. At the bottom of this post I'll link a YouTube video that shows you how to do it.

Lighting:
This is usually where you end up spending the most money but you do have a lot of options. One of the cheapest and most effective methods is to go with shop lights. Something like would work great. I would suggest two of these for your tank and that would be a low light tank. You could stagger them so that there is a bit of overlap in the middle but you can play with this and see what looks best for you. The one I linked has 2 bulbs in the fixture but you could also go with other versions so you can go with higher or lower light depending on which direction you go with. If you want to go with LEDs then any pre-made fixture will be very expensive for that size tank. My LED recommendation would be a DIY PAR38 LED setup. These bulbs are very powerful and if you can make a mount for them they work very well. All you need to do is find a way to mount them since they work just like regular light bulbs.

Filtration:
I would not even look at HOB filters for this size tank. For a canister filter you're looking at two large canister filters for a total of 900-1000 GPH. I think a pair of Sunsun HW 304B canister filters would work great for your tank. The other method would be going with a sump with a wet/dry drip filter. This would probably be the ideal filtration setup for that size tank. For this you can go with either a pre-built one or make your own. The pre-built ones are rather expensive but building your own really isn't that hard. They are incredibly efficient and would easily filter your tank. Sumps may look a bit daunting at first but they're actually incredibly simple in regards to how they work.

Other Equipment:
This tank is huge, simple as that. Water movement is going to be very important in a tank this size. It is also important to take into account the types of fish that you will be putting into the tank. For example, a rainbow fish tank would need a lot of water movement across the front since those fish like having a good current to swim in. The other important thing to remember is that you can get dead spots where there isn't any water moving. My recommendation would be to get some power heads and in order to keep the water moving. Heating is the other component. If you decide to go with a sump then you can put all the heaters in there and you don't have to see them which is pretty nice. You can also go with an inline heater but those are a bit more expensive. If you go with canisters then just make sure to spread out the heaters. It's better to have multiple smaller heaters than one or two really big ones. This helps keep water temperature constant across the entire tank.

Plants:
You have a lot of options in this tank but with plants it always depends on three things: light, CO2, and nutrients. For a high tech tank you will need high lights, a solid dosing regiment, and some pressurized CO2. This route will lead to the best possible growth for your tank but obviously it will be the most expensive. If you decide not to go with pressurized CO2 then you will be limited to low-medium light plants. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Here are a few plants that would do great in low-medium light.

Swords: There are a ton of different types that come in different sizes and shapes. The most common selling plant is the Amazon Sword which is really easy to grow and get very large (20" leafs). There are also smaller species such as the Pygmy Chain Sword which stays much shorter, is very easy to grow, and works as a great foreground plant since you can get it to carpet relatively easily. One thing to note is that they are heavy root feeders so you will need to have either root tabs or some sort of nutritious substrate.

Anubias: These are great plants. Again, there are a lot of different kinds and they come in a variety of sizes. The best part about these is that they can feed from the water column. I have Anubias nana in my tank attached to some driftwood and it's throwing out new leafs every week. Some of these can get very large and the good thing is that they are rather low light plants.

Crypts: These are pretty much a combination of anubias and swords in that they are heavy root feeders but tend to be lower light plants. When I received a pair of smaller crypts they had roots that were about 5" long while the plant was about 5" tall. These come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.

Stem Plants: This is a very broad category and encompasses high light plants all the way down to low light plants. Some of the easier ones include water wisteria, Ludwigia repens, and hornwort just to name a few. These are great because when they start getting too tall you can simply cut off a few inches and just replant that stem in the soil and you get a new plant.

Conclusion:
It's really up to you. Just make sure that you have a definitive plan and do your research before you buy stuff (duh..). I would definitely recommend figuring out what kind of fish and how much you are looking to spend because those two variables have a huge impact on the rest of the tank. Once you get a better idea about which way you're thinking of going then you can post more specific threads in their respective sections of the forum and there we will be able to get you better answers.

Root tab video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Xiu2HFZK78
 

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If you want a planted tank then I suggest you use the Dry Start Method (DSM) meaning you grow plants without water and cover the top with syran wrap causing humidity in the tank.

DSM will allow the plants to establish themselves (root growth). Not all plants can be grown using DSM though so pick some plants that will work with your current light system.

A tank that big, I would do a micro community of fish this will allow the tank look bigger and you can lots of fish at the same time.
 

VWTDI02

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If you want a planted tank then I suggest you use the Dry Start Method (DSM) meaning you grow plants without water and cover the top with syran wrap causing humidity in the tank.

DSM will allow the plants to establish themselves (root growth). Not all plants can be grown using DSM though so pick some plants that will work with your current light system.

A tank that big, I would do a micro community of fish this will allow the tank look bigger and you can lots of fish at the same time.
Wouldn't this cause problems when you end up putting the plants into the tank? Not serious problems but a lot of plants have different forms when grown out of water. For example, water wisteria and ludwigia repens look very different when grown out of water as opposed to in water. When they are initially put in the water they have to then lose all their leafs and grow the new ones. The only people that I've heard using that method is the big commercial distributors of pla ts that need the plants to grow as fast as possible.
 

AmazonPassion

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Wouldn't this cause problems when you end up putting the plants into the tank? Not serious problems but a lot of plants have different forms when grown out of water. For example, water wisteria and ludwigia repens look very different when grown out of water as opposed to in water. When they are initially put in the water they have to then lose all their leafs and grow the new ones. The only people that I've heard using that method is the big commercial distributors of pla ts that need the plants to grow as fast as possible.
You are correct some plants have different leaf forms when grown in submerse/emerse but does it cause a problem...nope.

I've used this method in a couple of tanks i.e. dwarf hair grass, dwarf baby tears, crypts, swords, among other varieties of plants. This method allows the plants root system to establish itself and also you don't have to buy that many plants because this method will allow them to grow faster.

Most of the plants you buy from the LFS were grown emerse and only put into water in the LFS.
 
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adsm08

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Ok, so I have looked around at the suggested filter options, I read this article on building a sump



but I have a few questions.

1) what is the size ratio I should be using to the sump?

2) He recommends making the baffles out of glass, I don't have a glass shop near me, that I know of. Can I use acrylic plates, or is there a reason I shouldn't? I can get acrylic sheets cheaper and I have the tools to work with them myself.

3) I get the principles it works on, but I am not to sure of the actual plumbing. Can someone post a picture or two of their setup? I'm mostly interested in the feed and return, but pics of the whole thing would be nice.
 
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matsungit

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Better to drill the tank now than regret it later.

[video=youtube_share;aaDDKNA4cn0]http://youtu.be/aaDDKNA4cn0[/video]

[video=youtube_share;87yJbAW32hQ]http://youtu.be/87yJbAW32hQ[/video]

Sump kits on ebay.

When it comes to selecting a pump, let's talk about head pressure. If you select a 1000gph pump and the sump is on the floor, your 5ft high aquarium will be seeing a lot less than the rated flow due to gravity. A lot of pumps include a head pressure chart to show approximate flow rates at given heights. Select your head pressure flow rate at 5ft minding your desired turnover rate.

As for bulkhead size selection, here's a guide.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BulkheadFloRateArt.htm
 
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Ben3721

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If it was me id check it all over to make sure its ready to hold all that water. Check the silicon seals and make sure the wood base is still sturdy. Then think about fish and equipment lol. Good luck!

You could also re-stain the wood if you wanted to make it seem like new!
 
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adsm08

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If it was me id check it all over to make sure its ready to hold all that water. Check the silicon seals and make sure the wood base is still sturdy. Then think about fish and equipment lol. Good luck!

You could also re-stain the wood if you wanted to make it seem like new!
While that is good advice, the tank was still 3/4 full when I got there, he had been draining it. Also, the floor around it showed no signs of water exposure and was dry except where we were stepping on it with our snowy shoes, so I have seen the tank hold water.

The wood stand is light as far as it's own weight, but seems extremely stable. The amount of dirt left in the bottom under the gravel when we scooped it out tells me that the tank had been there a while.
 
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Ben3721

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While that is good advice, the tank was still 3/4 full when I got there. Also, the floor around it showed no signs of water exposure and was dry except where we were stepping on it with our snowy shoes, so I have seen the tank hold water.

The wood stand is light as far as it's own weight, but seems extremely stable. The amount of dirt left in the bottom under the gravel when we scooped it out tells me that the tank had been there a while.
Okay that's good! Just wanted to make sure you didn't end up with 185 gallons on the floor
 
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adsm08

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Yes, I really don't want that either. I do believe the final result of that would involve my wife, my balls, and a meat cleaver, if I am lucky.

Actually, of the 7 fish tanks I have owned in the last 20 years only two were purchased new, so I am familiar with the purchase and inspection of a used tank, and I can do the repairs if a seam is leaking, as long as it doesn't pop below the substrate it's pretty easy.

My bigger questions right now are about setting up and running it. I have never had one this big, and up until very recently never dreamed I might own one this large that wasn't a built-in unit, nor have I ever done the sandy bottom that I am wanting to do this time.


I have lights, I am still looking at filtration options, and I am quite excited, even though it may be the second week in February before I start to fill it.


I do have another question about substrate. I was looking at sand, I can't find any pool filter sand that I don't have to ship, odd how stores in the northeast don't carry that in November, and I don't really want black sand. I did find sandbox sand at a good price. Is there any reason I shouldn't use that?
 

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Somebody with experience should answer, but I think i have read that playsand will pack down? Whereas I recall from childhood that pool sand is no fun to play in because it slides around more. I'm thinking that plants might have more trouble in playsand?
 
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adsm08

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That makes sense actually. I remember the sandbox at the daycare I went to when I was younger would frequently flood during rain storms, an the sand had to be replaced several times because it turned into something more like mud and wasn't fun to play in anymore.


Filter sand does stay loose, otherwise it wouldn't flow correctly and the filter would plug.
 

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I wouldnt use playsand. I started off with and took it out immediately. It clouds up easily when cleaning. I went with pool filter sand and havnt been happier and it has a very natural look to it

Sent from my LGMS323 using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum mobile app
 

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I'm a big fan of using a substrate like Amazonia soil or a similar dirt that is high in nutrients, then putting about an inch of sand over the top of it. The roots of your plants will love the soil and you don't have to deal with as much of the possible mess from soil clouding the water because the sand makes a barrier.
Also, you will notice over time that layers of bacteria and diatoms develop in the soil/sand. I think this is a sign of a healthy tank.
I also usually start my tanks out on Pressurized CO so the roots can really expand and the plants take hold and get big. This can take less than a month depending on how high powered your lights are, photoperiod etc.
I've had various degrees of success weaning the tanks off gas CO.
Sometimes you get an algae bloom if you do it too quick because the rate at which the plants are sucking up nutrients drops so there's more for algae. I've found the sand layer method really helps with this because the nutrients are trapped where only roots can get at them.
My best, clearest, most hair algae free tanks are the ones I did with the layer method.
If you are going the planted route with that beast of a tank I would definitely use gas, even if it's just while you are cycling the tank.
But be aware CO lowers PH so you might wanna put some crushed coral in your sump or in the tank to balance things.
Also keep in mind heating that huge thing is gonna be tricky if you're in a cold climate don't put it by a window lol.
I made that mistake with a 55 this summer, the weather just dropped 10-20 degrees recently and it was a game changer.
Anyway, jealous of the huge tank, would make an ultimate community tank. You decide on fish yet?


 
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adsm08

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I have not made a final decision on fish yet. Obviously my existing fish will go in this tank once I get it set up, so to start I will have the danios, the neons, my two pygmy cories, the khuli loach, and of course, the big ol pleco. I am thinking of going mostly with various types of tetras, I really like a lot of the larger tetras, and I just recently learned of the existence of black neons. Def getting some of those guys.

Anyway, funding has been trickling in, and rushing back out again to get parts. I decided that, for the moment at least, I am going to use HOB filters. I can get 75 gallon HOBs cheap, and with three of the Penguin 350s I can exceed the tank capacity and suggested 1000 GPH flow rate, so I only have to guy two. I will likley upgrade to a siphon-sump or canisters later.

Last weekend I went and got my floor reinforcements. A contractor I know said I should be able to get away with a 4x4. I said F that, I'm not taking chances and got a 6x6. Tried to get it put in last Sunday, and the wife stopped helping after I dropped it on myself twice. She said something about waiting until we had a third person.

Tonight I went to the Lowes that is 40 min away because they had a pallet of PFS on hand, and nobody else in northern PA seems to even be able to order it this time of year. I brought back 300 lbs, and even with it distributed evenly along the width it turns out you can really feel 300 lbs in the back in a Bronco II. I didn't feel notice any loss of power, but oh boy was it dragging the back end all over the road.

I got it home though, and got the first 50 lbs washed. It only took me about 45 minutes to do the first bag until I could make out my hand clearly through the water right after mixing it up and it didn't seem to be getting any cleaner, although it seemed pretty clean at the get go compared to some of the pictures I have seen.

I am a flat-rate mechanic by trade, and so I am always looking for ways to get everything done more efficiently. Not just faster, but the best quality job in the shortest amount of time. I got a three-bucket system going in the shower, poured 1/4 of the bag into a bucket, filled it, got the next bucket going, stirred the first, etc, got a good rotation going so that each bucket was always doing something.


I was looking around at plants, decorations, etc. I may do live plants eventually, but I think right now I am going to start with some fake ones. Part of the issue is funding. This is my slow season at work, so project money is tighter than during the summer. That means I need to get this tank installed and running so I can sell the old one, then I can put that money towards doing the new tank better. Given the prices I saw when looking around I should be able to get $200 for my current setup.
 
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