Upgrade To 40g On A Budget

Loachland

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Hello all! It's recently come to my attention that my YoYo needs a shoal of his own kind, and I can't get that until I have a bigger tank. Right now, I have a 29g high and a 10g QT, with accompanying supplies.

I do not have that much money to spend, but I'd like to see if an upgrade to a 40-50 gallon tank is feasible in the coming months. I'm on a tight budget - about $250, not factoring in fish or plants - but I do already have a lot of equipment.

WHAT I HAVE
- Eheim 2211 canister filter, filtration for 39 gallons at a flow rate of 79 GPH
- Top Fin Power Filter 10, filtration for 10 gallons at a flow rate of 90 GPH
- CaribSea Super Naturals Sand, 20 lbs or so
- Small black crushed gravel and river pebbles
- Half bottle of old SeaChem Prime
- Full bottle of new Tetra Dechlorinator
- A nearby LFS where I can get 20g of RO for $5
- TopFin LED hood light, 24" (I can't find the rest of the specs but it's very bright)
- A small aquascaping rock and a cholla tube
- A massive Java Fern
- Cleaning supplies (net, gravel vac, etc.) and a liquid water testing kit
- A long TV stand that might be sturdy enough to support an aquarium (have not tested)
- Frozen bloodworms and a variety of flake foods
- Two heaters, which are only necessary in winter as I live in Texas
- A strong fear of stressing my fish

WHAT I DO NOT HAVE
- A 40-50g tank and an accompanying lid
- Enough filtration/circulation for a 40-50g tank
- Ample rocks/driftwood for aquascaping
- Fertilizers of any kind
- Medicine (for emergencies)
- Thermometer (I was sold a broken one)
- Self confidence, especially in regard to aquaria/prior experience with tank upgrades
- Anything else I may have forgotten

Basically, how much might an upgrade cost, do you think? I'm sorry for the length of this post, I wish I knew if there was a way to collapse/hide text.
 

nbalaw2016

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I wouldn't chance a TV stand with an aquarium weighing 400-500 pounds, even for some short-term savings. You'll pay much more if your tank or stand breaks. So let's factor in a stand as well:

- Tank & Stand, likely $200. (I purchased a 45g tall tank with stand, hood, and light for $200 from Petco several months back). You may wish to check craigslist as well.
- You could add a topfin 75 for about $40, to use with the canister.
- You could find some river rocks and clean them well.
- $10 for Seachem Flourish, though you may not need this if you just have one java fern. Others will weigh in on this.
- Thermometer is $5 if you buy a stick-on one.
- Especially with loaches, I wouldn't use medications unless absolutely necessary. They're sensitive to them.

So that's ~$250. Your biggest expense will be the stand, so if you can find a used one, you'll save some money.
 
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Loachland

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Thanks, nbalaw! The stand was my greatest concern, I didn't really want to use the TV stand anyway. It's definitely going to be the most expensive: I can ask around, though, I'm sure somebody has one. I could also build my own, alternatively, but I don't know how much that costs and how effective it is. I'm not too sure of my building abilities.

I'd rather not use medications either. As for ferts, I'd probably use Flourish, the Java definitely doesn't need it but I'd like to get more live plants. And I just realized I could probably coerce the pet store into switching out my thermometer, seeing as they sold me a defective one.
 

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Are you planning on upgrading your 29G high or getting another tank?

If you're upgrading, you can easily do that for under $250. All you'll need to buy is a 40G breeder tank, a lid, and some wood for a stand... Your current filtration will keep the tank cycled as long as you don't add more fish. So since you want to add more loaches, you'll want to get another filter. If you run two filters in conjuction, you don't need a huge filter. Just decide how much more GPH you want than is on the 29G, and get an AquaClear filter to fill the difference. Slowly add the new fish and you won't get a mini cycle.

Make the stand with 2x4s and plywood. There's tons of plans online, and you'll make a way sturdier one than you can buy from Petco. You'll just need a saw, tape measure, screws, electric screw driver, and drill bits. I assume you already have that? If not, anyone you can borrow it from? If not, just buy a used stand on craigslist. There's tons of fish tank stands on there.

So you'll need to buy:
  • 40G breeder tank: $50
  • Make a lid with a sheet of plastic: $5
  • AquaClear 30 (probably): $30
  • Materials for the Stand: $100
  • More substrate: $30
  • More décor to make the tank look nice: Any amount, it's not urgent though. The plants can wait until you can afford them.

That's right around $250 right there! Just re-use everything out of your 29 gallon and there's not much you have to buy!
 
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Loachland

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Upgrading, not buying, so that should save some money! Thanks for helping me estimate it out. I can probably get even cheaper with the substrate if I make Petco match their web prices, which brings the sand cost down to around $10. Stand is definitely the biggest cost, but I’m willing to put in the work to build one (and I do own/have access to power tools).

Two more things:
1. How much more time-consuming would you think the maintenance might get? I tend to do 15% wc with RO per week, but I’d need to do more for a stocked 40, so it might be best to invest in some tap treatments.

2. Where do you recommend getting a cheap tank from? Petco has dollar per gallon right now, but I’m not ready to do all this quite yet. Also, is there any stores at all that carry 40 longs? I’m a bottom feeder addict, and I figure they’d prefer the bigger footprint.
 

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ystrout

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Upgrading, not buying, so that should save some money! Thanks for helping me estimate it out. I can probably get even cheaper with the substrate if I make Petco match their web prices, which brings the sand cost down to around $10. Stand is definitely the biggest cost, but I’m willing to put in the work to build one (and I do own/have access to power tools).

Two more things:
1. How much more time-consuming would you think the maintenance might get? I tend to do 15% wc with RO per week, but I’d need to do more for a stocked 40, so it might be best to invest in some tap treatments.

2. Where do you recommend getting a cheap tank from? Petco has dollar per gallon right now, but I’m not ready to do all this quite yet. Also, is there any stores at all that carry 40 longs? I’m a bottom feeder addict, and I figure they’d prefer the bigger footprint.
Good! Ya it will be cheap then since you're just upgrading.

Ya if make the stand with 2x4s and plywood and you're going to have a super sturdy stand and it will be super cost effective. You can even stain or paint it any color you want! My PetSmart stand works and looks nice, but it uses thinner wood and isn't the color I'd prefer. Another recommendation for substrate is pool filter sand in part of the tank. The stuff costs like $5 for a huge bag at Ace Hardware. It looks great, but it doesn't grow plants well.

To answer your questions:
1. I'd say 5 to 10 more minutes per week, max... Think about it this way. You're getting 11 more gallons. 15% of that is under 2 gallons more water being changed... Even if you do a 25% water change weekly, you're only looking at 3 gallons more... That's just one more bucket!

And I would. Get some Prime and use tap water. There's not really a benefit of using RO in freshwater unless you have tap water with high ammonia or nitrate (or other issues) or you want water parameters a certain way.

2. Petco sale or used on Craigslist. For a 40 gallon tank, I'd just buy new so I don't have to worry about the silicon or deep cleaning it. You'll only save $20 to $30 buying used.
 
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Loachland

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Thanks to everyone who responded!

My water is high in ammonia and nitrites as well as being quite alkaline, hence why I use RO - I’m planning to wean myself off it, though, to some extent.

And yeah, I just went to PetSmart and checked out their tank/stand combos, which were all way expensive, especially considering the Petco sale. However, I still can’t find a 40 long anywhere. I’ll definitely order online or see if I can make people match prices in-store. I might check my LFS, too: they have used tanks dropped off every now and then.

And thanks, ystrout! Visualizing cleaning like that helped.
 

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why a 40Long? i think those have to be special ordered. its only 4 inches shorter in height compared to a 55g which is $67 right now.

even without tools you can put together a diy concrete block stand. homedepot/lowes will cut the lumber to size for you.

here's mine 55 Gallon Tank - Diy Concrete Stand

full.jpg
 

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The concrete blocks are a cheap way to build a stand. Cory at Aquarium Co-op has some stands built similar to this.

If you want to build something strong that can be dressed up a bit more, there are decent plans here. The 2x4s for the frame shouldn't run much more than $25. A saw, a drill, and a screwdriver would be the only tools you'd need. You could definitely get by with a hand saw on this. I'd recommend using Gorilla Glue. It's waterproof and is very strong. Decent plywood to dress it up will be a bit more expensive, though you shouldn't need more than 1/4".
 
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Loachland

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Thanks for the replies!

I want a 40g long because I figured it'd be less expensive than a 55, between the smaller size and the lesser amount of filtration/water changes/etc. I may well have been wrong, though, since I can't seem to track down a 40 long anywhere - I guess I'll just go with the extra gallonage.

As for the stand, thanks for the plans, JayH - I have family that own a ranch, so they do a lot of building and woodworking and they may well have 1/4 plywood readily available. I'll ask around later.
 

Islandvic

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@Loachland , Petsmart has their aquarium kits on sale for 40% off at the moment. If your patient, they go on sale for 50% off.

You can pick up their 55g kit for $119 right now, or wait and pick one up later for $99.

That's how I got into our new 55g African cichlid tank. I'm using everything it came with, except the filter.

As other members stated, a stand can be made with 2x4's, wood screws, wood glue and a drill. You can skin it with plywood afterwards, but that's an option.

A 55g will give you a 48"x12" foot print.

I use Quikrete Pool Filter Sand from Home Depot. A 50lb bag is $7.

Here are some pics of my recent build. I've never built a tank stand before. Sorry, but I dont have a newer pic with the doors installed....

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The rocks are a couple of limestone landscaping bricks from Home Depot I broke apart, plus some limestone and flagstone from a local landscaping rock yard. I have more rock, I just haven't put it all in yet.
 

ystrout

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@Loachland , Petsmart has their aquarium kits on sale for 40% off at the moment. If your patient, they go on sale for 50% off.

You can pick up their 55g kit for $119 right now, or wait and pick one up later for $99.

That's how I got into our new 55g African cichlid tank. I'm using everything it came with, except the filter.

As other members stated, a stand can be made with 2x4's, wood screws, wood glue and a drill. You can skin it with plywood afterwards, but that's an option.

A 55g will give you a 48"x12" foot print.

I use Quikrete Pool Filter Sand from Home Depot. A 50lb bag is $7.

Here are some pics of my recent build. I've never built a tank stand before. Sorry, but I dont have a newer pic with the doors installed....

View attachment 581015

View attachment 581014

View attachment 581016

View attachment 581013

The rocks are a couple of limestone landscaping bricks from Home Depot I broke apart, plus some limestone and flagstone from a local landscaping rock yard. I have more rock, I just haven't put it all in yet.
Your stand looks great!
 

JayH

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I have family that own a ranch, so they do a lot of building and woodworking and they may well have 1/4 plywood readily available. I'll ask around later.
You'd want at least AC plywood if not cabinet grade, assuming you want a nice, finished look. For rough construction they'll frequently use stuff with more knots/holes that would not provide a smooth finish.
 
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