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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In a few months I will be getting my first aquarium. I have been reading/researching extensively over the last several months and have come up with a list of the main equipment I think I will be getting. There are a few things I still have questions about or haven't decided and am looking for input. I would appreciate any productive feedback anyone is willing to give... heres what i've come up with:

- 72 gallon bowfront with stand and versa top

- 300 Watt Visi-therm deluxe heater (would 2 smaller watt heaters be better?)

- Fluval 405 Canister filter (225 gal/hr)

- Some sort of digital thermometer (any recommendations?)

- Gravel (black with blue accents)

- Test kits (are the multiple test in one strips any good?)

- Black background

- Rocks, cave, fake plants and/or driftwood (depending on what fish)

- Air stone/bubbler (is this necessary?)

- Python

*Note* What I will be stocking the tank with isn't set in stone yet but I'm leaning towards working towards having 1 "green terror" Aequidens sp. Goldsaum as the feature fish and maybe if he'll tolerate them, a small school of tiger barbs and/or other compatible SA/CA cichlids or perhaps (but less likely) have a group of "green terrors" until a pair is established.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

-Kevin
 

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Sounds like your on track and have gotten some good info so far.
These are my recommendations and opinions.
- 72 gallon bowfront with stand and versa top
---- Very nice tank and a good size too, nice choice.

- 300 Watt Visi-therm deluxe heater (would 2 smaller watt heaters be better?)
---- I prefer 1 large heater, you will be fine with a 300watt. Tw0 heaters just means more thinks visible in the tank and more cords. If you have enough water flow and circulation passing the heater, it'll be fine.

- Fluval 405 Canister filter (225 gal/hr)
----- If you are only having one larger fish, and a school of small dither fish, this amount of filtration should be fine. But if you plan on having a larger group of larger fish (G.T's) I would double this and get two 405's, otherwise you may run into trouble.

- Some sort of digital thermometer (any recommendations?)
----- I just use the old $2 floating glass thermometer

- Gravel (black with blue accents)
---- Should be nice. Maybe consider sand?

- Test kits (are the multiple test in one strips any good?)
---- I use the test strips your talking about and have had no issues with them. People often recommend the liquid test kits, but I have used those and hate them. The test strips are accurate enough for my needs.

- Black background
--- Kinda boring, but O.K. If I set up another large tank, I would get some real nice slate and silicone it to the back glass for a background. But that's just me.

- Rocks, cave, fake plants and/or driftwood (depending on what fish)
---- Check your local landscape place for rocks WAAYYY cheaper than at the fish store. Make sure you wash everything good. Driftwood can turn your water brown and lower your pH if not properly soaked first. Read up in the library about how to deal with that, and also on what rocks are compatible in an aquarium.

- Air stone/bubbler (is this necessary?)
---- Not necessary, but if you like one, it won't harm anything. It can help slightly with aeration and surface agitation.

- Python
---- I don't use one cause it's too expenive and I'm cheap. I just use a vaccuum and a 5 gal bucket.

Make sure you are VERY familiar with how to cycle your tank. Read the articles in the library section.
 

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I agree with Boomr99 about the filter. That filter is rated for a max. 100G tank but depending on how many fish you add, you may need more filtration. I always use at least 2 filters on a tank.
Also, you might want to consider an external heater. I don't know what size tubing the 405 uses so you might want to look into that.
 

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chefkevin said:
- 72 gallon bowfront with stand and versa top
Very Nice indeed :thumb:

chefkevin said:
- 300 Watt Visi-therm deluxe heater (would 2 smaller watt heaters be better?)
I also agree with Boomr99, one is plenty and is less of an eyesore than two.

chefkevin said:
- Fluval 405 Canister filter (225 gal/hr)
Hmm well, supposedly 1 405 is enough, but I personally go by the "5 or 6 water turnovers per hour" rule of thumb. Those green terrors are messy and get big. If I were you I'd go bigger, or even better get a second canister filter going.. say a small eheim or if you're looking for bang for your buck, I can't recommend the Rena XP* series more. I'm running a Rena xp3 AND an eheim 2213 on my little 65g and my water is absolutely pristine. I'm an anal *$#@ tho and like my water perfect lol

chefkevin said:
- Gravel (black with blue accents)
Not my first choice, though perhaps it will look nice with your rocks and green terror. If I were to go black substrate I'd definitely get the black sand. It's very nice and the fish love it.

chefkevin said:
- Test kits (are the multiple test in one strips any good?)
Meh, in my experience test strips are a waste of time. They can be effected by the environment they're stored in and can lose their accuracy as a result. I would get a liquid mini-test kit and just deal with the "hassle" (though personally I enjoy testing my water.. it's fun and part of the hobby knowing you're treating your fish well)

chefkevin said:
- Black background
Make sure you have nice contrasting decorations and it will be nice. Since you're also going black substrate I would recommend lighter color rocks for decoration.

chefkevin said:
- Rocks, cave, fake plants and/or driftwood (depending on what fish)
If you're going with south american fish then driftwood is ideal since they like soft water. Need VERY good filtration with driftwood though as it tends to discolor the water to a brown/green tinge (carbon in your filter takes care of this though). No limestone rocks (such as texas holey rock) as it raises PH.

chefkevin said:
- Air stone/bubbler (is this necessary?)
Not necessary if you position the output of your filters to agitate the surface of the water. They key to oxygenating your water is surface agitation, which can be achieved either with airstones (bubbles popping) and/OR with filter output. I have spray bar attachments on both my canisters and they're positioned right at the surface for maximum surface agitation.

chefkevin said:
Don't have one personally but I hear they're very convenient.
 

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Just figured I'd throw my two cents in there as well so you have lots of different opinions to choose from :) (If I don't comment on it, it's because someone else did or your original idea sounds good to me too)

- 300 Watt Visi-therm deluxe heater (would 2 smaller watt heaters be better?)
boomr has a point with saying one is fine- less clutter. I have two stealths in my 125- I like having two in case one stops working. Also, they both work less- less stress, longer life for the heater- in theory, anyways.
- Fluval 405 Canister filter (225 gal/hr)
Biologically that would likely be more than enough for your tank, however if you're also doing the mechanical filtration with it, it will probably clog up a lot quicker than you'd like. I'd go with an AC70 or AC110 (hang on back) to do the mechanical. MUCH easier to change out the sponges/polyfil so you can do it every week or so and have really clear water while leaving your canister alone so the bio remains undisturbed. You'd prob only rinse the bio in your canister every 4-6 months- much less hassle.
- Some sort of digital thermometer (any recommendations?)
I have a basic digital with alarm on it, only $10 (I think). It's an easier read than the reg. therm. but by no means necessary. I'm not one to look at the temp everyday like I should, so the alarm function is very useful. It kicked on last summer letting me know the tank was getting too hot.
- Gravel (black with blue accents)
I'd highly suggest sand. Most any cichlid out there will prefer sand for digging/spitting/etc. Also, its ALOT easier to clean than gravel- check it out- the poo and what not doesn't settle in the gravel and rot so it's a lot healthier for your tank. Thirdly- its just looks good :) Check out this guy's transition from gravel to sand
- Test kits (are the multiple test in one strips any good?)
I'm perfectly ok with using them as quick checks to make sure everything is ok. I also have the Aquarium Pharm. liquid test kit as well that I use monthly (or whenever I get a reading on the strips that is a little suspect) as they are far more accurate. If you're just setting up your first tank and cycling your filters I would suggest the liquid kits- even though they are more time consuming- because you will be testing everyday and you really want to make sure you're getting an accurate reading.
- Black background
fmueller, a mod here, has a tropheus tank with driftwood and a few plants that has a green background (the color of a dark green pond) which looks awesome. When I finally get my SA tank set up I think I'm going to go with that. Black looks fine too though, although I sometimes feel that it can make a tank look narrower than it is. This is all very much personal preference.
- Air stone/bubbler (is this necessary?)
Very much personal preference for appearance, not at all necessary for the health of the tank though.
HIGHLY suggest it! I did the bucket method (well, really it was a 30 gallon tote) for several months, and the instant we did our DIY python, we were SO much happier- talk about easy water changes!

Good Luck and keep us updated, especially with pics;)

:thumb:
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for all the great advice so far. I will definitely look into sand instead of gravel, sounds like a good way to go aesthetically and for the fish's interest. I was surprised to see most recommended more filtration. I knew you couldn't go strictly by what the filters were rated for but I thought I was safely over what I needed. 2 canister filters seems like it would be a lot of hose running in and out of the tank, would the Fluval FX5 be just as effective as a HOB/Canister tandem such as the Fluval 405 with an AC110? Thanks.

mittzgame I will definitely keep this updated with my progress, though I will not be purchasing the aquarium until I move, around the end of july.

-Kevin
 

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From what I've looked at the FX5 doesn't hold nearly as much media as it looks like and is very pricey. I think you'd get more bang for your buck if you stuck with the fluval and AC. I got my 2nd AC110 from somebody on craigslist for $20 and it works great. If it didn't repair parts are only a few dollars. In fact, quite a bit of my equipment (and my 125 gal tank) came from craigslist. Retail prices can be a bear and you can usually find some really good deals by buying used. I even got two eheim 2217's for $50! Two new o-rings (for a couple dollars each) and they're in perfect working condition:) Since you've got nothing but time on your side, it might save you a bunch of money to hunt the Craigslist ads for a couple months:)

On a side note... I wonder if it would be possible for you to cycle your filters before you got your tank so that once you get it you're pretty much ready to go :idea: ... Do you have a big bin/tote you could set the filters up on once you get them? Dechlorinated water and an ammonia source and you could have your filters cycled and ready for your new tank...... Just a thought....

:thumb:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
mittzgame
I will keep an eye on craigs list for sure but I don't think I will consider pre-cycling. I want to hold off on buying anything till I move due to the nature of my move (getting a place with g/f) the less stuff to move the better, since we are already combining 2 peoples things.

-Kevin
 

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it was just an idea :) Good luck with the move!
 

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it was just an idea :) Good luck with the move!
 

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chefkevin said:
- 72 gallon bowfront with stand and versa top
Nice choice

chefkevin said:
- 300 Watt Visi-therm deluxe heater (would 2 smaller watt heaters be better?)
I would recommend using the Visi-Therm Stealth heaters. They are accurate once you have the temp set, they are all black so they hide well against a black background, and they are shatterproof. I would use 2 150's just in case one were to quit you would have a backup. But then again I've been using Stealth's for years and never had a problem.

chefkevin said:
- Fluval 405 Canister filter (225 gal/hr)
Another good choice. I don't use Fluval canisters but many people do successfully and the size is right. I would add a HOB, either an Aquaclear 110 or an Emperor 400 for additional mechanical filtration and water movement. Both the AC110 and Emp400 will give great surface agitation.

chefkevin said:
- Some sort of digital thermometer (any recommendations?)
I use the Coralife digitals. They're inexpensive, accurate, and easy to read.

chefkevin said:
- Gravel (black with blue accents)
IMO black gravel would be OK, but won't give a natural look. The blue accents would completely eliminate the natural look. However, I think black sand would look more natural as well as being easier to keep clean.

chefkevin said:
- Test kits (are the multiple test in one strips any good?)
I've been using the reagent API FW test kits and they seem OK. Nitrate over 30 all looks the same to me and can be tough to decipher, but consistency is the key and if you keep your nitrates down at 20 or below you can get an easy read. I've never compared results to the test strips. If you do use test strips they cost less at a pool supply store than the LFS.

chefkevin said:
- Black background
Most definitely. I love black backgrounds. I recently did an all blue on my 75 and just took it off. It looked too marine for my FW tank. I'll be putting black on it next.

chefkevin said:
- Rocks, cave, fake plants and/or driftwood (depending on what fish)
Real rocks look best and are of course natural. In a SA/CA tank live plants would be a plus but that brings the hobby to the next level. It's probably best to get your hands wet in the hobby first with just running a tank with fish and as you gain experience add live plants. However there are some plants that will grow in anything. Anubias are a good example.

chefkevin said:
- Air stone/bubbler (is this necessary?)
Air stones and bubblers are noisemakers and so are the pumps that run them. They look good at Petco for the goldfish buyers, but I wouldn't use them in a display tank. Fish room yes, display tank, no. They won't be necessary if you use a spraybar on your canister return and add an HOB or powerhead(s) on the other side of the tank to break the water surface.

chefkevin said:
Now you're thinking like a pro! Having a Python will make water changes so much easier that you will actually do them and your fish will be healthier because of it. And when you realize how easy the Python makes the water change chore you will find yourself setting up more tanks. You'll see.....Maybe just a 20 long for some of those I saw at the LFS today. Hmmm? :idea:
 

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chefkevin said:
mittzgame
I will keep an eye on craigs list for sure but I don't think I will consider pre-cycling. I want to hold off on buying anything till I move due to the nature of my move (getting a place with g/f) the less stuff to move the better, since we are already combining 2 peoples things.

-Kevin
Better get what you can now! It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. Or you could just say, "I didn't realize I had so much stuff"
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
partsrep said:
Better get what you can now! It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. Or you could just say, "I didn't realize I had so much stuff"
Fortunately she's all for it! On another note one thing I forgot to ask about is lighting, I don't know much about the different options but I am assuming they are all just different color florescent bulbs. Is it more a personal preference or do certain types light different fish/environments better?
 

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Low light plants can be grown with only 1watt per gallon, 2-3wpg for more moderate light. 5500-6500k for simulating the mid-day sun.
 

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Well since you've suggested you will be doing a SA/CA type tank lighting really won't be an issue. If you decide to go heavily planted you'll need to make a special consideration for lighting but as Will d s mentioned low light plants can grow fine with as little as 1 watt per gallon.

Since your just getting started I would say basic flourescents would be fine. Personally I like to use Power Compact or T-5 HO on my larger display tanks. At this point it really depends on your budget.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
So based on all the excellent feedback I am really torn between sand and gravel now and having a really hard time deciding between the two. Other than that my plan is now as follows:

- 72 gallon bowfront

- Black background

- Fluval 405 & Emperor 400

- Two 150 watt visi-therm stealth heaters instead of the one 300 watt (for the slight peace of mind in case one goes down and for more even heating.)

- Adding an Emperor 400 HOB filter

- No airstone

Thanks again for all the help. I'll start a new thread when I purchase everything, to journal my tanks progress.

-Kevin
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
So now that I've got the basic equipment setup planned out I am starting to think more about what fish to stock it with. My initial plan was 1 green terror (goldsaum) and some dither fish, but now I am considering other options such as Mbuna. With a 72 gallon tank would I have the option of maybe having a pair of the GTs and dithers or 1 GT and a few convicts or a JD. Also when dealing with fish that are best kept in groups how do you reconcile that with the "only add one fish at a time" rule. Can this be ignored for juveniles in a large tank?
 

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chefkevin said:
Can this be ignored for juveniles in a large tank?
I've added a few fish at once on several occasions and it's been fine. Don't go crazy and stock your whole tank in one day, but don't worry too much about adding two or three juveniles at a time either (after your tank has cycled of course).
 

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Sand is easier to keep clean than gravel as food and detritus tends to stay on top and can easily be vacuumed off. I have mine setup so the current pushes it all towards filter intakes and that makes the job even easier. With gravel all that stuff gets caught between the pebbles.
 
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