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Re: Tank, lights, CO2 kits

Chester Wong asked:

> Anyway, I'm out of college now and feel that I want to get back into the
>  I saw a link to George and Karla Booth's website...very nice.  I've also
> keeping an eye on the trends of the fish hobby ;)  So here's what I'm

Welcome back into the hobby, and onto the APD.

> - - 50 gallon tank (36"x18"x18") or maybe a 65 gallon (36x18x24)


> I hate shallow (front to back) tanks.  It's a shame that the standard 55
> is something like 13 inches deep.  That's why I want to go with the tank I
> mentioned above.  Larger would be nice, but I think that would break the

I completely agree with you about the dimensions of a standard 55.  Just not
deep enough, front to back, to get a nice landscape going.  Personally, I
really like the dimensions of a 75 gallon tank.  Large enough to be a solid
piece of furniture and to hold a decent-sized forest, without being so large
that the price is exhorbitant, that your arms can't reach the bottom of the
tank, or for the standard sizes of filters that I've seen.  Overall, an
appealing shape and size.  But then, that's just my opinion.

> - - Metal Halide lighting


> Anyway, I was wondering for a tank like that if one metal halide pendant
> be good enough...or would I need two?  175Watts each okay?

Wow.  I've got four flourescent bulbs on my 75 gallon tank.  Unless my math
is wrong, that's 160 watts total, which puts me somewhat on the low end, but
within the range of 2-3 watts per gallon, which I've generally seen written
as a good rule of thumb.  I don't have any really light-hungry plants in my
tank, but that rule of thumb is supposed to allow you to grow pretty much

I can see the reasons for wanting to do metal halide lighting, but I would
think twice about it, especially if you're planning on a 50 gallon tank
because of the size of your budget.  I don't think you really need that much
light on a "small" tank (in which category I would classify either a 50 or a
75).  From what I understand, several list members who grow very
light-hungry plants in tanks that size use flourescent lighting.

> Also, in terms of nutrient supplements, I plan on using laterite on the
>  Are there any brands I should look for?  I remember reading on this list
or a
> link somewhere that there is laterite available that doesn't dissolve
> and releases over a long period of time.  Is this just hype?  Also, I was
> thinking of using Tropica Master Grow...seems like that's what everyone is
> using.  Anything else?

Personally, I've used Karl Schoeler's Substrate Gold and Seachem's Flourite.
I liked both, although I rearrange my plants so often (pull up, look at the
tank, replant, look at the tank, pull up again, etc.) that it was annoying
to have the water clouding up, even temporarily.  For that reason, I like
Seachem's product, which is a complete substrate by itself, not an additive
to enrich your substrate (although I do insert Jobe's sticks under
particularly hungry plants).  If you choose a product like Substrate Gold,
though, the dust does clear pretty quickly.

> Also, how critical is the use of reverse osmosis water?  Basically, I've
> where some heavily planted tanks have no algae because the higher level
> out compete the algae for food and nutrients.  Is there anyone on this
> that has absolutely no algae?  Or is algae something inevitable?  I also
> remember that phosphates are the main contributors to algae...  That's why
> been thinking about reverse osmosis...to remove phosphates and the other
> nasties.

There are several people on this list who appear to enjoy arguing about
algae prevention, so I'll leave that argument to them.  Personally, I have
no interest in fighting that kind of a holy war.  I wipe the walls of the
tank every week or two (ok, sometimes a lot less than that, depending on how
often I have company), clean out dying leaves and whatever other assorted
debrit floats to the surface, and try to maintain a fairly consistent
schedule of doing 15-20% water changes once a week or two.  That keeps me
from developing a real algae problem, and I don't fret a bit of algae on the
occasional plant leaf.  Someone else might feel differently about it,

Good luck, and enjoy putting together your setup.  I'm not really an expert
on anything -- just an opinionated hobbyist -- so I hope my feedback is

It's time for me to get back to work, so that I can continue to afford my
aquarium hobby.

Alysoun McLaughlin
Wheaton, MD
while sitting at a desk in Washington, D.C.