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RE: 15gal setup recommendations

Dennis has asked for recommendations on setting up a 15 gallon tank planted
tank. Well, I have set up several of these over the years and currently
have two in operation for about a year and a half. I have success with the
following hardware.

Lighting: 30 to 40 watts of fluorescent light (2xF15T8, 2xF17T8, 2xF20T8,

Filtration: Any brand "hang-on-the-back" power filter. Although I like the
Aquaclear 200 the best. I put a sponge prefilter over the intake and rinse
that out in the sink every week. That keeps the filter sponge block (in the
filter itself) cleaner and allows an established colony of bacteria to
survive un-interrupted.

CO2: This is bubbled into the intake via a pressurized system. You will
probably have a better CO2 dispersion system with your diffuser but you
will need it running the sugar/yeast method. The small size of the aquarium
makes it more difficult to control its parameters than a larger aquarium.
This is where I've had problems with maintaining a consistent CO2 range. I
don't use a controller on any of my CO2 systems and have had to depend on
quality "needle" valves to keep the CO2, and also the pH, stabilized. Some
references indicate needing a CO2 controller on large tanks and maybe this
is true, although, I've never had a problem keeping stability in the
largest tank I've set up (125 gallon) using a pressurized manual system. I
think a controller might be a real advantage on a small tank, but, having
no experience with these, I don't really know. Maybe someone with
experience in this area could comment. At any rate, I do know this
combination of the power filter and dispersion method, while cheap and
easy, is not very CO2 conservative. If I were going to provide CO2 with a
yeast/sugar method I would look at internal filters or, more likely, a
small canister filter, and a tight fitting lid. I tried the yeast/sugar
method with the power filter and could not keep a relatively stable CO2 (or
pH) level at 40 watts of light. I think I almost had it with 2 bottles
alternating but this was more work than I wanted to do. It was a temporary,
8 month duration, setup on two 25 gallon tanks. Same base size as a 15
gallon, just taller. 

Combo filter/hood/lighting systems: I have used the Eclipse #2 system with
good results on a 15 gallon but had to retrofit the lights to use it on a
taller tank; It comes with 2xF15T8. The bio-wheel didn't cause me any loss
of CO2 problems as I compensated for any loss by increasing the delivery
rate of the pressurized system. 

 --- Eric