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Re: Setting up a planted discus tank

1) Size of tank: probably a tank from 55 to 75 gallons. What are the
best dimensions of the tank?

Get the biggest tank you can both afford and physically fit in the space you have available. Standard sizes range up to about 180 gallons. I personally wouldn't want a tank deeper than about 24" or so due to the difficulty of servicing deeper tanks.

2) CO2 system: what kind of system should I consider...brand, etc

Most CO2 systems are assembled from parts bought at various places. Decent needle valve and regulator, maybe a solenoid valve if you use a controller. Tanks are standard -- get one from a gas supply house.

3) Undergravel heater system: is Dupla the way to go here?

You can save a lot of money with a DIY cable setup, or go with dupla cables. I would build a power supply even for the dupla cables though since the supply is simple and will save you a lot of money over the duplamat transformer.

4)     Substrate: what's a better substrate to go with? Laterite or

Laterite is not a substrate by itself -- it is an additive for other gravel substrates. Flourite is considered to be the ultimate substrate for a planted tank, and has been in my own expierience.

5)     Lighting: Is the compact florescent lighting the best solution? Metal
Halide? Mercury Vapor?

Stay away from Mercury Vapor (MV) lighting, it does not have a full enough color spectrum (too blue). Metal Halide (MH) lighting is good for an open-top tank. Compact Flourescent (CF) lighting is probably going to be best for an enclosed hood. If you do a DIY setup costs will be comparable between the two.

6)     Filtering: what kind of filter should I consider? Eheim canister?
Wet/ Dry? Etc...

Canisters are something of the standard for larger tanks with wet/drys used where a sump is used or where high fish loads need to be supported.

7) Electronic controllers for pH, temp, oxygen, etc: are these devices
worth getting?

Probably worth it for pH, and maybe temp too if you get one of the new heaters that uses a digital controller and are priced in the ~$50 range. All the rest of the controllers aren't really necassary for a freshwater setup.

I'll leave the discus-specific questions to others since I haven't run a discus tank.


Waveform Technology
UNIX Systems Administrator