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[APD] RE: starting a new 55 gal

 > I'm trying to turn tragedy into triumph. My well-established, years-old
> completely crashed after adding a few new fish from a chain LFS. I woke to
> find every fish in my tank dead.

So have you determined __why__ the fish died?
Do you do water changes?
Basic routine maintenace etc?
One thing that generally takes care of about 90% of problems is doing
weekly 50% water changes. Fairly quick and easy with a python water changer
or similar set up.  

If 10 people lived in a bathroom would you flush the toilet once a week at
least? Be nice to your fish, they like large water changes. They will live
longer just like you if you take care of yourself/less stress/better
environments/air, eat right etc.  

> > So I want to take this as an opportunity to start a planted tank.  I
> the compensation from the LFS to purchase a bio-wheel; I've pulled the UG
> and power heads, emptied the tank and removed the gravel. So here are my
> questions:

Take the Biowheel back and get a decent
canister(Viaqua/Eheim/Fluval/Filstar etc) or a Hagen 300.
You can simply remove the biowheel part also. You will not need that for a
planted tank. 
 > 1. I saved quite a bit of mulm and haven't washed the gravel. Should I
> this mulm to start the new tank? (It has not been established what killed
> the other tank).

Yes, your fish all died and that means it was from environmentally very
poor conditions, not some strain of nasty bacteria that would kill fish in
healthy conditions.
Consider the natural environment, an unimpacted river is loaded with all
sorts of organisms, but the fish are healthy from good diet, good
They survive well.

Add fish to a tank that has no water changes, high feeding loading rate,
you will not get healthy fish.

So lower the load => less feeding= > less waste
Increase water changes=> lower loading => more dilution => less waste     
> > 2. If I can use the mulm, do I still need a peat substrate?

Yes. About 2 handfuls of ground peat from the nursery. 

> > 3. Can I put down a finer gravel and then use the old large gravel on

I'd stay with Profile, Flourite, onyx sand etc, 3-4 bags of flourite is
enough, rinse well first the.
add that over the mulm and the peat. 

> > 4. How long should the new planted tank sit before I can start adding
> fish?

A few minutes if you use(and should) Amquel etc. 
Add a lot of plants from the start.
Read up on plants.
Look into:

Don't over stock with fish.
Do over stock on plants, as many as will fit.

Main thing to consider are non CO2 vs CO2 methods.
Learn and read up as much as you can.
There are many conflicting aspects/methods on the web and in general, but
generally non CO2 vs CO2 are the main methological difference.
Start there and then decide.

Tom Barr

> Traci,

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