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View Full Version : 20 gallon long equipment and substrate advice



jba6511
01-06-2016, 07:17 AM
I am looking to start a 20 gallon long that will be a semi natural planted tank. I would like to not have to dose frequently or do more than the occasional water change and trim plants (will feed the fish daily and top off as needed). I do occasionally travel so would like to be able to leave the tank for 5 days at a time without having to do much other than have someone feed the fish. I would appreciate any advice on what I am considering for equipment and substrate.

Lighting:
Looking at either a Finnex Stingray or a Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED. I plan to keep low light plants but would also like to have the flexibility to do some medium light plants if possible. I would like to leave the tank top open as well if possible. Not sure if this will be too much light for the tank though with these fixtures. I have no way to hang the lights above the tank and would like to avoid the use of the cheap clip on home depot style lamps with CFLs. The 20 long is 30.2x12x12 if that matters and the area where the tank is going is near a window that gets a few hours of sunlight.

Heater:
Considering a Eheim Jager 100 watt but was wondering if two 50 watt heaters would be better in case on malfunctions.

Filter:
Considering a AquaClear 50. Also heard Fluval makes a decent HOB filter.

Substrate:
Miracle Grow Organic Potting Soil (1-1.5") with a sand cap (1"). I have read that Black Diamond Blasting sand seems to be popular. I do like to occasionally move plants around, so would like something easy to work with when uprooting, but willing to sacrifice this if it means less maintenance (e.g. dosing). Also, should I be considering anything else over the sand? I know fine gravel can be used as well but like the look of the black sand better. I do plan on getting some trumpet snails.

Plants / Livestock:
Have not really decided on much here other than I would like a small school and low light plants that are easy to care for. Would also like a dwarf african frog as well. Would love to hear some suggestions.


Thanks for helping a newbie out.

Tangfan
01-06-2016, 08:21 AM
I will answer the best I can on the subjects I know and have read about on this site.

Lighting - don't know much about LEDs, so I will let others comment on them. If you travel consistently, look into a light with a timer, or use a outlet timer to allow lights to come on even when your gone.

Heater - Using 2 heaters will allow backup in case one fails, only issue is that no one ever sets them exactly the same, so you typically have 1 heater doing most of the work and the other only coming on occasionally. this causes the first heater to fail/burnout quicker.

Filter - Most on here agree that the AquaClear is top of the line HOB filter that they use.

Substrate - Dirt substrate will run out of nutrients at some point causing a need to reset the tank. Good advice from Axio on the type of plant substrates are out there. http://www.atlantaaquarium.com/showthread.php/11191-Premier-Aquatics-Got-Dirt?p=66838#post66838

BTW, I will pay attention to other responses to increase my knowledge

jba6511
01-06-2016, 08:34 AM
Thanks for the response Tangfan, that link to axio's post was a good read. I will be sure to put the lights on a timer. In my little 2.5 gallon that I am playing around with I am doing 4 hours on, 4 off and 4 on again. Hopefully I can do something similar here. Look forward to hearing other peoples thoughts on the other subjects as well.

Tropical
01-06-2016, 09:02 AM
I'll see what I can help with:

Lights: Both sound good and will grow low light plants, maybe some medium light...

Not having a cover can work, only thing I'd be concerned about is if you were gone a week, it may evaporate too much in the summer...

Like TangFan said, 2 heaters are better than 1, but Eheim is a great brand so I doubt that they would fail. However without a cover, there is little insulation (Heat rises up), so IF one does fail, it could be bad. If you can afford it, I'd get 2x 50w.

I'd go with the AC30, as the AC50 has a really strong output and in a shallow tank, that will blow the substrate away.

I personally don't like dirt as a substrate, but others do, hopefully someone can help you out.

I personally would go with 1 of the substrates in the link TangFan provided, and then use root tabs every 2-3 months, which should be enough for the plants(fertilizer wise).

I use Osmcote root tabs, you can get them cheap on EBay.

I'd take a look at your local shop and see what kinds of fish you like.... I love nano fish, such as marbled hatchetfish, ruby/ember/or coffee bean tetras are great schooling fish. Peacock gudgeons and Small gouramis make nice centerpiece fish, and a few cories on the bottom.....

I have no experience with frogs, only concern would be that they may eat small fish(?).

Java fern, Java moss, water wisteria, saggitaria, Amazon swords, water Sprite, crypts and Anubis are good low light plants for a shallow tank.

Hope that helps!

awflip
01-06-2016, 03:55 PM
I am looking to start a 20 gallon long that will be a semi natural planted tank. I would like to not have to dose frequently or do more than the occasional water change and trim plants (will feed the fish daily and top off as needed). I do occasionally travel so would like to be able to leave the tank for 5 days at a time without having to do much other than have someone feed the fish. I would appreciate any advice on what I am considering for equipment and substrate.

Lighting:
Looking at either a Finnex Stingray or a Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED. I plan to keep low light plants but would also like to have the flexibility to do some medium light plants if possible. I would like to leave the tank top open as well if possible. Not sure if this will be too much light for the tank though with these fixtures. I have no way to hang the lights above the tank and would like to avoid the use of the cheap clip on home depot style lamps with CFLs. The 20 long is 30.2x12x12 if that matters and the area where the tank is going is near a window that gets a few hours of sunlight.

Heater:
Considering a Eheim Jager 100 watt but was wondering if two 50 watt heaters would be better in case on malfunctions.

Filter:
Considering a AquaClear 50. Also heard Fluval makes a decent HOB filter.

Substrate:
Miracle Grow Organic Potting Soil (1-1.5") with a sand cap (1"). I have read that Black Diamond Blasting sand seems to be popular. I do like to occasionally move plants around, so would like something easy to work with when uprooting, but willing to sacrifice this if it means less maintenance (e.g. dosing). Also, should I be considering anything else over the sand? I know fine gravel can be used as well but like the look of the black sand better. I do plan on getting some trumpet snails.

Plants / Livestock:
Have not really decided on much here other than I would like a small school and low light plants that are easy to care for. Would also like a dwarf african frog as well. Would love to hear some suggestions.


Thanks for helping a newbie out.

I set up a 55 dirted tank in February, its still going strong. I have left the tank without feeding the fish for up to 5 days before, all of them survived although it would definitely be preferable to get somebody to feed them.

For lighting on my 55, I've got a 48" 10,000K LED bar. Plants seem to like it. If the tank is going to get sunlight, I would set the tank up and see how well any plants grow in the sunlight, then go from there.

I think two heaters would be safer in case of one malfunctioning, this decision is up to you though.

I have an Aquaclear Quietflow 55, and I ran it on a 20 long for a few weeks since it was all I had, but it just had too much flow. My uncle gave me a Fluval C4 HOB before New Years, which I am running on my 20 long at the moment. It definitely keeps the water clear, but it is adjustable (sort of..) and I have it on the lowest setting. Your tank would be successful with the Aquaclear 50, but you could probably get away with a smaller filter especially if you have heavy plant growth. But, you could always buy it now and put it on a bigger tank in the future!

I used Miracle Grow Organic Potting Soil (capped with Black Diamond Blasting Sand) for my 55. I love the look of the black sand, and plants seem to be growing well in it. I think 2" total of substrate is the beginning depth that could cause some anaerobic bacteria growth. This can be bad if it builds up, because one of the byproducts is Hydrogen Sulfide gas (rotten egg gas). The substrate bubbles a lot, and it often bubbles if I poke something my forceps in it, too, which usually (maybe 1/3 of the time) gives off the gas. This can be resolved by oxygenation of the soil, via plant roots. Since this is a pretty small tank, even .75" of dirt capped with .75" of sand would work wonderfully. My 20 long doesn't even have dirt in it, although it runs on the same principle. You shouldn't need anything else on top of the sand.

awflip
01-06-2016, 04:09 PM
I will answer the best I can on the subjects I know and have read about on this site.

Lighting - don't know much about LEDs, so I will let others comment on them. If you travel consistently, look into a light with a timer, or use a outlet timer to allow lights to come on even when your gone.

Heater - Using 2 heaters will allow backup in case one fails, only issue is that no one ever sets them exactly the same, so you typically have 1 heater doing most of the work and the other only coming on occasionally. this causes the first heater to fail/burnout quicker.

Filter - Most on here agree that the AquaClear is top of the line HOB filter that they use.

Substrate - Dirt substrate will run out of nutrients at some point causing a need to reset the tank. Good advice from Axio on the type of plant substrates are out there. http://www.atlantaaquarium.com/showthread.php/11191-Premier-Aquatics-Got-Dirt?p=66838#post66838

BTW, I will pay attention to other responses to increase my knowledge

Having a timer for your lights is a GREAT investment! As far as LEDs, as long as they are the right spectrum they should grow plants. Mine do!

I have never used an AquaClear, I trust this forum's judgement!

I have a dirted 55 that has been running for almost 11 months now, it has been doing fine. I have heard of the nutrients running out, which luckily I have yet to experience. However, I have also read cases where the dirt has lasted as long has 4 years! I think if you have fish and don't over-vacuum the gravel, it will build up and replenish all of the nutrients. At least, according to Diana Walstad inEcology of the Planted Aquarium.


Thanks for the response Tangfan, that link to axio's post was a good read. I will be sure to put the lights on a timer. In my little 2.5 gallon that I am playing around with I am doing 4 hours on, 4 off and 4 on again. Hopefully I can do something similar here. Look forward to hearing other peoples thoughts on the other subjects as well.

Good choice on the "siesta" regiment. I run my tanks on 5-4-5. Once, I increased the photoperiod by 15 minutes in each on cycle and within 3 days the tanks started growing significantly more algae.


I'll see what I can help with:

Lights: Both sound good and will grow low light plants, maybe some medium light...

Not having a cover can work, only thing I'd be concerned about is if you were gone a week, it may evaporate too much in the summer...

Like TangFan said, 2 heaters are better than 1, but Eheim is a great brand so I doubt that they would fail. However without a cover, there is little insulation (Heat rises up), so IF one does fail, it could be bad. If you can afford it, I'd get 2x 50w.

I'd go with the AC30, as the AC50 has a really strong output and in a shallow tank, that will blow the substrate away.

I personally don't like dirt as a substrate, but others do, hopefully someone can help you out.

I personally would go with 1 of the substrates in the link TangFan provided, and then use root tabs every 2-3 months, which should be enough for the plants(fertilizer wise).

I use Osmcote root tabs, you can get them cheap on EBay.

I'd take a look at your local shop and see what kinds of fish you like.... I love nano fish, such as marbled hatchetfish, ruby/ember/or coffee bean tetras are great schooling fish. Peacock gudgeons and Small gouramis make nice centerpiece fish, and a few cories on the bottom.....

I have no experience with frogs, only concern would be that they may eat small fish(?).

Java fern, Java moss, water wisteria, saggitaria, Amazon swords, water Sprite, crypts and Anubis are good low light plants for a shallow tank.

Hope that helps!

Agreed, lights are good.

I don't have a cover on my tanks, but covers would definitely help with evaporation. Good point, Tropical.

Agreed on the AC30.

Already covered dirt in another comment, but I will add that it certainly has its ups and downs. It can get messy, especially when moving plants. But a new filter floss pad will clear it up in a day or two. It may be more expensive to buy enough Flourite or gravel and root tabs, but no question, it is less messy and easier. I dread the day I need to empty my tank :/ Also, never used Osmocote.

Tetras are great. Platys are also an option. DOn't know about frogs, never kept them either. I've got some pygmy corydoras in my 20 long, they're tiny and cute!

All those plants would be great, I have all of them. Also have Jungle Val. I love red plants so I would definitely go with some of those, like Red Ludwigia or red tiger lotus. maybe even dwarf hairgrass!

jba6511
01-06-2016, 05:42 PM
Thanks for all the input, this has been extremely helpful.