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Old 01-24-2013, 02:22 PM   #1 
OrangeAugust
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help with 55-gallon setup

I just bought a 55 gallon tank and stand , and I need some help with the right equipment: Can anyone suggest:
-type of filter
-affordable heater
-it's going to be naturally planted, so how many bags of soil and sand will I need?
-what kind of lighting? There are two separate lighting fixtures on the hood. Is it expensive to get lights that are adequate for growing plants?

Anything I'm forgetting?

I plan on buying this stuff gradually over the next few months since I know it will get expensive and I also have a new mortgage to pay. lol

Also, the stand it came with ended up being too tall for my living room. Not physically but aesthetically. The tank almost looks great on the floor but it's still a bit too low. Is there anywhere I can get a really short stand, like maybe 24 inches tall? I was even thinking about stacking the tank on books on the floor, but then I couldn't ever read those books while I had the tank. Unless I used a bunch of phone books or something. But I'd need A LOT. Any ideas for something I can put it on that's not too tall?

Thanks!
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Old 01-24-2013, 04:03 PM   #2 
celine18
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for filters I always go with aquaclear, they're pretty cheap and work very well. for tanks over 10 gallons usually 2 filters will be needed on either end of the tank to provide better circulation, so I'd go with a 50g recomended filter and a 30g, giving you enough filter power for 70 gals. you may even want 2 50s, usually you need 1.5 or double the recomended size (hope that makes sense).

heater wise, 5 watts per gallon is basic ratio, so a 300w heater, I like the fluval you can buy at petsmart, the silver bullet. it's mid-range price wise, but on a heater, you really don't want to go cheap since you really do get what you pay for in this field.

gravel wise there are different choices, based on what you want to do with the tank and plants. i find floramax, flourite, or something along the line to be simple and work well, but I'd do research and figure out your best option. weight wise, 2-5 lbs per gallon based on how thick you want it. for my 15 gallon, I have 30+ lbs flourite, and 15lbs or so in my 5 gals.

lightwise, I'm super cheap and lazy, going with cfls with a daylight spectrum (5600k+) with around 2-3 watts per gallon.

the next thing you need to think about will be what plants/look you want, then research the plant and see exactly what needs they have, such as co2, extra light, water quality, etc. everything I've said is generalizations for basic, low-maintenance, low-tech tanks.

hope this helps!!! (and that you get more, varied input)
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Old 01-25-2013, 12:36 PM   #3 
Tikibirds
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A 55 gallon tank when filled with water, sand, ect is going to weight about 500 pounds, so whatever you want to put it on needs to be able to support that weight. Maybe an old school TV stand?

Also, if the tank is too low to the ground, gravel siphons won't work. I had a 20G on the floor for a while - massive PITA it was. Maybe the kind with the bulb thing you squeeze to get it started would work better.
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Old 01-25-2013, 03:10 PM   #4 
waterdog
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Personally I prefer Marineland filters with the bio wheel if using a HOB. Yes, they tend to be more expensive than other brands, but I look at filtration as the lifes blood of my aquariums. I read somewhere that "you can never have too much filtration." I always go one size bigger than what is recommended on the box, i.e. for a 55 I would put a filter rated for 75. This is the same reason I am probably one of a very few you will find that has a 35 gallon sump running on a 75 gallon freshwater tank. Again, this is my preference and certainly not a rule.
I agree with Celine, don't go cheapest on a heater (unless your putting goldfish in there). Heater goes out and you don't catch it quick, you get either sick or dead fish.
As for substrate, again, everyone is different. I don't use soil in my tanks. Reason? I like pushing my gravel vac all the way to the bottom. (OK, I'm a clean freak, sue me) Most water plants will root in the rocks. I find the key to my success with this method is the same as for healthy fish, water changes. Regular weekly water changes of 30% not only make for clean water, but also replenish the minerals used by fish and plants. Kinda works like fertilizer.
Lighthing, I use T5's which is overkill, but any full sun lights will work.
As for stands, in your case I would just build my own.

Let us see it when you get it running!
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Old 01-28-2013, 08:55 PM   #5 
Desensitizer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OrangeAugust View Post
I just bought a 55 gallon tank and stand , and I need some help with the right equipment: Can anyone suggest:
-type of filter
-affordable heater
-it's going to be naturally planted, so how many bags of soil and sand will I need?
-what kind of lighting? There are two separate lighting fixtures on the hood. Is it expensive to get lights that are adequate for growing plants?

Anything I'm forgetting?

I plan on buying this stuff gradually over the next few months since I know it will get expensive and I also have a new mortgage to pay. lol

Also, the stand it came with ended up being too tall for my living room. Not physically but aesthetically. The tank almost looks great on the floor but it's still a bit too low. Is there anywhere I can get a really short stand, like maybe 24 inches tall? I was even thinking about stacking the tank on books on the floor, but then I couldn't ever read those books while I had the tank. Unless I used a bunch of phone books or something. But I'd need A LOT. Any ideas for something I can put it on that's not too tall?

Thanks!
I'm on this exact same route for my betta in a 10 gallon.

Planted tanks need current, lights, a good substrate, and lighting/co2/nutrients that matches the matches the plants present (there are easy plants that can live with little light, variety of conditions, and without injected co2, the hard ones will die/not grow without co2 canister systems that can be 200-500 dollars)

I'm going to assume your knowledge on planted tanks is entry level (as is mine, I am learning very fast but I only started the aquarium hobby a month ago) and make suggestions for someones first planted tank that can grow easy plants very well, has potential for experienced plants with more knowledge, but does not have the raw resources needed for advanced plant growth that can easily be messed up and result in plant death/fish death/overwhelming algae without strong warning.
I'd get:

ecocomplete substrate (very good substrate at reasonable price, can be bought at petco which is actually good given shipping cost of substrates, ready out of box, sand is not required aesthetically or functionally, the best choice aquasoil is expensive, creates ammonia/nutrient imbalances early, and requires more prerequisite knowledge) the amount is not going to be measured in bags but rather in inches of substrate in tank and can be found out via google but likely 1 1/2 to 2 inches of substrate depending on if you have sand and your tank depth

external canister filter, eheim 2215-2217 if you can afford (aesthetically nice, eheims are extremely reliable, they do a very good job and can allow you to create current based on plants/environment in your tank and adjust flow for betta comfort, and are low maintenance) if not any canister filter will be nice, but if you want cheaper then get any filter with 5-10 times your gallons per hour flow that has adjustable flow rate and can be directed accordingly based on your tank/fish.

lighting can be fairly cheap. if you are going to do easy low light plants then simply get high wattage U shaped (better surface area than spirals you see in houses) 6500k CFL's for your fixtures. If you want to push harder, you can do math based on the number of gallons, the lighting you want, etc, and get LED systems (Finnex Fugeray in the appropriate length for your tank would be great although if you do not put much effort into maintaining the plants might be overkill). For the CFL's the original not the "incandescent equivalent" is used when calculating wpg
If you have tubes then you can get 6500k tubes (depending on tube you may not have wattage options)

The heaters are the easiest decision. This eheim jager will comfortable and reliably keep your 55gallon at the same temperature, even during the winters cold (you don't want it to be too weak) and they are all basically the same price, and only 10 more than entry level mediocre heaters. http://www.amazon.com/EHEIM-JAGER-HE...er+heater+200w
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