Starting My First 55 Gallon Aquarium

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Discuss all topics related to freshwater and planted tanks.

Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Aug 24, 2007 1:06 pm

Starting My First 55 Gallon Aquarium

by psk787

I recently bought a 55 gallon aquarium setup off a friend who was moving. He hadn't had it running for the past year but he did have it running before then. I have a bag of aquarium accessories including a filter but I have not investigated exactly what I have just yet.

I am just looking for some advice from people who have more experience than I as to how I should proceed. I plan on doing an undergravel filter system with a submersion type power head combined with a power filter (the kind that hangs on the corner of the glass on the top) which is what I believe my buddy had, I may need to replace.

I have always liked the idea of doing a mix of sand and gravel to create a sandy gravel base as opposed to one or the other. In doing that though, won't that affect the performance of my under gravel filter? Once you take out the porosity of the gravel I'd assume it wouldn't work as well.

I've toyed with the idea of doing a mix of live and plastic/silk plants to create a more realistic environment for my tank. What special considerations do I need to take into account if I decide to go with live plants? Will they survive in a mixed gravel/sand base without substrate?

I am setting up my tank tomorrow and my thought was to buy the gravel/sand however I decide to do it and the heater and any filter media I need. I wanted to at least get the water in the tank and start cycling it through to get my balances right before I buy fish. What chemicals should I buy this early in the game to get my water ready for the next step?

I also want to have tiers of plants to create a more realistic and aesthetic environment. My first thought was to use flat rocks to create "shelves" with some sandy gravel and fake plants. Does this sound logical or is there a great risk of the rocks falling over and killing my fish? What have other people done in the past?

I want my tank to be a center point of my livingroom and a conversation piece for all who come to my home. Any help/advice/criticism would be greatly appreciated. Thank you all.

Posts: 297
Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2007 8:42 pm

by Poetic_Irony2267

for starting you're 55 gal tank you do have some good ideas however if you are going to do mixed sand and gravel i would not use an under gravel filter, all the sand will end up under it and it will be virtually useless, as far as mixing live plants with fake plants, i would consider buying proper lighting, the pet store will have the bulbs avail for you to choose from, something full spectrum would work just fine, as far as the flat rocks and the levels, you should be fine with doing that as i have probably 150 lbs or more of rock in my 125 gal tank for my cichlids to use as caves and breeding territories, you may want to consider using drift wood, that you buy at the pet store, something presoaked and preplanted would look really sharp in a 55 gal, i would also consider the type of fish you plan to keep, if you are going to keep cichlids i would not consider using any type of live plant as they will destroy it and you will be replanting every few weeks or so. if you are going to go community fish, such as tetras, dwarf gouramis, and the like, live plants will be fine and beneficial to their health. starting your tank i would consider buying the gravel and the ug filter and filling the tank, start the tank with start right. wait a week or two then put in your live plants, test the water a week later to make sure that it has cycled properly and that the levels are at a healthy level for fish to be added. this is the short and sweet answer to your reply. there are a ton of ways to cycle a tank. there are a ton of other ppl that may have diff advice for you. you may want to do some reading and or buy a book or two before starting, get yourself acquainted with the varieties of fish, and what can go with what with out too much conflict, in the end it's all up to your tastes.
hope this helps, enjoy


Posts: 1980
Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2007 3:04 am

Re: Starting My First 55 Gallon Aquarium

by Peterkarig3210

Brandon seems like an experienced aquarium guy and I have nothing more to offer except that I recently reversed the powerhead(actually the canister filter outflow)to push water down into the riser tube and up through the gravel. I'm thinking that if the water is filtered with a sponge filter over the powerhead intake before it is directed through the UG filter, basicly using the UG filter backwards, then you may avoid much of the crud that buildes up in the gravel. Nobody is replying to my post on the subject. Just something to think about. P

Starting My First 55 Gallon Aquarium

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