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Advice on low-tech and low budget tank setup


19 Feb 2010
Hi, I’m back after a very long time and hoping for some advice on a low-budget setup as things have moved on a lot since you all helped me setup my 5ftx2ftx2ft tank over a decade ago.

We’d planned to replace the big tank with something slightly smaller later this year but it just became more urgent as we need to have work done on the house and that has impacted my budget too. Definitely don’t have thousands to spend this time round.

This is what I have so far
I’ve picked up a 120l open top tank second hand.

I intend to move my FX4 and heater across from the other tank.

The fluval LED plant light I have is too big so I’ve picked up a cheap 75cm 40w dimmable LED plant lamp for now. Doubt it will be brilliant but I’m planning a low-tech setup so it only needs to be adequate and last 6-9 months.

I’m intending to try soil this time as the Westland Aquatic compost suits the budget and I have shading or filter bags I can use with it. Interested in your opinion on which work best?

Also, I’m wondering what to top it with. I need something that looks good with dragon stone and isn’t sand. I’m taking the dragon stonew I have across

My no cost options are:
13 year old red Manado from the current setup rinsed to remove accumulated stuff.
Pale fine grain river gravel slightly larger than the Manado
Fine grain golden aquarium gravel the colour of York Gold stone
The shiny black gravel that is still in the replacement tank as the seller just syphoned the water out

My husband likes the look of the new black Manado so might open his wallet for some. He obviously doesn’t remember all the little bits of Manado bouncing round the tank last time.

Would love your advice. Thanks in advance

The plants will be mainly crypts, small sword plants, fern, anubis and easy stems salvaged from the current tank as they are a fair size and there’s no obvious algae.

I’m wondering what to top it with.I’ll reuse the dragon stone from the current setup and break some of the larger bits up a bit