I'm getting ready to jump into converting my 29g random tank into a South American biotope tank, and I need some help from the experts here in making some decisions.
My current setup is a 29g rectangular with an Aquaclear 50 HOP filter. I run an airstone at night when I'm away from the office. Current light is an AllGlassAquarium 17W that runs from 8am to 6pm. I'm trying to do the conversion as affordably as possible, but without being so cheap that it doesn't perform.
So, on to the questions (and I'll sort of go top to bottom in the tank):
1. I'm planning to upgrade the lighting to a Nova Extreme T5HOx2 30" fixture, which means a 24W 10,000k and a 24W pink freshwater bulb. Is this the right choice? Will it be too much light for a low tech tank?
2. The current hood is the modular plastic hood that came with the tank and the light fixture rests on an acrylic shield. The fixture will fit just fine on the current hood, but is there a good reason to upgrade to an all-glass or acrylic hood?
3. I've got my filter setup with the standard 3 stages - foam, charcoal, biomax. Is there a need to change this setup to accomodate plants, or is the filter okay in this config?
4. James_from_Cali directed me to the mongabay website to learn about the biotope I'm creating. I'm going with the blackwater creek for my two altispinosa and my one angel. The website says that basically all they found were swords and vallisneria, with a bunch of fallen limbs and roots. Can you suggest a species for swords and vals that will be a good fit for a 29 and will work well under the lighting I've chosen? Any other plant suggestions that anyone thinks would be appropriate?
5. Substrate - I'm choosing between Turface Pro Red, Colorquartz Red, and Flourite Red. Which do you think I should go with and is the flourite worth the extra cheddar?
Finally, as an idea of where I'm heading, here's a photo from mongabay that I thought looked great. What plants are in this picture?
Thanks in advance for the help - sorry for the super long post but I want to try and get this right the first time!!!