Thanks for the support guys. As far as top cover, I've always liked the look of lillies though I don't know if pfs could support it.
I'm not in a rush to buy a bunch of plants. Just trying to take things slow and see how things develop. I have a pretty good idea of what I want out of this tank and there are some things I'm willing to give up if things don't work out as planned.
Ideally, I would have a CO2 setup but if I'm going to do that, I want to do that whole willy nilly for a larger tank, with a sump full of ceramic rings in an easy to remove plastic tray, with my heater and a return pump in the sump as well. I would also add a separate canister filter with just filter pads to polish the water. Everything would have to be immaculate, where equipment in the tank is kept to a minimum. Obviously this set up would not have floaters considering the overflow.
Besides, this tank is really just a learning platform for me to see what works best for my style and level of work. That's one of the reasons why I loved my 50 gallon reef, has large enough volume to make small mistakes or get lazy for a couple of weeks, but small enough so that maintenance isn't a pita. I'll be on the 2nd floor of my apt for a while and may have to move because of school and work, so I'm in no rush to invest a huge amount of money on a high tech set up that'll I'll have to break down and sell or try to move. I'll wait until I'm settled until I can take my tank to THE SHOW. lol.
This 55G is really just to keep me sane since I love fish so much. It also impresses my girlfriend, which is an added bonus.
I can't wait to show off my discus to her when my tank is ready. lol.
I laugh at those 100K tanks featured in that NY times article. Sure they look nice, but they're all fish only with plastic corals *ahem cough--weak sauce*. If you're looking to look at some nice reef tanks, I suggest these videos (everyone in the reef hobby knows it's all about the corals, especially sps and lps):
These reef tanks, I'm sure has more than 100K worth of corals, easily.