After getting my stand finished, I went out and bought the aquarium. I had started with a bid from my LFS, but didn't like parts of it. I didn't want to have an undergravel filter, didn't want to have gravel for a substrate, didn't like their hood, etc.
I decided to go with two HOB type powerfilters - Aquaclear 70's. I really didn't know too much but they seemed like they'd give me what I needed. I also wanted to have a waterfall sound from my tank, and the powerfilter seemed the best for that.
Instead of gravel, I tried to read up on different types of substrate. After some looking, I had heard a lot of good things about substrate that I learned I could look for in landscaping places. I got a big bag of Turface, and got some fertilizer tabs to put in it. I put it in about 3 inches.
On the 11th, I filled the tank up.
You can see the start of my canopy on top of it. I'll put up some more pictures on building that when I finish it.
After getting the tank like 3/4 full, I tested out the filters, lights, and heater (I got a 200w submersible one) and checked for any leaks.
I also saw that although the stand was level, and the base was level, the aquarium didn't sit level, so I had to do some work to get that in line. After getting it level I filled the aquarium up the rest of the way and let it run for 4 days.
To help cycle it, I kept the filter bags from the powerfilters in my pond's waterfall filter for a few days. I thought that they might build up a little bit faster that way. I also added a very small amount of food every day.
After letting things run for a while, on the 14th I went out and got some inhabitants to see how it was working out. I got 5 feeder goldfish, and on a whim I also got 10 (13 in the bag) feeder ghost shrimp.
That first night 2 of the ghost shrimp didn't make the transition. The next day I had 2 more shrimp and one fish dead. Over the next few days I lost 1 more shrimp and 3 more of the goldfish. I still have ~8 shrimp and 1 fish. A lot of the goldfish just didn't look very healthy, so I don't think I have too much reason for concern.
Right now, the remaining goldfish looks like he doesn't even know what to do with himself. After I put plants in he swims around chasing down all of the plants he tears up. I know that Goldfish in a planted aquarium don't get along with the plants too well. I tried to select plants that I had heard would go good with goldfish, and got a selection of about 8 so that if some didn't make it I'd still have enough other ones for good diversity. He's really fattened up and is very active. He spends most of his time on the two ends, and whether those are his favorite spots and hence the plants there suffer, or his favorite plants to harass are on the ends I'm not sure.
But, what I'm really questioning now is what I want to keep in the tank. I knew that goldfish+plants would be difficult, but it was all I really had experience with. As I mentioned I got some ghost shrimp on a whim. I'm really considering making it a shrimp only tank now. Any thoughts or suggestions there would be appreciated.
The little ghost shrimp really seem to like it. I only see 4-5 at a time (I think there are 8 left), and I actually think that's a very good sign that I can see so many. They're very active. I can see them walking the front of the tank a fair bit, or just hanging out looking like they're eating. They also swim up the sides of the tank a fair bit. I've seen 2-3 molts. I have at least 2 females/adults, and 3 males/juveniles. They don't seem scared of the goldfish at all (he's small).
I'll try and get up some pictures of the fish tomorrow. I'll also try and get pictures of my plants and talk about them tomorrow as well. Later this week I hope to finish the canopy and can post pictures of building that. Later this week I'll get a water test kit and can see how the tank is doing and what my water levels might be capable of supporting. Any comments or suggestions would be welcome, as my only experience is from a 10g my mom took care of when I lived at home many years ago, and my pond I've had for 2 years now.