I started with a couple of pieces of driftwood that I liked and set them up on opposite ends of the tank. I wanted to make sure there was some open swimming area in the center.
I knew that I definitely wanted to try making a sandy area with a sand path of some sort. Layout with substrate came next. I used some plastic dividers and rock to create a barrier so that my sand and eco-complete will stay separated.
I filled the tank about 2/3s of the way to get ready to plant. The next day, I planted it and filled it the rest of the way.
After planting it, I assembled the lights and added them along with the canopy and one of the two filters. The filter current proceeded to send sand everywhere, so to help keep it in place I ended up lining the sand pathway with some rock. I am not totally sold on the rock, but I am going to leave it for the moment. I also turned the spraybar around to aim it at the back wall to reduce the current some. I am planning to run the second filter across the top from the side so it flows the length of the tank. RIght now, the second filter is seeded and running on my 55 gallon to build up some bacteria. I won't move it to this tank until I am ready to add some fish. Maybe in a week or two depending on how the plants do.
I am not really happy with the lighting/canopy situation. The canopy was designed to an acrylic tank, so it sits too far over the top of the tank and blocks me from opening the lid. This means I have to slide it forward in order to get the glass top open.
On top of that, I wanted to attached one set of lights to the hood while leaving the second suspended inside the canopy. This way, I could shut off the attached set and lift the lid while leaving the second set in place so that I could see in the tank and not blind myself with 220 watts of light. Unfortunately, the canopy does not grab the back of the tank at all, so I was concerned about it sliding forward with the weight of the lid and the lights. So, I ended up suspending both sets of lights and leaving the lid free to be lifted completely off.
Neither of these are ideal and I am going to have to make some alterations to the canopy and lid so that this will work better for me. Here are a couple of shots of the light installation as it is right now. The lights themselves are mounted on 1x4s and suspended with a piece of 1x4 cut and attached to each end to make a T. The Ts sit on L brackets screwed to the inner sides of the canopy.
Once the lights were installed, it was time to set up the CO2. I am using the Aquatek regulator with cool touch solenoid. It was really easy to set up. I installed a brass check valve inline after the bubble counter and ran the tubing about halfway up my filter intake tube. If you look closely at the second picture below, you can see the black tubing inside the filter tube. I guess my filter is doing a good job of diffusing the Co2 since I am not seeing any microbubbles expelled from the spraybar and my drop checkers are a lovely shade of green. I have two drop checkers, one on each side of the tank.
Here is how the tank looks now. The plants are melty, but they all have new growth and have been pearling since I turned on the CO2...so I have high hopes that they will bounce back.