First a little background about myself. I have been keeping aquariums of one form or another for most of my life. My first few systems were essentially boring freshwater community tanks. Eventually I was bitten by the reef bug and, as is the case with many marine hobbyists, I took a stance that FW was inherently less interesting/desirable than marine.
Fast forward to 6 or 7 years ago - I had just taken down a 125g reef system and was contemplating replacing it with a smaller reef. Instead I decided to take a temporary break from marine aquariums and I jumped headfirst into high-tech planted FW, more or less just to do something different. Well, instead of being just a temporary diversion, I pretty much caught the bug.
That brings me up more or less to the point at which I started the project linked above. In my heart I still felt like I wanted a reef system but there was always an inner debate about which direction to go. I went with a reef because that's what I knew best and I figured it would be the most fulfilling.
Well, now that I'm a few years in to the project, I've reached the point where it's just not fulfilling. There are a handful of objective reasons why I'm not happy with the tank (time/cost/complexity to keep it running, noise, etc) but it's just inherently not making me happy. The reef is beautiful, colorful, boisterous, and in a way, very much in your face. It's exciting and flashy. At one point in my life, those attributes were attractive.
However, things change. Where I am right now, it's almost TOO flashy. I've realized that what I want from an aquarium is not flash and pop and impressiveness. What I want is something that's calming, peaceful, and gentle. I'm convinced that planted FW will give me that overall effect much better than the reef ever could.
So that's the soul-searching commentary out of the way. Next update I'll give a quick overview of the system and what I want to do with it.