Got my LED's today woohoo! They look great, there are two banks which operate independently and for each bank you can have half on or all on. So there is some decent variability there. I am quite pleased! They are very bright which diminishes the effect of the backlight though.
In regards to the back lighting...you might try some LED lighting fixtures (I'm talking something like this: https://www.adafruit.com/search?q=led+strip
not the kind you put over your tank), they will take up considerably less room behind the tank. You can rig up some small reflectors to reflect it back towards the tank. That T8 hangs a lot back there.
Looking good though. Love that you're using the Needles as inspiration.
I think I will eventually switch to something like that, especially since the LED's on top of the tank are washing out the T8. I don't really have any space constraints since this tank is essentially in the middle of my basement so I am not too worried about space issues. But I like the idea of being able to switch the colors. Going from a blue to an orange/red would be pretty sweet.
I also ordered a stronger pump (700 gph) from aquatraders that arrived with the light. 35$ and this thing is a beast! It really improved the flow through the sump and in my tank.
I got my CO2 set-up, the solenoid on my milwaukee regulator crapped out on me though. It failed in the closed position, so I just jammed it in to allow CO2 to pass through. I will just run it as is for now. I don't plan on getting fish for awhile so I am not too worried about it.
So, it looks like I am ready for some plants!!
Very cool layout, really like the last photo! Are you still planing to add any plants?
Thanks! I am definitely going to plant heavily.
I am thinking I want to do dwarf hairgrass transitioning to blyxa on the left, I want s. repens in the front and possibly some downoi. And then maybe 3-4 different stem plants for the back and the right. Not sure what yet, but I want some nice color variation back there.
I was just at petsmart today, checking out their plant selection and they had the dwarf hairgrass, the downoi and S. Repens. I may try a few of the packages out and see how they look. I am itching to get some plants in this tank now that it is all set-up.