Looks like I wasn't subscribed to my own thread. Go figure.
JConner3 - I probably would have picked up the Fluval, but alas, I saw your note too late. But thanks for the help!
JohnnyWhoop - It's worked out surprisingly well. My canister fits under there perfectly and I can stash a lot of equipment behind the curtain. My mom was out to visit and even complimented how it went with the living room.
Here's the next update on my project.
With all of the hardware finally here, I was able to make my tank something more than a pile of boxes and equipment in the living room. The hubby was thrilled.
Step 10: Hardscape
The substrate is EcoComplete, the rocks are granite collected from New Hampshire and cleaned, and the wood is a piece of driftwood that I purchased on Aquabid. You'll probably notice a rock resting in a very odd spot on the wood. That's weighing the branch down while it becomes waterlogged again.
Crappy picture, yes, but the hubby's camera is still on the charger. I'll try to get some real pictures once the plants are in.
The current plan is to have a little jungle of plants on the right with a couple plants growing up between the rocks on the left. There's a gap behind the rocks specifically to allow for some plants to grow there as a background. I was going for something very natural that was reminiscent of the edge of a stream, possibly one that's just a bit flooded. With lots of plants added in, this should give the future residents lots of places to hide.
I also collected oak leaves to add in for the future shrimp and for the ambiance.
Step 11: Fishless cycle
Hooking up the canister filter should have been a disaster. I've never used one and I got a Sunsun, meaning there were basically no directions at all. However, I got it together correctly on the first try and with a helping hand from the husband, we got the thing primed and running in no time. It's so quiet I only know it's running because I can see the water moving. You can see the sprayer bar on the back of the tank in the picture. Since it's a long spray bar and it's bouncing off the front of the tank, the current feels quite reasonable. There's also a sponge stuffed in the intake to keep that from being too strong.
The media is filter sponge for tray 1, ceramic rings for tray 2, and the little white pads that came with the filter all stacked in tray 3. I know absolutely nothing about media, so hopefully I've got something at least functional. I also have a mesh bag with gravel from my cycled tank to seed this system.
My bottle of ammonia chloride showed up and the first dose was added last night. Hopefully with plants, EcoComplete, and the gravel from the mature tank, it won't take long to get this beast ready for some inhabitants. Cycling my first tank was a disaster of epic proportions, here's to hoping I learned something from the experience.
Plants arrive Friday, so my next update should include pictures with the basic layout in place. Then it's time for the tank to settle in and the plants to start growing. Oh, and time to actually build a cover. Aquariums are so darn complicated.