Hi. I'm new to planted tanks, and so I could use a little advice about anything and everything. I've done some research and kept a betta before, but other than that I have no experience so I'd like to draw on your expertise. For my first tank, this is what I'm thinking of getting hardware wise (its still up in the air):
• 55 Gallon Black Rim Aqueon Tank
• Penguin350B Biowheel Hang-on Filter
• Lighting Hood (No ideas- please help)
• Eco Complete Planted Black Aquarium Substrate 40 lbs.
• Stick on thermometer
• Heater (No ideas- please help)
• Fish Food (No ideas- please help)
• Petco Manhattan Metal Stand 55 gal size
I have no idea about which heater or lighting to get. I also would like suggestions on fish and plants (can you keep Discus in a 55 gal?) and anything that comes to mind.
I would suggest that you clarify your intentions for the tank before selecting equipment unless you are trying to use what is already available to you.
I have some older Penguin stuff. Not a big fan of their cartridges or biowheel systems but a great pump for DIY filter media. The advantages are/were:
-the input is/was on the opposite side as other brands (different brand each corner),
-they work reliably for a really long time but may get noisy if a snail or grain of sand get near the magnet or if the impeller rod gets bent,
-the absolute most surprising thing about them for me is, if the tank is properly filled and the power goes out briefly they almost always prime themselves and restart on their own, likely due to the slightly smaller diameter intake.
Maybe skip the stick on thermometer? They are not that accurate. A good floating or suction cup thermometer is not a great expense.
Unless you live someplace consistently warm I generally advocate for the Heater being the one item you do not chince on. That brand on the next shelf for only a few dollars more is often far superior. Dealing with a faulty heater is not as thrifty as it seems.
Food: I think knowing what you are buying here has the most observable difference over the long term in your aquarium. You are feeding the fish, the plants and the cleaners. Feed them like you feed your family, look at the labels and understand them. Don't rely on one food. Great foods are not always easy to find so get a few good ones and seek the great ones at a good price. Eventually you will have a buffet of great foods to feed. Variety helps in so many ways.
I would strongly encourage you to gain as much knowledge and experience as you can before venturing into Discus. That's a little delicate, complicated and expensive for most people just starting out.
Lighting, Substrate, Fertilizer or CO2 are all wide areas of debate affected by each other. Clarifying your intentions before selecting any one piece would help get the most suitable combination for your purpose. Generally starting out I would suggest a simple low light, nutritious substrate, air bubbles instead of CO2 and minimal fertilizer combination. A simple light timer is a few dollars well spent. This is the area where the most recurring costs of your tank will likely be, plan for your long term budget. I'm sure there are a variety of opinions in this area.
Maybe read posts 3 and 6 a couple more times too.