I've been reefing for about a year now but I'm getting sick of zero growth and livestock costs, so I'm getting into planted tanks! I've got my hands on a 60 gallon tank, 40"x20"x17" tall. I've been reading a lot the last couple of days about what I'll need to get my cycle started, and here's my equipment list so far. Please review and give me your opinions!
For substrate, I'm planning to do a bottom layer of peat, 2 inches of Flourite, and 1 inch or so of dark gravel.
One concern I have is that the space where my tank will sit only has about an inch and a half of clearance below a shelf across the middle, so I'm planning to sit my lighting right on top of the tank either side of this shelf. To prevent damage to the lights I was thinking of covering the tank with an acrylic top, but I'm not sure if this will be bad? Also, is it bad for the tank to sit the lights right on top rather than suspending them above the tank?
Your equipment list looks good. Once you get a real jungle going at some point you might find the circulation provided by the single canister filter insufficient, and perhaps another source of flow, like a Koralia pump.
Placing the fixtures right on top of the tank should work fine. You need to make sure that they still get sufficient cooling to prevent overheating. Acrylic sheets work fine, but you need to somehow keep them from bowing, especially if they are on the thinner side. From that point of view glass covers might work better. I usually use acrylic sheets and integrate them into DIY canopies using something to slide them in and then some screws placed strategically in the center to keep them from bowing too much.