I moved to Korea for work, and about 6 months in my wife says I can get a planted aquarium! I had a beautiful 90Gal reef tank before we moved but I haven't kept freshwater since high school, and have never done a planted tank before. I'm still doing research, but I wanted to get the cycle started so I thought I'd run a few things by the experts first
I've always admired ADA tanks so I found a store that distributes in Korea for ADA. I picked up an ADA 60P. I also got some Amazonia substrate, rocks & driftwood while I was there. The ADA store had beautiful displays but was rather expensive. I did NOT get a stand or a filter. I just didn't see the need to pay $400 each for what appeared to be standard stand or glorified (stainless-steel?) canister filter. Why does the filter need to be steel anyway? Also the lighting they had was what looked like old PC-type flourescents, and yet the fixtures were over $800. No thanks.
So I still need a stand, canister filter, CO2 setup (still debating this one) & lighting. Also the pet stores here have NO test kits (huh?). The ADA store had those Seachem pH monitors, but no real test kits I could find. Very odd. I might have to order a set online. I got the standard stuff like a heater, net, dechlorinator & thermometer at a local pet store.
I'm thinking about getting an Ikea "besta" for the stand; I've read that some poeple use them so I guess they are sturdy enough. There's an Ikea store in Seoul I think.
For the canister filter I found some options on gmarket.com (they also sell media), but I don't know what size to get.
My 60P is only 60liters (17 gal) but I heard a lot of people ignore the ratings & go over-size. I suspect overkill won't really hurt but it does have to fit in the stand & I don't like wasting money.
For lighting I was thinking about a buildmyled kit, if I can get them to ship here (they haven't responded to my email yet). If they blow me off I did find an ADA knockoff LED unit on ebay from Hong Kong. ADA does apparently sell LEDs but they are way too much. I didn't see them in the Korea store anyway (not sure why). The chinese knockoff looks identical and is less than half the price so I might roll the dice on it. I know Finnex is a good brand but I have no idea where to get that here, and I don't know for sure if the Finnex drivers will take 220V (although I suspect they do).
Not sure if I should start without CO2. I heard that starting without CO2 could mean more algae growth? Don't understand why that would be.
Any advice would be welcome. One of the biggest challenges here is finding good quality stuff at decent price, so I'm thinking online shopping will be key. On the off chance anyone knows where I can get quality equipment in Korea, I'd love to know. More specifically, we are in Songdo, Incheon but not too far from Seoul.