I've decided its time to start a journal on this forum as the plants have become as important as the fish to me. Last Christmas, I got back into the hobby with a 29g starter set, learned some lessons, and have since upgraded to a 50 gallon long.
My 29g tank had a family of Keyhole cichlids (who I got at < 2" and grew over an inch in five months) along with amazon swords, giant hygro, and a ton of ludwigia broad leaf. I kept putting more plants in to mitigate fish aggression. This worked, but the tank was an overgrown low tech jungle, that eventually got overtaken by algae. I knew I was going to upgrade the tank, so at a certain point I just stopped fighting the algae and gave up. The swords and giant hygro survived and are still doing well, the ludwigia, not so much.. .
I set up this tank a month ago, but two of the cichlids have paired up and decided to breed, in the process terrorizing everyone else. Getting the larger tank had the opposite effect than I was hoping for; instead of mellowing them out it actually made them more territorial. I moved the breeding pair back to the 29, and resolved to get this tank densely planted as quickly as possible so that the other fish would calm down. I know that people usually set up the tank and plants, then add the fish. I kinda had to do it backwards.
This tank and hood combo was $81 on sale. It has same footprint as a 55g, but is two inches shorter, which is good for planted tank.
Bump: I realized it would take a virtual lifetime to build a stand that looks good enough to set up in a living room; so I picked this up from Petsmart ($120). Its quality is dubious, but it looks really nice and has plenty of space for the canister. Stand will support a 75g tank if I later decide to upgrade.
Tank: TopFin 50gallon
Lighting: Modified Aqueon Deluxe hoods w/ 60x 3W epistar LEDs. (Currently 50x 6500K, 10x 4k)
Filtration: SunSun 302b, Aquatop 60 sponge