I started with aquaponics to support bees. Following an article at Honey bee water garden
I put a mosquitofish, a nerite snail, and some azolla into a 10-gallon tank and left it outside, near my hives. The azolla was meant to cover the surface and provide a nice landing spot for bees to drink. The fish would eat those pesky mosquito larvae, and the snail would eat the fish poop and make fertilizer, or so that article states. Thanks to this site and others like it, I now know that the plants will happily take up ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates, and the snail eats algae and rotted food, not poop.
I actually got this aquarium going pretty well eventually, though I didn't have enough light for azolla and had to switch to duckweed for the surface cover. It also typically has green water. Both the snail and fish have been fine outside for months now, though, and the snail got much bigger. I will bring the tank in as the weather gets cooler, though, since neither bees nor mosquitos will be very active anyway. That little system is not what this post is about, though.
I've got a 55-gallon aquarium (48 x 13 x 21 tall). I plan to mineralize some potting soil and cap with black sand. I bought Flourish for the water column, and my tap water is pretty soft. I ordered a Yescom 48" Multi-Color 156 LED. I think this will provide "moderate" levels of light. I will probably get a SunSun Hw304B canister filter ("pro" kit with filter media included) on Amazon for $72. I'm leaning toward the 25-foot Aqueon water changer kit for $25.
Cryptocoryne Wendtii Brown
Golden Creeping Jenny
Creeping Mint Charlie
5 skirt tetras (idealy one each of: black long-fin, white long-fin, green long-fin GloFish, purple Glofish, and blue GloFish)
5-6 Corydoras (probably C. Sterbai)
Many Malaysian Trumpet Snails
Many Red Cherry Shrimp
A few nerite snails
I'll use "raised bed mix" potting soil I got from Saint Louis Composting for a planter project, soak with water and dry on a tarp 3-4 times, and then try to eyeball 5-10% of powdered red clay ("RedArt" brand with 7% iron) from Krueger's pottery store. I plan to put about an inch of that mix at the bottom, with an inch of black blasting sand from Menards to cap it.
I'm hoping that if the tetras have a big enough school, they won't nip at the angelfish. I expect some of the RCS will be eaten, but I plan to keep a breeder colony and add them to the big tank when they get large enough. I'm hoping the MTS will stir the substrate.
I inherited the 55-gallon tank, along with a few old things like two Whisper 10i filters (and a charcoal kit so both have fresh filter inserts), some aquarium decor, and a 50 watt heater. I also have my outdoor tiny aquaponics tank. So far, I just have a bunch of plants and a few snails, plus the one mosquitofish. Long-term, I knew I wanted to have a shrimp breeding tank, and to keep one tank available and empty, so I bought two additional 10-gallon aquariums.
I filled one with water, conditioned it, and set up a Whisper 10i filter, a 50 Watt heater, and an air pump running. I brought in some of the more porous materials from my outside tank, hoping to kick-start the bacteria colony. I also put in a bunch of aquarium pebbles. Some of them are sitting in a fry isolation box on top of the air outlet, which is under the filter's intake. A little heat and oxygen promotes faster bacterial growth. It has about 3 ppm ammonia, from using 25 drops of Ace Janitor-strength ammonia. That was added two days ago when I started the cycle.
The other new 10-gallon tank is a dirt tank test-bed. I did not mineralize the soil, but I did rinse it and the play sand that caps it. The gas buildup from non-mineralized soil usually takes 3-4 months, based on forum posts I've read. It's got some Water Wisteria planted and some free-floating, and the Java ferns are rubber-banded to a flat rock sitting on the sand. Java moss is mostly clumped up, but a few strands float free. There is also a little duckweed on the surface. Two nerite snails and several small MTS are in there as well. This tank has a 35W (actual usage) LED grow light on it for 15 hours a day, and I just this morning poked a CO2 line into a sponge filter to make a poor quality CO2 diffuser. I added a few drops of Flourish as well. I raised the ammonia to 0.5 ppm in this tank with just a couple drops, and I'm curious how quickly it will get used. This tank also has a Whisper 10i running, but I don't have the bio-filter brush-looking insert for it.
My first fish purchase will likely be the tetras, once I get a good colony of nitrifying bacteria going. I will keep them in a 10-gallon until the 55-gallon is prepared, which might take about a month, depending on how quickly the soil mineralizing goes. In the meantime, I'm trying to grow out the plants and bacteria in preparation.