I'd like to start by saying, I spend a couple hours a night looking up plants and such and often feel overwhelmed. This being said, i'm not asking anyone to do all the work for me, just give me some suggestions and i'll happily look into it because I'd rather learn from others before making my own expensive mistakes. (long winded rant after picture)
This is my 75 Gal tank.
Tank: 75 Gallon - 48" x 21" x 18"
Substrate: Black Flourite (125 lbs)
Lights: 60watt fluorescent lamp
Filtration: Fluval 404
Electronics: EHEIM Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater 150W
So I started this tank in march 2014 and here May, i've only really bought Flourite, added some rocks for decoration, researched a ton of stat numbers on plants the store says I should avoid, researched what I found to be amazing looking fish but can't really find a good Top/middle/bottom mix I like yet.
Since i'm really just starting, i've been in a cycle of being side tracked. I thought i'd start with the replacing of electronics. I bought a used tank with all kinds of goodies but the LFS suggested most of it might be too old to work reliably. I have read a little on the Finnex 48" LED plant+ and its getting good reviews, but since i've not chosen plants yet, not sure if I should go for something with High light and cost me a ton or just get the plant+ one and see what happens. researching options. My filter had a bad gasket and leaked, ordered new parts for about $20, before spending $200+ for a new canister filter. Then I wondered if I even needed that much filter? hence the side track. Shrimp are neat, require specific water conditions, but really only need a bubble foam filter and lots of water changes. Well, I can find plants that don't like a lot of current, and fish the same. Side track again. picked out some nice looking plants, head to LFS and they say "you don't want to start with these, try these ones". I like that they want me to succeed, but I'd almost rather they approached me like this "we can get you those, here's what you'll need to be successful with these kinds of plants". Already being talked out of something you like is irritating. So I moved onto fish idea's. Community tank or species...I liked the idea of lots of little fish, then the headache of aggression kicked in. I liked the celestial pearl danios colors, but the tetra's I liked were easily dbl their size. The bottom cats I liked would grow too big and eat the danios in their sleep. But its ok at the LFS to house them all together when their smaller. So I get more confused and they show me how big some of the fish I liked will actually get so I have an idea of what to expect and avoid losing my little expensive fish. Now i'm debating a whole tank of semi aggressive fish just so they will be the same sizes but there appears to be no guarantee that they'll get along. Back to the idea of a species tank and maybe breeding, thought it would be fun and kids would like it but I have no idea if its a good idea. Back to plants then. I get the feeling I should buy a nice light, and cross fingers I get a good enough one to get down the 18" of water and my plants will be partly happy no matter what I buy. CO2, in a 75G. Didn't look like a cheap or easy idea. Someone suggested I use the 5gal water bottle and try copy the DIY and have tube run into the intake of my filter. might work if I don't do a bubble sponge filter, but i'm not sure that much work is for me. I'd rather put a hose in, have each of my 7 kids take turns blowing air into the tube and try adding CO2 that way...lol.
I feel like the kid who wants a puppy without knowing how much work its going to be.
So here is what I think my next step is, and you guys feel free to let me know what I should focus on. Filter parts are in mail, gotta see if it will stop leaking, I know it works but it leaked.
Things i'm considering: haven't started cycling tank. How important is RO water? LFS is pushing it. I have well water with high general hardness and tons of minerals. Just getting equipment and conditions right are my concern. I can add plants and fish later, i'm in no hurry.