man, theres some great responses! thank you, the guidance is invaluable!
thats a good point you make, I want to get it established with plants. I think i might start low tech, with a medium/moderate amount of light, and upgrade the lights and add co2 in a few months. its at work, so i want to keep the footprint somewhat modest, but there is a cubby below the tank that i can fish the lines down to, to keep it nice and tidy, but I think it will happen eventually!
thanks for the advice, I didn't know the cfls would get that hot, its got a heat shield/reflector, and they are pretty good size incandescents in there, maybe theres an LED growbulb with the right intensity and size, i will check that option out i guess as well.
you also hit the nail right on the head, finding the plants that will fit the tank. i want to get some good fill/bushy look, but that might be a challenge. i think i can probably do java fern too, i hear it can be slow growing
thanks for the resources, thats awesome! the 20 in strip t5, will 10000K work for growth of plants? I've been staying in the 5000-6700K range because i thought thats where I needed to be.
also, for the hardscape, someone was kind enough to give me some old aquarium rocks, I'm not sure that they would work or not, they don't seen reactive to vinegar, I think they are legit aquarium rocks. anyone want to take a look? i was thinking of capping the floramax with sand, since I don't know if I want the pure black substrate, i was hoping for something a bit more natural, that might give good contrast with the CPD and plants? I'm open to any arrangement ideas, a few of the rocks are really big, and I think theres some slate pieces in the bucket, if you think more photos/scale is necessary, I'd be happy to add more pics