Yes, I have had fish tanks all of my life. A 15 and a 29 as a kid. A 29 when I was in college. But I was never able to grow plants, just fish. One day in my apartment I cut the top off of a 5 gallon water bottle, put some gravel and peat moss in it, filled it up with tap water and put a lace plant bulb in there and set it by the window. The lace plant grew like a weed, filled the bottle, and then died back. That was the beginning of my plant escapades.
Just like everyone else, my biggest challenge is algae control. It is a delicate balance when growing aquatic plants. One of the things that I have learned is to not try to change the ‘natural’ parameters too much. The water quality, temperature and pH will tend toward what is ‘natural’ for your area. I am very lucky to have a deep well with good water, and dilute that with RO, but after that I leave it alone, the pH be damned. I have tried keeping the temp up for discus and rams, but that causes a lot of problems with condensation in the winter.
The next biggest challenge so far is to design foolproof connectors that will never foul or go bad for the fluorescent tubes. Maybe some day.
I guess that I should add that the 180 was conceived, designed and implemented as a plant tank, and has always been planted. It is my experience that plants and fish, ironically, don't do well together. A small fish load is okay, but it doesn't seem to help the plants in any way that I can tell. I have successfully kept discus for awhile with the plants, but it is much easier to keep discus, anglefish and rams in a tank with no plants or gravel. I actually got the crypts to bloom
last year, and the lilly