Having recently been inspired to do a planted tank after stumbling over some of Takashi Amano's pictures on the web (hehe, sure this has been said a few times in last couple years) my first order of business was to find a good reliable forum for information exchange. Amazing how many forums are out there for the hobby and how many of them do not appear to have this forums comfortable approach to information exchange (the buttering up portion). I am hoping to pique your collective brains in hopes of getting a semi-functional first planted tank.
Having been in the hobby in the passed with numerous types of fish only tanks I still had quite a bit of equipment laying about in storage that I am attempting to put back into service to help alleviate the financial strain of getting this tank up and running. If you folks see something that is out of place please let me know now, would rather spend a few dollars now and have a better chance at success later. Sadly, I found another website prior to this one and they subscribed to the Dupla method of doing planted tanks, basicly send credit card to Dupla for a lot of items that after having read a bit of posts here including a awesome outline by Mr Barr (sp?) on why substrate heating was suspect and several other subjects that makes some of the items I just purchased kind of pointless; hoping to reduce these kind of costly mistakes...
My currect equipment starts around a 20 gallon Tru Vu standard (24"x16"x12") tank, five pound co2 canister with home made bubble counter and a solenoid valve. 20 pounds of Eco Complete, a Tunze 20 watt substrate heater (the more I ponder Toms statements the more comical this heater is since I live in Nor Cal and current temps are in the 100's... might need to add a chiller to this tank
) 150 watt Ebo Jaeger submersible heater, Aquadyne Octopuss controller with Heater, light and PH control (this was a unit used to control an older reef aquarium so is available for use). I ended up buying the Aqua Medic membrane co2 diffusor and not so sure I am happy with it, purely based on quality of build and attention to detail in mfg... I still need to get a canister filter, if those are good for this type of tank, and though I am willing to pay for an Eheim they seem way over-priced for their quality. I was at T&T Aquarium in down town San Jose and really like the build on the Rena brand Filstar, but he had none running so I have no idea how noisy they are or how well they pump water or even what type of filter media is really required in a planted tank with only a few rainbow tetras? I have two light hoods both compact flourescent, one is a 18" I believe with two 28 watt 6700K Panasonic bulbs, the other is a 24" with two 55 watt 6700K Panasonic bulbs, will either of these work for this tank?
Some of the other questions I had are for folks that know any decent aquarium shops in the Nor Cal Bay Area that have clean plants? I spent last weekend driving around to quite a few and planted tanks seem to be a small niche market most do not pander to and the few that had plants were sadly disappointing with either bad algae problems already or plants that seemed to be dying. More then willing to travel some distance even to San Francisco if the store is going to have quality items for sale.
Sorry for the horribly disorganized and long winded post but I hoped that each would toss a few gems of information at me and the end result would be I get all the answers I need to move forward with this current project. So, if you see something that you feel I should change, remove or add to the system please do not hesitate to toss me your thoughts. Thanks for your time and I eagerly await your input.