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Hey guys, it's been a while since I've posted here. I'm in the process of closing on my first home and the move in date is at the end of October. I've discussed with my fiancé for years how its my wish to setup a 50g high tech planted tank in our living room which she's agreed too. For the past 3 years I've run a 30g tall high tech setup in our bedroom. I had to bring the substrate up about 4-5" to get enough PAR at the substrate level for good carpet growth. I used a c02 paintball tank setup but with the new setup I want to run full sized c02 tank so I don't have to worry about constantly refilling the c02 tank. That means I'll have to invest in a new regulator/solenoid. There's also many more places I can tank a full tank to whereas I'm much more limited with the paintball tank setup. I'm looking for recommendations on where to get a good deal on a tank, stand, filter, lighting etc. I don't think I can really reuse anything from my 30g setup. . .

One of the things I've learned through my experience with the current setup is that I don't need the fancy expensive planted LED lights I've invested in in the past. That's not to say I don't want to invest in decent LED lights, but I just want something that delivers the right amount of PAR to the substrate level and that's it. I can buy my own outlet timer, etc. I don't need an LED light that simulates thunderstorms. . . Really looking forward to starting this new setup! I'm going to use ADA aquasoil amazonia substrate system. I'm not going to run a pH controller, I just plan on using a drop checker. My last setup I grew dwarf hairgrass as my carpeting plant successfully, this time I'd like to experiment with dwarf baby tears. I learned a lot over the past few years running my first setup, would definitely like to try a few new things!

Any suggestions would be helpful. I just want to run a "basic" high tech setup. I need to keep cost down since there will be a lot of other expenses to pay for when moving into the new house. What dimensions should I look for to run a successful high tech planted setup in a 50g tank? I'm assuming 18" is to tall, I know they have "low boy" tanks out there that are only 12" tall. What do you guys think the optimal distance is from the lighting to the substrate for good carpet growth? I think that's definitely my number one question here. Thanks!
 

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What do you guys think the optimal distance is from the lighting to the substrate for good carpet growth?
That ultimately depends upon your light fixture. If the light's strong enough, it could be several feet from the substrate.

If you go with a more shallow tank, you obviously won't need a light that's as strong. But most on the market now - even the cheaper, more affordable options - are dimmable. So you'll likely be able to adjust whatever you buy for use in multiple types of setup.

The best advice I can give is: settle on the tank you want. The one with the dimensions you prefer. Determine the style of lighting you want - Hanging? Pendant? Sitting on the rim of the tank? Then figure out a lighting budget. At that point, people can give more specific recommendations.
 
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