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First off, I should note that it will be a while before I set this up. We're house hunting, but it may be a year or two before we purchase. The dealio is apartment life and COVID-19 have me missing my old hobby so I'm putting together a plan to put up a tank to play with as part of our move in. I'm sure more will eventually follow, but that's totally normal, right?

Anyway, circumstances being what they are I haven't set up a tank in in 7 or 8 years and a lot of the tech has kind of passed me by. I just want to make sure I'm on a solid foundation and I want to see what fellow fish geeks think about my aesthetic plan and all.

So, the idea first. I want to invoke a more open Amazon stream / river. On one side you have a thicket of driftwood (I really want a stump) and large Amazon swords that will kind of serve as a river bank. As you move away from the bank there will be an open sand area, and then, not quite on the far side, a smaller sword variety that looks like it got tangled in some driftwood and rooted in the middle of the stream. Throw in some Amazon frogbit for effect.

Fish plans are all Amazon with the for sures being 40 or so cardinal tetras, a bristlenose, and my two favorite cichlids: a bolivian ram and a keyhole. This'll be topped off by 15 black phantoms or lemon tetras, with a preference for the phantoms. Depends on what's local.

So, aesthetic questions revolve more around the background and substrate. I want to do black diamond sand (and eco-complete around the plants) so the cardinals really pop, but I've always painted the back of my tanks black. I'm worried that might be a bit heavy on the black, and I was considering panting the black a muddy green in color to compensate. Thoughts?

Additionally, I want to mess around with the Seachem Tidal and sponge filters. I used to use Aquaclears and Eheim cans all the time, but I hate cleaning cans and I just want to try something besides the Aquaclears. I was going to go with either a 75 and a 55 or two 75s. I know 10x turnover was big for a bit, but I never hit that point, and I plan to supplement with a sponge filter for QT and then, when all the fish are in, full time back in the 75.

Thoughts on filtration?

Two more small things, I promise. I know this is getting long. I also want to get a Fluval Planted 3.0 specifically because I like the ramp up and down and I may, eventually, go back to a high tech tank. I also may not, but I know this guy can be ramped down too. Would this be a sound investment, or would an Aquasky be enough for my swords?

Lastly, heaters. I am going to put anything I get on an Inkbird controller given I nuked a tank like 15 years ago. Never again. I'm guessing with the controller it doesn't matter as much, but are Eheim Jagers still at least a decent brand of heaters?

I know this is long, but thanks in advance!
 
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