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Hey guys, I'm very new to this forum and planted tanks in general.
My experience with aquariums had always involved 10-20g tanks with plastic decorations. Currently, I have a 10g set up thriving with Glofish, and a pond of goldfish. Now I am setting up an Aqueon 15g column tank and I want to make it planted. I've been thinking about getting one started for a while now, and I have planned my materials/stock after browsing countless posts and articles, but I want a couple last opinions to see if I want to make any changes before making this investment.

I guess what I'm planning would be considered "low-tech", but I'm open to upgrading if its necessary.

Tank: Aqueon 15g column tank - I had this aquarium for a loooong time, and the hood has been bust for a while now, so it's gonna get replaced with plexiglass (I'll have to custom-build it myself, since there's no glass tops on the market with the correct dimensions)

Light: I'm planning to get the Aqueon Live Planted LED fixture (clip-on). I'm not entirely sure of the wattage, but other people with the column tank have had success with this for moderate to high light plants.

Substrate: Imagitarium White Aquarium Sand - I've been trying to choose between just regular sand and Flourite, but I heard the latter loses its nutrients after a while so I'm planning to go with just sand. It's just more aesthetic and people have had success with it. I'm wondering if it's worth it to maybe even combine the two or just go with one?

Heater: Aqueon Pro Submersible 50W Heater - I would go with the "new" version, but it's more expensive for a slight redesign, and recently people have had problems with its casing splitting down the middle and killing their fish. I'm very open to any suggestions you guys have on this. I don't think I'll go for 100W because although I live in the PNW, I keep my room very warm. Like almost sauna warm.
Also, does anyone have suggestions for a good thermometer? My digital one is wack.

Plants: Vallisneria and Amazon Sword for background/midground, and Anubias minima for the foreground. I'm not really going for any true carpeting plants. I know these plants are typically root feeders but can also gain nutrients from the water column so I'm planning on getting ferts as well.

Fish: 8 neon tetras, 4 glass catfish, and 4 black mollies. Nothing too challenging, I just love the way they look. Neon tetras are especially adorableee.

Obviously, this isn't going to be done all at once (that's just suicidal for someone of my expertise), but I want to set up the bare basics (get to planting) before my winter break ends.

Any suggestions/help is greatly appreciated and thank you in advance!

- Donni
 

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Hi! Welcome to the forum!
The length and width of this size tank makes it very impractical for fish.
It is just 1.5 inches in dimension in lenghth and width more than a 5 gallon tank. A 5 gallon tank can take a Betta or a group of nano-fish; But, will not, in the long-term, work for the fish you are considering.

The reason why it is impractical would be the minimal surface area for oxygen exchange and inadequate room for fish to swim side to side. Especially schooling fish like neons. Neons may be small, but the minimum length required for keeping them is 24 inches.
Glass catfish can get up to 6 inches and need high oxygenated environment with good circulation and movement. Obviously, these wont work. Mollies are live-bearers and need a minimum of 24 inches as well, they get up to four inches ( the short-finned ones- not the sword-tails that get up to 6 Inches.
I would consider a single Betta or a group of nano-fish for this tank.
 

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This is one situation where it might work out with a school of about 8 neons and nothing else. Or possibly 10 or 12 White Cloud Mountain Minnows.

Use a fairly deep layer of pool filter sand for substate. Stock with narrow spreading high growing plants like Banana Lilies, Vallisneria, Rotala Rotundifolia. Keep the tank temperature at about 72 degrees.

An Aquaclear 20 would provide enough filtration. Do frequent 20% water changes.

Neons and WCMM both like slightly cooler water than most tropical fish. but no more numbers of small fish of either recommendation.
 

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Light: I'm planning to get the Aqueon Live Planted LED fixture (clip-on). I'm not entirely sure of the wattage, but other people with the column tank have had success with this for moderate to high light plants.

- Donni
I was looking at trying out this light. Did you get it? how has it worked for plant growth?
 
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