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Some items will vary depending on what you plan on doing with the tank i.e. what type of fish and/or shrimp you want to keep, the plants, etc.
What are you wanting to do with the tank?
 

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We are both new to the planted tank. I have a reef tank so I'm familiar with that aspect of it. However I have no advice to offer him concerning planted aquariums. He's pretty new to the hobby and wants to set up a planted tank. I think the best bet would be to point him towards a light that will provide the best spectrum from the largest variety of plants cuz he's not sure which one's he want to get. I recommended a canister filter and he's going to attempt a DIY Co2 reactor from Urajoey on youtube. Not sure which heater to go with either. I don't know anything about substrate either so that's all you guys =)

I sent him here because I know you are the experts and will help him figure it out!

Thanks guys!
 

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What's in the picture has obviously been done by a professional, we are probably not capable of reproducing such excellence but it's a goal to shoot for. What kind of light do you think he's running on that tank?
 

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I'm a big fan of sumps (got used to them with my reef tank), but with a 40 gallon tank, you's see a lot of people with canisters or HOB filters (like AquaClear) especially if the tank isn't drilled.
Substrate is one of the things I like to decide on after I select what types of plants and fish I want to add: bottom feeders (like cories) will get scraped up on a substrate like flourite so you'd need something finer/more rounded. You don't need to spend a fortune on substrate in my opinion unless you are keeping a shrimp tank. The buffering/cation exchange capacity of a substrate doesn't matter (in my opinion) unless water is actually constantly flowing over it, like if you have an undergravel filter. But those aren't usually recommended in a planted tank because you'll end up with roots tangled up in it and it's a PITA to deal with.
 

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If I'm not mistaken, that is a 96W Coralife Aqualight PC fixture. I'd probably get a two-lamp T5HO fixture or LED if you want to spend the money on it.

If you use a canister filter, you can get an in-line heater so you don't have one sitting in the tank.
 

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If you are committed to having a blue lobster (aka blue crayfish) know that they will clip every live plant you have in your tank. I know this from first hand experience. If you want to keep one with other community tank fish also know that the slower moving fish have the opportunity to become food for the lobster. These guys are also escape artists. I have had mine escape twice.

As far as livestock, I would stick with the community fish alone. Another option would be to stock with dwarf cichlids with lots of plants and caves.

I love my Rena XP canisters on my 40b tanks. water stays clear and they have a decent exchange as well.

Look in the for sale / trade section for plants that you can use in a low / mid light tank. Someone always has plant trimmings for sale.
 

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Equipment list for my 40B -
  • (2)XP3
  • Hydor 200w in-line heater
  • Koralia 750
  • 2 T5HO

Decide if you want a low or high tech setup. Don't rush into anything, make sure to do alot of reading and have lots patience.
 

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I'm in NY and my 40B has a CFS-500 canister filter($50-60 EBAY) 100w 30 yr old submersible heater and I started with a $15 shop light from Home Depot although I now have a double T5 on it I got for around $50 on Ebay. Plants are a jungle and fish doing well. Typical community set-up
 

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I am running a SunSun 304B on my 40 gallon tank and an Odyssea 36 inch light. I think its 78W? Not sure its 2 T5HO bulbs.

For heaters I have my inline but I made it. A lot cheaper than the Hydor 200 or 300 W heaters. Check my build if you want to see how. It's customizable with the type of heater you use and the PVC parts run less than 10 bucks. maybe 15 if you are high rolling haha

Easy plants off the top of my head are pennywort and sunset hygro. They grow medium high and look nice.
 
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