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on a 55g i would skip the aquatech mini. no paintball tank is going to keep up with a 55g tank. I have a 10lb co2 bottle on my 40 breeder. I think having an 8 inch catfish is going to uproot plants nonstop.

As far as substrate i think sand is fine, i use pool filter sand and have decent growth.

To get an accurate reading of ph out of your tap let it set for 24 hours or so before measuring it. My planted tank is around a ph of 8.4 (neptune apex) and with co2 its set to 7.25 so high ph can work fine. I have had the best luck with wisteria and different types of crypts in my tank.

I think shop lights are going to put you in that low light category so don't keep anything to needy. Crypts, anubias and swords should be ok.

As far as ferts go, read about PPS or EI dosing. I chose EI because its easier but you have to do a 50% water change weekly. You may not have to dose depending on your plants.

Also hitting enter once in a while will make it easier to read haha!
 
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