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Tank, lights, CO2 kits

Hi guys.  I've been a lurker for a few weeks so far.  I wanted to say hi and
thank all of you for the wonderful information provided on this list.

Back in junior high school, I used to raise discus, salt water, and your normal
fresh water tanks.  High school arrived and then college and the tanks were
gone =(  Back then, with little guidance and with no knowledge on the subject,
my dream was to have an aquatic forest.  It never happened.  My plants always
died or never grew a lot.  I even borrowed "The Optimum Aquarium" once and
bought the Dupla laterite gravel mix and the DuplaPlant24 or something like
that.  But alas, I was a young kid with parents who couldn't imagine spending
that much money on stuff.  I ended not having enough gravel and the laterite
would always leave the water cloudy.

Anyway, I'm out of college now and feel that I want to get back into the hobby.
 I saw a link to George and Karla Booth's website...very nice.  I've also been
keeping an eye on the trends of the fish hobby ;)  So here's what I'm thinking:

- 50 gallon tank (36"x18"x18") or maybe a 65 gallon (36x18x24)
- Metal Halide lighting
- 3" inches of gravel
- trickle filter (primarily to have the C02 reactor, heater, etc, in there and
out of the tank)
- CO2 injection using a 5 or 10 pound bottle
- Maybe heating cables...

Anyway, I was wondering for a tank like that if one metal halide pendant would
be good enough...or would I need two?  175Watts each okay?

I hate shallow (front to back) tanks.  It's a shame that the standard 55 gallon
is something like 13 inches deep.  That's why I want to go with the tank I
mentioned above.  Larger would be nice, but I think that would break the budget

I would like to use an overflow box, but I hate the retrofit type...the ones
where you have to start a siphon.  I would rather donate a small corner of the
tank for this.  I see that all-glass has their "twin-flo" models that have the
corner piece already installed and the holes already drilled in the glass.  Is
this worth it?  I think all-glass also sells annealed glass aquariums where you
can drill the hole.  Should I look into doing that myself?

Would it be worth it to drill holes for the heating cables so that you see no
wires?  Or is that not such a good idea since all the plants might cover it

My main question is CO2 injection.  I've seen everyone post about David's (I
forget the last name) setup for something like $80 for the regulator and stuff.
 Is that all that's needed?  Are the parts top notch?  From George Booth's
site, he mentions Nupro fine needle valve.  Does David's kit come with one?

So what do you think?  I was intending to go with Discus, but have been a
little discouraged since I've read up on them and discovered that they might
secrete a growth suppressor hormone and that top breeders perform daily water
changes to remove the hormone.  Some breeders in Malaysia drain the tank until
the discus are almost horizontal!  That would get mighty expensive with plant
fertilizers and the such.

Also, in terms of nutrient supplements, I plan on using laterite on the bottom.
 Are there any brands I should look for?  I remember reading on this list or a
link somewhere that there is laterite available that doesn't dissolve readily
and releases over a long period of time.  Is this just hype?  Also, I was
thinking of using Tropica Master Grow...seems like that's what everyone is
using.  Anything else?

Also, how critical is the use of reverse osmosis water?  Basically, I've read
where some heavily planted tanks have no algae because the higher level plants
out compete the algae for food and nutrients.  Is there anyone on this list
that has absolutely no algae?  Or is algae something inevitable?  I also
remember that phosphates are the main contributors to algae...  That's why I've
been thinking about reverse osmosis...to remove phosphates and the other



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