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Re: Newbie Design (week 1 update)

I am happy to see this discussion continued. I felt kind of silly asking
such broad questions when there is so much information out there already.
That is pretty much why I did it though. I wanted to see what people's
opinions were, from people who enjoy discussing it. 

For those that are interested, here is my fairly final initial setup and
what I paid:

* 120g 72 in. glass tank and wooden stand (existing)
* 2 x Eheim Pro 2224 (existing) 
* 2 x 36 in. 192W power compact w/ 4x 7,100K bulbs ($399 shipped)
* automated injected Co2 system w/ pH controller ($264 shipped w/o tank) 
* 100% Flourite - ~250lbs. ($305 at LFS)

Suggested initial occupants are:

* ~120 assorted bunch-stem plants
* 15-20 Otocinclus (species suggestions)
* several catfish (species suggestions)

Are these sufficient? Any more suggestions?

I am moving my cichlids from this tank to another one. I plan to retain at
least 50% water for the new planted setup. I have good mature media in my
filters. On suggestion from the list, I am ditching my trickle and hang-on
filtration and using the Eheims as the only filtration. 

You can see that the equipment above puts me at about $968 of my allotted
$1000 budget. Well, the good news is that I have had my budget extended by
at least a couple hundred dollars for this project. I will hopefully my able
to get enough occupants for a good start to the tank with $200-300. 

I've come up with a couple more questions in the process. I am sure these
are answered elsewhere, but the archives for this list are not completely
conducive to searching, and with some of the archives being as old as they
are, facts and/or opinions may have changed. 

Substrate Heating - I know this is a can of worms. I have read about the
expensive way, the DIY way, the BioPlast way. I know that it supposedly
helps. I haven't really seen any controlled experiments showing how much.
What I am mainly wondering about is whether BioPlast works, and whether
anyone has successfully done total DIY for a ~120g tank? I am a little leery
about sticking homemade electric wires in a tank full of water, and the
expense of the commercial products is way too restrictive. If it's really
important, makes a noticeable difference, and I can do it for under $100, I
can probably add the money to the budget. 

Eheim spray bars, pressure and circulation - I got these Eheims used when I
originally got the tank. I replace and clean the fine filter and sponge
filter regularly. I have never replaced any of the media. I believe they
still have what were the original bottom-of-the-tank intake, and horizontal
top-of-the-tank return spray bar with about 8 holes in it. Firstly, how much
is the water supposed to spray out of these spray bars? How can I tell if
the impeller/shaft needs to be replaced? The water seems to squirt out each
hole about 2-3 inches and then arcs down (when removed from the water, with
new mechanical filters installed).  Secondly, do I want to keep my
top-of-the-tank horizontal spray bars for the planted tank, or are they
"bad" for some reason? I have read that the return should spray down, so as
to not disturb the surface, which would allow Co2 to escape. Beyond that I
am not sure. 

Thanks again for everyone's help. People from this list have been the best
source of information so far.