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Re: 182 gal

> include apistos, rams, discus, corys, SAEs, dwarf loaches, otos, dwarf
> whiptails, japonica shrimp (?) and maybe a synodontis.

Shrimps might become food.
I'd keep perhaps 5 species or so but nice size schools of cories, ottos,
apistos, Discus, whiptails. It'll be full rather quickly.
> Here goes...
> Tank: 182gal, 5' wide x 2' deep x 2.5' tall
> Gravel: Flourite, 4" deep base, 8" and 10" deep terraces
> Background: Cork wall tiles 1/2" thick
> Lighting: Custom Sea Life retro-fit kit with dual 250watt MH 6500K bulbs
> (could go down to 175watt) with dual 65watt PCs, Custom Sea Life retro-fit
> kit with dual 65watt PCs (up close to the front glass to show fish color
> highlights), and some low wattage "moon" lighting

Sounds good so far. Slope the gravel down to the lip of the tank and have it
about 1/2" under the lip. You want to see plants, not gravel.

I assume you have long arms? Remember 30 inches deep and 24 inches back is a
long way to prune and then the hood is also in the way depending on the

> Filtration: Dual Magnum 350's with bifurcated returns (one at the surface
> and one deeper in the tank water) and basic mechanical filtration only

I'd recommend the Via Aqua filters/Eheim/Filstar, they are much better in
the long term and have nice spray bars and will need far less cleanings. The
Via Aqua uses 20watts, 315gph. You'll need 3 or so.
2 magnums is not enough.
These filters are also quieter and hold far more media and require far less
cleanings. The Via Aqua's cost about the same(around 70-80$).

> CO2: 10lb canister with pH meter/solenoid and injection into the canister
> filter intakes

I'd add a CO2 reactor/chamber before the filter.
Less noise, no burping and better diffusion.
 Have this return down low and shoot the flow across the bottom into the
plants etc. 

> Heating: Dual 300watt, 42' undergravel heaters (alternatively, I am
> considering dual 250watt Ebo-Jager heaters in Rainbow Lifegard inline
> modules)

Don't bother heating the gravel. Two Ebo's would be fine. A nic eheater are
those steel rod heaters, "Titanium" or some brand name like that.

You can use the heater mods but they are pricey.
Hiding the smaller rods should not be an issue.
Nor the tubes from the filters etc since you have the cork wall, attach
plants around these to hide.

> UV:  Dual 8watt Rainbow Lifegard inline modules (not running full time)

Just buy an 18 or so watt UV and run in line with one filter(not the CO2
filter). Have the switch handy for the 24 hr period after a water change
once a week.  

> Maintenance: 42gal water changer (well water, carbon filtered, heated,
> weekly or biweekly), daily PMDD

Try 90 gal 1-2x a week.
Set it up so that a quick flip of the switch shuts up all the things that
don't need to be on, open a ball valve to drain to fill.
I've not found any need to really worry about heating the water unless it's
very cold. Most folks have water heaters and can mix fairly close to the
temp they need. Carbon filtered is good/fine.
Daily PMDD is not needed, once every 2-3 days is fine.
> The idea with the dual returns from the Magnum canisters is to lower the
> local flow rate in the tank

And this is "bad" why? You can have lots of current spread out vs one single
blasting output. 

and balance the resistance of the inline UV and
> heater modules.  This should help keep CO2 in the water but still circulate
> the water column for the plants.

700 gph max is not much for this tank and you will be feeding the tank
pretty good I'd imagine.

A few minor changes, more filtration and different filters/larger water
changes will help a great deal.

Consider doing hundreds of large water changes over the years..........now
set it up so that the water change is easy/painless and quick. You will be
more likely to keep things up well if you do this and will be very happy you
set it up from the start.

Tom Barr