Ah, delectible...350 yummy gallons--someday.
Recommendations (wish list) as follows:
2 x 700 watt metal halide pendant lights
(this is your BIGGEST expenditure, but designing a flourescent hood in hopes
of duplicating mother sun is a major mistake--however, it can be done with a
mix of full spectrum (vita light) and halogen flood lamps--ask me about
details--a good 4 watt / gallon should do you unless the tank is extremely
deep (40+") anything else for this size system is a mistake)
I'm sure you have something in mind for the filtering system--but one or two
canister filters or three or four power filters should do the trick--with
this size system you may be able to do without carbon altogether--I've done
it successfully in my 40 gallon ...puny but stable).
CO2 is a must. Buy a 20 lb. cannister (my 5 lb. was $76) and regulator ($70)
from a welding supply shop. Build a reactor out of PVC piping -- a powerhead
connected by 3/4" tubing to a large (for you) chamber (the size of a peanut
butter jar) with a sponge squeezed into it) (don't spend more than $25 here).
Ideally, you ought to buy a CO2 controller and all, but you're talking about
$4-500 here, so talk to the people here about designing a makeshift system.
Undergravel heating is a marvel...but it's too damn expensive--skip it unless
you have $400 to play with. Just buy two or three large heaters (if you
don't already have 'em).
Now...the fun stuff.
Enjoy your aquascaping unlimited possibilities in a 350 gallon tank. One
extremely large piece of driftwood and about a dozen small pieces arranged
nicely should produce a striking effect.
Oh, by the way...skip the africans. Stick with South American stock (and
non-lake west Africans)...more condusive to plant growth.
Let us know what your water chemistry is like...that will have some
considerable impact on what species of fish/plants your water is most suited
for--trying to alter your water conditions to suit the fish is wonderful--and
a major extraordinary pain in the butt--and completely unmanagable with a
tank of that size. You're best off keeping fish/plants that are already
suited to your tap water--if you've got pH 7.8 and liquid rock--you oughta
just stick with africans. If you've got pH6.6 and very low water hardness,
go with South American fish.
Suggested plant list (these are hardy specimens that should do exceedingly
well, but they cannot all be introduced at once--you'll just have an algae
fest. You should consult others here on what sort of "break-in method and
time frame" to experiment with. Plants require a well-balanced system BEFORE
introducing them to the tank except for the hardiest and fastest growing of
them. Consult a couple good books on plants in terms of 1) appearance of
your finished tank, 2) specimens that are most attractive to you 3) planting
order (which ones to plant first and set up a stable system before
introducing the harder-to-keep varieties) 4) what kind fo fish you want--i.e.
if you get BIG fish, you're going to have to stick with extremely hardy,
well-rooted plants or they'll end up floating on the surface after being
uprooted every day. 5) how much you want to invest in the plants themselves.
I cannot overemphasize enough--buy some good books. No one here can possibly
elaborate on every detail of establishing a newly planted tank (especially of
this size). A resource like Water Plants in the Aquarium by Ines Scheurmann,
The Optimum Aquarium (for kicks), and Baench's Atlas of freshwater fish
volume 1 and 2 are invaluable resources for plant varieites and needs.
Please check these out for the plants and for the designs others have used
for planted aquarium setups. The investment may save you four fold in
I highly recommend a four or five very large echonidorus (swordplants) like
e. bleheri and e. horemanii, and then a dozen smaller e. cordifolius and e.
My personal favorite for mid and foreground plants (for you JUST foreground
plants because of your tank's size) would be a few varieties of
cryptocorynes, c. wendtii (any var.), c. ciliata, c. affinis, and c. --we're
talkin' like 40+ plants, but you can add a few a week as long as the pocket
book allows. Try ordering from Mike at Delaware Aquatics--if you're going to
order $150+ of plants (you'll need at least this much to start I think), call
Mike and he will also give you good advise and a good price on a bulk order.
Two or three varieites of bunch plants would work nicely, too, like Bacopa
Caroliniana, Rotala walichi or rotala rotundafolia....hygrophiila
difformis/hygrophila polysperma or corymbosa are gorgeous background plants
which should create a nice green wall across the back of the tank in time.
But again, you'll have to decide for yourself what looks attractive and
spend some time setting up a tank that will be self-sufficient and easily
The biggest work in planted tanks is -- once it's set up -- leaving it alone.
You get so used to pruning, replanting, staring at it, doing water changes,
you al of a sudden get urges to just stick your hands in there and do
Anyway, good luck. Let me know if you have any other specific questions, I've
been keeping a "low price high-tech tank" for about a year now and I'm ready
to move up to a 120 gallon...sometime in the next year or so. My tank is
gorgeous and I would be hearbroken if I ever had to tear it down. It's good