Tests, Filters and Lighting

 I've only been keeping fish for about seven months and plants for about
five.  The fish are no problem.  The tank's probably a little overstocked,
but I seldom have a casualty or an illness.  Plants are another matter.  I
don't know what I'm doing wrong, but that'll be the subject of a later
post.  I have enough questions for you experts without getting into that.
My goals are quite modest.  My available funds are even more modest.  I
would love to keep some plants alive to complement my fish.  I'm not after
a heavily planted tank.  In fact, at the moment, I'd settle for keeping one
sword alive to keep my struggling Java Fern company.  I've even killed

Here are my questions:
1)  Do I need to buy iron and CO2 test kits?

2)  When I bought my 29gal it came with a beat up, undersized, cheapo
backfilter.  To that I have added an UG filter with two powerheads.  I want
to replace the backfilter.  Ideally, I would like one that will also work
with the 55 or 75 gal. tank I'm hoping to buy some day.  (Unless one of you
kicks or screams, I'll be going with an undergravel then too, because it's
so much cheaper than cable heating).  One person told me to buy a Magnum
350 and hook its output up to my UG filter (thus make it reverse flow).
Another person told me that the M350 would produce way too much current in
the tank.  I've now received two opposing opinions, and am, thus, back
where I started.

3)  My 29 gal has two single fl. bulb fixtures--one that came with the
hood, the other I rigged up with a cheap 24" fixture I bought at the
hardware store.  Both bulbs are about 6mos old now, and from what I read, I
should be replacing them about now.  Any brand name suggestions?

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Department of History
University of Iowa

"I'm from Iowa, I just work in outer space."  J.T. Kirk