250 gallon planted tank

> From: Don Hutton/Omnipoint <dhutton at omnipoint_com>
> Date: 10 Oct 96 10:47:50 

Well, this should relatively AWESOME!
> Specifics of what I have are as follows:
> Tank - 84"x24"x30" deep reef ready tank with two corner overflow boxes.

Hope you have long arms.  Our 120g 48x24x24 tank pushes our ability to
reach the lower rear.  30" tall may require a wet-suit!

Be sure that you can get access to the inside of the overflow boxes -
plant tanks generate a lot of floating debris that will collect in
there.  Some of the acrylic tanks sold in this area have built in
over-flow boxes and they would be a royal pain to keep clean. 

> Lighting - full canopy equipped with 8 36" 95 watt VHO 5000K bulbs
> with Icecap ballasts.

This should perform admirably. 

> 1.  Dupla laterite substrate and undergravel heating.

I would recommend 4 500g boxes of Duplarit-G and probably 400 pounds of 

> 3.  Wet/dry filter.  Not recommended for reef tanks, but it appears it
> would be a good idea on the planted tank.

The biofiltration side is a minor advantage.  The main plusses are:
. easy to keep clean
. good water flow
. nice place to keep reactors and such
. CO2 friendly (if you don't pump air into the media chamber)

> 4.  RO water.  I am on a community well with very salty water and will
> be using RO water exclusively.  I measured the alkalinity with a
> LaMotte kit to be 480 ppm.

Don't use pure RO water.  Be sure to supplement it with Ca/Mg and
carbonate hardness.  Add proper trace elements. Etc.  
> 3.  What would be the recommended plants for starting up this tank?
> How many?  Due to the 30" depth, plant types that will grow tall
> fairly quickly would be helpful.  Easy to grow plants due to my lack
> of experience and the number that will need to be purchased seems like
> a good idea.

Try to find plants that grow mostly vertically.  Bacopa caroliniana,
B. monnierii, Rotala rotundifolia, R. macrandra are good starters.
The usual fast growing Hygrophila species are good.  A lot of the stem
plants, especially Ludwigia and H. polysperma, will get bushy (wide at
the top).  In a tall tank, they will quickly shade the lower plants
and will require a lot of pruning.  Fast growers (good to start with)
but you may soon tire of them.  Maybe one or two nice Echinodorus for
center pieces.  

Try to fill the tank with plants right away.  I assume that money is
no object!

> 4.  How much laterite and how many watts of undergravel heating will be 
> required?

2 kg of Duplarit-G.  I would recommend two 200w Dupla cables; that
will fit the tank footprint perfectly. 

> 5.  How many SAE's and black mollies or other algae eating fish would be 
> recommended?

I would get 4-6 SAE, 3-4 Farlowella and 24 Otocinclus (expect to loose
maybe 1/2 of the otos).  Forget the mollies - they won't do that much
and they will die off pretty quickly.  I was always worried about
adding "expensive" fish before the tank cycled (hence the use of
mollies), but with a heavy plant load, you won't see much in the way
of an ammonia or nitrite spike.

Add plants and algae eaters immediately after seeting it up.

> 6.  What is recommended to condition the RO water for plants?

I, of course, would use Dupla products.  Some folks seem to like Kent
"RO Right" but I think you could do better with homebrew stuff (at
least, then you would know what was being added).  PMDD are also a
good alternative.
Good luck,