Input requested on new set up...

I've been in the process of putting together a Dupla style high-tech
tank for almost two months now.  Things are beginning to come together
and before I put that first drop of water in the tank I'd appreciate any
input you folks can give.
The foundation for all of this is an acrylic 75g tank.  Standard
dimensions 48x18x20.  I plan to use substrate heating in laterite
enriched gravel, pH controlled CO2 injection and VHO lighting.
Heating cables:
Hoping to use Dennerle style substrate heating, I bought a set of
Duplaflex 150W cables with the intention of building a low wattage power
supply to knock it down well below 100W.  George B. was so kind as to
offer me a little advice (as well as the inspiration) and I thank him
for that.
However, being my first attempt at a high tech setup I sent the 150W
cables back and bought the 100W cables and transformer.  Probably a
little more powerful than I want but I couldn't see trying to save a
couple of hundred bucks after I had gone this far.  For heating control
I have the UltraLife controller.
Currently, with my heaters off, the water temp ranges from 80F at night
and as high as 83F during the day.  Since I plan to keep Discus in new
tank the cables will have to keep the temp around 84-86. Hopefully they
will run all the time in the cooler months.
Q: Is it correct to compare 100W of cable heating to a standard 100W
   aquarium heater?
The 100W cable is much shorter than the 150W and I have found that it is
going to be difficult to space the wire evenly using Dupla's anchors.  A
shame considering what Dupla thinks they're worth. :)  I've read of
people using eggcrate.
Q: Does anyone have a revolutionary way of dealing with this?  I would
   appreciate any ideas.
This part was the most straightforward.  A 5# CO2 tank & regulator combo
were purchased locally.  A needle valve and solenoid were found locally
as well. Dupla will supply the bubble counter and Reactor "S", and the
whole thing will be controlled by Sandoint's pH controller.
For those of you doing DIY CO2 setups, ask around for Swagelok products.
They are the makers of the Nupro needle valves that others here have
used.  I am very happy with their products.
Following the Boothian style, a W/D trickle filter will be used for
filtration.  For this I've purchased a Mandrin II and an Iwaki pump.
Having looked at several different brands, I must say the Mandrin is by
far the highest quality in construction and design.
Q: What flow rate should I aim for?  The pump I purchased is rated at
   540gph @ 4'.
To illuminate this mess I've chosen 36" 95 watt VHO flourescent tubes
coupled with the IceCap Electronic ballast.  After asking about them a
few weeks ago I received several positive responses from folks claiming
high levels of satisfaction.  I have not decided on the types of bulbs
yet, but at least two of the bulbs will be URI AquaSun VHO bulbs.
Although I purchased 4 of the AquaSun's I will most likely want to mix
another type of bulb to either improve apperance or cover other specra.
Since the IceCap allows you to mix VHO and normal output bulbs I feel I
have a lot of flexability.
When I ordered the lamps the first thing the person told me was that it
was WAY too much lighting for a 75g tank.
Having read George's comparison of different bulbs, the first thing that
I noticed was that the MH bulbs had a much higher intensity at the same
depth than 40W flourescents.  If I remember correctly it was over twice
the intensity.  For this reason I find it hard to believe that you could
ever use TOO many flourescent bulbs.  I also find it hard to believe
that four 95W VHO bulbs are going to ever come close to the intensity of
Metal Halide bulbs.
Given the automatic CO2 system, I feel that I can achieve that balance
that Karen Randall speaks of.
Q: Does anyone have any ideas on how to make your wiring job look nice a
   neat?  IceCap only provides a mass of individual wires.  What a mess!
Lastly, I will be using RO/DI water since my distric water comes out at
250+ ppm Hardness, 220+ ppm Alkalinity & pH 7.8.  It takes a TON of pH
Minus to have an effect on our tap water.  I'd go broke trying to lower
my KH!
Q: What should I use to regenerate my RO water water for plant use?
   Currently I use Kent's products.
Thanks for any input you folks can give.
// Michael A. Bateman                                      vandi at well_com
// Independent Networking Specialist             smbatem at umslvma_umsl.edu
// St. Louis, MO
// 314.282.3883