03-03-2010, 04:06 PM
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Ok, first thing first... can you post any photos of the tank, filter/boxes, heater, etc? Without a visual to help identify these products, there isn't much anyone can do to offer help or make suggestions about how to assemble, use, or maintain them.
As for fish... that should wait until we know for sure what you have for equipment.
Test kits... API is a great kit. Their master kit contains ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH... which are the primary tests needed for freshwater. (be sure you are purchasing the freshwater kit if you are planning a freshwater tank, or a saltwater kit if you are intending a marine tank... the test kits are very specific for freshwater or marine and cannot be substituted for each other) If API is not available in your local pet store, they are easily found online. The only other test kits I suggest are Sera because they are #1 in accuracy... but they are also a lot more expensive.