12-24-2007, 09:38 AM
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1, Seachem Prime is my favorite dechlor, then I use Amquel Plus. Prefer RO/DI water over any dechlorinator.
1 A. Seachem and Salifert make about the most useful "hobbyist" test kits. Salifert is often hard to find and I've seen a lot of their reagents "out of date". They come a long ways to the States and then are redistributed. The reagents are very sensitive and can become useless if not used within a prudent period of time. There are other much better brands marketed by Tunze and Deltec but the prices are out of this world. Brands like Tetra and API are good for reference but I wouldn't bet the farm on them for accuracy. I use API for a couple of reasons. First you can buyt he "professional" for under $100. That's most every test you'd ever need and packed in a plastic tool box. Once I establish that my tank is running in a healthy manner I take a reading once a week and jot down the results on paper. Now I don't regard the results as accurate at all. Instead what I do is look for changes in the results over time. If something in my tanks look different or out of the ordinary, I can glance back at my "levels". They should be pretty consistent. If any of them have changed then I can realize that I might have a problem. Merk, Deltec, Tunze, Seachem, Salifert provide close to laboratory results. API, Tetra and some of the others can be useful guides.
2, Filters, I'd go for an Eheim 2217 classic for a 44g. There is plenty of room to keep things clean and plenty of room for lots of carbon. You'd probably only need to clean it once every 2-3 months on a tank of that size. You could get the 2215 or an Ecco 2236 but I'd just go for the big one. Not only will a 2217 provide excellent, unmatched, quality, value, and dependability but it will also provide another excellent source of water movement in the tank. I much prefer Eheim to any other canister brand. Fluvals are a joke. The plumbing they come with is this flimsy plastic hose that splits at all the seams, not to mention the gawdawful ugly tank harnesses and all those ridiculous zip ties. The bodies are made from a thin hard plastic that over times degrades and becomes brittle (I've heard stories from LFS about them splitting in the body for no reason after about 3 years.), not to mention the fact that they are not clear. Eheim are the only manufacturers that use real acrylic that you can see into. This allows you to quickly view the filter and it's need for a cleaning. Rena filters come with tacky plastic hose clamps that fail and leak, plus they are noisy. For the little bit of extra cash I say go with the design that has not changed in 30 years. That's right the parts from a 30yo unit can still be replaced and keep on running.
3. A known quality heater is Ebo-Jager. TopFin are known to fry tanks.