12-01-2007, 10:36 PM
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I like the Visi-Therm Stealth heaters. I just picked up a 250 watt for my 55 gallon that's also in the planning stage. Although I have never used a canister filter, I bought a Rena Filstar XP3 based on research, recommendations and price. I also plan on running an HOB filter with this setup. Hope this helps or at least gives you some ideas. Almost everything I've read about canister filters says the do a better job than a hang on back filter. Thay are also quieter and require less maintenance than a HOB. However they cost more up front. Remember I have no experience with a canister....I have done a bunch of research though.
When picking a filter, I read where you shouldn't listen to the manufactures recommendations on the package. If a filter says it will be good up to "X" amount of gallons ... it usually isn't. I base the size of the filter on the Gallons Per Hour. You should choose a filter that has 6 or 7 times more than your tank size. The XP3 is rated at 350 gph, between 6 and 7 times, which is why I'm going to add a HOB on the opposite side. That, and I always like to have a spare for a hospital tank and good water flow all around.
The Stealth heaters are very nice. Unbreakable, accurate, and they have a low water cut off. The only drawback that is they don't have an indicator light.
Lighting depends on plants. Regular fluorescent bulbs will be fine for a non planted or low light planted tank. Two 24" hoods like the AGA deluxe hoods, usually fit on a normal 55. You can pick them up for about $20-$25 each complete with everything. There are a bunch of different types of bulbs that you can use for different lighting effects. I tend to stick with the bulbs that come with the hoods which is usually a full spectrum bulb.
If you plan on planting...........I really can't help there. I use some low light plants that are doing good with "stock lighting", but that's it.