Originally Posted by mollies
yes i am doing live pants. wht kind of glass would u use plexi or glass? what size filters what kid of bulbs would you use?
I have glass cover sets that I bought at the aquarium store when I bought the tanks; they appear to be regular glass, in four pieces (there is a plastic cross-piece for the centre and the ends so the glass fits two pieces at the back half and two at the front and sits in a little track) and the front pieces have stick-on handles so they can be pushed back to open for feeding. I did break a couple of the pieces once and replaced them with regular glass from the window glass store, so there's nothing special with the glass. Some aquarists don't use covers, letting the plants grow out of the water (and house plant roots growing in, which is a nice look) but if the water is close to the top the fish may jump (mine do). Glass also keeps the light fixtures dry, and minimizes water evaporation, and prevents heat loss in winter if that is an issue where you live. You should clean it every water change to avoid minerals deposited from the evaporating water preventing enough light getting into the tank. I've had this arrangement for 15 years.
For filters, always buy the right size for the tank; the filter manufacturers always indicate the size of tank for the filter, and always get the size recommended for your tank. I definitely prefer the outside canister type filter, and some have the heating unit included so you don't have heaters hanging in the tank and failing. I've had Eheim Professionel filters for 15 years and no problems. There are probably many more good units available now, but Eheim is well known and trusted.
Flourescent bulbs are my preference rather than pendant lights which are hotter and more expensive, but frankly I don't know what may be available now. It's a matter of personal preference. However, whatever the type, you want full spectrum or equivalent, with a 6500K rating or more in order to provide adequate light. When there are two (or more) tubes over the tank, you can mix the types to get a coulour spectrum you like. Some stores will let you exchange the lights if you try one and don't like the look. I have one Life-Glo full spectrum tube and one modified tube (slightly more in the blue range that plants require) on each of my tanks. These are more expensive that ordinary tubes from the hardware store, but I know what I'm getting and the plants are growing.
The number of lights depends upon what you want in the way of plants. I have two 48w tubes over each tank, which is roughly 1 watt per gallon. I have no CO2 (if I did, this would be inadequate light, 3-4 w per gallon is recommended with CO2), and no additives in the substrate which is regular aquarium gravel. I use liquid fertilizer twice weekly. You can see the lush growth if you look at the photos of my aquariums. I like the look, the plants are healthy, algae is very minimal--why spend more money on triple lights and CO2? But others want different plant growth, flowering plants, whatever, so you need more.