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Hi there! i am also new to the hobby and had alot of the same questions as you when i was first starting. I hope i can help even a bit here. First id like to tell you what my current setup is since its working quite well for me and maybe it can help you. I have a 20 gallon with a penguin 250 bio-wheel, as far as chemicals i use API Stress coat + tyo remove chlorine from the tap water. For start up i used API stress zyme +. Also i occasionally add aquarium salt to my tank which is also just the API aquarium salt. I have read alot that a 20 gallon is a great starter size. I wouldnt go to a 55 gallon unless you are sure you will stay with the hobby and have a good handle on things.
1. if you do like the spong filter i might suggest adding another, but i am not very familliar with spng filters. I would recomend getting a power filter that is made for a 20 gallon. You might have to do some research on what is best for that. Especially if you do get a 50 gallon, Im pretty sure a spong filter wont cut it.
2. Again, spong filter might not be best for a 50 gallon.
3. I have never had a planted aquarium so i wouldnt be able to help you there. Im sure a more experienced member could though.
4. What i have said above should be just fine, and the aquarium salt is not essential.
5. Plants again not something i could help with.
6.Im not exactly sure what a co2 system is, im guessing again for the plants. In that case im very sure you can buy chemicals for that. Iv heard Flourish excel is a great product for that.
7.As far as puffers im not sure. My 20 gallon tank, currently is stocked as follows: 3 guppies, a gourami, and 3 neon tetras.They are doing very well together. I would go crazy though! Research some fish you like and make sure they will be compatable together (make sure your frog will be cool with them to) remember 1 inch of fish per gallon to prevent over stocking. For a recomendation though. Most tetras are great little tank mates (if your going for a community tank)

Goodluck. Hope i could help DX Sorry i couldnt give much more info, especially on the plants. :-D
 
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