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A few months ago I decided to take this up as a hobby. After doing quite a bit of research I've found the equipment that I think meets my needs. I haven't decided on what plants id like, I planed on fitting the plants to the aquarium. Is there anything I need to add to the list below or that that needs modification? Also will Sword tails be a hazard to my precious plants? Thanks in advance. :D

20 gallon (16.5''H x 24''L x 12.5''D)
Onyx Black sand substrate
http://www.aquariumguys.com/penguin150b.html 30gal Bio Wheel filter
http://www.aquariumguys.com/ocean-sun-fluorescent18.html 18'' t8 10,000k 15W light
 

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ok first i would look for a better light for a 20g i would look for between 30 watts (low) and 65watts (high) so min 2 15watt bulbs.

For filter you will find (at least i have) that plants will do more filtration then a bio wheel could ever hope to. Also if you decide to switch to Co2 and alot of people do, the bio-wheel will have to go because it off gasses the Co2. A nice canister filter is more expensive but i better choice.

Both things cost considerably more but i believe you will be happier in the long run. IMHO
 

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I think you would like Flourite black sand better than the Onyx sand. And, I agree with Oregon Aqua about the light and filter. Watch for people selling excess equipment on the for sale forum here. You can sometimes find very good deals there. Craigslist for your area might also have some bargains. If you are really short on cash you can find very cheap two bulb fluorescent light fixtures at hardware stores or Home Depot, like 2 foot long "shop lights", that you could get two 20 watt bulbs in, which would work fine.
 

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48 watts of T5 bulbs, with the typical great individual reflectors they tend to have, is effectively more than 48/20=2.4 watts per gallon. Some people have found that T5 fixtures like that are at least a third more efficient than PC bulbs, so your effective watts per gallon would be closer to 3.2 watts per gallon, which is very high light intensity for that shape tank. It would work fine, but only if you use pressurized CO2, kept at 30 or so ppm during every photoperiod, with great water circulation, and always adequate nutrients. Otherwise you will find you are getting crash course in how to deal with every type of algae we ever see. Oh, and you need to enjoy pruning plants with that much light, because you will be doing it at least once a week. If you do use that fixture hanging it above the tank so you can raise it to reduce the light intensity would be a good idea.
 
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