Hi All, I'm in the process of setting up my first aquarium in about 4 years. It's a 6-gallon Fluval Edge with which I'd iike to set up somewhat Amano-style, with a strong design sense and lush vegetation, and a few small fish & possibly shrimp and snails. Firsts for me will include experimenting with and learning about: a soil & clay-containing substrate, sand instead of gravel (for my own tank), a CO2 system (likely DIY at least at first), a plant-intensive layout that's attractive, interesting, and meant to be seen from angles other than just the front, with attention paid to management & pruning, and a more diverse set of inhabitants with the goal of achieving a balanced ecosystem with some ideas borrowed from above-ground permaculture: system resiliency, minimal maintenance, vibrant health, resistance to disease, elements performing multiple functions. When possible, I plan on sourcing natural materials (rocks, tree branches) from non-aquarium sources- that means learning about and paying attention to what I'm putting in my tank, as well as another thing to test water quality for. Another dramatic change will be that i plan (after testing) to use only natural water from a local artesian well as a water source. This is what I've been collecting and drinking for the past 2 years or so, and it makes sense to me to use the cleanest, least processed water possible in my aquarium. Anyone else use anything besides tap water? My previous aquarium was a 40 gallon, moderately planted tank generally following a South American theme- neons & small tetras, Amazon swords and java fern, and later caving to my interest in other fish- namely a couple of blue rams and an Australian rainbowfish. Substrate for that setup was just gravel + fluorite, with very infrequent fertilization of any kind, and I don't think I ever had enough light, not to mention no CO2. Plant health was just ok, but with several failures as well. Algae was always at least a moderate issue, partially mediated with a couple of small corys added at some point. Water was tap water treated with Tetra's Aquasafe. Other than monitoring the temperature I <gasp> never tested my home tank's water for pH, nitrates, or anything else. I have also set up a 30 gallon cichlid tank in the lobby of my former employer where I did test regularly, but I didn't have full control over that tank and lost interest in it and its aggressive inhabitants :-/ Lesson learned. I like the small size of the Edge, which I hope will allow me to outfit it more fully at a lower total cost, and the good looks and design of the aquarium will inspire me to be better with maintenance, plant care & pruning, water changes, etc... It is also better located than my previous tank, and only about 4 feet away from my kitchen sink, for easy water changes-- yay! Comments on any of the above are welcome. Right now I'm really interested in choosing a few key pieces of hardware, with an emphasis on reliability & unobtrusiveness. I'm looking at the following: My planned substrate will be a mix of clean fertilizer-free potting soil, with vermiculite and fluorite mixed in, capped with a medium-fine sand. I have rocks (Montana sandstone from a local paver supply company) and plan to add some hopefully locally sourced water-safe tree branches as well. I'm aware of possible pH-raising issues with sandstone-containing rocks, and will monitor pH before adding any fish. I believe this will be at least partly offset by the somewhat acidifying nature of the potting soil in the substrate. Lighting mods for Fluval Edge: I believe I'l need to add more light in addition to the standard 21 LED setup in my 2nd gen Fluval Edge. Eventually I'd like a sunrise/sunset controller setup, but for now may add some additional light strips first, depending on cost. I think I'd be willing to plunk down just under $100 for such an upgrade. I've seen a few systems online but haven't priced them or heard much about them from users. Heater - 25 vs. 50 watt for a 6 gallon. Seems like I'm right on the cusp for choosing either one. My small apartment temp varies as I like to open windows, and indoor temps can probably drop into the 60s at times. I'm drawn to the idea of a 25 watt heater that is less likely to ever be able to malfunction and cook my fish, but I've never had any issues with heaters before. I had a Tronic in my 40 gallon but that brand appears to have faded away. CO2 - Am currently digesting info on this, including the jello-based system described elsewhere on this site. Although I like the DIY idea, it seems to me a largish rechargeable pressurized CO2 system may be more resilient, rugged, and actually entail less waste. I'd prefer to avoid disposable canisters. Water testing - any thoughts on types of kits, brands, etc...? Also those drop-in ammonia monitoring thingies seem like a good idea. Any recommendations? Water filtration. Standard Fluval Edge HOB filter with filter foam, carbon, and biomax. May supplement with ammonia absorber. I just learned these can be recharged by rinsing in water, yes? True with all types? Are zeolite based ones different than the other absorbing granules? I think that's all for now-- I'm going to look through some of the other intro posts as well as the rest of the forums before calling it a night. When I get a chance, I'll post photos of my evolving setup either on my profile or other appropriate place (maybe here?). Thanks in advance and I look forward to talking with the other folks on here! Michael Cutts Seattle, WA PS Attached is a pic of my roughed-out layout. Dirt & rocks only at this point for general layout purposes only. I'm also attaching 2 pics of my previous 40 gallon from 2000 & 2006.