After actually calculating the cost of putting together my own planted tank kit, I realized it is way too expensive. $40 plus $8 shipping JUST for a 5 gal glass tank, another $35 for a light, $20 for a heater, $20 for substrate, $? for a filter (didn't even have one picked out)...it just started to add up really fast. While I want to do this right...I DON'T want to spend a ton of money if it isn't necessary.
So I found a few tanks that I'm considering. One is a complete kit with substrate, tank, light, filter, and mini co2 (which honestly I probably won't use), the others come with the tank, a light, and filter. I know I need to add a heater to all of these tanks and possibly baffle the filter. But here are the tanks I've been looking at, along with some comments from me.
PicoTope 3 gal
-this tank has potential IMO. It is glass which is a huge plus for me and comes with a 9 watt light that I think would be fine for growing lower light plants (I would like a carpet of java moss as my main plant). I think it is on the expensive side for a 3 gal, but I was planning on paying the same amount for a 5 gal tank that didn't include a light or filter. There are mixed reviews about the light and filter, but it sounds like both would be ok at least for awhile. The tank looks very attractive in pictures. On the downside, at 3 gal I don't think I could cycle this tank, which would mean more frequent water changes. I'm in college and have limited time...making frequent changes a hassle. OTOH, having enough plants in the tank may reduce the need for so many water changes...correct?
Fluval Flora Tank
-this tank is very attractive IMO, and is also made of glass. It is more expensive than the previous tank, but it is also an 8 gal tank, which would mean I could get some shrimp or a snail. The light it comes with seems high quality and would be good for growing lower light plants. It comes with substrate (fluval stratum) and mini co2. I would probably have to buy an extra bag of stratum though and have no plans on getting into co2 in the near future...so I would probably try to sell the co2. There have also been bad reviews on the filter, that it is too big for the tank, so there is a good chance I will have to buy another filter. So really I'm looking at between $130-$140...possibly more to get this tank running. Still not terrible for a 8 gal, beautiful glass tank.
Tetra Crescent 5 gal
-at 5 gal, this tank can be cycled, which is great. It comes with a filter, light, and tetracare (anyone know what that is?). It is the same price as the 3 gal tank, with an extra 2 gals of swimming space. I think I could get a shrimp or two with this tank...yes? One HUGE con for me is that the tank is acrylic...and acrylic scratches. I'd rather not have to be super careful not to scratch the tank...but being less breakable has appeal.
Now, as you can see from my tank choices, I really like the rimless look. I want this to be an art piece just as much as a habitat for Castiel (my betta). Visual appeal is a must. And thanks for reading my novel...I really want the "perfect" set up for this guy. I'm an art student, so visual appeal is kind of my thing.