BTW You have probably have already taken this into account, so bear with me, the tank filled, will weigh approximately 1600 lbs, so shoring up the shelf it sits on with be another important requirement.
Most all of my previous tanks have been predominantly rock/hardscaped. I actually REALLY like that last photo for Discus. (Even though I've never found the types of branches like that that twist and can start from the top...)
I do wonder about how I'd stack rock in a tank THAT tall.
You are correct. I want low maintenance because a) those upper doors still have a central divider piece b) the upper doors are hard to open c) that top is NOT coming off except for emergencies d) the top of the tank is higher than eye level, and of course e) it's 36" tall.
Honestly I have no idea how the hell I'm going to clean it or ever net out a fish if I have to.
Nothing about the stand is drilled at all yet, but whether I do sump or canisters (I prefer the quiet and lack of humidity from canisters) I'll need to cut something into it somewhere. Right now the bottom is a completely sealed tomb.
My only issue with heavily planted is that I've never gotten it right. I get some growth in the beginning, then algae, then eventually the best stuff dies off and the littler stuff that grew on its own stalls, and then I get annoyed. I am also not a huge fan of using a ton of unnatural light. Basically, I'm scared I'll screw up plants.
But yeah, it's soft water ideal for the wild discus. Which shocked me when I found that out, because when I moved here I had been told Miami city water was extremely hard. It's not at all... they just dump a ton of chloramines in it at random intervals.
I barely know what any of that is... hence my trepidation with salt. (Plus I know it requires totally different equipment as well.) But I do like the idea. Would love to see some colorful examples.
One thing I failed to mention (although it's visible in the pics) is that it didn't come with a tank. I found a local 48x24x32, which I was hopeful was just the guy measuring only the glass portion between the 2" black strips, but alas, it was not. I'll probably end up needing to pay up for a custom build... part of me wants to combine something like the above photo with the wood and plants reaching up above the water lines, and maybe even have that be visible... but I think ultimately that'd look like crap, only having those few inches of space exposed. That kind of thing works better in a tank with no canopy and suspended lights.
With this type of salt setup, there would actually be very little equipment. The live rock is your biological filter, so the most important part would be good flow and limiting dead spots. People normally put macro algae’s in a sump since they’re great for reducing nutrients, but there are some very attractive types. So basically just power heads/wave makers and some type of hob filter that you can leave empty except for 1 or two days a week, you put some floss in it to polish the water.