Welcome!! No skimmer needed for FW
, that's a saltwater necessity. Start reading now if you want to keep Discus though, unless you've kept them before of course...
I would highly suggest researching the right canister filter to use. If you've been out of it for a while, like I was until 1/1/09, the canister is the way to go, gone is the undergravel filter. The hang-on-back (HOB
for short) is still useful due to simplicity and ease, but canisters in my opinion offer better filtration and more options. Mine is a Marineland C-360 on my 55 which is heavily planted like this:
And stocked with 73 fish, mostly livebearers. It's getting a little crowded though, so I need to thin the herd!!! But the canister handles it great.
Also, for a planted tank, instead of activated carbon I use Seachem Purigen, google it, it's fantastic stuff. Removes dissolved organics (like carbon does) but has minimal impact on nutrients that plants need to grow. I use 500mL of it in my filter (which is 5x the recommended useage, but it last longer that way) plus it is rechargeable, so you can use it for a long time (years).
Also there have been great advances in lighting, the old T12 (1 inch diameter) fluorescent bulbs are now T8s and T5s or T5HO (high-output) and you need much less wattage to obtain higher light levels, and better plant growth.
Welcome to online posting, and AA. You picked the right site, tons of good advice here!!