It doesn't seem to be a great tank for growing plants.
(I'm having trouble with that now) I also find that I need to keep the lid open (well the hinged flap) in the summer to keep the tank from getting too hot. It seems that the light heats the water up a good 4-6 degrees, but that is casual observation, there may be other factors at work...
It sure looks a lot nicer than a standard rectangular tank tho.
I do water changes with a siphon and bucket (it holds a bit more than 3 gallons, so I can do the water change in one trip w/out spilling the water everywhere. AND it has a padded foam handle, because I'm a wussie). I use old water jugs to fill the tank (I leave them out overnight to let the temp match the room temp - the tank is approx room temp b/c I don't use a heater). I guess my thing against the python was that it was expensive and wastes water... (I think that you have run water in the tap to get the python to draw out the water from the tank?) Once you get the hang of the siphon thing it's not too bad. I just have to make sure I put the end of the siphon inside the bucket rather than let it dangle outside.
You could probably hit the library for books. Tho some of them might be dated... I seemed to find as much good info online (or better, especially as you can talk to people) as I did in books.
Don't look at any of Amano's books. You'll want a planted tank and start hating yourself when you attempt one
(especially with the eclipse
It kinda scratches easily. I've got a nice deep scratch from a wirebound notebook that I tossed on the desk that accidentally hit the tank along the way. It can be buffed out, but I fear I might do more damage that way....
I purchased the Aquarium Pharmeceuticals Master Test Kit and a separate NitrAte kit (Master Test kit doesn't have NitrAte test). I think it will expire before I run out of tests...
Sorry if this post is overwhelming, I seem to be overly talkative today