I have a 10g with no hood. Would I be likely to be able to grow plants in it using sunlight alone? I know it's not ideal but I'm not buying a new hood anytime soon. I can do diy co2 on it too and ei like my other tanks.
That's what I am doing with my 10 gallon right now. It is kind of an experiment tank and I am using a screw in CF bulb at 5800K and a desk lamp. The hard part is finding out what temperature the bulb is. Many of the bulbs at my local hardware store didn't have it marked on the boxes. I wanted to find one around 6700K but all I could find was 5800K. It should still serve it's purpose. I have about 46 Watts above mine and tons of CO2 via 2 2liter bottle DIY setups.
It seems to be working beautifully. I successfully caused an awesome GSA spectacle! Okay that wasn't on purpose yet but I half way expected it with the amount of light. The plants have responded pretty well though also. The nice part about 10G is they clean quickly which should make it the perfect tank to mess with ferts, lighting levels, plant density, etc.
That's a good idea about the lamps too. I may try to find one that can clip on to the edge of the aquarium and will fit one 26w bulb. I think the trick is finding ones that are wide enough to take the ballasts of those lights, especially higher wattage ones.
I think I'm doing to do a diy filter too... I have a spare water pump that should pump the right amount or close enough, I just have to get a water tight canister and get some pipe and hose to hook it up. I think a clear glass jar should do the trick (that way I can see if it's clogging up), with some sponge and gravel and zeolite as filter media. I just have to test the pump to make sure it's powerful to pump back up to the tank. I better make sure I get it water tight too, or I will end up with 10 gallons of water on my living room floor.
I haven't heard of anyone successfully making a canister filter they were happy with. At best they spend about as much as a commercial filter costs, and have a filter that works, but isn't easy to clean. Before I would try that I would look for used filters, like the Fluval or Rena, which are pretty cheap to start with. Or, watch ebay for strange brand, made in China, versions.