Well, I think it's time to start a journal! The rest of my equipment will be delivered tomorrow. My stand is level, the sand substrate is in and I added a little over 50% of the R/O water last night. I will put in the decor (less the driftwood) and add the rest of the water tonight, then turn on the filtration and heaters.

75 gal with artificial plants
100 lbs Quikrete Commercial Grade Medium Sand
Several driftwood pieces
Black background (black poster board from the craft store)
2 - AC110's
2 - Aqueon Pro Heaters 250W each
Beamworks Single Bright 48-52 in LED to be added after the holiday
DIY (built by me ) wood canopy (exterior to be stained or painted in spring)
There will be no cats in the tank!!!

I set the tank on the stand a few weeks ago. I was not able to use the Craigslist tank that I purchased with the stand - the watermarks would not come off. I tried all the methods suggested here and on other forums, but the marks remained. When I put the tank out on garbage day you could really see how badly it was marked in the sunlight. Fortunately the stand is worth what I paid for it, the 75 gal and the QT! And on Black Friday my LFS had a sale on 75 gal Aqueon tanks for $79.99. So it worked out okay. The stand is a secondhand industrial shelving unit. I absolutely love it.

Leveled the stand and added my sand substrate. Did a dry run with the driftwood and the artificial plants. I am waiting for tomorrow's delivery of aquarium epoxy so I can attach the driftwood to the slate pieces (didn't want to drill holes and use screws). My LFS said this wood will never sink, so I will need to attach it to the slate and bury it in the sand.

When I added the R/O water, I used Lady Hobbs suggestion of putting a plastic garbage bag over the sand - I had no dust and only a little bit of cloudiness. Thanks LH for the tip! I purchased a small 185 gph pond pump to fill the tank from my 5 gal buckets. It worked like a dream!

Here are some pics showing tank progress:

My DIY Canopy - the back part (about 1/3 of the top) also opens for access to the filters and other necessities
2012-12-02 10.01.18.jpg

Dark pic of tank & stand & 20 gal QT underneath main tank. I still have to trim out the 1 1/2 inches of plywood the stand sits on
2012-12-02 10.02.38.jpg

Dry run with driftwood & a few rocks
2012-12-15 15.13.29.jpg

Dry run with driftwood, rocks & plants (looking sad as they are not standing tall). Looks really bare without the canopy
2012-12-17 19.43.04.jpg

Tank a little over half full, with lovely floating driftwood
2012-12-18 00.57.35.jpg

I'm so excited. Thanks to all the forum members who helped me get this far, both thru answers to my threads and all the other threads and posts I read.

Now I have to go to the LFS to buy the rest of my water and do more drooling in front of their tanks............