Yay, input! Thanks again for taking the time to read and respond, it is really helping me decide where I want to take this tank!
I wouldn't use anything but pool filter sand or blasting grit, honestly. They're both safe and won't alter water parameters. Other types of sand (like play sand for sandboxes) tend to compact and cause problems over time.
Using soil beneath sand in your tank is not necessary for the plants you plan to keep. Especially in such a small tank.
Oooh, okay. I tried to hunt down some blasting sand, specifically Black Diamond Blasting Sand, as well as some pool filter sand, and found that because I am in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, both of these things are really rather hard to find ^^; Both of these options are only cheaper if you can get it sans shipping. Especially the PFS, since pool season is very over, haha. Gonna try some of the local hardware stores though, see if maybe they can order some of the blasting sand for me. Then there is a TINY pool store down the road a ways, and they might have the filter sand, or be able to order it. Hoping they don't close before I get the time to head down there!
I did find some other substrates on my wanderings that intrigued me. The midnight black
and coffee brown
sands by Substrate Source look like some really nice stuff, and for what I need, would be about $25 including shipping. The sand I found at Lowe's looked nice, and seemed like it would create a really nice river-bed appearance, for a "dirt" cheap price of 3 bucks. Heck, speaking of river-beds, I might also just hop back home and pick up some creek sand. I've used it before in my tanks (when I knew MUCH less) and it worked out pretty well then (i.e. didn't kill goldfish/the bullhead cats I caught in said creek). Might up the PH/hardness a teensy bit, due to fossils and such, but the Hara Jerdoni would appreciate that, I think.
Of course, both of the last two options are my "BWAHAHA" choices and I would test both in water to see what it does, as well as test the water in my creek to see what the PH and hardness there is sitting at. Should I choose either, a vigorous cleaning would definitely be in order, but for $3 it'd be worth it, and trekking my creek is always awesome, especially if I go with an eye out for tank additions ;)
:head+desk: Who knew SUBSTRATE of all things would be my biggest headache? Ah, fish keeping.
Oh, so you have energy saving light bulb. Have seen 2 of those over a 10 gallon. Thus thinking 1 would be enough. Just get the daylight (6500k) rated bulb.
Just found a combination fert that is cheaper than $15. Heard about it at Atlanta Aquarium Association meeting. A single container is $10 + $6 for shipping. You mix 1.5 tsp. with 1 gallon of water. Then dose 5ml every other week. It last a long time. Thus perhaps could partner with someone.
As for lighting, I'm just going to guess that what I have is sufficient for what I want, and call it Medium-High because it is pretty darn bright. :shrug: Again, I'll have pics up tomorrow evening. I do know that the Hygrophila difformis (Water Wisteria) I have in the 5 gal with the same light I'm planning to use in the D. Dario set-up has had a lot of new growth since I put it in there (seriously, 6 leaves in 8 days!), and the leaves are definitely on the lacy end of things, something it does only in higher light. Let me know any other information you have on that fertilizer though, it sounds like it might be up my alley!
Other than that, I'm just glad I still have a few weeks to hunt this stuff down! I've been doing a HELLAton of research (as my homework beckons forlornly), and you were right about the cheaper prices here on the forum! Due to all the research and hunting, I've been compiling a new plant list/tank plan which will be posted tomorrow along with the images I've promised :] Ought to be helpful for you guys, especially since I've already gotten an offer for some of the plants I want :"] Just keep in mind I don't get paid until the 22nd ^^
(ALSO, Sorry about the HUGE walls of text I keep posting ^^ I like to be thorough, but if they're a hassle to read, let me know!)