I made my first attempt at a planted tank last year and it failed miserably because I went about it the wrong way. I decided to do it right this time and actually put some effort into it. I have a 75g saltwater reef/predator tank that's been up for a little over a year and has been doing great and that's helped me a ton with understanding proper lighting and such. For this tank I wanted to go low-tech and dirted with a DIY stand and cheap shoplights for lighting. Excuse the rocks ziptied to the driftwood. Its not waterlogged yet. The rocks will be moved underneath the driftwood once it sinks on its own.
-AGA 20gallon high (standard?) 24"x12"x16"
-2x 8" diameter shop lights
-2x 23w micro-cfl bulbs (6500k)
-1.5" Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting Mix
-1.5" Black Diamond Blasting Media 20/40 sand
-Driftwood I found on the coast of Nova Scotia
-Rocks from same place
-Kleiner Bar Sword
-Hygrophila sp. (not sure)
-Dwarf livebearer. Only one right now that was leftover from my last netting trip. Going to catch more of them.
-Numerous grass shrimp
-Hoplo cat (netted it too. unsure about putting him in though. I've heard they dig anyone have any experience with them?)
And now the setup:
Painted the back of the tank black
Stand built. Checking out placement in room
Red Mahogany stain on stand
Moved back in place
Black Diamond layer in
Filled. Water is surprisingly clear
Dwarf Livebearer and Shrimp