Hello Everyone! Sorry this may be a long post. I'm hoping to get some advice?
I have owned fish only tanks for a long time, and even helped my mom keep a salt water fish only tank for several years. I didn't get into the planted tank idea until my sister-in law gave me a dozen platys, a dozen cherry shrimp and water wisteria, so I am very new to the planted tank world.
At the time I had a 10 gallon tank set up with gravel and a double halfmoon Betta, so I added florite to the substrate for the wisteria. I also bought a Chinese algae eater, and two peppered cory catfish. I had a HOB marineland filter, an included hood light with two mini compact 50/50 fluorescent bulbs. I also bought a nana anubias and some java fern (don't know the species but the tips of each leaves are lacey) from Petsmart since my sister-in law works there. All of which did extremely well for the three years i had them. My nana anubias even bloomed twice on two different occasions. My cherry shrimp have now gone from about 15 to several hundred (several of which I have sold to local pet stores).
I tossed around the idea of starting a 55 gallon that I got from my sister-in law back in March and having miracle grow and black diamond substrate, but changed my mind later.
Unfortunately my 10 gallon had an accident one night about a month ago (bottom seal on tank sprung a leak) and I was forced to upgrade to the 55.
The current setup I have for the 55 gallon is as follows:
2 included 24'plastic hoods each with a single 6500k T8 bulb on a digital timer from 6:30 am to 8:30 pm
Eheim 2217 with ceramic rings on bottom then coarse filter with filter floss, then eheim filter substrate, then two coarse pads with filter floss with included spray bar.
55-75 gallon fluval aquarium heater set at 76
mixture of pool filter stand and black diamond blasting sand
I have an aquatop powerhead that I plan to add to the tank to increase flow after I can get another 10 gallon set up for my Betta (flow is really tough on his pretty fins).
Along with several large rocks as decor.
I have recently added a few cherry barbs, and rummy nosed tetras as well.
I have been fertilizing with FloraPride liquid fertilizer at recommend dosing, and my plants still seem to be doing fine and reproducing. My shrimp are also still multiplying.
I know that I need to replace the lighting on the tank, and am still up in the air on what I want to get. I have decided to stay with a low light to medium light setup, because I don't want to inject CO2. I also cannot spend a fortune on the system. I am thinking of just a shop light from Lowe's suspended over the tank.
Any advise would be very appreciated!
Sorry for the long post. I will be including pictures later this afternoon.