I was thinking of upgrading to a 2 layer substrate with Dirt (Topsoil of some sort) on the bottom with the large gravel on top. Does anybody have any experience with this sort of setup?
Check at the El Natural
section in APC forum. I have tanks set up with dirt for I liked the idea that many only change water 1x a year and don't dose ferts. My water is excessively treated thus have to change 1/3 monthly. Couldn't find the 3ml gravel needed to keep the dirt down so used play sand. Then tried pool filter sand (PFS) and then river sand. I like the river sand the best. It is brown and doesn't get dirty. I found it at a landscaping co. a 50lb bag for $3. I used Scotts top soil. It has a lot of mulch in it that needs to sifted out. Read someone got some dirt with very little mulch at True Value hardware store.
The Amazon plants tend to outgrow even a 30 gallon tank. The micro sword needs iron sulfate via API root tabs
. I don't think it will stay in the big rocks without the cotton. Usually people take it out and spread it out.
The Chinese Algae Eater will get to big for the 10 gallon. Keep an eye out for aggressiveness. Some start sucking on other fish so me go after the Betta one day. Even actually to big for 30 which I have 2 in.
When you get ready to upgrade look for a 20 G L at craigslist. They look like a size that is easy to move.