well unfortunately your talking to a guy who thinks the world is ending and must collect every specimen of aquarium plant and animal on the planet to prevent its extinction!! lol
typically i would shove anything green leafy rooty with a rhizome into the dirt... but i think it depends on how much maintenance you want to deal with. i mean you can go along way with a low- med tech planted tank.
i'm only dosing excel and dry ferts and i find myself trimming every 7-10 days ontop of weekly water changes. that unto itself is alot of work but can also be rewarding. everybody is different, some people plant and forget some people are constantly rescaping, some people go minimal and just grow one species, but grow it very very well.... it all depends on you.
personally i find that as much as i love stems, many if them grow like weeds. as a beginner i was totally psyched i could get a weed to grow... but eventually hacking rotalas in half every week (as pretty as they are) gets old.
for instance this past ROAK i thinned out about 26 stems stems or
more. only about 8 stems are left in my tank to date. i've since removed hygro polysperma, chainawords and other fast growers for the same reason, too muh maintenance. especially for an exel only tank. i can only imagine what kind of growth i would get when i start juicing co2!
the good thng about my 20L is its
manageable in size. you can get as tedious and meticulous as you want or not, still manageable either way. downside is also its upside... its 12" in height. stems can reach the top in no time, can't really keep tall large plants like spiralis, vals, swords etc.. yet its easy to plunge your hand in for maintenance and its easy to achieve a high light condition in a shallow tank (cheaper lighting).
so i guess what i'm saying is for plants.... go for the noah's arc and edit as necessary. better to start heavily planted than not. it takes less planning and instant gratification because you get a plant you like and pluck it in immediately.
fir fish however, i think you need to be more conciensous. not all species will do well in a small tank. especially if you plan to overstock. i would give aqadvisor.com a shot to help you figure out some possible combos.
remember imagine them as adults in your tank, not the cute little baby sizes you see them in the LFS. everyone loves corys for instance and i shoved them in my nano not knowing any better. they quickly outgrew my nano and it wasn't pretty. you know they were restless tothe point that they almost jumped out of the tank. i have since moved them to my 30B and now i have cory fry lol.
since your in college its definetely something to think about. if your fish decide to breed lol.
i guess i talked your ear off enough... i have a plant and fish list in my journal thread if you want a reference point. feel free to pm me as well if you want, i'm just a beginner but i can share mu experiences and what i've learned
Sent from my iPhone