sweet work environment. Can you recommend any orchids that are easy and low maintenance
For CRS, you have to have a handle on GH/KH/PH as well as a long established tank.
CRS - Have a few going now, started bringing in gallon jugs of my home well water (super-super soft, tests at 0) After treating with Seachem Equalibrium & a little baking soda I end up with soft (about 3) hardness. Ph is neutral (would like a little lower but stable seems more important. Have pre soaked IAL in tank) and KH is on the low side, but not sure what more I can do with that.
Orchids - absolutely! I couldn't keep them if they weren't low maintenance. I know when I first found them I thought orchids were always complicated, hard and would die if you stared at them the wrong way. Turns out the cheapest, most common ones are almost as hardy as a cactus. Short version - buy one you like, pay less than $20, water once every 2 weeks for a large one, once a week for a tiny one. Put in indirect sunlight or under a nice florescent light (right above it, just like a planted tank) enjoy the flowers once or twice a year for several weeks to a month each blooming, nice green plant the rest of the time.
Get an orchid from Home Depot, Lowes, grocery store, Wal-mart - almost anywhere like that.
The ones on sale this way are Phal orchids (short for Phalaenopsis). Fleshy leaves, long stalks with flowers. Buy for the color flowers you like, just keep in mind that the bright blue ones you see today are injected with dye, they will grow back to thier natural white or purple on the next blooming. They usually come in regular size ("normal" flower pot sized) or mini-phals, dwarf versions in tiny pots, like the size of a traditional orange juice glass.
If it is marked "Just Add Ice" it is still ok, but ignore the watering by ice cube thing, it's crap. Same thing with "self watering" orchids (Its just a pot with a gap at the bottom to hold extra water - doesn't work well for orchids).
Don't buy ANY in a pot with no drain holes unless you want to repot immediately. These thing handle dry with no problem, standing water kills them.
A lot of them come in a pretty outer pot for looks with a plastic inner pot that has lots of drain holes - these are good , just remove the inner pot when you water and put it back in the fancy pot.
They will be planted in either sphagnum moss or tree bark chips. Either one is fine. (In nature these thing grow high in the air clinging to the side if big trees, hence the bark). In moss you can go longer between waterings but have to be more careful to let it dry out in between. (Tank water works great!)
That's the real trick - let it dry out before watering! They store water in their big leaves, if their feet stay wet it will rot from the bottom. If you aren't sure it is dry enough yet, wait a few days to be sure. (you end up in a rythym, and can tell by the weight of the pot)
When you do water, soak it good until it runs freely from the drain holes. Let the extra drain off and ignore for another week or 2
And they like to be a little crowded in in the pot. If you repot in a big pot (no dirt! moss or bark), it will spend a lot of energy filling the pot with roots and not do much growing or flowering up top for a while.
Lighting - bright windows are good, but no direct un-filtered sun. The leaves will burn an ugly color. You don't need a window - They love florescent light, but it has to be close - just above them like a planted tank. LED would work fine too.