Tylt33: I'd totally go the STS route, but I've really fallen for the black substrate look. I considered using Black Diamond blasting grit, but those fine needles aren't all that appealing to me. I'm going to start looking in to MTS or at least MGOPS. Do you have the Ray2 or a Fugeray, and are you using c02? And is a RO/DI system DIYable? Good to know about the frequent Fluval sales, too! I think they were that price for Black Friday. I only started researching equipment prices just after Thanksgiving, so I'm not familiar with what's a good holiday deal
I have the Fugeray, and I don't use co2. Floating plants can often be had for free from the RAOK section here. RO//DI units are an investment up front, but totally worth it in the long run IMO.