thanks for the replies everyone, i appreciate it.
there seems to be a misunderstanding, so let my clarify.
the bulk of my Aquarium experience lies with "big" African Cichlid Tanks.
therefore, no live plant experience at all!!
i have a 5.5 with a really nice Marina Fluorescent Canopy. it only holds one 8 watt tube however.
i DO NOT under any circumstance consider putting any African Cichlids in this tank with live plants.
Africans CAN be done in a 5.5 with small Tangyanikan Shell Dwellers such as Multis and Similis, but obviously one would not put plants in this tank because of the substrate and water chemistry along with Cichlids' tendancy to eat plants and dig like crazy.
what i want to do is set up this 5.5 as a desktop. i want to put a nice piece of wood in there with live plants.
i always liked live plants but was always afraid to try them--i had tried when i was in my teens once and the outcome left much to be desired. so i went the African route
Now i find the perfect opportunity to start small with plants. Once planted, i will add a couple of Ottos, a pair of ???Emperor Tetras??? and one or two DWARF Corys.
So, what do you think
keep the suggestions coming
PS--what is Laterite and Eco Complete?????