I have my new 3 x 2 x 2 tank arriving in around a week and as usual have been spending hours on end looking up and researching every option possible in terms of substrate, hardscape and inhabitants. Then getting carried away with plans and lists of all the things I'll need / want regardless of wether it's in my budget or if I can ever get it in Australia. So basically the usual.
All I know for certain is it will be a mid tech planted tank, housing shrimp (at this stage I'm thinking of moving up from cherry shrimp to something a little prettier, possibly chameleon shrimp) and I am going to be the most scrupulous tank owner ever when it comes to pond snails as all my other tanks have them and I'd just love for once to be able to look at one of my tanks and not see those little buggers crawling everywhere. Plant wise I'm thinking crypts (as after 10 years of keeping aquariums I've recently discovered they're not sp hard to keep and I don't kill them instantly as much info online suggests I would) obviously some moss (probably java) and probably hc (which to my surprise has been doing ok in a low tech tank without issue) maybe some Val for height. I will probably experiment and add to the soft scape over the space of a few months as I'm hoping I might have better luck with certain plants than in my low tech tanks. Plus let the tank establish for a few months before any decent stock is added.
i was mainly hoping to get some advice on substrate, as I read AS Amazonia is the go to substrates for shrimp which like a lower ph. However I hear it can be a problem for larger tanks when it comes to cloudy water and it turning to mush. In all my previous and current planted tanks I use pool filter sand, supplemented with root tabs, excel and a fert regiment. This has never caused any issues for me, but I'd like to go a bit more advanced this time as well as switching to a dinosaur dung / pee / spit combo. Plus a darker substrate will help to really bring out the color of my shrimps.
I've looked into a dirt substrate but I tend to move things around a little from time to time and the thought of constantly trying to avoid uncapping the dirt deters me.
I'd rather not spend hundreds on substrate but I know it's at the core of a flourishing aquarium to have good substrate. I want to take advantage of the fact it's a new setup and get it right from the start rather than having to tear it down later. So if anyone has any thoughts on what has worked for them I'd love some input!