Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: SF East Bay Area
Boiling driftwood helps to remove tannins, but, I personally, like the look.
I keep my lights on for 12 hours - just a personal preference. A lot depends on what light you have, co2 or no co2, fertilization, circulation etc. Try what works for you best and adjust if you start seeing algae and/or poor plant growth.
A small comment: you might want to try a black or silver background on the tank. You can get the background film at any big store (Petco, PetSmart) or LFS and just use clear Scotch tape to fix it to the back of the tank. It will make your plants pop-out more and make the equipment less noticeable.