When you use active substrates to lower the pH, you need really soft tap water or RO water. If you use a high pH, hard tap water, the soil isn't going to buffer a lot, pH is going to swing when you change water and the substrate will where out very quickly. kH is a very determining factor in pH and most high pH tap waters are high in kH. your gH and other mineral content can be all over the place.
If you plan to keep cherry/fire red/yellow or any of the other neo species, they will usually do fine in a 8-8.5pH water and active substrate isn't needed. If you want to do crystal/tiger/taiwan bee, they like a lower pH and active substrates, RO or very soft water are usually needed.
So, with my tap water PH @ 8.0-8.5, very soft water (whole house, pelletized salt, water softener), TDS of about 8-15ppm, I should be good to go with "cherry/fire red/yellow or any of the other neo species"
. I'm thinking on using Safe-T-Sorb as the substrate and then lightly planting in a 5 gallon tank (to start) with one plastic-shield protected 13 watt, 6500K CCF bulb. Some small driftwood and a few pieces of Cholla wood, Prime, & Flourish
Going to try the AquaClear 20 set to minimum flow (I think that's recommended for a 5 gallon) with some Purigen and the OEM sponge. Going to get some foam (or SS screening) for the intake, with either an air powered corner filter filled with sponge (no not baby safe), or a standard sponge to follow.
With the very soft water though, what will buffer it to keep the PH stable? I would figure that harder water with some more minerals in it would be beneficial for buffering PH. Isn't some sort of alkalinity necessary to stabilize the PH?
Can someone point me to a list of plants possibly based upon their PH requirements (or water hardness?). Also, is there a book or digital download that would be the
beginner's bible for shrimp keeping?
Newbie question I've not seen addressed in regards to planted/shrimp tanks...
This will be my first foray away from fish only/crabs & snail tanks. With my fish tanks, an important part of my standard cleaning involves gravel vac-ing alternate halves of the substrate with each water change (disgusting yellow-brown water and fish goop). With planted tank threads, I've seen no mention of vacuuming. I'm guessing that vacuuming is a no-no as it would disturb aquascaping, but I'm not sure. How does one get the detritus out of the gravel when dealing with a planted/shrimp tank?
Anything above that flies directly in the face of wisdom, please let me know