[QUOTE=mackamoo23;2707474] I have attempted to breed Ghost Shrimp before, so I have had some experience, although I did not succeed.
Most of the ghost shrimp commonly sold require brackish water for their larvae to survive, even if you had ones that breed entirely in freshwater any and everything eats the larvae (including the other ghost shrimp) so even among accomplished aquarium keepers, it's pretty common to not see much success with the critters.
I have heard about using a ten gallon tank to start, and I think that this may be the best route. I am probably just going to purchase this at my LFS for $13.99.
The larger the tank size, the more inherent stability there is in the water parameters, but cherries will breed enthusiastically in pretty much any size tank. I've had successful breeding occur in everything from my 37g community tank down to a .5g planted bowl with no filter or heater.
I am probably going to select Eco-Complete as a substrate, although I was hoping that there would be a cheaper answer that would be just as effective.
Red Cherry shrimp are extremely hardy and do not require special substrate to buffer PH. You can use pretty much anything you like: aquarium gravel, fluorite, sand, etc.
The tank will be heavily planted with the following plants: HC for carpeting, Water Wisteria, Marimo Balls, Lesser Duckweed, Amazon Frogbit, Vallisneria, Cryptocoryne Wendtii, Anubias Nana, and Fissiden Fontanus. What is the cheapest way to procure these plants?
I'd caution you against the lesser duckweed--it can rapidly overcome a tank and is next to impossible to get rid of once introduced. If you main interest is in breeding cherries, you may also want to skip creating a 'carpet' affect and concentrate on a low to moderate light set up as the cheaper and easier option: no C02 system to buy (or risk of gassing your shrimp) or heavy fertilization and a few lamps with 6500k CFL bulbs will more than supply your light needs.
The only livestock for this tank will be Red Cherry Shrimp and Malaysian Trumpet Snails. What is the cheapest way to procure these shrimp and snails?
The sales section here is a good source for plants, shrimp and snails if you don't have a local source. Prices are generally as good (or better) than you'll find on places like aquabid, MUCH better than the usual large sites and these are common enough items to be pretty readily available.
The lighting will most likely be two 18-watt 6500K CFL bulbs with clip-on desk lamp fixtures for a total of about $30.00, still cheaper than a hood w/ light. Any cheaper methods for this set-up?
The 50W heater, air pump, sponge filter, and other miscellaneous items will be purchased at my LFS.
Should I make a DIY CO2 set-up for this tank?
Only if you really want to. If you're looking to create a carpet, C02 is a big help, but otherwise you have no real need for it.