More substrate indesicion
I've been reading and reading on the different substrates and I have a good idea of the basic pros and cons, but I cannot for the life of me decide which to go with. I'd love to hear anyone's input and experience.
Here is my plan and equipment:
Eheim 2217 with in-line Hydor heater
36" Finnex fugeray with fiberglass mesh screen to bring PAR down to 30-35
planning on dosing Excel and occasional ferts (the next thing I need to research)
I want a low/mid light, low tech tank without the need for C02. I don't have my heart set on any specific plants yet, as I figured I'd test out a variety and go with what works. I'd like my fish to include cardinal tetras, cories, a few ottos, some shrimp if I can pull it off, and whatever else may be recommended for a community tank.
I definitely want a black substrate, and that seems to limit my options quite a bit.
I thought maybe MGOPM with a sand cap was the way to go, but I've been reading that a dirt tank is not ideal for those who like to re-scape. Would you agree with this? As I'll be learning via trial-and-error of what I like, I'm sure I'll be re-scaping.
I'm not keen on spending $145+ on Aquasoil. I know flourite and eco-complete would require root tabs, which is fine. I also know cories do fine in both of those, but I'd love to give them sand to really play in. And I know any sand on top of eco-complete or flourite will eventually end up on the bottom.
So I was considering doing an all sand substrate with root tabs for any root feeders I put in there. Would this be a good idea for my situation? That way I have my black sand (either blasting grit or Tahitian Moon Sand) and I won't make a mess when re-scaping because it's all one substrate. Did anyone go this route and would you do it again?
Or would it be better to nix the sand and go with all eco-complete or flourite because they have higher CEC properties for the root tab nutrients?