Re: completely new and need advice
The most important thing you need to consider is lighting rather than substrate. Given sufficient lighting, most plants will do well even in inert substrates. A few might need some root tabs or simple dosing. Easiest plant for me ever has been hydrophilia polysperma. It grows even in the most minimal lighting conditions. Java ferns are also a survivor and shrimp love them. I have most of my plants in a mixture of play sand with a little bit of laterite mixed in. It was marked as pond plant substrate and relatively cheap. Make sure you start with some fast growing stems to help balance the tanks at first.
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