Substrate: CaribSea Tahitian Moon Sand Plan on replacing it, perhaps with ADA?
No point unless you're planning on adding some stem plants. The ferns/anubias don't care about substrate nutrients as much as stem plants do.
Filtration: AC110 w/ filter floss. Want to place some peat moss to reduce pH and make the water softer, but do people actually do this?
I don't think many people here add peat moss to their filters... but i may be wrong. I hear it's kind of messy. What is your reason for wanting to lower the pH?
Dosing & Top-off: Tap water top offs once a week and no dosing. Plan on adding a liquid fertilizer when I figure out what the hell I'm doing, any suggestions?
I'd recommend dry dosing. It's a lot cheaper than liquid ferts, and works just as well.
You can purchase dry fert packages from LA Aquaria
or Green Leaf Aquariums (GLA)
, for example. Then read up on this
thread to create a dosing schedule/amount. It's kind of confusing at first, but you will save a LOT of money in the long-run.
However, if you were to go the dry-dosing route, you'd need to do a 50% water change every week to "reset" the fertilizers in the water, since you're essentially giving the plants more nutrients than they actually need.
• 6 Crossocheilus siamensis (Siamese Algae Eater)
That's a LOT of SAE's for a 26g. They'll eventually get too big for your tank.
What are wrong with my plants? (See The Story)
Agreed, it's likely a nutrient deficiency. See above comment.
However, it looks like some of the brown spots on your leaves might be diatoms. Otoclinus catfish ("otos") love this type of algae. I would definitely pick a few of these little guys up to keep your tank clean. They're good for every tank! Also, the leaf in picture #4 just looks like it's dying... you can trim it off. It likely won't bounce back.
Does anyone have a recommendation for a substrate, I was thinking ADA?
I love ADA Amazonia I aquasoil. It gets pricey for larger aquariums, but since you won't need much for a 26g, i'd go for it. I have it in my 90g and it's definitely "the best of the best" IMO. Worth every penny!
Never hurts, but it's really up to you. You're right, your current plants don't really need Co2, but every plant will benefit from it. However, i would first start with getting the fertilization on the right track, then look into a pressurized co2 system.
I would like a tall plant for the background after the substrate switch, something to grow up the back, perhaps around the 2' mark for height, maybe a different color then the Microsorum and Anubias. Suggestions?
Vals would be nice, but those are green. Maybe rotala rotundifolia
? It's fairly easy, and get's semi-red under good lightning. Also, ludwigia repens
is an easy red plant.
On a side note, i really like your scape. I have never seen anything else like it before. The fern/anubias "mountain" is a cool idea.
Hope this helps, and welcome to the forum!