I recently bought a 29 gallon aquarium on sale at petco during the '$1/gallon' sale. It's my first try at keeping fish and I thought 'oh, hey, what a bargain, I'll take it home, add some pretty rocks, maybe a plant or two and a few fish and it'll be awesome.'
Well, I started researching how to cycle a tank so I wouldn't murder my fish, then wondered if you could cycle a tank with the plants planted and here I am two weeks later going 'I am going to fully plant this and it shall be GLORIOUS! AND THEN FILL IT WITH TEENY TINY FISHES!'
And of course every single thing that I uncover, I find another thing that I go OH MAN A NEW THING TO RESEARCH AND DEBATE!
So I guess I'll just post my plan and debates and hope someone weighs in?
29 gallon tank (30inLx18inDx12inW)
light (debate: Fluval Fresh and Plant
with added ramping timer or Current Satellite Pro
SunSun Canister filter
Black substrate (debate: Floramax, dirted (topped with floramax?) or some kind of black sand?)
Carpet front half of tank in HC (dwarf baby tears, right?) with 'dry start' method.
Taller plants in back half, still determining these.
Slope from front to back.
Driftwood to imitate tree roots in one back third, with rocks under
Java moss or something of that nature on rocks/driftwood
Tank inhabitants (Definitely up for debate. Planning one species every month once tank with live plants and donor filter media has cycled for a couple weeks, do not want to massively overstock!):
Endler's Livebearers (so cute!) 5-10
Galaxy rasbora 5-10
Golden dwarf barb 5-10
Betta (for crowd control of the livebearers)
Shrimps of some kind
I'm really debating the lights a lot. Do I save up for the Satellite Pro or go for the marginally less expensive Fluval ones? Two different LFS have given me suggestions and neither of them agrees with the other.
I'm debating pressurized CO2 vs Flourish Excel for starting, with plans to do CO2 gas in the future? I don't have the patience for DIY yeast CO2, I know that. Will my HC die off if I don't have CO2 gas, if I do a 'dry start' with lots of root tabs and with Excel dosing?
Is the betta the worst idea ever? Both LFS recommend an open-top tank if I want plants to grow well so the glass won't diffuse the light and I worry both about the betta being a bad match for small, fast fish (though both LFS say it won't be) and about the betta jumping out.
Black sand vs floramax vs dirted with a black substrate cap? Is one of these significantly better for a beginner?
Do you see other problems with my setup? Are there any tips I should have? I'm literally reading everything I can and I feel like every single thing I read gives me a thousand more questions and I'll end up never putting this together if I keep up this way!
Thanks for any input you have.