Lots of questions here, need some help.
Hello all. New user here, but have been browsing the forum for a while. The time has come for me to make the plunge into nano tank, and planted tanks. Yes, I am new to both. My track record has been with large tanks and large fish, ranging from 75 to 300 gallon tanks, Africans, south/central Americans primarily. My fish tank experience is pretty solid, having around a decade in the hobby. The extend of my planted tank experience is a cheap LED on my 75G, with a few swords and java ferns. I have learned from youtube and this forum, but figured I could make a whole thread about my journey here and ask questions as I go.
The tank. The tank will be between 10 and 15 gallons. I am trying hard to find a tank in the dimensions I want, but aside from a couple of $150+ tanks, there's not much out there. I have 23" x 12" roughly to work with, and would like to maximize that space as best as possible. I may end up building a tank unless somebody here knows of something that would fit my needs.
The filter. I will be making an in tank sump filter similar to those on the Fluval spec V tanks. I love the look and simplicity of these style filters, as well as ease of maintenance. I want zero hoses filters or heaters in the display area, so this seems a great way to do it. What I dislike about Fluval's take on the design, is their use of only 2 compartments. I feel 3 is a much more efficient use of the space, as you can have a center dedicated heater compartment, which will provide more water contact time with the heater before it is pushed back to the tank. For the low cost of a few pieces of acrylic, some silicone, some black paint to hide it all and a couple hours work, I believe it to be worth my effort to design my own filtration system.
The lighting. This is one area I need lots of help. This will be a high tech aquarium, with focus on aesthetics. High light and optimum plant growth will be key here, however the location of this tank may make this tricky. The tank will be built to sit on my desk, next to my computer monitors. I spend a lot of time at my computer, and a tank in this location will be very pleasurable to look at all day. What this means, however, is that the light cannot blind me. My monitor is bright, so I don't think the light will be too much of an issue, however it cannot look like a dwarf sun out of the corner of my eyes. I have considered the possibility of window tint on the tank to reduce the light escaping from the tank, but not sure what I'll do there yet.
The substrate. Also need some help here. Looking for suggestions on good substrate, how much, do I need root tabs, how often, liquid ferts? Please help lol.
The plants. Another area I am undecided. I want a full carpet, I want possibly a piece of planted driftwood, I want some lush, calming plants. I realize I am being vague here, and I apologize for this.
C02. You know the tank, you know the general idea, now for the C02. Recommendations on bottles, regulators, diffusion styles please. Can I use a ceramic diffuser in the filtration area? Would this produce a lot of bubbles in the display? Could I build a reactor into the system somehow? Remember my filtration will be totally custom, so a reactor isn't out of the question. I want simple, but I don't want the display full of bubbles.
The stocking. The stocking will obviously be light on an aquarium this size. I've never done live-bearers. I was thinking maybe a hand full of those, couple shrimp and maybe a snail. Possibly a small schooling fish, who knows really. I really want balance with this tank, and with a heavy plant load and light stocking I believe this to be achievable.
If you have made it this far, I applaud you. I'm sorry this was a novel, but hopefully I can get some good idea of where I want to go with your help, and make this tank a reality. Thank you for any and all input.