Help: complete newcomer to planted tanks
I've been a goldfish keeper for several years and had a saltwater nano-reef for about a year (which unfortunately crashed, probably due to 95+ degree F [35 degrees C] temperature boiling the sensitive corals). For my next adventure, I'm interested in starting a nano planted tank.
However, I know next to nothing about keeping aquatic plants. Naturally, I have several questions, which I hope the experienced members of this forum can answer...
My goal is to start with a planted "low tech" nano tank containing about 1 gallon of water. I'd like to start with plants only and grow a lush and colorful aquatic garden, then later think about adding some small fish or invertebrates. Finally with this experience I'd like to see if I can spice up my plain goldfish tank with plants.
Regarding a low-tech plants-only 1 gallon nano tank, what do I need? I can think of:
Lighting: I have a 9 watt normal-output fluorescent lamp. How many hours per day?
Temperature: Ambient temperature swings are large in my apartment - now in the summertime, daytime can get up to 95 degrees F (35 degrees C) water temperature. In the evenings it's around 86 degrees F (30 degrees C). Can typical aquatic plants survive such high temperatures and temperature swings? In the winter I expect ambient and water temperatures to be much cooler, though I do have an aquarium heater.
Filtration: None needed?
Water circulation: None needed? Otherwise, would an airstone suffice?
Water oxygenation: None needed?
CO2 injection: None needed? Otherwise, a DIY CO2 reactor (yeast) in a half-liter coke bottle.
Nutrients: Without fish supplying waste, can the plants flourish? Or, do I need to add fertilizer and/or CO2?
Water changes: I've heard that low-tech nano-setups can go months without water changes. is this true?
Substrate: I have crushed coral from my former reef, but I guess that would not be suitable for freshwater plants? Can I use ordinary garden soil? Or, how about taking a scoop of mud from a local lake or river? Or, do I have to buy some special substrate?
Plants: What plants could grow well in a nano of this size? I'm interested in vibrant green and red colors with high plant density for a "lush" aquatic garden appearance.
My only previous experience with aquatic plants was to buy some long, thin plants with bushy leaves and no apparent roots. The shopkeeper told me those plants were easy to keep. I tossed them into my goldfish tank and a few days later they had turned yellow and died. I hope to do better next time...
Thanks for any advice; as you can see, I'm quite new to this "planted tank" thing!