Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada
Sent you a pm, but missed the filter question.
If keeping shrimp, sponge filter is great, but HOB will work well too. I don't think you can go wrong with either filter, if you're familiar with using one over the other, why not go for that one? If HOB I'd recommend Aquaclear 20. If I have to change my Tom mini internal filter I'd probably go for the AC20 for my cube.
For substrate it really depends on the plants you want to grow. Stems and root feeders would probably benefit from active substrate. However, fine gravel is always easy to scape and maintain, and you can use root tabs for root feeders. Plus, it's easier to push plants into fine gravel. I like Caribsea super naturals Peace River. The size range of the particles is 2-3 mm.
Daisy Mae V
According to my husband, I have a habit of jumping right in!