Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Indianapolis, IN
You should probably not get your substrate from anywhere but a pet store or reputable buyer. You don't want any weird stuff popping up in your tank just so you could save a few bucks. You need to watch out for some natural substances that could pollute your water. This could include small amounts of metal (such as copper) or limestone which will mess with your ph. Depending on where you live, live plants are available at most pet stores and I have even seen them at grocery stores that sell fish. If you want really good quality and snail free plants, you might want to buy online if the weather is permitting. Or use a site like this to trade with local people.
When cycling your tank, you can have the substrate and plants right away. It's the fish you need to worry about. Platys, mollys, and danios are all great choices for cycling a tank. You don't have to keep these fish, you just need them to get the bacteria going. It's best to do this very gradually. DONT RUSH YOUR FIRST TANK. Research everything and research multiple sources. Ask tons of questions! Don't believe your lfs employee (sorry) They just want to sell you stuff. (Unless they are seasoned aquarists) As far as books go, anything by Takashi Amano will help.
1 gal. Betta Cube 10 gal. Cherry Red Shrimp Tank 26 gal. Pea Puffer Tank 38 gal. Community Tank 28 gal. Nano Cube Saltwater Reef Tank