You couldn't find any 'Tractor Supply' stores near you? It really is a steal at 50lbs for $7, even if you have to drive like 20miles to get one.
I've got an established planted 5.5g. Anything I can do with that to help cycle/establish the new little tank faster?
Yup, move over the filter media. So if you got a sponge filter, squeeze the juicy sponges out in the new tank. If you have a HOB filter, put all the media into the new tank. And put the new media into the old tank.
Should I cycle *before* installing the moss? My LFS doesn't have the best prices so I don't want to go buy more.
If you use any pre-established filter media, you can just throw the moss in. Better yet, use moss from your old tank. And when you end up buying more moss, put the moss into your old tank. Mosses and decor also contain beneficial bacteria that will help instant-cycle your new tank.
Any recommendation on transporting it after its cycled? I could transport an empty tank with the moss/driftwood, but not with water in it. Any way to avoid having to cycle it from scratch?
How large will the new tank be? You can easily drain water to ~1-2in from teh substrate and transport it that way. I helped my friend move his 100G tank a few weekends ago (so heavy....) and we left like 1.5in of water during the move. As for the seeded media, either throw that in the little bit of water or put it in some old tank water during the move.
Anyone know exactly what type of mesh is best for this? I bought some plastic loom from a sewing store but the holes look too small. I saw some bird mesh at Lowes but the the holes are probably the size of a dime, which may be too big.
Moss carpet.. you definitely want to use stainless steel mesh. If you use plastic mesh or what not it's gonna float. No weight to it.