interesting issues this has raised. I used about a .25 to half inch base of miracle gro, topped with a couple of inches of gravel. It took a day for the water to clear (fishing out the vermiculite was a pain) I only have an 18 watt bulb on for 6 hours each day. I'll move it up to 8 then 10 then 12 over the course of a week or so. The DIY cO2 generateor/reactor was probably the most fun part of this. I am also curious with th ammonia, nitrites and nitrates will settle to once things are a bit more established
Again, I'll measure water parameters this weekend, and try to borrow a camera to take pics. I don't think i would add fish to this tank until i could monitor long term stability.
I appreciate all criticism and info offered
ps. Clone, that is a gorgeous tank you have there