Far3, welcome to PTF
seems you got here in the nick of time:
before you listened to your LPS owner
your assumption is correct that enriched subrates are not
needed unless you want to maximize rooting and growth,
do NOT simply buy any bag of rock gravel for plant use.
grain SIZE is very important to the planted tank keeper,
and you don't want to commit to gravel any larger than
5mm grain size. going the Home Depo route can save
a lot of money compared to what the LPS sell, but first
scout out what's available, then get back to us on PTF
so we can tell you which item has an appropriate grain.
grain porosity is also useful to the planted tank keeper,
so a lava or clay based gravel is better than stones.
porous gravel allows it to hold nutrients, and host
bacteria and microorganism for fish and plant health.
you are better off locating a landscaping supply house
nearby which will have a better selection of gravels,
since Home Depo is seasonal, and will only have
indoor plant supplies through the winter Months.
I would avoid sand, which is generally under half a mm.
do NOT buy a light fixture until you have discussed with
us the size of your tank, and what amount of maintenance
and plants you may want to keep in there. get used to the
idea that most dry goods, lighting, filters, etc. are cheaper
online, than at your double the markup LPS.
I bought 100lbs of gravel online, because it worked out
to be cheaper, even after I included the shipping cost!
start by studying this area of PTF:
take a look at screen shots of the leafy tanks there,
to see if you are satisfied with those kinds of plants.
get back to us with exactly what plants the LPS has.
here in NYC, most Pets stores have fast growing weeds,
and low light requirement swords and crypts. none of them
require fancy lighting, or much maintenance, however you
may find those types of plants to grow massive and boring.
here's a good place to see plants available to this hobby;
many here invest more time and expense in their tanks to
accommodate a wider variety of finer more colorful plants,
by going high tech
, involving more lighting and fertilization.
my advice would be to start with a small grain substrate.
get a small high intensity fixture like a single T4HO or PCF, so
you can double the light later should you want to go high tech.
avoid weeds and swords, go with Cryptocoryne
for their color
and variety of leaf structure, and maybe some vals. if you
are satisfied with your results after a few Months, then stay
with that low tech tank, and if not, then come back and we
can talk about more light, fertilizers, and Co2, so you can
properly grow higher tech plants. then the substrate and
light you already invested in will continue
to be useful.
BTW: update your location profile to reflect what town in
NY you reside, so locals like me can better help you out.