Newbie to planted aquarium--lots of questions
Hello all. I'm a newbie to planted tanks, but have had many freshwater tanks for 16 years, and have bred Kribs, livebearers, and had Rams lay eggs (too hard/alkaline of water for them to hatch though). I've decided to do something different, and try a planted tank.
The aquarium is a 29 gallon, and my light is going to be a 24"-30" adjustable T5 HO 4X24 watts (96 total watts) with 6500K light.
So here are my questions...answer one or all, either way I would be super grateful. I need as many opinions as possible. Just as an FYI, I have hard, alkaline water (not sure on the exact parameters yet as I haven't checked them in awhile, but usually around 8.0 pH and very hard).
1) Filter is an Rena XP2 canister--is that ok?
2) Substrate: I'd like to get 2 bags of EcoComplete and then put a layer of gravel on top (like the natural looking rocks you can get at Walmart...I think they're 10 lb. bags). Is this going to work? And would getting extra latrite make it any more beneficial to the plants?
3) Plants: I'm looking at a bunch, but I'd like opinions on what worked best for you and any hints that you used to get them to grow the best for you. Also, which ones are the most "bang for your buck"? How many of each plant would you recommend buying if this was your tank?
Corkscrew Val/regular Val
4) For the ferts, I am looking at the Ultimate Fert Package from RootMedic for $90 (package explained below). What are the best ferts in your opinion?
1 x 500 ml bottle of Liquid Macro Fertilizer
1 x 500 ml bottle of Liquid Micro Fertilizer
1 x 2 liter Refill bottle of Liquid Macro Fertilizer
1 x 2 liter Refill bottle of Liquid Micro Fertilizer
50 x RootMedic Complete Capsules
5) Fish: I'm looking at using the 6 lamp eye tetras I already have, 5 bloodfin tetras I already have (but would like to push that number closer to 10), an otto, a siamese algae eater, some kuhli loaches, and if possible at all (after the tank is established), some white clouds. Thoughts? Also, what do I need to worry about as far as the otto, SAE, and kuhlis? I've never had them before.
6) CO2: Planning on doing a DIY one. Should I get any special equipment for it, or am I going to be with just a ring of two 2L bottles?
Thanks so much, and sorry for all the questions. I just hate not knowing as much about this as I do about my other freshwater aquarium stuff. I've done a lot of reading and whatnot, but peoples' experience tends to be the most important.