Yet another 'Help a newbie' thread...
Hiya. I'm another person new to the world of planted tanks, and I want to make sure I've got all my details figured out before I purchase anything or endanger any plants/fish. I'm planning a low-tech, low light tank. (I've had aquariums before, just not for awhile - and never with real plants) I will apologize in advance for the incoming wall of text!
HOB Power Filter 30 (came with tank kit)
Marineland Heater (also came with tank kit)
Substrate: 2 inches of FloraMax (probably 2 or 3 bags) with a topping of CaribSea Tahitian Moon Sand (probably about 1 inch - just one bag, if that's enough). I chose these because of the dark color and also being available at the big box pet stores, as we don't have a LFS here.
Fertilizers?: I will use some Osmocote style gelcap fert under the bigger root plants when I plant them. I don't quite know if I'll need to use fertilizers in the water itself just yet.
Lighting: One 24" T8 bulb, 6500k. (I don't have it yet, just have the fixture and the bulb it came with.) Also have a clip-on work lamp with the big, round reflector with a 27w 6500k CFL. Thinking the T8 on for 10 hours and the CFL on for 3 hours for a burst period.
CO2?: I plan to set up a DIY-style CO2 system, possibly just at first while the plants acclimate to my tank. Will use the chart method to measure my CO2 levels.
Plants: I haven't a clue yet for specific plants, but I read the Plant Profiles page and I'll focus on the easier-to-grow ones and ones with lower light requirements. I understand I can't grow a beautiful lush carpet of something like HC with this set-up. If I get any moss-type plants, I will attach them to a rock or driftwood. (I don't have my hardscape planned just yet! Well, other than the family "heirloom" rock that's been in various family tanks since the 1970's.) I understand that I should start fairly heavily planted. These will most likely be purchased online through various sites I've read about here in the forums.
I'm a little worried about the time involved in planting the plants and getting them how I want vs. getting fish into the tank at the same time, so I will probably deal with my plants and let that sit for a week before I add the fish (and will check the water quality with my test kit).
Fish: I'll go to the good LFS in the big town and get my fish there, it's only about a 2 hour round-trip. I don't think I can decide on particular species until I'm there and seeing the fish. So a general idea is 15-ish Tetra, 5 Cory cats, 3 Otos and 10-ish Cherry Shrimp. I think this is probably right at borderline for quantity of fish in the tank, but a good combo of fish to school/bottom feed/clean up algae/be generally awesome.
Water: My tap water is great quality. pH right around 6.8, kH at 80 and GH very soft at 25. I have no problems doing water changes as needed.
I think that covers most of the important details. I thank anyone who read this giant post, and any advice or corrections would be most appreciated.