Brand new to Fish keeping. Need some Advice.
I am trying to do as much research as I can before I begin this hobby, and I have some questions that hopefully some experienced fish keepers can answer. I am going to set up a 20 gallon freshwater planted community tank (all I have room for) and I want to create my own customized little world. I want to be able to enjoy the cycle of life before my very eyes.
Now what I mean by this, is I want a cohesive, thriving community that all benefits from each other. I am not looking for a self-sustaining system, but I want to try and create the idea behind it. Again, what I mean by this, is lets say having shrimp in the tank that help eat the algae; live plants that release oxygen into the water that everything benefits from, etc. I am fully aware that regular tank maintenance will still be required, but I don't just want a bunch of the same fish swimming around in a tank. I want a community of fish and crustaceans or whatnot.. an ever changing story playing out right before my eyes. Perhaps there are some fish in there that breed, and another fish that eats the eggs. Perhaps a few eggs survive, and a few new fish enter the community. The circle of life.. That's what I'm looking for. I don't just want a tank full of schooling fish either. I'd like to have at least 1 or 2 distinguishable fish in there that I can name and easily identify. I'm not looking for fish eating other fish. I don't want to thin out the heard if you will, and I don't NEED fish that breed and others that eat the eggs, but none the less that would be cool.
I plan to have a very aesthetically pleasing setup from the substrate to the plants, to the decorations. Suggestions are encouraged and wanted. I want all three tank levels of fish as well (bottom, middle, top swimmers). I am also looking for the smaller variety of fish, that grow no bigger than 2 inches. What kind of fish should I get and at what quantity? What kind of crustaceans? What kind of live plants? It would be nice if I could have African dwarf frogs as well. I will definitely want a piece of driftwood in there with a live plant growing on it (perhaps java moss). Please give any and all suggestions. I want to have enough plants and decorations in there to provide a lush scenery, but still have quite a bit of open space for viewing (nothing worse than having a lush tank full of beautiful green and not be able to see your fish!) I plan on it looking like I cut out my own personal piece of underwater world, rather than a fish tank with some plants and decorations in there.
Thank you in advance for any and all help!
(recap: what different types of fish (and what quantities of each); what different types of live plants; what other live additions to the tank (shrimp, snails, frogs(preferably if I can start them as tadpoles), etc.); what substrate, and whatever else you can think to suggest (specific filters, cleaning supplies, food, maintenance supplies, etc.).