Newbie here, screwed up bad...
I finally made the jump in buying an aquarium. I bought a 50gal breader tank, and set it up this weekend. I've always wanted either and aquarium or terrarium, and figured I would work them both.
So I bought my tank, my black colored gravel, my dual flourescent light thing (50 watts total), filer, heater - other stuff soon to come. I asked for the dual light so I would be able to grow plants well.
I set all this up, then started reading about the plant side of the hobby. So now I realize I'm screwed. Wrong substrate, and not enough light. So I call around to some aquarium stored and ask for advice. I was basically told to buy either flourite or laterite, and add it over my gravel, since it is a finer substrate, it will eventually sink below my gravel - By the way, I really wanted black colored substrate. I asked if I could push the gravel to one side, add the flourite, then move the black gravel over the top of the flourite, doing half the tank at the time. I got the thumbs up on this.
So I proceed with this plan. I clear half of the tank bottom, and add flourite to one side. Poof! I'm sure whoever is reading this is laughing their rear off right now. Blindly, I try to get the back gravel moved over top of the flourite and finsih the other side as well. I have a huge mess. Aside form the cloudiness, I know I didn't things layered right.
Now my questions begin. It's probably going to take 3-5 days for the septic tank look to clear, and I'm probably going to have to change my filter medium once everything is settled. Once I can see inside the tank, I'm going to have to adjust my substrate so everything is even. Once I start adjusting the substrate, Am I going to kick up 3-5 days clearing time again of cloudiness?? If this is true, am I going to have weeks and weeks of this process until I get my substrate straight?
I did rinse the flourite, but lack of experience didn't tell me I'd have to do it 12-15 times to avoid this mess. My tank is nasty. Even if I get everything straightened out, I can already see I'm going to be cleaning for a long time.
Any ideas to help me? I pondered taking the water out before doing this, but I hurt my back setting it up in the first place, and dealing with heavy buckets of water wasn't an option today. Not to mention it was a huge job anyway.
Now for the lighting... I'm trading up to a one 10k 50/50 bulb fixture at 96 watts on the advice of the aquarium store. I was told once I have the extra substrate added, and add rocks/driftwood/whatever, I'd have 37-40 gals on actual water, so that makes 2.4 watts per gallon. Sound good?
I know I screwed up, but I'm trying to make it right. I really want to focus on plants just as much as the fish. I hope I can recover from this, because right now, I'm very frustrated and very close to tossing the whole hobby.
Thanks for listening to a newbie rant!