First Planted tank - 180G - help requested, please
Im a cichlid keeper. Always wanted a planted tank. Have always kept mbuna. The two dont jive. Recently Ive been wanting to do a hap tank. Haps should be much easier on plants..... So they say.
I made a killer score off Craigslist last weekend. I landed a 180, with stand, 2 Eheim filters, numerous lights, a Co2 bottle system that looks complete (Im not sure) and COUNTLESS boxes of accessories and implements. After selling a conductivity monitor I dont need, Im in it for roughly $200. I know, shoot me right? Right place, right time.
That being said, I want to make the 180 into my first planted tank with the haps. The eheim canisters are too small for my needs (2206 pro II) and will be used eslewhere. I am building a sump with overflow and wet/dry and 1800 GPH pump. The sump and overflow will be closed as much as possible to prevent gassing off (Ive read some on sumps and co2) The light that came with it is a 72" 4x 96w generic PC. I plan to use this and perhaps supplement it (I also got a nice PC coralife light in the deal, 3 of them actually) with 3 24" T5HO's if needed. I also got a wave maker controller in the deal. I'll get 2 new power heads for that for nice flow.
It also came with what I believe are CO2 reactors. They were fitted to the outlets of the eheims, and had inputs for Co2. They are clear cylinders filled with bio balls.
Id like some long tall plants, Jungle vals I think? Id also like some type of grassy ground cover over part of the bottom. Anubias have done will even with my mbuna, Id like some of them. Id also like some good underwater nice green moss to cover rocks and drift wood (java maybe?). Maybe a couple other nice plants too... Amazon swords? Java fern?
My question is, I plan on using pool filter sand as a substrate. Do I need flourite or dirt of some sort under the sand? If so whats the most cost effective stuff, as this is a BIG tank.
How much lighting will I really need. is the generic PC enough or should I plan on adding t5HO to supplement it?
What plants would the experts suggest for me that are lush, green, like what I want, and not too hard to keep?
ETA - also, where is the best place to buy my plants? Aquabid? I dont mind mail order if price is right.
Thanks for the help in advance!