Ok, LOTS of questions, sorry for the long read... I'm trying to do something not many people in my city do, compared to marine aquariums, so most of my info has to come from online.
looked into it, and I can't get aquasoil in canada, so looks like I'm stuck with using flourite.
I've thought about buying my plants locally (tropica plants are usually found in the LFS's here) in a small quantity, then wait for them to grow out and fill in the tank. They're usually $10 a plant, but I'd get to pick my plants individually and I'd know exactly what I'm getting. No mail order surprises. Just be a pain to find good plants. All the plants for sale here are covered in algae in makeshift systems. You have to look real hard, because only about 10% of the plants in each store are worth buying.
I'm switching from a saltwater reef aquarium to a planted tank because of my student budget, so even though I have summer employment money right now, I'm still trying to keep the startup cost down.
I have a little 20g test/learning tank i've started, while waiting to sell off the last of my saltwater livestock. It's using a flourite substrate, 65W pc bulb, and pressurized CO2 with a DIY gravel vac diffuser and AC 30 HOB filter with just cermic in it. I've noticed the plant growth is FAST (compared to corals anyways lol). So I'm thinking of getting just enough plants to start the tank, then fill it in with cuttings and such. It'll be a hell of a lot faster than waiting for coral to grow, I'm assuming
With the T5 bulbs and the pressurized CO2, I think I should be fine starting with like 25 plants or so. Yeah, I had a feeling I'd have to run only half my lights for most of the day. I bleach corals with my lights, I'm sure plants would feel the same way too.
Now the REAL area I'm confused over lately is fertilizing. I'm thinking of starting an EI system of fertilization initially to fill in the tank. What are other people's fertilizer experiences for large aquariums? I'm thinking I won't have to seriously worry until about a month after the tank's started.
I'm planning on a kind of "wild" look, without too much "artificial" looking aquascaping, so I think whichever method provides the best growth would be the most favored by me.
It's just been hard to source out stuff here in Canada. I thought finding reef oriented goods was hard, it's even harder to find planted tank stuff without paying through the nose compared to US prices, even though the exchange's so good.
Oh, and tap water vs. RO water. I have an RO unit already. We have fairly good water locally, but I've noticed browning leaves on some of the large-leafed plants in my little 20g I've started. Looked it up and it's possibly caused by excess phosphates. Should I worry about my local water supply then and use my RO unit, or just dump water straight from the tap in? If I were to use RO water, what's a good way to "remineralize" it. In saltwater aquariums, you just throw in your salt mix and you're done. Maybe add a little calcium and alkalinity, but nothing beyond that, usually. But in freshwater aquariums, I haven't found such "quick" mix methods yet.
Oh and how are heavily planted aquariums usually stocked for fish? What's too many, and what's a good ammount? I'm thinking of small shoaling/schooling fish in particular.