I made the decision in July of 2013 to transform my tank from plastic to lush green. I knew nothing about the planted tank world. The biggest suggestion I can make
RESEARCH RESEARCH RESEARCH
also, try not to take a single persons advice as the end all be all. Listen to everyone and formulate your own solutions based on the suggestions posted. Your tank will be nothing like person a or b. Use the advice as guidance instead of truth. There is a bit of a learning curve, you have to know and understand how your tank works before you start to see success.
When something goes wrong, don't throw the book at it. Subtle=better than jumping head first and having the potential to create an even bigger mess.
Biggest mistake, cleaning the canister filter right after getting the tank up and running. I thought, like my hob it needed regular cleaning. Now I know, not to touch the filter until you are at least 6-9 months into the tank running.
Make sure you know what fish you are buying and how they will do in the tank. I started off my planted tank with convicts, had I known before buying them that they would be more destructive than a 2 year old child, I could have saved myself some serious time and head ache.
plan out your tank, sketch out your ideas before you start planting. Decide what light level you want to be at and start selecting plants from there. Don't stress if they start to die after you plant them. It's all part of the process. I've been doing this planted tank hobby for almost a year. I feel like I've grown a lot in the hobby, but there is a vast amount of information that I have barley scratched the surface on. I'm still figuring out my fert dosage, which is my biggest obstacle so far. I have different plants showing my different things and it's hard to find that happy medium for them all.