I am currently running a 75 gallon tank with plastic plants. Contemplating switching over to live plants, which I have previously attempted and looked good for the first couple months before I started and lost an algae battle. My previous substrate was peat moss and soil master select. My current substrate is pool filter sand. I have 3 olive nerite snails in my tank currently along with an 8" Black Diamond Rhom. I can't really have any shrimp or catfish or anything to clean the plants b/c the piranha will eat them. I don't think nerite snails are known to eat plants, but it wouldn't surprise me if there are a few species they would make a meal out of. I'd like to keep the aquascape similar to something I have now with some moss, maybe some dwarf sag., amazon sword (although I am worried about them b/c of their root feeding in my non-fertile substrate) and maybe some Vals or something tall to cover my heater/filters/powerhead.
Now, for my questions. I currently have a coralife T5, one bulb says actinic on it and the other say 10,000K on it. It came with my tank. I also have a coralife 2x65w straight pin that I loaned to a friend and am getting back (the light I originally used on my first planted tank setup, however both bulbs are burnt out). Are one of these lights better than the other? I will probably get some MTS too to move the sand around, good idea or bad idea? What sort of plants will work with a piranha and the snails (I am more worried about the snails eating the plants than the fish)? I'd like to have as minimal maintenance with the plants as possible (ie, ferts to make them grow, definitely don't want C02, however I wouldn't mind trimming the tank if they grow too fast). Sorry for the super long post, and feel free to shoot me down if this isn't possible, but I am trying to figure out the whole planted tank thing and am definitely a newbie.
Here is a full tank shot, although I have added some of those meshes of fake grass on both sides and a strip across the back that is not in this image, but u can see it in the second.
And a shot of the fish from the side of the tank: