I found the tank kit at Petco on sale for less than $30. It came with a decent HOB, a crappy hood with LEDs, and a cheap heater. I put bio-max and floss in the HOB works perfectly. I got a Fluval LED Plant light and a Ehiem Heater. I spent a month researching dirt tanks before I gave up and went with Eco-complete which I love. I found a nice piece of mopani I boiled for hrs to get rid of tannins and a plastic tree root that didn't look to bad. For plants I went to Dustin's fishtank and got a beginner combo. I knew I didn't want to fool with co2. It was Jungle val, dwarf sag, anubias, java fern, rotala and java moss. I went to Peabody a couple of weeks later and got crypt wendtii and parva, and then back to petco for telanthera in the tissue cultured pack. I got the whole line of flourish to fert with, And then I waited a couple of weeks longer to settle the tank and let it cycle. In Feb I got 8 neons an oto and 8 red cherry shrimp that were at least AA grade. I also got some anacharis which apparently had snails, which led to LOTS of snails. So then came the 2 assassin snails that haven't put a dent in the snail pop. I ordered 10 more rcs from the shrimp farm because the ones I had were so cute. And then I got the water test strips, I know I'm an idiot but the water at my old house was well water and really good quality. I'm in the country here but on city water. My tap water params are terrible. Ph is high nearly 8 and my TDS were 465. Gh and Kh were fairly fine. I over think everything and panic easily so I wasn't sure what to do. Got good advice here and made major changes. My plants exploded. I just did a total makeover of plants and took out the plastic and replaced it with another piece of mopani. I took the RCS out and gave them their own tank and added my very quiet Black Orchid crowntail Beta. He and the neons get along really well. Now I just need to get rid of the mystery snails. These are my before and after pictures.
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